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Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, Dying Time’s Here

Luis Severino wasn’t brilliant but he was damn good and you know the rest as the Yanks tied up the series a few nights ago with a 7-3 win. The new new Yankee Stadium is said to have none of the claustrophobic atmosphere of Yankee Stadium II but for two nights it was loud, baby. Great job by the rattle-your-jewelry playoff swells as well as the hardcore regulars in attendance.

Tonight gives all the marbles out in Cleveland. While I expect the Indians to win it is hard to count our boys out. Let’s hope the give ‘em Hell.

Never mind the waiting:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Luis Severino Returns

…And the Sox are the first to fall, losing by a run to the Astros in the rain this afternoon.

Hot fuggin’ damn.

Little Luis has had some time to think it over now, huh? He gets the nod against Trevor Bauer, who, I am sorry, can’t be great 2 times in a row, can he, hah? Expect Severino to pitch well—for awhile anyway. And also expect the offense to score couple few runs.

Just want the Yanks to be a tough out. Don’t make it easy on ‘em.

Never mind the load:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Masahiro, We Turn Our Lonely Eyes to You

Yanks with their backs against the wall. Been such a fun season, shame to see it end so quickly.

Never mind the nightmare flashbacks:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags


You can put this up there on the mantle piece with the Sandy Alomar game and the fuggin’ midges, too. The Yankees beat the crap out of Corey Kluber, staked the bullpen to an 8-3 lead, and then watched it all fall apart as they went on to lose in 13, 9-8. At the center of it all was Joe Girardi’s boner not to challenge a hit batter in the 7th. What clearly looked to us at home like a foul tip—which would have resulted in a third strike and the end of the inning, Yanks up by five—went unchallenged even though Gary Sanchez immediately signaled for review. After the game, Joe wasn’t ready to accept blame square in the face and that’s his business; rightly or wrongly this gets hung on him now and will be remembered bitterly by Yankee fans for as long as we remember.

There were heroes—Sanchez, and Aaron Hicks, who had a 3-run bomb, Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances with fine work out of the pen—and there were goats—looking at you, kid Torreyes—but this one will be remembered as one that famously got away.



Gainin’ on Ya

Yanks turn to old reliable C.C. Sabathia tonight. Boy, you can see this going south on him quickly, looking old and feeble, the Indians beating the snot out of him. Revenge. Old wounds. All that old salt shit. But you can also see him keeping out boys in it as they try to survive Kluber and somehow find a way to steal this goddamn game.

Biggest one of the year.

Never mind the shadows (or the odds):

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Here We Goski—ALCS: Game One

So, the Yanks get one out from Luis Severino and still win going away, 8-4, to advance to the ALCS against the Indians.

It was a swell night, by you already know that.

First up today gives Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander as the Red Sox play against the Astros in Houston. Yanks go tonight at 7:30.

With Kluber looming tomorrow, this is the game you figure the Yanks need to steal in order to have a shot in the series. Yanks will go with Sonny Gray (C.C. in Game 2, followed by Tanaka and Severino).

Never mind the gravy—11 wins gets the big prize:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

One Night Only

The Yanks host the Twins tonight in the do-or-die wildcard game at the Stadium.

Beautiful day in the Bronx, sunny, warm, no humidity. Will get a little cool tonight, just about ideal.

The more than capable Ervin Santana goes against our dude, Luis Severino. This match-up has bothered me for weeks, karma-wise. I think back on John Bonnes and Aaron Gleeman and Batgirl—and all those faithful Twins fans—and can’t help but see the upset clearly. At the same time, the Yanks are the favorite on paper and plus I love this team and feel good about their chances.

Aw, Hell, we know it could go either way. Point is, we’ll be there, root-root-rootin’ our boys on every step of the way.

Never mind the pressure:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

(P.S. As a reminder, I know we’re a modest bunch in the comments section these days, but if that spikes tonight, please remember to be civil. You can vent if you’re frustrated and you can curse—just don’t curse at each other, put one another down, or generally act like a putz. Thanks—A.B.)


