Archive for Baseball

American Pride , Revenge and Baseball!!

Posted in Baseball, ESPN, History, MLB, New York City, New York Yankees, NY Times, NYC, Politics, YouTube Classics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2011 by mattyfresh697400

Long Live The World Trade

Where were you at 10:30pm on Sunday May 1, 2011??

I suspect that as time marches on most people will remember where they were when they heard the incredible news that the worlds most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden was dead!

Have Fun In Hell

Now without question you can ask anyone and I mean literally anyone where they were the morning of Tuesday September 11th 2001 and each person knows exactly where they were and what they were doing, and if you are talking to New Yorkers as I so often have, every person has a unique and fascinating story about that morning and the hours that followed. I myself was living on Christopher Street, barely a mile away from the World Trade Center. I unfortunately had a front row seat to the devastation as I watched both Towers fall with my very own eyes from the roof of my building. I along with 15 very scared neighbors watched for hours as the black smoke billowed against the crystal blue sky and eventually  the black smoke got thicker and thicker and then the towers fell.


One of my first thoughts that morning as I made my way up to the roof was ” I wonder if the Yankee game will be cancelled tonight” of course I had zero indication this was a terrorist attack and no sense whatsoever at the magnitude of what I was witnessing, but something told me it was serious but really I was clueless , as we all were at first.

Well not only was the Yankee game not going to be played that night but in truth the entire world stopped that day and we were changed as a country forever!!

The days and weeks that followed were incredibly challenging for all Americans but for New Yorkers it was a whole other level. Within hours of the towers falling pictures of missing loved ones covered light posts and street signs, make shift memorials were everywhere, candle light vigils were a common occurrence for weeks. I recall the incredible somber mood during the Jewish High Holidays where at my synagogue there was not a dry eye in the house.

But America and our citizens are defined by their courage and resilience in the face of unfathomable challenges, and in the days that followed the attacks there was a patriotic unity that I had certainly never seen or felt in my lifetime and nothing the country had experienced since perhaps when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.


So of course on the night of September 11th there was no Yankee game and in fact there were no Major League  Baseball games whatsoever for 8 days. What did Baseball really mean at a time of such unparalleled tragedy?

But 8 days later baseball did return and the national anthem that is played at the start of every game took on a new and profound meaning.  On September 25th Baseball finally returned to New York and the Police Officers that patrol the stadium were finally being treated as the heroes they were, American flags were visible everywhere at the Stadium.

God Bless America

And as the month of September marched on and the baseball season slowly crept towards the post season, The defending World Series Champion New York Yankees were giving their fans and more importantly their wounded city, something to cheer about. If only for a few hours every night, the Yankees gave hope and distraction to 8 million grieving neighbors. And as the Yankees always do, they just kept winning and winning and before anyone knew it, it was mid October and the Yankees were on their way to the World Series, playing not just for their fans but for all New Yorkers (yes even you Met fans out there)

Now New York and the Yankees in particular often take plenty of flack from every other city out there (most likely because we are bigger and better) but that is a whole other post entirely. But for 10 days at the end of October and the start of November, the Yankees were truly Americas team!

The first two games of the 2001 World Series were in Arizona, (Arizona won both) so Game three was the first in New York and once again the eyes of the entire world were on New York. I have an uncanny ability to remember baseball games but the real historic highlight of this game came before the first batter even stepped in the box.  On this night, The President of the United States would be throwing out the first pitch, this moment encapsulated all the things that make this country what it is in one symbolic moment; Strength, Pride, Resilience and Hope. George W. Bush might have a had a very tumultuous presidency but in October of 2001 , he was our leader and the entire country was unified in our support of him, nowhere was that more evident than in Yankee Stadium on that legendary evening.


As the President marched out to the mound , chest out, shoulders back, head held high ,  55,000 screaming fans began to chant “USA, USA, USA” !!! I have never and will never see or feel anything like that again, but through our National Pastime, Baseball… it was clear that America can never be held down!

The next three nights the Yankee magic continued, Derek Jeter became Mr. November and Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez achieved the impossible (2 run HRs with two outs down by 2 on back to back nights) Now the Yankees might not have won the 2001 World Series but they did captivate a nation and helped lift up a city that desperately needed some Yankee Magic and the boys certainly delivered.


Fast Forward almost 10 years to this past Sunday night, when I saw the breaking news alert on CNN I could not believe my eyes! We actually got him! President Barack Obama authorized what seems to be one of the riskiest covert missions in our countries history and Osama Bin Laden was finally dead, pierced by the bullet of a brave American soldier. Just as it should be . America Never forgets!!

