Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yankees, Follow the Jigga/Alicia Lead!

I love Alicia Keys. And she was great in the Game 2 pregame show tonight. I am not a Jay-Z fan -- his role in trying to move my formerly beloved Nets to his native Brooklyn is part of it -- but he was on fire as well. Even Ozzie Guillen loved it, and he's a first-class grouch!

Where was his wife, Beyonce? As far as I know, she and Alicia aren't in a feud. But hip-hop isn't rock or country: Partners in love tend not to also be partners in music, and vice versa.

If the Yankee bats rock as hard as Jay-Z did, and if A.J. Burnett has as much control on the mound as Alicia did at the piano, we'll win this game easily.

We need it.


Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 2 -- this Saturday afternoon at 1:45 their time. 8:45 AM my time. Oy.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 2, Saturday afternoon, against the University of Connecticut, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 8, a week from tomorrow night, at home against Brick Memorial, the school nearest to my late Grandma's house.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 8, also next Friday night, against the Islanders at the Prudential Center. Devils fans and Islander fans don't agree on much, but we agree on this: RANGERS SUCK!

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 27. Four weeks.

Days until the 2010 Winter Olympics begin: 106.

Days until Opening Day of the 2010 baseball season: 158.

Days until the Yankees' 2010 home opener: 166.

Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 226.

Days until the World Cup Final: 257.

Days until the new Meadowlands Stadium (as yet unnamed) opens: 281.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 562 (projected).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 744.


October 29, 1860: In the match for the 1860 "whip-pennant‚" emblematic of the championship of the U.S.‚ the Atlantics top the Eckfords‚ 20-11. Both clubs are from Brooklyn, until 1898 a separate city from New York.

With the game tied at 5 each after 5‚ the Atlantics score 6 in the 6th‚ 5 in the 7th‚ and 4 in the 8th to win. Asa Brainard of the Excelsior club umps the game. As agreed upon‚ all umpires are players from another club. Brainard will later became the pitcher – yes, single pitcher – for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the 1st openly professional team, and his name, Asa, will become the pitching term "Ace."

October 29, 1866: The final championship match of the season is between the Irvington club of New Jersey and the host Atlantics‚ with the 2 clubs playing a rubber match to determine the champion of 1866. The Atlantics break a 5-5 tie by scoring 7 in the 10th inning and winning‚ 12-6 to keep the Championship. This is the closest a team playing its home games in New Jersey will come to being a sport's "world champion" until the New York Giants win Super Bowl XXI, 120 years later.

October 29, 1889: The Giants win their 2nd consecutive World Championship by taking this year's best-of-11 matchup in 9 games. After spotting the Bridegrooms 2 runs in the 1st‚ the Giants rally to win 3-2 behind Hank O'Day's pitching -- the same Hank O'Day who would be the umpire who ruled against them in the Fred Merkle Game 19 years later.

Slattery scores the winning run in the 7th inning‚ coming in from 2nd as catcher Doc Bushing misses a 2-out 3rd strike.


October 29, 1920: The Yankees sign Red Sox manager Ed Barrow as business manager – the job that will, in a few years, begin to be called "general manager" – completing the front office team that will build the game's most successful record. Hugh Duffy, the Boston Braves star who batted a record .438 in 1894, replaces Barrow at Fenway Park.

Barrow had managed the Red Sox to the 1918 World Series, and, regarding the hitting and pitching talents of Babe Ruth, said, "I'd be a fool to turn the best lefthanded pitcher in the game into an outfielder." The choice had already been made for him, but he would help the Yankees win 14 Pennants and 10 World Series in his 26 seasons as Yankee GM.

Shortly before his death in 1953, he was elected to the Hall of Fame. At the Yankees' next home opener, a plaque was dedicated in his memory and hung on the outfield wall near the Monuments, and would later be moved to Monument Park.

He is buried in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, Westchester County, New York, along with several other baseball-connected personalities: The Yankee owner who hired him, Jacob Ruppert; a Yankee slugger he signed, Lou Gehrig; the Boston owner and Broadway promoter who previously hired him, Harry Frazee; the Governor of New York who sometimes threw out the first ball at big Yankee games, Herbert Lehman; the opera singer who often sang the National Anthem at Yankee games, Robert Merill; and the Brooklyn-born comedian who was a member of the first ownership group of the Seattle Mariners, Danny Kaye.

