Snide of the Yankees

All that romance I was painting when I wrote about a day at the ballpark turned out to be a much needed prescription for my home town Bombers. Because after being held to one run in that eleven inning loss last Saturday, they exploded for thirteen runs the next day. And they haven’t lost since. I like to think we served as a baseball talisman for the pinstripes. It’s not the coziest notion, seeing as how there are thirty thousand peeps who think the same thing. But it still counts.

Anyways . . I figured since I was gifted with some free baseball at no additional cost (since the MLB hasn’t figured out how to tack that on yet ), Imma pass it along in kind.

  • The only time a hot dog is an entree is at the ballpark. Something happens to the little fuckers on the other side of the gates that ups the flavor equation exponentially. There’s nothing like having a dog at the game, because the game is the only place it tastes like Kobe beef with a fried egg on top.
  • That thirty thousand (or thereabouts) was the attendance for a Saturday afternoon first place showdown in which the weather was picture perfect says everything about the insane price structure of game tickets. In the quest to make each game an “experience”, the MLB has beaten the living shit out of the sticker price. I’d be sadder if I didn’t have the MLB network on speed dial.
  • As for those prices, it ain’t reserved for the seats. We grabbed a foot long, a bucket of chicken tenders and garlic fries with three drinks for the princely sum of $51 U.S. Mantles. I could have hosted a BBQ block party for less.

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  • And no, alcohol was not included in that price, which would have added a ten spot to the bill.
  • Because I do not drink alcohol when the sun is in prime time. It’s not because I’m an alcoholic vampire, but thanks to the memory of a football game in Baltimore in the middle aughts when I made merry under the sun. The resultant headache had me wishing I was Tracy Mills from the movie Seven.
  • The wave has made a comeback at stadiums across the country. And it made me wonder where this collective psychosis originated, so I found this article that settles the matter.
  • It should be illegal for a man to wear a jersey . . even at the ballgame. It also should be illegal for a woman not to wear a jersey, wherever they like. Sorry dudes, they’re just better at it.
  • Is it wrong to feel provoked when I see a flat bill on a baseball cap?
  • Eleven dollars for a 16 oz Bud Light is only worth it if there’s a bottle of Jim Beam inside the can.
  • If you’re not in line to see Monument Park before 11:50 am, you’re out of luck. The gates open at 11:30 am. We were unaware of this short window as we strolled over to find our seats and then grabbed some dogs before heading over. We made it with three minutes to spare. Babe Ruth’s number was three. Coincidence? Probably, but I like to think the dogs worked in our favor. Even at six bucks a pop.
  • As we waited in line to get into the Stadium, a sixty something dude who was six pack pregnant took off his t-shirt to put on his Rays jersey. If I hadn’t already spent forty five bucks to park my car, I’d have given him a fifty spot to keep his t-shirt on. We’re standing right in front of a fucking sign that prohibits just about everything short of breathing but this guy can go horror story on our eyeballs. Jesus!

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  • Why is it that conversations about sports always seem so smart when you’re spikes deep in them, but mindless when you’re eavesdropping?

About that Seinfeld skit: I spotted a fella of Italian descent several rows below us sporting a Jason Giambi t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. And my mind went here . . .

George: (Laughing) Jer, check out the guy in the fake Giambi jersey . . . amateur.
Jerry: Wait a minute . . are the sleeves cut off?
George: They are! Do you think he cut them off on purpose?
Jerry: What other possible explanation is there?
George: Who does that?!
Jerry: It’s unheard of!
George: There’s no room for people like this in civilized society!

From there, Jerry engages the fan in a conversation that goes sideways. After which Jerry and George end up being escorted from the Stadium by security.

  • The shift is the new phone booth stuffing. Scientifically speaking, it’s when the defense only butters one side of the bagel. It’s done so’s the hitter can’t pull the ball into real estate where they ain’t and it looks something like this.

The Shift

  • Players don’t know how to bunt any longer because bunts don’t get them paid.
  • It’s frightening how many dudes leave the men’s room without washing their hands.
  • What do you answer hot dogs, chicken tenders and a pound of garlic fries with? The responsible choice would’ve been salads, ice water and laxatives. Let the record show that a case of White Castles ain’t the responsible choice.

