Friday, February 29, 2008

Mmmm, Aaaah, Spring (Part Two)

The important thing to remember is that except for a few people at USF, today's game does not matter in the long run. Heck, that's why they call 'em exhibition games!

Anyway, that says, there are a few comments to make:

1) The Yankees seem to have picked up right where they left off--Joba, Phil and Ian are awesome, when Giambi is the worst guy in your starting line-up, that says something, and Kei Igawa still doesn't belong in a major league uniform.

2) Eric (Mike?) Baumann just had one of the top ten moments in his life. Okay, a grand slam against Kei Igawa is not a grand slam against Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, but still. It's gotta stay with you for a while.

[EDIT: The USF roster site lists an Eric Baumann, while Feinsand says his name is Mike. Not sure which it is.]

3) The radio announcers did a great job, and once again makes you wonder why the Yankees announcers...well, could use some improvement (and I generally like John Sterling).

4) For the little while I was watching the game, I really felt like it was spring, so when I got up to make some pasta and I saw the ground outside covered in snow, it was a bit of a letdown.

Mmmm, Aaaah, Baseball

So what if the first game of the Spring is against a college team and not televised?

It's still a game.

So what if the score doesn't actually matter?

It's still a game.

It's still a game, and from now to the end of October, there will be a game, somewhere. There might still be snow on the ground, and a ridiculous wind chill for this time of year, but there is a baseball game today, and that is wonderful.


As luck would have it, I have stuff to do during part of today's game, though that doesn't matter much as the game's not televised.

I had hoped to liveblog Sunday's, but 2 PM is the only time a member of a group for one of my projects can meet, and there's no saying how long it'll take, so I'll have to DVR the game.

Have I mentioned I am totally NOT a fan of group projects?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thoughts and Wishes with Bobby Murcer

According to the Daily News and Star Ledger, Bobby
Murcer is scheduled to undergo a brain biopsy

There is an area that is apparently either necrosis (scar tissue) or a new tumor; let's hope it's the former.

My thoughts are with him and his family.

The Melkman Always Rings Twice (?)

Today's topic to be discussed quickly before I am late for neuroscience:

Melky Cabrera.

Melky was not our Opening Day center fielder last year, but most of you will probably agree that he should have been, yet, at the same time, those of you hoping for a Santana deal were ready to throw him in the mix.

What gives?

As Yankees fans, we're kind of spoiled with our center fielders. I mean, DiMaggio, Mantle, etc...

We're used to a lot of talent out there.

Melky's good, but his biggest asset is the one most easily overlooked--his arm in center field.

We've gone from Bernie Williams--a homegrown kid and fan favorite, to be sure--whose arm was a bit of a liability now to Melky, whose arm has saved G-d-knows-how-many runs. I think it was something like sixteen outfield assists? It might actually be more than that, but I do remember that number coming up in discussion.

Will Melky ever hit .300? It's certainly possible. It might take a career year for Melky to reach that goal, but people forget, he is going into his third season. Most people don't have career years their third season in the bigs. It happens, sure, but few are considered a veteran in their third year.

So it's certainly true that we've got some great outfield talent in the minors, and when Damon, Matsui and Abreu come off of the books, this will (hopefully) prove very useful, but don't go overlook Melky Cabrera.

He's a bigger asset to the team than you realize.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who's On First?

It's hard to believe that March starts the day after day after tomorrow...heck, it'd be the day after tomorrow three years out of four!

Anyway, today's question:

Who’s at first base?

Now, of all the questions that might be asked of the Yankees this spring training, this seems like the one that would be hardest to answer, but let's not ignore that the Yankees have a few options. Tino Martinez is not one of them, I'm sorry.

Shelley Duncan: Easily a fan favorite. It happens when you knock two home runs in your third career big league game, and have a personality that makes Chuck Norris look like a...well, not Chuck Norris. Anyway, Shelley's got the bat, though he does strike out quite a bit. His defensive abilities, however, are perhaps more suited for the outfield (think Shane Spencer circa September 1998) than first base. From what we've been hearing, Duncan's getting some practice at it, but I'm not sure you see him at first on Opening Day.

Jason Giambi: Let's face it, there are only two options for him--first base or DH, and if we've got Johnny Damon as our every day left-fielder, Matsui will end up doing most of the DHing as the Yankees can't afford to sit him, while, as they did show last year, they can go most of a season without Giambi and still find a way to win. The problem with Giambi right now is that a)he's not what you'd consider good at defense, and b) if he doesn't get regular ABs, he doesn't hit very well. It's an odd situation when you have Jason Giambi on the bench, but then again, better too much talent than too little.

Morgan Ensberg: Got him from Houston, I think. Dark horse to start at first, but solid coming off of the bench. Other than that, I don't know enough about Ensberg to offer much insight...

Wilson Betemit: He's more suited for third or short, to give Alex or Derek a night off, than he is for first, and he still has to learn to hit from the right side. That doesn't mean he won't be useful throughout the course of a season; just that he's unlikely to start at first.

Between Shelley and Giambi, I wouldn't be surprised to see Shelley get the Opening Day start, but then Giambi see more overall playing time.

Or I could be completely wrong.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good to Know

Some factoids you may or may not find useful in the upcoming season, in the order they occur to me:

(The second is from memory, the first and third are from Pete Abraham's blog, posts and comments.)

Melancon is pronounced more like Meh-lance-son than Mel-an-kon.

In 1998, we started 0-2
--Last year, we won on Opening Day (with Carl Pavano on the mound...)
---Last year, our second half win percentage, though only good enough to gain us the Wild Card, was better than the second half win percentage in 1998. Imagine if we hadn't been injured up the wazoo in April and May...

McCutcheon once pitched against Joba in a college game. He won.

In Season, Out of Season

Last night I wrote about eight pages of The Season, but not in the way that most of you have seen it. However, I have to say it came out really well, and hopefully one day you'll all get to see it. =D

Meanwhile, it's been snowing all day here, there's about six or seven inches on the ground. It is really really pretty, but the upside kind of ends there. It's cold, gets through my boots, makes driving anywhere a chore and means I've got to budget an extra ten minutes to get to class.

Anyway, I got the email from The Yankees Website regarding the premium ticket drawing, and as I expected, I didn't get picked.

Just means I'll have to work harder to get to that game at Fenway on my birthday.

Inter-squad game tomorrow, first exhibition game on the 29th. It's hard to believe we're so close to the season when it is WHITE outside, but truth is, we are. I wish they televised the Inter-squad game, though, that could be a lot of fun to watch. Maybe next time.

I have set time on the 2nd for the first televised game to watch it, just because it is the first televised game. As all Spring Training games are during the day I'll miss most of them while at class, but, as the 2nd is a Sunday, I don't have to worry about that tiny detail.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Jip Jip Jorge?

I overslept a bit and don't have a whole lot of time, but here we go:

Today's Pete Abraham topic to be addressed:

Can Jorge Posada repeat his walk-year production?

The short answer is: Sure, but it's not likely.

A .338 average is in the running for the batting title no matter what position you play. For a catcher not named Ivan Rodriguez to hit like that is impressive, but for a catcher that's thirty-six years old to do it? That's historic.

Even by Posada's own standards--He is a lifetime .277 hitter and his previous high for a season was .280, which makes the .277 a bit inflated.

There's no reason Posada can't have another good year; even before 2007 he was a critical part of the Yankees' squad, but asking him to repeat what he did last year is like asking the Yankees to repeat what they did in 1998.

Posada won't have an awful year; that's certainly not Posada-like, but repeating what he did last year is certainly a stretch.


Again, sorry it's so short but I've got to get ready for class and all.

In other news, Check out Mussina's interior decorating skills!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Season, Part 20

Right, if you read these updates with any sort of regularity I need you to do me a favor and post in a comment which character or characters most intrigue you or which you think are most important to the story. I have a reason for this, but it's secret.

Also, if you plan on going to Yankee Stadium on opening day, or just plan on watching the game on TV, feel free to RVSP "Attending" here!

I can't believe this is two decades old already...

Short update again this week; Friday's my normal writing day but I was stuck working on my thesis for nearly all of it and I spent a large part of day doing work for a group project for one of my political science classes.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19

As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.

The Season, Part 20


#16, Adrian Martinez, third baseman

The All Star game always has a little something extra to it; it’s not the lazy spring-training affair, nor is it the intense competition of October, but it’s fun. This year, with the game in Denver, the game starts early enough that he’ll also be able to enjoy the evening afterwards. It’s his third all-star appearance in the five years he’s played for the Spartans, but that doesn’t take away from the experience, at all. It’s not just the game, but it’s the Home Run Derby the day before, the rookie game the day of and the atmosphere of being encouraged to show off for the fans.

It’s a cool, but not cold and clear night. Adrian’s in his favorite place of the evening—the dugout—immersed in conversation with Jeff Pullman from New York. It’s the only time of the season he’s got a real chance to talk to him; on any other night he would be branded as a traitor by the Hope City press. They both share a deep love for breakfast foods, though Adrian prefers waffles and Jeff pancakes.

“My family’s from this area,” Jeff says, ignoring the TV station filming the East’s manager next to him, “and I guarantee that there is no place better for breakfast than Racine’s.”