Monday morning I ran out to buy the paper because I wanted to save what in many ways is the bookend to the greatest tragedy in American History. The evil face of Osama Bin Laden covered the front page with the bold text reading : “WE GOT HIM”

I turned the paper over and was surprised that there was not another image of Bin Laden where the sports section would normally be, but instead of Osama there was an image from the Mets vs. Phillies game from Sunday night. As it turns out the Mets and Phillies were tied at 1-1 and the game went into extra innings and late into Sunday night and as thes rest of the country was glued to their TV sets trying to digest the incredible news, the fans at the Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philly were getting text message and facebook updates from friends and family. And then just like in 2001 the entire stadium erupted in chants of “USA, USA, USA”

Once again Baseball somehow has weaved itself into the fabric of American History!!

Justice

and on this night there were no Philly Fans and there were no Mets Fans…There were just Americans.

Justice is Served!!!

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AROD # 600 and The Hall Of Fame Debate.

Posted in Baseball, ESPN, History, MLB, New York City, New York Yankees, NYC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2010 by mattyfresh697400

AROD # 600!!

I have a new love in my life and her name is TWITTER.  Fine ,  I might very well be a little late to the tweet party , but that is all good! At some point this summer I figured out the amazing beauty of twitter and I dove in headfirst. But rather than detail the workings of the super-social network that is twitter, I would prefer to talk about Baseball , and the milestone that occurred when Alex Rodriquez of my beloved New York Yankees finally clubbed career home run # 600.

In typical Arod fashion he hit # 600 during a day game (of which I could not attend) , He hit it in the first inning when there were zero dramatic implications (although the 2 run shot did turn out to be all the Yankees needed for the W) and in very typical Arod fashion, it took him a while to hit it. He might be one of the greatest to ever play the game but  the dude is just not great with milestones.

The Real HR King

But as sure as the sun rises each day Arod was going to blast # 600 and he did! And just as soon as the ball landed in monument park , the great sports debate of our time jumped right back to the front page of every paper, the top of every blog and of course to the greatest sounding board of all…TWITTER.

Baseball is all about history and stats, plain and simple. The game is defined by its history and the numbers that make up that history. Any real baseball fan is at heart a statistics person, perhaps not in the sense that you like to sit around and bang out ill computations like Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” , but you know the single season HR record , you know that Rickey Henderson is the all time stolen base king and you know the mother of all statistics….you know who the all time Baseball Home Run King is….or do you?

# 600 for Arod has quickly resurrected the Steroid era debate or what is now cutely known as the PED debate (Performance Enhancing Drugs). Do those admitted and or accused ROID users belong in the Hall Of Fame, Do the Home Runs actually count, should all the numbers be tossed?

Alex Rodriquez is only the 7th player in Baseball history to knock 600 career bombs, the club he joins is beyond exclusive and some members beyond reproach. The Babe , Hank Aaron , Willie Mays and even Ken Griffey JR. are all safely and cleanly in the record books..no asterisk required, they are all in the Hall of Fame (with the exception of Jr. , and he is a first ballot shoe in with out question. Its the other two members who make things interesting.

Always a KING!!!!

Sammy Sosa, who along with Mark McGwire captivated the nation in 1998 with the great single season home run chase as they both smashed the record of Roger Maris (61 dingers) Sosa has 610 career home runs and before the PED debate would have been a no brainer for the HOF. In fact pre -2003 when the house of cards started to unfold, the rule of thumb was, if you hit 500 career home runs you basically get into the Hall Of Fame automatically.

Thats about right!

Well when it became terribly obvious that Barry Bonds was a freak of nature whose cap size grew like 10 sizes in two seasons and at the age of 38 started banging out 50 plus homers a year and then in 2002 broke the already obscene single season record of 70 held by McGwire , the jig was up. Major League Baseball could no longer look the other way and before you knew it  a slew of incredible home run hitters and perhaps the games greatest pitcher were lying before congress and labeled , well , cheaters.

Back to yesterday , again Arod goes yard and Twitter is burning up.  “Does Arod belong in the HOF?”  “Bonds and Clemens will never get in” “Sosa and McGwire stand no shot ever” “Rafael Palmeiro is a doucher” (Agreed..what up coop)

The Future King?

So just being at Cooperstown two weeks ago , and  having a pretty solid handle on what it means to be in Cooperstown from a fans perspective.. I chimed in on twitter…. “If The Hall is willing to recognize Bonds  statistically as the all time HR King and displays his record breaking home run ball as well, why should he not get his plaque too” ( I want to note that I despise Barry Bonds , but he was going to the Hall prior to his cheating so… go fish)

Well this turned out to be a great question ,  because before I knew what was happening I was being retweeted by espn bloggers and well-known sports columnists and I am thinking , damn this twitter thing is pretty freakin cool.

