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BGS: Ali! Ali! Ali!

Anwar Hussein Collection

The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

Here is our man John Schulian’s 1998 Ali appreciation for GQ, reprinted here with the author’s permission.—AB

Ali! Ali! Ali!

By John Schulian

I remember a night in New York and Muhammad Ali doodling on a paper placemat, his heavyweight glory behind him and the bittersweet future daring him to step toward it. There would be a banquet later, then an award ceremony, and he would fall asleep between the two. Before he did, he nudged me and gestured at what he had wrought with a felt-tip pen and a water glass. It was a globe, complete with continents. “I used to be champion of all that,” Ali whispered in a gentle rasp. Suddenly, I felt the way the nation, and maybe the entire world, would feel eleven years later when he carefully made his way out into the Atlanta night to light the Olympic torch. And yet, as I think about his words now, it seems that Ali, of all people, was understating the case. He was so much more than a champion.

He beat the kind of giants the fight game no longer breeds—Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, the young and thuggish George Foreman—but the true measure of the man was that he instinctively knew what to do afterward, when power and glory were his. No hiding behind the millions he earned, no morphing into the monster that success makes of so many in and out of sports. That would have been too easy, and Ali chose no easy paths in his life outside the boxing ring.

He shed the name Cassius Clay as if it were a slave master’s shackles, he found peace in a religion that confounded the heartland’s sensibilities, and he declined to wage war on a country that hadn’t come looking for a fight. This was a free man in every sense, one who could inspire black Americans when pride became their rallying cry in the sixties. He taught them to believe in themselves, and he taught the rest of us to believe in him. And he made the nation laugh while he was doing it, gleefully tormenting Howard Cosell, performing magic tricks for delighted strangers, and astounding the future pooh-bahs at Harvard with what remains both history’s shortest poem and the best description of his impact on society: “Me. I Whee!”

Transcending his sport, transcending all sports, Ali became the first truly global athlete. He took championship fights out of the traditional fleshpots and deposited them in Third World countries whose faraway villages needed no electricity to get word of his greatness. It didnt matter that he ruled the planet in those dark days before ESPN and marketing deals and the other phenomena that have turned his successors into international products instead of mere sports-page swashbucklers. He had himself, and that was enough. At the end of a century in which our relationship with sports has evolved from pastime to preoccupation, you can look as long and as hard as you want and never find anyone who is the equal of Muhammad Ali.

Only four men come close to matching his impact, which may seem a harsh judgment considering the multitude of heroes and champions we have anointed. But this counting is not solely about affection (Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle) or awe (Jim Brown and Wilt Chamberlain), nor is it about one bright, shining moment (Bobby Thomson) or even a career burnished with relentless excellence (Joe DiMaggio and Joe Montana and so many more). It is about all those things and the rare athletes who somehow climbed still higher to write their names so large that they actually forced a seismic shift in society.

The first was Babe Ruth, who drank bathtubs full of gin and bashed enough home runs to single-handedly save baseball from ruination after the Black Sox scandal. Seven decades later, his name is still evoked as a symbol of power, size, and strength, although never so colorfully as when Japanese soldiers taunted their American foes during World War II by shouting, “Fuck Babe Ruth!”

Joe Louis dealt in muscle, too, when he ruled the world’s heavyweights and set the myth of black inferiority to crumbling. “He came forth,” Jesse Jackson once said, “and the cotton curtain came down.” But Louis never talked about it; silence was his style. It was the same proud silence that Jackie Robinson kept when he was breaking baseball’s color line. Once that first season in Brooklyn was history, though, a different Robinson emerged, his voice suddenly as slashing as his style on the diamond. A lifetime of rage poured out of him, filtered by the Ozzie-and-Harriet fifties but still a harbinger of the thunder that Ali would shake down. Michael Jordan shows no sign of knowing about such righteous anger, for he is the ultimate modern athlete, a well-spoken, well-groomed tool of commerce as much as he is a force of nature when the Chicago Bulls absolutely need to win. No one has ever played better basketball than he does, and he may even have surpassed Ali in terms of worldwide impact. But Jordan uses his clout to peddle sneakers and star in unwatchable movies with Bugs Bunny, leaving the very distinct impression that he has the social consciousness of a baked potato.

