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.

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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RIP Mickey Mantle’s restaurant

Yankees cap, Mickey Mantle's glass
Mickey Mantle’s sports bar closingNY Post
Game over for Mickey Mantle’s RestaurantNY Daily News
I ate at Mickey Mantle’s several times, including my 19th birthday. I recall having a tasty strip steak for what seemed like a really good price at the time for New York City. Prior to eating there once (if memory serves) we saw a hanson cab run a red light going down 5th Avenue at 59th Street; middle finger — FULL EXTENSION. If you had put that in a movie, people think you would be overdoing it.

That it lasted so many years is somewhat impressive, particularly since the host hasn’t been around since 1995. As you can see, I still have a pint glass from Mickey’s.

That reminds me — I need to get my copy of “The Last Boy” back. I have been meaning to blog about Jane Leavy’s Mantle biography for some time.

The neutrality series is coming Friday…

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Nats radio: Wondering out loud about the future of Charlie & Dave

UPDATED MAY 21, 2012: Nats: Charlie Slowes says he’s not in the final year of his contract

Remember when Dave Jageler astutely noted that Bryce Harper might be looking to steal home about 10 days ago. Harper did and Jageler’s partner, Charlie Slowes breathlessly called it, even taking a few seconds to let the crowd noise tell the story. It was just another reminder of how great Washington Nationals fans have it when it comes to the radio team. I have called for Charlie & Dave to be granted tenure before and I’m doing it again. The Nats may want to act fast because competition for their services may be pretty strong after the 2012 season. I speculated during spring training that their deals were up and a source indicated that’s the case.

Changes to the New York Yankees Radio Network may be on the way (River City Blues). The rights are in play and play-by-play voice John Sterling and sidekick Suzyn Waldman are not signed past this season. Whether there will be a changing of the guard is nothing but speculation, but if the Yankees decided to go with a new voice, it is not unreasonable to think that there may be interest on the part of Slowes and/or the Yankees. Slowes, after all grew up in the Bronx and Yonkers and graduated from Fordham. I believe Slowes also makes his offseason home in the Tampa Bay area which is where the Yankees have spring training.

Sterling has been with the Yankees for about 20 years. I remember listening to him when he and Michael Kay were partners and liking him, maybe because I was younger and less discerning. These days Sterling is pretty bad. He talks to much about himself and seems engaged only when he gets to use one of his catch phrases (An “A-bomb for A-Rod, A Tex message, The Grandy Man can, etc.) I don’t dislike Waldman as much as others, but she mostly serves as Sterling’s enabler. A change is needed in the Yankee Stadium radio booth (Though the “Here Come the Yankees” instrumental should remain. For all time. Best part of the current broadcasts.). Since I’m a selfish Washingtonian, I don’t want it to be Slowes, though I’d be very happy for him and enjoy listening to him do Yankees games.

I don’t have much insight on Jageler’s situation other than his contract is up. I believe he is still a resident of Rhode Island — his previous job was calling Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) games. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that any opening with the Boston Red Sox would be of interest to a native New Englander. I don’t know the radio situation up there though, so that may not be an issue.

Slowes and Jageler (and the Jack of All Things, Jack Hicks) have been left hanging in the past one contracts, part of the “not doing things well on the business side” that has plagued the Nats. Getting them locked in for a number of years would be a good show of faith to them, plus the fans. Slowes’ “and a curly W is in the books” has contributed greatly to the team’s identity and branding. It is time for the Andy Feffer, the Nats COO and the Lerners to show some commitment to a few important people who kept fans engaged when the team’s play could not.

(Bring back the pancakes ads too)

UPDATE:
FanGraphs says they are the 6th best radio team in the majors

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Nats at home on July 4, why aren’t the Yankees, Phillies?

Today, the Washington Nationals host the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Hosting a day game on Independence Day makes perfect sense for the Nats and I believe they have been assured of regularly having the honor. They should also get Opening day and Memorial Day at home annually too, but I do not know if that will be the case. I had hoped the July 4 game would be a tradition for me, but so far I have only made it to the 2006 one. I saw Ryan Zimmerman’s second career walk-off that day.

Looking at today’s MLB schedule, it strikes as odd, if not wrong, is that neither the New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies are at home today. New York City doesn’t have a single MLB game at all, since the Mets are in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers. The Yankees are called the Yankees after all, not too mention that Lou Gehrig Day was on July 4, 1939. The Phillies, well they play in the city the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, so it should be a no-brainer. I might even go along with Baltimore getting an annual July 4 game too, given the part that city played in the War of 1812. I’ll also argue that June 14, Flag Day, should always be an Orioles home game.

The Boston Red Sox are at home today which they should be. They are hosting the Toronto Blue Jays, who should never host a home game on this date. They should always get Canada Day, July 1 at home though and I think they do.

In other July 4 news, the following team owners were born on July 4 — George Steinbrenner of the Yankees, Al Davis of the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and Peter Angelos of the Orioles. Apparently, having a team owner born on that day is a guarantee that said owner will be spiteful, vindictive, controversial, but also a champion.*

*Not valid in Baltimore

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NY tabloids: Sorry, Sorry Night for the Yankees

New York Daily News New York Post

Lots of trouble for the New York Yankees right now — Jorge Posada forgets he’s hitting .185 when complained about hitting 9th. He apologized. The team is in a freefall as well, losing 5 in a row and 9 of 12. Getting swept by the Boston Red Sox is no fun either. Had the Yanks been able to take care of business against the Sawx this season or even split the two series, they would be in first place right now.

So, is there are meeting at the NY Daily News or NY Post whenever the a cover headline is the same? I’d be very curious to find out how the deal with doing exact same thing as their competitor.

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Forgive the Texas Rangers? Never!

THOMAS BOSWELLIs it time for Washington baseball fans to ‘forgive’ the Texas Rangers?The Post
No.

I’ve been over this before, the Texas Rangers are the enemy. The former Washington Senators moved away because over-leveraged owner Bob Short was incompetent. Boswell of all people should know better than to reward that kind of bad behavior, even 39 years later. I missed out on being able to go to ball games as a kid because of Short. Perhaps we can forgive the Rangers after the Nationals have been here for 33 years — maybe sooner if the Nats win the World Series before the Rangers do.

At the heart of it, you have to wonder if Boswell just wants the Yankees to lose so badly, he’ll root for anyone. I however do not want the Yankees too lose and think they can take the series in 6.

Boswell is chatting at 11 a.m.

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Did you know Ryan Zimmerman is more than halfway to the walk-off record?

On The Early Lead, Cindy Boren notes that Minnesota Twins slugger Jim Thome, has tied the all-time record for walk-off home runs with Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Babe Ruth. That is pretty good company and along with nearly 600 home runs makes Thome a Hall of Famer in my book. Anyway, the local angle is that Mr. Walkoff, Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals, is half way to that milestone. I don’t want to jinx him, but Zimmerman has 6 walk-off home runs in less than 6 seasons. UPDATE & CORRECTION: Cindy reminds me that Zimmerman beat the Phillies on a walk-off on July 31 when I was down the Shore, raising his career total to 7 in less than 6 years. Sorry for the omission folks, this is why I don’t take a lot of vacations from blogging.

Speaking of Ruth, some color photographs of his final appearance at Yankee Stadium are now up on the Life magazine site. Amazing — I’m not sure I had ever seen Ruth in color before when I think about it. I know that I have never seen Lou Gehrig, whom I blogged about last night, in color.

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