Sunday, July 19, 2009

Old-Timers: Yogi, Whitey, Reggie... Mussina and Beckham?

I went to the new Yankee Stadium today. It was Old-Timers' Day, the 1st in the new Stadium. Hall-of-Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson (my guy) and Goose Gossage were on hand.

So was Mike Mussina. Last year, at age 39 he won 20 games. This year, he pitched in the Old-Timers' Game, and he had nothing. Men in their 60s were getting hits off him. Okay, it wasn't entirely his fault, as some of his fielders were also old. But it didn't look good. David Cone, 46, had to come in and put out the fire. And he did: Coney looked better than he had in 10 years.

No home runs were hit in this game -- every once in a while, an old guy will get the ball over the fence -- but Mickey Rivers, a.k.a. Mick the Quick, had enough left in his 60-year-old legs to stretch a single into a double, and Joe Pepitone, who I once saw hit a triple in one of these games in his 50s, hit a screaming liner down the right-field line, and might have had another triple if he weren't 69. (If you're a Seinfeld fan, this made him 52 when Kramer plunked him at the fantasy camp, before punching out Mickey Mantle.)

The defense was really hit-and-miss, with some of these old guys letting bloopers in and bobbling grounders, but three neat double plays were turned.

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As for the current Yankees, they did the Old-Timers proud. They completed a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers today, winning 2-1. Alex Rodriguez hit his 572nd career home run (*) in the 4th, and Mark Teixeira hit his 226th (no asterisk, as far as we know) in the 6th, and Joba Chamberlain, who has thrown too many pitches lately, got into the 7th against the Tigers, currently in first place in the American League Central. The Red Sox lost to Toronto, so now the Yanks are just one game behind in the AL East and leading the Wild Card by 4 games.

The Mets won yesterday, and are playing the Sunday night ESPN Game of the Week as I type this -- tied 1-1 in the 4th. They're 9 games in the loss column behind the Phils for their Division and 6 behind the San Francisco Giants for the Wild Card. They're hardly hopeless, but as they say on TV medical dramas, "I gotta be honest with you, it doesn't look good."

*

On Thursday night, a neighbor originally from Ireland, who owns a soccer-themed bar in Hoboken, just across the river from Manhattan, offered me a free ticket to the Red Bull New York match with the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Meadowlands. This means that, within a span of 64 hours, I got to see first David Beckham and Landon Donovan, and then Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Reggie Jackson.

This was Becks' first game back with the Galaxy since his (ahem) loan to A.C. Milan ran out. He is, to use an American phrase, washed-up -- or, as they would say in his native England, past it. He can still pass a little, and his corner kicks still have a little something on them, but he didn't get off a shot, and there was one moment where, standing just 50 or so feet from me, he whiffed on a pass to him. That's right, he put his foot right over the ball without touching it.
Goldenballs, do you expect me to say you didn't? "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" (Actually, on some of his teams, Beckham has worn Number 7, or 007. But if he plays Chelsea, it won't be titled Goldenballs. It'll be titled You Only Dive Twice -- Any More Than That and You Get a Yellow Card.)

No, I didn't die. Well, nearly so, of embarrassment. Or, more accurately, the Red Bulls should have been embarrassed. Only 2 of the 11 starters were worth anything. Their defense was a sieve. They were down 3-0 until the 85th minute, when they finally scored on a penalty. They got another penalty in the 90th, giving us hope against hope, but missed, and the final was a pathetic 3-1.

This is the last season of football, of either variety, at Giants Stadium. Next season, the Giants and Jets move into a new (as-yet-unnamed) stadium that looks like it will be ready to host big-time soccer friendlies in the spring and will definitely be ready for NFL action in the fall.

The Red Bulls, currently last in the MLS in both team points and goals scored, will move into a nice-looking new stadium, Red Bull Arena, in Harrison, across the river from downtown Newark and the NHL Devils' Prudential Center.

This was a great chance to finally see a game at the former home field of the greatest soccer team in U.S. history, the New York Cosmos (1971-1984). Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Giorgio Chinaglia, Hubert Birkenmeier and Shep Messing -- and, for 2 exhibition games, Johan Cruyff. If any of them had seen this game, they would have been appalled, because even the victorious team was rubbish. The Red Bulls were absolutely atrocious. Great experience, lousy game.

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The 2009-10 NHL schedule has been released. The Devils open up at home against the Philadelphia Flyers -- the evil Broad Street Bullies, although the Prudential Center also stands on a Broad Street -- on Saturday, October 3.

So I can now properly update this schedule:

Days until the Emirates Cup kicks off the next Arsenal season: 13.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 18, August 6 at The Stadium.

Days until the next Premier League season begins: 27.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 50.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 54.

Days until the Devils play hockey again: 76. (No more "or thereabouts.")

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 131.

2 comments:

"Nutball Gazette" said...

I saw Joe Dimaggio Hit a Home Run in the 1965 Old timers day
That was my first game ever

Almost made History that day, As we were leaving. My Brother 13 and myself 9 was pushing each other when he bumped into Two Older ladies.
They were Mrs Babe Ruth and Mrs Lou Gehrig.

mrkjnmn5 said...

No, there are two real reasons the Mets won't put on an Old Timers' Day again. One is that this is a franchise which is embarrassed to showcase its own history. Dodgers' history? Yes. Mets' history? Fugeddaboutit.
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