Tag Archives: New York Yankees

An awesome day seeing Yankee Stadium from a “different” perspective. Yet one more reason Canadians are awesome. And 2 very cool NFL Draft moments

Never in my life have I put in so much planning to go to a baseball game, but I did for Sunday’s Yankees-Orioles tilt at Yankee Stadium.

My father-in-law is fantastic in many ways, not least of which he helped give the world an awesome daughter who sleeps in bed next to me every night. His loves are straightforward: action movies where stuff blows up and people chase each other; red meat and bacon; his family, the New York Giants, and most of all, the New York Yankees. Loves, loves, loves him some pinstripes baseball.

So for his 70th birthday this year, the wife and I decided to splurge way beyond what we’d normally do: We decided to rent a one-game luxury suite at Yankee Stadium, and if I didn’t already only have one kidney I might have had to sell the other one to pay for it (kidding. About selling the kidney, not about having just one. Click the link above for a crazy story from my life.)

We invited 20 relatives and friends of my in-laws to the game, spent weeks and weeks working out the details just right with the Yankees suite people, and despite it being a so-so weather day here in NYC, it was pretty amazing.

Our suite was right on the first-base-line, and the food and drink were as plentiful as advertised. They gave us Yankees caps, some other swag to take home, and we got to see a pretty great game (Yankees were down 4-2 in the ninth, rallied to tie it up, then lost in 11 innings) as well.

They put “Happy Birthday Steve Honig” on the scoreboard which was fabulous, and the Stadium staff couldn’t have been more gracious (kind of insane how many ushers/attendants/suite personnel work just one game; have to think Yanks are just a tad overstaffed, since many, many of the employees seemed to just be standing around doing nothing.)

The big surprise was in the third inning a Yankees employee walks into the suite with a large, mustachioed man and announces excitedly, “Goose Gossage is here!”

The Goose (above) is a Yankees legend from the 1970s and ’80s, a fireballing relief pitcher who helped the Yanks win the World Series in 1978. Lately he’s been famous for being a cranky old-guy blowhard bitching about today’s pitchers having it easy and Latin players celebrating too much, but Sunday he was delightful. Spent 10 minutes with us, helped sing “Happy Birthday” and was in great spirits.

Sunday was, technically, my little guy’s first sporting event, and he loved it. I really don’t want to take him to games until he’s a little older (he’s 2 1/2) and we can both enjoy it, but the fact that he was able to run around the suite and not have to sit in a seat for three hours made us feel like it’d be OK to have him there. Plus, he and my father-in-law are BFF. (Poor kid’s gonna think every Yankees game is gonna be like this. “What, Daddy, we have to wait on LINE to pee?”)

Anyway, the day was great, and the best moment for me happened after the game, when a close friend of my in-laws said “Steve, this is the first time I’ve ever seen you smiling when the Yankees have lost.”

It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of memory for my wife’s Dad, at least I hope it was. He was as happy as we have seen him, and that’s by far worth more than all the planning and $$$ that went into it.

Next up, I love Canadians for so many reasons, including doing stuff like this. The Edmonton Oilers are good again, which is great because their crowds are so fantastic and loud. Before Game 3 of their Stanley Cup playoffs series against Anaheim Sunday, the singer who was to perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” appeared to have some mic trouble, so he turned to the crowd for help.

And dammit if a bunch of citizens of the Great White North didn’t belt out a great U.S.A. anthem. You think there’s any way 18,000 American fans in, say, Tampa Bay, could do that for the Canadian anthem? I doubt it.

Anyway, this was great. Go, Canada.

**Finally today, the NFL Draft is one of those way-overhyped events that gets so hyped these days because the NFL is a behemoth and everything it does gets overhyped.

I rarely pay much attention to it except to see how my Jets will screw it up (they got a great player in the first round, a safety named Jamal Adams, then drafted a guy who plays the same position in the second round. Because, you know, the Jets are perfect at every other position but safety), but these two videos caught my eye over the weekend and I thought they were great.

First, above, the Arizona Cardinals allowed the family of a slain Phoenix police officer,  David Glasser, to help make a draft pick. David Johnson of the Cards was Glasser’s favorite player, so he and Glasser’s widow and son made the pick. Very cool.

