You know, yesterday I thought there were about five or six more days of January to get through, especially given how cold it got last night, but I woke up today and I turned the calendar page...and right now, I'm about to do it again.
This time I'll go from 31 January to 1 February.
Sure, there's a lot of winter left up in Syracuse, but, as I'd tell myself as a kid, by the time we get out of this month, people will be pitching and swinging again.
I have to say, it's a slightly odd feeling, for a few reasons.
The first is that, even if the last month was kind of slow (until Tuesday), it was one heck of an offseason from a Yankees perspective: new manager, new coaching staff, A-Rod hoopla, getting Mo, Po and Andy to come back, the report-that-must-not-be-named, Santanamania...
Hard to believe it's only been three months. Hard to believe it's been as long as three months. I go back and forth.
It's an odd feeling because October 2007 seems like it was such a long time ago, feels so far removed from now, but it's really not.
On a more personal level, it's an odd feeling because it means the blog's closing in on a five month anniversary and (coincidentally?) 25.000 views. I can't describe the feeling, knowing that something I started more or less on a whim has grown into something that was good enough to survive the off-season.
What's more, I can't describe the feeling this past week has given me--and the irony of it all is that I'm a journalism school reject. That's life though, isn't it?
So now there are just fourteen days to go, and indeed, there are a lot of people already down in Florida or Arizona, and the potential of Spring is soon to be at its most vibrant.
Whoever said February was a boring month is probably just a college football fan.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Why the Giants will win the Super Bowl
The only way I can explain it is destiny--teams that start 0-2 don't usually make it this far in a postseason--and yet this exactly what has happened.
At the beginning of the season, the Jets were the ones fresh off a playoff year; there was no question about Mangini as a coach, most experts had them at 9-7. The Jets, however, had what can best be described as a complete collapse...and the Giants didn't.
They had bad losses to Dallas, Green Bay...even Washington...but somehow, some way, they made it into the playoffs, and, as we all know, everything changes in the postseason.
So why will the Giants win the Super Bowl?
They've done that thing where they get better as the season goes on, unlike the Patriots, who struggled for their last win against the Giants, trailing by 12 at one point.
They've won an obscene number of games on the road, and the Super Bowl is many things, but a home game, it is not.
They've survived injuries to Shockey, who hasn't appeared in any playoff game and Burress, who has shown sheer grit through playing through an ankle injury that would sideline lesser men--if Maroney and Moss went down, I'm not sure the Patriots would be quite as immortal as everyone is making them out to be.
They've done all of this without Tiki Barber.
The Giants are kind of like the Rockies were last October--they sneak up on you, you're not expecting it at all because they're not one of the powerhouse teams in their league, yet, before you know it, they're there, in the final round. The difference is, the Giants now just have to win one game, not four.
The Patriots are past due for a loss.
New York is past due for some football glory.
The Giants have the momentum and the sheer bravado to get it done.
Tune in Sunday, February 3rd, to find out which it is!
I usually have a wager with my brother, but as this time he's a Giants fan and I don't want the Patriots to win, we'd both be picking the same side...
If I have to though,
Giants 34, New England 17.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I am happy.
I am filled with pure and utter glee.
It's not that I didn't want Johan Santana in pinstripes; it's that the price requested--at least one of the "Big Three" is much too high.
It's true, we don't know exactly how the Big Three are going to turn out, but it's a far worse crime to not give them a chance.
While I do think the Mets got the better end of the deal, I also think we're underrating the package that the Mets sent to Minnesota. Bill Smith is many things, but he's not stupid.
So congratulations to the New York Mets on a fine pick up, you got what you desperately needed (a pitcher), and the Yankees will hold onto their youth--and their future--for a little longer.
(sorry this took me so long to get up, I just got back from class!)
Monday, January 28, 2008
Maybe it's because it's ten degrees warmer outside today than it's been the past two weeks.
Maybe it's because with January winding down, the countdown to pitchers and catchers has really begun in earnest.
Maybe it's because it's beginning to hit me that the 2008 Yankees season has got so much going for it, so much potential...
...but while going to class today, a squirrel crossed my path, and I was reminded of last September, when, for just about every game, every time a squirrel crossed my path, the Yankees won the game.
I know it sounds odd, but you probably don't have to remember too hard to remember Scooter the Squirrel's appearance on the right field foul pole, and how the Yankees swept that series against Boston, and then, the next week, took two of three from Seattle (who was the Yankees' biggest playoff spot competition at the time). I'm sure you remember how it was maybe a week after Phil Rizzuto had gone to play shortstop for Heaven's side, so there was something...else...about the squirrel being there.
Every time I saw a squirrel in the fall, I would think about that.
About November, when the weather started to turn in earnest, I stopped seeing squirrels on my way to class. It was the beginning of winter, after all, and even squirrels can freeze in Syracuse.
Today I saw a squirrel for the first time since we put the bats and the gloves away last 1 November.
There's still a few weeks of unbearable cold up here, but today I was reminded that Spring really is just around the corner...
Sunday, January 27, 2008
So if you're reading this, there's a chance you may have just hopped over from Pete Abraham's site, so if you're new I'd like to say 'welcome' and 'Let's Go Yankees!'
Feel free to click around; there hasn't been a ton of Yankee stuff of late, so if you're looking for Yankees-specific entries, use the sidebar to navigate.
If you've got your own blog and want a link, or if you just want to say hello, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Only seventeen days, not counting the 28th (today) to go 'till Spring Training.
A bonus nugget for the regular readers: In March, I'm going to attempt a preview-a-day season preview, starting on 1 March with the Angels, and going in alphabetical order, so that the last one, on 30 March, the day before the season starts is the New York Yankees.
I promise, I'll try not to let school get in the way too much...
Saturday, January 26, 2008
So if you're still keeping up with the reading of this, you totally rock my world.
As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.
The Season, Part 16
#28, Cory Daniels, closer
The bullpen is a much easier place to work without the tension of having to share space with Monty.
By the middle of June, most of the team has moved on from the concept of Monty as team pariah; with him pitching every fifth day in the place of the injured Micah, it does the team no good to do anything other than support him. Truth be told, Monty hasn’t even done a bad job of it—he hasn’t won every start, but he’s gone six innings in all of them. Most of the team has made peace with Monty’s newfound success—glad, at least, that he’s no longer a distraction for the team.
Cory Daniels, however, is not most of the team. Cory’s mind thinks first and foremost about the bullpen, especially now, as it is stretched to its utmost limit. There’s Jeff, and Eduardo, who are as dependable as ever, but other than that, the only option for the Spartans is for the starters to through a complete game. Good as Graeme and Willy are, however, they can’t throw complete games every time out, and Paul and Li simply don’t have the experience to be pushed much more than seven innings in a game. To their credit, Charlie and Brendan Haus have made a considerable attempt to shop Bran around for some bullpen help, but Bran’s having a bad month and the Spartans, as it stands now, are not likely to get much in return.
Still, without Monty in the bullpen, there’s not the tension that there was in the beginning of the season, and Eduardo, Jeff and Cory aren’t afraid to goof off a little bit when they’re not pitching. It’s a different feeling, when everyone in the bullpen wants to be there, it’s as if the air itself is lighter.
Today, however, the air is rather heavy. It’s not the weather—it’s a gorgeous June day, with just enough clouds to be appropriate for a postcard, and a temperature just a degree or two too cool for swimming. It’s not because the Spartans lost last night, one of Graeme’s starts, one they could ill afford to lose, either. It’s because right now the team sitting in the other dugout has the words “New York” embroidered in silver letters on the front of their powder blue jerseys.
Games against New York always have something extra added to them. It’s not just that New York always seems to treat Hope City as a lesser, minor league type city, both on the field and off, but it’s that the New York fans seem to take an unreasonable delight every time they beat Hope City, and they beat Hope City fairly often. The Knights play better against the Spartans than they do against nearly any other team, and the Spartans don’t have, some argue, the money and thus the talent, to compete on the same level. On the occasions that the Spartans do win, it’s a celebration that nearly rivals winning the championship, and a great shame for New York. It will be on the front page of the Hope City papers, but only page four or five in the New York sports sections.
The game now is close, with the Spartans nursing a one run lead, three to two, in the bottom of the eighth. There are two outs already, so Cory’s already done warming up in the bullpen. The game will end on his shoulders; it’s his responsibility to get three outs before the Knights can get one run, and Cory wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s where he thrives. When Richie makes the last out, Cory doesn’t even wait for Pete to signal him, but instead races to the mound, to the cheers of everyone in the stands. They know well enough that when Cory Daniels enters a game, the last three outs are really formality only.
Cory’s arm is getting to the point of the season where his arm takes a noticeable hit with every pitch. It’s early for this; it usually doesn’t happen until late July, but as the bullpen’s been so stretched, Cory is not surprised by it. Instead, he works through the pain. There’s still a lot of season left, so he doesn’t have a choice. New York’s two best hitters, Thomas Calvin and Jeff Pullman are leading off the inning. If Cory can get past these two, the Spartans (and their fans) will feel the air a lot lighter.
