"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Road Back

I don’t remember the last time I watched a Yankee game as tense as the one in the Bronx on Sunday night, largely because it’s been so long since the Yankees have had a legitimate shot at a World Series. I think that’s why Friday’s debacle reverberated through the fanbase the way it did. There was a sense that an opportunity was lost, that a shot at a championship had been squandered. When Joe Girard’s failure to challenge the hit by pitch and the base awarded to Lonnie Chisenhall in Game 2, millions of Yankee fans felt betrayed. Their anger was felt throughout cyberspace on Friday night and Saturday morning, and it was felt again as boos rained down on Girardi as he was introduced before Sunday’s Game 3. If the Yankees had lost and been swept by Cleveland, I’m not sure the manager would’ve been able to survive the storm.

And so it was Masahiro Tanaka who saved him. Tanaka has been with the Yankees for four years now, and he’s never pitched a bigger game than he did on Sunday. Thankfully for Girardi and the Yankees, he’s probably never pitched better.

He immediately announced that he was on, striking out Yankee killer Francisco Lindor, using a single pitch to retire Jason Kipnis on a pop up, then fanning José Ramírez for a clean opening frame that set the tone for the rest of the night. His command was exact, his splitter was brilliant, and when he needed it, his tenacity would be formidable.

Equally formidable was Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco. With a rotation like this, it’s no wonder that Cleveland compiled the best recored in the American League. Carrasco was 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA in September, he tied for the league lead with 18 wins, and he was just about as good as Tanaka on this night. He also struck out two in the first inning, then two more in the second, and when he yielded a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury in the third, he erased him with a quick double play off the bat of Aaron Hicks.

Tanaka and Carrasco were linked in an October pitching duel. The stakes may have been higher for the Yankees, but there was still a clear sense building that neither pitcher was going to fall victim to an extended rally, and the pressure mounted on both sides. The more zeros the two hung on the scoreboard, the more likely it seemed that the game — and possibly the series — would be decided by one swing of the bat.

Cleveland had the first opportunity with one out in the top of the fourth. Kipnis took a pitch out over the middle of the plate and hooked it to right field. There was no fear that it would find the seats, but it was certainly a dangerous ball that looked like a base hit off the bat. Aaron Judge raced to his left hoping to make a play, but as he leapt and extended his glove, he miscalculated slightly, and the ball actually glanced off the heel of his mitt and back behind him. By the time Judge was able to slam on the brakes, retrieve the ball, and fire it back into the infield, Kipnis was sliding into third with a quirky triple.

With the Yankees yet to garner their first hit off Carrasco, this felt like a moment that could possibly end their season. Girardi had no choice but to bring his infield in, increasing the odds for the already dangerous José Ramírez, but it turned out that the infielders weren’t even necessary. Tanaka fed Ramírez a steady diet of splitters in the dirt and struck him out to keep Kipnis at third. All this did, though, was bring up Jay Bruce, the same Jay Bruce who single-handedly crushed the Yankees in Game 1 with three RBIs, the same Jay Bruce who ripped their hearts out with a game-tying homer in Game 2. A base hit in this spot would be even worse. Tanaka started him out with a low slider for ball one, then went to his splitter. The pitch started at the bottom of the strike zone before tumbling into the dirt, but Bruce couldn’t resist and waved at it helplessly. The next pitch was possibly a bit lower, and it produced the same result, bringing the count to 1-2. With the Stadium crowd roaring, Tanaka cast out his line once more, and once more Bruce bit, swinging and missing for strike three. The crowd erupted in celebration, and Tanaka spun around on the mound, screaming and pumping his fist in defiance. The game was his, and everyone knew it.

Tanaka was tested again in the sixth inning. Roberto Pérez opened the frame by looping a soft single to left, and after Giovanny Urshela lined out to right, Francisco Lindor walked up to the plate. After watching a splitter for ball one and then swinging over a slider, Lindor found the one mistake Tanaka made all night, a splitter that stayed up a bit. He put a good swing on it, and although the ball was only in the air for a couple seconds, it was still enough time to think back to Friday night and the towering grand slam he had hit to change the course of Game 2; it was still enough time to wonder if Lindor had done it again; it was still enough time to worry that the Yankees’ season might be over.