“How are the waffles? It’s all I care about,” Adrian laughs. “Can I get them with hot butter and whipped cream?”

“Any way you like. They’re thick and fluffy, like the pancakes, and loaded with powdered sugar.”

“Powdered sugar? All right, now, I’m hungry.”

“Go after the game!”

“Nah, I can’t, already going to eat with Cory and Willy.” Cory Daniels and William Tully are the other Spartans to make the All Star team; it’s Cory’s second appearance and William’s first. William and Cory are both in the bullpen, having not had a chance to pitch yet, but Adrian knows even if Cory was in the dugout, he wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Jeff Pullman. For Cory, the New York-Hope City rivalry holds true year-round.

“No reason you can’t eat at Racine’s.”

“It’s a family place?” Both Cory and William have brought family members with them, and William, being a pastor’s son, has fit the stereotype quite nicely.

“Yeah. In fact, might be too many kids there.” Jeff laughs, and Adrian manages to smile. It sounds like a far cry from the nightclubs that he and Leo often frequent.


“You’ll get people wondering just how poor Charlie Haus is.”

“Ah.” Adrian has one of the highest salaries, by far, on the Spartans, and
while he’s not shy about the talent he has, it puts him in an uncomfortable position. While defending his paycheck on the field is no issue, off the field can be an occasional adventure.

“Speaking of Mr. Haus,” Jeff muses, “how is he doing?”

“Fine, I think.” The question catches Adrian off guard. Like the rest of the Spartans he speaks to Charlie Haus on occasion, before or after a home game, just to say hello. Charlie Haus has a reputation as being a very good owner, but at the same time, being a mostly hands-off owner as well. It’s the only reason Pete Towers has survived in his job for twenty years without a Championship, and even this year, the ultimatum was made to Pete only after considerable pressure from the season ticket holders.

“You sure about that?” Jeff’s demeanor loses the relaxed poise it had a moment ago. Instead, it’s replaced with a concern that Adrian can’t quite read.

“Uh, yeah…I mean, we’re not best friends or anything, but as far as I know, he’s fine.”

“What, do you and Richie never talk or something?” There is astonishment on Jeff’s face.

“We’re teammates, not lovers.” The comment would have been humorous in another setting, but Jeff’s changed demeanor has Adrian on edge. In truth, he tries not to talk to Richie much more than he has to—Richie is no pariah; he comes to play every day and that’s the most that can be asked of him, but his position as the son of Charlie Haus makes it awkward for most of the Spartans to try to cultivate a friendship with him. The only one that can get away with it is Terry, as his career only started when Brendan Haus spotted him at a high school game.

“He doesn’t tell you anything?”

“You mean about his life? We don’t ask, he doesn’t offer. It’d be uncomfortable, anyway.”

“I see. Well, when we were up to play you last month, you know how I hurt my knee?”

“Yeah, you nearly spiked me.” Jeff had twisted his knee while trying to steal third; it hadn’t been serious but if Adrian hadn’t been paying attention, Jeff’s spikes would have probably caught the back of Adrian’s calf.

“Yeah well, trainer wanted me to get an MRI, so I went to that hospital by you, what is it, Bellvue? Anyway, while I’m in the lobby figuring out which floor the MRI’s on, I run into Richie. So I ask him what he’s doing there and he says it’s his father.”

“Oh?” Adrian is not quick to jump to any conclusions; as far as he knows Charlie Haus might have just cut his thumb with a bagel slicer and needed a few stitches. “He didn’t say why?”

“No, and I didn’t ask, but the look on his face…there was something going on.”

“I’m sure if it was serious enough we would know about it,” Adrian says, though he’s not really sure if this is true.

“I hope it’s nothing. Really, I do. You guys have been through enough this season already, what with Micah and all.”

“Hah, if you wanted to help us, you and the rest of New York could roll over and play dead.” Adrian chuckles, but it is forced and sounds odd.

“It’s not us you have to worry about,” Jeff says, serious but not heavy, “not as long as New England’s got something going.”

“They never last past August.”

“Hope you’re right, but somehow, this year, I doubt it.” Jeff shrugs. The current batter, Cleveland’s catcher Toby Brady, strikes out for the third out. Adrian grabs his glove and goes to take the field, but his mind is no longer on the moment.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Good Vibes

LaTroy Hawkins has a "Joba Rules" shirt.
Mike Mussina has a thing for interior decorating.
Derek Jeter is setting himself up for really bad fanfic with Andy Pettitte.
Phil Hughes posts an email address on his blog. Not to mention, he reads--and responds--to the comments.

There have been Yankees teams you've felt good about in the past, and there will be Yankees teams you feel good about in the future...but this has a feeling to it...

You'd think maybe because it's the last year of Yankee Stadium or because there's a new manager in town, or even if it's just because of the extra running, the mood would be intense, but if the above stories are any indication, it's nothing like that.

You know this is one of the seasons we're going to remember forever, given the significance of it to us as Yankees fans, and I have to say, if these are the guys we've got in our clubhouse, I'd love to freeze time right now, and make this moment last forever.

I don't know about you, but I think it's a damned good time to be a Yankee fan.

Third Degree Burn, Take Deux

Sorry this post is so late, spent all day doing work on...well, you know...

Anyway. You may be interested to know that on his blog, Phil Hughes has posted an email address for fans to "drop him a line."

I'm all for players interacting with fans, it's what makes part of the experience so much fun, but I've got to go ahead and say that the under/over on him reaching the gmail email storage limit is three weeks.

So today's Pete Abraham question/topic I'm going to address is fairly timely given recent events:

The return of prodigal son Alex Rodriguez.

As you probably know, A-Rod was interviewed by the press the other day and in typical A-Rod fashion uttered a comment about being tested by MLB 'nine or ten times' instead of a properly phrased exaggeration of '100 times'. So, in typical NY media fashion, there was a big hubbub, and A-Rod actually had to issue a statement saying that he was only exaggerating and he hadn't really been tested nine or ten times.

Now, if that wasn't crazy enough, A-Rod's also made a comment about Jeter going to have an MVP-like season...and he's getting blasted for it.

It really does make you wonder, just what does he have to do to get people off of his back?

It's great he's returned. Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of ten-year-deals, but A-Rod's (knock on wood) stayed healthy throughout his career so far, and I'd much rather have him with the deal than, say...well, you know who I mean.

However, can the man do or say anything without getting scrutinized to the point that it's a bona fide miracle he came back?

I'm not the hugest A-Rod fan, and I'll be the first to admit it. However, he's a part of the team and as such I will respect him and defend him (to a point) if need be. The chances that this season he produces like he did last season are slim. It doesn't mean he won't produce, but, say, instead of hitting 55 home runs, are we all going to get on him if he hits "only" 40?

If you call yourself a Yankee fan, then you want him to win a Series while he's in pinstripes, and I can almost guarantee that there's no one that wants it more than him. He could retire today and he'd have a Hall-of-Fame caliber resumè, but a ring would probably get him in with a record percent of the vote.

More importantly, maybe, a World Series ring would keep the media lambasting him when he praises Derek Jeter, his teammate.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

O' Captain...

I've come to the conclusion that spring semester senior year is a very bad time to try to be productive. Oops.

Anyway, today's Pete Abraham question is:

Is Derek Jeter still Derek Jeter?

Ostensibly, this is a very valid question to be asked, given that as Jeter is now on the flip side of thirty his mobility and range (never that great) will start to decline. Jeter is many things, but, alas, Julio Franco is not one of them.

However, if we focus solely on Jeter's defensive ability or his offensive stats, we ignore the crucial fact:

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because of his knack to be in the right place at the right time, to get the right hit at the right time...

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because he knew, somehow, on an October night in 2001 in Oakland, CA, that Shane Spencer had a wild arm and it was up to him to get the ball to Posada. Yeah, I'm talking about THE flip.

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because he gets the critical in that World Series game, and no, I can't pick just one because it's happened a few times.

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because he's done things like that throughout his career.

On the flip side, however, it makes the double plays he hit into last October that much more worrying. He's supposed to be the epitome of clutch (and indeed, in certain September games against the Red Sox, he was), but double plays are as un-clutch-like as it's possible to be.

Is it a problem? I wouldn't go there, not quite yet; the Yankees didn't lose in the LDS just because of him, and without his regular season clutching, who knows if the Yankees would have even made it to October?

In terms of Jeter's overall ability, his offensive value has always outweighed his defensive value (despite the Gold Gloves), and when he goes to Cooperstown (since we all assume he'll be there), it'll be off of his bat. In that respect, Jeter has declined from his first few years, but not so much that I'm terribly concerned.

However, if you focus only on that bit, you miss the point entirely. It's not why he's the captain, why he's been the starting shortstop for the past twelve years. It's not why he's Derek Jeter.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Looks Like Spring, Feels Like Winter

At least in Syracuse. No snow on the ground at the moment, but the wind chill is 6F. It's now at the point of winter where such a wind chill is simply 'old'.

Anyway, today's Pete Abraham question to be answered:

How best to use Joba Chamberlain?