It’s a Family Affair

Would you believe these Yanks? Now, that was a fun season. Let’s hope there is more to come and not some bitch-slap of a one-and-done tomorrow night against the Twins, who have Karma on their side, many times as they’ve taken it on the chin agains the Yanks.

Never mind that just yet. It’s been a memorable summer. Maybe more to come.

In the meantime: Thanks, Yanks!

[Photo Credit: Paul J. Bereswill]

A Good Place to Be

Yanks won again last night (again with the 6-1)—Sox did too and they are this close to clinching the division.

Tonight is beautiful in the Bronx, not cold but the humidity is gone and it is cool. A hint of what is to come next Tuesday night when the Yanks, in all likelihood, host the Twins at the Stadium.

Stay healthy, keep chugging away, fellas.

Never mind the future:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Round the Outside (Round the Outside)

Nice 6-1 win last night, eh? Loved it—looking at you Mr. Montgomery. Chris Sale stumbled, Sox lost. Doesn’t mean they are collapsing but it was pleasant all the same.

More tonight.

Never mind this humidity:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

50 is a Beautiful Thing

Monday was a goldbricker’s delight for Yankee fans. Matt B, a longtime Banterite, actually offered me a ticket, but I couldn’t make it, dammit. Anyhow, as you already know, it was a dream afternoon as our man Aaron Judge hit a couple more dingers—49 and 50!—tying and then passing Big Mac for the rookie home run record.


Three game series vs. the Rays starts tonight. Final stretch. Let’s pad those stats and stay healthy and get ready for the do-or-die game against the Twinkies.

Never mind the Indian Summer:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/Getty Images]

Step Up Front

The Yanks are headed back to the postseason as they clinched at least a wildcard berth yesterday with a tidy, 5-1 win. The pitching was superb and a 3-run dinger by Greg Bird was enough to lift our boys back to October.

Look, let me be the first to say that I am awfully nervous that the Twins, after being whipped by the Yanks so often in the playoffs, will finally get their revenge. But if the Yanks can win that game, they can give the Indians a pain in the ass.

Never mind the future, let’s stay in the moment.

This has been a weird but enjoyable season thus far.

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

One More Pin, Rodney

Aaron Judge had a nice night—and there was some welcome and spirited banter in the game thread, which I’ll address separately—but that was about it as the Yanks took one on the chin in Toronto while the Red Sox won again. More today—a win gets our boys a ticket to the dance.

Never mind the blue birds:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

(p.s. And here is an update on the little girl who was hit by a foul ball earlier in the week.)

He Loves to Say Her Name

Here is our pal John Schulian’s 1980 column on Jake LaMotta, who passed away a few days ago at the age of 95. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission.—AB


She keeps dabbing at her left eye with a hanky as soft as an angel’s breath—dabbing, then smiling and pretending nothing is wrong. Maybe this is way all beautiful women growing old protect themselves. When nature can’t be depended on anymore, they master the art of illusion and produce what Jake LaMotta sees before him now. She is no fading flower. She is, rather, the same long-legged honey blonde he met beside a Bronx swimming pool thirty-seven years ago.

“That’s the Vikki that’s in the picture,” LaMotta says.

The hanky comes away from her eye quickly.

“He loves to say my name,” she purrs.

Once they were man and wife. Now they are friends and business partners, reunited by Raging Bull, the movie of LaMotta’s star-crossed life. They may even be more, but time apparently has taught them the virtue of discretion. When they checked into the Continental Plaza, their request was simple: same floor, separate rooms. “All I’m gonna tell ya,” LaMotta says, “is that I don’t go for that brother and sister stuff.”

Under the scarred brows that were part of the price he paid for the world’s middleweight championship, his dark eyes twinkle roguishly. It is what you expect, but it is not the complete picture of Jake LaMotta’s crowding sixty.

There is no more of the fire, the savagery, the craziness that could have made this untamed street kid a murderer if he hadn’t discovered the joy of mayhem in the ring. In a deftly-tailored gray suit, with his chair adjusted so you can speak into his good ear, he seems totally incapable of destroying his championship belt or, worse yet, punching his beloved Vikki.

“Feelin’ any better,” he asks her.

“I’m gonna go see the doctor in just a little while,” she replies.

She turns to a visitor.

“Isn’t Jake cute?” she asks.

Vikki LaMotta used different adjectives for him that grim day when his jealousy boiled over and he accused her of rampant infidelity, garroted his brother on a hunch, and blackened her eye. It was the same one that is bothering her now, and the funny thing is, her latest injury can be blamed on Robert De Niro, the actor who plays Jake in the movie. Vikki was holding De Niro’s picture the other day, and when somebody tried to grab it, she pulled back and poked herself in the eye. Just like that, history had repeated itself.

If Jake LaMotta flinches at the thought, you need only see Raging Bull to understand why. He has sat through it twice, and twice may be all he can bear. “I come out a bad guy in the picture,” he says. “It’s the way I was, it’s the truth, but that don’t make it no easier on me. The first time I watched it, I didn’t know what happened; I didn’t know whether to like or dislike it. There was something wrong and I couldn’t figure out what it was until the next day: I was reliving my life.”

It was a life in which the good times were almost extraneous. Sure, LaMotta waged a glorious holy war with Sugar Ray Robinson for the better part of a decade. Sure, he pole-axed Marcel Cerdan to win the championship in 1949. Sure, he refused to concede that Laurent Dauthille had him beat and knocked the stubborn Frenchman stiff with just thirteen seconds standing between him and ignominy. But the bulk of LaMotta’s legacy is as sad as a cauliflower ear and as ugly as nose split down the middle.

The ruination of Jake LaMotta began with the fight he threw to Billy Fox in ’47. The mob may have been leaning on him and he may have had to play along to get a shot at the title, but he went in the tank all the same, and when he did, he stamped himself as a bum forever. No wonder people were saying it figured years later when LaMotta got run in for letting a teenaged hooker operate out of his Miami strip joint.

He wound up on a chain gang, did time in the rat hole dedicated to incorrigibles, and never heard a word of sympathy. Maybe it would have been different if the word had gotten out that he pried the diamonds out of his championship belt to pay for a defense attorney, but Hollywood wasn’t going to make Raging Bull for another twenty years.

“When I done that to my belt,” he says, “I was symbolically—is that the word?—destroying the thing that made me the way I was. See, I was like one of those dogs that go to war. They’re trained to be vicious, they’re rewarded for it. But when the war’s over, and they’re back with their civilian masters, they can’t understand why they’re punished when they attack people. That’s the way I was, and I had to figure it out myself. I couldn’t afford no psychiatrist. I had to adjust by myself. There’s the word. I had to adjust.”

Not until now, however, did LaMotta have the chance to prove that he has succeeded. With Raging Bull hitting theaters across the country, he gets paid to leave New York and hold court in fancy hotel rooms in the cities where he used to fight. He does Marlon Brando’s back-of-the-taxi speech from On the Waterfront, and when the telephone rings, he leaps from his chair and shouts, “What round is it?” And always there is Vikki, the second of his four wives, the mother of two of his six children. She is up from Miami, back into his life, and for just a while, Jake is young again.

“Ya know why she didn’t play herself in the movie, don’tcha?” he asks. “I didn’t want her kissin’ Robert De Niro.”

“You mean you didn’t want me to kiss Bobby’s booboo?” she teases.

“That’s the truth, Vikki.”

He loves to say her name.



Thirty-seven years ago this December, Jake LaMotta Jr. ushered me into his father’s hotel suite and introduced me to the man himself, sitting there in a high-backed chair looking like a Mafia don. Then Jake Jr. turned to a beautiful blonde of a certain age who, if I hadn’t seen her in Playboy, I might have guessed had been kidnaped by these two characters. “This is my mother,” he said. “You believe it?”

He was balding and rumpled, in his 30s somewhere but the extra pounds he was carrying made him seem older. He’d probably asked the same question of every writer he’d met on this press tour, but he still tensed up as he waited for my answer.

“To tell you the truth,” I said, “no.”

His father laughed first. Vikki just smiled serenely even with her bothersome eye tearing up.

She didn’t say much beyond what I used in my column, but she turned out to be the salvation of that cold Monday morning anyway. Whatever humanity Jake LaMotta possessed, she coaxed to the surface with a look or a laugh or a few gently teasing words. The rest was part of the show he didn’t need much encouragement to put on. His On the Waterfront routine wasn’t bad, but it was still LaMotta imitating Brando, just as Raging Bull was an imitation of LaMotta’s life.

There really wasn’t enough meat on the bones of LaMotta’s life to sustain a movie. Martin Scorsese made one anyway. His infatuation with tough guys and wise guys blinded him to the lack of a dramatic arc in the story. As Barney Nagler, the vinegary columnist for the Daily Racing Form, once said of LaMotta: “He was a prick the day he was born and he’ll be a prick the day he dies.” Not that Raging Bull was without brilliance. Those brutally beautiful scenes depicting LaMotta’s war with Sugar Ray Robinson leap to mind every time I think of the movie. Unfortunately, Scorsese turned the violence into a cartoon that neither man would have survived for six fights. They might not have lasted six rounds.

It was Roger Ebert’s job to review the movie for the Chicago Sun-Times. I would write a column about LaMotta that would be paired with Roger’s review in the paper’s promos. The day before my audience with LaMotta, I’d damn near frozen to death in a press box in Minneapolis before racing to catch the last flight home so I could get up early and drive downtown. I wasn’t sure he was worth the trouble. Then Vikki said he liked to say her name and he was.

When Baseball Doesn’t Matter

The Yanks won and won big yesterday against the Twins but it all seemed trivial after a little girl was hit with a line drive off Todd Frazier’s bat. Just a devastating moment. So damn upsetting. I can’t stop thinking about the girl and her family and hope that she will be okay.

Yanks with the day off and are up in Toronto this weekend.

Picture by Bags

Night in the City

Some kind of onions win for the Yanks last night as they snuck by the Twins, 2-1. Dellin Betances walked the bases loaded in the 8th but he was rescued by Aroldis Chapman who struck out Joe Mauer on three pitches and then got Byron Buxton to fly out to right on the first pitch he saw. Chapman was dominant in the 9th as the Yanks got a big time win. Aaron Judge hit his 44th (word to Tino—20 years ago!).

Only drag was that the Red Sox won in extra innings…again. The O’s blew a big lead, no surprise there. That’s just the way it goes this summer.

Raining lightly in the Bronx but I hope they get this one in. Wonder if the Twins dare bunt against ol’ C.C.

Never mind the slickers:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Big Fun

Man, you got to figure the O’s will not be sorry to see the last of the Yanks, who park the Score Truck up on the curb and open a block party for all when they play Baltimore. Many more runs were scored by our gang yesterday as the Yanks routed the O’s 9-3 (never mind the soporific late-inning relief corps who prevented Paulie O from making his dinner reservation on time).

Once more today. With feeling.

Never mind the haze:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Indian Summer

Luis was sweet last night, gave up a 2-run homer early and then nothing else over 8 innings. The Score Truck did the rest, parking this one at 8-2.

More this afternoon with the late 4 p.m. start.

Never mind the shadows:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Boom Bap

Aaron Judge had a TBT performance last night, bringing back fond memories of the spring months, hitting 2 long home runs as the Yanks skipped to a 13-5 win. Indian Summer humid in the Bronx tonight as Luis Severino takes the hill.

Let’s hope the Score Truck stays double parked on the right side of the street.

Never mind the heat:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags


The Yanks took the series from the Rays out in Queens—dropping only the middle game. Tonight, they return home to face the O’s. It is muggy and gray in New York. But that won’t break our stride.

Never mind the forecast:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

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