Ali towers above the competition, despite his own dalliances with show business and roach-trap commercials. What may surprise you is that it isn’t heart and soul that elevate him, though he possesses those qualities in abundance. It is, rather, intellectual courage, a rare concept in the nation’s locker rooms, where the heaviest thinking tends to involve how many bimbos you can

fit on the head of a pin. Though neither scholar nor autodidact,Ali was not afraid of ideas, of the things that hang in the air unseen, daring those who know they’re there to do something with them. He took the dare, just as Robinson did before him, and he made more of it than any athlete ever has or maybe ever will.

Of course, his intellectual courage would mean nothing to us if he hadn’t proved his physical courage first. He did it in our cruelest sport. Boxing kills some men, and it scrambles the brains of others, and an army of doctors will tell you that it cursed Ali with Parkinson’s syndrome. He used to joke about punchy fighters, saying no one would ever catch him walking on his heels and conducting his conversations in mumbles. There is a sad irony to his humor now that he moves through life in slow motion, but he couldn’t have survived in the ring if his mind had been calibrated any other way.

No heavyweight ever traveled a road more fraught with peril than Ali did. Even the second-tier contenders in his era made you realize how soft Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield have had it. Just think of those old wallopers: Earnie Shavers, Doug Jones,Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, and the surprisingly memorable Ken Norton, who not only defeated Ali but broke his jaw in the process. Ali came back to avenge himself against Norton (barely), and he beat the rest of them, too, because that is what champions do.

He called himself “the Greatest,” though when it comes to assessing modern-day prizefighters, that title may be too rich for those who embrace the savage artistry of Sugar Ray Robinson, a champion as both a welterweight and a middleweight. But as far as heavyweights go, only Joe Louis and JackJohnson deserve to keep Ali’s company in the same sentence, and Ali was bigger and faster than either of them. Lord, could he move. And that isn’t the half of it. He could take a punch, a virtue admittedly with a severe downside, and he could improvise in the middle of a fight like Rodney Dangerfield in a club full of hecklers. If victory lurked somewhere with a microbe’s cunning, Ali would track it down, ever the sweet scientist. He did it when his right hand was dynamite and when it barely qualified as a popgun. He won as a big-mouthed kid from Louisville clinging to his gold medal from the Rome Olympics, and he won after losing prime time in his athletic life for refusing induction into the armed forces. He went through all those changes, and he never lost sight of the fact that he was a showman as well as a render of concussions. So it was that he fought some of the most memorable fights ever, fights that were the stuff of high drama, fights that riveted even those in our midst who take no joy from watching5 men deviate one another’s septums.

He was still Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., so easily dismissed as more prankster than contender, when he plucked the heavyweight crown off baleful Sonny Liston’s noggin in 1964. What a wild ride that was, starting with his driving his bus onto the lawn of Liston’s Denver home in the middle of the night to challenge the head-breaking ex-convict he called “a big, ugly bear.” Came the weigh-in in Miami and his pulse rate more than doubled while he and his goofy shaman, Bundini Brown, shouted his trademark slogan: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” But he was doing neither when he came howling back to his corner at the end of the fourth round. He had been blinded by the caustic goo slathered on Liston’s bum shoulder—no one ever identified it more precisely than that—and he wanted out. Fat chance. Angelo Dundee, the amiable pragmatist working his corner, did what he could to wipe away the goo and thrust Ali back into combat. Hell, this was for the championship. Two rounds later, Liston quit in his corner and Ali climbed the ropes to shout, “Eat your words!” at the sportswriters who had said he didn’t have a prayer. It would not be the only time he gave them religion.

