August 2010

Manny Ramirez has a job and I dont…

On a day, in which I spent 80% of it looking for a job (the other 20% if you’re wondering, was going back and forth between the YES Network and a marathon of The Rachel Zoe Project on Bravo), I salute a man who has nabbed himself gainful employment in these lousy economic times.  That’s right. I’m talking about Manny Ramirez.


Settle down Chi-town…


Nothing says “bad behavior gets rewarded” like Manny Ramirez getting a job.  Sure, he’s a nine-time Silver Slugger and one of 25 people to have hit over 500 career home runs. His 21 career grand slams are tied with Alex Rodriguez for most by any active player, and the second-most all-time, behind Lou Gehrig. His 28 career postseason home runs are also the most by any player in MLB history. Ramirez is a 12-time All-Star.  There, I said it.  Twelve time All-Star.  Nonetheless, let’s keep probing into these sexy, hall of fame numbers.


·         Who can forget Ramirez was allegedly among a group of 104 major leaguers who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during 2003 survey testing. That’s a proud moment.  Where will they put that on his plaque in Cooperstown?

·         And who can forget 2009? Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy for taking human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).  If you’re wondering, that’s a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle.  I wonder if Manny and I were ovulating at the same time.

·         Finally, dearest White Sox, you don’t have the division in the bag.  You need all hands on deck, so I ask you this – how many times has Manny done time on the DL this season?  One?  Nope!  Two? Keep going! 


Oh, and how can I forget?! Nothing brings calm and serenity to the Chicago White Sox (who frankly, as of recent, have been making the Hatfields & McCoys look like Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity) like “Manny Being Manny”. 


Nevertheless, the petulant child of the MLB has a job and I just applied to Target, hoping to get an interview for a cart handler. Welcome to the Windy City, Manny.  Meet Ozzie.   This isn’t Joe Torre and this sure aint SoCal.


(Yankee fans, take a deep sigh of relief.  We dodged a bullet on this one.)  

Dirt in the Skirt! ALL AMERICAN GIRLS steps up to bat!

Layon Gray’s “All American Girls” had its formal press opening last night at the Actors Temple Theatre (339 W. 47th Street).  “All American Girls” is the story of an all-Negro female baseball team whose coach goes missing in 1945 Chicago right as they are scheduled to play the storied (all-White) Rockford Peaches. Gray invokes an era in American history when women were called on to keep baseball alive as the men went off to fight in World War II. Gray, the show’s writer and director is an award winner with two shows running Off Broadway simultaneously. 

I was pretty excited to check out this show.  I am a huge baseball fan.  In fact, I published several articles on the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, as well as the Negro Leagues.  I interned at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and I just moved to New York from Chicago.

It is about time someone brought to light the indelible impact of the African American Woman in professional baseball.  Effa Manley, owner of the Newark Eagles, is the only woman to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Toni Stone, who was signed to the Indianapolis Clowns (a men’s team), took over for none other than Hank Aaron when he was signed by the Boston (soon to be Milwaukee) Braves.  Historians are quick to point out that she was actually better at the position than the future Hall of Famer.  My point is that there are plenty of amazing true stories of African American Women in baseball.  Why not tell them?

So, Gray opted to create a piece of historical fiction.  That’s fine. It’s his prerogative. Nonetheless, the missing coach arc didn’t live up to the time period he worked so hard to place it in.   It felt like an old episode of “The Twilight Zone” in skirts and cleats.  I was far more interested in the girls’ internal stories (how they fought to get there, what was left behind, etc…) and most of those back stories ultimately went by the wayside.

One of my biggest pet peeves is historical accuracies.   If you are going to create a piece of historical fiction, you at least need to get the history correct.  It felt like research for this project didn’t go much beyond watching “A League of their Own.”  The internal layout of Wrigley Field was non-existent. The geography of the city was wrong and the well-documented history of race relations in Chicago, known as one of the most segregated cities above the Mason-Dixon, was periphery at best. 

The one exceptional strong point of the production was the cast.  The actresses, who specifically played the girls on the roster, were for lack of a better word – great.  In fact, they deserve credit for keeping me so engaged when the plot just frustrated me.  Two standouts (if you had to choose) were Chantal Nchako and Yasha Jackson.  Ms. Nchako was enthralling as Jonnetta.  She precariously balanced the rage of oppressed generations before her with the need to keep her job.  Ms. Jackson was also impressive as Sara, who must hide her panic as she does everything in her power to keep the secrets of her team in house.