The answer, at first glance, seems to be glaringly obvious: Joba should be a starter.

However, leaving it at that ignores a couple of very basic facts:

1) The Yankees did much of nothing to help their bullpen this winter. They signed Albaladejo and Hawkins, but they lost Proctor, Villone, and perhaps most importantly, Vizcaino.

Right now, outside of Rivera, our bullpen consists of:

L. Hawkins
K. Farnsworth
B. Bruney
J. Veras
E. Ramirez
C. Britton
J. Karstens
R. Ohlendorf
J. Albaladejo

So, out curiosity, which if these guys do you want pitching the seventh or eighth inning in Fenway in the last series of the season, with the division lead and a playoff spot on the line? And while Rivera can go two, he's not going three unless it's October.

2) He's on an innings cap, like all of the young guys. I don't necessarily agree with strict innings caps, but then I think about the likes of Kerry Wood and I realize why they're in place. Sure, Girardi's not Torre but it's not a chance I'd take with any manager. So what does the innings cap do? It limits the innings per start that Joba can pitch. Unless he's pitching a no-hitter or a perfect game (which would be sweet as hell), I don't see Joba staying in past the seventh. Given that his starts will probably come somewhere in between Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy who are ALSO on innings caps, it gives the bullpen very, very little rest.

Though I did have an interesting thought just now--you could alter the rotation a bit non traditionally and have something like Phil Wang Joba Pettitte Ian Moose or some such--namely, breaking up the big three with the innings eaters in between, to save some of the 'pen arms.

However, even while considering the above two, we also need to consider thus:

1) Joba was able, in the minors, to throw over 100 MPH into the seventh.

2) He has that ability to be the bona fide ace that right now, we don't really have.

So, what to do?

You have to give Joba a chance as a starter. We know what he can do in the 'pen and we heard of what he's supposed to be able to do as a starter, but we have yet to see it.

It would be a great crime not to give him a solid chance to start, to see, maybe if he is more effective as a starter.

That said, however, we can't wait forever. Obviously you've got to give him more than two starts, but you can't wait half the season to see if it's going to pan out.

Perhaps I'm wrong in my feelings about the bullpen and they'll be much more effective than the confidence they inspire, and I hope this is true, as it'd make for a very nice summer. However, until Sanchez and Melancon are ready (and we can't rush them, no matter how much we want to), our bullpen is an area of serious concern.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mmmm, Spring

Today, as it were, is the mandatory reporting date for everyone not a pitcher or a catcher to Spring Training, which means we are that much closer to the goodness that is baseball.

Even the weather up here today is playing along with the idea of a coming spring; there's a blue sky and the snow's completely gone from the ground. Okay, so it's a little nippy at 27 with a wind chill of 13, but you can't see that just by looking outside, promise!

Anyway. In a semi-recent post by Pete Abraham came up with a list of questions that need to or should be addressed in Spring Training. I thought over the next few days, I'd try my hand at answering some of them.

I don't have a ton of time at the moment, so I'm going to go with one that should be fairly easy to answer: Can Chien-Ming Wang recover from the ALDS disaster?

The short answer is yes.

Lest we forget, Wang was the only pitcher with a win in the 2006 ALDS for the Yankees; while his first start in the 07 LDS was a disaster, I'm thinking the failure of the second start had more to do with pitching on three days' rest than anything else.

It is, of course, also important to remember that without Wang we wouldn't have made the postseason at all--he won 19 games and missed an entire month. Who was the last pitcher to do that?

In fact, it could be argued that the Yankees' 07 failure had more to do with their anemic offense in games two and four than his pitching.

So in short, yes, Wang can come back, and I would even take it a step farther. I expect him to.

Right, that's it for now. Another one tomorrow or more later if a story breaks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

These Walls Can Talk

The Season, Part 19

First of all, we've passed 25.000 views. Five months, 25.000 views. I'm impressed.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18

As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.

The Season, Part 19

Newspaper Articles by beat writer Dick Holt of Note:

Trade Bait, but No One’s Biting (12 June)

Rumors swirling around an impending trade involving center fielder Bran Stromer came to a head yesterday as an official with the California Diablos stated that the team would not be interested in Stromer without the addition of utility infielder Kent Andrews to the deal. The Sparatans had been hoping in a package that would have centered around Diablos’ relief pitcher Josè Morenas; the deal had been considered one of the most likely to occur as the trade deadline approaches at the end of this month.

The Spartans’ need for a long man in the bullpen is well known. The Haus brothers, who own and general manage the Spartans, are willing to trade with a center fielder that many believe to be a future all-star in order to get Jeff Martin, Eduardo Gomez and Cory Daniels some much needed rest. Though Monty Allison’s starts have been better than most—including Spartans’ manager Pete Towers—expected, the chasm left by his absence in the bullpen has yet to be filled.

However, Stromer’s performance the last month has been lacking. When asked about his recent slump, Stromer did admit that a combination of factors including the trade rumors and the expecting of his first child with his wife, have become a distraction.

“It’s not right,” he told reporters, speaking after yesterday’s win over Florida, “I know I need to focus more. Everyone goes through slumps, but it’s up to me to get myself out of it.” When asked about this being a move to stonewall a trade, Stromer responded in the negative. “No, man, I wouldn’t do anything like that. I don’t want to be traded, of course, but if they send me somewhere, they send me somewhere.”

Despite the rumors and the slump, however, Stromer is still having a strong showing in all-star voting. He is currently in sixth place in voting for the outfield positions, out of 24 outfield spots for the Eastern team, which takes players from the East division as well as Memphis, Cleveland and Detroit.

New York, New York (June 15)

The Spartans lost a heartbreaker to the New York Knights yesterday, four to three, after giving up a two run home run from Jeff Pullman in the top of the ninth. Cory Daniels, who had only one blown save the entire season prior to yesterday, took the loss. He had not given up an earned run since the end of May.

The loss is especially heartbreaking as it means that New York can sweep the Spartans’ home series with a win tomorrow, putting them in a solid second place in the division. Both Hope City and New York currently trail New England, who is having a much better season than most expected. The Spartans have not taken a road series in New York since last June, and they have not taken a home series yet this year.

“It happens,” Daniels said after the game. “You win some, you lose some, but games like this hurt the most, because we’re the home team and we should win these games, especially given how close the standings are.”

Daniels attempted to take the blame for the loss after the game, but manager Pete Towers was quick to cut in saying that it was a hard loss to take, and Daniels had a pitch get away from him. Daniels, known for being ultra-competitive, however, refused to speak to the media after that, but instead was seen talking to pitching coach Steven King. Given King’s recent excommunication by much of the team, that the conversation happened at all is telling.

Daniels, however, is not the only one that should be at fault for the Spartans’ loss. Richie Haus struck out twice, once with two men on and only one out, and Adrian Martinez, who currently leads all-star vote getters, had bobbled a line drive in the third that lead to the Knights’ first run.

Despite Willy’s overall strong start, the Spartans were not able to muster much in terms of offense, though it is of note that Bran Stromer did have two hits and a walk, a sign, perhaps, that he is about to break out of his recent slump.

The game was briefly delayed in the fifth inning when a fan ran onto the field. He was quickly apprehended by security personnel and escorted off; he had been wearing a Spartans’ home jersey, with Leo Castiglione’s name and number on the reverse.

Pete Towers in Trouble over Adultery Scandal (June 18)

Tabloid reports of long-time Spartans’ manager Pete Towers’ rumored affair with the model Lily May were confirmed yesterday by Towers himself. Towers, who has been married to childhood sweetheart and grade school teacher Anne Towers (nee Gibbons) for twenty three years, admitted the affair when speaking to the media yesterday. In true Pete Towers form, he did not elaborate on the situation, but rather simply answered the question as it was asked

The question—is there any truth to the rumors concerning Lilly May—was answered with a simple “Yes, next question.” Towers refused to discuss anything else concerning the rumors, instead preferring to take questions on the Spartans’ prospects for the second half of the season. After he was done taking questions, he retreated into his office and did not leave until long after the media had been asked to leave the premises.

The admission comes as a shock to Spartan players and officials, but most of all to the fans, who have long prided Towers as a bastion of integrity. Indeed, local religious groups have often hired Towers in the off-season as a speaker at dinners and conferences for a considerable price tag. That reputation now is gone, and leaves Towers in a limbo that can likely only be remedied with a Championship win.

Anne Towers could not be reached for comment, though it is rumored she has retained Courtney Sellack, a premiere divorce attorney based out of New York.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hope, Memory

Today I went with Brent from The Bronx Block and my friend Dan D. to the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, New York.

It was the third time I've been, but the first time I went with people as interested in baseball as I am, and, without the summer crowd, we were able to take in everything, and appreciate all of it.

Going through all of the exhibits, there were two things that came to mind:

Hope, and memory.

Hope. The hope at the beginning of a season. The hope at the beginning of a game. The hope at the beginning of an inning. The hope of a single at bat. The hope of a single swing. The hope, in the end, that summer will come again.

Memory. Memory of the game's beginning, when it cost no more than $.50 to see a game. Memory of when it was free.

