Monday, October 19, 2009

Sleepless Nights and Scattered Thoughts

For reasons I don't want to get into here, I've been up in the overnights and asleep good chunks of daylight.

It's worked out so far, because of late games like Game 2 between the Yankees and Angels. But today's game started at 1 PM Pacific Time, 4 Real Baseball City Time. And I woke up at 4:45 PM. But the Yankees already led 1-0 on Jeter's leadoff homer when I turned on the TV, and now lead 3-0 in the 5th as I type this, having added a tremendous blast by A-Rod and another solo shot by Damon, so, so the hell what.

So, let's dash off a few thoughts, because isn't that what blogs are for?

Andy Pettitte has started Game 3 for the Yankees. So far, 4 scoreless innings on the road. Nothing wrong with that. But as I said it a previous entry, he usually follows a good postseason performance, as his start against the Twins in the ALDS was, with a bad one. And as this is in Anaheim against the Nomenclaturally Challenged Angels, a team that has long had the Yankees' number and a stadium where the Yankees have had trouble for as long as I can remember, well, as Harrison Ford would say, "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

Pettitte is often hailed for his pickoff move. He' got the best one of any pitcher I've ever seen, with one exception: Noted Met postseason hero, and noted tax-case defendant, Jerry Koosman.

But there was a point in this game where he'd thrown 19 pitches and made 8 pickoff moves. If managers and pitching coaches are so damn obsessed with counting a pitcher's pitches, then why don't they count all his throws? Isn't a pickoff throw a throw? Doesn't that put stress on his arm?

I'm still convinced that Ron Guidry, the best starter the Yankees had between Whitey Ford and Roger Clemens (Catfish Hunter was hurt too much to be that), ruined his arm making so many pickoff throws in the Eighties. And he shouldn't have tried, because he had the worst pickoff move I've ever seen. And to make matters worse, Dave Righetti, because he admired Guidry so much, decided to copy his pickoff move frequency, and probably wrecked his arm that way.

Koosman. It sounds like it should be the name of a department store: "Honey, I need a new pair of shoes, so I'm going down to Koosman's!" "I'll drive you, there's a big sale going on next door at Agee's Hardware!"

Damn it, Fox broadcasters, do not say the words "Jeff Weaver!" I don't care if the bastard's brother (and somewhat lesser bastard) Jered Weaver is pitching for the Angels.

DirecTV is running, over and over again, the DirecTV commercial in which and Fergie interrupt the video for their new hit song to talk about how good they thing DirecTV is. (I don’t have it, so I wouldn't know.)

Fergie's real name is Stacy Ann Ferguson, and she's from Southern California. I hope that doesn't make her an Angel fan. But I'd rather she be that than that she be a Dodger fan. She is, along with Jennifer Lopez and that thing she's married to (Marc Anthony), a new part-owner of the Miami Dolphins. (They're really trending younger. I wonder if Elton John still owns a stake in them?)

Curse you, Josh Duhamel! Your wife Fergie looks better than ever in that DirecTV commercial! And you took her away from us!

Peas leader makes great videos, including the one on which said commercial is based, but I gotta ask: What's he doing with an elephant on the Moon?

The Angels have done so well since 2002, but Chone (Pest to the Yankees) Figgins, Vladimir (Best Player in Franchise History, Sorry Nolan Ryan) Guerrero, and Bobby (Yanks Doing Better and So Am I) Abreu are all free agents as soon as the World Series ends.

The Angels have Darren Oliver warming up in the pen? The Darren Oliver who couldn't get the Yankees out in the Playoffs in the late Nineties when he pitched for Texas? Back when he could still pitch?

Yesterday, in a column for the Daily News, Mike Lupica said the Yankees have the best fans of any team in the world.

I'm presuming that means he's not just including North America, but soccer and other teams all over this planet. Sorry, my fellow Arsenal fans.

But for Lupica, a humongous Met fan, to admit that the Yankees have the best fans in the City, much less in the world? I will cherish that forever.

In a separate column, for his weekly Shooting From the Lip feature, he rips Rush Limbaugh for his pathetic attempt to be a part of Dave Checketts' group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams.

I don't blame Rush for wanting to be a part-owner of a major league sports team, certainly not for a "home team." (His hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri is 116 miles south of St. Louis, but there's no closer city with a big-league team – I checked: Not Kansas City, not Memphis, not Nashville, not Indianapolis.)

But he should have realized that, due to various bigoted comments he's made, including one about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (and that's one of his milder expressions of racism), that a league that relies heavily on the talent of black men, some of them even coaches and executives – you know, positions that require them to use their brains – was not going to like having as a team owner a guy who doesn't wear a Ku Klux Klan sheet simply because, as shapeless as it is, it wouldn't fit over him.

Rush tried to play his beloved game of capitalism. Nothing wrong with that. But this time, the free enterprise system worked against him. His money wasn't enough for them: They didn't want him because he's an asshole. A racist asshole.

Rush likes to talk about how "Character matters." Of course, it does. But what happens when Rush’s character is used against him by the NFL establishment? He whines. He likes to say liberals whine and – he likes this expression – "wring their hands." Now, he's doing the whining and the hand-wringing.

He says it's an "attack on conservatism." Riiiight. Has he ever taken a look at the average NFL team owner? He's a gazillionaire who would slap you if you called him a socialist. Woody Johnson of the Jets is a major Republican donor. The Rooney family of Pittsburgh, despite being Irish Catholics, has long been Republican. It took the Bush Administration's massive screwups for Dan Rooney to donate to President Obama, and considering Barack's difficulties against Hillary in Western Pennsylvania during the primary, that may have made the difference in him winning.