If you are looking to learn about a piece of history that’s been cut from your school books, this is not the play for you.  However, if you’re in the area, check out this roster of talented actresses.  I’m sure it’s the not the last you’ll hear of them.

I smell a Road Trip. Who’s with me?!

Roger Clemens is going to trial.  I smell a road trip! Who’s with me?!


Too soon?  Come on. He’s not going to prison.  If we learned anything from the recent actions of the American Justice System, anyone can get off (as long as they pay up of course).  I hear Blagojevich’s attorneys are available.


Speaking of the super inappropriate…


I was on a New Jersey Transit train heading into the city yesterday.  I had a couple of job interviews (which went disastrous of course).  Nonetheless, it was a nice trip in as I traveled with Yankee fans headed toward the matinee.  There I was on the platform with the normal mix of fathers and children, uncles with nephews (and nieces, of course) and friends playing hookey from work.  You could hear them strategizing on where to eat, what to do when they get to batting practice and of course, quizzing each other with cheesy Yankees trivia.


Who’s the only Cardinal in Monument Park?  Well, that’s the Pope of course….


A bunch of folks heading out to the ballpark for a beautiful day of baseball, what else could one ask for?  It was a nice atmosphere.  If I didn’t have people expecting me, I would have played hookey along with them.  Nevertheless, when the train finally pulled into the station and I sat in my seat, I was in for was something far different.


I’m sorry but there is nothing worse than rude, drunken fans on a train.  I’m all for a drink at the ballpark, but when you drink to excess and I’m forced to be your captive audience…you suck.  What made this rolling car of Wrigleyville goodness even more fun was that it was 11:18 in the morning.  The game wouldn’t start for another two hours.  How are you blitzed out of your gourd already?!


Hey! Guy with the Jose Reyes shirt and guy with the Josh Hamilton shirt, I’m talking specifically to you.  I know you had buddies with you, but you sat directly in front of me and made my trip miserable.  First, you’re purposely going to the game to be douches.  Don’t get me wrong! I’m all for fans of the opposing team coming out for a good time at the ballpark.  I can’t count how many times I was that opposing fan. BUT they were playing Detroit!  Your “Yankees Suck” chant is officially out of line and makes you a wannabe, especially you, Josh Hamilton guy. I have a feeling that the Jersey Shore look isn’t popular in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I’m going to assume, you’re actually from Long Branch.


Speaking of…


We hadn’t hit Rahway yet and these epitomes of manhood had knocked off two 24-pack cases of Coors Light.  Gross!  (And is anyone picking up on the irony that the guy in the Josh Hamilton shirt was binge drinking?  If you don’t, I’ll tell you when we get in the car.) 


Oh, I think one of our buddies might have been storing a couple in his backpack with the hopes of sneaking them into Yankees Stadium. Guys, this isn’t the AMC.  This is Yankees Stadium, the only place in the world where, while in the security line, I had to turn my cell phone on and off to prove it wasn’t a bomb.  It’s easier to sneak stuff on an El Al flight.


Where was the New Jersey Transit crew during this?  Your guess is as good as mine.  They were busy bothering me for a ticket, because ****** bag in the Jose Reyes shirt was too busy knocking my destination ticket off my chair.  (Heh! Heh! Heh! Funny, huh?)  Also, isn’t it against the law to drink alcohol out in the open on public transportation?  I know the LIRR has restrictions on that.


Also to the dad who was four rows ahead of them…spend less time trying to look cool in front of your son by goofing off with these jerks and more time being a better example of manhood for your son.   By the way, our boys here had no idea where they were going.  Don’t give them directions.  Let them think they’re pulling into Grand Central Station (you stupid Jersey Shore hicks).  They’ll be passed out at the TGI Fridays before we know it.


So, for those of you who were at the Yankees game yesterday, I hope you had a wonderful time as the Yankees won the series.  And for your sake, I hope these guys are still wandering around Penn Station as you read this.

Thoughts on Mid-Season Moves


The 2010 trade deadline, two weeks later… 


Unlike that other New York team, the Yankees made moves in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses. And by Joneses, I don’t mean Chipper. (Wow! Too soon?)  I am talking about the adorably unpredictable Tampa Bay Rays.  When we look back, will these trades be historically significant? Err, probably not.  Upon first glance, does it look like the Yankees learned nothing from their mistakes of the mid-aughts? Yup. 


Ted Lilly was available to fortify a rotation, weakened by Pettitte’s stint on the DL. Yeah.  The Cubs gave him a way for a bucket of chicken and a box of burned-out light bulbs.