Hope. The hope that maybe somewhere, somehow, you'll be able to play in the bigs. It won't matter what color your skin is, or what gender you are; the only thing that will count is how well you play the game.

Memory. Memory of moments that passed us by--the Polo Grounds. Ebbets Field. Comiskey Park. The Washington Senators. Boston Braves. St. Louis Browns.

The memory of hope. The hope of memory.

It's not just baseball.

It's America.

Some pictures, and explanations.

It starts with a sword.

Let me explain.

Yesterday, it snowed, and iced. A lot. To the point that it buried my car. So, today being the designated Cooperstown day, I had to scrape the ice off my car. I have an ice scraper thingie, but after fifteen unsuccessful minutes, something had to be done to speed the process up--Cooperstown is a two hour ride through rural upstate NY from Syracuse.

So I remembered that I had a sword, and suggested to Brent that we try using the sword. He was worried I'd break the sword. I was worried I'd dent the car. I was REALLY careful, believe it or not.

However, as it turned out, the sword worked marvelously to break up the ice on the top and then the scraper was able to brush the rest off. However, by this time it was getting a little late, so instead of putting the sword back in my apartment, I tossed it in the back seat.

Not the most brilliant idea ever, but a functional one.

So after that fun adventure, we picked Dan up at his dorm, and drove the two uneventful hours to Cooperstown.

When we got there, we had to find a place to park, and as I'm utterly afraid of parking tickets, we ended up parking way down by the lake. It was gorgeous in the winter snow.

(Dan and myself, credit Brent Nycz)

It was then that Brent decided he wanted a picture of himself with the sword, and I was happy to oblige as swords really are that awesome.

While holding the sword, Brent made a comment about how he was holding the sword a là Paul O'Neill, his favorite Yankee. He started to swing the sword like a bat, and the thought came to him that it'd be pretty cool to turn the sword into a bat given the location and occasion.

It was then that Dan produced a shiny, green apple.

So the stage was set: Game seven, 2008 ALCS, Jonathan Paplebon (played by Dan) versus an unretired Paul O'Neill (Brent in the Oscar performance of his life), and myself, fellow picture-taker.

The first pitch was a foul ball, as Brent sliced the top off of it. Literally.

The second pitch was a...well, what do you call it when you slice an apple completely in half with a sword?

Brent says it's the 'Shot That Sliced The Big Apple In Two'

At this point, we decided it was getting a little chilly, and our best bet was to make the short walk to the Hall of Fame and venture inside. Thus we did. We did put the sword back in the car, for those of you curious.

Dan used his AAA membership card to get us each a $1.00 discount on the admission price. Cool stuff.

Now, as you probably know, I like old things. Lucky for me, the HoF is arranged in a mostly chronological order, so it's like taking a journey through history.


All right, now, so we start with the game's beginnings (Doubleday may, or may have not, actually invented the game).

The oldest surviving baseball for a scheduled game. I don't know about you, but it reminds me more of a shot-put ball than a baseball...then again, people 150 years ago also believed women shouldn't vote or run for office, so who knows what they thought.

Old woolen Reds jersey. I can knit in wool, but I've never made a baseball jersey.

The tools of ignorance, old style. I'm not sure about you, but given Yogi, et al, I think catchers are probably some of the smartest guys on the team. They just also happen to be slight masochists, but that's the spice of life.

Oldest surviving baseball contract known to exist. I doubt those guys knew just quite what they were starting...I can imagine them now, coming back from the other side, looking at each other and going "oops."

Babe Ruth's bat. It's actually fairly small for a bat, but at the same time...dude, it's Babe's Ruth bat. I mean, that's like saying it's Harry Potter's wand or Frodo's ring, except that Babe Ruth actually existed. Maybe it's more like King Arthur's sword. Oh, fictional again? Damn. Umm. Sorry, I'm at a loss for a reasonable comparison.

Babe's glove. Personally, I'm more impressed in the bat, but if you wanted to get me this for my birthday I wouldn't complain. It's like asking if I'd rather go to France or Spain. I'd prefer Spain (because I can semi-speak Spanish and they have better swords), but I wouldn't say no to France under any circumstances.

Myself in front of Babe's locker. The back of my shirt is actually blank, so I don't have to worry about players leaving or getting traded; as long as the Yankees don't suddenly move to Boston, I'm set.

Brent at Babe Ruth's locker. It was really that awesome.

Babe Ruth's original contract with the Red Sox. We know what happened next.

Chicago White Sox apparel and equipment from the Black Sox era. LET SHOELESS JOE INTO THE HALL! Ahem. Anyway, could you imagine if a Black Sox-ish scandal came about today? It'd blow 'roids out of the water.

Part of the exhibit on the Negro Leagues. It is utterly amazing how much the story of baseball is like the story of America, unified after the Civil War. Maybe that's why this game means so damned much to us.

Jackie Robinson's apparel and equipment. If there was ever a saint in baseball, it's him. Or maybe it's Rickey, for signing him. Or Landis for telling them that for all he cared they could sign 25 black players. Or maybe it was all three, coming together, to do what should have been done at the game's start.

I just like the pink.

Anyway, it's at this point that my wonderful camera, home to over 2520 pictures, decided that it was time for the battery to decide it wanted to be recharged, so thus all following pictures are credit Brent Nycz, some rights reserved

There's no cryin' in baseball! Okay, I lie. There's actually quite a lot. Mostly from me but maybe from you on occasion as well.

The Yankees have a lot of stuff in the Hall of Fame. But you know that.

Bats from Tino Martinez and Aaron Boone. Tino's bat he used in game four of the 2001 World Series, when had that two-out-bottom-nine-down-by-two home run that sent the Stadium in a frenzy. I am, however, slightly surprised they don't have Brosius's bat from when he repeated the feat the next night. As for Aaron Boone, well, you know why that bat's there. I really shouldn't need to elaborate.

A-Rod's batting helmet from when he hit 500. I can't wait for them to have his batting helmut when he hits the WS-winning grand slam to close out the old stadium.


Hit this. Or, as it were, don't.

I can hear my dad yelling from so far away: get your hands off the glass!. But dude, they're so shiny....

There's gaudy. There's ostentatious. And then there's the 2003 Florida Marlins World Series ring.

The bloody sock doesn't, in fact, look all that bloody in person. Still, though, Joe, why didn't you BUNT?!

The three of us. I'll let you guess who's who, and if you can't get it, you probably don't read PBP very often. I guess it's not that often that you get two Yankee fans and a Red Sox fan sitting together, all smiling and not actually chanting 19-18 or whathaveyou. I know the black and red scarf I'm wearing is huge, but a) I made it, b) it's warm, c) it was 18F outside.

Vaca Sagrada.

They were ball players, not saints, but if not for them, we would not have the memories. Some are hope, some are memory, but all knew it was more than a ball and a stick.

For some moments, the less words, the better.

A photo of part of the original payment from the you-know-whom to the you-know-whom in you-know-when for you-know-who, which spawned the you-know-what.

The Hall of Fame, as seen from the outside.

So the Hall of Fame was a great experience, and once again I was a sucker for the gift shop, as I purchased a shot glass (I collect them) and a Yankees' Hall of Fame members' shirt (and I hope it fits).

Despite this, there was one caveat: Having left Syracuse at 11 AM and gone to Cooperstown stopping only for five minutes to get fast food/vending machine food, and then staying in Hall of Fame until near closing (at five in the winter), we were hungry.

Okay, hungry is an understatement. I felt like my insides were eating themselves for want of food, which may have been a little more graphic than you wanted, so I apologize.

Anyway, we headed to the Doubleday Cafe, which was very decent, and hey, we saw highlights of SYRACUSE BEATING GEORGETOWN! GO ORANGE!

After about four or five giant glasses of water, I had to use the restroom. To my amusement, the restroom had a chalkboard...and chalk. So I drew.

(I did not draw the kitty, alas, but the url to this blog and the 'let's go yankees', completely my idea.)

I came out of the restroom and mentioned it to Brent, and then Brent decided to do a similar thing, linking to his blog. Seeing as his url is easier to remember (sorry!) and his handwriting is a lot neater, I expect he'll get a lot more hits.

So there you have it. After that, it was a two hour ride back to Syracuse and whatnot. I could elaborate on what I've done since getting back to Syracuse with Brent, who's come up from New York to spend the weekend, but as it's mostly meaning 'this post', I'll spare you.

I know I owe a Season update, but this post took two hours to write, so the Season update is going to wait till tomorrow afternoon. Don't worry, it's written, but hopefully you all will enjoy this.

The Hall of Fame is an amazing experience under any circumstance, but for something really special, bring a couple friends that are as big of fans as you are, of the same team or your most hated rival. Come on a frozen winter day when the snow coats everything. Park down by the lake. Stay until closing, and revel in the definitely-not-filled-to-capacity galleries. Get up so close to Babe Ruth's bat, if just for that little bit of plexiglass, you could touch immortality.

Swords are optional.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Joltin' Joe

If you've been reading PBP since the beginning, or if you've seen my post over on the LoHud blog, you'll know that I'm a pretty big fan of Joe Girardi getting the nod as manager.

