"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
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Nuts to You

Or: “Wake Us Up Before You Go-Go”

It’s a hearty time to be a Yankee fan. The team is young and one of the better teams in the game. But holy cow, has this ever been a depressing off-season for the sport. Baseball and the people that run it will never cease to get in their own way—can you imagine marquee stars like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving languishing like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have this winter? Hell, in the NBA teams are getting slapped with fines for tampering guys six months before they hit the open market.

Man, it just makes you shake your head.

Spoke to a guy who runs one of the big sports media companies recently and asked him what the most popular American sports are now in terms of their coverage and he said, “NFL, NBA, college football, soccer, baseball.” Said soccer and baseball are pretty close—and not American soccer but worldwide soccer. I’ve been working with Esquire for the past 3 years and I can tell you from a general magazine like that baseball is squaresville these days. I couldn’t imagine one ballplayer who they would profile.

And that’s fine, I suppose, I’ll still watch the games this year, I’m still excited about this Yankee team, but there is a gloom hanging over the sport that just won’t go away.

Picture by Bags

 

Unanimous

A piece I photoshopped together back in 2013 for “Serious Consideration!“. I dare say this is a good moment to bring it back out for people to see…

This was, believe it or not, a seminal moment in baseball; a crossroads for everyone involved. From players to owners to fans and the media all, this was the time to decide if the way we honor the people we often consider heroes had merit in itself.

And to be totally frank, I think the answer saved more than just baseball from itself.

Could you imagine the outrage, the utter frustration and perhaps final resignation from the realization that there would always be that one person who, for reasons either predictable or inexplicable, decided to not vote for Mariano Rivera.  Anyone reading this, please tell me that you fully believed that the writers entrusted with the task of selecting the new entries to the Baseball Hall of Fame (which by name and by dynamic carries almost a mysticism of grandeur and worldly accomplishment) would actually act in accord with one another to vote for the undisputed greatest reliever of all time to enter this cadre of baseball greatness… unanimously??

Questions, plenty of them if you have the time, but not really.  I care not for the arguments this obviously opens; why NOT Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mike Schmidt, Ken Griffey Jr, et al… why were they not given the honor of total agreement by the fickle and oblique judges of such honors? We know the answer, and by knowing that answer we were hostage to the possibility of what could easily be described by most as recklessness at the least.  The worst of human nature flashed curiously through some minds; what would be the excuse, the agenda, the agonizing self-aggrandizement that would crush its employer to earthly oblivion, ironically in a plane dominated by cyberspace?

I don’t care about that.  I only care right now that this one man, who was universally loved and/or respected by anyone within earshot of his name, with casual interest or platonic worship, had finally broken through to an entire subset who, whether on pain of personal loss or with genuine gumption, parted for Moses and held the gates wide open.

A couple of years ago, my girlfriend-now-wife were driving through New Rochelle, NY which is actually within walking distance of where I live, and we came to a light at an intersection. In front of us, a man ambled somewhat slowly across the street, looking down along his path as though he was organizing his thoughts about either something he had just done or was about to do. He wore a collared white shirt with one button undone at the top and pleated slacks. He was slightly balding from the back and his gait was a little stiff, as though he had been sitting in a pew for more time than he’d realized.  I stared blankly, as he crossed the street in front of us towards the gas station, wondering if this was one of those moments…

“Is that who I think it is?” I said slowly to Lyne, “who does that look like to you?” Lyne was and is a casual baseball fan; I’ve taken her to Yankee games when I was given tickets by friends or people I’ve worked for in the past, and though she was excited by the experiences, her interest remained largely casual beyond beyond certain players.  Certain players… “Who is that… I know him… wait, are you sure it’s him?” I pondered for a split second whether to honk my horn and hope that he knew why we were honking, jump out of the car and chase him to the gas station store and thank him profusely for his career or just leave the man alone to his thoughts and respect him as a fellow human being. I chose the latter. The light turned green and I kept driving, thinking about any and everything, and hoping that he was at least having a nice day.