Still, the general reluctance to believe in him endured until he fought Liston again fifteen months later in a hockey rink in Lewiston, Maine. When they were finally in the ring, everything changed in, oh, let’s call it a minute. That was all the time it took Ali to find an opening to throw what was either a perfect punch or the excuse Liston needed to take a dive. The fight racket’s historians may never stop debating the right hand that couldn’t have traveled more than four inches. But know this: No matter how loudly Ali challenged him once he went down—“Get up and fight, sucker!”—Liston stayed that way until the referee counted ten over him.

George Foreman was the other classic bully Ali left hoist on his snarl. Big George hardly fits the description now that he has assumed the role of boxing’s jolly, cheeseburger-eating uncle. But in 1974 Foreman reveled in the meanness he had exported from Houston’s bloody Fifth Ward. He was the undefeated champion by then, and after the way he had laid waste to Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, it looked as if he would rule until he grew bored or got locked up. Going to Zaire for his “Rumble in the Jungle” with Ali seemed an annoying formality. He grumped and glowered every step of the way, while Ali charmed the Africans he embraced as long-lost kin. Foreman’s disposition didn’t improve any when the fight had to be delayed six weeks after he was cut in a sparring session. Worst of all, he and Ali had to put up their dukes at four in the morning to accommodate the dosed-circuit crowd back home—hardly a mood enhancer.

But the ultimate indignity for Foreman was the way Ali flummoxed him once they finally climbed into the ring. Ali even had a name for the flash of inspiration that struck him when he realized he didn’t have the legs to dance for fifteen rounds. He called it the “Rope-a-Dope.” Starting in the second, he leaned against the ropes and let Foreman blast away at his forearms and elbows. Nobody could believe what was happening, least of all Dundee, who had assumed until now that he was on the same wavelength as Ali. But this was a singular thinker at work, and by the sixth, what had seemed madness was being hailed as genius. Foreman didn’t have anything left—the danger in his punches had been used up. All that remained for Ali was to knock him out in the eighth so he could walk into the dawning day and do magic tricks for the African kids who had come to love him.

The fights that best defined Ali, however, were the three with Frazier. Here was Smokin’ Joe, a sharecropper’s son who punched his way from a job in a slaughterhouse to a heavyweight title of his own, and the purity of his vision in the ring touched something deep in Ali. When they did battle—and what transpired between deserves no less noble a phrase—it was never about money or a championship or any of the other things for which men beat one another senseless. Something far more personal was at work. It was as though, someone once said, Ali and Frazier were fighting for “the championship of each other.”

Frazier hated Ali, and not without reason. Ali called him “ignorant.” Ali called him “gorilla” and “Uncle Tom.” Ali called him the white man’s hope, when every aspect of Frazier’s life had been shaped by his being poor and black. So it doesn’t take much to imagine the rage with which Frazier stalked Ali the first time they fought. The year was 1971; the place was Madison Square Garden; the atmosphere was unlike anything you can possibly imagine for a fight today. The entire nation was swept up by the anticipation of what would happen between the undefeated Frazier and Ali, whose only loss up to this point had come at the hands of the U.S. government. Fifteen rounds later, Frazier had beaten Ali’s handsome face lopsided and won a unanimous decision. But Ali salvaged something from the wreckage: respect. He found it in the final round, after Frazier dropped him with a left hook that Ali’s unborn children must have felt. The easy thing would have been to lie there and be counted out. Ali couldn’t do that, even though the fight was almost over and winning was out of the question. He climbed back to his feet and got punished some more. If there had been questions about his courage, they were answered right there.