Part of it has to do with catchers. Often, catchers make good managers because so much of what they do in a baseball game is manage. They've got to be the ones to talk to the pitchers, the ones to manage the infield, to call for a set play. It's not managing proper, but like the graduate student that has to TA a class, it's something that counts on a resumè.

Part of it is that we all know what Girardi did with the Marlins in 2006, and the way he was able to get the best out of a young pitching staff. I know there's a lot of argument as to whether or not he was the reason behind injuries to Annibal Sanchez and underperformance from Dontrelle Willis, but between Dave Eiland, Nardi Contreras and the giant that is the New York media, I'm not too worried about it happening.

Part of it is simply that he's not Joe Torre. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Joe Torre, and he was brilliant for the Yankees in the late nineties and early 2000s (lest you forget, we did make it to the World Series in 01 and 03). However, when you manage the same team for 12 years, your weaknesses will not just show, but they'll be glaringly obvious. Torre couldn't handle a bullpen, and, well, the nice way to put it is that he played favorites. From Girardi's own admission, however, spots on the roster will have to be earned, which means instead of Spring Training being an all-inclusive month-long vacation in sunny Florida, it'll actually mean something.

There's no question ever single move Girardi makes and every single word he says will be taken under the glare of an electron microscope. While there's no doubt that Girardi both knows and expects this, there is still the, well, frustration when considering what will likely happen with an impatient fanbase if the Yankees start 1-3 or 6-8.

It's so easy for people to forget how spoiled we've been with twelve straight Octobers. Currently, no other team has more than one.

Change can be good or bad, but it is inevitable. It's how you respond to change that will show you who you really are.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spring Forward

Some people celebrate Valentine's Day with cards.

Some celebrate with roses, or chocolate.

Others, however, choose baseball.

Happy Start of Spring Training.

May the 2008 baseball season bring you much joy and remember...

In the end, it doesn't matter if you win or lose. What matters is that you play.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How to Spend the Last 24 Hours Before Spring Training

12 AM--Celebrate by turning calendar page.

1 AM--Attempt to go to sleep. Curl up with nice book, such as The Natural or Field of Dreams, or printouts from a certain blog about...well, you know.

3.30 AM--Finish reading, drift off to sleep. Have baseball related dream in which you eat dinner with Roy Hobbs and some other legendary baseball figure. Steal Hobbs' bat. For the fun of it.

9.00 AM--Wake up. Realize that you don't, in fact, have Roy Hobbs' bat. Mope. Look outside the window and see the #@$@# blizzard of doom. Mope some more.

9.30 AM--Hop in the shower. Play energetic, non-wintery music. Anything with 'Summer' in the title, really. "Summer Lovin", "In the Summertime", "Boys of Summer" get the idea.

9.45 AM--Hop out of the shower, get dressed, make sure to leave Yankees' shirt for tomorrow and instead decree that today is the last day until next November that you'll wear a heavy winter sweater, no matter how cold it might be outside.

10.00 AM--Check ESPN, LoHud, PBP...eventually get around to unimportant things such as email and

10.30 AM--Head off to class. If you actually have a job, imagine all of this about two, three hours earlier. Listen to some classic baseball on the way.

12.30 PM--Lunch break. Check all the important websites, decide that you're going to ignore anything remotely connected to the Mitchell Report and instead focus on why the hell the Yankees are starting Joba in the 'pen, even if you know there's a rational explanation.

1.00 PM--Attempt one last-ditch attempt to get plane tickets to Tampa Bay. Realize that the tickets are way, way, way out of your price range.

1.03 PM--Mope.

1.30 PM--Decide to cure your moping by buying two tickets to a random Yankees game on a weeknight in May, when all the kids still have school so there are actual tickets to be had.

1.45 PM--Feel a bit thinner in the wallet, but spiritually richer.

2.30 PM--Get antsy and wonder why the hell the day won't end already.

2.45 PM--Break the copier/printer/lab computer in frustration.

3.30 PM--Log onto LoHud for first time in a few hours and discover that all hell has broken lose because Curt Schilling has announced his sudden retirement and thus the Red Sox have signed some pitcher from Japan that's supposed to be really good. Again.

4.30 PM--Find out by accident that, yes, the hockey teams are still playing, and, yes, the Devils are still a better team than the Rangers and the Islanders.

4.45 PM--Find out that basketball and the tri-state area are kind of like trying to combine oil and water.

5.30 PM--While attempting to drive home, get caught in blinding snowstorm. Repeat mantra: Last day of winter. Om. Last day of winter. Om.

7.00 PM--Finally get home. Check all important websites, discover that ______ has not, in fact, shown up yet in Tampa and get really worried. Find out that ______ has a new hair cut and looks really good, but ______ looks really awful. Start freaking out about prospects of 2008 season.

7.05 PM--Realize that if the entire season is going to be based on someone's haircut, you're in the wrong sport.

7.30 PM--After going out in the blizzard to grill burgers and 'dogs, cozy up to the TV and put it on YES to catch Yankees Classics or whatever it is they've got on.

11.00 PM--Decide watching the news might be slightly beneficial. Discover that _____ has been assassinate/overdosed on prescription drugs/overdosed on nonprescription drugs/had a love affair with a six year-old horse.

11.25 PM--Finally get to sports part of news broadcast and turn it off when they're only talking about the Knicks.

12.00 AM--Turn calendar page again. Pop champagne.


The Adventures of Rocket Man

Like most of you guys probably are, I'm sick of hearing about things related, however remote, to the Mitchell Report. However, reading that the Congressional hearings will now be limited to Clemens, McNamee, Mitchell and Waxman presents an opportunity that's too good to pass up. (Please note that this is a lighthearted attempt to poke fun at a situation that really shouldn't be as important as we're making it. No offense is meant.)

Adventures on Capitol Hill

The day dawned, bright, cold, and with a foul-smelling air, as is like to happen in a city such as Washington.

Rocket Man, alias Roger Clemens, woke up with a start, and, try as he might, he could not wipe the hint of fear out of his eyes. Today was the day.

It was a long time coming, but today he would, for once and all, have to fight his long time arch-enemy Roid, alias Brian McNamee. This wouldn't be like any other fight or battle that Rocket Man had endured, for he was not allowed the benefit of his favorite weapons, strikes one, two and three, nor did he have with him the Bat Shard of Doom, which had been so useful in his win over Pizza Man (alias Mike Piazza) back in 2000.

Instead, Rocket Man would have to rely solely on his wits and presence of mind. Roid's strongest weapon was also Rocket Man's biggest weakness, and there was now no other way for Rocket Man to defend himself.

Rocket Man got out of his warm, comfortable bed. He made himself his special Rocket Fuel (tm) Breakfast, and drank a whole, healthy glass of orange juice straight from the great state of Florida. This was the base of his fuel, the base of his special Rocket Man powers, but it was not enough. He needed a way to make sure he could conserve his powers throughout the day, so he took a special Rocket Man B12 Vitamin out of a vial and washed it down with some water.

The next step for Rocket Man was, of course, to dress himself in his special Rocket Man outfit, but only after a quick shower--the Rocket Man outfit loses its power if the wearer has not showered or taken a bath before donning it.

To start, Rocket Man put on his special Rocket Man boxers, no doubt given to him by the one true love of his life, Rocket Girl. Over these, he donned his special Rocket Man pants. Normally white with pinstripes, these he had disguised for the occasion--they were long, falling to his ankle, gray, and bore the name 'Armani' on the label. Over an undershirt, he put donned his alias Roger Clemens blue button-down shirt, the same he had worn on other, similar occasions. Lastly, on his feet, he wore special, black, Rocket Man dress shoes. He was dressed and ready to go.

Being so far away from his home in Houston, however, Rocket Man was nowhere near the Rocket Mobile, so, alas, he had to make do with a simple taxi. It was a hard test, and zapped some of Rocket Man's fuel, though not his health as he refused to engage in conversation with the taxi driver (who was not aware of how little health Rocket Man had, the result of the months-long pre-battle rituals).

Arriving at Capitol Hill, Rocket Man was seized with a sudden sense of dread. It was here, then, that his Doom was to be decided.

Rocket Man was lead into a large chamber, full of unfriendly men and women known as 'Congress'; these were ardent supporters of Rocket Man's most bitter enemies, and yet, somehow, he would have to woo them. He attempted the Glare of Death (tm) a couple of times, but alas, it seemed to have no effect.

It was not long now before Roid entered, followed closely by his ally Reporter (Alias George Mitchell) and Judge Waxman, the man that would ultimately decide the fate of all involved. The three took their appropriate places, and it was Waxman that spoke first.

Waxman: On this day, 13 February 2008, we have come here to decide the Doom of Rocket Man and Roid. Let it be known that all decisions rendered here are final and may not be challenged, lest they destroy the enjoyment of the 2008 Season for all Americans. Do you so swear to engage in an honest and fair battle?

Rocket Man: That I would do, but I am afraid that my enemy has already engaged in tactics that are not to be found anywhere in the manual of 'Permissible Behavior for those Selected to Appear before Congress'. If he resorts to such outside tactics, how is it right that I should be limited to ones that have been not impartially labeled 'fair' and 'honest'?