You see, that’s the thing about Mariano Rivera. For all I know, he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever seen play pro baseball.  Sure, he’s an ordained minister with a church somewhere nearby, and he was revered by millions of fans and respected by millions more. And you better believe he confounded, frustrated and utterly infuriated opposing batters, teams and their fans in game situations that meant do or die for their varied aspirations.  But I never heard one person utter a cross word about him as a person, as a human being. Mo was the antithesis of the admonishment by Charles Barkley so many years ago.  His victories were ours, his pride in a job well done was our pride.  His glare was the glare of many. His focus was legion. The moments of shock, when the fabric of time in space was torn and he did the unthinkable: fail… that was felt and carried by many.  The way he shifted minds, moods and destinies with such fluidity and attentiveness; such a solid state of grace and accomplishment was lifeblood and fountainous youth for any Yankee fan.  “Exit light… enter night!” was clarion and carrier of emotions; the entitled and the marginalized, the wealthy and the poor, the casual and livid; all came to witness the ninth inning  as if it were an address by a world dignitary, an execution or a sermon from some high mount. I could not control myself when it introduced him for the last time as the closer of the New York Yankees.

Unreal, yet Real.  That’s the only way anyone can describe this moment in baseball history. It is only proper that it is connected with a player who fits that description.  Hyperbole?  Sure, why not; don’t we have rare moments that deserve some? I think we can all agree on that.

Dat Bullpen Tho

Yeah, this pretty much had to happen; Yanks sign native Noo Yawka Adam Ottavino to a 3yrs/$27mil.  Cool… so…

Tell us how you REALLY feel in regards to the report that the White Sox offered Manny Faces a 7yr/$175 mil contract; not to mention his agent essentially going apeshet over it. Did it happen? Was it gamesmanship or something nefarious? What does it say about the state of baseball today, particularly in regards to the hard and blatant disconnect that exists fans’ expectations and baseball’s actions? Show your math >;)

Mel

… and Thank You.

Where Have You Gone, David Robertson?

Man, you gotta hope ol’ David Robertson somehow finds his way back to the Bronx before he hangs ’em up. He’s been a terrific Yankee. But now he’s a Philadelphia Phillie and the Yanks just paid up to secure the services of Zach Britton, he of the hard, money-earnin’ sinker.

Course River Ave Blues has the lowdown.

There’s more to do, of course, but the days are starting to get longer and you can almost smell the first hints of the season to come.

Picture by Bags

 

Happy Noo Yearz!

© Julienne Schaer, c/o ILoveNY.com

If you’re from New York and you know what WPIX means, you know what I’ll be doing after the bell. How are you guys spending your New Year’s?  >;)

The Snowstorm—A Love Story

A little personal news here. Most of you who know me might have seen this posted on one of my various social media accounts but thought it would be worth mentioning in this space as well. In the December issue of Men’s Health, I have an essay about how I help my wife, Emily, navigate chronic illness. Take a look—I’m proud of this one. Then dig these little DIY videos we made (Emily just started an Instagram account—Living Beyond Wellness—you should check out too):

and:

If you like the essay please pass along to anyone you think might get something out of it.

Much obliged and Happy Holidays to you all.

 

Ho Ho Ho

What’s on your Christmas list, Yankee fans?

Nats All, Folks.

Robbie Cano is a Met and Patrick Corbin has picked the Nats over the Yanks, Phils and every other team.

Hot Stove is heating up.

Comments welcome.

Picture by Bags

Waiting for Lefty No Moreski

So, the Yanks make a splash—giving up their numero Uno pitching prospect and a couple of others for James Paxton, the tantalizing, though physically fragile, left-hander. Like a guy named Paxton, that’s for sure.

Bitchin’.

Picture by Bags

I Love it When You Call Me Big Poppa

The Big Fella is coming back one last time. And we are happy to have him.

Picture by Bags

Gardy State of Mind

Welp, apologies for the time off. It was all just too disheartening. The Sox running the table and all, from April through October, is just about as bad as it gets, especially with former Yankee scrubbinies turning from pumpkins into 1998 Scott Brosius.

Gardy returns next year. Everyone I talk to would hate to have Manny Machado in pinstripes. You guys feel the same way?

 

You’ Still Here?

Well, there is life after the Yankee season after all and the true baseball junkies will likely be following their antics at this point, so here’s a thread to get your fix on. I hope that a few of us will come through with individual post-season observations about what the Yanks have done so far and intend to do for next season. I’ll be waiting after the “fun” is over, but in the meantime feel free to scoop or speculate while watching the cream rise to the top. One thing I notice already, the umps aren’t gonna make this easy...

If This is It

Goodness, what a beating. Funny how the game speeds up in October and it got ahead of Boone last night in the 4th, leaving Severino in too long, replacing him with Lance Lynn, oh, man, was got ugly to the tune of the worst playoff loss in team history, 16-1. Suck on that, Bronx Bummers.

Dag.

And so the Yanks turn their eyes to the Big Fella, ol’ C.C. to save their season tonight. C’mon guys, nobody likes watching a rival celebrate on your own turn. Find a way to get it done. At least don’t go down easy. Make ’em earn it.

