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Mr. Pettitte as drawn by our pal Larry Roibal.



Act Two

Tonight gives that ol’ Yankee Game 2 stand-by, Andy Pettitte.


Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Russell Martin C
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez DH


Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Chris Davis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 1B
Jim Thome DH
Manny Machado 3B
Robert Andino 2B



Never mind the one-game lead: Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Picture by Heather Landis; drawing by Larry Roibal]

Beat of the Day

Today’s cherce is brought to you by Larry Roibal.

Blacked Out

Thanks to these two pussycats:

Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Dolan…

…looks like I will be one of many who won’t be watching the Whirled Serious.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

Fear Not Forecast

Here are some fearless ALCS predictions from the crew at Bronx Banter.

First of all, I predict that I’ll have worked myself up into a state of near fury/exhaustion before the first pitch is thrown tonight. I’ve got nothing against Texas. I’ve never been there, other than a stop at the Dallas airport, but mostly, I admire Texas. But I predict that I’ll be cursing it up-and-down for the duration of the series. The sight of former president Bush will be fodder enough to get me going I figure.

I also predict that my wife will have had it up to hear with me by Saturday night. 

As much as it bothers me to say, I think the Yanks will win the series. At least they should. The thought of them losing…no, there’s no way to make that palatable. Ron Washington is cool, sure, and I’ve got nothing against Michael Young. I’ve always loved Vlady. But collectively, the Rangers come across as a college team, youthful spirit, antler-horns,  hollering, rah-rah. And why shouldn’t they next to the business-like Bombers? Still, that doesn’t mean I have to find it “refreshing.” 

I figure Mo is going to blow one game and the Yanks will beat Lee.  Oh, and if A.J. Burnett gets a start, he’ll do okay.

The Rangers will steal at will against Posada.

I don’t have a feeling about Alex Rodriguez but he’s due to catch fire and be a monster. He was terrific down the stretch. I’d be as geeked as the next guy if he goes on a tear.

Also, I fear Nelson Cruz.

Matt Blankman:

Yankees in 5. Superstition makes me nervous calling for a Yankee victory in fewer than 6 games, but really, if my thoughts and actions have such little impact on my own life, they can’t possibly affect a major league baseball game. The Yankees will drop one in Texas, find a way to win Cliff Lee’s start, and win the pennant in the Bronx. While I’m reading tea leaves, I see another effective start for Hughes, at least one Yankee bullpen implosion and some big hits from Mr. Cano. Also, look for some creative Bronx cheers for Cliff Lee – it’s not often you have to boo a guy you’re simultaneously wooing for next season.

Jon DeRosa:

I predict that the most annoying Ranger batter will be Michael Young, most annoying pitcher will be a tie between the twoDdarrens, and all three of them will be eclipsed by Nolan Ryan, who will be on camera so often that he’ll be the number-two most-annoying sports figure this fall (Nobody’s touching Favre. execpt Favre, obviously).



I figure Andy Pettitte is a borderline Hall of Famer, but if he keeps winning playoff games, who knows?

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

That Barton Fink Feelin’

It’s cool in New York this morning. I can only imagine it will be nippy in Twinkieland come tomorrow night. Playoffs in the air…never gets old.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

Size Matters

When you’re the Boss.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

Call It

Who is the more valuable Yankee since 1996: Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter?

Joe Posnanski asks the question over at SI.com.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

What 600 Might Mean

I had been planning a longer piece on the historical significance of Alex Rodríguez‘s 600th home run, focusing specifically on the rapidly growing ranks of the four-, five-, and six-hundred home run clubs, but since I couldn’t possibly come with anything better or more thorough than Joe Posnanski’s recent column over at SI.com, I thought I might go in a different direction.

It used to be that hitting four-hundred home runs gave you an automatic ticket to Cooperstown, but then Dave Kingman had to go and mess things up by hitting 442 home runs.  Since any rational person knew that Kingman most definitely did NOT belong in the Hall of Fame, the entrance requirements were rewritten.  Now 500 was the milestone you’d have to hit to assure your place in the Hall, and for a long time that number seemed nonnegotiable.  But you know what happened next.

If you take a look at the top twenty-five players on the all-time home run list and scan up starting with Eddie Murray’s 504 , you’ll see a host of names that will never be enshrined in Cooperstown.  There’s certainly a lingering drug cloud that will keep several of them out, people like Barry Bonds and the Unholy Trinity of McGwire, Sosa, and Palmeiro, but there are others who simply don’t seem to belong.  Gary Sheffield comes to mind, drugs or no drugs.  And I know Jim Thome‘s had a nice career and will finish with more home runs than all but six or seven guys, but somehow I don’t think Hall of Famer when I look at him.

So what do 600 home runs mean for Alex Rodríguez?  It was just a few years ago that people looked at him completely differently.  Boxing had a string of Great White Hopes, but A-Rod was baseball’s Great Clean Hope.  He was the one who could race to the top of the charts, surpassing Bonds and scoring a victory for what we hoped was clean baseball.  (This, by the way, is the part where I resist the urge to launch into a diatribe on the hypocrisy of a sport that allowed amphetamine use for decades, or start talking about the slippery slope of ligament transplants and lasix surgery.  But I digress.)