Oh, adorable Theodore Roosevelt Lilly…. (No joking folks, that’s his real middle name.)


Truthfully, if Ted Lilly is literally your best guy out there then the Yankees probably made the best moves possible to improve their situation.  Besides, when push comes to shove, what did they lose? 


For virtually nothing, they acquired 1B Lance Berkman from Houston for cash considerations, RHP Mark Melancon and INF Jimmy Paredes.  They acquired RHP Kerry Wood for cash from Cleveland for a player to be named or cash.  They designated RHP Chan Ho Park for assignment and optioned OF Colin Curtis and 1B Juan Miranda to Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. 


None of these moves are going to punch the team a ticket to the Series.  Lance Berkman isn’t even an acceptable back up for Teixeira at first.  Nonetheless, if Wood can give Chamberlain a swift kick in the butt then we might have something here.


Speaking of midseason moves…


I moved back east.  You might ask why?  I’m going to miss out on Chicago’s tropical winters.  How will I get my mid-January tan? 


Eh, it was time for a shake-up. Besides, I got tired of making fun of Cubs fans.  Making fun of Cubs fans is like making the fat kid the anchor on your elementary school relay team.  It’s mean and a bit fruitless.  So, this week I find myself knee deep in boxes.  The only t-shirt I can find is a Xavier Nady shirt from his two minutes with the New York Mets.


Yes, like Yankeographies, teams will make a shirt for anything or anybody. 


If anyone can find a Piazza shirt from his stint with the Marlins, hit me back…


Speaking of hitting…


K-Rod!  Wow!  No better way to haul your subpar team kicking and screaming back into the media spotlight, like punching your girlfriend’s father out in front of your teammates’ families and loved ones.  Sure, why hold a press conference to talk about your team’s winning streak when you can talk about your closer being a selfish jackass?  I’m sure David Wright totally preferred to do the later.  Wright is starting to age five years every game.  Way to think about the team on that one. 


K-Rod’s return is going to be as awkward as the Westboro Baptist Church accidently booking Nathan Lane to speak at their next service.


Besides K-Rod, didn’t you learn anything from the news this week?  If you really want to torpedo your career, pull the emergency shoot.  And don’t forget to grab a couple of beers on your way out.


Thoughts on A-Rod and the Future

After 46 painful at bats, it finally happened. A-Rod hit his 600th homerun.  Can we now get back to the business of Baseball please?


I would love to give this story an altruistic Cal Ripken Jr. spin.  I want to talk about how A-Rod shows us that if you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.  I would love for this entry to be a salute to a strong work ethic and being a good role model.  However, this isn’t Don Mattingly.


Still, the comportment of Alex Rodriguez yesterday was of that of a gentleman.  The jury is still out on his legacy, but I wonder when we look back on Alex Rodriguez in future years, will it will be a story of redemption?   I wonder.


Speaking of hope for the future…


My cousin Denise is getting hitched tomorrow.  So in honor of great romances, I give you one of the greatest love stories in Baseball.  I am talking about Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe of course. 


According to her autobiography, Marilyn Monroe had no interest in meeting DiMaggio.  She thought he was a dumb mook and she was after all the most desirable woman on the planet.  Well, she finally gave him the time of day and a whirlwind romance began, culminating at the San Francisco City Hall on January 14, 1954 with their elopement.


Unfortunately, Monroe was a star on the rise and DiMaggio was a traditional Italian American man.  Not many men, especially in the 1950s, could tolerate have their wives standing on a street grate, exposing their panties for the world to see.  Monroe would file for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty a mere 274 days after their wedding.


Although Monroe’s love life is well-documented to say the least, DiMaggio never publicly confirmed involvement with another woman again.  On February 10, 1961, DiMaggio would re-enter Monroe’s life a final time, right as her marriage to Arthur Miller fell apart. He secured her release from Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. According to Maury Allen, DiMaggio was troubled at how Monroe had fallen in with people (he felt were) detrimental to her well-being.  He quit his job on August 1, 1962 in order to ask her to remarry him, but she was found dead four days later.


Devastated, DiMaggio claimed her body and arranged her funeral, barring Monroe’s Hollywood cronies. For the next twenty years, he had a half-dozen red roses delivered 3 times a week to her grave. Unlike other the hanger-ons in Monroe’s life, Joe DiMaggio never spoke about Monroe publicly. He never married again.


Can’t get any more romantic than that, can ya?  Congratulations Denise and best wishes for a most romantic future.