Calvin, a large, tall red-head, is well known in the league for crowding the plate, standing so close to home plate that it makes it nearly impossible to pitch him inside (his weakness) without it being called a ball. Cory’s great at locating pitches, but there is such a small area with which to pitch Calvin inside that it’s easier to try to overpower him with the best fastball Cory can throw—about 102 miles an hour. Cory’s not one to shy away from a challenge, but today it’s a tough decision, with the game so close. He waits for Ben to call the pitch, but Ben himself seems stuck, and soon enough, Ben’s on the mound, trying to talk it over with Cory.
“The fastball’s not got a whole lot on it today.” It’s usually taboo to tell a pitcher that a certain pitch isn’t working (unless you’re a coach, in which case it’s your duty), but Ben learned early on that with Cory, honesty is the only policy.
“I know. Try to get him inside, then?”
“Climb the ladder?”
“Works for me.”
It’s a simple, common concept used by relievers—make the first pitch an obvious strike, and each subsequent pitch a little higher, so that by the third or fourth pitch, the batter is swinging at a pitch way out of the strike zone. Any good reliever can do it; the best can do it on any hitter, even one as good as Calvin.
When Ben gets to the plate, he sets up slightly outside, to fool Calvin—when Cory kicks his leg, Ben will move at the last minute a full step closer to Calvin, but too late for Calvin to adjust. It’s something Ben and Cory have worked on endlessly since they’ve been on the Spartans together; Ben has to get Cory’s cadence just right so he isn’t late (and it becomes a passed ball), or early (where Calvin or whoever’s hitting figures it out and adjusts accordingly).
The first pitch Cory throws is inside, just as Cory wants when he releases it, but instead of tailing back over the plate at the last moment, it tails inside, and Cory’s put just enough speed on it that Calvin doesn’t have time to move out of the way. Calvin’s grimace makes the obvious truth hurt; the pitch has hit him square on his elbow guard. It’s a good ten minutes before Calvin manages to trudge to first base. He doesn’t even look at Cory; he knows well enough that standing inside like he does is going to get him hit, it’s just a question of when.
Cory gets no reprieve with the next batter up, Jeff Pullman, a lanky dark-haired outfielder that looks more like a boy than a man. Pullman doesn’t crowd the plate, but he has a much better eye than Calvin. If there’s even a momentary question of whether or not it’s a strike, he won’t swing. Climbing the ladder won’t work on him—Cory will be able to pull off strikes one and two, but the third, out of the strike zone, won’t get Pullman to swing. The only real way to pitch to Pullman is to fool him with off-speed pitches, but as Cory relies on two pitches (and not four like a starter), it would be near impossible to fool him. Cory’s only option is to locate just right (either high corner, but not low) and throw it hard.
When Cory’s arm is right and rested, he can break the triple digits on the speed gun, but on a day like today, he’ll be sitting on 94 or 95. It’s a dangerous game, and hitting Calvin hasn’t done anything to help. There’s no conference with Ben this time; it’s either going to be a fastball on the outside corner or the inside corner, and Cory leaves the decision (literally) in Ben’s hand. He calls for the fastball outside.
Cory puts everything he has into his legs, propelling him forward. It does no good to put all the power in his harm; it would ruin Cory’s location, but with his legs, Cory can force his body to put something extra into the pitch. It’s an effort, but it works—the pitch manages to register at 97 and Pullman swings long after the pitch is already in Ben’s mitt. It’s thrown so well that Calvin, closely watched at first, doesn’t even have time to decide whether or not he wants to steal second.
Ben calls for the same pitch again, and Cory obliges, same exact motion, same exact result, even though this time the pitch is a hair slower, at 96 on the gun. With two strikes, Calvin takes the little lead he can at first; a large lead would attract notice and the last thing he wants is to get picked off with no one out. There is a noticeable tension in the crowd with two strikes on the guy who is arguably the best hitter on the Knights, and the crowd starts to applaud in anticipation of the third strike.
For the third pitch, Ben calls for it inside, somewhat predictable but better than trying to pitch Pullman for the outside strike a third time—a hitter as good as him will have already figured out how to hit it by the third go.
Again, Cory puts all the power he has into his legs, but when he brings his arm around, there is a sharp pain—momentarily, only, but just long enough to alter Cory’s release point, and thus the trajectory of the pitch. Instead of being thrown on the high, inside corner of the strike zone, the pitch, still just over the inside of the plate, stays just low enough for Pullman to stay on it, and not underneath it.
The crack of bat on ball gives off the one sound that means that Cory doesn’t have to look at where the ball’s going; it’s obvious. Pullman’s just smashed a two run home run, and Cory’s blown a save that the Spartans needed.
It’s only the top of the ninth, though, and Cory still has three outs to get before his team gets last licks. He doesn’t have time to think about what has happened; instead his only choice is to get back to work, hoping maybe his team might bail him out, and not the other way around, for once.
#5, Steven King, pitching coach
For Steven, the first few weeks after the Accident are pure hell. There’s no other way to describe it—Pete won’t speak to him under normal circumstances, instead, he uses Dennis as the middle man to get the pitching change or to tell Steven to work with Paul on his mechanics. Of the pitching staff itself, only Monty bothers to give Steve the time of day, which is not a terribly encouraging thought, even with Monty pitching well.
What perplexes Steven most, however, is that there seems to be no blame given to Liam, and yet it’s in Liam’s job description, not Steven’s, to cater to a player’s injury. Liam is cognizant of this—he has apologized profusely time and again, on TV, in print, and every time, forgiveness is readily given. Liam is an integral part of the Spartans’ staff, Steven is not. Liam is Pete’s best friend, Steven is not.
It’s not any better at Steven’s home, either. His family maintains their distance, but worst of all are the letters and emails he receives from fans, who, just like most of the Spartans, are fiercely loyal to Pete. If Pete has an issue with a member of staff, like he’s having with Steven, then the rest of the fan base has the same issue, as well. Steven’s not sure how his addresses, both normal post and email, are public, but with the wonders of the internet, he’s not surprised that those who really wanted to have been able to find it. There’s one email, in particular that hurts Steven, which takes the hell he’s been living in and multiplies it by an unknown factor:
Subj: How Could You Let This Happen?!?!
When we met in a Florida hotel, I think the reaction of my son, Brett, says all that need be said in terms of how honored we were that you would grace our presence.
Now, though, I’m not sure what to tell my son. You taught him how to throw better, so he doesn’t injure himself (or so you said), but now he’s asking me if what you taught him is the same that you taught Micah Garcia to cause his arm injury. I am at a loss as to what to tell him.
I don’t blame you for the car accident, but if it was just the accident at fault, there wouldn’t be an issue as to whether or not Micah will ever pitch again. This was only Micah’s third season!!
I will always be a Spartans fan, but I am disappointed in the harm that you seem to have caused a young pitcher, and I’m worried if the arms of Paul, Li Ming, and most importantly, my son, are just as damaged as well.
The memory of that February afternoon is crystal clear in Steven’s mind, which might be part of the reason he is so heartbroken by the email. There has never been much that has given Steven a greater thrill than teaching a fan, especially a young boy, how to pitch. A while ago Steven had decided that when he gets tired of the league, that he’d retire and see if he couldn’t coach for the nearest youth league or middle school team. Unlike with the Spartans, it wouldn’t be about being competitive, it would simply be about getting some exercise, having some fun, teaching those that wanted to learn the mechanics they’d need to make it in high school, college and beyond. Now, however, Steven’s not sure any middle school or youth league team would want to take him on staff, at least in the Hope City area.
Losing to New York yesterday was a dagger. The Spartans had a one run lead, a game that Willy had pitched well, and it should have been just a formality, giving the ball to Cory to get the final three outs. Of course, closers are human, just like any other baseball player, and they can and do err, but Willy had asked specifically to stay in, so that Cory could rest his arm a little bit. Pete didn’t want to take the chance, and said as much in the press conference afterwards, that bringing Cory in was his responsibility alone, but the state of Cory’s arm, and Cory’s inability to get enough speed on his pitches or locate well yesterday…that was Steven’s fault.
As has become fairly usual, Monty didn’t seem to hold Steven accountable for Cory’s failure, and, in a nice surprise, Cory doesn’t blame Steven, either. Cory only blames himself, which isn’t really all that encouraging either, but Steven enjoys the fact that after the game he could at least talk to Cory about it without being the subject of a cold, distant, stiff and formal attitude.
Driving to the Stadium before the game, Steven’s shortcut takes him pasty the scene of the Accident, and it takes everything he has to steel himself for it. He keeps telling himself to learn another route to the Stadium, but something keeps him from doing it, like a sense of penance, a sense of needing to atone for a sin he’s not even sure he committed. There’s no sign of the Accident, of course; the clean up crew did an excellent job of that, but sitting at the traffic light, it’s not hard for Steven to imagine how the Accident occurred. It’s harder for Steven to imagine how Micah, in his tiny sports car, could have possibly survived the onslaught of an SUV, so he gives up trying.
It’s the worst on days like today when Steven comes to the intersection and the light is yellow, so he has enough time waiting for the light to change that he can imagine the Accident in rather vivid detail. He doesn’t think about how the Accident itself wasn’t why everyone was so mad at him, but without it, Micah’s arm injury would have likely gone unnoticed until his arm was destroyed beyond repair.
