"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: mike flanagan


Here’s a couple of pieces over at Grantland to check out.

First, Louisa Thomas on Venus Williams:

She has always seemed to have an ambivalent relationship to tennis. She is the most recognizable exponent of the game (even more than Serena, perhaps, because she came first) and also a vanishing act, an ambassador and outsider at once. She wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t always clear that she wanted to play at all. Richard Williams said he wanted his daughters to be extraordinary, to stand apart. They do. But that doesn’t quite capture Venus. Nothing does. She is elusive.

The challenge, Venus made clear early on, was to change the game without letting it change her. She has always held something back. Her story isn’t one about a rise and fall, glory and fade. She has become a kind of ghost.

This isn’t because she has other interests outside of tennis, which is often the knock. The spookiest thing about her is that she is one of the greatest competitors in the women’s game, but also one of the most indifferent. She’s a winner who somehow doesn’t need to win. So — and this is the question that has always bugged me, and the question I’ll be thinking about as I watch her in this tournament, and write about it here — why does she continue to play?

Next, Jane Leavy remembers Mike Flanagan:

Unlike my colleagues who have written in recent days of having covered him over the past 30 years as a pitcher, pitching coach, general manager, and broadcaster for the Orioles, Flanagan was in and out of my life as quickly as I tried to get in and out of the locker room. But he stayed with me in ways I didn’t realize until I heard about his death. What struck me about the conversation that day in the locker room was his interest in me. Most athlete-cum-celebs are too busy bemoaning the obligations of public personhood, too consumed by the ego-distorting attentions of doting reporters hanging breathlessly on every not-so-well-chosen word, to think about anyone other than themselves. But Flanagan really wanted to know about me, and because his interest was palpably authentic I told him things I never expected to reveal in a major league clubhouse, where revelation was supposed to be the other way around. I told him the naked truth.

…Flanagan’s suicide and that of former Yankee pitcher Hideki Irabu after the spotlight passed them by, that of Denver Bronco’s receiver Kenny McKinley and LPGA golfer Erica Blasberg after suffering debilitating injuries, and that of former Pro Bowl safety Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest so his brain could be studied for evidence of trauma-induced disease — which was found to be ample — cry out for the availability of on-going psychological services for professional athletes and for a reexamination of the fallacious assumptions we make as a result of their sturdy professional lives.

[Photo Credit: moonchild1111]

Observations From Cooperstown: The Comeback, Carlos Pena, and Mike Flanagan

It’s funny how the fortunes of just one game can completely change the complexion and tenor of a column. With the Yankees trailing the A’s, 7-1, on Thursday and seemingly on the verge of being swept by a second-division club, I was ready to lay the hammer down on the team for an inexcusable letdown after a productive road trip. Six innings later, the Yankees had outscored Oakland by a 21-2 margin, set a record by hitting three grand slams in one game, and put the finishing touches on a 22-9 thrashing of the supposedly pitching-rich A’s. So much for a column ripping the Yankees’ effort or performance.

Instead, it’s nothing but praise for a Yankee team that showed some grit this week by trying to stage three consecutive comebacks against the A’s. Two of the comebacks fell short, but the third represented one of the greatest in-game turnarounds in franchise history. A game like the Thursday matinee can do wonders for a team’s confidence–not to mention some individual batting lines. With three hits, Derek Jeter lifted his season average to .299 and his on-base percentage to .360, as he continues to quiet his critics. Curtis Granderson’s grand slam pushed his RBI total over the century mark, giving him 100-plus RBIs and 100 runs scored, and strengthening his argument for the MVP. With a 5-for-5 performance, Russell Martin raised his average to .243, the first time that he has touched the .240s since the spring. And even Eduardo Nunez joined the party with three hits, lifting his batting average to .280 while also turning in an errorless performance at shortstop.

The Yankees won’t score 22 runs in any of their games with Baltimore this weekend, but they should be relaxed and ready to do more damage against one of the American League’s weaker pitching staffs. I have a feeling they may need to score more than a few runs in support of A.J. Burnett, who is scheduled to pitch the Friday night opener. It could be Burnett’s final start of the season, especially if he blows up the way he did against the Twins last weekend…


The Yankees put in a waiver claim for Carlos Pena this week, yet another indication that they are not satisfied with either Jorge Posada or Eric Chavez as the left-handed hitting DH. But don’t expect Pena to be fitted for pinstripes any time soon; the Cubs pulled back the 33-year-old Pena because they’re not willing to give him up for merely the waiver price. The Cubs would want something tangible in a trade, but the Yankees have little interest in giving up even one legitimate prospect for the former Tiger and Ray. In fact, the Cubs and Yankees did not even discuss a trade involving Pena after the waiver claim, an indication that the teams felt there was no middle ground from which to work.

Could Pena have helped the Yankees? With his 23 home runs and 74 walks, Pena would have added to the Yankees’ game plan of power and patience, and certainly would have been an upgrade over Posada. On the downside, Pena’s average is in the .220s, he strikes out a ton, and he would have offered no long-term help, given his age and his current one-year contract. He’s clearly not the player he was during his peak with Tampa Bay from 2007 to 2009. If the Yankees could have added him on a waiver claim, I would have been all for it, but the notion of giving up even a single prospect for an aging Pena does not strike me as the best of ideas.

In the meantime, the Yankees will continue to scan the waiver wires, and will put in claims for any left-handed hitting DH’s (Hideki Matsui?) or legitimate starting pitchers that might become available. The August 31st deadline is less than a week away. Stay tuned…


Sad News

Mike Flanagan, a former pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles–and a damned good one–is dead.

Mike Flanagan, left, with his manager, Earl Weaver

He was tough on the Yanks. I remember watching him pitch when I was a kid. Sad news, indeed.

[Photo Credit: Yahoo!]

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