Waxman: Roid, have you a response to these accusations?

Roid: I have told only the truth. I have not resorted to the playing of recordings of phone conversations, nor appearances on select TV newsmagazines.

Rocket Man: But you have kept syringes for six years, in beer cans. Health Master General would not approve, and yet you seek to belong to the League of the Celebrated Informant.

Waxman: I say, is this true?

Roid: What do you want me to do? Tell me, what do you want me to do?

Waxman: I want you to answer the accusations presented herewith and tell the truth.

Roid: Oh. In that case, the syringes I kept were in perfect keeping with the Guidelines for Congressional Informants Seeking to Avoid Jail Time.

Waxman: I say then, there is nothing faulty in this, and that Rocket Man, you accusation is unfounded.

Rocket Man glanced around. This is not how it was supposed to happen; he'd have to think fast lest his entire plan fall apart.

Rocket Man: Roid seeks to destroy me. I have accomplished more good than he ever will, and yet he seeks to bring me down, to tarnish my name, my records.

Waxman: But is it not true that those who truly do good do not care about how they are perceived, as long as the good that they do is well remembered?

Without knowing it, Waxman had dug himself into a hole and Rocket Man had the perfect, ready response.

Rocket Man: If that were true even in the slightest bit, we would not be here in this very room. For while the good I have done, vanquishing such foes as Pizza Man, is well remembered, it is the mere, false, accusatory perception of me using substances that are rightfully banned that has me fighting for the Dignity of my life, Dignity that if lost cannot be restored.

The chamber fell into silence. Rocket Man had done the one thing that everyone knew was coming, but somehow resisted: he had deployed the ultimate weapon. He had spoken the truth. Well, a truth, anyway...which presented Roid with a last gasp, a last try for victory over his ultimate foe.

Roid: You seek to tell the truth and yet you call the accusations levied against your use of rightfully banned substances as false, when we know this is not true. What, then, is the definition of truth?

Rocket Man: What, then, is the definition of 'is'?

A great clamor and much hubbub engulfed the chamber. Rocket Man had struck a nerve with the Congress in the background, for it brought back memories of a much different age, which some would call a better age, when their leader, the mysterious President, was a different man whose greatest fault laid in his infidelities. Many still mourned his loss and that they were responsible for his downfall. If ever there was a weakness to Congress, it was his memory.

Waxman: I say to you both, that the truth shall be defined as 'that which is not a lie.' Rocket Man, now knowing this definition, what say you to Roid's accusations?

Rocket Man: That they are untrue. If you seek to know for sure, I would gladly part with some of my Rocket Fuel blood, precious as it is to my powers, for you to test, in front of all these men. Better yet, I would let you test those syringes which you have kept, for the presence of the rightfully banned substances and my Rocket Man DNA!

Roid: But that is impossible! Such evidence will now have been long gone.

Waxman: You should have stored the needles according to the guidelines of the American Red Cross then, and not Guidelines for Congressional Informants Seeking to Avoid Jail Time. In this instance, in which there is no way to know for sure what the truth is, and in beloved memory of our departed President whose memory we have evoked herewith, I issue my judgment in favor of Rocket Man.

Rocket Man had won the day, but he could not celebrate. Roid had lost officially, but as he knew all too well, such foes often come back when least expected. He would have to remain on his guard. Yet, his wits had served him, and he had won, his Adventure on Capitol Hill had been a success.

TWO days to go! Just Two!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Dream of Summer?

The windchill today has hovered around 0 F. Last night, it went all the way down to -20.

My thought going to class today wasn't about Spring Training, but rather, how much I'm really, really jealous of everyone in Tampa Bay, and how I'm going to have to figure out a way to love frostbite.

You'd think, after four years, I'd learn something.

Guess not.

Anyway, as we get closer, some (not quite so obvious) questions to consider, ponder, etc:

1) Is Joe Torre really an excellent manager, or did he just luck out in New York?

1a) Has you-know-who gone into hiding yet?

2) Who really got the better end of the Miggy Cabrera deal? Dan Haren? Johann Santana?

3) Will Tampa Bay and Toronto be fighting it out for third in the AL East, or might Toronto and Baltimore be fighting to stay out of the division basement?

4) Who will win the Optimist Prime Blog Award for least-bad announcing?

5) Will someone get me a ticket (okay, two) to go see the Yankees play in Boston on Saturday, 12 April (my birthday)? What about gas money/plane ticket?

If you have answers to any of these, please, share them in a comment! Especially number five...

THREE Days to go!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Season, Part 18

Some of you know that I got some amazing news on Friday relating to The Season.

Let's just say, I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and there's a dent in the wood from how many times I've been knocking on it.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17

As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.

The Season, Part 18

#1, Dennis Howard, bench coach

Like TJ, Dennis is so distracted by the news about Pete that he almost loses his capacity to process what should be important, albeit disturbing, information. He doesn’t chide any of the Spartans for sloppy play since he knows that he himself is guilty of sloppy coaching. Pete’s not much of one to talk about his personal life, so it’s not even like Dennis can talk to Pete about it, either.

When Kent comes to him, with Eliot in tow, and they remark on the conversation that Eliot heard the night before, Dennis’s first instinct is to ignore it, and wonder why Kent or Eliot would care at all about what TJ and Damien were doing. The four get on well enough on the field and in the clubhouse, but Dennis doubts the four have ever socialized together over the winter. Why Kent would come to him at all makes no sense; these aren’t middle school boys, they should be past the tattling and petty arguments. He tells Kent he’ll take care of it, goes back to eating his oatmeal, and then promptly forgets what it is.

It’s later, when he’s sitting in the dugout, bottom of the fifth inning, sun slowly roasting his arms, that he notices something. Florida’s got a man on first, with their second baseman up at bat. Graeme pitches a fastball that’s a little low outside of the strike zone, but the batter swings anyway, driving the ball into the ground, straight to Damien. It’s an easy double play ball; any high school shortstop would be capable of the soft underhand toss from short to the force out at second. However, instead of a gentle underhand, Damien tosses a bullet to TJ, and it catches TJ off guard. TJ has to take a step back just to keep his balance; the runner on first is still out easily, but TJ is obviously too surprised to make the throw to first.

Eliot sees it too. He gives Dennis a sharp stare and, like an anvil, Dennis realizes why Kent and Eliot told him what they did. It’s not tattling if not doing so hurts the team. They might have no proof as to whether or not Damien is using again, but that toss is all Dennis needs to see that there is definitely something bad between him and TJ at the moment. Dennis, who has been sitting next to Pete, on the far end of the bench in the dugout, gets up and walks over towards Eliot.

“Got any seeds?” Dennis isn’t really a sunflower seeds fan, but it’s an easy way to start a conversation with anyone on the bench. Eliot nudges Dan, who’s seated next to him, for the bag. Dylan, who’s usually seated with them, is by the water cooler, getting himself something to drink and talking to Terry, who is still recovering from his hamstring injury. Dan glares for half a second before he sees Dennis and hands the bag directly to him.

“What brings you down to this neck of the woods?” Dan laughs, emphasizing his faint southern accent.

“Just a quick word with Eliot.” Dennis pauses, knowing he has to come up with something to deflate Dan’s curiosity. “About his baserunning.”

“Ah, sure, no problem.” It’s no secret that Eliot’s baserunning is his biggest weakness, and Dan’s curiosity is easily satiated. He goes over towards Dylan and Terry to join in their conversation.

“My baserunning?” Eliot arches his eyebrows a bit, but doesn’t make much of a scene. Dennis doesn’t waste any time trying to keep up the charade.

“What you and Kent told me, earlier today…”

“You saw the throw?”

“Yes. Listen, I think there’s something going on, if he’s throwing like that to his best friend, but I have to tell you, don’t tell Pete.” It comes out before
Dennis even knows what he’s saying, but when it does, he knows he means it, and why.

“You mean he’s got enough on his mind? Or something else?”

“You weren’t around last time, but you know what happened.”

“I do.”

“Well, if Pete finds out, it’ll be the same thing, all over again, and probably worse.” Dennis doesn’t add because our bench is depleted enough as is and we can’t afford the negative publicity attached to Damien going into rehab, again. He doesn’t have to.

“Someone’s got to talk to him, though.” Eliot surprises Dennis with his unrelenting concern; if it was Kent they were talking about, it’d be far less surprising, but it’s not.

“TJ’s been doing that, hasn’t he? From what you told me, anyway? I’ll talk to TJ.”

“He doesn’t know I heard him, though.”

“I know. Listen, we’ll figure it out, and I’ll have a talk with Damien about that throw of his.” Dennis grabs a few more sunflower seeds from the bag he’s been holding, and places the bag back down on the bench.

“Hey, dude, speaking of my baserunning,” Eliot starts, “how am I supposed to get any better at it if I don’t get a chance to practice?” It’s almost, but not quite, a joke.

“You want practice? All right, if Leo or Richie gets on next inning, you run.” It’s an easy solution, though it relies on one of them actually reaching base.

It might, Dennis muses, be an easier task to keep Damien clean.

#57, Eduardo Gomez, relief pitcher

Eduardo hurts.

