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Friday Funski


Four games today, first one starts at 12:30:

Rangers vs. Jays

Astros vs. Royals

Cubs vs. Cardinals

Mets vs. Dodgers

Should be fun.

Let’s Go Base-ball!

Photo Credit: Anna Bauer via MPD

Beat of the Day


Double time.

Picture by Bags

AL Together Now


Rangers are in Toronto this afternoon. The Royals host the Astros tonight.

Let’s Go Base-ball!

Photo Credit: Pieter Hugo.

Afternoon Art


Picture by Katy Grannan via MPD.

Beat of the Day


It wasn’t me it was the paper.

Picture by Bags

Taster’s Cherce


Salted caramel apple hand pies. 

Heartbreak Hotel


Heartbreaker. And nothing short of it tonight for the loser of the Pirates-Cubs wildcard game. I’m pulling for Pittsburgh because they’ve been good for a couple of years now and, hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing Cervelli get back to the Whirled Serious with them. On the other hand, I feel constitutionally unable to be pissed if the Cubs win.

It’s the Cubs, man. The ultimate losers. I think about watching them on WGN after school when I was a teenager in the ’80s. Watched them with my friend Will Plummer whose father was a Cubs fan. Got to know a bunch about the Cubs and their fans. And they have Joe Maddon? I love that guy. Yeah, they will be obnoxious when they win because that’s part of it with every team that wins. Of course, the Cubs will trade in what makes them special when they win but that’s part of it too. o.  Still…it’s the Cubs. I know too many people who never thought they’d see the day–and some who didn’t.

No, can’t be mad if the Cubs win.

So I’m going for the Pirates but think Jake Arrieta and the Cubs will be too much.

Heartbreak hotel, I’m telling you.

I’ll be rooting for the winner against St. Louis, but I’ll really feel for the loser.

Listen, the Yanks are out of it, but I’m excited about the rest of these playoffs. My biggest wish is for the Rangers to upset the Blue Jays in the NLDS. If they don’t, my second biggest wish will be for the winner of the Royals-Astros to beast the Blue Jays in the ALCS. And so on.

Really psyched for Mets-Dodgers. I’d love to see Clayton Kershaw just go out there and dominate–don’t really care if the Dodgers win otherwise. Not that I dislike them at all. How could I when Don Mattingly is their manager? But this is is a pretty likably Mets team, easier to root for than most. As a Yankee fan, it’s hard to root for them, but some of my favorite people in the world root for the Mets so of course I’d be thrilled for them. (Curtis Grandson is the key.)

Settle in you guys, this promises to be fun.

Let’s Go Base-ball!

Picture by Bags

Million Dollar Movie


Here’s the thing…

Look, Honey, Yourself. Give me a Jax.


I love the movie version of Paul Hemphill’s baseball novel, Long Gone. It wasn’t released theatrically but went straight to HBO instead. Came out the year before Bull Durham and in some ways–the sex and cursing–I like it more. It’s closer to Slap Shot in its vulgarity and doesn’t have the self-conscious speech-making of Bull Durham. It’s not a great movie, there are some obvious plot turns, but it sure is appealing: the cast is terrific, and it’s got a real pulse.

Hemphill’s novel about minor league baseball in the South during the 1950s is also a ton of fun.

For a taste, check out Chapter 6 from Long Gone, reprinted here with permission from Susan Percy, Paul’s ever-generous wife.

Long Gone: Chapter 6

by Paul Hemphill

Her name was Dixie Box, only child of Floyd and Clarice Box, of Route 2, Crestview, Florida, and since the age of twelve she had been wondering what would happen next. Conceived out of wedlock, raised in a trailer camp, with only the sons and daughters of black day laborers to play with, Dixie had grown up with the notion that to live in a brick house with a picture window in downtown Dothan was to have a hold on the world. Her father had left home when she was in the midst of her first menstrual period. (“Men always run at times like this, honey,” her mother had said as Dixie held a bloody towel to her crotch and endured a twenty-minute tirade about the casual ineptitude of the male in general.) Dixie would receive mysterious picture postcards from her father now and then, from places like Oregon and Arizona and New Jersey, until they abruptly stopped and were followed by a terse postcard from a fellow in Nacogdoches, Texas, named Ralph Terwilliger, informing her of her father’s death when he was chewed up by a saw in an East Texas pulp mill. (“You ought to know,” Terwilliger had scrawled, “that your old man was the damnedest drinker I ever saw in my whole life.”) Upon receiving the postcard, Dixie holed up for eight days in her room. When she emerged, she was a woman.

