"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Todd Drew


Butch lives way over in Parkchester and only stops by Juan Carlos’s coffee cart when he wants to complain about something.

The regulars usually spot him a block away and most gulp their breakfast and head in the other direction. A stubborn few – Javier from Walton Avenue, Fat Paulie from Gerard Avenue and Jon from Woodycrest Avenue in High Bridge – meet him head on.

“You’re early,” Javier says. “Bitching season doesn’t start for another three months.”

“It’s also nice to see you,” Butch says smugly. “Are you finally ready to admit that Cashman is screwing up this team?”

“No one around here thinks that,” Fat Paulie says. “There’s a lot of work to do this winter, but what makes you think that Cashman isn’t going to get it done?”

“He didn’t even offer arbitration to Abreu,” Butch says. “He should have, at least, set us up to get the draft picks. And why hasn’t he finished a deal with Sabathia and what’s he doing to resign Pettitte and maybe get Teixeira?”

“You don’t know anything about Cashman’s plan,” Jon says. “Why not let him finish rebuilding the team before you start complaining?”

“You guys look at everything through Yankee-colored glasses,” Butch snaps. “Someday you’ll have to admit that I’m right.”

“Why do you waste all this stuff on us?” Javier says with a shrug. “You should do what all the other experts do: Start your own baseball blog.”

“Do you really think I should?” Butch asks.

“Absolutely,” Javier answers.

The others nod, too.

“I’m gonna do it,” Butch says as he turns and heads for home.

“Don’t forget to write,” Fat Paulie says.

“Yeah,” Javier adds. “Make sure and blog it!”


The 2 train was not part of the online revolution this morning. Everyone sitting, standing and leaning had their noses buried in a newspaper.

Robbie Ruiz from Mott Haven got his nose bent-out-of-shape when asked why he didn’t get his news online.

“Do I look like I’ve got a computer in my pocket?” he snapped. “They ought to try putting some more of that news in the paper so the rest of us can read it.”

Ruiz’s frustration came from The New York Times.

“They don’t care about us saps who read the paper,” Ruiz said. “I turn to page 4 and they tell me what’s on their Website: audio and video and special features. After I pay $1.50 they want to rub my nose in all the stuff they offer for free to people who have computers.”

The New York Times is still the standard for journalism in this country. And they show just how far that standard has fallen.

“You’ve got to dig for everything in this paper,” Ruiz explained. “The Metro section is part of the front section and the Sports section is buried in the back of the Business section. The first things I want to know are what’s going on in my neighborhood and what’s going on with the Yankees. They make me search for both and go online for the rest.”

There are some who say that online publications are the wave of the future. Declining circulations indicate that a lot of people aren’t reading newspapers anymore. But it was newspapers that first quit on readers a long time ago. They started by laying off reporters and photographers and then cutting pages and eventually whole sections. Some do it all online now and don’t even print.

Online publications may be good for business – there isn’t much overhead and they can certainly cater to the wealthy demographic that advertisers crave – but calling that journalism is like calling MLB 08 The Show baseball.

I know that newspapers are businesses, but I also understand that they are a critical piece of a functioning democracy. Limiting content and access can cause problems.

“I’m sure The Times is shafting me on the Yankees coverage,” Ruiz said. “Maybe they’re dumping more stuff online or something. They own a big chunk of the Red Sox and they’ve got it out for us in the Bronx.”

The standard for impartial journalism is certainly pretty low these days.


My friend Javier almost never acts his age. Last night he played his music too loudly and started to dance around the apartment.

“I can’t help it,” he explained. “Chico O’Farrill always gets my feet moving.”

Some of the neighbors yelled and the guy downstairs pounded the ceiling with a broom handle. But the music blared until the old lady from across the hall banged on the door with a big ladle from her pot of minestrone.

“Are you deaf?” she yelled. “I’ve been knocking for 10 minutes.”

“I didn’t hear you,” Javier said. “I guess the music was too loud.”

The old lady shook her head.

“Kids,” she said.

Javier flashed the same smile he used on his mother back in Puerto Rico so many years ago.

“I can’t stay mad at you,” the old lady said. “You’re a good kid, Javier.”