October 29, 1921: The Harvard University football team loses to Centre College of Danville, Kentucky, ending a 25-game winning streak. This is considered one of the biggest upsets in college football, as the "Praying Colonels" (no, I’m not making that mascot name up) were the first team from outside the East to beat one of the old "Big Three" of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

Today, Harvard, like all the Ivy League teams, is Division I-AA (or whatever the NCAA calls the second level of play now), while Centre is in Division III.


October 29, 1950: King Gustav V of Sweden dies at age 92. As the host of the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, he presented decathlon and pentathlon champion Jim Thorpe with a laurel wreath and, according to legend, said, "You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world," coining a phrase that has become an unofficial title for the Olympic decathlon champ. Thorpe’s response is said to have been, "Thanks, King." Gustav V was the great-grandfather of the current monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf.

October 29, 1953: Denis Potvin is born in Ottawa. One of the greatest defensemen in hockey history, he was the Captain of the New York Islanders' 4 straight Stanley Cups of 1980 to 1983. Arguably the team's greatest player ever, certainly its most important, his Number 5 has been retired, and he was the 1st Isles player elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. His brother Jean Potvin also played for the Isles for a time, and his cousin Marc Potvin also played in the NHL.

However, his name is best remembered for an incident in the Ranger-Islander rivalry. On February 25, 1979, the teams played at Madison Square Garden, and Potvin checked Ranger All-Star Ulf Nilsson into the boards, breaking Nilsson’s ankle. In spite of the fact that no penalty was called, and the fact that Nilsson has always maintained that it was a clean hit, and that fact that then-Ranger coach Fred Shero also said it was a clean hit, the moron Ranger fans have spent 30 years chanting, "Potvin sucks!" – against all opponents, not just the Islanders.

This led to some confusion, years later, when Felix Potvin (no relation) would tend goal for various teams, including the Islanders for a time. In retaliation, Islander fans have done a "Rangers suck!" chant for every home game, regardless of opponent, and New Jersey Devils fans do the same. Ranger fans also had a chant of "Beat your wife, Potvin, beat your wife!" Denis Potvin usually beat the Rangers instead.

Part of Ranger mythology is that Potvin's hit knocked Nilsson out for the season, and that's why they lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Montreal Canadiens. In fact, Nilsson returned in time for those Finals, in which the Rangers won Game 1 at the Montreal Forum, but then dropped the next 4, including all 3 at the Garden.

October 29, 1959, 50 years ago today: Mike Gartner is born in Ottawa. The right wing starred for several hockey teams, including the Washington Capitals, who retired his Number 11. But he never appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals, being traded by the Rangers at the trading deadline in 1994, in a trade that helped them win the Cup, to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who made it to the Western Conference Finals before losing.

Among players who have never won a Cup, he is second to Phil Housley in games played and second to Marcel Dionne in goals, with 708.

October 29, 1961: Joel Otto is born in Elk River, Minnesota. The center won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989.

October 29, 1968: Johan Olav Koss is born in Drammen, Norway. The speed skater won a Gold Medal at the Winter Olympics in 1992 and 3 more at the 1994. He and American speed skater Bonnie Blair were named Sportspeople of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 1994.

October 29, 1969, 40 years ago today: The 1st-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, thus making this a possible birthdate for the Internet.

October 29, 1970: Edwin van der Sar is born in Voorhout, the Netherlands. The goalkeeper starred in his native land for Ajax Amsterdam (winning 4 league titles, 3 Dutch Cups, the domestic "Double" in 1998 and the Champions League in 1995), in Italy for Juventus (where he was the first non-Italian to be their starting goalie) and in England for Fulham, before going to Manchester United (where he's backstopped them to the last 3 Premiership titles and the 2008 Champions League).

October 29, 1971: Winona Ryder is born. She recently played Amanda Grayson, Spock's mother, in J.J. Abrams' abominable re-imagining of Star Trek – very good movie, but it is no more Star Trek than an Escalade is a Cadillac – but nothing will ever top Veronica Sawyer in Heathers. You don't like that? "Lick it up, baby, lick it up!"

