March 2009

Joba Faces The Judge

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Having been charged with drunken driving several months ago, as well as being in possession of an open container of alcohol, Joba Chamberlain postponed his hearing four times. But immediately after the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Reds, he finally flew to Nebraska for his arraignment. As he left George M. Steinbrenner Field he breathed a sigh of relief that he would learn his punishment at last.
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He has told the Yankees how sorry he is for the events of that fateful night, and pledged to drink more responsibly than he used to.
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And lately he’s been more associated with breakfast food than champagne parties.
But the time has come. The courtroom awaits. The law is the law.
Since he’s a first-time offender, he could get off with a slap on the wrist (or someplace else).
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Or the judge could make him cool his heels in the slammer for a night or two.
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My guess is he’s looking at community service, which could be performed by speaking to kids about the dangers of drinking and driving…
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or maybe by feeding the homeless.
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I suppose the term “community service” could be applied more loosely; perhaps Joba could pay his debt to society by coming to Santa Barbara and helping me out.
How?
Let me count the ways.
1) He could do our yard work.
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2) He could do our grocery shopping.
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3) He could fix our leaky sink.
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4) He could cook our meals.
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5) He could fill in for our cleaning lady, who comes on Mondays but is currently visiting her family in Mexico.
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6) He could keep my husband company watching “Jeopardy.”
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7) And he could take over the writing of my blog.
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Here’s hoping the judge is reading this post right now and considering all the points I’ve made.
May justice be served.

Housing Wanted: Yankees Center Fielder Seeks Suitable Residence – ASAP

Brett Gardner doesn’t have time to celebrate his new job as the Yankees starting center fielder.

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He needs a place to live. Now. The team is about to break camp and head north, and Gardner told the beat writers: “I haven’t started looking for housing in New York yet, but I have no intention of living in the same New Jersey extended stay hotel I used last year.”
Well, all right then, Gardy. So where are you planning to put yourself? You’re a hayseed from Holly Hill, South Carolina, and you don’t know squat about New York. Do you honestly think you can just close your eyes, point to a spot on a map of the Tri-State area and go, “I’ll move there?”
Of course not. You’re not making Jeter/A-Rod money, and you don’t have a 10-year contract. Your options aren’t limitless. You need guidance. Fortunately, She-Fan is at your service.
So…..Some choices.
You can be very conservative and simply rent a room in the house of a family whose little boy has grown up and gone away to college.
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Or maybe you’d prefer a more fraternity-like atmosphere.
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If so, we could probably move you into the same New Jersey condominium as them.
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Oh. You’re married with a young son and you’re moving them to New York. Right. What about a two-bedroom/two bath apartment in a Manhattan high-rise for the three of you?
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There are so many neighborhoods we could consider, since Manhattan is such a mixed bag.
We could find you something on the Upper East Side surrounded by types like them.
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Or you might enjoy the Meat Packing District where you’d very likely run into them.
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And there’s always the Chelsea neighborhood where you’d probably run into them.
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O.K. You don’t want to be in the city. You’d rather find something that reminds you of home. How about a sweet little farmhouse in a bucolic area of Connecticut?
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Your son is allergic to cows?
Fine. Let’s do a waterfront condo in Westchester.
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Your wife is afraid of the water?
Sorry, I don’t understand. You want to live where? What’s a yurt?
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Tell you what, Gardy. Find your own tent. No, I’m not mad at all. It’s your life. Just promise you’ll show up here next week and we’re good.
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“I Was Out Of Whack All Day”


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That’s what A.J. told the media after giving up seven runs, six earned, over four-plus innings against the Pirates. The Yankees went on to win 9-8, but Burnett said his mechanics were off.
My mechanics were off too, since it’s Sunday, but I didn’t fall apart.
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(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
Here’s my point. I understand that pitchers sometimes feel out of whack, but isn’t there anything that can be done to get them back in whack? During the game? Isn’t that what pitching coaches are for? To trot out to the mound and say, “Your shoulder is flying open” or “You need to slow it down” or “I heard there’s a great buffet at the Hyatt tonight?” Why can’t pitchers get back in whack while they’re pitching?
Here’s some video of A.J. warming up before a spring training game last year. I couldn’t throw a ball 90 mph to save my life, so I’m no expert. But does it look that hard to stay in whack?
All I know is that I was feeling out of whack earlier today. But then I read that the Yankees have decided to crown Brett Gardner as the starting center fielder. The news reminded me of another Yankees outfielder who once wore a crown, and suddenly I was right back in whack.
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Joe Girardi explained: “Melky played very well, but we’re just going to go with Gardy.” 
Gardy. Isn’t that the nickname for this guy?
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Is baseball ready for two Gardys? I am. Nothing against Melky, but I love watching Gardy run the bases. If he can hit with any consistency, the Yankees will have a huge weapon.
As for Melky, I guess he’ll be dealt or kept on as an extra outfielder/bench player/defensive replacement in late innings. I already said my mental goodbye to him when I thought he was being shipped to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron, so I’m good with whatever happens, unlike this woman.
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On a happier note, Xavier Nady is French. Why does that make me happy? Because it means he’ll understand it when I say, “Je t’aime.”
Here’s an excerpt from the NJ.com interview in which he explains his heritage. (Hat tip to Sliding Home.)
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You’re Xavier Nady VI, your son is Xavier Nady VII. Is there a story behind your name and how it has been passed down through the years?

“I’m French, so St. Francis Xavier. That’s how the name started. In the mid-1800s, the first Xavier came over from France and settled in over here in, I think, the Midwest. Since then, I think we’ve been very fortunate to keep the name alive, to keep it going. Hopefully No. 7 will have an opportunity one day to pass it on.”

