July 31, 2006

Hey Guys, I'm Home!... Did I Miss Anything?

Well, I just can’t leave Brian Cashman alone for a minute: I turn my back for one little three-day weekend and all hell breaks loose.

I haven’t seen a game since last Wednesday, as I was upstate visiting my father. As you could probably guess, my dad is a huge Yankees fan (this whole thing is really all his fault), but if there’s one thing that will pull him away from a baseball game or two, it’s the start of the racing season at Saratoga. The family that puts money on the horses together stays together. On a related note, I’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to Sun Shower, who kicked ass in the sixth on Saturday at 11:1, thereby enabling me to pay this month’s ConEd bill.

I’m wiped from the trip back to the city, sunburned, and doped up on all kinds of cold medicine, so insightful trade analysis is pretty much eluding me tonight. But the Bobby Abreu/Corey Lidle move certainly seems like a solid one. I just saw Theo Epstein at a press conference on ESPN looking so dispirited that I almost felt bad for him (he’s so pretty!), which has to be a good sign. I’m still not sure why the Yanks needed to add Craig Wilson too: It’s not like Shawn Chacon was doing anything productive, so it can hardly hurt, but when/if Sheffield and Matsui get back, there’s going to be a real cornucopia of corner outfielders. That's not such a bad problem to have, though, and I’m looking forward to scoping out the new kids during the game tomorrow.

On an unrelated note: when did the guys on Baseball Tonight start referring to home runs as “jimmy jacks”? And how can we make them stop?

July 26, 2006

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

New York baseball fans have, since time immemorial--or 1962, but close enough--been confronted with a choice: Mets or Yankees. Everybody knows you can’t root for both. Those who try are generally scorned as half-assed baseball fans, at best, and at worst, fundamentally weak and immoral human beings. It’s like bigamy, but less socially acceptable. Which is why I’m nervous, because I have to admit… I kind of like the Mets this year.

Now, I was born and raised a Yankees fan, and I’ll die a Yankees fan (possibly sooner rather than later, if I ever have to see Sidney Ponson on the mound with the season on the line). When the two teams play each other, my loyalty is clear and undivided. But there’s no denying it: I’m happy the Mets are doing so well, and I want them to get far in the playoffs. If this doesn’t seem like an issue to you, then I congratulate you on your rationality and perspective, but you’re obviously not a New York baseball fan, so take your precious logic and tell it to someone who gives a damn.

It’s not my fault. I like Willie Randolph from his Yankee coaching days, Carlos Delgado seems to have real character, Jose Valentin’s moustache is oddly hypnotic, El Duque brings back misty watercolored memories, and Jose Reyes and David Wright are just so fucking ingratiating. I still hate Pedro, of course, and I’m clinging to that, but I worry that I’m starting down a slippery slope that will one day end with me defensively whining, “I just want New York teams to win, what’s so wrong about that?” while my old friends sadly shake their heads and move down to the other end of the bar. This has to stop.

The second step is believing that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity...

Can't We Make an Exception for Fu Manchus?

The Yankees have picked up Sal Fasano to replace backup catcher Kelly Stinnett, thereby exchanging a rotund .228 hitter for a portly .243 hitter. I’m not sure why they think he’ll be any better--the only real advantage he seems to have over Stinnett is his amusing facial hair, and they’ll probably make him shave that--but still, what’s not to like about a guy who once had pizza delivered to his fan club during a game?

I'd also like to point out that last night's game was won on a three-run homer by Aaron "Not Good Enough for the Kansas City Royals" Guiel. At this point in the season, it's going to take a lot to surprise me. Sidney Ponson's no-hitter is just aroud the corner.

July 25, 2006

Come on, Kenny, She's Asking For It!

Harold Reynolds of “Baseball Tonight” has been fired by ESPN, and according to Deadspin, rumor has it this is because of sexual harassment. If true, that's a turn of events I could only describe as "unsurprising," but compared to some of his co-hosts, Reynolds really wasn’t that bad. Damn it, why couldn’t Steve Phillips have groped a PA?

And speaking of commentators you wish would be fired for bothering the interns: over the last few days, I’ve been meaning to try to put into words some of the many things that annoy me about the observations of the YES Network’s Ken Singleton. But when it came time to watch the games and find specific examples of his inanity, I discovered a funny thing: I don’t hear Ken Singleton’s voice anymore.

There are many irritating sounds I deal with so frequently that I simply tune them out: cars on the street below my window, the elevator down the hall, the fan whirring by my bed. And now, apparently, Ken Singleton’s babbling. Oh sure, when I really try, I can hear him expounding on his idyllic playing days under that colorful character Earl Weaver--but if I don’t focus, he and Bobby Murcer might as well be calling the game with dog whistles. Neat little trick my brain cells must have picked up in order to save themselves from a slow and painful death.