But with great hope comes great disappointment, and so it was with Rodríguez.  The optimists among us suddenly had no ammunition against the pessimists.  Maybe everyone really was juicing.  Maybe nothing was real.  And so when A-Rod came to bat with 599 home runs in Cleveland and Kansas City, people booed as they waited for history.  There weren’t as many asterisks as we saw in the stands when Bonds was chasing 755, but they were definitely there.

So the question now is, will Alex Rodríguez be elected to the Hall of Fame?  Even though he may end up with something in the neighborhood of 800 home runs, there are those who believe the doors to the Hall are closed to him forever.  Buster Olney doesn’t think his colleagues will ever elect him, but Olney himself has voted for McGwire and plans to vote for Bonds, Sosa, Clemens, and A-Rod once they’re eligible.  Here’s the money quote from his larger explanation:

I think most of the elite players were using performance-enhancing drugs, and within the context of that time — when baseball wasn’t doing anything to stop the growth of drug use — this was what the sport was. And we don’t know exactly who did what. There are a lot of superstar players who were broadly suspected within the sport of having used steroids, but they avoided the crossfire; the only difference between those guys and McGwire was that McGwire had Jose Canseco as a teammate. And here’s the other thing — we don’t know exactly who did what, and when they did it. So I think in order to have a consistent standard when considering the steroid-era players, you either have to vote for no one at all, or set aside the steroid issue and just vote for the best players of the era.

Alex Rodríguez, then, emerges as the ultimate test case.  Most of the big-name steriod users saw their names dragged in the mud after their careers had ended.  A-Rod had the sense to admit what he had done, which might count for something with some writers, and by the time he retires he will have played six to eight years — presumably clean — following that admission.  Certainly some writers will never forget the stain, but I hope that enough do.  Alex Rodríguez belongs in the Hall of Fame.

[Photo Credit: Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated/Larry Roibal]

Hit the Bricks, Pal, and Beat It

Let’s hope this ain’t no real skid here, and just an old-fashioned two-game losing streak. Either way, the Boss would not be pleased…

Time for the Yanks answer last night’s ass-whuppin’ with one of their own.

Never mind the formalities: Let’s Go Yan-Kees!

(I was fool enough to call Alex Rodriguez’s 600th last week so what do I know; don’t know if he’ll get it tonight but it says here the Big Puma will have a big game.)

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

Money Can’t Buy Me Love…(But it’s a Start)

The Boss was all about winning…or else. It was the “or else” part that brought out the worst in him as he ruled by fear, intimidation and humiliation. It is impossible for me to forget–let alone forgive–his cruelty in the pursuit of success (though it’s easy to laugh at some of his antics now, “hey, remember the time he got into that ‘fight’ in the elevator in L.A…”). But the Boss is an appealing figure because he was more than that. Vicious and generous, an ogre and a sentimental slob, an earnest patriot. Oh, and he was funny too.

I watched most of the George Steinbrenner special on YES last night and thought they did a nice job. I especially liked hearing some of John Sterling’s stories (and it made me reconsider Sterling again; how do I ever let a guy who is this funny get me upset?). The thing I noticed most was Yankee players–from Derek Jeter to retired players like Paul O’Neill–talking about Steinbrenner’s generosity. Financial generosity, that is. David Cone was candid in a phone interview and said that the Boss helped Ron Guidry out of financial problems after Gator retired.

Once you took his money, you were open to his abuse. But for the most part, no matter how ugly things got, once a player retired or left the Yankees, Steinbrenner usually invited them back, wanted them “part of the family.” He brought them back with money and attention. Guys who hated the Boss when they played for him, Nettles, Gossage, Gamble, they all hang around the Yankees these days, go to fantasy camps, they get paid.

Money equals love, or something close to it. And speaking of which, because of a tax-law, the Steinbrenner family gets off easy in George’s death. If not for this bit of fortunate timing, who knows, perhaps they’d have to sell a part of the team.  

The New York Post has a terrific tribute to Steinbrenner today, including a funny column by Larry Brooks, and an insightful one by Fay Vincent.

Up in Boston, as usual, Charlie Pierce nails it.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

Heaven Reclaims its Voice, Part 2

By Ed Alstrom

Thanks to you Banterites who responded so nicely to my post! I read all of you every day, and have the utmost respect for all of you. Hell, even the jazz talk is right on point.

I wanted to give you one more Shep nugget to chew on. I mentioned in the post a handwritten poem he had showed me (on his own Yankee stationery), that he had penned after an infamous incident. He showed it to me on the sly, and his real fear about it getting around was that it would ‘get him fired’, so seeing as that’s not an issue now, I’ll take the liberty of issuing this as a ‘Banter Exclusive’.

I don’t think it will get him fired, or me in any trouble (I hope not, anyway), and you all deserve to hear it, Plus, it’s brilliant, concise, and pretty damn funny:

“O, Kevin Brown let his team down
When he fractured his hand on the wall.
Better instead he had fractured his head,
Then it wouldn’t have mattered at all!”

I, too, wish there could be a book of these published. He said he had ‘hundreds’ of them!

Editor’s Note: Bill Madden has a tribute to Sheppard today that includes another poem…Don’t miss it.

Ed Alstrom plays the organ on the weekends at Yankee Stadium.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

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