February 2009

The Yankees Have Only Played Five Games, But…

…Jorge Posada is swinging a steaming, smoldering, stinging, hot-as-a-jalapeno-pepper bat.

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He homered and doubled against the Rays yesterday and singled twice against the Twins today. That gives him four hits already.
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No, my finger didn’t spazz out on the “Image Here” key. I was just trying to prove my point. The man’s finally got it going after sitting out most of last season with a shoulder made of spaghetti, and I’m flippin’ happy about it.
Still, what I’m about to say pains me.
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It’s possible – just possible – that he won’t be able to catch effectively until much later in the season. Which means he won’t be in the lineup because we already have a DH.
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I love Matsui, I do. He’s been a veritable RBI machine for the Yankees over the years. But he has two bad knees. He can’t play the outfield except in an emergency (war, plague, pestilence). He’s clogging up the DH spot.
To put it another way, Jorge needs to be our DH for as long as it takes his shoulder to heal, and Godzilla needs to join Cody Ransom on the bench. Or (God, forgive me) be traded.
Well, there is another option. The American League could decide to allow us two DHs instead of one, the second DH existing solely for catchers with shoulder injuries. Thus, Matsui would be the Regular DH and Posada would be the Catcher DH, enabling Molina to crouch behind the plate but never have to step up to it.
The point? The Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2000, as our enemies are quick to point out, so we’re done fooling around. We need Jorge’s steaming, smoldering, stinging, hot-as-a-jalapeno-pepper bat in the lineup no matter what, DH or no DH.
Programming note: Tomorrow is my book party here in Santa Barbara.
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I won’t be able to watch Saturday’s rematch of Yankees-Twins, because I’ll be signing books and guzzling samples from the “She-Fan Beer Tasting.” So if anything exciting happens, call the Hollister Brewing Company and ask for me. Pix of the party in tomorrow night’s post.
Update: Posada “tweaked” his shoulder while stretching in the on-deck circle yesterday and was scratched from today’s lineup. It’s my fault. I wrote about him in this post. It was a curse, like the SI cover is a curse. I’m sorry. From now on, I will not praise Yankees players for fear of causing them harm.

Signs of Intelligent Life In Yankeeville

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It started with a home run by Posada. Hip, Hip, Jor-haaaaaay!
It ended with a home run by Shelley. Shel-ley! Shel-ley! Shel-ley!
There was defensive brilliance by Cano. Let’s hear it for that banned trainer in the DR!
We had impressive outings from our pitchers. Bruney lost more weight! No double chin!
And Tex hit his first single as a Yankee. Who says he’s a slow starter!
Even Angel Berroa got on base. He’s our new Luis Sojo!
Lots to cheer about at Steinbrenner Field, as the Yanks beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 and proved for the second day in a row that they are not mired in scandal or depressed by their third-place finish last year or even wrung out from their excursion to the billiards parlor.
So what if the Rays left every star player except Carl Crawford back in Port Charlotte?  It was still sweet to beat those Cinderfellas and their wine-aficionado manager.
But what really brightened my day was when I read that CC Sabathia will make his Steinbrenner Field debut on Friday, March 6th – the night I’ll be there! Talk about the planets being perfectly aligned.
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I’m so stoked that I’m already planning my wardrobe. I don’t want to seem overeager when I watch CC from my seat in Section 104, so do I leave the fancy clothes at the hotel and opt, instead, for jeans and my Mariano Rivera T-shirt? Or is it rude to wear the jersey of the old guy when you’re there rooting for the new guy? 
What will I eat, given that I’ll be nervous? My head tells me that the hot dogs will be awful, but my heart tells me that CC would want me to scarf down a few.
And what sort of cheer do I chant for the occasion?
Let’s go, CC! Clap, clap, clap clap clap!

Or…
Cee-Cee! Cee-Cee! Cee-Cee!

Or maybe just…
Welcome to the Yankees! I love you!
It’s all so confusing, but I have a week to figure it out. In the meantime, here’s what can’t happen that night. Cannot.
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Or this.
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No, I don’t do rain.
I have tickets to the game and that’s that, so I need the weather to cooperate and for the sky to look exactly like this.
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Thank you in advance.

Grapefruit League Report: Yankees Tangy in 6-1 Win!