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Welp, that’ll do it. I’d like to send out a special thank you to Gary Cooper’s stylish Brylcreem, Derek Jeter’s tarnished reputation and the lost (then found) files of Kate Smith.

Always bet diamonds.

Heroes Of The Week!

Wonder Woman

When traffic is a righteous jam- My Regular Joe and Jane Heroes of the Week award goes to . . the couple who stopped their car on the shoulder of the highway the other day and proceeded to escort a family of geese to safety. I rode up on the congestion with a laundry list of four lettered questions but was quieted . . . most righteously.

Kick up the leaves, and the Magic is lost- I dig Magic Johnson but I ain’t digging his walking back his role in the Lakers debacle. He insists he never promised to put aside his other business interests when he took a job that demands round the clock commitment. But he did promise to do just that, back in 2017. He won’t apologize for not reaching out to anyone before stepping down, which is weak. He thinks he can deny anything just because he’s Magic, and he’s probably right. Doesn’t mean I gotta like it.

Say “Squeeze!”- Sisters Hannah and Hailey Hager have taken it upon themselves to make lemonade out of lunch debt. They need lots of lemons for the $3,100 their elementary school classmates owe, but they got this. They’re spending their spring squeezing out that debt, and they even have a FB page. Go girls!

Future Headline Number 1- “Trump Library to house largest collection of porn in the world”

How ya like me now?- Jose Simms will never be confused with John Dillinger. The 29 year old Connecticut man is wanted on seven warrants, so he promised to turn himself in if his “Wanted” pic received 15,000 likes on Facebook. He hasn’t shown in spite of passing 25,000 likes, but it’s only a matter of time when your negotiating ploy is to have as many people as humanly possible get a good look at your mug.

Heart of the matter- One minute Brennan Connell was pitching for his Olathe West High School team, and the next he was having a heart attack. And while the thought of a 16 year old having a heart attack is impossible to wrap your head around, more than 7,000 children experience cardiac arrest every year. The fact that he’s alive to tell his story is entirely the result of some quick thinking fans who performed CPR and grabbed an AED to keep his heart beating. Now THAT is a box score worth chattering about.

A wonderful day in the neighborhood- Governor Tom Wolf declared yesterday “143 Day” in Pennsylvania. He picked the 143rd day of the year to celebrate the late Fred Rogers, who would often use the code number 143 to say I love you to viewers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. It will heretofore become a day for spreading kindness. Fat chance it goes national, but ya gotta start somewhere.

Future Headline Number 2- “Baltimore Orioles pitching staff to receive FEMA assistance”

What a drag(on)!- And now Game of Thrones fans know how it feels when the story you love gets rushed to the finish line. Because now we have the 2019 model for Godfather III. So Imma dish up some advice to GOT fans. If you re-watch the series, keep it to six seasons. Seven and eight are dead to you now. There aren’t gonna be any re-writes so quit your crying and move on. And . . you’re welcome.

The winds of war on a loop- The Pentagon is at it again. They pushed a plan yesterday that would send 10,000 more troops to the Middle East. They insist they’re not trying to provoke Iran. I guess they’re just looking to keep ’em company.

Future Headline Number 3- “Denny’s introduces new dessert, ‘Impeachment Pie'”

A hole lot of tax payer money- Donald Trump came up with another way to ‘borrow’ our hard earned green, thanks to his 175 golf outings to the tune of $100 million Palmers, and counting. The kicker is that all but one of these trips were to a Trump owned golf course. The double dipper in chief sure knows how to . . . wait for it . . drive us up a wall.

Ticket to ride- Rajai Davis’s career reads of a baseball nomad, with eight major league stops over a thirteen year career. The thirty eight year old spent Wednesday night living his ninth life as a brand new member of the New York Mets, thanks to an Uber driver named Jason. Davis got a call on Wednesday evening informing him he’d been signed by the Mets. So he hopped an Uber from Allentown Pa and was delivered to Citi Field in Queens, New York three hours later. Davis put a W.P. Kinsella blue ribbon on his journey by smashing a three run homer in a Mets win a couple hours later. Welcome back, kid.

First Draft Horosopes

Today’s Birthday! 

