Tag Archives: New York Yankees

I am the son of a former New York Yankees employee. My grandfather was born and raised on 161st Street in the Bronx. They are my American League team.

While it’s still up, watch Brothers in Exile about Livan and Orlando Hernandez

I finally caught “Brothers in Exile” the ESPN 30 for 30 on Livan and Orlando Hernandez. It mostly covers their defections from Cuba and first seasons in the majors which culminated in World Series championships for the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees, respectively. The rest of their careers are ignored, but ¡LIVAN! is wearing his Washington Nationals BP uniform.

Do you remember when El Duque signed with the Nats?

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Bryce Harper in 2013 Home Run Derby; Harmon Killebrew vs. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in the 1960 TV version

Bryce Harper in the cage
Tonight is annual Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star Game festivities at Citi Field New Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.,. Bryce Harper will be the first Washington Nationals representative in the Derby and his father, Ron, is pitching to him (The Wash. Times).

Err, let’s hope not. I’ll have more to contribute to the Nats’ 1st half later in the week.

Before becoming part of the All-Star experience, “Home Run Derby” was a 1960 television show hosted by Mark Scott. Sluggers from both leagues played against each other, though not necessarily interleague. The venue was Los Angeles Wrigley Field, long-time Pacific Coast League home of the Los Angeles Angels and for 1961, the expansion A.L. Angels’ home. From the Wikipedia entry:

The rules were similar to modern home run derbies, with two notable exceptions. If a batter did not swing at a pitch that was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out. Also, the contests were conducted in a more similar fashion to a baseball game than the modern home run derbies, where a player has a set number of outs before his turn is over.

Batters were given three outs per inning, and the player with the most home runs after nine innings won. The defending champion had the advantage of batting last; his opponent batted first. Any ball not hit for a home run was an out. The player did not have to swing at every pitch, but if he did not swing at it, and the pitch was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out, as did a swing and a miss, but these rarely happened as the pitcher was supposed to be giving the batters good balls to hit. If the players were tied after nine innings, the Derby would go into extra innings as per regular baseball.

Harmon Killebrew was featured on the show twice. The first was against Mickey Mantle, a returning champion.

Killebrew unseated Mantle and won the next week, beating out Rocky Colavito. Ken Boyer ended Killebrew’s first run.

Later in the series, Killer returned and lost to Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants.

Jim Lemon, another Senators outfielder, appeared on the show twice but lost to Hank Aaron and Mays, respectively.

Back to the present, I got to see Harper take batting practice last year. He tends to hit line drives about 200 MPH more than he hits towering fly balls. I hope he approaches it that way. If he wins great, but I’m not too concerned. Just don’t mess up the swing and don’t get hurt, pretty much my hopes for any Nats All-Star.

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My top five baseball games

A while back, Tom Bridge listed his top five baseball memories. I thought, hey, that sounds like fun. Then I got sick, so I’m not just getting back to it. These are all games that I attended. Here they are in no specific order:

Opening Day 2005 Washington @ Philadelphia

I lived in Northern Virginia since before I turned two, but we never had a D.C. baseball team. Five days before the very first Nats game, on a whim, I check Opening Day ticket availability. They had some, but a little pricey. I went on to ebay and found four together at or below face — hit Buy It Now. I called up a friend here and he was in. Then I called a fan in South Jersey who was a Phillies fan and he responded with my invitation wtih “is the Pope German?!” My wife bailed out because she got a job interview that day (got the job). I got to see the first Washington baseball game of my lifetime.

Opening Night 2008 Atlanta @ Washington

Tickets were scarce, but there were ticket lotteries. My family all got in so I could get a chance. My father wound up winning it and he gave me tickets. Walking into brand new Nationals Park I had a feeling that the Nats were finally here for good. The Nats scored early, but a blown save left the game tied. Then Ryan Zimmerman homered off of Pete Moylan and I started screaming “RYAN ZIMMERMAN IS MR. WALKOFF!” I gave him the nickname that night. I felt like a dawn of a new era and an ascending Nats team. They started off 3-0 and after Jesus Colome blew a save in Philly, lost over 100 of their next 158 games.

Strasburg’s debut Pittsburgh @ Washington

In 2010 we all hoped to see Stephen Strasburg’s debut, but I decided I wasn’t going to worry about when it would be and try to get a ticket for it. By chance, a Pirates fan was convinced to go to a Tuesday game with me and another friend and his girlfriend. It turned out to be Strasburg’s debut.

Nationals Park was electric in a way I hadn’t seen it, hanging on every pitch. Sure, Opening Night 2008 was like that at the start and end, but in the middle (a long middle with no Nats hits) it was just another game. Another cold game. But for Strasburg’s debut, every pitch was a moment of breathless anticipation. Fourteen strikeouts later he was done, an incredible debut. The best debut in D.C. sports history? I’ll say it was better than Alex Ovechkin’s first game and that was really good.

Nationals Park 2012 final game

The season finale, the Nats had clinched and were just tuning up for the playoffs. Teddy finally won. The Nats won. It was the last baseball game I saw with my dad – he was gone a month later.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Any game at Yankee Stadium. I went to four of them between 1989 and 2008. The Yankees split with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals in those games.

Final Nats game at RFK Stadium

The exhibition game that didn’t happen — Yankees vs. Mets in 1993. My dad took us out of school to go to RFK Stadium. Frank Howard’s number was “retired” and then the game was called.

Bachelor Party in 2005 — Nats overcame Tony Armas Jr. pitching and won their 10th in a row or something. Ah, June 2005.

The Memorial Day game in 2005 where Frank Robinson got a Brian Jordan home run overturned.

July 4, 2006 Ryan Zimmerman walk-off

I’m probably forgetting some, but at some point, you have to close up. I could put together a “vicarious” list with games I watched on TV too and maybe I will.

Also, The Post has a good feature about baseball memories from Nats players, fans, George Will, etc.

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Nats vs. Yankees: My beige heart bleeds with neutrality

My beige heart bleeds with neutrality
Has it already been three years?

The New York Yankees are visiting the Washington Nationals this weekend. I am a fan of both, traditionally permissible because of the distinctly separate leagues in baseball that never played each other. Now, with interleague play configured as it is two teams can count on playing each other at least every 3 years.

You know how people say they are “born ____ fans.” I mean it literally — my mother worked for the Yankees, so they were my team. Her dad was also born and raised on 161st Street in the Bronx which is of course, the street that both version of Yankee Stadium share. He watched it get built and could hear the crowd from his home when Babe Ruth hit a home run. I wore a Yankees cap and jacket throughout high school (which isn’t necessarily a way to impress girls). They remain my AL team.

I used to say the only things that BeltwayLand lacked were skyscrapers, a grand suspension bridge and a baseball team. We finally got the latter and I immediately adopted the Nats as my NL team. It was a no-brainer. I am not counting other the other two, but as recently as 2004, I would have said they were more likely than a DC baseball team.

In short, I’m still making the Selig-ian pass on who I am rooting for this weekend. My beige heart bleeds with neutrality. Am I going to wear a Nats cap and Yanks shirt (or vice versa)? That’s a clown question, bro.

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