And then this, which was hilarious: The draft was held in Philadelphia this year, and of course Eagles fans hate the Dallas Cowboys, so when Cowboys legend Drew Pearson got up to make his team’s second-round pick, he was vociferously booed. Which Pearson enjoyed, then decided to ramp up the booing even more with this fantastic speech. I hate the Cowboys too, but I LOVED this, especially when he thanks the Eagles fans “for allowing me to have a career in the NFL.”

A few thoughts on the late Betty Ford. Jeter’s 3,000th sucks me back in. And “instant music gratification” may be a bad thing



Spent a little time Sunday reading about the remarkable life of Betty Ford, who died Friday.

I think you can make the argument that she led the most important and meaningful life of a First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt, which is sorta funny considering Betty Ford’s husband was President for such a short time.
But think about what this woman lived through: cancer, addiction to pills, rehab and then founding an incredibly important and breakthrough rehab center, Watergate, and many other setbacks.
Betty Ford was a remarkably brave woman. She was a pioneer in helping women confront the fear of cancer; she overcame her addictions in a very public way, and to the end she was a graceful example of how to live in public life.
She was also very pointedly political when she was in the spotlight in the 1970s, as a strong supporter of abortion legalization, and the ERA.
She deserves to be remembered as one of the most important women of the 20th century.

**I’ve said on here many times that I’m not much of a baseball fan anymore. But every once in a while, I get pulled back in. The last week, being back in New York and being subjugated to non-stop “Derek Jeter 3,000th hit” talk sparked my interest again.
Then Saturday, while at my Grandma’s 93rd birthday party, my uncle’s phone suddenly beeped and he shouted “Jeter did it!” So we huddled around his iPhone a few minutes later and watched the clip of the Yankee shortstop who helped make the late 1990s so awesome for us Yankee fans achieve a wonderful career milestone with a home run.
I admit it, I got excited watching that above clip. In this swampland of fallen baseball heroes the past 15 years, Jeter has always stood above the rest as a classy, honest guy who did his job extremely well every day.

**You ever have a conversation about something with a friend, and then the next day read an article about the exact phenomenon you were just discussing? Happened to me Sunday. A day after my friend Andrew and I lamented that his son will never know what it’s like to not have information immediately at his fingertips, I read this really nice piece by the gifted writer Te-Nehisi Coates, who I got turned on to through Andrew Sullivan’s blog. He talks about how all the mystery is gone now when it comes to music; you used to spend hours wondering what was the name of that song you just heard, and then having that “aha!” moment when you found out.
Now, we’re all about instant music gratification. And it’s somehow not as fun.
You know how many hours as a kid I spent trying to remember names of songs? Then again, think about all the other ways my brain could’ve been working then. I know my 6th grade math teacher, Mrs. Mealy, would’ve appreciated me spending more brain matter on algebra.

Fired by Google Alert, and hired from a crazy question: 2 employment stories

Economy Jobless

***Big, exciting news here on the blog before I begin today: I seem to have finally figured out a way to let readers subscribe to the blog, through the fancy-pants little RSS feed icon, down on the right side of the screen (under the search bar).

I’m not 100 percent sure how it works, but I think it’s like other RSS feeds, in that you can get each post emailed to you when I post it here.

OK, maybe it’s not that exciting for you; I have no idea of the excitement level of your day so far. Maybe you found 20 bucks in your pants pocket, or somebody smiled at you at work. But dammit, it’s exciting for me!

We live in crazy times. And in this economy, with unemployment at huge numbers, you wouldn’t think a story about someone being fired, or someone else being hired, would be that interesting.

But wait. I’ve got two stories that may make your head dizzy, like they did mine. (By the way, totally underrated fact about being a kid? Spinning round and round and making yourself get dizzy is considered a legitimate fun activity? As an adult? Not so much.)

Our first story comes from (drum roll please) the fine folks at Fox News, where truth never gets in the way of a good conspiracy theory. Fox had hired a liberal political analyst named Marc Lamont Hill, apparently so they’d have a punching bag lying around the set.

Well, Hill was fired last Friday. And he found out … thanks to a Google Alert email he got that’s tagged to his name.