July 24, 2006

If This Doesn't Convince Brian Cashman to Make the Trade, Nothing Will

According to ESPN, the White Sox are close to a trade for Alfonso Soriano. I'm sorry to hear it, because I've always liked Soriano and was hoping he'd end up back in New York - he loves it here and he's a terrific hitter, skinny, 'roid-free, and full of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, as many people have pointed out recently, his few walks are a rare and mystical occasion, apparently depending on the cycles of the moon and the alignment of the planets, whereas his strikeouts are reliably frequent. But I have another reason to want him back, namely that I still have a Soriano t-shirt from 2001, and I'd really like to be able to wear it to the Stadium again without feeling like a tool. My other Yankee shirts are Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez, so I say fuck the on-base percentage and bring back Sori, before I'm forced to shell out another $25 for a Posada shirt and jinx him into retirement.

The YES broadcasters just reminded me that Kevin Mench's name is also coming up in trade rumors. I don't think he's actually Jewish, but nevertheless, a guy named Mench should probably be playing in New York.

July 23, 2006

Think of the Children

So I see (via Deadspin and Batgirl) that the Twins are having Joe Mauer Sideburn Night, when they will give out replicas of, yes, their catcher's sideburns. This is obviously a totally awesome idea, which makes me like the Twins even more than I already did, and my first thought was that the Yankees should do this with Don Mattingly’s moustache.

A while back, a friend of mine was sitting in a hospital waiting room, watching the Yankees game. He was having trouble breathing because of what turned out later to be a collapsed lung (“spontaneous pneumothorax”), but when he sent me a text message he didn’t mention where he was or why. He just said, “Don Mattingly shaved his moustache?!?”

This was my reaction, too, last season when I first saw that shockingly naked upper lip (the ‘stache has come and gone capriciously over the last few years). Don Mattingly should realize that that moustache does not belong to him alone. It was an integral part of my childhood, and that of millions of other children of the 80s; its absence provokes the same kind of ache I felt when the house I grew up in was sold. Not only can you never go home again, but even the facial hair you assumed you could always count on won’t always be there for you.

My friend’s lung has since healed… but the pain of Donnie Baseball’s missing moustache remains. Come on, Donnie. Do what’s right. Don’t make me start an internet petition.

July 22, 2006

Never Mind

Whew. What was that about momentum? Looks like I picked some good games to miss recently, as the Yankees slipped back to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox faster than the papers could come up with new variations on "E-Rod." In fact, Alex Rodriguez is painful to watch right now -- he's famously hard to like very much, but you still hate to see a grown man unravelling on national television. I just hope that the inevitable comparisons to Chuck Knoblauch and his throwing yips are premature, because that was no fun at all -- sportscasters, hide your mothers.

By the way, I love the word "yips". It should be used more often, and in non-baseball contexts. Do you think it's fair to say, for example, that M. Night Shyamalan has the directing yips?

July 19, 2006

The Melkman Always Rings Twice

... Okay, so that pun made more sense in my head.

Last night's come-from-behind
win was cheerfully weird: ninth inning, Yankees down 4-2. As the rain got harder and the thunder got louder, they tied it up, and with two outs, one on, lightning all over the place, and the count on the much-maligned Alex Rodriguez at 3-1... well, they called a rain delay, put the tarp down, and started up the Yankeeographies. But it ended almost as well, more than two hours later, when Melky Cabrera hit a walk-off home run to win the game, and jogged home like a happy little puppy.

The Yankees are more fun to watch right now than they have been in years, and I have absolutely no idea how they're doing this--there's a lot to be said for lowered expectations, apparently. To review: they started the night without Sheffield, Matsui, Cano, A-Rod, or Posada. Johnny Damon ended up playing first base
for the first time in his adult life. The game was won by Melky Cabrera, who last year looked like he couldn't be trusted to catch a simple fly ball. The shockingly solid starting pitcher, Sir Sidney Ponson, to whom I seem to owe a bit of an apology, was recently released by both the Orioles and Cardinals. 3B Nick Green (3-3 with two doubles) was acquired from the Devil Rays using loose change found under the cushions of the clubhouse couch. Pinch hitter Aaron Guiel (1-1, RBI) was released by THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS. If this continues, I may have to become an optimist.

July 18, 2006

Summer in the City, Part II

It's 101 degrees outside. This morning on the subway (before it stopped running due to a “temporary power outage” and made me an hour late to work, that is), a homeless person--who looked like a man but with boobs and a dress, so, gender unclear--sat down near me and started picking up paper and trash off the subway floor and EATING IT.

S/he also had a Blackberry.

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'll be moving to rural Canada.

July 17, 2006

He Sprang Fully Formed From the Head of... John Wetteland?

I knew that he was close to 400, but until yesterday I hadn't realized that Mariano Rivera was so close to Lee Smith's all-time saves record. Smith's stats are obviously very good, but more than anything else he seems to have had had longevity on his side, pitching from 1980 until 1997-- which is the year Mo started closing regulary. If he can pitch two more years, you have to assume he's got a great chance at the record (depending on what happens with Trevor Hoffman and his 460 saves in the meantime, I suppose).

Mariano is also one of the very, very few players who can talk frequently about god without making me roll my eyes. Maybe because he seems genuinely humble and kind... or, possibly, he just actually is a god. Makes as much sense as anything else.