It never enters Steven’s mind that Micah is probably, in some respect, at least partly responsible for the damage of his arm, likely from not stretching right before the game or not knowing how to say when he’s thrown more than his arm can handle. Steven’s born the brunt of so much of the blame that he believes it (to a point) himself. It’s his fault he didn’t catch Micah’s injury, not Liam’s, and it’s certainly not Micah’s fault that he didn’t go to Liam when his arm started to hurt him. Steven doesn’t allow himself that option as an escape.
Eventually, Pete will come around, and thus the rest of the team, but for now, there’s no end in sight. For now, he is Steven King, the world’s most hated Spartan.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Reading through the recent entries, I just realized that on the entire front page of a New York Yankees blog, I have not one post related directly to the Yankees, except for mentioning Phil Hughes' blog.
So I should probably fix that, seeing as this is, first and foremost, a Yankees blog.
It is a rather slow time, when the off-season really does feel like an off-season, but there are a couple things of note, many of which will be familiar:
Cano and Yankees close to long-term deal: The important thing to take away from this is not necessarily the numbers, but the length. It's unusual for baseball players to get long term deals at this point in a career (the first that Cano is arbitration eligible), so that lets you know just how highly the Yankees think of their second baseman. Hey, if he learns how to run the bases properly, Cano could go from being a reallygood player to one of those guys who flirt with immortality...
The numbers that Chien Ming Wang and the Yankees submitted, in terms of salary, are fairly close, so the two sides should have no trouble coming to an agreement. Then again, should is a funny word.
In other news, you have probably heard that the Feds have been unable to locate Chuck Knoblauch to serve him with a subpeona. While we shouldn't find this funny, there is a bit of humor, especially with the 'he went to go find first base' jokes. I don't blame him for trying to keep his head down and stay out of the limelight, but there are extremes at both ends. Of course, I hope that he's not actually in any sort of trouble, and who knows, maybe they'll make a movie of it some day...
Thursday, January 24, 2008
So since there is still another week before the big dance, I thought I'd do two different predictions--one why the Giants will win, and one why the Patriots will win.
I should be clear though, that even as a NY Jets fan, I am rooting 100% for the Giants. Why? When it's New York and New England, there's really only one choice. Unless it's hockey. In which case the choice is the Devils.
So, I'll get to it:
Why the Patriots will win the Super Bowl:
Okay. They're 18-0 so far, which is not only really good, but has never actually been done before. They have a quarterback who is having a 2007 A-Rod like season in terms of stats, but without any sort of opt out controversy.
The Patriots are good. Not just the run-of-the-mill good enough to get to the playoffs and maybe even the third round good, like some hockey and basketball teams, but good like the '98 Yankees, '72 Dolphins, the Bulls that one year, etc. They're Good.
This decade, the Patriots have played like the Packers and Cowboys of old, dominating the league to the point that it's just assumed they'll be in the postseason--and when your division contains the Jets, Bills and Dolphins, well, maybe that's all need be said. However, the Patriots haven't just dominated the AFC East; they've been better than nearly ever other team in the league. Only the Colts have come close to equaling their achievements in the conference over the past few years, and the AFC...well, they have won eight of the last ten Super Bowls.
This year, the Patriots have not just Brady, but Moss and Maroney, and a defense that, well, you know, it wins championships.
So they're good.
Okay, now that was rather hard to right as a Jets fan, but it's true. The Patriots are that good.
They might, however, not be good enough.
Check back next Thursday, same place, to see why the Giants will win!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I am a Yankees' blogger, sure, but I am also a woman.
So, on occasion, I do (typically) female stuff, like knitting. I haven't made anything in ages, but I got the itch to do it again this weekend, so I made myself a rather simple scarf.
The color doesn't show quite right on the picture, but it's actually a very nice burgundy.
If you haven't checked out Phil Hughes' new blog, you should.
Last night he had a post up where you could submit questions and he would answer a few...some of the ones submitted are really good so far, so it should be fun to read his responses.
I don't know about you guys, but I cannot wait for February 14th....only 22 days from now!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I've seen a bunch of blog post recently (OK, Phil Hughes and Pete Abraham) about compiling a playlist for Spring Training, or the journey to said Spring Training.
So, seeing as there isn't much baseball news for now, I thought I'd share a playlist.
This is my, "Congratulations, You've Just Made the Bigs" playlist. I usually play one of these songs any time I get some really awesome news, have done something really awesome, or when I'm just in a really, really good mood.
Amy Ray~Put It Out For Good
Billy Joel-We Didn't Start the Fire (especially any time I ace an American history exam or paper...)
Coldplay-Clocks, A Message, Fix You, Till Kingdom Come
Daughtry--It's Not Over
Foo Fighters--Learn To Fly
Goo Goo Dolls--Stay With You, Let Love In, Broadway (I love Iris too, but it's not a 'feel good' song)
The Killers--Somebody Told Me
Lacuna Coil--Heaven's a Lie
Lifehouse--Hanging By a Moment
Linkin Park--Numb, KRWLNG, What I've Done
Live--Show, Sofia, Get Ready, Mystery, Sweet Release, Home, I Alone (if you can't tell, this is my favorite band. Like ever.)
Nightwish--I wish I had an Angel, Nemo, Ghost Love Score
REM--Losing my Religion
Red Hot Chili Peppers--Dani California
Santana--Primavera, Migra, Maria Maria
Tyler Bates--To Victory (300 soundtrack)
U2--City of Blinding Lights, Where the Streets Have no Name
Ziggy Marley--Love is my Religion
That's by no means all the music I like--I have a lot of celtic, renaissance and medieval music as well, but that's the music I like to play when I'm in a really good mood.
Feel free to share some of your good mood music!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
There are football games.
There are classics.
And then, there is Ice Bowl the Second: The Curse of the Missed Field Goal
I'm not a Giants fan. I don't hate the Giants, they aren't a bitter rival like the Red Sox, Rangers or Patriots, they're just not my team.
So I watched the NFC championship game today with a bit of an open mind. Mad respect for the Packers and their history, and Brett Favre, for sure, but also respect for the Giants. They are, after all, a New York team that was playing for the possibility of playing New England...
It seems like such a long time ago that the Giants and the Jets both started the season at 0-2 and the analysts said the Jets would be the ones to pull out of it...
For the first time since 2003, a local team has a chance to win a major title, and they can beat New England while doing it.
Again, I'm not a Giants fan. Any other AFC team in the Super Bowl than the Patriots, I'd be rooting for the AFC team, but the Patriots are a New England team, and most of you know how that sits with Yankee fans.
So on that basis, LET'S GO GIANTS, and bring a little sports glory back home, where it belongs.
By the way, I froze just watching that game. Are the linebackers insane playing with bare arms?
Wait, I'm not sure I want that one answered...
So I apologize for the shortness of this, but the first week of classes has meant I've been strapped for time, and when I *do* have it, I am utterly exhausted. I hope this is enough to hold you over till next week...
As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.
The Season, Part 15
#17, Kent Andrews, utility infielder
There is a difference, Kent thinks, between the random once-a-month start to give an infielder a day off, and starting every day while Terry is on the DL with his hamstring injury. For one thing, his stats actually matter. Coming off of the bench, the average isn’t nearly as important as the ability to clutch hit and play solid defense; starting the average does matter. The big hits matter. Solid defense is supposed to be flawless defense. Most of all, people look at him. He’s not just the guy about to marry Eve Lockwood; he’s the starting first baseman for the Hope City Spartans.
He’d be lying if he said he didn’t love it. It’s not the fame so much (though he does enjoy it) as it is the thrill of being able to play every day, introduced in the starting line up, even making a play here or there that ends up on the highlight show. It’s not easy for him to keep his average up, now that it matters, but he manages to keep it over .275—his own mark for respectable.
Then there are the conversations he has with Eve, over the phone, after every game. She asks Kent in her deep, strong voice, how the game went, asking not just whether or not the Spartans won, but how many hits Kent got and how well the team pitched. He returns the favor by asking Eve how well her movie shoot went that day, and this often elicits a response which includes wardrobe malfunctions (common in a period piece) and paparazzi annoyances. The conversations take on added meaning now that Kent is playing every day; Kent actually has an answer to give to Eve when she asks.
He’s on the phone with her now, in his Memphis hotel room. Eliot is close, across the hall, but given the odd hours at which Kent and Eve are likely to be on the phone, Eliot knows well enough to book his own room if he wants to sleep.
“You made the papers here. You’re all over the place.” Eve says, through the phone.
“I what?” It comes as pure shock to Kent. It wasn’t until Terry went injured that he received any mention in the Hope City press; never mind New York or California. He was amazed anyone in England, other than Eve and her production crew, knew he existed.
“Well, one of the papers wanted to do a story on us for their entertainment section…” Kent remembered this; he’d been interviewed on the phone about a week ago for what he thought was a small, local newspaper. He had, apparently, thought wrong.
“I remember…I thought it was a small paper though, that it was supposed to be a one time thing…”
“Amazing. I’m the American, and yet I know more about England than you who prints the Queen on his money. The Gazette is one of the largest papers in the country; the largest printed outside of London.”