Here’s Hill’s quote, according to ThinkProgress.org:

Yeah I eventually – I got a Google alert at 11 o’clock [a.m.] that it had been announced that I’d been fired. After that, I guess someone followed up later in the day, you know because I was sort of trying to figure out what was going on. … I found out that it was true but other than that I don’t have any other information. … I haven’t had any thorough conversation with anyone.

Yep, fired by Google Alert. That’s a new one on me. I’ve heard of fired by text, by email, by voicemail … but not this one.

Thing Sergei and Larry, while they were dreaming about starting Google, ever thought one day their invention would be used for this?

Then there’s this, um, slightly less strange story. A trucking company in Indiana was looking to fill a $13 an hour administrative assistant job. After going through candidate after candidate, winnowing it down to two, the interviewer asked the two women the same question, one we all get on job interviews: If she were in the stands at a baseball game and a foul ball came her way, would she stand up to try to catch it, or wait in her seat and hope it fell her way?

One candidate said she’d wait. The other said she’d go for it. The aggressive one got the job.

Hilarious. I give the employer credit for trying something different, but it’s still kinda weird. The whole story can be read here.

**OK, so this annoyed me Thursday night, and always annoys me when I watch a baseball game. Major League teams, because they’re always looking to squeeze another dollar out of fans, has decided in recent years to let some organizations sell seats in this newly-created area right behind home plate, basically at field level.

And every time, like Thursday night, you see those fans behind the plate, they’re not paying attention to the game and/or look completely disinterested. Thursday night every one of the people behind the plate was either looking away, playing with their phone/Blackberry, or doing anything but cheering.

And it was a great game! Can’t wait for Game 6.

Just pisses me off.

dick-cheney-heart-ailment

***And speaking of things that piss me off: Dick Cheney, shut the hell up already.

Baseball sucks me back in, a great film about the Great Gretzky, and Wilford Brimley raps (seriously)

SPORTS-US-BASEBALL-TWINStearsforedmonton

Well, all right baseball, you’ve got me for another October.

My very first post on this blog was about how I’d pretty much broken up with baseball. College basketball, hockey, tennis and the NFL had all moved ahead of the sport I played in Little League (right field, thank you. You get a LOT of time to think out there in right field, let me tell you. A lot of time.).

But as I figured, all it took was one exceptional playoff tiebreaker game to suck me back into the vortex. Tuesday night’s Twins-Tigers game was thrilling; back and forth, and forth and back, extra-innings drama that had plenty of screw-ups and great plays, one after another.

I was rooting for the Tigers at first, because don’t the people of Detroit deserve some joy after the last couple of years? But then I thought that a team that had collapsed down the stretch as bad as any team since, well, the 2007 or 2008 Mets (sorry, Mets fan readers. I know the wound is still fresh), doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs.

The Twins pulled it out in 12 innings, and I’m happy for my relatives who live in Minnesota (shout out to the Haas family!). The horrible, ugly, louder-than-loud Metrodome gets to live one more week.

Of course, now the Yankees of New York will proceed to kick the ever-loving hell out of the Twins, as always happens in the playoffs (2003, 2004). The Twins haven’t beaten the Bombers once this year, losing all seven games, including three in excruciating, walk-off fashion back in May.

Plus, and as a Yankee fan I take perverse delight in this, the Yankees get to face Carl Pavano, who may have been the worst Yankees free-agent signing ever (and believe me, that’s not an easy list to top.) I’m guessing old Carl (Everything Hurts) Pavano will pull a calf muscle 10 minutes before his playoff start.

By the way, hell of a few days in the Twin Cities. Monday night Favre and the Vikes beat Green Bay, then Tuesday the Twins win a dramatic game to make the playoffs, and just for good measure, the NHL’s Wild come back from 3 goals down in the third to win their home opener, 4-3.

**Quickie playoff predictions, free of charge: Yanks over Twins in 4, Rockies upset the Phillies in 5 (just a hunch), Angels over Red Sox in 5, and Cardinals over L.A. in 3 (too much pitching).

**So there are plenty of reasons to bash ESPN, and I’ve hardly abstained in the past. It’s a great channel and I can’t imagine life without it, but there are plenty of things it screws up (the fact that they steal stories from other media outlets and claim them as their own, for example).