Did it never occur to Rush that Checketts hasn't done all that well as the owner of the NHL's St. Louis Blues? And that he was a catastrophe as GM of the Knicks and President of Madison Square Garden?

Besides, Rush talks about "excellence" a lot. He wants to buy the Rams? Has he not noticed that the Rams have been pathetic this season? Does he really think he has a clue as to how to fix this team?

Then again, how long has Al Davis been talking about a "Commitment to Excellence" regarding his Raiders? They've been to 1 Super Bowl in the last 26 seasons, 1 AFC Championship Game in the last 19, and since that last Super Bowl in January 2003, they've been a laughingstock, because Davis still wants to act like a dictator.

Which he can do, because, in that franchise, he is. But he long ago went from a brilliant if devious visionary to a doddering old duffer. The thought of him in that hair, those shades, and that tracksuit have brought thoughts of Davis as an aging Mob boss. He is from Brooklyn, so that fits as well.

Speaking of football, back to the Daily News: After yesterday's horrendous performance against the Buffalo Bills by the Jets in general, and Mark Sanchez in particular, their back-page headline reads, "BROADWAY SCHMO." Ouch.

I don't care if you did win your 1st 3 games, and I don't care if the Bills are improved: If you blow a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter at home, it's time to call you "Same Old Jets." And it's time for you to show your fans you're not.

Lupica mentions that Nick Hornby can really write. Yes, he can. The author of Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and a few other books is now out with Juliet, Naked, about a fan's obsession with a legendary rock star who "disappeared" over 20 years ago, until he reappears and... takes the girlfriend the obsessed fan recently cheated on and got dumped by.

The title refers to Juliet, the rocker's most-beloved album, a series of terribly sad, hauntingly beautiful confessional songs about a shattered love affair. In the book, that album has just been released in a stripped-down acoustic version, as was, in real life, the Beatles' farewell disc, in a form titled Let It Be: Naked.

I saw Hornby at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square a couple of weeks ago, reading from the new novel. He reads as well as he writes.

This was a few hours after Arsenal smacked the Athens club Olympiacos in the Champions League group stage, and I saw it at Nevada Smith's, just a 10-minute walk from the B&N in question. I kept my Arsenal jersey on, hoping he'd see it, but there were so many people there that I had to stay in the back. I must've looked like a little red dot to him.

After he was done reading, I got ready to leave, and I heard one B&N employee say to another, "Hornby's like a rock star." He’s a lot closer to being one of the rock stars he idolized than being one of the footballers he worshiped.

In Fever Pitch, he writes about what he thinks he would do if, as he has now (writing in 1992) become successful as a writer, he had to do a book-reading-and-signing on the day of an Arsenal home match. Well, ta da. He was not at the Emirates Stadium in London that day.

I hope he at least saw the match, because Arsenal played, to use a cliché common to them in the Arsene Wenger years, "beautiful football," winning 3-0.

He did say in the book that he wonders if his attachment was to the team or to its stadium at the time, Arsenal Stadium, a.k.a. "Highbury." They left the 1913-built, 38,000-seat Highbury after the 2006 season, moving into the new 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium, a.k.a. "Ashburton Grove" to those of us not comfortable with the name of the Dubai-based capitalist paradise/religious dictatorship that bought the jersey sponsorship and stadium naming rights for Arsenal. (I'm also not comfortable that, right before Emirates Airways sponsored Arsenal, they sponsored London rival Chelsea.) Maybe Hornby doesn't feel the same attachment to the new stadium. I didn't get a chance to ask him.

A capitalist paradise… a religious dictatorship... Hey, maybe Rush should move to Dubai! Oh, wait, the religion in question isn't Christianity. Or even what he thinks is Christianity.

And when did Rush earn the right to be referred to by only his first name? Like Elvis? And Dion? And Cher? And Fergie?

And Reggie?

Notice I do not include among that list Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Penn Ritchie. Or, as she calls herself these days, "Esther."

If Her Madgesty were as smart as she thinks she is, she might be dangerous. Or, perhaps in this case it would be appropriate to say, fucking dangerous.

Lupica closed his column by noting Chase Utley's throwing error that cost the Phillies Game 2 of the NLCS, though they now lead 2 games to 1. He asked, "Okay, when did Chase Utley turn into Knoblauch?"

Chuck Knoblauch. Second base. Rookie of the Year and World Champion with the 1991 Minnesota Twins. World Champion with the 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Series. Had some fielding difficulties, but a terrific leadoff man.

I like Chase Utley. He's already the best 2nd baseman the Phillies have ever had. That's not a big thing, as the discussion for best they had before Utley was down to Mike Goliat, Tony Taylor, Manny Trillo and Mickey Morandini. All good fielders, and Trillo could hit a little. But, come on. Utley is a wonderful player, and the Phillies would not have made the Playoffs in any of the last 3 seasons, much less won the last World Series and be just 6 wins away from winning another, without him.

Still, Lupica, I'll tell you when Utley becomes Knoblauch: When he wins 3 more rings.

I wouldn't put it past him. But I don't want him to get the 2nd ring this season. I could tolerate losing the World Series to the Phillies. God knows their fans deserve it. But I don't want to lose to anyone. I want Title 27. This year.

No comments: