Monday, August 24, 2009
Back From Scum City
Even though it's full of Red Sox fans. (Cheat!) And Patriots fans. (Cheat!) And Celtics fans. (Not nearly as obnoxious as they were in the 1980s, but still bad enough.) And Bruins fans. (Yes, Bobby Orr was a better all-around player than Wayne Gretzky. No, he was not better than Gordie Howe -- no one was.) And chavs. (Eminem-type white b-boys. Could be worse: They used to pride themselves on not being black in any way.)
And it has the worst homeless problem of any city I've ever seen. (I've never been to San Francisco, whose problem is supposedly hideous, but, per capita, Boston's is worse than New York's or Washington's.) And too many of their stores close at odd hours. (I thought they prided themselves on not being Philadelphia! And when a man needs his Dunkin Donuts Coolatta, he needs his wicked pissah Dunkin Donuts Coolatta!)
The Yankees took 2 out of 3 from The Scum, even though the only game they actually played while I was even in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was the 14-1 disaster on Saturday afternoon. (It was a Fox Saturday Game of the Week, you were expecting a win?) The Friday game was over before I even got into Port Authority, and the Sunday night ESPN game began just as my bus was crossing back into Connecticut.
1. It really sucks to score 11 runs on your biggest rival... and lose by 9 runs! Ah, but if you're the team with the 20 runs, who cares how many the other team scores? As far as I know, there's only been 2 games ever where both teams scored that many. (And both times, it was Cubs-Phillies, one win for each.)
2. It really, really sucks to score 29 runs in 3 games on your biggest rival... and lose 2 out of 3 at home! Ah, but if you are that big rival... hee hee hee hee...
3. Derek Jeter may finally win his 1st Most Valuable Player award, which is weird, because I'd practically handed it to Mark Teixeira already. Tex has made a huge difference for the Yankees, but this is still Derek's team, and for all those who've written him off -- and all you bozos who thought Jose Reyes had become the best shortstop in New York, shame on you -- Derek has announced his freakin' presence with authority. He surpassed 2,700 career hits this weekend, and Lou Gehrig's team career mark of 2,721 is as good as gone, possibly by Labor Day.
UPDATE: The MVP was given to Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.
4. I still want to praise Teix some more, but there's one team that's giving him trouble, and that's Boston. That worries me.
5. A-Rod is coming along again. Good.
6. Matsui is really coming along again. The current rumor is that he will not be re-signed when he contract runs out after this year. I want him to get a ring: He has been a fantastic team player and he deserves it. Put him in the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible: It's not his fault that he spent probably his best years in Japan. The Basketball and Hockey Halls of Fame recognize achievements in other countries' "major leagues," there's no reason why they can't consider what Matuis, or Ichiro Suzuki, did in Japan before coming here -- and they should elect Sadaharu Oh, as well, even though he never faced a regular season pitch in North America.
7. Whatever's going on between A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada, it has to be straightened out now. Burnett has done everything else right when it comes to being a good teammate, so, as the veteran, as the deputy captain behind Jeter (for all intents and purposes), I think Posada needs to take the initiative here and, diplomatically, straighten out whatever's wrong between them. Jose Molina's a good backup catcher, but, hitting the last homer in the old Stadium aside, he can't hit.
8. CC Sabathia -- 7 innings, no walks. In fact, the only walk of last night's 8-4 win over The Scum was by Mariano Rivera, walking J.D. Drew to lead off the 9th. I thought, "Uh-oh," because this is how Mariano's gotten himself in trouble, the few times he has. That and grounders right up the middle. It ended up not mattering, though, becuase he remembered that he's Mariano Rivera and blew the next three guys away. CC was beautiful, but I am concerned: He's been so good, throughout his career, in August and September, but October, ouch. Does he burn out? The Yankees should watch him carefully: I know he's a horse, but if you're going to use that analogy, don't drive him too hard in winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, because the Belmont Stakes is yet to come.
9. I made my first visit to Cape Cod. I didn't get to see a game in the Cape Cod League, the famed amateur league for college-age players not yet signed into big-league clubs' farm systems, but, as luck would have it, the Cape Cod League Museum is in the same building as the John F. Kennedy Museum in Hyannis. They've got a Cape Cod League Hall of Fame, which includes Mo Vaughn, Jeff Bagwell, Will Clark, and a few Yankees. The one that matters is Thurman Munson of the Chatham A's. Of less significance are Steve "Bye-Bye" Balboni and William Nathaniel Showalter III -- apparently, Buck hit like hell on the Cape. Not so much in the Yankee farm system, though, and he never reached the majors as a player.