It’s not any obvious injury, and for that reason, Eduardo won’t complain, but that doesn’t change the basic truth. He hurts.

It’s been over a month now since the Accident, but the Haus brothers have not been able to manage anything to replenish the depleted bullpen. All potential trade talks have centered around Bran, and, with his recent slump, other teams have demanded more than just Bran, but Kent, who has taken nicely to the everyday role, as well. It’s too much for the Haus brothers, and thus the trade remains uncompleted and the bullpen overstretched and overworked.

Eduardo’s not thrown as many innings as Jeff or Cory, but he’s appeared in more games, and warming up nearly every day takes its toll. His arm is so sore that he’s taken to wearing a sling when he’s not throwing; it doesn’t do anything for the pain in his shoulder, so he alters his delivery to make it bearable. Not comfortable, just bearable. He goes to Liam after every game, but there’s only so much Liam can do before the few pain killers Eduardo can take lose their effect. So he hurts.

He doesn’t complain, but he does tell Steven that if it can be avoided, he’d rather not pitch today. It’s a tall order, though—Monty’s pitching, the Spartans are on the road, and they are at New York. If the Spartans can win in a blowout, Eduardo might get a reprieve, but it’s more than unlikely. While Monty’s been up to the task so far, New York’s hitters are simply too good to make a blow out a reasonable possibility.

It’s a hot night, with a stale breeze full of city fumes and the stars obscured by the city lights. Eduardo spends the early innings of the game in the bullpen, trying not to make his soreness obvious to Jeff or Cory, but it’s a lost cause. They’re just as sore as he is, and they envy his acting ability. They start they game as they do every game, watching it, taking every detail and then trying to estimate when one of them will be called to enter it, but they soon lose interest and the conversation turns to the one topic they haven’t been able to avoid for the past week: Pete.

It’s Jeff who starts it with a comment made all the more uncomfortable given his own turbulent situation: “I saw Anne earlier.”

“Really?” Cory’s not really interested in hearing about Pete’s wife, but he can’t think of anything better. “What’s she doing here?”

“Yeah. She’s got a ticket to the game, I guess, I saw her talking to Pete during warm ups.”

“I didn’t see her.”

“You were still in the locker room.” It’s believable—Jeff is usually one of the first out onto the field. Eduardo finds himself genuinely curious; he’s impressed the two are even speaking to each other.

“What were they talking about?”

“Dunno, I kept my distance. Don’t know about you, but if I was Pete right now, I’d probably try to stay clear of her. Did see one thing, though, she gave him an envelope. Don’t know what was in it.”

“An envelope?” This grabs Cory’s attention, and magnifies Eduardo’s curiosity tenfold. “How big?”

“One of those package ones…it was pretty full. Why?” Eduardo senses where Cory is going with this, and Cory answers exactly how he imagines he would.

“Anne’s lawyer is based in New York.”

“How do you know?”

“We use the same firm, I’ve seen her there before.”

“You have a lawyer?”

“My split from my first wife was pretty nasty.”

“Wait…you’re talking about a divorce lawyer?”

“Yeah,” Cory states, as if there is nothing in the world more obvious.

“And you think—“


“Damn. I feel bad for Pete.”

“I feel bad for Anne. He cheated on her, not the other way around.” Eduardo shares in Cory’s disgust that Jeff seems to forget that Pete is the one at fault here. He understands it, though—Pete is already idolized, and Jeff has fairly antiquated views about the roles of men and women in marriage and society.

“One mistake and this happens?”

“It’s probably more than one mistake. We just know about one.”

“C’mon, man, this is Pete we’re talking about…”

“I know. He’s not a saint.” There’s a long silence after this. Cory’s not lying, but it’s still hard for Eduardo to shake off the feeling of it being nearly blasphemous, and he can’t fathom what’s going through Jeff’s mind. He imagines Jeff is probably setting the ground rules for Cory’s heresy trial.

“Listen,” Eduardo says, “if it’s what you say it is, and Pete hasn’t told us, he probably doesn’t want it getting around.”

“We’re in New York,” Cory sighs, “it’s going to get around no matter what we do.”

It’s at this moment that the phone in the bullpen rings, and the signal comes for Eduardo to begin to throw. Eduardo is thrust back into the chaos of the game that had receded into the background; he has to check to scoreboard to see that they are in the seventh inning, with two out already, and up four to one, which would easily make this Monty’s best start of his career.

His arm tries to warn him not to abuse it, not to use it like a grenade launcher, by sending sharp aches to his elbow and his shoulder, but he ignores it. However bad his arm hurts, right now, it’s probably nothing compared to Pete. Or, for that matter, Anne.



New England Tribe 39-24
New York Knights 38-25
Hope City Spartans 35-28
Florida ‘Canes 27-36
Washington Sox 21-42


Chicago Lakemen 37-26
St. Louis Gold 37-26
Minnesota Berserkers 35-28
Cleveland Rivermen 34-29
Memphis Jazz 32-31
Detroit Moose 23-40


California Diablos 44-19
Seattle ‘Nauts 37-26
Denver Mustang 31-32
Texas Stampede 29-34
Kansas City ‘Nadoes 23-40

Legends are Born, Not Made, or Some Such

Bruce Markusen over at Bronx Banter has made a post about the end of the Hall of Fame Game. It's worth a look.

On my first read, my thought is WHAT?!, as in, how could they do this? How could they end so many years of baseball tradition, so on and so forth. I was even all ready to sign the petition to save the game...

...and then I read one of the suggestions to take the place of the annual Hall of Fame Game: they have a Futures' Game, so why not a Legend's Game?

Think about it for a second.

Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium is easily one of the most popular tickets of the year. It's a wonder that more teams don't do it...granted, it'd be hard for clubs like the Devil Rays, Diamondbacks or the Marlins to do something like that, but, eventually, they'll have old timers, too. Well, maybe.

Still, though. You know the chills you get when Yogi puts on that uniform again, same as Jackson or, for a long time, Scooter. Can you imagine the chills you'd get watching Sandy Koufax pitch to Willy Mays or Nolan Ryan throw to Yogi? Do you remember the chills you got, back in 1999, when they revealed the All-Century Team?

Think about the crowd that'd come to Cooperstown to see it...played on Doubleday Field, perhaps...

You can get chills watching the Futures' Game, seeing the, well, future of America's pastime. You'd get more chills, though, watching it after you're reminded, even if just for an afternoon, why its our pastime in the first place.


I'm headed to Cooperstown with a couple friends on Saturday 2/15. There's something spectacular about the timing, being the day after Spring Training'll be my third time there, but the first time I've gone with people as into baseball as I am.

I can't wait.

FOUR days to go.

Friday, February 8, 2008

News N' Notes

So, for the record, I love Fridays. Today in particular.

Anyway, in case you've missed it, some news and notes from around the league:

Radomski avoids prison time. Moral of the story: It's okay to commit crime, as long as you rat out your accomplices, especially if your accomplices are from New York. Sam Waterson's Law and Order universe, this is not.

Santana would get to choose whether or not to exercise 2014 option. Isn't this a fancy way of saying that Santana's now got an opt-out clause? Have the Mets learned nothing re: A-Rod? I mean, I know Santana's agent is not Boras, but still, that can't be the smartest move the Mets have ever made.

Curt Schilling has shoulder injury and disagrees with team over surgery/no surgery. All that blogging must have taken a toll. Guess it's on the list of verboten off-season activities such as motorcycle riding and pick up basketball...

FIVE days to go.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

If My Grad School Application Could Talk...

...It'd be saying, finally, what took you so darned long?

The application is complete, just need my transcripts and professors' recommendations, and am on my way to getting that taken care of as well.

It will be a great feeling when I no longer have this lurking over my head like the giant black anvil of doom.

As for my thesis, I'm on page 15 of what will theoretically become 80. Tomorrow I'm going to work on The Season for Sunday (yum!) and attempt to catch our school's production of The Vagina Monologues as my friend is involved in the production. Saturday and Sunday, then, I'll be doing more work on the thesis, but over all, while I'm not progressing perfectly, I am progressing better than I thought I'd be.

SIX days to go.

Actually, at this rate, it's almost five.

If These Walls Could Talk...

It's not the Coliseum. It's not the Tower of London. It's not even the Statue of Liberty.

Yet, even so, when I read the plan is to tear down Yankee Stadium, I still feel my stomach tighten, my eyes get a little moist, my composure shakes a bit...

My first thought is not about how I'll miss being able to go to games there or how I'll likely never get to witness history at the old Yankee Stadium, but instead, my first thought is:

What about the ghosts? Where will they go? They need a home, too.

I am not obsessed with the supernatural, but it's not a lie for me to say that I do believe in ghosts. There's just too much about baseball that can't be explained least, not in a way that sticks with me. I mean, how else do you explain the Chicago Cubs?

I think of the ghosts and I think of how, if you tear down these walls, the ghosts will have no shelter from the winter winds. We hope, of course, they'll come with us just across the street, but something in my mind tells me: ghosts don't move their haunts.

My second thought, and the one that overrides the first, that consumes it, is that tearing down Yankee Stadium is tearing down history. It's saying we don't need the history exist here anymore, the memory of it is good enough for us.