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Game 1 against the Jays resulted in a Yankees victory, thanks, in part, to Brett Tomko. Yes, Brett Tomko. He did not exhibit LaTroy Hawkins behavior after all and, instead, was positively Cy Young-ish. O.K., so he only pitched two innings. They were shutout innings, for God’s sake.
Jose Veras, on the other hand, was a wild man.
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I know everybody’s just getting loose, but he served up a double, walked two, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Way to show us that good control, Jose!
What about offense? I could talk about Brett Gardner‘s solo shot in the first inning. I could talk about Nick Swisher‘s uncanny Giambi imitation, working a walk after being down 0-2. Or I could talk about A-Rod‘s two-run homer. Yeah, I’ll talk about that.
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(Notice the Yankees’ new road uniform, captured in all its glory by the AP.)
No, not everyone in the crowd booed the Yankees third baseman. Some of the Dunedin residents stood up and cheered….during a break from Bingo.
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“I’ll let my bat do the talking from now on,” A-Rod told She-Fan in a private conversation between two people with hyphenated nicknames.
Moving to another topic entirely, I must share something that happened to me yesterday afternoon. It falls into the “Let this be a lesson to you” category.
I was working at the computer at 5:30 when the doorbell rang. I live way up in the hills of Santa Barbara. Hardly anyone rings the doorbell. Ever.
“Hi,” I said when I saw two teenaged boys standing outside.
The dark-haired one handed me a letter and said, “Your husband must have dropped this by the mailbox.”
“Thanks,” I said. “Very thoughtful of you.”
“Can we come in?” he said. “The neighbor next door told us you were a very nice lady and we’re selling children’s books for kids with cancer and autism.”
I’m not sure which got to me: the nice lady bit or the kids with cancer line. But I invited them into my kitchen, where they said they were UCLA students visiting a relative. They explained that they were trying to raise money for an internship in London by selling the paperback books. They showed me a pamphlet with a description of the books and asked if I would help the cause. They said the neighbor next store had bought five books.
They were like Girl Scouts selling cookies, except with tattoos.
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So what did I do? I wrote them a check.
A few minutes after they left, I called my next door neighbor to tell her that I, too, had bought five books for the sick kids.
“Well,” she said. “They told me you bought five, so I bought five.”
“Wait,” I said. “They told me they went to your house first.”
“They said they came to your house first. That’s why I let them in – because you’d already talked to them.”
That’s when it hit both of us: We’d just been conned. My neighbor is a brilliant filmmaker and I’ve written 14 books. We aren’t dopes – and yet we’d been duped.
Bottom line: We found out these guys were part of a gang trying to steal our identities and run through our money. Great!
After hours spent dealing with my bank today, closing out my checking account and opening a new one, all I can say is this: Use your head and don’t be like me.
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And The Yankees Starter For Spring Training Game One Is….

…this guy.

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Who is also this guy.
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And this one.
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This one.
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This one.
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And, most recently, this one.
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Yes, it’s the well-traveled Brett Tomko, who found his way to the Yankees via a minor-league contract.
Will he have success against the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow, mowing the hitters down like a clone of Roy Halladay (well, there’s a slight resemblance)? Or will he reveal his propensity to give up home runs – a quirk that earned him the nickname “Bombko” when he was with the Dodgers? To put it in other terms, will he be any good or will he be LaTroy Hawkins?
We will know in a matter of hours. One thing is for sure, however: After the game he will head home to his playmate – literally. He’s married to Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for February 1998….the lovely and talented Julia Schultz.
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O.K., so she’s no Marilyn Monroe to his Joe DiMaggio. But I applaud her loyalty. How would you like to move to a different city every six seconds with a guy named Bombko?

What Else Did The Yankees Do On Their Day Off?

In an effort to promote team unity and build off-the-field relationships, Joe Girardi gave the players a reprieve from Monday’s workout and, instead, had them board the buses for a trip to a local billiards parlor.

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Mo won both Eight-Ball tournaments (or should I say he closed them out). Reactions from various Yankees included:
“Joe came up with a great idea to get us together as a team. We all have been rallying around each other, having a good time. It’s a day I’ll never forget.” – Johnny Damon
“The most fun I’ve ever had in spring training in my whole career. There were probably 16-18 pool tables, there were some card tables, we had darts, we had guys playing dominos, and we had lunch. Everyone was just having a good time.” – Mark Teixeira
Sounds like a fine time to me. But what did the Yankees do after billiards, cards, darts, dominos and lunch? Go home? No one was talking, so She-Fan dug deeper and got the story.
Nothing says loving better than a little badminton, apparently. Here’s Ian Kennedy sending the shuttlecock over the net to Phil Hughes, who had been miffed at Kennedy for not acting despairing enough after losses.