You are exceptionally witty and playful, on account of the Zanax whose street corner prescription means that it’s three right turns and a couple hundred miles south of the calming effect it should be having on you. Psychotropic medications in a brown paper bag are so much more fun, until they ain’t.

The youthful quality to your personality means you’re first in line for climbing mountains and skydiving. Stealing ear buds from the electronics department at Target is simply bonus round. You are highly creative on a mental level. Or is it, you are highly mental on a creative level? Yeah . . the latter, definitely the latter.

You tend to be short on patience, and you also tend to feel that others don’t move nearly as quickly as you do, which . . . tends to mean you have few friends. Since you also tend to express your thoughts on the matter, like, all the time. Maybe you should pop another Zanax and worry about the ramifications after you’ve been fitted with a padded suit.

 

 

I Got 99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One

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Going to the new Yankee Stadium is an exercise in the megalomaniacal excesses of old money crashing head long into new money and making babies; entitled little creatures whose trust funded silver spoon was upgraded to platinum in the reboot. For a culture stuck in a perpetual hunger for all things next gen, this joint plays a peach melody.

I’m plenty fine with the new digs, really. It’s just that, as a Yankee fan of a certain age . . I adhere to the bargain basement sensibility that asks, “If it’s swimming just fine, why the harpoon?”. Of course, just like Jeopardy whiz James Holzhauer, I know the answer before the question is set into its stone foundation. Yankee Stadium Part 3 is a masterstroke of inevitability run amok. Where sports stadiums have become premium tier caviar cribs, loosing a greed-think philosophy which has turned a day at the ballgame into a Disney vacation replete with fine restaurants and overpriced everything else. Seats have become investments, patrons have become guests and season tickets have turned into catching a couple games a year, maybe.

I miss the Yankee Stadium that was replaced by this one. The history of that place alone should have placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. The names that played its stage define an epoch of sporting accomplishment. From Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio to Mantle, Jackson and Jeter. Not to mention the rivals who graced the coliseum of a golden age: Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige and Hank Aaron. And that’s just the first chapter.

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And oh yeah . . Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi coached there. Joe Louis and Max Schmeling fought there. The 1958 Title Game (“The Greatest Game Ever Played”) between the Colts and Giants was played there. And Pope Paul VI and later Pope John Paul II celebrated mass there. And that’s just chapter two.

As we’ve seen, Cathedrals do fall and time is an impatient beast when it comes to change. Hell, the game has been transformed into a stat geek’s paradise; what with infield shifts that resemble pileups on the BQE and players who don’t know what a bunt looks like, and feast or famine box scores. But through it all, the game is really still as simple as a pitcher telling a little white pill what to do while a batter tries to talk it into doing something else.

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So it was that I took my son and his young bride to see the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon, in a battle for first place in the American League East. A match-up of team aces, with the Yankees sending out Masahiro Tanaka and the Rays answering with 2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell. Thing about aces, there are expectations. The crowd expects A plus cooking, so when he starts scribbling B work, the chatter can get colorful. I happen to think there’s a beauty to watching a pitcher negotiate outs from the third rail. And these two pitchers ransomed zeroes from their respective arsenals, as if devils at the wheel. Tanaka’s four seamer was flat lining and his slider called in sick and yet, he was able to muster six scoreless innings before getting hit on the shin and becoming the latest Yankee to hit the injured list, which reads like a Hemingway tally.

His counterpart, Blake Snell, has stuff that’s more wicked than a trigger happy ridge runner. And while his curve ball wasn’t fooling anyone, his Hi-Lo game kept the home team at bay; with a fastball that salted the rim and a change up that tossed them into the drink time after hopeless time.

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One of my favorite things about the game is the down time, with which a writer chisels out Longfellow, Hopper and even a little Seinfeld. I talked with my son about that magical ride of a ’96 Yankees club. And then I studied the iconic facade that wraps itself around the holler of blue seats whilst pitching a Seinfeld skit inspired by the Goombah with the Giambi t-shirt a couple rows south of us that had the kids cracking up. We figured out the Yankees Rushmore somewhere in between.

As is my baseball ritual, I honed in on the infinite ripples of a game. Like how Tanaka stops on a dime at the quarter pole of his delivery. And how Luke Voit plays first base like the most earnest of rugby players. And how Kevin Kermaier of the Rays became my Grand Master of a most favorite baseball funk, with his insane between pitch stretches and his bantering to teammates and that Tarantino howitzer of an arm.

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As is the new age custom, the bullpen took the keys a little more than halfway through and outside of a few hiccups, they made it into extra innings after a Gio Urshela drive to deep right died two feet short of a walk off home run celebration for the Bombers. In Kermaier’s mitt, because of course. And then Austin Meadows of the Rays tore a moon beam into those same right field seats two innings later to give the visitors the lead for good.

The 2-1 win gave the Rays temporary possession of first place. And from the looks of it, these guys are intent on being a thorn in the sides of baseball royalty this season. Talent is the greatest equalizer, and when you have the chops to do something about it, you always got next.

Because some things never go out of style.

First Draft Horoscopes

Today’s Birthday! 

Just because you are right doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong . . . okay, of course it does. It’s not you, it really is them . . all of them. And don’t let the voices in your head tell you differently. When you are proven correct today, try and resist the urge to gloat or boast. But failing that, make sure you take to social media and really let them have it, the clueless asshats. The most effective way to alienate people and harm your reputation is through arrogance, so remember to really pour it on. I mean, who needs people? Especially this week . . since you haven’t seen Game of Thrones yet and it’s a certainty someone is gonna fuck it up for you. It’s okay to feel proud of yourself, and while you really shouldn’t do so at the expense of others, there are exceptions. Like, sleeping with the spouse of your arch-nemesis. Talk about a dark spirit win! You could be humble, but that comes about as naturally to you as poetry and commitment.

Heroes Of The Week

You say Twitter, I say Twatter- This garden variety weed of social media is Darwin’s gift to the technological world. And this week’s “Dumb Shit People Say On Twitter” award goes to . . .

Those imbeciles who trashed Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s beau, referring to him as a ‘bin raccoon’. One of the Twitterati exclaimed in mock horror, “THIS is what AOC’s boyfriend looks like?” . . . After which, I have to think their kindergarten teacher took away their phones.

Riley Roberts and AOC keep things pretty quiet and chill for a reason, this one. But the web developer loves his girl, is fiercely supportive of her and is loved by her mama. So apologies to all those twits who trashed his look for my blatantly mean response but . . .

Who gives a blessed fuck what you think?

And now for a Frank Angle on a few of the week’s heroes. Cincy, from AFrankAngle hit me with a double mint of good stuff this past week. Here then, his twin bill . . .

Back to the Future- Nineteen years ago, DerMarr Johnson’s future was so bright he was investing in Ray Bans and sunscreen. His was the mad game skill set that perched itself inside the NCAA’s “One and Done” system whereby high school stars use college as a revolving door in order to hone their games and get some much needed national recognition. A spring board for the starry studs, with the emphasis on court work over school work.

Johnson attended the University of Cincinnati for his requisite cup of coffee, leading the Bearcats to a 29-3 record before being upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Tulsa. It was a blip for the kid whose game was going places, as proven by his being selected sixth overall in the NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. It was all right there for Johnson; NBA stardom and generational money that would keep him in Ray Bans forever.

And then his first two seasons didn’t produce the takeoff many scouts had predicted. And then he was involved in a car accident that almost left him paralyzed, and then forever started getting lost. Johnson did play again, but most of his service time was spent on the fringes- some spot duty on various NBA teams followed by playing overseas and in developmental leagues.

Johnson never found his star, but this past week all that adversity felt a million light years away when the thirty eight year old earned a degree from UC. He wants to coach, and in order to do so, he needed a degree. So he went back to the classroom, for real. And now he’s got a bead on taking the court once again. Different seat, but it still counts for lots.

“Life is short. My life was almost taken my second year in the NBA. You don’t take anything for granted. You take advantage of all your opportunities,’’

I take back what I said about Johnson not finding his star. He’s simply chasing a different one now.

Running Down A Dream- Shaquem Griffin was born with amniotic band syndrome. The condition occurs when amniotic bands constrict the flow of blood to digits, arms and legs and impair their development. Griffin’s left hand was compromised during childbirth, leaving him in excruciating pain as a toddler. His parents made the heart wrenching decision to amputate his left hand after finding him in the kitchen attempting to cut it off himself.