And for the next few hours, the debate raged and I came to a few conclusions.

1. There is a consensus that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are dirt bags and are never getting into the Hall of Fame.

2. The Jury is still out on Arod as far as the public is concerned although my money is on him getting into the Hall because time is on his side.

3. and finally….That twitter might be the single greatest blow to worker productivity modern man has ever seen.

Congrats AROD…looking forward to # 700 and eventually # 763 and looking forward to continuing the great STEROID debate….on TWITTER of course!

27 Days till Yankee Baseball – The Reggie Bar!!

Posted in Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees with tags , , , on March 8, 2010 by mattyfresh697400

You can tell it’s coming, the temperature is slowly moving up. The snow is clearing and the hot stove discussions are heating up as Spring training is in full swing. I do my best not to pay attention to pre-season baseball results,  April 4 is where the real action begins. Yankee vs Sox in Boston on a Sunday night….great way to start the year.

I love hearing the stories of opening day 1978 at Yankee Stadium. What could Reggie do to follow-up his  Babe Ruth like effort in Game 6 of the 77 series (3 home runs on 3 swings) where he became Mr. October, well on opening day in 1978, Reggie did what he does best…He went long!!

The Yankees’ home opener of the 1978 season, on April 13 against the Chicago White Sox, featured a new product, the “Reggie!” bar.

In 1976, while playing in Baltimore, Jackson had said, “If I played in New York, they’d name a candy bar after me.”  The Reggie! bars were handed to fans as they walked into Yankee Stadium on that 1978 Opening Day. Jackson hit a home run, and when he returned to right field the next inning, fans began throwing the Reggie bars on the field in celebration. The Yankees won the game, 4-2.

Reggie , Reggie, Reggie!!!!!

Oh Captain My Captain!

Posted in Baseball, MLB, New York City, New York Yankees with tags , , , on February 24, 2010 by mattyfresh697400

The Captain

The Captain Speaks.

Derek Jeter will go down as perhaps the greatest Yankee of all time, if not the greatest then certainly in the top 5. When you are talking about names like Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle , DiMaggio and Berra, that is really no joke.

When it is all said and done Jeter will be remembered for all the championships, the acrobatic throws to first, Mr. November,  the flip play and of course flinging his body into the crowd to catch an impossible foul ball in an early July game against Boston.

But what Jeter should be remembered for is for literally being the COOLEST character to ever put on the pinstripes. Derek Jeter has lived under a constant microscope of fame since he first stepped into the house that Ruth built in 1995. New York City is the media capitol of the world, and as much as we like to shower our heroes with praise, we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop and knock our stars down a few notches. With Derek Jeter that is impossible and today , his incredible character and savvy were on full display.

In the last year of his 10 year deal with the Yankees, Jeter had the good sense to realize that the media will be asking him daily about his impending free agency and the Yankee policy of not negotiating with players until the end of the season.  So what does the captain of cool do? He holds a press conference to basically say that today and only today will he discuss his contract with the media. Jeter is a winner and he wants to win probably more than anyone in pro sports , he also knows that as the leader of the this franchise he can not allow himself to become the story and a distraction for the team. So he nips it in the bud and says all the right things.  Pay attention Tiger! You have nothing on Derek Jeter!!!!

I think this quote from todays press conference says it all.

“This is the only organization I’ve ever wanted to play for,” Jeter said. “That’s still true today. I was a Yankees fan growing up, and this is where I want to be. I’ve never envisioned myself playing anywhere else, and hopefully I don’t have to.”

I am not sure too many pro athletes could pull this off and have the media obey their wishes, but Derek Jeter has that type of respect. He has certainly earned it.

Check out the press conference.

41 Days till Baseball – The Babe

Posted in Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees with tags , , on February 22, 2010 by mattyfresh697400

Spring Training in Tampa is almost in full swing and of course the core of the 2010 Yankee squad has hit the ground running. Forget all the contract nonsense with Jeter and Mariano, if all goes well both men will retire in pinstripes and hopefully not too soon.  So before we look forward lets look back at another Yankee legend, the second player in our RETIRED NUMBER SERIES, a man who needs no introduction , a man who truly was bigger than the game and perhaps one of the most famous athletes of all time…THE BABE.