Never mind the inevitable:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

 

What’ll it Be in Game Three?

The Yanks did what they needed to do in Boston and that’s swipe a game. They are back home tonight with their ace, Luis Severino on the hill. He’ll face former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi, who has looked good in his outings vs the Yanks this year. I have high expectations for Severino. Hope he can give them 6 solid innings and keep the team in the game. And I hope the worm turns and the Yanks can touch up Eovaldi—nothing personal, of course.

Porcello is the guy that makes me nervous so it’d be great if the Yanks find a way to win tonight.

Never mind the bromo:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags 

Let’s Try this Again

Think David Price will get his first career playoff win tonight? In Boston, they are holding their breath. And some Yankee fans might think he’ll roll over. But I expect he’ll be tough tonight and the Yanks will come back home down 0-2.

Hope I’m wrong—again:

Never mind the late night:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Bombers Away!

How did we end up here?

Well, if you ask Boone and the Bombers, it all went according to plan. I was wrong, I admit that right away; Yankees did get the home field for the wild card. After that, they punched their ticket emphatically and now are invading Boston to continue their quest for the expected: a trip to the Whirled Serious and a chance to make good on the promise they showed last year, not to mention to justify all the moves and deals they made to get there.

And maaaaaybe just a little revenge for 2004? Not that anyone on this roster would recall that series (nor should they try), but some of us would just love to get those games back, and this is the first time since then that the two teams have had a chance to hash it out again in the playoffs. And look who’s leading those teams to this fancy reunion: rookie manager Alex Cora and equally-rookie manager Aaron F***in’ Boone.  Of course, neither were part of that series, but both had contributed to their teams in important ways when they were playing for the teams they now manage.  And both won at least 100 games in their first year at the helm.  Trivial, but fun facts heading into this showdown, which promises to be Very Interesting Indeed.

Lots to take into this series in terms of expectations; Boston sprinted past the Yanks early on in the season and held tight or stayed close through the mid-season, then turning on the afterburners after the ASB and leaving the rest (especially the Yanks) to fight it out for second place. If nothing else, having two 100-game winners in the same division has begun and interesting discussion about what teams should actually qualify for the playoffs; had the Yanks won their hundred games, yet failed to reach the post season while a team with maybe fifteen less wins was automatically in because they won their division, there certainly would have been a lot of outrage among fans if it were not the Yankees (but definitely outrage if it were from MLB and their television partners).  But that’s for a later debate. For now, let’s revel in the chance for fireworks and Score Trucks and who knows what.  Both teams are coming in with chips on their shoulders, so it oughtta be “lit” as the young players would likely say.

As for me, I’m feeling the Yanks in five; now that Brother Judge is up to speed and has brought life back to the lineup and clubhouse in general, it’s up to the starters to get the job done. Scientific Happ leads off, followed by Major Tanaka and The One (Whom Most Doubted) , then C-Squared ready to shut the door on Boston’s aspirations if that were actually the case. This makes sense; I think that’s the right order. I could be wrong about what we’re about to encounter (and kinda hope I am, but in a good way). Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gents, the show’s about to begin! >;)

One Night Only

Will the Yanks have a brief October appearance, one-and-done at home against the upstart Oakland A’s? Or is tonight just the beginning, with none other than the Boston Red Sox waiting next, standing in the way of a chance to compete for the pennant?

You’d be fool to pick a one-game playoff with any degree of certainty and part of me has a bad, bad feeling about this game. Been feeling that way for the past couple of months. So, let’s hope I’m wrong and our Dudes survive the A’s and push on to a heart attack city series against the Sox.

Either way, we’ll be here, root-root-rootin’ our guys on:

Never mind the nerves:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Flip of the Old Cern

That’s what it amounts to. The Yanks host a very tough Oakland A’s team on Wednesday. Winner heads to Boston to face the Red Sox of Friday. It would be a bummer if the Yanks lost in the WC game but would anyone really be surprised?

Let’s hope they can outlast Oakland and then go give the Sox a pain in the ass.

Picture by Bags

This Is The Way We Walk In New York

Mural by Crash c.2013 NYC

In appreciation of Our Dude CC Stickyfingaz, an old school brotha who chucked half-a-million aside to stand up for his peeps and inspire a tired team and irritable fan base as they sprint the last few days of the season to home field advantage that looked suspect no more than a week ago. And yo, if you’re gonna walk a dude, put an exclamation point on it.

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