She was fourteen years old when that happened, a freshman in a high school where the ultimate was to be a cheerleader, a “poor girl” without a daddy and with a mama who worked down at Maxwell’s Department Store. And so she became Dixie (Hot) Box. She relinquished her virginity to a boy named Horace Williams, who pumped gas at the Gulf station on the Dothan highway, one starry night in the back seat of Horace’s ’50 Chevy as they parked beneath a clump of pine trees—“It hurt, but it hurt good,” she told her mother when she got back home—and from that moment on, Dixie Box became the most popular girl in Crestview. During a four-hundred-day period, according to her personal journal, she brought to orgasm one hundred eighteen different men. They ranged from the black kid who swept out Maxwell’s Department Store to the deputy police chief of Crestview.

Dixie stirred awake at noon, while Stud and Jamie were at the ballpark. The ceiling fan was creaking. Sweat bees were droning around her head. Maids’ carts were rattling up and down the hallway of the decrepit hotel. Pickup trucks were slinking around on the streets outside.

She took a long look around the room. She didn’t know precisely where she was. She knew, only generally, that she was home. The room looked and smelled like her father—whiskey, cigar smoke, clutter—and she wanted it. Peeling out of the rumpled bed, she slipped into her white shorts and pink halter and high-heeled sandals and then walked out of the room.

Off the lobby, which was peopled by wheezing old men propped up in cracked plastic chairs and reading the Montgomery Advertiser, an orange sign over a doorway blinked BOOM-BOOM ROOM. She took the worn carpeted stairs at the doorway and walked down one flight into the dank bar. It was done up in neo-Hawaiian, with revolving pastel lights and a phony bamboo ceiling and colored beads and a straw-mat floor, and from the Technicolor jukebox in one corner came the heavy beat of Fats Domino singing “Blueberry Hill.”

Ah foun’ mah threeal 

Awn Blueberry Heeal…

Dixie wriggled onto one of the bamboo stools at the bar and checked herself out in the dappled room-wide mirror behind the bar. In the darkest corner of the room were two businessmen in short-sleeved see-through nylon dress shirts and two gap-toothed route salesmen with rows of ballpoint pens jammed in the chest pockets of their blue work shirts. Dixie pulled a Winston from her halter top and was lighting up when a plump blue-haired barmaid in a skirt slit to her thighs came up to her from behind the bar. “Honey, you cain’t wear that in here,” the barmaid said.

“Cain’t wear whut?” Dixie said.

“Well, that. Halters and short-shorts ain’t allowed.”

“You wouldn’t be jealous, would you?”

“Now, look, honey.”

“Look, honey, yourself. Gimme a Jax.”

“Besides, how old are you?”

“Old enough to like Jax for breakfast.”

“Honey, we cain’t serve minors.”

“And put it on Cantrell’s tab.”

The barmaid blinked. “Cantrell?”

“Mister Cecil Cantrell. Room Twenty-four. He’s my guardian.”

“Honey, I didn’t know—”

“Neither does he,” Dixie said. She blew smoke into the barmaid’s face. The barmaid opened an ice-cold can of Jax beer and slid it down the shellacked bar to Dixie. The four men at the table ordered another round of drinks and began ogling Dixie, talking low among themselves and motioning toward her, until finally one of them got up and approached her.

“Anything special you’d like to hear on the jukebox?” he said.

“Anything you want to dedicate to me is fine with me,” she said.

He dropped a dime into the jukebox and returned to the other three men at the table.

Kitty Kallin’s recording of “Little Things Mean a Lot” began to play. The salesman poked one of the others with his elbow and, when he caught a glance from Dixie, held up both hands about five inches apart and began laughing and nodding. Dixie couldn’t help herself. She shook her head sideways and began to giggle out of control.

She was starting on a second beer when Stud and Jamie came in through the step-down entrance to the Boom-Boom Room from the sidewalk. Jamie still carried his bat and his glove and his spikes. Stud, squinting and making the adjustment from the brilliant sunlight to the darkness of the bar, saw Dixie and motioned for Jamie to follow him. “Well, if it ain’t Miss Crestview,” Stud said as he and Jamie hoisted themselves onto stools on either side of her.