10. Legal Sea Foods kicks ass. The food is superb and the service is excellent. I thought it was about time I had my 1st bowl of New England Clam Chowder. Very good. People, Manhattan Clam Chowder is not clam chowder. It's not supposed to have tomato sauce in it. Call it "clam & tomato soup" if you want, but it's not "clam chowder." I just wish that, like so many other restaurant chains, Legal didn't keep the lighting so low.
11. Cambridge is not Boston. Maybe, if I feel like it, I'll go into detail later. But it is really, really not Boston. Or any other city I've ever known. In fact, the closest I can come to describing it as a mix of New Jersey's two major college towns, Princeton and New Brunswick -- although the Harvardians would probably bristle at the comparison to Princeton, and snort at the one to Rutgers.
12. Most importantly, a lot of Yankee Fans made the trip. Like me, they left happy.
They really, really hate us in Boston. Like we give a damn.
Once again, I got out alive and in one piece. I'm reminded of the words of the Beach Boys: "My buddies and me are gettin' real well-known. Yeah, the bad guys know us, and they leave us alone. I get around."
I also went into the Barnes & Noble on Kenmore Square, which serves as the Boston University Bookstore, and picked up a new book about the Sox: It Was Never About the Babe by Jerry Gutlon. I'm about halfway through it, and it's really good at dispelling some of the many myths and legends about that most mythical of sports teams, the Boston Red Sox. Note that I said most mythical -- not most myth-worthy.
To put it bluntly: The book shows that Harry Frazee and Ted Williams were no saints, but the real villains of the story were Ban Johnson, Eddie Collins, Joe Cronin, Pinky Higgins, Buddy LeRoux and John Harrington. Tom Yawkey? Without more hard evidence, the worst thing I can say about him is that he was an enabler to the true problems: The raging egotists and the racists that truly held back the Red Sox for 86 years.
I'm up to the late 1940s part of the book, when the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry really began after a long period of dormancy. I'm also interested to see what they say about Carl Yastrzemski -- who turned 70 on Saturday, I grew up known Yaz as old but it's amazing to think that he's 70 -- and another Sox Saint, Tony Conigliaro.
I've said that Tony C was meant to be Sox fans' answer to Mickey Mantle, but with the injuries he'd already had, and his love of fame and the nightlife, if he hadn't gotten beaned it's possible he might've ended up instead as New England's answer to Joe Pepitone, the local boy who made 'em proud, but ultimately disappointed, because being a great ballplayer was less important to him than being a star.
I got seriously ripped for saying nasty things about Joe Paterno. I wonder how many people are going to get upset that I said something mildly unkind about Tony Conigliaro?
Anyway, this 2 out of 3 by the Yanks over the Sox doesn't quite clinch the AL East, but it does make it all but certain. Still, the Sox are very much in the Wild Card race -- helped by their 2 closest challengers, Texas and Tampa Bay, having played each other this weekend. We may still have a chance for full revenge on the bastards -- October revenge.
The Mets celebrated an event from their history, instead of the Brooklyn Dodgers': Saturday night, they celebrated the 40th Anniversary of their 1969 World Championship. Every living member of the team was there -- including, for the first time at a Mets' function, Nolan Ryan. The Miracle of '69 (or the Miracle on 126th Street, if you prefer) was the only ring of his long and distinguished career. But the Mets dug themselves in deeper by losing to the first-place Phillies, and lost again, yesterday, with the final play coming on an unassisted triple play by Eric Bruntlett -- only the 14th in baseball history.
Met fans, doncha wish your ballclub was hot like mine?
The Yankees' Magic Number to clinch the Division is down to 32. The Mets' Tragic Number to be eliminated from Playoff consideration, presuming the Phils hold their current 5-2 lead in the 7th, will be 25.
Days until Rutgers plays football again: 14. Two weeks.
Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 18.
Days until Derek Jeter becomes the Yankees' all-time hit leader: 18 (projected -- I moved this one up a little to reflect the tear he's on).
Days until the final Yankees-Red Sox series of the 2009 regular season: 32, Friday, September 25, at Yankee Stadium II. At this rate, that night could also be the Division Title clincher.
Days until the Devils play hockey again: 40. Less than six weeks.
Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 95.
Days until the 2010 Winter Olympics begin: 172.
Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 292.
Days until the World Cup Final: 323.
Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 629 (projected).
Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 810.