Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Nice Summer Sunday at the Beach

Today was supposed to be the day of "All-Stars For Hope," a charity soccer game between a group of players from English and European teams, and another team that was never finalized, at Giants Stadium.

Cristiano "Purseboy" Ronaldo of Manchester United (now signed by Real Madrid). Ryan Giggs of Man U. Didier "Dogbreath" Drogba of Chelsea. Nicholas Anelka, formerly of Arsenal but now of Chelsea. Frank Lampard of Chelsea and all the pies he can eat. Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal (for now). William Gallas of Arsenal (for now).

And a few other players that I actually like. Thierry Henry, the Arsenal legend now at Barcelona. Patrick Vieira, the Arsenal legend now at Internazionale Milan. Current Arsenal players Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna. All of these players had committed to the benefit, and more seemed sure to follow.

The benefit, organized by former Man U now Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre, was to raise money for homes and schools in Africa. It was a great cause, and it would be held just 33 miles from home base, and it was my 1st chance (since I started watching international soccer) to see Premiership players live. Barring a vast increase in my fortunes resulting in being able to fly to Britain or Europe, it might have been my only chance.

But it was cancelled. Apparently, they couldn't get the sponsorships they needed to play it, due to the international credit crunch caused by the economic collapse last Autumn. Rats.

UPDATE: I have seen seen many such stars, in friendlies at Red Bull Arena, in U.S. team matches at the new Meadowlands stadium and RFK Stadium in Washington, and in a Real Madrid vs. AC Milan match at Yankee Stadium. But at the time, that was beyond what I could imagine.


So, with nothing else to do, I spent the day at the Shore. Got on the bus to Atlantic City, took another bus to Ocean City. (The nice little town in South Jersey, not the sprawling, tacky, high-rise-laden sandbar on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, a place that, at heart, is more "Old South" than the "New South" is.)

Nothing like sitting on a bench, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, with a Mack & Manco's pizza slice in one hand, a birch beer in the other, with the headphones giving you a ballgame.

Nice day. Very nice day. Yankees 15, Mets 0. Phillies 11, Red Sox 6. In other words, teams I wanted to win 26, teams that SUUUUCK 6.

Upon hearing the score -- 13-0 at the time, with the Phils and Red Sox then tied 5-5 -- in the manner of Phil Rizzuto, I yelled out, "Holy Cow!"

Nice bounce-back for the Yankees after losing 6-2 to the Mutts yesterday. Some Met fans are already saying, as bad as this was, the Luis Castillo Game -- or do you prefer the title "The Popup"? -- was much worse, because they literally held the win in their hand, and dropped it.

Oh, did I mention the Yankees strafed The Great Johan Santana this afternoon? Scoring 9 runs off him. Gave him a 27.00 ERA for the day. Wow, Santana's really making a difference for the Mets, isn't he?

Amazingly, those 15 runs included only 2 homers, by Hideki Matsui (who's really coming on lately) off Santana, and Robinson Cano off replacement Brian Stokes, both in a 9-run 4th. By contrast, A.J. Burnett pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing only 4 hits. (But also 4 walks. He's going to have to cut those down.) This included getting out of bases loaded, no out following the Yanks' 4-run 2nd. David Robertson pitched a perfect 8th, Phil Hughes a decent 9th.

So the Yankees take 2 out of 3 from The Other Team at, to use the phrase of Jay Mariotti of (and formerly the Chicago Sun-Times), the House That Ruthlessness Built. The 1 loss was unpleasant, the 2 wins breathtaking but in verrrry different ways.

The only downer was that, since Harry Kalas died earlier this year, I can't really get into the Phillies' broadcasters on AM 1210. Harry used to be one of the voices of summer. Now? Chris Wheeler and Larry Andersen do nothing for me. Maybe they can ask Bill Campbell to do the occasional broadcast. If the Mets can still have Ralph Kiner, who's a year older (86 to 85), why not the man who called the Eagles' last NFL Championship in 1960, Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962, and the Phils' 1964 rollercoaster?


Here's my take on Brian Bruney's swipe at Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez's ridiculous celebrations: My Yankee Fan/Met hater bias aside, K-Rod should have had the moral high ground, since, A, he's a proven great reliever; and B, he has something very few Mets of the last 20 years have had, something Bruney doesn't have yet: A World Series ring.

Before he went berserk about it, he had the right reaction: "Who's he?"

Many years ago -- hard to believe I'm using THAT phrase in connection with the New Jersey Devils -- John MacLean (now an assistant coach with them) made the All-Star team, and an opponent (I forget who) asked whose tush he'd kissed to get on said team. Johnny Mac, a borderline Hall-of-Famer, asked the other guy whose ass HE kissed just to get into the league. Same deal when somebody was whining against Patrick Roy: "I can't hear you, I've got my Stanley Cup rings in my ears."

But no, K-Rod had to go and act like exactly what Bruney said he is. He had the moral high ground as if it was an easy popup from A-Rod in the 9th inning -- and, unlike Luis Castillo, instead of dropping it, he threw it away.

Bleat the Mets.


Now, if only the Yankees could beat the Red Sox, we'd really be "restoring the universe to order."

Days until the Yankees-Mets series at Shea -- I mean, Citi Field -- begins: 11, a week from next Friday night.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 52, August 6 at The Stadium.

Days until the Emirates Cup kicks off the next Arsenal season: 54.

Days until the next Premier League season begins: 61.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 80.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 85.

Days until the Devils play hockey again: 109 or thereabouts.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 164.

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