Wednesday, September 28, 2011

LIC Staff Meeting

Melvin flew into New York for a conference and we spent over nine hours on Sunday in Long Island City.  Prior to his arrival we made plans to discuss Baseball Byways and where it might go next.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

With a Whimper

An overenthusiastic Rickie Weeks
Watson and I went to our last game of the year at Wrigley on Tuesday night—the home closer is Wednesday afternoon. The playoff-bound Brewers did as expected, scoring four times off perpetual B-lister Randy Wells in the third. This allowed everyone to put aside the formality of "playing the game" and just zip through the at-bats and whatnot (box). The one thing I will say against the Brewers playoff chances is that Casey McGehee's play at third seems to fall below the defensive equivalent of the Mendoza Line (the Soriano Line?).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And Now Mariano

First Jeter, now Mariano; Yankee players continue to set records.  Derek Jeter reached the 3,000 hit milestone on July 9 and last night, with his 602nd save, Mariano Rivera became the all-time saves leader, surpassing Trevor Hoffman.  Hoffman stated six years ago that Rivera will go down in history as the best reliever in the game.

God may have created Jeter, the choir boy with the puritan work ethic and public demeaner, but Rivera is so freakishly good, the only possible explanation seems to be the one given for Robert Johnson's mastery of the blues guitar.  (Rivera is in reality a devout Christian.)

"Mo" has been dominant at his position on a team that has won five world championships with him as their closer.  A 12-time all-star (among other accomplishments), he was already expected to enter the hall of fame on the first ballot.  The question now is whether or not he can set untouchable records that stand the test of time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pitchers Duel, Nunez Triples

As I have noted before, the three-game play-off series is a killer.  Lose either of the first two games and you cannot lose again.  In Thursday's first game of the 2011 New York-Penn League divisional play-off, the wild-card Brooklyn Cyclones got shut-out at home 2-0 by their crosstown rival and McNamara Division champions, the Staten Island Yankees.

Brooklyn evened the series the next night by winning a 12-5 slugfest on the road.  The pitchers duel I saw last night captured perfectly the tension of the win-or-go-home stakes.  What was especially exciting about the 19 total strike-outs was eight of them were looking.  All night long batters on both teams were jawing at home plate umpire Ryan Additon.

Yankee center fielder Mason Williams prepares to swing
through Ryan Additon's large strike zone.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tenth Anniversary

In my mind the arguable beginning of the life's work that has become Baseball Byways was a game at Fenway Park on September 9, 2001. Rob and I and our wives all lived in Brooklyn then, but we met in Boston and then drove back home together just in time for a lovely and uneventful autumn.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

And then occasionally I am reminded why I love baseball. A season's worth of bitching about the Cubs was at least somewhat redeemed by Tuesday night's 13-inning show between them and the Reds.

The first eight innings flew by in just about two hours, in no small part on account of the one-hitter Mike Leake threw over that period and on into the ninth. The Cubs were down 2-0, but that's hardly unusual. It was a cool-but-not-too-cool evening, and I was in the best seat I've had all year, thanks to the visiting Rich and Rose, who were smart enough to not buy a season package back in January but wait until this time of year to swoop in from Philadelphia and nail some cheap seats via Stub Hub. We were about 15 rows behind home plate, just slightly to the third-base side.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer's Over

Suddenly it's chilly again at Wrigley, with those strong lake winds swirling around and much of the nonbleacher seats in shade. It's like it's Memorial Day again or something—was summer really that short? (Disclaimer: I work in what amounts to a windowless office, so even if it was a long luxurious summer, I wouldn't know it. Someone send me a telex with the details.) It does seem like a long time ago that we were sitting in the New Mexican desert.

On Labor Day, Watson and I caught a day game at Wrigley against the Reds, from far down the left-field line. Former famous person Dontrelle Willis started for Cincinnati, and while the D Train (0-5) didn't derail on the north side this afternoon, his team didn't do much to help him. Willis did get off to a hot start, with three perfect innings against the Cubs, but after they started to get to him, he got shakier. First, the Reds managed to not tag Reed Johnson as he sauntered around the plate, and then Drew Stubbs forgot that rule about waiting till a flyball is caught before running—these kinds of things can get in a normal pitcher's head, let alone Willis's. From where we sat it looked like he was pitching into a post:

We huddled in the right-field corner till the bottom of the eighth (the Cubs tried to lose it that inning but managed to hang on, 4–3) and then headed down Addison. By the time we got home, it was fall.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Off

Labor Day was made a federal holiday in 1894 as part of President Grover Cleveland's reconciliation with the labor movement following his intervention in the deadly Pullman Strike earlier that year.  The September date was intentionally chosen to not coincide with International Workers Day and from its inception Labor Day has generally been more fest than protest.

"Women model clothing on an ILGWU Labor Day parade float on 5th Avenue"
[at East 41st Street, New York City], photographer and date unknown,
courtesy of the Kheel Center for Labor-Management
Documentation & Archives, Cornell University

Owing to the nature of their jobs, many people must work on Labor Day but most workers have the day off.  Included in the latter are the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones, who may play each other six times in seven days with only Labor Day as an off-day.  The teams, designed to be crosstown rivals, end their seasons playing each other.  Since the Baby Bombers won their division and the Mini-Mets are the wild card, they'll meet again in the New York-Penn League play-offs starting Tuesday Wednesday uhm, now Thursday—Game One was postponed twice due to rain.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

He'll Talk, But Not Sports

In a press release titled, "David Paterson Elected New PM-Drive Host," New York talk-radio station WOR announced today that David A. Paterson, former governor of New York, will host a weekday program, 4:00-6:00 pm.  It is an odd headline, since Paterson was never elected governor, only assuming the position after Elliot "Client-9" Spitzer resigned.

“During his frequent stints as a fill-in host on WOR, Governor David Paterson proved to be a favorite with our listeners throughout the tri-state area,” said Jerry Crowley, vice president and general manager of WOR, known as "News Talk Radio 710."

This development at least temporarily lays to rest [my] conjecture that the former governor would become a host at New York sports talk radio station WFAN.