Everyone in the neighborhood puts Javier’s age somewhere past 50, but the kid tag still fits. He eats too many chocolate donuts and swears a doctor once told him that onion rings are a vegetable. He shags fly balls before games in Franz Sigel Park and looks forward to Opening Day just like when he was, well, a kid.

“Baseball has always been music to my ears,” Javier said. “I guess it’s kinda like Chico O’Farrill.”

Javier broke out another smile.

“Bring on the horns and the big bats,” he said. “Then let’s dance.”


I lost my rhythm sometime last week. The days and nights had become an uneven mix. They were nothing close to a good jazz riff. There were no wins, no losses, no games up and no games back.

Baseball’s grip had slipped and it seemed like nothing short of pitchers and catchers reporting could get it back.

But I slept with my glove last night and dreamed a baseball beat.

Derek Jeter opened with a perfect saxophone solo and A-Rod swung a big bass. Jorge Posada blasted a tune on the trumpet and Joba was pumping on the old trombone. Robbie Cano picked on the guitar and Chien-Ming Wang made the piano dance. Johnny Damon belted out the words and Mariano finished with a flourish on the drums.

Then the whole team met in the middle of the club and the beat kept right on going.

Pitchers and catchers play the first real set in 75 days.

My rhythm is coming back already.

SHADOW GAMES: The Visitors

Everyone pegged them for visitors when they piled on the 2 train at 72nd Street. There was a mother and a father and a son and a daughter. They seemed excited and were talking while everyone else stared blankly at a Sunday morning.

They might have been ignored if they hadn’t been wearing local colors. The father and son had Yankees hats, the mother had a Yankees scarf and the daughter was carrying a pink Yankees backpack.

“Where are you from?” someone asked.

“Michigan,” the father said. “We live in Ypsilanti. It’s near Ann Arbor and not too far from Detroit.”

“And you’re Yankees fans?” someone else asked.

“Yeah,” the father said. “I guess you can call it the Derek Jeter effect. We started following him because he grew up in Kalamazoo and now we watch every game.

“We always go when the Yankees are in Detroit,” he continued, “but we haven’t seen them in the Bronx, yet. This is our first time in New York City and yesterday we went and looked around the old Stadium and the new Stadium. We’re going to try and see a game next year.”

“So where are you headed today?” someone asked.

“To the Stature of Liberty,” the mother said. “And we also want the kids to see Ellis Island.”

The visitors wanted to switch to the 1 train at Chambers Street because that’s what their guide book said to do. But weekend service changes aren’t covered in books and everyone on the 2 train was looking out for them now.

“There are no trains going to South Ferry,” someone said. “And don’t bother with the shuttle bus because that’s usually like trying to get on the last helicopter out of Saigon in ‘75.

“Stay on this train to Wall Street,” they continued. “Then you’ll have a short walk to Battery Park and the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands.”

“I’ve got a friend named Freddy who sells Yankees hats and T-shirts in the park,” someone else said. “Tell him that Clarence from Mott Haven sent you and he’ll give you a good deal.”

“Thanks,” the father said. “If you’re ever in our neighborhood we’ll return the favor.”

“Just make some noise in Detroit next year,” someone said. “And help the Yankees get some wins.”

“Will do.”

SHADOW GAMES: What’s In A Name?

James Reynolds Jr. has been called a lot of names. He was Jimmy to his grandmother and Junior to the rest of the family. In school the other kids tagged him Bern, which was short for Bernie Williams his favorite Yankee.

Most people in the Bronx just call him J.R. these days, but in Manhattan he’s known as Mr. Quick.

Some say he sells more designer handbags than anyone else in New York City.

“I just know the flow of the crowds around here,” Mr. Quick explained. “The key is being fast on the setup and the getaway. That’s how I earned my name.”

Mr. Quick moves everything on a small cart. When he locates a good spot the handbags are scooped up and arranged over old bed sheets on the sidewalk.

“People flock like pigeons to popcorn if you hit it right,” Mr. Quick said. “But you don’t want to draw too much attention. That brings the cops and then you’re out of business.”

So Mr. Quick has rules if you want to buy his French-designed handbags that are made in New York.

“The small bags are $20 and the big bags are $40,” he explained to a group outside the Winter Garden Theatre last night. “I don’t make change and don’t even think of asking for a receipt. Take it or leave it.”