“So how am I all over the place?”
“You should talk to whatshisname,” Eve says, meaning Dick Holt, “but once a paper like the Gazette covers a story, all the other papers want to do the same. There was a lot of interest in you, so a lot of the sports sections have published articles on baseball, and a bunch of them have mentioned you in particular.”
“All good, I should hope?”
“Yeah.” Though it wasn’t one of the main reasons that Kent loved her, the fact that Eve understood the press, and its ability to make or break certainly came as a plus to Kent. If he wasn’t sure about an article about the Spartans, Eve could tell him in a heartbeat if the article was meant to be good press or bad. “They’ve taken a liking to the idea that you’re the guy that’s come off the bench now, they see it as a boy-becomes-man story.”
“I thought they had enough of those over there…” Both Kent and Eve are aware the jibe is directed at the media and the royal family, but they don’t mention it.
“It’s good press.”
“Won’t last forever.”
“Even more reason to enjoy it.” Kent enjoys that Eve is direct and never condescending. She doesn’t sugar coat anything, but she’s not a cynic.
“It feels like you’ve been in England for ages.”
“I know. I was looking at a five earlier, and I thought it was incredibly odd to look at American currency.”
“That’s about how it was the first time I arrived. You know, I’m not quite sure how I would have managed without seeing you that week.”
“Have you thanked Eliot, yet?”
“Every time I see him.” It’s not quite true, but as he’s had Eliot tell him that the non-stop thank yous were beginning to annoy him, it will suffice.
“As well, you should.”
“So when are you coming back?” The question spurts out before Kent really thinks about what he’s saying…it’s not an inappropriate question, but he hates that it makes him seem needy, as opposed to patient.
Eve had returned for Easter, as promised, but Kent was unable to work out any time away from the team to see her in California, where her family resided. Originally, Eve was supposed to have been back for good, but filming had gotten behind schedule due to the unending legal troubles of her co-star. Had the troubles occurred before filming started, the project would have been postponed, but Eve’s co-star had a nasty habit of horrible timing.
“I’ve told you, we’re supposed to finish filming by the eleventh.”
“Yes, but what’s the date on the ticket?”
“Well, I haven’t told you because I won’t know until, then, really, if it’s going to change or not.”
“Just the same, when is it?”
“The fifteenth.” Without thinking, Kent glances at the calendar on the hotel room’s desk. Today is the seventh.
“Eight days.” Kent draws a long, measured breath and Eve says what he’s thinking:
“It’s an eternity.”
“I know.” It’s another ten minutes of chatter before the two part; when they do Kent grabs the complimentary pen in the hotel room, and even though the calendar on the desk isn’t his, he draws repeated red circles around the fifteenth.
#40, Bran Stromer, center fielder
By the middle of June the trade rumors centering around Bran have reached such a level of saturation that he is, for once, the center of all attention on the Spartans.
It’s an odd feeling. He’s always had enough talent to earn himself the starting job in center field, but he’s also been one of those guys that slips under the radar. He is the type of guy that does his job, day in and day out, and asks for nothing else in return (or so he’s told, by both Pete and Dick). The sudden attention is unnerving, distracting and his performance suffers as a result. It’s frustrating, especially when his name starts coming up every night on the Baseball Today highlight show.
Bran’s watching the midnight edition of the show from the comfort of his own home on Brighton Lane. His wife, Izzy, is long asleep—at six months with her first child, sleeping is the only thing that comes with any sort of ease—so Bran’s got the volume on the TV only a couple bars above mute. He’s sitting on a large black leather recliner in his TV room—when Izzy and Bran purchased the home, they came to the agreement that Izzy could have free design reign over the rest of the house as long as Bran had control over the TV room. To his credit, Bran didn’t make a bad job of it—two black leather recliners on a hardwood floor, understated coffee table, and a large, flat-screen TV. He’s still not entirely used to the sight of himself on TV and half the time finds that he is cringing at his accent, but he watches, every night.
The anchor of the show is a slightly overweight sportscaster by the name of Len Martin. He looks a bit like Pete might have some years ago, if Pete had ever thought about growing a goatee, but his voice contains none of Pete’s charm or wisdom. His voice is gruff; he is fairly obvious about his efforts to hide his country twang—which Bran finds insulting, among other things. However, Len Martin still knows the game of baseball well, probably better than anyone not employed by any one of the league’s sixteen teams, so Bran pays as much attention to his broadcast as he might to Pete or Charlie.
“Now, as we approach the trade deadline at the beginning of next month, the one name that keeps coming up is Bran Stromer.” Len says the bit as any newscaster might, but Bran notices that his body language is a bit reserved. This is, quite obviously, not one of Len’s favorite topics of conversation. A series of clips of some of Bran’s better at bats and defensive moments plays to the narration of Len’s voice, as if the production crew has access to Bran’s thoughts.
“The Spartan center fielder has shown flashes of all-star talent and is one of the best lead off hitters in the game today. He alone could easily get the Spartans a quality pitcher to fill the void left by Micah Garcia, and then allow Monty Allison to go back to the bullpen, and not strain the Spartan relievers. It’s not much of a secret that the Haus brothers don’t have a lot of money at their disposal; with the signing of Li Ming it is almost a certainty that they will not have the money to pay Stromer what he’d want when he is eligible for free agency. However, Stromer’s recent play has come under fire from fans in California and Seattle, the teams rumored to be most interested in a Stromer trade. One high ranking official working with the Diablos who asked not to be named stated that while he believed Stromer was in the middle of a dry spell, it would greatly lower the Spartans’ leverage should the Haus brothers choose now to make a move. The Haus brothers have yet to publicly comment on the Stromer situation.”
It’s a lot to take in all at once. Bran presses the pause button on his DVR so he can digest what he’s just heard without getting distracted. Most of it is not a surprise; even the bit about the Spartans not having enough money to pay Bran what he’d want in a contract does not provoke a reaction. Truth be told, Bran is already making more money than he ever thought he would, and unless something drastic changes in the next three years before he is eligible for free agency, he is content to play for whatever the Spartans can pay him.
What does surprise Bran is that someone working for an interested team such as California would go on record with his team’s position on the idea of a trade. From what Bran’s learned, it’s just the same as a poker player showing his cards. Bran figures that either the official for California is extremely new at his job, or, more likely, has something else up his sleeve. California is one of the better teams in the league, both in terms of management and talent, so Bran expects it’s just a ploy.
Bran remains awake a little longer to see some of the other game highlights from around the league. Most games were fairly average, though it took fourteen innings for New York to beat St. Louis and Detroit beat Texas on a walk-off home run. When he has trouble keeping his eyes open, he turns the TV off and makes for his bedroom. Bran’s used to finding his way to the large king bed that he and Izzy share in the dark; he’s just glad that, at the moment, there are no child’s toys for him to trip over and break his ankle.
He sees Izzy’s form under the bedcovers; she’s now showing noticeably, and there is something sensual and arousing about the baby bump. He stares for a moment or two after he undresses at the bump, wondering how it could be supported by Izzy’s miniscule frame, before sliding into the bed, next to her. The idea that the two of them could create a child, another human being, fascinates and excites him. It’s right now, more than any other time, that he wants her. It’s something primitive, he’s sure of it because he can’t explain it otherwise. He’s already heard enough from his mother about what the delivery room will be like a few months from now, but while blood and guts aren’t quite his thing, the idea of having a child, be it a son or daughter, is like euphoria.
Perhaps, he muses as he sinks into unconsciousness, it’s because he keeps thinking about it that he hasn’t been able to hit worth a damn in the last month.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Most of you have probably become acquainted with the knowledge now that use of ADHD drugs Ritalin and Adderall has soared in the MLB since 2006. One of the possible and often cited reasonings for this is that it is a legal way to get around the ban on amphetamines. It's pretty simple, too: go to a psychiatrist, get an ADHD diagnosis, get a prescription, ask for an exemption.
It should, of course, be harder than that, but that's not the point here.
This one strikes home for me.
You see, for much of my childhood, let's say ages eight to sixteen, I was on said medication. The memories that I associate with this are not happy memories.
Mostly they are memories of being told by various adults that I could not function properly without said medication, that I had to take it on the spot or I'd be a wild, uncontrollable, disobedient child...but there are other memories, as well.
There is the memory of the one time I took it before school, on an empty stomach, and got rather sick from it.
There is the memory of never being able to properly fall asleep.
There is, of course, the memory of knowing how I was never really allowed to feel quite like myself.
About the time I was just about to turn seventeen, I decided that I'd had enough. My parents were never up with me when I was eating breakfast, so it was incredibly easy to just not take the pill. So I didn't.
While I cannot 100% prove that the medication destroyed my digestive system, it does seem like the most likely culprit. My sleeping habits are still a mess, though the university life may be to blame there.
This is a rather bare account, I admit, but it gives you an idea. After all, most people on Ritalin or Adderall are not professional baseball players or grown ups, but school-age children who have (usually) no say in their own mental health. There are certainly some cases in which the drugs are needed, but for what it's worth, as I'm no doctor, often the issue is simply an overly imaginative child being forced to sit still for long periods of time.