“You got me drunk,” Dixie told him.

“That ain’t the half of it. Gimme a Jax, Bonnie. This here’s my new temporary second baseman, Jamie Weeks, from Birmingham, Alabama, and the Sho-Me Baseball Camp in Missouri. Beer, kid?” Stud slapped his cowboy hat on Dixie’s head.

Jamie said, “Just a Coke.”

“A Coke?” Stud said. “Got me a goddamn Baptist.”

“I just don’t feel like a beer right now.”

“Coke, Bonnie. Put ’em on my tab.” Stud looked at Dixie. “See you got your beauty sleep. Don’t believe we’ve officially met yet. I’m Stud Cantrell. This is Jamie Weeks. Who’re you?”

“Dixie Box—Dixie Lee Box—from Crestview, Florida.”

“Dixie”—Stud was howling—“Dixie Lee Box?”

“You heard it right. Dixie…Lee…Box.”

“You a stripper or something?”

“I roast the best cashews in Crestview.”

“Cashews,” Stud said. “Them’s nuts, ain’t they?””

“I’m not going to pay any attention to that,” said Dixie. “It would be demeaning to the people at Maxwell’s Department Store.”

“Is that”—Stud was still laughing—“is that where you work? Dixie Box? You the cashew-nut girl at Maxwell’s Department Store in Crestview, Florida?” He punched Jamie in the ribs with his elbow. “I don’t rightly recall that I ever met a real live cashew-nut roaster before. Not on a personal basis, anyway, if you know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean. Stud. Is that it? ‘Stud’?”

“Cantrell, ma’am. Stud Cantrell.”

Dixie sipped the rest of her beer. “Well, Stud Cantrell of the Graceville Oilers, you ’bout ready to go? It’s gonna take up nearly four hours, just to get there and back, and that’s if we’re lucky getting rides.”

“Go?” A pall fell over Stud. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

“Sure you are. You’re going to Crestview.”

“Hell, I was in Crestview last night.”

“Sure you were. With me. We’re going again.”

“What’s this ’we’ shit?”

Dixie said, “Me and you. Gotta get my car.”

“Wait just a goddamn minute, here.”

“We gotta get my car and my clothes and my toothpaste, and I gotta leave a note for Mama, and I guess I ought to go into the refrigerator at the trailer and take out some more of the cash from Daddy’s insurance policy. Then I suppose I owe it to ’em to run by Maxwelfs and tell ’em where to put their cashews—“

“Now just a goddamn—“

“—and possibly, in case you keep on saying ‘Just a goddamn minute,’ drop in on the sheriff and tell him I’m just an innocent little girl who got taken advantage of by some mean-eyed fucker who’s old enough to be my daddy.”

When Dixie finished, she looked sweetly into Stud’s eyes and batted her lashes and said, “Shouldn’t we leave a tip for Bonnie? She’s such a nice girl. A little fat. But nice.”

Stud slammed two quarters on the bar and dismounted from the stool.

“Go ahead and check into Myrick’s Boarding House, kid,” he said to Jamie, “and I’ll take care of this. Get to the park by five o’clock for batting practice.” Jamie grabbed his bat and glove and spikes and followed Stud and Dixie up the steps, out of the Boom-Boom Room, into the sunlight on the sidewalk. He turned left, to walk toward the boardinghouse, and when he looked back, he saw Stud gesticulating wildly to Dixie as they went toward the highway to hitch a ride to Crestview.

By four o’clock in the afternoon they were tooling back eastward on U.S. 90, between Crestview and Graceville, with the top down on Dixie’s battered ’50 blood-red Chevrolet convertible. They had hitched to Crestview in one ride, riding in the back of a pickup truck with two hogs, and stopped at the ballpark to get the car. Then they had driven to the trailer park on the east side of town where Dixie was living with her mother. Dixie’s mother was off at work, in the department store downtown, so she left a note—


I’ll be living in Graceville for a while, with a friend, so don’t try to come and get me. I got some clothes and I took $200 of Daddy’s insurance money. Don’t worry I’ll be alright.



P.S.—You’d love him.