Most of them took it.

Mr. Quick pocketed the cash and packed the leftovers. He was headed up Broadway when a woman shouted:

“Stop. Please wait.”

Mr. Quick kept walking, but the woman caught him near 54th Street.

“I just want to buy a bag,” she said. “But our tour bus is leaving so I need to make it quick.”

“That’s my name,” he said.

SHADOW GAMES: Justice Is Served

The streets are in a rage today. Everyone is going somewhere to buy something or sell something or steal something.

Traffic is snarled and parking tickets are being written in bunches: One car in a crosswalk, two up on a sidewalk and three in a bus stop.

“These people don’t care,” a parking cop says. “Double parked, tripled parked and some of them block the whole street. We try to keep emergency lanes open and people move the barriers to park.”

It almost makes you feel sorry for the parking cops.

“We need a way to show these people who is really in charge,” the parking cop says.

Yeah, almost.

Even though most New Yorkers can’t work up a holiday-shopping rage it is interesting to watch. It’s like seeing an enemy fan being hauled out of Yankee Stadium by a dozen cops. It may not be right, but you quickly come to terms with the fact that justice can take many forms.

The parking cop gets on the radio and calls a tow truck to Broadway and 56th Street.

Another car in a bus stop. A BMW with Massachusetts plates. Perfect.

Justice is served.

SHADOW GAMES: A Working Holiday

Helen’s holiday started early. She left her apartment at 3:32 a.m., got to the coffee shop at 4:26 a.m., began filling the salt-and-pepper shakers at 4:39 a.m. and was pouring coffee for customers at 5:02 a.m.

She shouted the first order to the cooks at 5:09 a.m.

“Two scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, home fries and whole-wheat toast.”

“Breakfast is my business on Thanksgiving,” Helen said. “Some people are roasting turkeys and baking pumpkin pies, but I’m here serving bacon and eggs and pancakes and cheese omelets.

“This is always a busy morning,” she continued. “I think some of the guys just like to fill up on their gossip before going home to a family dinner.”

At 6:02 a.m. the counter was elbow-to-elbow and the baseball talk was wall-to-wall.

“I was hoping for some new pitchers to go along with my turkey dinner,” someone said. “What’s taking so long with these free agents?”

“You’ve gotta be patient,” someone else said. “We need a good rotation on Opening Day not on Turkey Day.”

“We also need a bat,” someone said. “What about getting Teixeira?”

Helen interrupted at 6:07 a.m.

“Would you guys like some more coffee?” she asked.

“That sounds good,” they all said.

The conversation quickly restarted:

“Do you guys think Abreu is coming back?”

Helen rolled her eyes at 6:08 a.m.

She only has about nine hours to go.


Donnie Evans had a stroke four years ago when he was only 39. It left him with a dead arm, a pronounced limp and the ability to deal with a little bad timing.

“It looks like the boat from Staten Island just came in,” he said as the 1 train rolled into South Ferry. “I’ll give the crowd a few minutes to thin out. That makes it easier for everyone.”

Evans stood at the far end of the platform while the crush of people cleared. Then he headed for work with stiff, labored steps aided by a cane.

“I’m like a puppet with someone yanking my strings,” Evans said with a laugh. “I used to be embarrassed by how I walk, but that’s all behind me.”

Evans left a lot behind.

“I had to ditch the self-pity and take a hard look at myself,” Evans said. “It wasn’t easy, but I’m a better person because of it.”

He’s also better because of a single meeting with baseball legend Buck O’Neil.

“I talked to him at a Minor League game several years before I had the stroke,” Evans explained. “He packed so much kindness and wisdom into the few minutes we shared that it all came back to me when I hit my lowest point.

“Buck went through so much and never felt sorry for himself,” Evans continued. “I know our situations are different, but I’ve tried to face the rest of my life the same way he faced his: With honor and decency.”

O’Neil liked to say that he came along right on time.

Evans smiled and said:

“He sure did for me.”

SHADOW GAMES: Never Count an Old Man Out

Alessandro Candelaria smells of pipe tobacco, aftershave and perfect bacon. He wears brown shoes and white socks and black pants and a tan overcoat. His sharp-brimmed fedora marks him from another time, but he’s always looking ahead.