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Next came some Yankee on Yankee bowling. Nick Swisher goes for the strike to the delight of Xavier Nady, his nemesis in the competition for the right field job. 
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At Busch Gardens, all the guys rode The Scorpion together and were so terrified they couldn’t help but hold A-Rod’s hands. Really nice strategy by Girardi.
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After working up a sweat, the Yankees hit the water. Shelley Duncan made quite a splash, causing his teammates to howl with laughter.
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Jorge Posada tested his shoulder during the kayaking activity. Everybody cheered when he pronounced himself 85% ready for Opening Day.
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People were feeling so loosey-goosey that before boarding the buses they broke out into a spontaneous dance number in the tradition of “Thriller.” From left to right: Damon, Coke, Joba, Cano, Teixeira.
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The sun was setting as the buses dropped everybody off at the last stop, a scenic campground. Girardi and his coaches instructed the players to build a fire.
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Everybody gathered around, sang “Friends, Friends, Friends. We will always be….” and then toasted marshmallows and made these.
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The boys vowed to be there for each other forever and ever, especially with a man on third and nobody out.
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From The “Too Weird” Department….

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No, that’s not a dumpster at a ballpark. It’s a townhouse in Ogden, Utah, where a guy lived for eight years and drank a whole lot of beer.
According to my high school buddy Dave, who sent the pix along, the landlord thought the tenant was the best renter ever because he never called to complain. I guess he was too busy drinking.
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Supposedly, the landlord found 70,000 cans of Coors Light in the place after the guy vacated.  How many baseball seasons would it take for you to drink that many beers?
As an aside, how bad is the beer at ball games? Does anyone actually enjoy it? Or is it just the beverage of habit? I’m a bottled water fan, so I’m hardly one to judge. But for anyone old enough to drink, be honest. Is the stuff any good? It sure doesn’t smell like it.

Oscars And Laundry = Glamour And Drudgery

Michael and I used to go to a friend’s annual Oscar party when we lived in LA. But now that we’re in Santa Barbara, here’s how we’re spending the evening: I’m doing laundry and Michael is reorganizing his office. We’re one fun couple, aren’t we? A regular Brad and Angelina.

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Oops. The show is starting.
No. It’s only the “red carpet” show where the stars are being asked truly idiotic questions about what they’re wearing.
O.K. Here’s the real show. Host Hugh Jackman makes a steroids joke about Meryl Streep and all the awards she’s won. I wonder if A-Rod’s watching.
Best Supporting Actress. Love that they’re actually describing the performances of each nominee. Well done. Penelope Cruz? I wasn’t expecting her to win; I thought Marisa Tomei would get it. Even Penelope seems shocked.
Best Original Screenplay. Really love the bit with Steve Martin and Tina Fey. So far this show is great. Milk wins. Very impassioned speech.
Best Adapted Screenplay. Slumdog Millionaire. The writer actually thanks the author of the book. What a concept.
Best Animated Film. Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black present the nominees, while the camera finds Angelina Jolie laughing nervously. Is Angie feeling guilty for stealing Brad from Jen? Winner: Wall-E.
(Laundry break during Art Direction, Costume Design and Makeup. Am I the only one who thinks Sarah Jessica Parker looks better as a blonde?)
Best Cinematographer. Ben Stiller comes out doing a Joaquin Phoenix imitation. What a riot. Natalie Portman‘s dress is a winner. So is the cinematographer of Slumdog, who apparently couldn’t find a jacket that fit.
Sci-Tech Awards. I’m tuning this out except that Jessica Biel is at the microphone and I’m wondering if she was the one who broke up with Derek Jeter or vice versa.
Hilarious bit with Seth Rogen and James Franco as stoners watching DVDs. Best line: “Who’s a better actor? Reagan or Obama?”
Long musical number with Beyonce. I feel like I’m watching the Tony’s. Yawn.
Best Supporting Actor. I really do like how they’re stopping to acknowledge each nominee. Heath Ledger wins. His father, mother and sister accept the award. There are close-ups of teary, wistful audience members, but not the long standing ovation I anticipated. Weird.
(Another laundry run during the Documentary category. Then dinner during Visual EffectsSound Effects, Sound Mixing and Film Editing. This is when I wish we had people over. I could be busily serving hors d’oeuvres or pouring wine. Instead, the only wine I’m pouring is my own.)
Eddie Murphy is all business as he introduces the special humanitarian award to Jerry Lewis. Big standing O. I’m expecting an over-the-top acceptance speech – a little Cinderfella maybe? – but Jerry is short and sweet.
Great pink/purple dress on Alicia Keys as she and Zac Effron present the Best Original Score award to the Slumdog composer, whose name I can’t spell. 
Now come the Best Original Song nominees. This is the category Peter Gabriel boycotted; he was offended that he was only getting 65 seconds to perform his song from Wall-E. I’m offended he was offended. Who does he think he is? Beyonce? The winner: Slumdog. Yay.
Queen Latifah has the task of singing during the Dead People Montage. I ask Michael to pass the tissues when they show clips of Paul Newman. Sob.
Reese Witherspoon (I’m staring at her really hard, sending her vibes so she’ll play me in the still-in-my-fantasy movie version of “She-Fan”) presents the Best Director Oscar to Danny Boyle for Slumdog.
Is it possible this show will be done before midnight/9 p.m.? And where’s Jack Nicholson? He usually sits in the front row in his shades and smirks a lot.
Best Actress. Standing ovation for Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Marion Cotillard. Winner: Kate Winslet. No surprise, but it was cool how the past winners congratulated her.
Best Actor. Big hand for Michael Douglas, Adrien Brody, Robert DeNiro, Ben Kingsley and Anthony Hopkins. Winner: Sean Penn. Wow! Stunned that Mickey didn’t get it, but happy. Sean was great in the movie.
Last award. Steven Spielberg is on stage for Best Picture. Love the montage mixing old and new movies, Winner: Slumdog. Talk about a rags to riches story. It’s the equivalent of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Well, I had to end with a baseball analogy. Back to the Yankees tomorrow.