—and hurriedly stuffed jeans and t-shirts and sneakers and toiletries into a brown paper grocery bag, tossing the bag into the back seat of the car before sliding behind the steering wheel and cranking the Chevy and scratching off.

Now, a half hour away from Graceville on the return trip, they were wobbling down the road as the car radio hummed with the Platters’ Greatest Hits. Stud was stripped down to the waist, taking in the sun, half awake and leaning against the door while Dixie drove.

“I sure love those Platters,” Dixie said.

“Humph?” Stud mumbled, jerking up straight.

“I said I sure love those Platters. Way they sing.”

“Bunch of niggers, if you ask me.”

“What’re you, one of them hillbilly singers?”

“Gimme a choice, I’d take Kitty Wells any day.” Stud yawned, stretched, sat up straight, and slipped back into his t-shirt. “Where’d you get the car? Hell, I ain’t even got a car. And that money you got out of the trailer. Them clothes.”

“I told you. When Daddy got killed. Insurance.”

“You didn’t even stop at the department store.”

“They know what they can do with their cashews.”

“Whhee-eww,” Stud said. “You’re something else. Goddamn banging on my door this morning and I said, ’Pussy posse.’ I figured it was half of Crestview coming after me, gonna leave me out on the road, nail up a burning cross, and take you back home. How many brothers you got? I mean big brothers. Bigger’n me.”

“No brothers,” said Dixie. “No sisters. Just Mama.”

“Yo’ mama big and mean?”

“Mean as shit.”

“Daddy’s dead.”

“Daddy’s dead.”

“How far we got to go?” Stud said.

“Where to?”

“Ballpark. Graceville. We got a game tonight.”

“I figure we’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

Stud tilted his hat and scratched his groin and lighted a cigar. “Whhee-eww,” he said. “You’re crazy as Talmadge Ramey. You know that? Talmadge is this goddamn queer that runs the ballclub. Drinks moonshine with tea at nine in the morning. Got three of the prettiest little boys you ever saw living with him in this big old funeral home. His mama lives in a wheelchair down there where they keep the bodies. Talmadge sells everything but autographed pictures of Jesus on the radio. But I tell you, Miz Dixie Lee Box Crestview, you beat anything I ever even heard of.”

“That a fact?”

“You’re crazy. Bona fide crazy, girl.”

“Well,” Dixie said, “us crazies gotta stick together.” She wheeled off the highway and dropped Stud at Oilers Stadium. “Play good, now, you hear?” she said. “I think I’ll just go tidy up the place. Try to get home early.” Before Stud could say anything, she had spun away in a cloud of dust.

The Lamb Lies Down on River Ave


It would be more upsetting if it wasn’t so predictable. Dallas Keuchel continued his mastery of the Yanks as the Astros made quick work on the home team, 3-0 to advance to the ALDS against the Royals.

At least it was swift and relatively painless. The only reason I qualify the pain is because it feels as if the Yanks have been playing–and losing–the same game for the last 3 weeks. In late August, Keuchel pitched 7 scoreless innings in the Bronx, 3 hits, 0 walks, 9 K’s. Last night, he almost matched it–6 scoreless, 3 hits, a walk, 7 K’s.

Like lambs, I tell you. But give Keuchel credit, he was excellent once again. The Yanks didn’t hit against lefties all year, especially Keuchel.

So, no surprises, nothing crushing, just a sagging, uninspired end to what was a surprising and entertaining season.

Picture by Bags

One for the Money


It’s Money-Earnin’ Masahiro on the hill tonight against that dart-throwing, horrendous-beard-havin’ Cy Young hopeful, Dallas Keuchel.

As per the intrepid Chad Jennings–once again, the King of Yankee bloggers–here’s the Yankee roster tonight:

Catchers: Brian McCann, John Ryan Murphy, Gary Sanchez

Infielders: Greg Bird, Dustin Ackley, Rob Refsnyder, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Brendan Ryan

Outfielders: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young, Rico Noel, Slade Heathcott

Designated hitter: Alex Rodriguez

Starter: Masahiro Tanaka

Bullpen: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, James Pazos, Ivan Nova, Luis Severino

And the lineup:

Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Greg Bird 1B
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

I’m perfectly happy with Ellsbury sitting way he’s been playing.