He asks a stranger on the subway platform for the time. It’s 6:45 a.m., he’s told.

“Where is that train?” he asks shaking his head. “I hate being late.”

Candelaria rode the 2 train to work for 53 years and now he rides it because old habits are hard to break.

Sometimes he finds a seat, but mostly he stands. He always holds a newspaper, but never reads. He likes to look at faces and remember what it’s like to work and worry and be miserable and alive.

“I never knew how much I enjoyed it,” Candelaria says. “People used to tell me that the climb is half the fun, but it’s really all the fun. I retired and got stuck with a bunch of old people who want to talk about old times.

“I want to talk about new times and this is where they’re happening,” he continues. “I’ll spot a guy reading the paper and ask, ‘What do you think of that damn mayor?’ Or I’ll see a guy in a Yankees hat and ask, ‘How do you think the team is coming together?’

“I’m already excited about baseball season,” Candelaria goes on. “And I want to talk about the young guys: Joba and Cano and Hughes and this kid Mark Melancon that I’ve heard so much about. Sometimes people stare at me like, ‘You probably aren’t even going to make to Opening Day old man.’”

Candelaria winks and smiles and tips his fedora.

“I’ll make it for sure,” he says. “I’ve got a couple of World Series left in me. Never count an old man out, especially one who stays young like me.”

SHADOW GAMES: Baseball on the Other Side

Winter is comfortably settled into the Bronx. So Javier piled on layers before heading down five flights to Walton Avenue and then over to the Grand Concourse for breakfast.

“I can take the cold,” Javier said, “but nothing can beat the boredom.”

The only hint of Opening Day in the neighborhood is the buzz of construction at the new Stadium.

“Maybe baseball seems so far away because we’re moving,” Javier reasoned. “I still think about games at the old place. I’ll get used to the new Stadium, but it will take some time.”

Javier snapped up his collar and tugged down his hat to keep off the cold.

“There is a lot more winter and even more boredom ahead,” he said. “But I’ll get through because there’s baseball on the other side.”


The Boss – George M. Steinbrenner III – has sometimes been too tough and too demanding and even too mean. He has also been the perfect Yankees owner you couldn’t help but love around here.

“Sure he’s made some mistakes,” said a man smoking outside Ball Park Lanes across from the old Yankee Stadium. “But he gave us some damn good baseball teams and a whole bunch of championships, too. He got us Reggie and Donnie and Gator and Goose and A-Rod and Mariano and Jeter. And now he’s building the new Stadium.”

The man took a last drag on his cigarette and tossed it to the curb.

“I’ve heard people bitch because they say we’re paying for that Stadium,” the man said. “Who cares? We pay for everything anyway and at least we can watch baseball at this place. Yeah, The Boss could’ve done a little better, but I still love the son of a bitch.”

There have been a lot of newspaper columns about The Boss since it was announced that his son Hal officially took control of the Yankees last week. They have written him as a good guy and as a bad guy and sometimes everything at once. They are all probably spot on. That makes The Boss just like the rest of us.

Some of the papers even ran a list of his highlights and lowlights as the owner of the Yankees. It was filled with championships and fines and suspensions, but they left a few things out.

The Boss hired Bob Watson, who became the first black General Manager in Major League Baseball to win a World Series.

He hired the first female Assistant General Manager Kim Ng and he also hired the second, current Yankees Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman.

He hired the first female Major League Baseball radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman.

Before buying the Yankees he hired John McLendon, the first black coach in professional basketball, to lead the Cleveland Pipers.

The Boss always wants to be first. He demands it and won’t accept anything less. How could you not love the guy?


Marvin Blain used to get weekends off.

“That was back when times were good,” he explained. “The money flowed and some of it trickled down to me. Now there isn’t much left.”

Blain shines shoes so it has always come in singles anyway.

“I’ve got a regular spot downtown,” he said. “I get a lot of Wall Street types on the way to big meetings. They’re probably the same people who spent all the money and left the rest of us with the bills.”

Blain laughed and then continued:

“They used to be big tippers, but most of them have turned into tightwads. I had a guy try to give me a fifty dollar bill after a shine a few weeks ago. I told him I couldn’t change that and he said, ‘I’ll pay you tomorrow.’ I’m still waiting for it.”

So Blain rides the 2 train from the Bronx into Manhattan on Saturdays and sometimes even on Sundays looking for a little extra cash.

“I work the tourists checking out the Stock Exchange,” Blain said. “I shine for a buck, pop my rag and really give ‘em a show. I’m as smooth as Derek Jeter.”

Blain smiled and tugged on the bill of his Yankees cap.

“That’s a guy whose shoes I’d shine for free,” Blain said. “I’d have Derek’s spikes looking better than new. I’d come to the Stadium and clean ‘em up every day. Then they might let me stay and watch the game without a ticket. That would help until the big tippers come back.”


Eddie and I have been friends for about two years. He’s had several jobs in that time, but none have been enough to get him off the streets. So he moves around the neighborhood and sleeps, eats and works where he can.

Whenever I run into him we talk about baseball because he knows that’s what I like. And I buy pastrami sandwiches with extra mustard because I know that’s what he likes.

But last night Eddie wanted to tell me a story first. It was about a real estate deal he had just closed.

“I figured there would be an opportunity when I saw the scaffolding go up,” he explained. “This is perfect because it’s around a church. The super won’t run me off because he wants God to like him.”

Eddie ended up with a spot along the south side of the building. The break between a stairway and a garbage area gave him privacy and the scaffolding gave him some shelter.

“I’ve finally got a roof over my head,” he said. “That will be good for the winter.”

A thick cut of old carpet keeps him off the sidewalk and several blankets keep him warm.

“It’s downright cozy,” Eddie said. “What more could I ask for?”

“What about a pastrami sandwich with extra mustard?” I offered.

“That sounds great,” Eddie said. “So what do you think of the Yankees’ chances next year?”

“I like ‘em.”

We would never ask each other for anything because that’s just not our way. This relationship passes for a friendship about as well as Eddie’s new place passes for a home.

They’ll both have to do for now.

SHADOW GAMES: Fantasy Baseball

Everyone on the 2 train had heard it a million times.

“I’m very sorry to bother all of you good people this morning,” said a man standing in the middle of the car. “But I’m down on my luck and could use some help. If anyone can spare a little something – food, change, an extra pair of winter gloves – it would really be appreciated.”

People dug out several dollars and one woman gave him a banana.

“Thank you,” the man said. “I hope everyone has a nice day.”

The man hasn’t had a nice day in a long time.

“I’ve been out of work for almost a year,” the man explained. “I wasn’t worried at the beginning, but jobs have gotten tougher to find and I haven’t been able to land anything steady.”

So he asks for help on the 2 train.

“I know these people hate me,” the man said. “Even those who give probably just want me to go away. They think I’m a lazy bum. But my name is Mark James and I used to ride this train to work just like them.

“I had a life back then,” he continued. “I had an apartment and an iPod and I owned a fantasy baseball team. I drafted Jeter and Mo and did pretty well in the league.”

Mark James – who used to ride the 2 train to his job and had the good sense to draft Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera for his fantasy baseball team – forced a smile and said:

“Maybe things will get better and I’ll have all that again. I guess anything can happen in fantasy baseball.”


Two men sat on a curb and ate breakfast this morning. A friend who works at a restaurant on the corner made them egg sandwiches and gave them paper cups filled with coffee. The owner doesn’t mind because the men help with dishes and deliveries and even haul the trash to the curb at night.

So they can stop every day on their way to work at a downtown construction site and grab a bite as long as they don’t take a seat from a paying customer.

“It’s a good deal,” one man said. “It’s quiet out here and we can talk about baseball.”

They smiled and ate and drank their coffee.

“I heard the Yankees really want CC,” the man said. “You knew that, right?”

“Yeah,” the other man said, “but I don’t mind hearing it again. It’s cold today and I need something to keep me warm.”

The man stood up and wadded his paper cup. He stepped on the curb and came set – a righty pitching left handed – and then threw toward the corner trash can.

“Strike three!” he yelled as the cup went in. “Now finish your breakfast so we can get to work.”

SHADOW GAMES: The Truest Things

I love baseball, but can’t play very well. I love poetry, but can’t write very well.

So I watch and read those who are truest to the crafts.

Derek Jeter is the best shortstop I’ve ever seen. He has been praised by some and criticized by others. A few have even felt the need to explain him with numbers.