Memories will not leave us--I've said this before--not while we have our cameras, our videos, our own methods of recollection, but over time, they fade.

We can live the memories because we've been there, we've been in the solid steel and concrete of the stands, we've felt the August sun and the October moon. We can tell our children about them, our grandchildren as well, and maybe even our great-grandchildren...

...but sooner or later, we turn to dust, and then all we have are the memories. There's no place for our children (if you're as young as I am), our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren to live them.

You can tell someone about the magic of Ruth, of Gehrig, of DiMaggio, of Berra, of Mantle, of Jackson, of Jeter...but it's not the same when you're not there. There's no question about it.

There is perhaps nothing that binds us together, as Yankees fans, or is such a large part of our being as Yankee Stadium.

If baseball is America's pastime, Yankee Stadium is America's ballpark. There are other historic parks, like Wrigley and Fenway, but there is nothing like Yankee Stadium. I know I sound like the obnoxious Yankee fan when I say it, but there's no other ballpark that's played host to 26 championship teams...and in baseball, home-field advantage actually matters.

Time moves forward, and we can't change it. The facilities at Yankee Stadium are old, and there's no doubt, that at least from a sanitary and safety point of view, a new stadium is needed.

Why should we feel as though we have to tear down the old, though? Why should we feel that it's okay to tear down history? Because other teams have done it?

Yankee Stadium need not be an empty shell; keep it, keep the field, use it as a park...maybe the Little League team or that middle school team from the Bronx can use it as their home park?

What about it?

Imagine it, the eleven year-old boy with mossy hair and the scraggly, lanky body, who can barely lift the bat over his shoulder comes up to bat with two out in the bottom of the ninth, the team's best runner on second, his team down by one, the burly thirteen year-old pitcher from some other team (maybe one in Queens), sets, pitches, there's a crack of the bat that echoes through the empty stands, giving rise to the ghosts, rise to the memories...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

You Know Spring Training's Right Around the Corner When...

...Oh, it begins invading your dreams...

Okay, so I haven't had any sanity for a few months now, but I have a feeling you knew that.

Is it me or does it feel like we're getting all the late nineties guys back? From the '98 team we have Posada, Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte still playing. Joe Girardi is our manager.

David Cone is in the broadcast booth, which also houses Paul O'Neil (and a buncha others, but not on the '98 team), and now, Tino Martinez will also be at Spring Training.

I don't know about you, but when I got Paul O'Neil, Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Joe Girardi, Mo Rivera, Andy Pettitte an David Cone all in the same building?

Those are some real good vibes.

Seven to go.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Genie in a Lamp

(with much thanks to Jim Johnson of The Bronx Block who helped with many of these...)

The Scene: The clubhouse, Legends Field, Tampa Bay, Florida. All Yankees' players who played a noticeable role in the 2007 New York Yankees and have returned for another year are sitting on folding chairs in a circle. I, Rebecca, Optimist Prime, am standing in the middle with a Genie lamp. I start.

Me: Okay guys, so I got this genie lamp, bought it a cheap thrift place in Jersey. I tested it and it works--I mean, I'm standing here in front of you all right now, right?

Anyway, so I'm going to pass this around, and you all get one wish, and only one wish. You're not allowed to wish for more wishes, and you're not allowed to wish for the steroid/HGH thing to go away, because we ALL wish that and thus it wouldn't be fun to get the same thing over and over again.

We'll start in line-up order, then proceed to rotation, bench and bullpen. John-ny Da-mon, you're up first.

Damon: Leading off again? Well, if I have to...I wish for an end to the dress code and the ability to return to caveman.

Me: Mmm, long hair is very awesome, but at the same time, I'm not sure you want do something here you did back in Boston...

Damon: I won a World Series there.

Me: Nevermind. Grow that hair as long as you want. Mr. Captain, you're next.

Jeter: Just one wish? Are you kidding me? Okay, I have the girls over me like Tom Brady.

Me: They are.

Jeter: B-b-but he has Giselle.

Me: So, didn't you have Jessica Alba at one point? Shut it, enjoy it, and stop grounding into those damned double plays. Señor Abreu, Ud. es pròximo...

Abreu: Bien, bien. I conquer the wall.

Me: You mean, unless Jeffery Maier is in the first row, you're playing Baltimore and it's October.

Abreu: The fallacy in that argument is the idea of playing Baltimore in October.

Me: Point taken. A-Rod, how about an MVP wish?

A-Rod: I don't want the MVP. I want the World Series.

Me: Yes, but what do you wish for?

A-Rod: Hmmm...half price tickets for blo--

Me: You're married. Jorge, give me something good.

Posada: Okay...I wish to have a better season than last year, and some sort of urine-like cream to rub on my hands, without being actual, y'know, urine.

Me: I'm sure you can find it somewhere.

Posada: You think I haven't tried?

Me: Riiiight. Okay. Whaddya know, Robbie Canò, it's your turn...

Canò: Whaddya know, I hate that. I wish for the ability to run the bases.

Me: Oops, sorry. Best wish so far, in my opinion. Mr. Matsui, wanna see if you can outdo him?

Matsui: Okay, how about...knee replacement surgery.

Me: Is it really that bad?

Matsui: I'm not telling. I apologize for wishing for it, though.

Me: It's a genie lamp. You don't have to apologize. Giambino, you're shot.

Giambi: Okay, I wish to...actually play first base once in a while.

Me: Just don't get weird foot infections.

Giambi: That won't be an issue now...

Me: Ah, yes, how soon we forget. Melkman, vamos!

Melky: I would love a no-trade clause. I hate being bait. I end up smelling like fish.

Me: I don't like you smelling like fish, either. Right, that's it for the line-up, let's go to the rotation, and Wanger, you're up first.

Chien Ming Wang: I get rid of the strikeout.

Me: Tough luck changing the most basic rule of the game. Right then, Mr. Pettitte?

Andy Pettitte: To go out strong, no questions asked.

Me: Thanks for coming back. No questions asked. Mr. Mussina?

Mike Mussina: To find the corners.

Me: Sounds reasonable. Phil Franchise?

Phil Hughes: Some Alton Brown cooking before every game.

Me: Ah, right, you said you liked that guy on your blog!

Phil: You read my blog?

Me: 'Course I do! And if my stats don't lie, you read mine as well!

Phil: Stalker.

Me: Probably. Give the lamp to Joba here...

Joba Chamberlain: I'd love a never-ending supply of bug repellent.

Me: I know some people, I'll see what I can do. Mr. President?

Ian Kennedy: I'm not the President. Melky took my wish...but I guess I wish that I can convince everyone it's a good thing they didn't give me up for Santana.

Me: Hey man, I didn't want Santana for you or Phil. Willl--sooooonn?

Wilson Betemit: I wish to be able to hit from the right side.

Me: Hmm, I think a lot of us do as well. Good choice. Shelley? Please, no arm bash.....that hurt.

Shelley Duncan: Oops. I wish to take on Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer. At the same time.

Me: You'd win.

Shelley: I know.

Me: I'd still pay to see it. Josè Molina?

José Molina: Nada. Happy is as happy does.

Me: You have to wish for something.

Josè: What do you think the back up goalie for Martin Brodeur wishes for? He's got the easiest job in the league...

Me: He probably wishes to play more than once a month.

Josè: I already do.

Me: Oh. Okay. Happy is as happy does. Going to the bullpen now, Mr. Farnsworth, you're up first.

Kyle Farnsworth: Do I actually need to say that I wish to find the @#$@#$ strike zone, and not lose it every other pitch?

Me: Probably not but you just did. Señor Veras?

Josè Veras: For people to appreciate that I actually do get people out once in a while.

Me: I do! Mr. Henn?

Sean Henn: To get an out. Any out. I'm not picky.

Me: That would be really, really nice. You could probably get me out, wanna try it?

Sean: Are you a major league hitter?

Me: I can pretend. Mr. Bruney?

Brian Bruney: To apologize to that chair.

Me: You're sitting on it.

Brian: Wha?

Me: I had it brought in special.

Brian: Okay. Listen, chair, I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean to hurt you, I was just having a bad day.

Chair: creaks

Me: Sounds like apology accepted! That leaves us...K-Ram, give us something good!

Edwar Ramirez: How about to not have to pitch with the bases loaded, ever again?

Me: Works great! And last, but certainly not least, the man of the hour, Mr. Sandman, Mo!

Mariano Rivera: I would love for everyone to read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and understand the true significance of 42.

Me: What a coincidence, I wish that too! I mean it is the answer to life...

Mo: ....The universe...

Me: ...And everything. Well guys, let's see if this lamp doesn't work as well for you as it did for me. Now, very last thing I got to do is make one more wish for myself, and that's to get out of here before the security dudes catch me....

And so I rub the lamp, wishing greatly to be teleported back to Syracuse, NY, where I have a chapter of neurology and two chapters of international law to read before the night's out, but the more I rub, the less that, having spent my one and only wish, I am trapped, here, at Legend's Field...

...Oh well, I might as well make the most of it...

Hey, dude, Jeter, can I take a couple swings with that bat?

EIGHT days to go!