Saturday’s Yankees Headline: CC Hurls

I’m not talking about pitching. Apparently, Sabathia was taken down by a case of stomach flu and couldn’t complete his workout.
swish.jpg(Here’s an AP photo of Nick Swisher doing his best imitation of CC driving the porcelain bus.)
I sincerely hope the bug isn’t contagious, because the very last thing the Yankees need right now is a clubhouse full of upchuckers.
On to a more pleasant subject: the Academy Awards.
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I’m excited about tomorrow night’s show (I’ll be live blogging), even though it’ll probably last for hours and people will make boring speeches and Hugh Jackman isn’t my idea of an A-list host – plus I’m still miffed that Clint Eastwood/Gran Torino and Bruce Springsteen/The Wrestler weren’t nominated. On Oscars eve, here are my predictions.
The nominees are:
Best Actor
Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button)
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Who should win: Sean Penn
Who will win: Mickey Rourke
(Sean has already been nominated five times and won once, so I pick Mickey to take the prize. Hollywood loves a comeback story, and he’s sure to say something odd and endearing up at the podium.)
Best Actress
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Who should win: Melissa Leo
Who will win: Kate Winslet
(Kate is the new Meryl and it’s her year. As amazing as Melissa Leo was, nobody saw Frozen River; she’s lucky to have been nominated.)
Best Picture
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
Milk
Frost/Nixon
Benjamin Button
Who should win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire
(I started to get Slumdog Fatigue a few weeks ago when the movie won all the run-up awards, but I still think it’ll bring home the gold.)
The only remaining question is….Which of these should I wear?
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I really like the gown in the bottom row, second from the right, but who am I kidding. I’ll end up wearing this.
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Even When I Try To Focus On Baseball…