But then there was Aaron Judge. He got back to the wall quickly and had time to take a measure of the fly ball. As fans in the bleachers behind him rose to their feet in anticipation, Judge gathered his six-foot-seven-inch frame, leapt into the night, and came down with the ball. Most of the fans in the Stadium had probably walked through the turnstiles hoping Judge might do something to save the season, but it’s doubtful any of them were thinking about his glove. Even before he fired the ball back towards the infield, Judge showed us something. He smiled from ear to ear, just as countless kids will do at recess on Monday while re-enacting this game-saving play. It was a reminder of why there are so many Judge jerseys in the stands these days. There’s a lot more to this kid than the 52 home runs.

In the bottom half of the sixth, Carrasco began to show some cracks in his armor. Aaron Hicks reached on a dribbler to third, just the second New York hit of the night, but Carrasco quickly doused that flicker of hope by inducing a double play off the bat of Brett Gardner. But then Judge drew a walk, Gary Sánchez sent an absolute missile through the middle of the infield for the second hit of the inning, and Didi Gregorius worked a walk to load the bases and usher Carrasco from the game. Once again the Stadium crowd came to life, but once again the Yankees were turned away when reliever Andrew Miller retired Starlin Castro with a harmless popup to shortstop.

Tanaka worked a clean top of the seventh, and then I was reminded of the 2001 playoffs, the year that the Yankees began playing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch to honor the victims and first responders of 9/11. There were so many seventh-inning rallies during those playoffs that we began to hear off-the-record reports of opposing managers and players being critical of the extended seventh-inning stretch, as if two minutes of Kate Smith was icing their pitchers.

Whatever the reason, I was hoping for more seventh-inning magic as first baseman Greg Bird walked up to the plate to lead off the bottom of the seventh against Miller. Bird’s story has been well-documented, from his surprising success in 2015, the shoulder injury which cost him all of 2016, and the ankle and foot injuries which robbed him of most of 2017. Much was expected of Bird following his arrival two years ago, but he had largely been forgotten as other young Yankees blossomed, first Sánchez last season and Judge this season. Bird’s fall was so precipitous, in fact, that many wondered whether or not he’d ever return to the lineup. Be grateful that he has.

Bird took one slider for a ball, then fouled off another to even the count before Miller decided to try a fastball. Even though it came in at 96 MPH, it came in belt high and on the inner half of the plate, right in Bird’s wheelhouse. Bird turned on it, and everyone involved immediately knew it was gone. Bird spun around on his follow through and actually took two steps backward and almost into the opposite batter’s box as he watched his majestic blast soar into the second deck. He dropped his head, dropped his bat, screamed in celebration, and let the cheers wash over him as he circled the bases after the most important Yankee home run of 2017.

With six outs remaining, Girardi turned to his bullpen. David Robertson got the first out of the eighth inning, but after walking Michael Brantley, he gave way to Aroldis Chapman, who’d need five outs to extend the series. Chapman didn’t mess around. He threw four fastballs (100, 100, 103, 103) to strike out pinch hitter Yan Gomes, then three fastballs and a slider (102, 101, 88, 102) to fan Urshela.

Chapman was a bit shaky when he came back out for the ninth, but he was still throwing heat. He had to throw 26 pitches while working around two singles, but 23 of those pitches were fastballs ranging from 100 MPH to 104. Carlos Santana lofted the last one of those to left center field, and when it settled into Aaron Hicks’s glove, the game was over and the Yankees were still alive.

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

Nuts



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.

Nuts.

 

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

It Wasn’t as Bad as You Think

Everything is amplified and magnified in October, and so it was on Tuesday night as the Yankees dropped the first game of the five-game American League Division Championship series in Cleveland. This is the same Cleveland team who rattled off a 22-game winning streak in August and September, the same team that many analysts tap as the most complete team in baseball, so it shouldn’t be a terrible surprise that the Yankees dropped a game to them. No one, after all, expected a Yankee sweep.

Nothing went right for the Yankees on this particular October night. Cleveland manager Terry Francona surprised everyone by tabbing Trevor Bauer to start Game 1 instead of Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber (can’t wait to see him in Game 2), but Bauer quickly justified Tito’s faith by retiring the first five Yankee hitters he faced. After an odd four-pitch walk to Greg Bird in the second, Bauer rebounded to strike out Todd Frazier to finish the inning. The pitch to Frazier appeared to be outside, just the first of many questionable calls that would benefit Bauer over the course of his outing.