It never stopped Griffin from visiting all those places in his childhood dreams. He starred in track, baseball and football in high school. He played alongside his brother Shaquill at the University of Central Florida. Among his many achievements, Griffin was named the defensive player of the year for his league in 2016; and in 2018 he scored MVP honors at the Peach Bowl, capping an undefeated season for UCF. In April of 2018, he was selected in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks, where he would play alongside his brother once again.

Griffin never forgot where his dreams came from, and so when he heard the story of ten year old Izzy Turkington, he sprang to action. Turkington was born with quad congenital limb differences. He was fitted with prosthetic devices for his legs as an infant. In conjunction with the Challenged Athlete Foundation, Griffin fitted Izzy- who plays several sports himself- with prosthetic runners.

Because Griffin understands as well as anyone that disabilities are not roadblocks to success, they’re simply the challenges you overcome to get there.

The Days of Whine and Poses- The NBA has become a league of girly men. Players are knighted by shoe contracts rather than their achievements on the court. Ya got Kyrie Irving wanting to be Batman when he’s a Robin. The Rockets ‘auditing’ referees calls and deciding they should have won last year’s playoff series against Golden State, which is shamefully weak. There’s Joel Embiid, who has more maladies than a hypochondriac proof reader for WebMD.

It’s quite obvious Michael Jordan has nothing to worry about.

As for the final entry for this weeks Heroes post, it goes to a place I’ve visited too many damned times.

Eighteen year old Kendrick Castillo was all set to graduate from STEM School Highlands Ranch next week. His interests included Computer Information Technology and he wanted to study electrical engineering in college. He was looking forward to this weekend, when he would compete in a “Rods and Robots” event at the school.

Kendrick had done such a great job interning at a manufacturing company that they gave him a part time gig. Post-graduation, he had several internships lined up, because companies wanted in on his smarts. With each passing day, his tomorrows were becoming more limitless.

And then someone walked into Castillo’s classroom with a gun on Tuesday and then the kid lunged at the shooter, saving his classmates by taking a bullet. And then all those tomorrows became the latest theft in a long and hopeless wound of school shootings.

Just like that, gone was the idea of everything. Replaced with stories that will never be told, memories that will never be made, and a life that comes to an end just as it was busy getting started.

His father is left to wish that his son would have run and hid, but he admits that wasn’t his way. Kendrick wasn’t the type to back down, he wasn’t afraid of the world he had grown up inside of. A world where kids go to school and never come home. A world where days like Tuesday have achieved a sick normalcy.

A world gone mad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Birthday!

You are a methodical creature who likes to see all aspects of an issue before deciding which side to join. (Who you kidding? You seriously considered voting for Trump in 2016. Which is akin to choosing an ophthalmologist who specializes in acupuncture. So really, you’re methodically inept. How’s that fit ya?) But just because you are slow by nature does not mean that you are unresponsive. (But it doesn’t NOT mean it either. Hell, you married a woman who confessed to you that she was the lone suspect in the questionable deaths of three former husbands. She made this confession on your first date! After which you figured it would be kitschy if you eloped to Vegas. Your red flag collection is nearing its expiration date . . .) And today, someone will offer you a chance to prove that fact when they come to you for help. (She’s gonna ask you to sign another life insurance policy. And then she’s going to suggest rock climbing. And sometime later, you’ll be the subject of a Lifetime movie. But seeing as how you’ve been played by your wife, the gardener AND your best man Jake . . being played by Chris Pine in a movie ain’t the worst thing.) Faster than anyone else, you will have the answer to a problem that has been puzzling your group for a while. (You’re gonna confess to your closest pals the affair you’ve been having with your secretary. And about how you’re gonna leave your wife for her. They’ll confess their doubts about the wife and you’ll be relieved. Of course, you’re playing checkers while the wife plays chess. Because guess what? She’s sleeping with your secretary as well.) This is a day when you will make a minor but indelible mark on the world. (Because you’re devastated when your secretary breaks it off, so you decide to rededicate yourself to your marriage. You’ll go on that rock climbing expedition. After which Chris Pine will lose out on the starring role to Ryan Reynolds.)