The Babe

George Herman Ruth, Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948), best known as “Babe” Ruth and nicknamed “the Great Bambino“, “the Sultan of Swat“, “the King of Crash“, and “the Colossus of Clouts“, was an American Major League baseball player from 19141935. Ruth originally broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher, but after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919, he converted to a full-time right fielder and subsequently became one of the league’s most prolific hitters. Ruth was a mainstay in the Yankees’ lineup that won seven pennants and four World Series titles during his tenure with the team. After a short stint with the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth retired. In 1936, Ruth became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ruth has since become regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture.[1] He has been named the greatest baseball player in history in various surveys and rankings, and his home run hitting prowess and charismatic personality made him a larger than life figure in the “Roaring Twenties“. Off the field he was famous for his charity, but also was noted for his often reckless lifestyle. Ruth is credited with changing baseball itself. The popularity of the game exploded in the 1920s, largely due to his influence. Ruth ushered in the “live-ball era,” as his big swing led to escalating home run totals that not only excited fans, but helped baseball evolve from a low-scoring, speed-dominated game to a high-scoring power game.

Ruth was the first player to hit 60 home runs in one season (1927), setting the season record which stood until broken by Roger Maris in 1961. Ruth’s lifetime total of 714 home runs at his retirement in 1935 was a record, until first surpassed by Hank Aaron in 1974. Unlike many power hitters, Ruth also hit for average: his .342 lifetime batting is tenth highest in baseball history, and in one season (1923) he hit .393, a Yankee record. His .690 career slugging percentage and 1.164 career on-base plus slugging (OPS) remain the major league records.[3] Ruth dominated in the era in which he played. He led the league in home runs during a season twelve times, slugging percentage and OPS thirteen times each, runs scored eight times, and runs batted in (RBIs) six times. Each of those totals represents a modern record (as well as the all-time record, except for RBIs). (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The First true legendary Yankee and the backbone of Murderer’s Row, The Babe is credited with truly setting the tone for what would become the greatest sports franchise in the World.  Before there was Jordan or Tiger (well forget Tiger)… before there were any star athletes that transcended sports, there was Babe Ruth. True Yankee for real!

54 Days till Baseball

Posted in Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees with tags , on February 9, 2010 by mattyfresh697400

With the impending snowstorm about to crush NYC, it helps to think that in just 54 short days the YANKS will be back in action. Most likely beating up on the Red Sox and hopefully the entire AL east. The Yankees actually start the season on Sunday night April 4th in the not so friendly confines of Fenway Park.

After winning Championship # 27, I have been thinking a lot about the all the history, all the titles and all the players that make the Yankees what they are today, The GREATEST SPORTS FRANCHISE on the planet. To have your number retired by this organization is the highest honor. As I count down the days to the season I want to highlight this very special elite group of Yankees.

Lets start with a guy, I had the privilege to see play, even though I was only 4 years old at the time. THURMAN MUNSON

Thurman Lee Munson (June 7, 1947 – August 2, 1979) was a Major League Baseball catcher who spent his entire career with the New York Yankees (1969 – 1979). A perennial All-Star, Munson was killed at age 32 while trying to land his personal jet. He is the only Yankee ever to win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards.

Legacy

YankeesRetired15.svg
Thurman Munson’s number 15 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1979

The day after his death, before the start of the Yankees’ four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx, the team paid tribute to their deceased captain in a pre-game ceremony in which the starters stood at their defensive positions, save for the catcher’s box, which remained empty. Following a prayer by Terence Cardinal Cooke, a moment of silence and “America The Beautiful” by Robert Merrill, the fans (announced attendance 51,151) burst into an eight minute standing ovation. Jerry Narron, the man who would replace Munson behind the plate, remained in the dugout and did not enter the field until stadium announcer Bob Sheppard said, “And now it is time to play ball. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for your co-operation.”

On August 6, the entire Yankee team attended Munson’s funeral in Canton, Ohio. Teammates Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, who were Munson’s best friends, gave eulogies. That night (before a national viewing audience on ABC‘s Monday Night Baseball) the Yankees beat the Orioles 5-4 in New York, with Murcer driving in all five runs with a three-run home run in the seventh inning and a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth.[15]

Yankee owner George Steinbrenner retired Munson’s number 15 immediately upon his catcher’s death. On September 20, 1980, a plaque dedicated to Munson’s memory was placed in Monument Park. The plaque bears excerpts from an inscription composed by Steinbrenner and flashed on the stadium scoreboard the day after his death:

Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next … Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.

The Yankees Go Global

Posted in Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees with tags , on February 4, 2010 by mattyfresh697400

All Over The World!

Brian Cashman and Yankee team president Randy Levine continued their tour of Asia where they have been greeted like the World Champions they are.  Today they are in Beijing spreading the Yankee gospel and showing off that 2009 World Series Trophy. (Man that thing looks GREAT!!!)