This Week In New York Baseball

Dillon Gee is now 6-0.  6-0?  Man, he’s got to be due for an injury soon.  (He is a Mets Pitcher after all.)

 

The Yankees are 5-3 on their current West Coast Trip.  Regardless of what happens today, I still consider this a great victory.  Let’s face it.  The Yankees are normally terrible on these West Coast swings.  If they didn’t come home with a decent record, you know they would have left Nick Swisher in Oakland.  (With the way he’d been hitting as of late, that wasn’t necessarily a joke.)

 

Finally, Jeter is 15 hits away from 3000.  I think we’re all looking forward to him achieving this goal.  First, it’s virtually locks him in for the Hall of Fame.  Second, it stops the “drunk text” countdowns from my friends at all hours of the night. Finally, the Yankees can focus on winning games and Jeter can go back to those terrible Ford Fusion commercials.

 

Seriously Folks, do you really believe he would drive a Ford Fusion?

Thoughts on Gary Carter

We may not always be rooting for the same team; Nevertheless, this is something I believe we can all agree on.

Our thoughts are with Gary Carter.

Today, Baseball Hall of Famer and Mets Great, Gary Carter was reported to have Stage 4 Brain Cancer. Unfortunately, a scary diagnosis not much different than that, which took the life of Mets Great, Tug McGraw.

According to published reports, Carter’s tumors are inoperable. A great disappointment, especially when bestowed upon a man who is the physical embodiment of optimism.  As Ron Darling said during tonight’s Mets Broadcast, “[Carter] never wanted to make the last out.”

The 57-year-old Carter is expected to learn about his options (however few) at Duke University’s Cancer Institute treatment center tomorrow.

This is truly a sad day.  Carter is one of the true ambassadors of the game and an overall good person.  Here’s hoping that Darling is right.  Carter deserves a couple of extra innings to keep fighting.

An Ode to the Mayor’s Trophy

It’s been fifteen years since Major League Baseball instituted Interleague Play and the game has been better for it.  Midseason attendance spikes. It drives revenue and frankly, especially in the case of regional rivalries, a little healthy competition between family members is never bad.

In Chicago, it’s the “Crosstown Classic”.  In northern California, it’s the “Bay Bridge Series”.  However, the most famous of these regional rivals would easily have to be New York’s very own “Subway Series.”

Before Interleague Play was a gleam in Bud Selig’s eye, the “Subway Series” was pretty common in New York.  After all, two New York teams have faced each other in the World Series fourteen times dating back to 1921. (Technically two New York teams played each other in the “World Championship Series” in 1889, but being that the Subway didn’t make its debut until 1904, that series could probably best be described as a “Trolley Series.”)  The most of the regional rivals by far.

Beyond the postseason, the Yankees and Giants used to play exhibition series against each other from time to time. These match-ups were known as the “City Series.” Sometimes they were even played in October, on the rare occasion that either team wasn’t in the World Series. After 1940, this became difficult because the Yankees routinely appeared in the World Series. In the seventeen-year span between 1941 and 1957 (when the Giants and Dodgers left for California), the Yankees appeared in the World Series twelve times.  They only failed to reach the Series in 1944, 1945, 1946, 1948 and 1954.

Prior to the abandonment of New York by the city’s two National League teams, the Yankees and Dodgers began to play an annual midseason exhibition game called the Mayor’s Trophy Game.  It benefited sandlot baseball in New York City. The proceeds raised by the Yankees went to leagues in Manhattan and the Bronx while the proceeds raised by the Dodgers went to leagues on Long Island and Staten Island.

Interest in the annual charity event was revived in 1963 with the expansion New York Mets.  With it, bragging rights to the city were back on the line.  The Yankees were no longer the only team in town and at some points they weren’t even the best team in town.  (For those of you born after 1996, this seems like an impossible idea, I know.)

Most of the time, these games weren’t very competitive.  If one team was great, the other was usually very bad.  After dwindling interest as well as public bickering between the owners of both teams, the Mayor’s Trophy Game was discontinued following the 1983 season.

It was revived again as a pre-Opening Day series titled the “Mayor’s Challenge” and hosted many recent Yankees’ and Mets’ Greats like Doc Gooden, David Cone, Al Leiter and Don Mattingly.  However, as the Major League schedule evolved and the game became harder to schedule, it was eventually discontinued for good in 1992.

A Salute to a Newly Relevant Cleveland Indians

 

With
the Yankees battling injuries and the Mets battling…themselves? This week I
turn my attention to the AL Central. 
It’s May 7th and the Cleveland Indians are in first.

 

What?!

 

That’s
right.  This is a team once voted the most
disliked team in all of Major League Baseball (even over the Yankees)!  A team picked to place dead this year is actually in
first
place.

 

Sure,
we’re only entering the second week of May but according to the “experts”,
shouldn’t the Cleveland Indians be a hundred games out of first by now?