Still, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about something the network is doing. To celebrate its 30 years on the air, ESPN commissioned 30 filmmakers, from Spike Jonze to Barry Levinson to Steve (Hoop Dreams) James, to make a one-hour documentary on some famous, or not-so famous, sports story in the last 30 years.

It’s called “30 for 30,” and the list of upcoming films is incredible. So many great things on here I want to see: the Reggie Miller vs. New York Knicks feud is in here, and the story of the rise and fall of the USFL. A documentary on the late great Len Bias, and a movie about June 17, 1994 (something about O.J. and a white Bronco springs to mind). The Allen Iverson bowling-alley brawl trial, which was such a huge deal at the time and now no one remembers it.

Truly, I went down the list and all the movies seem compelling. The first one premiered Tuesday night: “King’s Ransom,” about the maybe most important transaction in NHL history: Wayne Gretzky’s 1988 trade to the L.A. Kings. This was cataclysmic on so many levels; I remember as a kid being completely dazed, wondering how the hell the greatest player ever could just be traded. This was so huge in Canada; picture how Brooklyn Dodgers fans felt about Walter O’Malley in the late 1950s, then multiply it by 10, and you’ve got how Oilers fans felt about owner Peter Pocklington for trading the Great One.

The movie did not disappoint; I highly recommend catching it on the reruns. The series will run once a week until next March.

**And now, for our grand finale, Wilford Brimley rapping about his “diabeetus.” Thank you, Andrew Sullivan, for directing me to this:

Update: I recant my YES Network rant (sort of)

APTOPIX Yankees Red Sox Baseball 

Email, and ye shall receive an answer. That’s my credo for today.

So after my rant yesterday about how mad I am that the YES Network, which televises Yankees and New Jersey Nets games, won’t show the games on their YES national channel, which I get living down here in Central Florida, I figured I’d ask a few experts if there was a good explanation about it. I was particularly incensed because the Yankees are in the midst of kicking the holy hell out of those Boston boys this weekend.

So I emailed Richard Sandomir, the fine sports media and business writer for the New York Times on Sunday morning, asking if he knew the reasoning behind the YES Network games blackout outside of the tri-state area.

I figured, since it was a Sunday afternoon and all, and he’s probably a pretty busy guy, that I’d hear back from him in a couple of days.

Stunningly, he wrote back in 34 minutes, while I was at the beach (had another outstanding hot dog from this guy who sells them at the Ormond Beach beach cutout, by the way. Foot-long hot dog on a delightfully toasted bun, all for $3.50. Yummy goodness, I tell ya. But I digress.)

I say “stunningly” because while I do my best to answer every reasonable email I get, I’ve found most other journalists don’t. But Richard’s clearly a good guy.

Richard’s explanation goes like this: Major League Baseball sets out exclusive territories for each team, which for the Yankees is the tri-state area, and a little bit of Pennsylvania.

Beyond that, MLB doesn’t let teams show their games on basic cable, because they’re afraid it would severely damage that other hometown teams ratings. So, theoretically, if Yankees games were allowed to be shown here in Florida, Marlins and Rays games would see a big ratings drop, because all the New Yawkers living down here would watch the Bronx Bombers instead.

The only way to 100 percent guarantee that you’ll see all the games you want is to shell out a few hundred bucks for the MLB Extra Innings pay-per-view package.

OK, a few thoughts. First, I understand MLB’s position, but by blacking out the Yankees, they’re assuming that baseball fans are baseball fans, and that if we can’t see the Yanks we’ll watch the Marlins or Rays. I don’t think that’s accurate. If you’re that diehard of a fan, you’ll buy the Extra Innings package. I’m not going to suddenly become a huge Evan Longoria fan because he’s on my TV every night.

Second, why even have the YES Network nationally as an option if you’re not going to be able to show the programming? I just feel like it’s a big tease.

Anyway, so there you go. I apologize for assuming this was all YES Network’s fault, when I should have realized that the blame truly lay with MLB.

I absolutely hate it when bloggers rip and rant one day, then, when it turns out they’re wrong or there’s an explanation, never own up and apologize.