October 29, 1972: Gabrielle Union is born. She played Alice Kramden to Cedric the Entertainer's Ralph in the 2005 film version of The Honeymooners. She was formerly married to Michigan and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Howard. Recently, she was romantically linked to basketball star Dwyane Wade.

Also on this day, Tracee Ellis Ross is born. The daughter of singer Diana Ross (and sister of actress Rhonda Ross Kendrick), she starred as Joan Clayton on Girlfriends. That show has often been compared to a sitcom of the previous decade, Living Single, with Joan compared to Queen Latifah's character Khadijah James, not least because both characters' fathers were played by basketball player turned actor Michael Warren (a basketball player on the UCLA National Champions of the late 1960s, and later Officer Bobby Hill on Hill Street Blues).

October 29, 1973: Robert Pires is born. Now playing for Villareal in Spain, he was a member of France's World Cup winners in 1998 and the Arsenal champions of 1998 (League and FA Cup "Double"), 2002 (another Double) and 2004 (undefeated League season).

October 29, 1981: Bill Giles‚ the Phillies vice president for the past 11 years‚ heads a group of investors which purchases the club for just over $30 million‚ the highest price paid to date for a ML club.

Giles is the son of longtime NL president Warren Giles, and is now NL president himself, although this is a powerless, purely ceremonial role, pretty much limited to awarding the trophy named for his father to the NL's Pennant winner.

Also on this day, Amanda Beard is born. The swimmer won Gold Medals at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics. She and her husband, photographer Sacha Brown, recently had their 1st child, a son named Blaise Brown.

October 29, 1983: Maurice Clarett is born. As a freshman, the football player helped Ohio State win the 2002 National Championship. Then he tried to make himself eligible early for the NFL Draft, and racked up over $1 million in legal fees.

When he was finally drafted, in 2005 by the Denver Broncos, he was released before ever stepping onto the field, even in an exhibition game, and remained in debt. In 2006, he was arrested for armed robbery, and plea-bargained. He will be eligible for early release in the spring of next year.

October 29, 1984, 25 years ago today: Eric Staal is born. The All-Star centre is an Alternate Captain for the Carolina Hurricanes, with whom he won the 2006 Stanley Cup. This past May, he scored the winning goal with 31 seconds left in regulation in Game 7 to give the Canes a first-round Playoff series win against the New Jersey Devils. For this, I hate his fucking guts. Okay, it would be better to say that I strenuously dislike his fucking guts.

He has 3 brothers who play pro hockey: Marc Staal of the New York Rangers (and therefore someone who sucks!), Jordan Staal of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and Jared Staal, who is in the Phoenix Coyotes' system.

October 29, 2008: After a 2-day delay for rain, Game 5 of the World Series is resumed at Citizens Bank Park. It begins in the bottom of the 6th, with the game tied 2-2. Geoff Jenkins doubles, is bunted to 3rd by Jimmy Rollins, and driven in by a Jayson Werth single. Rocco Baldelli ties the game with a home run in the 7th.

Later in the inning, Utley fakes a throw to 1st, then throws Jason Bartlett out at home for the 3rd out in a play later described as having saved the Series for the Phillies.

In the bottom of the 7th, Pat Burrell leads off with a double. Eric Bruntlett, pinch-running for Burrell, scores on a single by Pedro Feliz to put the Phillies up by a run again, 4–3.

In the top of the 9th, Brad Lidge gives up a single and a stolen base, but faces Eric Hinske with the chance to give the city its 1st World Championship in any sport since the 1983 76ers. Harry Kalas, the Hall of Fame voice of the Phils who would die the following season, had the call:

One strike away, nothing-and-two to Hinske. Fans on their feet, Brad Lidge stretches, the 0–2 pitch! Swing and a miss! Struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball!

Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season, 48-for-48 in save opportunities! And let the city celebrate! Don't let the 48-hour wait diminish the euphoria of this moment and celebration! Twenty-five years in this city that a team has enjoyed a world championship and the fans are ready to celebrate.

What a night! Phils winning, 4–3, Brad Lidge gets the job done once again!

Today, 1 year later, Harry is dead, but the Phillies are 3 wins away from getting the job done again, from winning twice as many World Series in the past 2 seasons as they did in their 1st 125 (going 0-for-97 until 1980).

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