Jeter needs no explanation. Everything about him speaks clearly.

Langston Hughes is the best poet I’ve ever read. He has been praised by some and criticized by others. A few have even felt the need to explain his work and his time.

Hughes needs no explanation. His words always speak clearly.

Theme for English B

By Langston Hughes

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you –
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me – we two ­– you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me – who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records – Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white –
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me –
although you’re older – and white –
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.


SHADOW GAMES: Big-League Dreams Don’t Pay the Bills

Darrell Rasner made a real-life decision about baseball the other day. The 27-year-old pitcher asked the New York Yankees to sell his contractual rights to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League.

It’s a sound financial move for Rasner, who is coming off his best Major League season. A two-year deal with the Golden Eagles will pay him far more than he could make with the Yankees – a reported $1.2 million guaranteed with the chance to earn $3.5 million – and there won’t be any worries about going down to Scranton.

“I just have to hope and pray that this is good for me and my family,” Rasner told Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. “Having another kid, that kind of changes everything. I just think now’s the time to try to do something and try to get the stability that I need for those guys. This is what I’m doing it for, anyway. My family is everything to me.”

Baseball collides with real life all the time, but players are conditioned to ignore it. They dream of the Major Leagues from the time they are old enough to throw a ball and swing a bat. It’s an all-consuming obsession until one day they realize that big-league dreams don’t pay the bills.

Rasner woke up to that reality last week.

A pitcher named Shannon Withem got the same wake-up call 10 years ago.

Withem went 17-5 with a 3.27 ERA for the Syracuse Chiefs in 1998. That AAA performance earned him a September promotion to Toronto where he pitched once in relief: Three innings, one run, two strikeouts. There was talk that he could earn a spot in the Blue Jays’ bullpen with a strong spring in 1999, but he chose to sign a two-year contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League.

“It’s tough to give up when I’m so close to my dreams,” said Withem, who had just turned 26. “But I’ve played pro ball for seven years and never made a whole lot of money. This is a chance to help my family and I just can’t pass that up.”

Withem never made it back to the Major Leagues and there is a chance that Rasner won’t either.

Pitchers are taught to be fearless. They learn to locate their fastball and throw curves and sliders and cutters and splitters. They pitch until their shoulders ache and their elbows burn, but the hardest lesson is the one that Rasner and Withem had to figure out on their own: That big-league dreams don’t pay the bills.


Freddy Rodriguez retrieves his T-shirt cart from a basement on West 118th Street near Lenox Avenue every morning. He hauls it down the subway stairs and takes the 2 train from 116th Street to Chambers Street and switches to the 1 train that carries him to South Ferry where he pulls the cart up more stairs.

“Then I get my T-shirts ready for the tourists in Battery Park,” Rodriguez explained. “I carry all the staples: Jeter, A-Rod, Mariano, Posada, Joba and the Statue of Liberty. I’ve got lots of hats and some sweatshirts now that it’s getting colder.”

Rodriguez smiled as he showed off his newest item.

“This Yankee Stadium water globe is going to be a big seller,” he said. “I’ve also got a connection that can guarantee me number 52 CC Yankees shirts the day after he signs.

“That will be great for business,” Rodriguez continued. “Nothing has ever gone my way, but that’s starting to change. When CC gets here I’ll officially be on Easy Street.”

SHADOW GAMES: Only On A Saturday

Moussa Akwari doesn’t mind working Saturdays.

“Everyone else wants it off,” he explained. “I volunteer and the boss loves me, but it’s really my favorite day.”

Akwari delivers party supplies – balloons, decorations, hats, horns, napkins, cups, plates and plastic forks – for a little shop on Broadway.

“It’s mostly boring office parties during the week,” he said, “but today there will be lots of birthdays.

“Last Saturday I delivered for a party on the Westside,” Akwari continued. “A boy was turning 10 years old and his mother ordered balloons and everything else we had for the Yankees. When I got there she had a blue and white cake with a picture of Derek Jeter and real Yankees hats and plastic bats and foam balls.

“They were going to eat cake and then play baseball in the apartment,” Akwari went on. “That must have been the best party ever.”

Akwari smiled and said:

“And it could only happen on a Saturday.”

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