Ali-Frazier II barely registers in memory. Neither man was a champion at the time, and the pre-fight scuffle they had on national television, with Howard Cosell ducking for cover, was in its bizarre way more interesting than the fight itself. But Ali won the unanimous decision this time, leaving them even and setting the stage for the legendary “Thrilla in Manila.” Not that anyone anticipated greatness when the fight was made. Frazier was in small pieces after Foreman demolished him to take away his title. Ali had been coasting since he, in turn, had waylaid Foreman in Zaire. When he reached the Philippines, change didn’t seem imminent. Just riding herd on his entourage, which numbered half a hundred and ran to the exotic, seemed a job that would have stymied Patton. And then there was his second marriage, crumbling while he frolicked publicly with Veronica Porche, the icy beauty who would become the next Mrs. Ali. But the sight of Frazier boring in on him one last time snapped everything back into focus.

It was a fight in three acts—classic Hollywood structure. When the curtain went up in the sweltering Araneta Coliseum, Ali greeted Frazier with a boxing lesson that lasted for the first four rounds, sticking and moving, even giving him a dose of his own left-hook medicine. Frazier ate one punch after another until his time arrived, and then, from the fifth round until the eleventh, he gave Ali a beating of biblical proportions. Ali tried to cover up against the ropes, but Frazier hammered his arms and body until they went soft and left his head an unprotected target. Asked afterward how he felt, Ali said, “Next to death.”

Somehow he survived. Reaching down into the well of fury and courage that only Frazier could drive him to, Ali summoned three of the most magnificent rounds of his career. He pounded Frazier relentlessly, hammering the sweat off him in sheets, knocking his mouthpiece flying, and turning his face into a Halloween mask of lumps and bruises and blood. There would be no fifteenth round for Frazier; he stayed on his stool when the bell called him to action. In the winner’s corner, with everyone who hadn’t thrown a punch going nuts, Ali celebrated by sitting on a stool, wondering if his heart would explode.

If he had only stayed there, he might not be in the muzzy limbo where we find him now. Surely Frazier had inflicted enough damage to last Ali the rest of his days, just as he in turn had done to Frazier. But Ali was a fighter, and fighters fight, so he marched off to war for six more years. The low point was the beating he incurred in 1980 at the hands of Larry Holmes, once his sparring partner and before that a housing-project kid who was only too happy to stow away on the champ’s bus. The last traces of Ali’s boxing genius were pillaged that night in the parking lot outside Caesars Palace, and the prevailing emotion afterward was true sorrow. At the end of the line, Ali had achieved a state of grace with the public he had amused, agitated, enlightened, and sometimes simply scared to death.

Grace, however, was a long time coming, for he wasn’t always an easy icon to love. There was, for one thing, the anger that poisoned his early fights, an anger far beyond whatever a boxer needs to function in that Darwinian environment. The beatings he inflicted on Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell for calling him Cassius Clay were cruel, even barbaric, and his ugly baiting of Frazier was mean-spirited and, far worse, completely unjustified. He was just as cruel to the wives who had to put up with his relentless philandering, although it would have taken a eunuch to resist the temptation he faced daily. But none of that roiled public sentiment as much as his entrance into the Nation of Islam, which smacked of nothing less than a black man’s version of the Klan. In one instant, he was the Louisville Lip, sure to get busted open by Liston; in the next, he was the unlikely champion and Elijah Muhammad, the crusader who decried white devils, was bestowing a Muslim name on him. Whites, both devils and otherwise, suddenly looked at Ali as if he were the one who had sprouted horns and a tail.

It was only the beginning of the spiritual gauntlet he had to run. When he responded to his draft notice by saying, “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong,” his world was turned upside down. There would be no conscientious-objector status for him on religious grounds; instead he was hit with the loss of his championship and a federal conviction in 1967 for refusing induction into the army. As far as boxing went, the next three and a half years vanished, but Ali persevered, touring college campuses to speak out on Vietnam, race, and religion. John Kennedy had been assassinated, and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were fated to cross paths with lunatic killers, and still Ali forged ahead, working the same territory as those brave souls. The FBI shadowed his every step, but that didn’t stop him, either. He kept on telling the truth as he±an unlettered, basically apolitical man—knew it. And the truth set him free.