Stay out of those double plays, boys, and you’ve got a chance. Masahiro, keep ‘em in the park, baby.

It’s been a fun year and this is a likable team. Too bad they didn’t grow mustaches again for the occasion–my that seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it? Yeah, they’ve looked like crap for most the past couple of months and especially lately. Nobody will be surprised if they go out like lambs, but man, wouldn’t it be great if they pulled this one out?

Never mind that sinking feeling that says they’re going to get smoked:


Picture by Bags

Giant Steps


Our thoughts and support go out to CC Sabathia. You aren’t alone, Big Man. Hang in there. We believe in you. Now, you just need to believe in  yourself.

[Photo Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports]

With a Little Bit o (Dumb) Luck

ralph and ed

Despite their recent allergy to winning baseball games the Yanks will host the wildcard playoff game at the Stadium on Tuesday night. The Orioles pounded the Yanks again today–to the tune of 9-4–but the Astros lost the Diamondbacks so the Yanks get the home field. You have to laugh. That’s the good news.

The bad news is they still have to face Dallas Keuchel no matter where they play. Sure, Keuchel is mortal on the road (he’s 15-0 at home) but he shut the Yanks out for 7 innings at the Stadium in August. Gave up 3, didn’t walk a batter, struck out 9. Couple of months earlier, Keuchel shut the Yanks out in Houston, 6 hits, a walk, 12 K’s.


They’re going to need more than luck to advance to Kansas City. Keuchel on 3 days rest is a start.

One More Pin, Rodney


Wouldn’t you know, the Yanks belly-flopped the double header yesterday in Baltimore. Lost the first one 9-2, and the second one, 4-3.

I mean, you just have to laugh. But nuts to that. They win today, they play at the Stadium on Tuesday night. Lose, and its hit the bricks pal and beat it.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Greg Bird 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

Yo Big Mike, consider this your first playoff start. How bout it, bout it, huh?

Never mind the scoreboard:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

And a One, And a Two…


Double header today. First game at noon. Second game at Seven.

Brett Gardner CF
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Chris Young LF
Chase Headley 3B
John Ryan Murphy C
Jose Pirela RF
Austin Romine 1B
Brendan Ryan SS

Ivan Nova’s on the hill.

Never mind the rain:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags


Saturdazed Soul


Coffee, tea, or something stronger to start off the day.

Picture by Derrick Lin 

Back in Business


The last home game of the regular season at Yankee Stadium. Cold, rainy, and two old lefties–CC Sabathia and Rich Hill. The game moved slowly, crawled for the first 3 innings, but Sabathia pitched OK. He was picked up by Adam Warren, who threw 3 shutout innings. I thought he was a sure thing to come back in the 9th–after home runs by the kids, Bird and Refsnyder gave them a 4-1 lead–but it was Betances instead, retiring the Sox in order.

The Yanks won, 4-1, and will play in the wildcard game next Tuesday night.

Proud of this team.

Making the playoffs is something to savor. Let’s do just that.

[Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images]


Let’s Try This Again


Yanks give it another go. With the Old Hoss on the mound, Senior CC.

Brett Gardner CF
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Chris Young LF
John Ryan Murphy C
Greg Bird 1B
Didi Gregorius SS
Brendan Ryan 3B

Never mind the grumbling:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

One to Go


You want to know about last night’s game, check the less-than-measured game thread, particularly my comments. It was not an enjoyable evening.

The Yankees left a million men on base–Sox pitchers walked 11 batters, only 1 scored–and generally acted like they were allergic to winning. And yet they still inched one game closer to clinching a wild card spot. Had they won, they would have clinched. But they gagged, and a sprightly Boston team had some fun, winning 9-5 in 11 innings.

For all my bitching last night, the Yanks are practically a shoe-in for the playoffs. And I don’t really care how ugly the landing has been–just get that ticket punched.  Course it would almost be civil if they were put out of their misery in the wildcard game because having to face certain doom at the hands of the Blue Jays is no way to end a season.

Then again, anything can happen. And hell, if the Yanks made it through the ALDS, that sure would be proof enough for me.

Picture by Bags


One at a Time


The Yanks, bordering on desperate, turn to their guy, Masahiro Tanaka to help get them a win tonight.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Chris Young LF
Greg Bird 1B
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

Never mind the belly ache:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver