Wednesday, October 24, 2007
In fact, Barack Obama spoke of his undying love of different colored Sox: those of a white variety. The Senator from Illinois reasoned with the crowed who quickly began booing him after he pulled no punches on his baseball allegiances by asking if they wanted a President who flip-flopped on issues like rooting for sports teams.
Baseball allegiances have provided a concrete mainstay during any political interviews, debates, or general talk. For this reason, Barack Obama’s no-holds-barred approach to his lack of love for the Red Sox also provided a shot at his competition: Senator Hilary Clinton. Senator Clinton, a native of Illinois, flip-flopped at the concept of her Chicago Cubs facing off against her New York Yankees in the 2007 World Series. Fortunately, for Senator Clinton, both the Yankees and the Cubs were both bounced in the first round of the playoffs in 2007, giving her at least another year to pledge her undying support to either franchise.
Hilary Clinton’s waning support for the Yankees is something that Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani is very familiar with. Giuliani, a self-proclaimed life-long Yankees fan, was outspoken in 1999-2000 when, then-First Lady, Clinton donned a Yankee cap at the White House when the pinstripes visited for a photo op with the President and First Lady. In fact, during the 2000 World Series, seeing Hilary Clinton wear both a Yankee and Met cap, depending on which was the home team of course, was not all that unfamiliar. On the other hand, there sat Rudy Giuliani in the front row at Shea Stadium during games three, four, and five wearing the same pristine navy cap with white interlocking N-Y sitting prominently at the forefront.
If there was one thing that New Yorkers could rely on, it was Rudy Giuliani’s devotion to the greatest franchise in sports and entertainment history. However, that all changed on October 23, 2007. While campaigning in New Hampshire, Giuliani announced to a crowd of supporters that he would be rooting for the Red Sox to defeat the underdog Colorado Rockies in the World Series. While the crowd erupted in cheers of joy for Giuliani’s pledged support, the residents of New York dropped their collective jaws in complete and utter shock.
Could this have really happened? Did the same man who openly ridiculed Senator Clinton for not knowing about the history and tradition of the Yankees really pull the ultimate no-no? As the saying, for all Yankee fans, goes: “I root for two teams, the Yankees and whoever’s playing the Red Sox.” Has Giuliani really lost touch with the great New York Yankee fan base, or has the “nation” in Red Sox Nation convinced him that he could obtain more votes around the country by supporting the most hated rivals of his “beloved” Bronx Bombers?
Giuliani is someone who has attempted to bully his competition at every Republican Debate by citing their propensity to flip-flop on issues ranging from gun control to tax cuts. Despite the light humor surround sports allegiances, Giuliani’s flip-flop regarding his undying support for the Yankees provides a rather significant metaphor for voters. If Giuliani is willing to turncoat on something as important to him as his Yankees (he “bleeds pinstripes,” you know…), then what would he be willing to do on issues not as close to his heart as gay marriage, foreign policy / wars, the economy, and social justice in America?
Monday, September 24, 2007
"It was absolutely unbelievable!" exclaimed team GM Brian McFadden, "The feeling that ran through my veins knowing that I beat the beatable is indescribable." After phoning Mike Antineou, the most unstoppable force in sports today, to thank him for a high-octane match-up, McFadden released a letter to the press:
"Mike is a good friend and a great competitor. I have the utmost respect for him as he not only beat, but tanned my ass twice in regular season play. I would also like to thank Matt "McLovin" McDonough for having the most overrated team in the history of fantasy baseball. If it weren't for him, I would have never attained the status of 'Underdogg' going into the play-offs against crazy good teams like Bassett, Coyle, and Umammas. Special thanks to Lou Barricelli for telling me after every pick that I was making the worst picks in the history of baseball drafts. Justin Shackil for looking like Adam LaRoche. And last but not least Bobby Coyle for consistantly telling me that Team Fadds was the most overrated team in the league. Thanks guys."
Jermaine Dye and Ichiro Suzuki sat in the corner alone. The were their usual quiet selves, despite a championship win. "I just want to thank Mr. McFadden for relying on me week after week," said Dye, holding back tears, "I know it was a struggle for me this year and..." Ichiro, finishing Dye's tear soaked response: "...he's very happy."
Breaking up the sob fest was Danny Haren, who stumbled into the reporters with a bottles of Grey Goose and Miller High Life in each hand. "Yeeeeahhhh! CHampppiooons BABY!!!! HAHAHa," eclaimed a visibly drunk Haren as he chased a shot of Goose with the champaigne of beers. Coming to his aid was Jamal Lewis (randomly) saying, "Man's gotta get his Goose on," as he followed Harn carrying an semi-automatic.
The scene was a hectic one, but if this reporter can sum up Team Fadds' championship run in only a few words they would be these:
Ezekial 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepards the weak through the valley of darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengence and FURIOUS anger those who attempt to poison and destory my brother. And you will know my name is the Lord, when I lay my VENGENCE UPON YOU!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
To begin this past week, I traveled to Cambridge, MA where my girlfriend will (eventually) spend the next 3 years as a Harvard University Law student. It was my first time visiting Harvard, but this trip wasn't for sight-seeing... it was strictly business. We were to deliver a number of items to her new apartment to lighten the load for her Mother and Aunt when it came time for her to move to Cambridge for good. To say the least, the trip was bittersweet. I’ve never been so excited and scared in my life.
When be pulled up to her apartment, I noticed the untrimmed hedges immediately (call it the landscaper in me) and walked up the rickety wooden stairs to her front door. From the outside, I couldn’t believe that this weed-laden, boy’s bathroom-colored house was the place that my girlfriend was going to be living! I was afraid to stay there for a night, let alone have her stay there for the next three years.
Once we entered the apartment, however, my tune changed. Freshly waxed floors, the smell of newly painted walls, and the blinding whitewashed walls gave me that “sanitary and safe” hospital feeling. Her room was beautiful; it looked like a room that a Harvard student should study in: dark birch-esque wood base with pure white walls and ceiling (the type of model you would expect to find in a library). When I first stepped into the room I thought, “So, this is what Harvard is like.”
The entire process of leaving my apprehensions outside the ugly exterior of the house before entering the beautiful interior essentially sums up the relationship between Harvard Law School and myself. Though Harvard has abducted the single-most important person in my life, it is important to look past the blunt “exterior” that is her sporadic absence in my life over the next three years. The interior of our relationship reflects many more great moments of the past and infinite future events that will bring us closer together.
The exterior and interior qualities of my struggle have an inverse as well. Whenever there is a discussion about Harvard I act ecstatic, of course there is nothing better than being accepted into a top-flight Law School. In this instance though, is it that far-fetched to internally feel a tad-bit selfish? Of course not... though it is completely uncalled for to let one’s feelings and opinions get in the way of another’s destiny. I know that she is destined for great things in her life, greater things than my current selfishness. Ergo, Harvard is wonderful!
It is hard to look into the future when the present seems so trying. That night, a loud clanging sounded throughout the apartment. Was someone attempting to break in? Was someone already inside? Several unnerving and fearsome thoughts entered both our minds as I felt her beating heart against mine. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it was time for action. I walked toward the window, heart in throat, hoping the explanation for this disturbance was laughable/stupid.
When I found that the oscillating fan was the culprit, relief consumed my entire self. I was so glad that we were safe I almost instantaneously fell into a sound sleep, but I could not help but draw yet another parallel. The fear we both felt that night served as a representation of the fear that people in a long-distance situation feel on a daily basis. However, when one takes a step back and looks at the source of their fear, they find that in all matters surrounding love, there is nothing to be afraid of. It is ironic afterall as love is also the cure for this aforementioned fear…
Essentially, the “evil” oscillating fan provided an opportunity to reflect on the fear surrounding our situation at its source. I know that my girlfriend is entering a different, scary situation that both she and I may not like, but it’s important for us both to conquer this fear in order for our relationship's strength to be revealed and fully realized at the end of the journey.
After my night at Harvard, I have never felt safer. I feel that my girlfriend will not only flourish at Cambridge, but that our relationship will graduate to the next level along with her. I couldn’t be prouder or her or feel stronger with her by my side.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
My team, The Guns of Navarone (Pulp Fiction reference), won seven games in a row this season. The streak ended after I lost to the same man that defeated me in last season’s championship game: Tom Byrnes. I deserved it though. Every Monday it’s somewhat hard to set my line up in the best possible order due to my work schedule. For anyone who knows my line of work (beat reporter for both the Mets and Yankees), that may seem rather strange. Think what you will, I’ve made calls to my younger sister (who could care less about baseball) to make last minute adjustments to my roster before the deadline (mainly because I know that I can trust her to blindly make the move that I ask her to).
For instance, I drafted Mike Piazza at the start of this year solely because he was set to become the full-time designated hitter for the Oakland Athletics. Now, as anyone who has followed baseball knows, he’s been on the DL for an extend (maybe 2.5-3 months) because the A’s want to make him a regular catcher. I am ready to pull my hair out on a weekly basis, as I have to scout a new catcher every week to insert into my, otherwise, solid lineup. This week, David Ross has gone 0-for-ever up until a solo HR on Saturday afternoon.
At any rate, this is an example of the moves I will ask my sister to make just seconds before rosters lock each week. I reference each player's 2007 stats for the year thus far plus Ron Shandler’s documentation of 2006 stats. I attempt to draw parallels between the Baseball Prospectus and the Baseball Forecaster to achieve the most accurate numbers for a give player in a given part of the year. This brings me to the second half of the 2007 season…
Richie Sexson is one of the worst fundamental batters in MLB history. If he doesn’t connect for a home run, he strikes out. His biggest knock is that he bats around .265 to .270 every year, which isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. So much of what’s “great” and “horrible” in baseball depends on a player's contract anyway… which is good for fantasy baseball managers. In this instance, Sexson bats around .200 in the first half of every season, meaning that, if the numbers don’t lie, he’s capable of batting around .310 for the rest of the season, thus bringing him to that “horrible” .267 batting-average.
The same can be said for Adam LaRoche, a player who, up until 2006, was a career platoon first baseman for the Atlanta Braves. In ’06, however, LaRoche stepped it up. He batted almost one-hundred points higher in the second half of the season than he did the first half. What that means is that the Pirates may get their money’s worth in the second half of 2007. In every league I belong to I’ve been attempting to acquire LaRoche, in most I’ve been rejected. This is mainly a result of the offering of uneven deals based on LaRoche’s average draft position (ADP). Therefore, an offer of Nate Robertson for LaRoche would never be accepted by opposing owners.
Jermaine Dye is another player who has made a living off great second half’s, much to the tune of historic second half players like Eric Chavez and Aramis Ramirez. While Dye has been injured and struggling for the early part for 2007, what’s stopping him from ending up with his usual numbers of around.280 with upwards of 25-30 home runs. The guy can obviously his, his slugging percentage hasn’t dipped at an incredible enough rate that owners should give up on him…
In the end, there are a number of other players who have great career second half numbers. It just takes a little research and dedication to figure out whom your team should target and who should be the next to leave you fantasy team. For me, it’s hard to decide, mainly because I feel like my team is holding a number of really good young players combined with a healthy portion of veterans. Perhaps my main concern bounces between Ervin Santana, Javy Vazquez, and Phil Hughes. Obviously, Hughes has the best potential of the three, but currently Vazquez, the vet, has pitched the best. Santana falls somewhere in between. I remember 3 years ago when Peter Gammons sat on the set of Baseball Tonight and told the world that in 4 to 5 years fans would be talking about Ervin Santana as the best Santana in baseball (referring to annual Cy Young contender Johan). Well Pete… I’m still waiting for the guy you warned about. It would be really nice if he showed up every once in a while…
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Douglas Rushkoff, a published academic, delivered the concluding address for the convention. His speech talked about American culture always being a step behind, technologically speaking. Rushkoff referenced reading as the initial communication technology adopted by humanity. Soon thereafter, writing became the popular technology. However, by the time writing became the popular medium, reading was taught as a central societal cog. I know, it doesn’t make much sense to me either, but apparently people could read documents without a problem despite not knowing how to write themselves.
Think about it, if you didn’t know how to grip a pencil, or inked feather as it were, would writing be easy for you? Of course not! It would be about as easy as typing on a keyboard without knowing how consonants and vowels join together to create words. Without these words, how would one ever be able to form sentences? Nonetheless, this continues today, as programming is the novel and central medium, yet writing continues to be taught in our schools. This isn’t to say that writing is a useless medium… it is however mentioned to prove a point.
Programming has founded the modern day Internet. The Internet has founded social networks, messaging programs, and the entire consideration of a global village that we’ve all become accustomed to. This brings us back to Rushkoff, who has declared modern communication media undergoing a Renaissance. This renaissance is the result of interactivity on the Internet via editing programs. Consider the sophisticated editing software available to people today. If the final episode of The Sopranos bothered you that much… you could change it. Seriously, what’s stopping you? Why aren’t you doing it right now?
The extinction of absolutes that Rushkoff talks about has much to do with the death of television culture. The generation of humans who grew up watching television as an integral part of their society has past. Sure, TV provides a nice escape, but today’s generation doesn’t like being told what to do. The fundamentalism that Rushkoff discusses is the fixed-narratives inherent within television. Keeping with The Sopranos example, the fixed narrative of David Chase requires that viewers accept the final five minutes of the series. However, today’s narrative allows for bloggers to document not only what they think happened, but truly did happen!
This doesn’t stop with bloggers though, look to the YouTube culture that has grown uncontrollably over the past year and a half. Users can film their own version of what happened after the screen went black within the last seconds of the final shots of the series. Say, for instance, that I think Tony somehow got out of the restaurant alive and incorporated the use of “The Sopranos” video game on PS2 to act the scene out. That would definitely offer a conclusion for fans of “media content” despite the “grammar” of the content differentiating from the HBO series’ own.
This is the beauty of modern day communication. People actually care about what others have to say about issues holding weight in modern culture—even if it’s as non-sensical as the series finale of The Sopranos. Rushkoff’s ultimate point is that absolutes are dead. Nothing is absolute as long as the modern culture is accustomed to challenging the “norms” identified by mainstream culture. If I want to create my own final episode for a favorite series like The Sopranos or the like, I can! In fact, what I am writing right now is not even absolute. Someone can post a comment at the bottem of the screen right now arguing what I have written in such a way that it discredits everything I have just said. Sure, a part of me would be offended, but that’s completely in line with what I’ve been writing about for the last few minutes.
To conclude, challenge everything! Nothing you see is an absolute! Accepting any aspect of society as an absolute is settling for what you’re told is correct. This settling is the passivisity that has classified the modern generation as hopeless, and uncaring. Only challenging any and all will break the bonds that fundamentalists believe they have over colloquial culture.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
As I sat alone watching John Maine masterfully shut down the Minnesota Twins, I glanced over the scoreboard and noticed that the Red Sox were losing to the Braves and the Phillies were losing to the Indians. To a normal human being this is just an out of town score noting that the Mets (by now leading the Twins four-nothing) would maintain their one-and-a-half game lead over the the Braves and gain a game on the Phils.
To me however, I think to my fantasy baseball team. The "Guns of Navarone" had sent out Curt Schilling and Cole Hamels on this night to pitch against the team that had topped us in the championship last September. In other words, this is a huge week. Seven game winning streak on the line against my team's most bitter rival, this game has all the makings of an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Prime time match up.
By the 5th Inning, both scores read six to one in favor of both the Braves and Indians. I have never hated Native Americans more in my life. Both Schilling and Hamels were being destroyed by the red man and I need to talk about it. My girlfriend tolerates my fantasy griping for the most part, but this was going to take a while I couldn't bring myself to put her through it. Next in line: the big guy, Dad.
I noticed that he too would have things to talk about tonight. Josh Johnson, just getting over elbow problems, was losing to the White Sox two-nothing for his team this week. For the majority of the 2007 season, his pitching staff has struggled mightily. His first selections for starting pitching this year (Brett Myers and Jeremy Sowers) have been converted into the bullpen and demoted to the minor leagues respectively.
With my Dad's "New York Dynasty" experiencing similar problems this evening I knew that he would be my go-to-guy this evening. As I said earlier, I made this call during the 5th Inning and was on the phone until the 8th griping about how horrible my pitching was and how I was going to get owned this week in embarrassing fashion. I only cut the call short because this was my first game at Shea and I wasn't sure about the etiquette for post-game procedures and the like. Not off the phone for all of five minutes, WFAN's Mike Mancuso shouts from the broadcast reports press box asking "what girl I was talking to for so long?"
Isn't that hysterical? Ironically, I felt like a total tool because I was talking about fantasy baseball (not even the real thing) to my Dad instead of my beautiful girlfriend about anything except fantasy baseball. However, that feeling came and went almost immediately as I decided that fantasy baseball is that important to me. I would gripe about my starter's bad outings, my slumping bats, and my poor decisions as a GM for hours at a time if I could. Trades, line up adjustments, and add/drops are a part of my everyday life during baseball season. I've had teleconferences in the press box at Yankee Stadium discussing a necessary trade of Brad Hawpe for Bill Hall at the end of last season (the deal would help me but blow up in my face the last week of the season as Hall went about 1-30 during the early part of September).
So here's the point of this post: it is stupid to ever be embarrassed about something you care about. I love fantasy baseball. I don't know what my summer would be like if I couldn't complain about Carlos Beltran, Cole Hamels, and Curt Schilling. Being a Yankee fan can only get me so far; the hybrid of stats and scouting fills my days and nights.
When I got a chance to talk to Mike after venturing down to the Mets' locker room, we talked about fantasy baseball (which is code for talking about individual players) and how guys my age focus too much on the player than the team. He pointed out that so many people can recite what Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and David Ortiz did on a given night but could never tell you what the Yanks, Cards, and Sox did.
"I'll tell you one thing," I said, "the Sox and Philles definitely lost tonight, and it's because of Curt Schilling and Cole Hamels." I had another go-to-guy.
First: Bobby Abreu is the ultimate baseball player. Think about it. For the first two months, if not two and a half, of the MLB season, Bobby has been torn apart by fans and the media alike. I remember doing it myself in April when many fan were still on the "hate A-Rod" ban-wagon. I distinctly remember hte situation too. It was during the opening series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who were leading late in the ball game. Stepping to the plate in his normal three-spot was Bobby Abreu who was struck out looking before A-Rod struck out swinging. Abreu's failure was unrecognized, whereas A-Rod, now in the media spotlight, was "boo'd" relentlessly. Now, as we're all aware Alex Rodriguez has once again become the "apple" in the "eye" of most Yankees' fans, whereas Bobby Abreu has had a harder time.
While Abreu could've rolled over and died like the Alex Rodriguez on 2006, he persevered. After the game, Abreu talked about going into the batting cage day after day, talking to teammates, coaches, and even friends of his who could offer advice to him. Today, Abreu launched a three-run bomb off 2006 Cy Young Award Winner Brandon Webb in the bottem of the first, supplying the Yankees all the runs they would need to win tonights game.
Does this make Abreu a better player than A-Rod? No. However, his perseverance must be recognized. In 2006, A-Rod essentially crumbled in the spotlight of the New York media and fan criticism, whereas Bobby Abreu used it as a motivational factor, which propelled him to the state he is playing in today. The point I am trying to make here is that Bobby Abreu is one of the few modern additions to this Yankee team that embodies the old-school form of what it means to be a Yankee. Abreu takes pitches, drives the ball to all fields, and can handle the pressure of the media and fans. It would be comepletely assinine for the Bombers to opt out of his team option in 2007 in order to give Melky Cabrera additional playing time. While I love Melky and the energy he brings to the team, this is not the guy he should be replacing; which brings be to my next point:
Second, Johnny Damon love being a Yankee. After every game he is the first player out of the locker room and will always shoot the media straight. That is to say, give them the answers they want to hear. The answers that Derek Jeter would nevere give them. The DH role that Damon has come to fulfill these past few weeks seems ideal for him. It's ironic as the successor to Bernie Williams ends up succeeding him in his role as DH/utility outfielder. Many thought it would be at least three years before Damon came anywhere near entering that role. However, shin-splints being what they are, Damon has entered this role a year or two early.
This brings us to Jason Giambi, a player who has fought year in and yea rout for the respect and admiration of Yankees' fans. With Damon, Giambi's long-time buddy, in the DH slot, this leaves little room for the large-and-in-charge slugger. All signs point to the Yankees attempting to get out of the final years of Jason Giambi's contract with the team. While, obviously, no team would take on the the contract of Giambi via trade, offense-deficient ball clubs like the Angels, Dodgers, and Orioles would look to add the bat of the "Giambino."
Lastly, (as it's getting late) the Yankee starting pitching is carrying the team during this stretch. Joe Torre said it himself: "This streak is predicated upon by starting pitching." It happened tonight with Wang, the staff ace, and looks to continue tomorrow night when Mike Mussina takes the hill. This cannot make fans feel too confident as the Moose has had his struggles the past few starts. One can only hope that the offense can back Mussina enough that he can have a hiccup or two during Wednesday night's start. On Thursday afternoon the Yanks will send out old reliable Andy Pettitte, which mean that even if Mussina stumbles and the Yanks fall to the D-Backs on Wednesday the club could enter this weekend's Subway Series with a 7-1 record over their last eight, which is NOT bad at all!
To conclude, make sure you tune into 90.7 FM or WFUV.org this Saturday from 1-4 in order to not only hear the longest running sports call in show that in One on One, but to also hear live game updates from Yankee Stadium by yours truly.
Thanks for reading again and I'll see you next time.