The sixties took care of the rest. It was a time for rebels, for Bob Dylan with his protest songs and Eugene McCarthy with his crusade against the war, and Ali was a perfect fit. The kids who delighted in scorning most everything else were the first to flock to the light he gave off. Their elders would follow in the years ahead, moved in part by the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to overturn his conviction, but primarily because he was able to move beyond the rage that had been so necessary. Then the holdouts embraced him the way they never would Jane Fonda, the sixties’ other great celebrity rebel, or the contemporary athletes who think they honor his legacy by strutting and running their mouths.

No matter how his late-arriving admirers looked at him, Ali proved impossible to resist. Profile left, he was a three-time champ with a place in history outside the ring and a black man who, even at his most amusing, never let himself be hamstrung by the whiteman’s world. From the right side, he was the movie-star handsome scamp who billed himself as “Dark Gable” and the dead-pan joker who, when a pair of his boxing gloves were enshrined in the Smithsonian, asked, “You gonna put a rug in here?” Taken straight on, he was the dreamer who wanted to open soup kitchens for the poor around the country and the soft touch who had a thousand-dollar-a-day habit when it came to handouts.

Every time the spotlight that was always on him moved, it seemed to reveal something new about Ali, something worth study at the least, admiration at best. Yet all those angles and all those facets led to a single conclusion, and it endures to this day: He was exactly who he was put on earth to be. One of a kind. One for a century.

[Photo Credit: by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images] 

Moving Right Along

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Except of course the Yanks aren’t in Detroit this weekend but Baltimore. Right. No, seriously, I’m on top of it.

Lordy. Never mind the tardiness around here:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Shopping For Runs

ice cream truck

So, yeah, that didn’t go too well, did it? The Yanks got trounced in Canada and now they’re in Detroit for the weekend. Elmore Country! (What was the Elmore novel where the bad guy came from Canada to Detroit? Killshot, that’s it.)

Let’s hope for better results.

Never mind the M*A*S*H unit:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags. 

Whadda Ya Say?

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What about a win, fellas?

Why not, right?

Never mind nuthin’:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Inside Outski

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Man, yesterday’s game was a beaut. The Yanks got one-hit but still managed to win because that one hit was a two-run home run by Starlin Castro. Nathan Eovaldi was stingy, allowing a run over six innings and the Yanks Big Three did the voodoo that they do so well to end it.

Final Score: Yanks 2, Rays 1.

Tonight, the boys start a three-game series vs those nasty Jays.

Never mind the posturing:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Sundazed

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Back at it again indoors in Tampa this afternoon.

Never mind the haze:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Senior Rod Goes Down Singing

Rod Steiger

[Our old pal Robert Ward has been telling a story about Rod Steiger for years and he's kind enough to drop by and share it with us. For some good ol’ on location movie fun, check this out.—Alex Belth]

By Robert Ward

I was in Durango, Mexico in the 70′s on the set of a movie I had written called Cattle Annie and Little Britches, a comic western starring Amanda Plummer as Cattle Annie and Diane Lane as Little Britches. The male stars were Burt Lancaster as Bill Doolin and Rod Steiger as Bill Tilghman, the sheriff who hunts the gang of outlaws down. The whole tale was pretty much true, about the teen aged girls joined the infamous Doolin Dalton Gang. They were smarter than the boys and ended up planning their robberies.

The shoot was going fine until Rod Steiger showed up. He and Lancaster hated one another because of some financial matter, which had transpired years back when they were going to be in the movie making business together. Apparently, Rod pulled out at the last minute and the whole project nearly fell apart. Lancaster kept it together with other people but there was still bad blood between them. Perhaps that was part of the reason for the ghastly things that transpired that night. That and the fact that Steiger was on the down side of his career and was feeling vulnerable.

In any case we held a first night “welcome to the movie ” dinner party for Rod at a real Mexican restaurant in down town Durango, with real Mexicans in it. Everyone but the movie people and Rolling Stone writer Jack Hicks were local folks. The party started on time but Rod showed about a half hour late. He was seated in the middle of the table next to some of the gang members, cowboys like Kenny Call, who had won every major rodeo award known to man. Rod objected to this seating and demanded to be at the head of the table where the producer Rupert Hitzig was sitting. Under his breath he mentioned his Academy Award for “The Pawnbroker.” Rupert happily gave up his seat to Rod, who was now sitting next to me.

We all started eating, and drinking, trying to forgetthe nasty vibes Rod had laid on the gathering. Things seemed ok, until this young girl got up with her guitar. She was about 14, and sang these earnest love songs in Spanish walking among the tables as she warbled.  She was young, beautiful and her songs were heartfelt. Everyone loved her, the Mexican patrons, and our table applauded fiercely. Everyone but one man, Rod Steiger. He looked at me and said, “Do you see what she’s doing?” I said, “Yes, she’s singing a song and doing it quite well too.” Rod glared at me  and said “No, she is trying to destroy me! I heard you play the guitar today Ward. Get it from her. We have to top her!”

I tried to reason with him. “Rod, you’re a international movie star. You don’t need to compete with a 14 year old girl.” Rod looked at me, said “You obviously know nothing about competition. You must always compete with anyone who tries to top you.”  Reluctantly, I asked the girl if we could borrow her guitar. She was happy to loan it to us. I sat down and started playing some blues licks and Senor Rod got up and began to improvise a blues song which sounded like something Sophie Tucker might have sang.

Hideous would not be too strong a word to describe his singing. He pranced through the tables, sometimes hitting them, and upsetting glasses of wine and beer. Yet, the patrons were kind and clapped for him, some even yelling “Hooray for Senor Rod.” He sat down and smiled in a victorious way and we all began to eat again.

It was then that I noticed these four swarthy Mexican workers staring at us. These guys were muscular and wore grimy shirts. They had obviously just come off some tough job. They didn’t like Senor Rod. They didn’t like me, the guitar player, I was pretty certain. I tried to ignore them. Everything seemed to cool down. That is, until the girl got up and sing again. This time she sang the song of her native town, Durango. Heartfelt sentiments about her home, city of her family, city of her heart. People went crazy whistling, yelling.

Senor Rod looked at me. “Get the guitar, Ward. You don’t understand, we can’t give in!” I looked at Hitzig who whispered that I had to play or Rod might not show up tomorrow to say his lines! So I borrowed the guitar again, feeling like the biggest ass in Mexico. This time Senor Rod got up on the floor and poured Cognac into people’s drinks as he waddled around  singing more of his horrible, show tune blues. This time there was practically no applause and the four tough workers glared at all of us. It was now obvious to everyone in the place that Rod was trying to top the local heroine. And failing miserably.

Everyone in our party felt that disaster was about to strike us all so we paid the bill and ran out to the cars which waited to take everyone to the safety of the set encampment. A few seconds later everyone was safely whisked away. That is, everyone but Rolling Stone reporter Hicks and yours truly.  We were mere writers after all. Who cared what happened to us? So we were left out in the street outside of a restaurant where inside lay a gang of Mexicans who rightly hated us as the ultimate Ugly Gringos. I prayed a little: “God, don’t let that door open until we can call for a cab.” I put pesos into the pay phone on the corner and waited. And then it happened.

The door to the cafe opened and the four Mexican hardasses who had been eyeing us all night, stepped out, and walked toward us. They walked in lockstep and looked like they were out to kick some serious American butt. As they got closer I whispered to Hicks, “This is it man. I’m hitting the first guy and you get the guy on his left” “What then?”Jack said. You’re your ass off.” Was my clever reply. They came closer, closer still and then the toughest one stopped, only a foot away from me. He stared into my eyes and said: ” Hey man you play Chuck Berry?”