….the Yankees won’t let me and I’m frustrated.
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I was all set to post today about something benign, even heartening (CC and AJ are becoming great friends! Andrew Brackman sure can throw! Melky nixes the WBC so he can win back the center field job!), but it was not to be. There was too much off-the-field drama.
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First, from the Daily News, we learned that A-Rod spent the 2007 season in the company of an “unsavory character” named Angel Presinal. This Dominican trainer extraordinaire, who is said to have worked with such boldfaced names as Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Vlad Guerrero and Robbie Cano, traveled everywhere with A-Rod at the same time that I traveled everywhere with A-Rod (well, O.K., so I wasn’t with A-Rod; I was stalking A-Rod), and yet I never noticed the guy? Not once? Not at the pool at the Vinoy in St. Pete? Not in the 18th floor lounge at the Park Hyatt in Toronto? Not at the health and fitness center at the Ritz Carlton in Boston?
I mean, it’s not as if this Angel person could be confused with a potted plant.
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Supposedly, Cousin Yuri, the Boli procurer, was also along for the ride.
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But I never spotted him, either.
So what’s wrong with me? Don’t I have any powers of observation? Am I a complete loser?
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Oh, well. Angel and Yuri are A-Rod’s problem. And he will have a problem if his ’07 drug tests are anything but pristine. Selig can’t suspend him for fraternizing with an undesirable trainer and an equally undesirable relative. (Who doesn’t have one of those, right?) But this whole thing smells, and the scent isn’t this.
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I was about to forge ahead with a much more cheerful post about two players I was eager to see in spring training, Xavier Nady and Johnny Damon, but then I read this from NBC Sports.
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It wasn’t Bernie Madoff who made off with their millions. It was that other con artist the government is investigating. And now Nady and Damon, poor things, have had their assets frozen and can’t pay their bills. Never in my lifetime did I expect to see my boys in pinstripes taking to the streets.
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And then there was this story from Newsday about Felix Lopez III, the son of Yankees Senior VP Felix Lopez Junior (George Steinbrenner’s son-in-law), who pleaded guilty to trafficking in steroids, not to mention the date-rape drug.
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Begone, all you scuzzy people! I want to write nice stories about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…brown paper packages tied up with strings….
I know. I know. I just went too far in the other direction. But you get my drift.

Delirium In The Dentist’s Chair

At one o’clock sharp, I was stretched out in a recliner, wearing one of those white paper bibs around my neck and gazing around the examining room of Cami Elyse Ferris, D.D.S., whose business card reads: “Practice Limited to Endodontics.” She had been recommended by my regular dentist for today’s root canal.

(Old picture of her. She has short hair now.)
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She assured me that everything would be fine, then pulled on the latex gloves and got down to business.
“Feel free to give me extra Novocaine,” I said as she approached me with a syringe the size of a baseball bat. “Actually, do you have any Primobolin?”
“Excuse me?”
“Kidding.”
I zoned out as the chemicals went in. While Dr. Ferris drilled for oil or whatever she was doing in my mouth, I listened to the Lite FM that dentists always inflict on patients and I let my mind drift. I was so relaxed I took a nap.
Then, out of nowhere, pain. 
“We’ve got a problem,” said Dr. Ferris, patting my shoulder after I literally levitated from the chair. “Most people have roots that go straight down.” She showed me a diagram.
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“Yours don’t.” She shook her head in awe and wonder. “You’ve got a root that’s shaped like the letter ‘C.'”
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She shook her head again, marveling at me. “I’ve only seen this phenomenon in Asian women.”
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Great. So my mother had an affair and I wasn’t 100% Jewish American Princess after all?
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“Don’t panic,” said my endodontist. “We’ll just have to work a little harder.”
The rest of the procedure was pure torture, but I distracted myself by thinking about the Yankees.
Before I’d left the house earlier, I’d read that Bernie Williams was working out with the team in preparation for the WBC. He hadn’t made Puerto Rico’s roster yet, but he was hopeful, even though he had reached the big 4-0.
I pictured Bernie from his golden days with the Yanks, hitting walk-off homers and sprinting in center field.
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I also thought about how the Yankees didn’t offer him a contract at the end of ’06 and how he’d been focusing on his music ever since.
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Today he was telling everyone that he still wanted to play, which made me think of 43-year-old Tom Glavine signing with the Braves and 43-year-old Tim Wakefield staying with the Red Sox and 46-year-old Jamie Moyer re-upping with the Phillies and the almost-40-year-old Ken Griffey Junior going back to the Mariners.
Has anyone else noticed that teams are signing 40somethings and 20somethings but not rushing to tie up 30somethings? That the market is more sluggish for those who are neither unripe rookies nor grizzled veterans but who fall squarely in between? Is there a dwindling middle class in baseball?
“We’re done,” said Dr. Ferris after I’d been in that chair for nearly three hours. “You were a real trooper.” She removed the rubber thingie that had been wedged between my teeth preventing me from talking.
“I think Bernie has a chance for a comeback!” were my first words as a free woman.
“Bernie who?” she said, then instructed the nurse to bring me some pain meds.
“Bernie Williams,” I said. “He was a Yankee. He could be a Yankee again. Well, he’ll always be a Yankee, because it’s the only organization he’s ever played for and once you put on the pinstripes you -“
“Take these,” said Dr. Ferris, handing me six capsules and a cup of water. “You’ll feel like yourself in a day or so.”
“I feel like myself now.” Clearly, she thought I was delirious.
Maybe I was, but it was a sweet delirium. As I staggered outside, my head buzzed with the memory of this.
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