The idea of baseball players using these drugs, glorifying them in a respect, is disgusting. For every baseball player trying to use it as a legal way to get around the ban on amphetamines, there is a heaping of children being told by their parents, their teachers and their doctors that they can't function without the drug, that having an imagination is a bad thing because it will make them misbehave.
I am passionate about this--but we tend to be passionate most about the things that affect us directly and I have been on Ritalin and I have been on Adderall. If you really need to concentrate, that much, have a cup of coffee, or better, tea, before the game.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
First off, if you've never applied to graduate school...let's just say it's making it really hard to be an optimist.
The important stuff.
I did not catch either game on Sunday last--I was in the car during the Chargers-Colts game, driving back up to Syracuse from NJ, and while I had the Dallas-Giants game on TV when I got back, I spent most of the time drifting in and out of various states of consciousness and the only thing I remember with any clarity is TO's crocodile tears.
Patriots over Chargers. I'm not sure how the Chargers beat the Colts, but if anyone is going to beat the Patriots this year, I can't see it being San Diego. Especially not in Foxboro.
Green Bay over Giants. Speaking of weather-related football predictions, have you heard how cold it's supposed to be in Lambeau? Ice Bowl Redux, anyone? What can I say, it'll make Syracuse seem downright toasty. Anyway, I know the Giants play in awful weather, but when's the last time they played where the game time temperature was supposed to be at a high 13 F? Right.
Safe picks this week, but a Patriots/Green Bay Superbowl would be quite the event, wouldn't it? I mean, if Favre won that, what a way to go out...
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I apologize for the lack of updates; I drove back to Syracuse on Sunday and was ill yesterday, but I am much better today.
I am of the firm belief that you can spread illness through the internet--how else would Pete Abraham and I be sick on the same day?
I kid, I kid.
Anyway, I have loads of course reading to do, so I shall update again when there is something to update
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I know it's early, but I won't get a chance to post this tomorrow and I have to make it an early night, so here we go
As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.
The Season, Part Fourteen
Newspaper articles of note by Spartans' beat writer Dick Holt
All That Glitters is not Gold (May 10th)
Hope City police have revealed that they have questioned Spartans’ shortstop Damien Riley in connection to a jewelry-for-drugs ring run by Alia Blackstone and Shia Marceau, both of Hope City. HCPD chief Anderson Mayhew has stressed that Riley is not a suspect in the investigation, but that they had hoped his personal relationship with Blackstone—the two have been friends since grade school—might help police discover either the jewelry or the drug supplier.
Though Riley has a history of legal troubles, most involving a past drug addiction, he has of late attempted to make amends, completing a rehabilitation program and engaged in numerous community service activities. Blackstone and Marceau were arrested the day before the Spartans’ left for their series with Detroit; Riley complied with Mayhew’s request for questioning upon the Spartans’ return.
When asked to comment about the situation, Riley offered the following statement, through his agent, to the general public:
I am greatly grieved by the situation of Ms. Blackstone, who is a longtime friend of mine. However, I cannot and will not condone a course of action that is at best illegal and at worse dangerous, and thus I will fully cooperate with any questions the HCPD may have relating to this incident.
Spartans’ owner Charlie Haus and manager Pete Towers both spoke in support of Riley, saying that he was doing the right thing by cooperating with the HCPD, and that they hoped the situation would reach a quick resolution. The lawyers for Blackstone and Marceau were unable to be reached for comment.
Pyrrhic Victory (May 14)
The Spartans’ 3-0 victory over Seattle yesterday afternoon with a terrible cost: Terry Jones, the veteran first baseman, suffered a hamstring injury while attempting to steal third base in the fifth inning. The injury is expected to sideline Jones until the end of July.
Jones, hitting at a .280 clip thus far, is far from the team’s best hitter, but his defense on the field is still good enough to have won the Fielder’s Award for first base last year. Jones is one of the most important leaders on and off the field for the Spartans, and also a perennial fan favorite. He has injured his hamstring plenty of times over the course of his sixteen year career, but this one no doubts hurts more as Jones has previously announced that this will be his last season.
Lost in the hubbub concerning Jones’ injury is William Tully’s start: Tully went a full eight innings giving up just three hits and no runs, and is off to a 7-1 start with a remarkable 2.78 ERA. Given the rumors surrounding Graeme Johnson’s potential retirement, Micah Garcia’s poor pitching of late and the uncertainties over Paul Green and new Chinese pitcher Li Ming, Tully’s hot start has turned him into Spartans’ most reliable ace of the moment.
“It’s amazing,” Tully told reporters after the game, “it’s like everything has just fallen into place…I feel confident with all of my pitches, and it’s great to help the team every time I take the mound.” Tully next starts on the road against Kansas City.
The Full Monty (May 28)
In his first start since his rookie year, Monty Allison pitched well enough in six and two-thirds innings to help the Spartans to a 7-3 victory over St. Louis. He gave up three runs in the six innings, all earned, and seven hits, while striking out five and walking two.
Allison’s start, of course, had added emotional connotations as he took the place of Micah Garcia, who is still recovering from a serious car accident. Allison, who had before the season started vociferously declared his desire to start, was the only logical choice to fill the void. Jeff Martin has never pitched more than three innings in a league game before, and Eduardo Gomez has only two pitches—not enough to get by as a starter. As the race in the East this year looks to be a three-way fight between Hope City, New England and New York, the Spartans have to win the games they play now, and not try to make up a deficit when Terry Jones returns in July or if Garcia returns at all.
For the first time this season, Allison was not met by boos when he took the mound, a sign, perhaps of the Hope City fans beginning to forgive Allison for his preseason comments, though there is a rumor that Garcia had, from his hospital bed, asked for fans to be respectful of whatever pitcher was slated to start in his place. The fan support obviously helped; Allison pitched much better than any of his rookie starts.
“It’s an honor to be asked to start in place of Micah,” Allison told reporters, “and I’m glad that I was able to make full use of the chance I wanted. Hopefully I’ll be able to do this again.” With no other pitchers on the horizon, it seems doubtful that anyone else but Allison will be pitching for Garcia.
Garcia has no timetable for return, as Spartans’ owner Charlie Haus has said that the primary concern is for him to recover his full health. He is expected to be released from Bellvue Memorial Hospital within the next few days. The driver of the SUV which struck Garcia’s car, Jared O’Connor, has been arrested and detained on charges of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. He is expected to plead guilty.
Friday, January 11, 2008
So on Sunday, or tomorrow, I'm driving back up to my one-bedroom apartment, where I'll have a precious few hours to get everything clean and ready for the first day of class on Monday.
I know it sounds really weird, but I like everything to be neat and clean when I'm at the start of the semester because I know it only gets way, way worse from there.
Anyway, the point is, with the Spring Semester starting, it can mean only one thing:
Baseball is on its way!
I will give you that February in Syracuse does not lend oneself to thinking about spending lazy afternoons in the ballpark, but that's why they train down in Florida and Arizona.
So that means that now might be a nice time to take stock of the off-season, if not just for the Yankees, for baseball as a whole as well.
There is still a month to go before pitchers and catchers, but that doesn't mean we can't look at what has happened thus far.
The biggest news this off-season, of course, has nothing to do with any trades or FA signings (I'll get to A-Rod in a moment), but with that thing that some call a report. I won't recount the details of the MR; unless your dwelling involves a subterranean existence, you'll know to what I'm referring.
However, there's no denying the MR has been a major source of gossip, especially now as the McNamee-Clemens saga has ceased to be about 'roids, but instead has turned into "As the Roid Turns" soap opera. (Playing every day on ESPN, et al). It's a he said-he said, the truth somewhere buried on that island in Lost, and kind of like Britney or Paris, no matter how much we want to, we just can't stop paying attention to the anamoly.
Thank heaven, then, that other things have occurred this off-season as well!
Among the things you may have forgotten:
First, there was the A-Rod non story. In short form, A-Rod went from Deity-Rod to Playoff-Goat-Rod to Opt-Out-Fraud and then back to A-Rod. I certainly don't know A-Rod's thought process, but he might just be the most clever guy on the planet, willing to sacrifice his sense of dignity and pride just to get a top contract...wait, no, A-Rod would never do that...but that Agent dude, Boras (Bore Us? ), he might be just the type...
Second, there was that bit where Detroit and Florida did this thing where you send some players from Team A to Team B and vice versa. In baseball we like to call this a trade. Detroit sent Cameron Maybin, et al, to Florida for Dontrelle Willis an Miggy Cabrera. Most people think Detroit came off better in the deal, but I am actually of the belief that Florida will come out better. Consider:
1) Willis is an NL pitcher who struggled last year and now has to pitch in the bat-happy AL.
2) Miggy C has weight issues and defense issues that may be a concern, and will easily command a top dollar contract, like Willis.
3) Florida likes the five year rule, having won their first world series five years after their inception, their second five years after that (1997, 2003) and now, 2008...whaddya know, five years? Okay, so 2003-1997 is actually six years...so maybe the Marlins are more due in 2009 or 2010, but that's besides the point.