I was so stunned by this friendly request I almost answered with the a hostile reply. Then I heard what he had actually said. Stunned, I smiled and said, “Hell yes, I do.” He smiled and said, “Then come on back in. Let’s have some fun, man!”  And Hicksie and I went back in with our new amigos, and played all night. As we drank and sang “Maybelline,” the toughest one, Julio, looked at me, laughed and said, “You know Bobby, we all knew you hated Senor Rod as much as we did.” They were right, I did.

 

Bomb Popped

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Big Mike got bombed today and though the Yankee offense growled they couldn’t score enough to comeback.

Next.

Summerishiness

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It’s funny—Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t needed that TJ surgery after all. He’s been really solid, huh?

Nice win the Yanks last night and perhaps there’s more where that came from this afternoon.

Never mind the humidity:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Summerish

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Yanks are down in Tampa—at their very own house of horrors—for the weekend. Hey, at least it’s got air-conditioning.

Never mind the bloomin’ onions:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Rock Steady

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The Go-Figure Yanks continued their winning ways last night blanking the Jays.

Do we dare ask for more? (Dare, Dare)

Never mind the warmth:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Uh-Oh, These Guys

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The bad guys. Who are sort of sucking this year.

GIT ‘EM, BOYS.

Never mind the chirpin’:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Go On

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…with your impressive selves. The Yanks have had a good couple of weeks. Won again yesterday to complete a four-game sweep in Oakland. They are sniffing .500.

For this we are pleased, we truly are because you got to take what’s there to be had. Every little bit counts, as they say on the telethons.

 

One At a Time

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Dag, what do you know? The Yanks are out there on the west coast winning ballgames, y’all. I have to say I’m thrilled that C.C. pitched so well on Friday night. Sober, pitching well at home, man, it must have been a special moment for him.

In the meantime, the Yanks won again yesterday and have a shot at a sweep this afternoon.

Never mind the afternoon shadows:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Golden State Weekend

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Second of four tonight in Oakland.

Never mind the sunsets:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Green and Gold

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You know, I watched about 95% of the games in 1998 but one that I missed was the comeback where Straw hit the grand slam. I might have even started watching it but I missed the comeback, one of their best of the season. I just remember waking up like it had been a happy dream, which is what that whole season was anyway.

Point is, it’s hard to stay up for games in Oakland. Least it’s always been for me. At least on a school night.

That said, I like that I have a choice and sometimes I’ll just hang on and watch a game until it’s over just because.

Never mind the peppermint tea:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Two-Lane Highway

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I’m happy when Nathan Eovaldi does well. Happy for him, beyond the usual reasons I mean. The guy just seems to ride that fine line between clever and stupid and I always feel like he’s just going to implode, like Big Mike Pineda seems to be doing these days. And yet Eovaldi hangs in there, he tries. He’s got a big cumbersome body and he is soft-spoken—seemingly withdrawn—with the press. He’s like Bernie Williams as a big galoot pitcher from Texas. His stuff is amazing but he is not an amazing pitcher. It’s hard for him and he lacks that certain something that comes to other great pitchers so readily. He doesn’t trust himself. He’s not a killer. Yet.

But hope is the thing with a 99 mph heater and behind another solid outing from Eovaldi, with the usual showing from Three Times Dope (even though Miller gave up a dinger), the Yanks manage to get out of Arizona with a 4-2 win.

Rock Springs

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Good Gosh, I’m remiss. Really lagging behind events these days. The Yanks lost last night cause Sluggo Pineda can’t get his lumbering ass in gear; they’ll need to grab a “W” tonight in order to avoid being swept in Arizona of all places.

We’ll be up late root-root-rooting them on—at least some of us will.

Never mind the warm milk:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Ok, Let’s Try That Again

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Well, okay, so things didn’t go so well for young Chad Green last night. He took a thumping but he’s not the first and won’t be the last.

Back at it again tonight in the desert:

Never mind the ghosts:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Chad Green, This Is Your Life

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Welcome to the big leagues, Hoss.

Never mind the memories:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

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