 

Maybe
it’s just me, but have you noticed how this year’s Cleveland Indians are
looking more and more like the Tribe from the movie, Major League?   It’s true and this is not a thinly veiled reference to Charlie Sheen ranting like “Captain Crazy Pants” in a Chief Wahoo
hat.  Think about it…

Left for dead, they have become the team to beat in the AL Central.  And just like the Yankees in the movie, the Boston Red Sox couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn when they faced Cleveland.

 

Just like the movie, the Indians have a big bopper with questionable immigration status as well (i.e. Pedro Cerrano).  I’m looking at you, Shin-Soo Choo!  If he didn’t carry his team to a Gold Medal
in the Pan-Asian games, he was looking at mandatory military service… in South
Korea!  

 

They also have a crafty veteran looking for that elusive championship.  However, I’ll say it now.  Grady Sizemore sports a far cuter hairdo than
Jake Taylor.

 

Finally,
have you checked out Closer Chris Perez? 
This left-of-center (or in his case, right-of-center)
hurler is making the 2011 Cleveland Indians a relevant contender through out
the league, even if his look screams NHL 1994.  

 

And
I bet he would be far funnier in front of a microphone than Charlie Sheen ever
could.  But, that’s not that hard.

Why Phil Hughes and Chauncey Billups Aren’t That Much Different…

Sure, they might
share a city, but the Knicks and Yankees have more commonalities than you
think. I’m talking specifically about Phil Hughes and Chauncey Billups.

 

Hear me out…

 

Yankees fans
have been pretty disappointed by Phil Hughes and his “dead arm.”  However, I encourage them to look at the
situation from a Chauncey Billups point of view.


A Chauncey Billups point of view?  Like I said, hear me out…

 

Is this post-Hughes Yankees pitching staff a dream
scenario?  Of course not.  Is Chauncey Billups the Knicks’ ideal point
guard? No.

 

Chauncey Billups is essentially a placeholder.  He’s holding fourteen million dollars to get the missing stud the Knicks so desperately need after
the new CBA agreement (and probable NBA lockout) are negotiated.  


Garcia and Colon are more than capable
placeholders until Hughes comes back. 
If he doesn’t come back, then they hold the fort until a sexier ace
hits the block around the trading deadline.


And if there’s one thing the Yankees are fairly decent at, it’s negotiating the trade deadline to their advantage.

 

If Billups can stay healthy and Garcia/Colon can
continue to eat up innings, each respective team has the ability to turn the
corner and cure serious Achilles’ heels.

Why Mike Francesca is one of the most Irresponsible Journalists on Television

 ….if you even want to call him a journalist. 

 

Did you get a chance to check out Mike Francesca’s
Radio/Television show on WFAN or YES today? 
About half way through the show, Francesca announced that he had
breaking news, a story that would change the face of sporting news …
irrevocably. 

 

The NFL Lockout was back on.  What?

 

There was only one problem.  The report was flat out false and after
listening to Francesca pontificating for fifteen minutes, he promptly had to
issue an apology. 

 

So, let’s see here. 
Mike Francesca just willy-nilly announced a “breaking news” story in
which people’s livelihoods are at
stake and it’s completely false?  People
normally get fired for this.

 

Did he miss the first day of Journalism 101?

 

How does one report a completely unsubstantiated story
without fact-checking it?  His excuse, it
was reported first on ESPN.  So
what?  Shame on you Mike Francesca and your crew for not double checking
your sources before you go air.  Does
Brian Williams report every AP story that crosses his desk?  If he does, you can be damn sure that he’s
got his facts in order.  Frankly, today
was just another example of Francesca’s desperate attempt to revitalize his
tired format. I marvel at the longevity of his career and can think of a
multitude of radio personalities that can make better use of his valuable air
space.

Sure, do this AFTER I stop working as Macy*s!

Cincinnati
Reds pitcher Mike Leake was arrested on shoplifting charges, after being  accused of
trying to steal sixty dollars worth of American Rag t-shirts from a downtown Macy*s.  Sure, I used to work at Macy*s.  I know the lines tend to get long, especially around “Friends and Family” time and sure, maybe our employees tend to lose their Macy*s “Magic” on occasion.  But T-shirts?  And not even design ones to boot?   The man makes just about $425,000 a
year.  I’m sure American Rag would have
been happy to send him boxes of t-shirts, if he just asked.

 

The
23-year-old starter was booked at the Hamilton County Justice Center on a
first-degree misdemeanor charge of shoplifting, a charge carrying a maximum of 180
days in jail. I doubt that the Reds will loose too much sleep regarding their stop-gap measure for an injured Johnny Cueto. If Barry Bonds can lie to the US Government and walk, this punk won’t even see an ankle bracelet.