Third, Oakland fleeced Arizona, giving 'Zona "ace" Dan Haren for basically the entirety of 'Zona's farm system. 'Zona's got a nice young team as is, but, as Yankees' fans know from the years 2003-2006, it's generally a good idea to have a farm system no matter how good your team is on the top level.
Fourth, Johan Santana is still a Minnesota Twin. First he was supposed to be a Yankee, then a Red Sox, now local articles have him as a Met, but if tomorrow was February Fourteenth, he'd be reporting to Twins' camp. There are all sorts of different ways this can be interpreted, and yes, I admit that it can be fun to play "let's pretend you're Bill Smith and he's Theo Epstein and I'm Brian Cashman and she's Omar Minaya", but that won't actually make the trade happen. Unless you actually are Bill Smith or Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman or Omar Minaya, in which case I say "Hello, and Thank You for reading the blog. Go Yankees!"
Fifth, in case you forgot, the Yankees managed to resign their most "key" free agents besides A-Rod: Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Jose Molina. Mo and Po earned their keep, getting unheard of contracts for closers and 36 year-old catchers. Andy Pettitte came back after, among other things, incredible fan support. If you missed it, Steve Lombardi of Was Watching initiated P46, a letter writing project to get Pettitte to come back, and it looks like it worked.
Sixth, in what seems like ages and ages ago, Joe Torre turned down a contract offer and in something that sort of resembled the dating game, Joe Girardi beat out Don Mattingly and Tony Peña for the manager's job. Torre landed softly on his feet in a job managing the LA Dodgers--Torre grew up a Brooklyn fan--and, whaddya know, his favorite reliever of all time, Scott Proctor is right there waiting for him. Of the Yankee coaches on staff for next year, perhaps none is more welcoming than the appointment of Dave Eiland as pitching coach--Eiland worked with the Trinity (that is, Phil, Joba and Ian) in the minors, and, well, we know what they can do...
There is still a month of the off-season to go, and anything can happen--if I know myself correctly, the second I post this, we'll all see Johan Santana has gone to the Angels and the Cubs have decided to stop playing at Wrigley--but that's the fun of it.
So, all things considered, I have to ask, of the past few baseball game-less months, in my best Russell Crowe voice, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
I know I am very, very entertained.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
So this week I won't actually be able to catch any of the games, as I'll be driving back up to Syracuse on Sunday, which kind of stinks, but it doesn't mean I can't make some playoff predictions.
Last week, I went something like 4-0 (if you exclude the scores I suggested. Those were slightly off.)
Jaguars over Patriots. Yeah, I know, I'm a little insane, but, to be honest, I like the Jaguars. A lot. They have consistently grown on me throughout the season, and the Patriots...well, let's just say they need a little comeuppance. Jags, 35-31.
Colts over Chargers. I know the Chargers won last week, but I did not like the way they played most of the first three quarters against Tennessee, and Indianapolis is a heck of a lot better than the Titans. Colts, 28-14
Cowboys over Giants. I know a lot of people are picking the Giants in this, but for now I'm going to stick with the Cowboys, especially with the game in Dallas. Plus, you know Romo's itching to fix that botched snap. Cowboys, 28-24.
Packers over Seahawks. What can I say, I don't like to pick against Favre. Add in Lambeau Field in January (assuming that there actually is January weather), and there's just no real way I'm picking against the Pack. Packers, 31-28
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
On tonight's SportstalkNY webcast, our guests include:
Ron Blomberg, former New York Yankee and the MLB's first designated hitter. He has since managed the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox to their first championship in the Israeli Baseball League. His autobiography, Designated Hebrew chronicles his experiences in baseball as well as his experiences fighting anti-Semitism.
Dan Rootenberg, outfielder for the Netanya Tigers and first player to sign a contract with the Israeli Baseball League. He has also developed The Spear Center, a state of the art physical therapy center.
As always, the show will be on at 9 PM; and we take your calls at 631 615 4799.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Congratulations are in order for former Yankees' reliever Goose Gossage who today was voted into the Hall of Fame!
Known as much for his mustache as for his fastball, Gossage recieved over 85% of the vote on his ninth try for the Hall.
Jim Rice, who was also strongly considered, fell just short, with 72% of the vote. He has one year left of eligibility on the ballot, but, with such a high total this time around it will be surprising if he doesn't make it next year.
For those interested, the complete voting tally (from the above linked ESPN article):
Goose Gossage 466 85.8
Jim Rice 392 72.2
Andre Dawson 358 65.9
Bert Blyleven 336 61.9
Lee Smith 235 43.3
Jack Morris 233 42.9
Tommy John 158 29.1
Tim Raines 132 24.3
Mark McGwire 128 23.6
Alan Trammell 99 18.2
Dave Concepcion 88 16.2
Don Mattingly 86 15.8
Dave Parker 82 15.1
Dale Murphy 75 13.8
Harold Baines 28 5.2
Others receiving votes: Rod Beck 2, Travis Fryman 2, Robb Nen 2, Shawon Dunston 1, Chuck Finley 1, David Justice 1, Chuck Knoblauch 1, Todd Stottlemyre 1.
You know, for a slow moth, as January is supposed to be, there's a whole lot going on....
Monday, January 7, 2008
About the Clemens press conference today, there is one thing I'm focusing on:
Clemens says that Brian McNamee injected him with Lidocaine and B12. Clemens says he never provided the drugs, and thus inferred that McNamee did.
How does Clemens know that what McNamee injected him with was in fact what McNamee said it was?
The phone conversation, engrossing as it was, is embellishment.
My thoughts with McNamee's family; I know how difficult Celiac disease can be to deal with, it is not something to be taken lightly.
Clemens did come across much more natural today than he did last night which I found reassuring. You may (and I expect, will) disagree.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
So I'm guessing a fair lot of you caught the Roger Clemens interview on 60 Minutes.
I saw it, and had basically just one reaction: Clemens looked stiff, uncomfortable and rehearsed.
Now, I'm guessing that he had talked with his lawyer before doing the interview and some of the answers were, in fact, planned, but that does not help Clemens.
Many times you can tell more from an interview based not on what the interviewee says, but how they say it. One of the things I've actually learned in my four years at school: we communicate more with body language then actual words.
Clemens' body language? Stiff, uncomfortable...I kept waiting to see him squirm.
I'm hoping that it was the cameras, and overcompensating for any fidgeting he might naturally do (like tapping his foot or whatnot), but it's not like it's the first time he's ever been on TV.
The interview itself contained no surprising content, other then McNamee asking to borrow his fishing equipment (which was really, really low if true), so a lot more is likely to come from his press conference tomorrow and later testifying for Congress.
There is much to give credence to either side of the story, and though I try to be optimistic about the Yankees as a whole, I generally tend to be cynical with a lot of other things.
I wish there was a way to truly exonerate Clemens, but unless McNamee full on admits he was lying, there isn't, and, the Constitution aside, it's damn easy to label someone guilty until proven innocent.
This might drag on for years before we ever get a definitive answer.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.
Kudos to you if you've made it this far!
#14, Daniel Lewis, outfielder
Daniel is in the middle of a glorious night with Alyssa when his phone rings.
“You didn’t turn your phone off?” Alyssa is aghast. She’s wearing a pink silk slip that she’s pulled up to her neck, so that the two of them are not unoccupied. They’re lying in Dan’s king-size bed, with the silk sheets Alyssa bought just for this purpose. There are lit candles on the windowsill, and incense with Alyssa’s favorite scent, sandalwood rose, burning in each corner of the room. All that’s missing to recreate their Caribbean honeymoon is the beachfront porch and ocean breeze.
Dan attempts to ignore the ringing, trying to keep it from ruining the moment, but it doesn’t work. The moment was ruined the instant the display window in the phone lit up, tingeing the room in an eerie green glow.
“Who the hell would be calling now, anyway?”
“No idea.” Dan is lying on top of Alyssa. He makes no effort to rise.
“Well, do you think maybe you could turn it off, and then we could get back to…us?” It comes out as a command.
Dan rises to obey. His phone is on the windowsill, where Dan keeps it when he sleeps out of habit. He walks over, picks up his silver phone with the intention of turning it off, and is distracted by the message that shows through the display window:
3 Missed Calls
He flips open the phone and sees the most recent number of the missed call:
He knows something’s wrong right away; the number belongs to Pete Towers and Pete has never called Dan, let alone at this hour—nearly midnight. The only reason Dan even has Pete’s number is for an emergency. He doesn’t need to check the other phone numbers to know something is very, very wrong.
“Lys,” he manages, “It’s Pete trying to call me…I gotta take this.”
“Pete…he wouldn’t call if it wasn’t important.”
“Can’t it wait till morning?” Dan feels for Alyssa. Truth is, he’s been waiting a long time for a night like tonight, and if he could put it off to morning, he would, but if it were a minor emergency, one that could wait, it would have been Dennis calling him. Not Pete.
“I don’t think so.”
“Fine,” Alyssa concedes. She pulls her slip back down to cover the rest of her exposed body. She rises from the bed. “I swear, it’d better be important.”
“It will be.” Dan finds Pete’s name in his contact list, and hits send. It rings twice before being answered.