Summer in the City

There are no words in the English language to explain how hot it is today. Walking to lunch this afternoon reminded me of the scene in Lawrence of Arabia where Peter O’Toole almost dies crossing the Nefud desert. Only with more Starbucks. Anyway, I can’t imagine trying to play a baseball game in this.

July 16, 2006

"Phatted Calves?"

The Post may be an unreliable rag, but it's had some truly inspired headlines over the years. This, however, is not one of them:


Were they... trying to make a pun on the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son... and the word "phat"? In reference to Johnny Damon's leg cramps? Someone overreached here.

July 15, 2006

That's a Good One, But it's No "Deuce Bigalow"

Things were starting to look fairly discouraging for the Yankees before the break, but in just a couple of games the momentum seems to have shifted. For two days, anyway, the team’s been playing very well while the Red Sox have finally stumbled, and it’s suddenly anyone’s division again. Nice relaxing blowouts like today's game have been in short supply this year - or maybe it only seems that way.

In other news: no need to worry about Ponson’s off-the-field peccadilloes, apparently, because as he says in today’s Times, “I’m getting help from professionals and stuff.”

And speaking of eloquent pitchers, this week’s Sports Illustrated features questions with Jonathan Papelbon.

“Q: What is your favorite off-day activity?

A: Watching movies. Have you ever seen Joe Dirt? Great movie.”

I know the guy’s got great stuff, but If Yogi was right and 90% of the game is half mental, the Sox could be in a lot of trouble.

I Love the Internet


Hat tip to the oddly addictive CuteOverload.

July 13, 2006

I Love the Smell of Desperation in the Morning

Ummm. The Yankees do need a fifth starter, but... this? Sidney Ponson is a knight in his native Aruba, a drunk driver in the United States, and an inept pitcher everywhere. You also don't want to run into him on the beach, apparently, especially if you're a judge. You've got to feel for Shawn Chacon, who is being replaced by a walking punch line, but Randy Johnson is probably relieved to no longer be the least likable guy on the team.

July 12, 2006

The Day After the All-Star Game is a Time For Reflection

... and brawls. Like this overlooked gem from a Tigers-Royals game last summer. The whole clip is about five mintues long, but it's well worth the time. Click on the link, under the photo, for "Guillen’s HBP starts scrum." It co-stars our own Kyle "Farnsy" Farnsworth, and even though so far this season he has turned the eighth inning into a time for older Yankees fans to reach for their heart medication... well, Kyle Farnsworth is kind of awesome.

What really makes this clip, however, is the Detroit announcers. I don't know who these guys are, but they really rose to the occasion. Sample quote: “You knew when Big Boy got there, it was gonna get on!"

If He's Also Afraid of Loud Noises, He's REALLY Going to Take to This City

According to an article in the Daily News, the Yankees are mulling a trade for the Phillies' Bobby Abreu. I'm not sure whether or not Abreu would be able to fill Sheffield’s angry, bat-waggling shoes--maybe so, but this is the part that makes me nervous:

“The Yankees have also gotten a strong recommendation on Abreu from his former manager Larry Bowa, who believes the 32-year-old right fielder would thrive in a situation where he doesn't have to be the top gun.”

So, Larry, you’re saying that Abreu is perfect for the Yankees because… he doesn’t like pressure? Right. That's going to end well.

July 11, 2006

"It is a Cosmic Rush... "

Thoughts on the All-Star Game:

-Fox kicked things off in an even tackier manner than I could have dreamed, with an elaborate yet inept CGI display of “shooting stars.” “It is a cosmic rush… and it’s flying straight into Pittsburgh, PA!”

-Hey, it’s Jeannie Zelasko and that guy with the moustache whose name I can never remember! I haven’t had to mute you guys since the World Series! “The National League was dominant in the 60s,” Moustache pointed out. Yes, that’s not surprising, given that the DH rule was introduced in 1973.

-I physically flinched when Kenny Rogers appeared on my screen -- they really shouldn’t cut to that guy without giving New York fans some kind of warning. If there’s any silver lining to Rogers’ performance in this city, it’s that it brings Yankees and Mets fans together in shared feelings of resentment and contempt.

-One of Brad Penny's 99-mph fastballs came a little too close to Derek Jeter’s head for my comfort. How awesome would it be if there were a brawl at the All-Star Game? I only hope I live long enought to see that happen.

-Apparently, more than one person on the planet thinks it's a good idea to use Soriano as a leadoff hitter. Huh.

-Phil Garner's mid-game interview was the very embodiment of affability. I kind of want him to be my grandfather. Ozzie Guillen... he can be my crazy uncle.

-Was it really necessary to show a clip of Bronson Arroyo singing? Please, please, PLEASE STOP. It's like showing a streaker during a game: if you pay attention, you're just encouraging him.

-I don’t think I’d ever seen Derrick Turnbow before. He looks like a Fraggle.

-While it was a nice moment, that was probably the least dramatic or emotional 2-out 9th inning rally I’ve ever seen.

-So glad to hear thar MLB and Fox are renewing their malevolent deal for another seven years. God give me the strength to change the things I cannot accept, and to accept the Tim McCarver.