 

Leake was arrested two hours before Cincinnati pitchers were expected to take
batting practice before the final game of the Pittsburgh series. Of course, he
was out in time to make his next start and get the victory in an 11-2 win over
the Pirates on Saturday.  I’m sure if he made a salary closer to an employee at Macy*s, the CPD wouldn’t have
been so flexible.

Umm, Excuse me?

Can someone explain to me why
there is any sympathy for Manny
Ramirez today?  No, seriously.  Please walk me through this.  I’m willing to listen.  


            I’m listening to the talk radio and I’m
reading blogs (not unlike my own) and all I hear about is what a great
character Manny was.  Character?   Seriously?  What’s your definition of character?


            Don’t
get me wrong.  I appreciate the great
“characters” of the game.  Tommy Lasorda,
Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra were all great
characters of the game, yet not one of them ever made a mockery of the game
like Ramirez did.    Telling your team that you need to arrive
late to Spring Training for family reasons only to collect an appearance fee for an
Atlantic City car auction doesn’t quite give you the same warm fuzzy feeling as, “It’s not over, till it’s over.”


            Let’s not get me started on Ramirez’ flagrant disregard for the game as well.  First, he was named in the Mitchell report for
allegedly testing positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs during the 2003 season.  Ok.  Go ahead and make the argument that he was
just one of many and there were no laws against PEDs at this point in
baseball.  However, fast forward to 2009.  Manny is suspended 50 games for violating
baseball’s drug policyallegedly.  I heard a caller yesterday on the radio actually
say, “but he was only caught with a
female hormone.”  What?!  Did you think Manny was trying to get pregnant?!  
Sadly, at this point, it’s pretty much common
knowledge that female hormones are used to restart natural testosterone
production after a steroid cycle.   Fast forward to this week, Manny is informed of yet another violation of the
drug policy.   That’s two positive test results since Major League
Baseball implemented their PED rules. 
In true “Manny style,” Ramirez spat in the face of Major League
Baseball again.  He rather retire than face
the 100 game suspension he deserves.


            Does
Manny Ramirez deserve to a ticket to the Hall of Fame?  Maybe, if he pays admission.  Manny might be retiring with a lifetime
batting average north of .300 and 500+ Home Runs under his belt; however, he hasn’t
shown once that he was able do it on his own without any help.  


           The great tragedy of Barry Bonds was that he did have the talent to make it on his
own.  The great tragedy of Manny is that
we let Manny be “Manny” as long as we did.

The 2011 Baseball Season – Predictions

With the first week of the baseball season under our belts (almost), I take a look at the season ahead.
*This will be my first season in three years that I am not playing Fantasy Baseball.  My social life will grow immediately by two-fold.
*This will be “The Year of the Catcher,” regardless of Buster Posey choking worse than a fat man at buffet in his first Opening Day start.
*Barry Bonds’ trial may not be getting the buzz I thought it would, but it will be a whole new ballgame once Roger Clemens goes to trial.  It’s all fun and games, until someone from Arliss is indicted by the Feds.
*Both the Red Sox and the Phillies will not make it to the World Series.  One of them will, but not both.  The Fall Classic can only take so much of their obnoxious green mascots.
*The expiration of Baseball’s CBA won’t be half as messy as Football’s, but just in case, New York fans have a fresh pack of batteries prepped for throwing.
*The return of Baseball will always be like the return of an old boyfriend…sweet, but only tolerable in 3 minute intervals. 

http://www.hulu.com/watch/12473/field-of-dreams-ray-and-his-dad-play-catch

Democracy is lovely, but baseball’s more mature.

With Opening Day upon us, I was trying to come up with something poetic to say about the new season, new beginnings, etc.  Then I thought about the work of playwright Richard Greenberg.  If you don’t know who he is and you’re a baseball fan, look him up.  This man can encapsulate the spirit of baseball more succinctly and eloquently than Ken Burns, Field of Dreams or I ever could.

The following is from my favorite play “Take Me Out” by Richard Greenberg.


In baseball there’s no clock.

What could be more generous than to give everyone all these opportunities and the time to seize them in as well?  And with each turn at the plate, there’s the possibility of turning the situation to your favor.  Down to the very last try.

And then, to ensure that everything remains fair, justices are ranged around the park to witness and assess the play.

And if the justice errs, an appeal can be made.

It’s invariably turned down, but that’s part of what metaphor so right.

Because even in the most well meant of systems, error is inevitable.  Even within the fairest of paradigms, unfairness will creep in.

And baseball is better than democracy – or at least than democracy as it’s practiced in this country – because, unlike democracy, baseball acknowledges loss.


While conservatives tell you, “Leave things alone and no one will lose,” and liberals tell you, “Interfere a lot and no one will lose,” baseball says, “Someone will lose.”  Not only says it – insists upon it!

So that baseball achieves the tragic vision democracy evades.  Evades and embodies.

Democracy is lovely, but baseball is more mature.
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