Also, a couple of really good stories I read this weekend that I wanted to link to:

  • Michael Sokolove has written a feature for the New York Times magazine about the dying newspapers in Philadelphia. Obviously this hits home to me as an ink-stained wretch, but this really lays out the Philly issues well.
  • Speaking of Philadelphia, my friend Brian Hickey, a victim of a near-fatal hit and run accident last November, has written a strong column asking for stronger penalties against hit and run drivers. Couldn’t agree more. What kind of despicable person hits another human with their car, then keeps driving? I think hit and run drivers should be thrown into the same pit of acid as rapists, child molesters and New England Patriots fans (Ha!, I kid the Patriots fans, mostly because I’m jealous.)
  • Finally, very interesting story by George Dohrmann in Sports Illustrated last week about just how much paper college football and basketball coaches waste, sending old-fashioned letters to recruits. Truly staggering, and wildly ineffective. Wait till you see the photo of how much mail just ONE kid got.

Why Wal-Mart and the YES Network are on my (you-know-what) list

anti walmart

girl-scout-cookies

No, it’s not for the same reason, but I’m pretty pissed at both of them right now.

Actually, I’ve been mad at Wal-Mart for just about the last 10 years. Ask any of my good friends and family and they’ll tell you straight out that I refuse to go there, or let anyone I know shop there.

Why? Well, you could start with their absolutely shady business practices. Or their unconscionable treatment of employees who want to unionize or, you know, improve working conditions. Or you could read about their terrible overseas factories and how the lives of their workers there are.

If you think I’m just making this stuff up, check out this website, or read as much as you can of this incredible Pulitzer-Prize winning series by the L.A. Times from 2003.

Anyway, I’d thought I’d run out of  reasons to hate the discount chain. But nope, they keep scraping the bottom of the barrel and filling me with rage all over again.

The latest target of Wal-Mart? Yep, those dastardly, underhanded, good-for-nothing troublemakers: The Girl Scouts of America.

If you haven’t heard, good ole’ Wal-Mart has decided to copy two of the Girl Scouts’ signature cookie brands, the Tagalongs and the Thin Mints, and sell them at lower prices.

And it’s a good thing, too!

Boy, those adorable little girls have been getting away with selling great cookies and raising money for FAR TOO LONG, the Arkansas boys in the back room must have figured. You’re telling me that the Samoas, Trefoils, and Do-Si-Dos really should only be used to fund activities for the Girl Scouts, an organization that does SO much good for little girls’ morale and for the community?

I tell ya, it’s a good thing Wal-Mart is here to teach those girls a lesson: Life is hard, kids, and we’re going to make your cookies and sell them cheaper and there’s nothing you can do about it! We’re Wal-Mart, dammit, and we run the world.

Just disgusting. Despicable. Awful. I could go on, but I think the facts pretty much speak for themselves. How can anyone in good conscience shop there? I often wonder. Oh yeah, their prices are way lower than everybody elses.

I call on everyone who’s ever bought or eaten a Girl Scout cookie (I think I’ve had about 5,000 Tagalongs in my life, thank you) to boycott the store until they change their new plan.

Girl Scouts of America, I’m with you! And please keep selling your great cookies, I look forward to them every year.

** Now, as to why I’m mad at the YES Network. A few months ago, my cable provider here in Central Florida told me that YES, the Yankees/Nets behemoth cable channel, was being added to my sports package. Great, I figured. I only watch a handful of Yankees games per year anymore, but there are definitely times I want to watch them.

I called the cable company at the time and asked if it would be an extra charge. Nope, they said, I already get the sports pack, so it’ll be included.

Then, she tells me, I’m not getting what I think I’m getting. Due to some bizarre contractual agreement, I’m getting the YES National network, which isn’t allowed to show live Yankees and Nets games.

“So what the hell am I getting?” I replied, knowing that Yankees and Nets games account for 98 percent of what anyone wants to watch on YES.

“You’re getting their alternate programming during the games, and you’ll get the pre and post-game shows,” the cable lady replied. “Only the people in the Tri-State area can get the regular YES Network.”

I was stunned and angry. What the hell is the point of having the network if the viewers outside the NY area can’t see the real programming?

So of course, Friday night, the  New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox played a classic game, 0-0 into the 15th inning, before Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to win the game.

And I couldn’t see it. My YES Network showed all kinds of crap until the postgame show came on.