“Pete speaking,” Dan hears Pete’s voice. It doesn’t sound like Pete, though. It shakes, like one who has smoked too many cigarettes.
“Yeah, it’s Dan. You called?”
“Yes. Dan…” There is hesitation. “There’s been an accident.”
“An accident? Who? Bad?”
“A car accident. It’s serious, you should-“
“Who? Dylan? Eliot? Dennis? Who?”
“Micah.” That name hits Dan like a punch to the gut. Of all the names, all the Spartans, Micah would have been the one furthest from his mind.
“Micah? What? How bad?”
“He’s in surgery. Doctors say he’s been in surgery for over two hours now…listen, a lot of people are down at Bellvue waiting…”
“Yeah,” Dan says, understanding that Pete is not really suggesting anything as opposed to ordering it, “I’ll be right there.”
“Good. Micah can use whatever support we can give him.” There is a click, and Dan is stunned into silence. Pete’s not talking about a fender-bender, that goes without saying, but if Pete won’t mention exactly how serious it is on the phone, it means that Micah is probably not leaving the hospital any time soon. If ever. Dan tries to ignore the last bit.
“What is it?” Alyssa jolts him back to the present. He’s wearing his emotion on his sleeve, because Alyssa’s tone is at once soothing and tender.
“Micah…he’s been in an accident.”
“Micah…Micah Garcia? The pitcher that lives five down?” Alyssa knows Micah as well as she does more or less only because he lives so close to them on Brighton Lane.
“Pete wouldn’t say how serious on the phone, but said I should go down to Bellvue…he’s in surgery.”
“You should go.” Alyssa doesn’t offer to keep Daniel company, but he likes it better that way. To put it nicely, there aren’t a whole lot of guys on the Spartans that like her too well.
“Yeah. I might be a while…you going to be all right on your own?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Alyssa reverts back to her normal self as Dan throws on a pair of tattered jeans and an old t-shirt, the closest clothing within reach. If he wore clothing like this to the Stadium, Pete would be more than a little upset, but Dan assumes, correctly, that what he’s wearing right now isn’t really a concern. He could probably show up in his boxers and it wouldn’t matter.
There’s a large media contingent in front of the emergency room doors at Bellvue Memorial when Dan gets there. He sees Dick Holt, of course, but also the local Hope City newscasters, the national sports newscasters, and a host of other people he has never seen before in his life. It’s about half and half between English and Spanish speaking, but it’s Dick Holt who recognizes Dan and approaches him first.
“Dan…did they tell you anything?” It’s clear Dick doesn’t want to ask the question, but Dan knows if Dick doesn’t, the others will, and they won’t be nearly as considerate.
“Pete just said there was an accident. You probably know more than me.”
“Rumor is there was alcohol involved…”
“It wouldn’t have been Micah. He doesn’t drink on nights he pitches, before or after.” Dan is appalled at the suggestion that Micah could have driven drunk, and he senses that Dick feels the same way.
“All right, thanks.”
“Am I the last one?”
“I’m not sure. I think there were a lot of people here by the time we got here,” Dick says, referring to everyone present and not just the members of his paper, “but I did see TJ and Damien going in, and Kent came in with Eliot and Dylan.”
“Okay, thanks.” Dan enters through the large automatic doors. He doesn’t have to ask anyone where to go; a nurse recognizes him instantly from an injury he had a few years ago, and tells him that the entire Spartan team can be found in the waiting room of the fourth floor operating suite. Dan thanks the nurse and finds the elevator. It’s one of the longest elevator rides of his life.
When the elevator doors open, Dan is immediately greeted by a large room with soft light, a sea-green printed carpet, light classical music in the background, and magazines piled so high that anyone under the age of five could climb the pile and call it a feat. The near entirety of his team, even Terry, who has taken the precaution of using crutches, is already there, some standing, some sitting, some unable to make up their minds. The only one missing is Li, and Dan imagines that is because of the language barrier and that Pete, with twenty-three other names to call, thought it best left a task for Brendan or Charlie Haus. Pete isn’t in the room, but Dennis tells him as soon as he enters that Pete went outside to make a call, presumably to find out if Charlie or Brendan had managed to get in touch with Li. Dan spots Dylan with some difficulty—everyone is a shade or two paler, so Dan can’t just look for the palest face in the room.
Dylan’s sitting in one of the corner chairs, looking uncomfortable. He’s flipping through the pages of a magazine, but Dan can tell he’s not really reading it. There’s an empty seat next to him. Dan takes it.
“Hey,” Dan says, “I could probably use some seeds right about now…”
“Forget sunflower seeds, and get me a rum and cola.” Dylan smiles, but only just.
“How long you been waiting?”
“Over an hour. I thought you weren’t coming, I think Pete tried calling you-“
“Three times. I was with Alyssa.”
“With Alyssa?” Dylan picks up on Dan’s meaning without a second thought. “You didn’t turn your phone off?”
“I forgot. I tried to ignore it, but the third time it went off, Lys got pretty upset.”
“I can imagine.”
“Anyway, what have they told you?” Dan is anxious to change the topic. Even with Dylan there is not much love spared for his wife.
“Next to nothing. They say it’s serious, he’s in surgery, we’ll know more after he comes out of it.”
“Did they say what happened?”
“I missed that bit, I came in with Kent and Eliot and the doctor was just finishing explaining what had happened, but I think it was something like he was at a stoplight on Jefferson and there was a drunk driver that rammed into the side of his car or something.”
“Damn. Micah’s got that convertible, doesn’t he?” Dan hadn’t even thought about the car that Micah would have been driving; his concern wasn’t how the accident happened, it was what was going to happen to Micah. The thought overwhelms him.
“Christ, I didn’t even think of that. I think I heard that he was hit by an SUV…and an SUV and that little car…I…” Dylan can’t finish. The image is enough to make Dan feel multiple waves of nausea at once.
“How’s everyone else doing?”
“Haven’t been paying too much attention…what I did see, though…Eduardo looks horrible, worse than any of the other guys, even Pete.”
“That would make sense,” Dan sighs, “Eduardo sees Micah as his baby brother.” The two fall into a silence. There really isn’t much they can say—either they have said it, or it’s not appropriate for the moment. Light-hearted dugout banter has no place in the purgatory of a waiting room.
It’s another few hours, nearly three AM, before a doctor finally emerges into the waiting room. He is dressed in green scrubs, still wearing a surgical cap that hides a hairless scalp. He drops his surgical mask to reveal a thick white beard, reminding Dan at once of Santa Claus, though the beard is far too short. He doesn’t have to wait long to garner everyone’s attention; even Pete is quick to hang up his phone and return to the room when he sees the doctor.
“Right,” the doctor starts, his voice carrying a thick accent that sounds a little bit like Kent’s, “I’m Dr. Brian Jacobi. I can see that there’s no hiding this from any of you, but know that general Bellvue policy is for only immediate family to be made aware of a patient’s condition. Given that Mr. Garcia has no immediate family in the area, I am willing to bypass regulation.
“Mr. Garcia was brought in, as you know, after his car was, we believe, struck by a driver under the influence of alcohol. The impact was driver’s side door, and strong enough to flip Mr. Garcia’s car, thus meaning that Mr. Garcia bore the full impact of the collision. That said, Mr. Garcia is relatively lucky—he was not killed, and there is no spinal injury, which means he is not paralyzed. However, that does not mean his injuries aren’t serious. There was a splenic rupture, which, as you might imagine means that we had to remove his spleen. His left shoulder was separated, which we repaired surgically, and his left wrist was broken, which we also repaired surgically. He broke three ribs, which we cannot surgically repair. They will take six weeks to heal.
“There is something else…when giving Mr. Garcia an MRI to determine the full extent of his injuries, we noticed some severe tendon damage in the right arm, by the elbow, that’s probably a result of a pitching injury. I’m not sure how he was able to pitch with that arm…but the good news is that we caught it, and now it will have time to properly heal. Right, then, questions?”
There is a long silence. It takes a while for everyone to digest what they’ve been told, and Dan’s focus is on the words not killed, not paralyzed and the phrase that does not mean his injuries are not serious. There are so may questions going through Dan’s mind that he’s not sure any of them are worth asking, so he doesn’t. In fact, no one seems to be willing to ask anything, except for Pete, who looks…angry.
“Dr. Jacobi,” he says, “what are you saying about his right arm? That it was injured before the accident?”
“Quite. It looks like damage from being overstrained. It’s a good thing we caught it now…” Dr. Jacobi doesn’t finish the sentence, but Dan knows what he’s about to say. It’s a good thing they caught it now, because if they had waited, it’s likely Micah’s pitching career would have been destroyed before it was started.
Only, Dan thinks, right now Micah’s pitching career shouldn’t be anyone’s concern. Not even Pete’s.
#53, Monty Allison, relief pitcher
The season does not linger on May twenty-first.
The Accident, as it’s being called in the Spartan locker room, has an exaggerated effect for Monty. For one thing, he’s no longer the team pariah. The team largely follows Pete’s lead, making that role now the exclusive property of Steven King. Though common sense tells Monty that Liam should be more at fault for missing Micah’s pre-Accident arm injury, Pete faults Steven for having Micah throw too often and not recognizing the signs of the injury, even when he would have been aware that Micah would have never admitted his arm hurt to Liam. That Pete and Liam are friends, or at least close to it, Monty thinks, probably also plays a role; Steven has never quite been Pete’s favorite person.