Based on what we saw during the regular season, Joe Girardi’s choice for his Game 1 starter was also a surprise. Instead of pitching Masahiro Tanaka, who had had five days rest since his scintillating performance in his final start on September 29th (Tanaka will start Game 3 on eight days rest), Girardi decided on Sonny Gray. We’re supposed to be excited about Gray, a talented young pitcher with a manageable contract, but he’s been more grey than sunny during his time in the Bronx, losing seven games since he arrived and pitching to a mediocre 4.58 ERA in September.

Gray’s troubles on this night began in the bottom of the second. Jay Bruce led off the inning by pounding a ball off the wall in left field for a double, Carlos Santana singled to center, and then Gray made things worse by plunking Lonnie Chisenhall with a fastball to load the bases with nobody out. With the Yankee bullpen still recovering from its work on Tuesday night, this was the last thing Girardi needed to see. But Gray dug in and made a big pitch — and got a big assist from shortstop Didi Gregorius — inducing Roberto Pérez to ground into a nifty 6-4-3 double play. Bruce scored from third on the play, but no one in pinstripes was complaining. When Gray got Giovanny Urshela to fly out to end the inning, there was a sense that disaster had been avoided. Gray had weathered the storm.

The third inning was quiet for Gray, but he wandered into trouble again in the fourth. As most rallies do, this one started with a leadoff walk to Edwin Encarnación. Two pitches later it was Jay Bruce again, this time lifting a lazy fly ball to right field that floated over Aaron Judge and over the outfield wall for a lazy home run. Instead of digging in again, Gray began digging his own grave. He walked two of the next three hitters (his last three hitters), and then Adam Warren came in and made things worse by allowing a single to Urshela.

Once again, the bases were loaded; once again, the game seemed to be hanging in the balance. Once again, the Yankees wriggled free as Warren retired Jason Kipnis on a fly ball to right field. Cleveland held a 3-0 lead, but with the Yankee bats as cold as they were, those three runs felt like touchdowns.

Bauer was coasting. He had given up that walk to Bird in the second, and Judge had reached in the fourth after striking out on a wild pitch, but that would be it as Bauer compiled five hitless innings to start his night. His curveball was devastating, and during the postgame show YES Network commentator Jack Curry revealed that his average break of 9.6 inches was the biggest in baseball, greater even than Clayton Kershaw’s. Working off of that curve, Bauer confounded Yankee hitters with a mid-90s fastball up in their eyes and a backup slider that started in at the hands of the left-handed batters before breaking back over the inside corner.

As good as Bauer was — he’d finish with eight strikeouts and just two hits over six and two-thirds of an inning — he had help from the umpires. Third base umpire Brian O’Nora seemed to be flipping a coin when handling check swing appeals, but worse than that was home plate umpire Vic Carapazza’s strike zone which seemed to breathe in and out all night as if it were alive. Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge all struck out on pitches that were outside the strike zone presented by TBS, but neither of the network’s broadcasters made mention of this. (It’s no surprise that John Smoltz remained quiet, considering how much he and his Hall of Fame teammates benefited from the stretching of the zone during their careers.)

When Cleveland scratched out another run in the fifth on the strength of a single from José Ramírez, two wild pitches from Warren, and a sacrifice fly from Bruce, the 4-0 lead felt insurmountable. The Yankees made one last push in the eighth when Headley and Brett Gardner worked walks against Andrew Miller to bring up Judge with two outs and a chance to put some runs on the board, but the MVP candidate struck out for his fourth time of the night to end the inning and effectively end the game. Cleveland 4, New York 0.

It was a frustrating three and a half hours, but it wasn’t all bad. The announcers breathlessly reported all night that the Yankees had only two base hits, and they seemed almost disappointed when Starlin Castro punched a ball to right in the ninth for the team’s third hit, but Cleveland had only five hits themselves, none after the fifth inning. Jaime García pitched well enough in relief that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get a start instead of Gray should that spot in the rotation roll around again, and Dellin Betances appeared to put his September struggles behind him as he struck out the side in the eighth inning on just eleven pitches.

So there’s hope, my friends. Cleveland is a good team deserving of all the accolades that have come its way, but I still believe in these Yankees. This is the most interesting Yankee team in half a decade, and I’m sure they’ve got some fight left in them. I’m already looking forward to Game 2. Oh, and there’s one more thing — at least there weren’t any midges.

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.

Happy?

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.

 

Postscript

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

Boids

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