AARRRGGGGGGGGGHHHH was, I believe, my utterance over and over as the game went on.

YES Network, please explain to me why you would have a network, which you want to expose to as many people as possible, and then not show the top programming on the network to as many people as possible.

Just stupid, stupid, stupid. YES and Wal-Mart, you have incurred my wrath.

**On a slightly better note, I know many people are probably overdosed on John Hughes tributes like the one I wrote the other day, but I found one more beautiful essay that I thought you might like: This woman had a pen-pal relationship with the director for many years.

The hypocrisy of Yankee fans and my million-dollar GPS idea

 bigpapi

RogerClemens_2000_001

 

Even though I’m a Yankee fan, I sometimes have to call B.S. on other Yankees fans.

I have to say, a lot of what fans of other teams say about Yankees rooters is, to quote the great film “My Cousin Vinny,” dead on balls accurate. Not all of us are jerks, but many are.

 Yankee fans can be awfully obnoxious (I know, stunning revelation). Some of us like to overlook simple facts like “The Yankees have no payroll limit, ever,” and “practically no one in baseball has the built-in advantages the Yankees have.”

Yankee fans can also use delightful selective memory when getting outraged. I heard from a few of my friends, and read a few other things on the Internet Sunday that made me laugh out loud.

What they’re arguing, basically, is that since David Ortiz has now joined Manny Ramirez on the ever-lengthening list of disgraced baseball stars who used steroids, the Red Sox 2004 title is now tainted.

Before I get to that ridiculous argument, a few words about Ortiz. Everyone seems surprised by this, and Howard Bryant of ESPN wrote this great columnabout how Big Papi let everyone down, and how genuine he seemed. I have to say, I’m a little surprised at Papi, too, but mostly disappointed. I love guys who just seem to have so much fun playing the game, and sure, it seemed possible that after a mediocre career, Ortiz became a superstar without steroids. 

Anyway, it was a little sad to see Ortiz become just another steroid cheat, and even though I’m not a big baseball guy anymore, as a sports fan it hurt a little.

But this idea, set forth by Yankees fans, that the Red Sox miraculous 2004 championship is tainted is pretty insane. Here’s why: Tell me what the following have in common: Roger Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch, Jose Canseco and Andy Pettitte. If you guessed that they have all been linked to, or admitted to, using performance-enhancing drugs, you’re right.

And oh yeah, they were all also on the 2000 New York Yankees World Series championship team. So will you hear a Yankee fan say that title is tainted? And how about the three that preceded them? Does every Roger Clemens win get thrown out and hit with the “tainted” label, too? Just wondering. 

All I’m saying is that the ’04 Sox team is no more tainted than any other title team from the last two decades in baseball, when steroids ruled and no one was immune. Everyone cheated, some got caught, but they’re all covered up in the slime of the last 20 years.

Good God, I’ve just spent 400 words defending the Red Sox. I don’t even know who I am anymore. If I start praising the New York Islanders and Sarah Palin, tell my family to send me to Bellevue.

**OK, so here’s my idea that isn’t really worth a million dollars, but I wanted to get your attention. So we’re driving home from Mystic, Conn. after the wedding Sunday (by the way, fish was NOT served at the aquarium wedding, which was probably a good idea) and my mother-in-law is annoyed at the Australian accent of the GPS lady who'[s giving us directions from the little machine. And so she changes it a few hundred times and we end up with some British guy.

Anyway, it gave me an idea: Wouldn’t it be cool if the accented voice from these GPS thingies matched up with the regional accent of the area of the U.S. you’re drivin through? Like, when you’re in Manhattan the voice says “Turn right? Fuhgeddaboutit” and says words like “tawk.” And in Chicago it gives you a Chicago accent, and in Boston you’re told there’s a “pah-king lot on the right.”

I just think this would make road trips so much more fun, and lead to all kinds of folks calling Garmin and saying ‘We don’t talk like that here!” 

When I popped the idea in the car to my family, who’s supposed to love me, I got a lukewarm response. But I tell ya, it’s a winner.

 When this becomes a reality, you remember who told it to you first. 

P.S. One more thing: Saw a fantastic name for a pet foods store on our trip: Feasts for Beasts. I’d shop there just for the name.