The more important effect of the Accident for Monty, however, is that with Micah suddenly unable to pitch, there’s an open hole in the rotation. Monty knows better than to bring this to the immediate attention of Pete and Steven; if he was to do that he’d probably be banished from the team, even from the bullpen. Instead, Monty knows his best course of action is to wait. Wait out Paul’s start, wait out Li’s start, wait out Graeme’s start, wait out William’s start, and then when Pete and Steven realize they are short a starter, hope that they decide to give him a chance. It might be his only chance, he might ruin it, but at least he will have had one.
Pete’s not speaking much to Steven, not since he yelled at him, behind his office door, but loud enough for everyone to hear, blaming him for the Accident. When Pete does need to talk to Steven, he tries to send Dennis or Liam instead, but both of them, Liam especially, try to tell Pete he will have to make peace with Steven sometime before the season’s end, especially if they hope to play in October.
It makes the locker room a tense place. No one is quite sure what to say, when to say it or how to say it, so they keep their mouths shut. It’s not been a comfortable place for Monty the entire season, but now the entire team feels as he does. There’s no talking to Pete, no trying to calm him down; Pete will come to his senses eventually, but the only thing for the Spartans to do for the moment is to go through the motions. Get changed, play the game, hit the showers, get changed again, see you tomorrow.
The tension breaks on the day that Micah’s supposed to start, May 27, against St. Louis. It’s not so much that Pete and Steven start talking like friends again, they don’t, but it’s the first time since the Accident that someone says something that gets a laugh. Not a chuckle or lip service to the idea that it’s supposed to be funny, but instead, the raucous laughter that rattles the lockers themselves. Monty is changing, his locker between Jeff and Li, still with no word from Pete or Steven on who will start the game, when it happens.
Pete walks out of the office, and, as is usual a few hours before the start of a game, he posts the line-up card on the bulletin board on the wall. He says nothing about the line-up; it changes seldom, except on the occasions he decides to give Dylan, Kent, Dan or Eliot a rare start. The only notable difference from the normal of late is that Kent is given the start at first, but that is due to Terry’s hamstring. As usual, after posting the line-up card, Pete goes back into his office without saying a word. Bran is the first one to walk up to the bulletin board after Pete’s departed, but instead of leaving after a quick glance, Bran stands there, transfixed.
“Guys. You gotta come see this.” Even though he’s from the Ohio Valley, enough winters playing baseball in the Caribbean have left a mark on Bran’s voice. He speaks in that deep voice, sounding like he says mon when he means man. It works perfectly with his dreads and reggae music he likes to sneak into the CD player.
Monty knows Bran wouldn’t mention something if it wasn’t worth it, so he follows the throng and finds an angle at which he can see the card. Though Pete’s handwriting is messy, it’s far from illegible and Monty reads:
1. Bran Stromer CF
2. TJ Redd 2B
3. Damien Riley SS
4. Alfredo Martinez 3B
He doesn’t look at the rest of the card; he knows what Bran caught. It’s a well-known bit of clubhouse lore that Pete is a fan of Italian food, and that he often eats something akin to macaroni slathered in alfredo sauce before a game, and the slip is amusing.
“Adrian,” Bran says, “I didn’t realize you were so saucy, man.”
“Yes, well, I could be a breakfast cereal,” Adrian replies, not missing a
beat. There is a moment of silence, and then, from Leo—
“Yeah, Bran, he could be that hi-fiber laxative…”
“Aw, man, are you telling me you’d rather be creamy, white and sticky than whole grain?”
“You know,” Kent interjects, at the perfect moment, “there is an important part of my biology that I should hope is creamy, white and sticky.”
There is a half second of silence, as those in the locker room try to decide how to respond to Kent’s comment, but when Bran cracks his smile and Graeme has one of his looks, the locker room is lost in laughter. Had anyone else uttered the words, it probably would have topped out at being vaguely amusing, but Kent times it just right, and that, coupled with the cadence of his accent has even Monty out of breath.
The release that the laughter provides is overpowering and all of the tension that has been building in the small space evaporates in an instant. There is relief in knowing that they haven’t lost their sense of humor beyond all repair. There is a great release in knowing that the laughter isn’t forced or laughter for the sake of laughter, but laughter because something funny has happened. It gets loud enough for Pete to come back out of his office, looking bewildered, but at the same time relieved to see his team, at least momentarily, happy.
“What’s so funny?” He doesn’t raise his voice and says it in the same voice as if he was asking for the time, which only adds to the laughter. Bran is the only one who can come to his senses enough to answer Pete with a semi-straight face.
“Coach, you got a thing for that Italian food?”
“I like Italian food, yes, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“You made a sauce out of Adrian, creamy, white and sticky.” Again, the locker room erupts in laughter, but Pete is still slightly bewildered, so Bran points to the line-up card. As Pete approaches, the rest of the Spartans move backwards, so that by the time Pete is up close enough to the card to read it, he is alone. It takes him a moment to spot his error, but he does it fast enough to avoid a prolonged awkward silence.
“Ah. I see. Well, then, Adrian, you have my full apology, and as part of the apology, I’ll make sure to get some fettuccini alfredo in here for after the game. Sound good?” Pete sees a look of approval on nearly everyone’s face, so, satisfied, he returns to his office for last minute pre-game preparations.
The thought of warm, creamy pasta after the game is enough to occupy Monty’s mind for the rest of the time that it takes him to finish getting dressed, and, indeed, it occupies his mind so much that he nearly forgets to check the line-up card. He’s not really sure what he expects to see when he remembers to look at it, but what he does see, is his name not penciled, but penned in the number nine spot. The pitcher’s spot.
LEAGE STANDINGS THROUGH THE END OF MAY
New England Tribe 27-14
Hope City Spartans 24-17
New York Knights 24-17
Florida ‘Canes 19-22
Washington Sox 15-26
Chicago Lakemen 24-17
Minnesota Berserkers 23-18
Cleveland Rivermen 23-18
St. Louis Gold 22-19
Memphis Jazz 22-19
Detroit Moose 15-26
California Diablos 29-12
Seattle ‘Nauts 25-16
Denver Mustang 20-21
Texas Stampede 19-22
Kansas City ‘Nadoes 15-26
I might be the only person in the world that can manage to break a dinner glass and a two-week-old phone in one fell swoop.
The irony is that my old phone didn't actually break, but at two and a half years, was a bit obsolete.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Just a quick note--
As you may have noticed, the blog roll over on the side has gotten increasingly large.
I've got no issue adding your blog or site as long as it's relevant, and not R-rated, but I am counting on you to keep it updated on a fairly regular basis.
By fairly regular, I'm going to say, oh, at least once a month in the offseason and once a week during the season.
Meanwhile, while it's a great time to be a NJ Devils fan, Travis Zajac got his finger bitten by Flyers' player Darien Hatcher during tonight's Devils' win...
...now, I'm all for hockey goonage, but, uh, biting? For real?
According to ESPN and NBC news, Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee have been asked to testify before Congress.
On that note,
Among the things people are recommending in terms of anti-PED activism, the one that strikes the most resonance for myself is the idea of education directed at students and young athletes.
We already do anti-drug and anti-alcohol programs like DARE, so i have to wonder, would it be that hard to add in a little bit about PEDs?
We could even do it in stages--broader for younger students, but more intense for older students, and especially for student athletes.
Just something to think about...
Meanwhile, this has easily been one of the most boring weeks in the year (I'm a Jets fan, so I don't have football fever)...but every day is a little bit longer, and it's one less day until the start of spring.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
So this is awesome. By the time we're all done with the playoffs and whatnot, there will be less than two weeks until pitchers and catchers.
I don't know about you, but I'm stoked.
Oh, by the way, these scores are completely arbitrary.
Seattle over Washington. There's no denying that Washington has the heart and can easily be a Cinderella team, but I can't help feeling that Washington got lucky with the playoffs, after Minnesota failed. Seattle, 24-10.
Jacksonville over Pittsburgh. I don't know what happened to Big Ben and his squad, but underperformed isn't really a strong enough word for it. Jacksonville, on the other hand, is a team I would not be surprised to see in the AFC championship game. Jacksonville, 21-14.
NY Giants over Tampa Bay. It's tempting to pick Tampa, especially given the Giants faltering in the second half against New England, but the Giants are the better team. I won't be surprised if it's a close one. Giants, 24-21.
San Diego over Tennessee. Tennessee backed into the playoffs, whereas San Diego was able to overcome a horrid start. San Diego, 28-14.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
The SportstalkNY webcast will be on as normal tonight, at 9 PM.
This week's show we are having a special round-table discussion on steroids in baseball, and among our guests is Don Hooton, founder of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which combats the growing steroid use in high schools across the US.
On February 13, we are doing a special show on Yankee and Shea Stadiums, so if you have a Stadium story or personal experience you want to share, feel free to email a video clip to us at Sportstalkny1@aol.com