***

Sounds like the X-Man is following in the tradition of Manny Ramirez, who has two sons named Manny Ramirez, and of George Foreman, who has five sons named George Foreman.

But wait! Bringing this post full circle, it turns out that Melky Cabrera has a son named Melky Cabrera and A.J. Burnett has a son named A.J. Burnett.

Clearly, professional athletes don’t have much imagination.

On The Town With The She-Fan Cam

I’m very lucky to live in a place where there are lots of other writers around. We celebrate when one of us gets a “yes” from a publisher, and we step in when one of us gets a “no” and threatens to jump off a ledge.

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We write in different genres and are of different ages and backgrounds, but we share a profession that’s as satisfying as it can be humbling
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and humiliating.
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This afternoon I ran into one of my writer buddies, Melodie Johnson Howe.
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Born and raised in LA, Melodie always dreamed of being a writer. But she was “discovered” by Hollywood at age 21 after acing a screen test at Universal, and was signed to a seven-year contract.
“For my first job, I was shot dead, covered in a sheet and carted away in an ambulance,” she writes on her web site. “Only my hair showed.”
Other roles followed, including one opposite Clint Eastwood in a movie called “Coogan’s Bluff.”
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I once asked her what it was like to make out with Clint, and she wasn’t very enthusiastic. Apparently, all they did was soak in a tub filled with Tide.
“After a week of shooting, I said to my husband, ‘I don’t think Eastwood will make it as an actor.”
Right.
Melodie’s first novel, “The Mother Shadow,” was nominated for an Edgar award (the mystery genre’s equivalent of an Oscar) and featured a female duo of crime solvers.
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She brought the characters back for her second book, “Beauty Dies.”
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She also writes short stories for “Ellery Queen” magazine and posts weekly on a mystery writers’ blog called “Criminal Brief.” What really endears her to me is her passion for baseball.
I saw her today outside our local bookstore, seized the opportunity to talk about our favorite sport and whipped out the She-Fan Cam. I take it everywhere these days, causing most people to flee whenever they see me coming.
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It’s just a tiny Flip Video camcorder. Nothing to be afraid of.
Will the Yankees and Dodgers meet up in the 2009 WS? Writers have vivid imaginations, but anything is possible.

I Hate To Jinx Anything But…

Wow. The Yankees have been looking good. Last night, CC and Mo put on a show against the Reds. Today, Bombko shut down the Braves for a few innings. The truth is, the Yanks have been winning games and playing good baseball, and I’m feeling unusually optimistic (for me) going into the season. But again, I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’d better do this.

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When I think back to the beginning of spring training, there were so many question marks.
Would Jorge’s shoulder turn into shredded wheat? 
Would Mo be carted off to the assisted living facility?
Would Matsui’s knees buckle the first time he DH-ed?
Would Wang’s foot fall off?
Would Jeter survive his stint in the WBC?
Would CC and AJ become best friends?
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And there were other matters to be resolved.
Which Cano would show up: the ’07 model or the one from ’08?
Would Cashman let Melky and Gardner compete for center field or bring in a veteran like Mike Cameron or Andruw Jones?
Would Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady come to blows over the right field job?
Would Tex get off to one of his supposedly slow starts?
Would Brian Bruney gain back all the weight he lost and go from this…
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to this?
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So far, all the questions have been answered in an extremely positive way (well, the Gardner/Melky situation hasn’t been totally resolved), and there have been pleasant surprises (Ramiro Pena). Yes, everything is FINE in Yankeeland – a miracle! But again, I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’d better get some of these and hang them from my rearview mirror.
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Uh-oh. I just read a recap of today’s action. Jeter left the game with a bruised knuckle on his pinky finger. How in the world did he let that happen?
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And Ramiro Pena, the slick rookie shortstop I’ve been so giddy about, made a fielding error.
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What’s more, Wang gave up two homers in a minor league game. Did his foot fall off after all? His whole leg too?
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It’s my fault. I jinxed the Yankees with all my happy vibes in this post. I need to make things right. I’d better go out and get a Kabalah string and wear it around my wrist.
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Oh, wait. A-Rod wears one, and things haven’t gone very well for him lately.
Maybe it’s time to give up my superstitions….if only I could.

The Yankees And I Are Going Through A Rough Patch

At first I wasn’t going to air our dirty laundry. Relationships go through ups and downs, and my relationship with the Yankees is no different. I figured our little “I said/they said” would remain private and, eventually, be resolved.

But hurt feelings have a way of simmering until they erupt.
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And mine have erupted.
Here’s the back story. When my book was published in February, I received a flood of mail from people who shared their own frustrating tales of dealing with the Yankees’ front office - from the Florida radio station vice president who was denied a press pass to a spring training game to the bestselling sportswriter who was banned from Yankee Stadium for life for bringing his son into the clubhouse. I chuckled at their hassles, since I knew firsthand how difficult the Yankees can be. The course of true love doesn’t always run smooth.
Fast forward to last week. My publisher designed a tasteful full-page ad for my book that was to run in the Yankees’ Opening Day commemorative program. The idea, of course, was to reach other Yankee fans.
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As you can see, the ad featured a shot of the book cover along with quotes of praise, including one from John Sterling, the “legendary voice of the Yankees.”
The marketing company for the Opening Day program loved the ad and sent it on to the Yankees for rubber stamping.
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There was just one problem: The Yankees wouldn’t approve the ad.
According to the marketing person, the Yankees said: “We know about her and her book, and it’s too controversial.” 
I was stunned. I’m too controversial? My book is too controversial? Did the Yankees mistake me for Selena Roberts?
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Or did they somehow confuse me with another author at whom they’re miffed?
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While my book does have enough salty language to make a sailor blush, it’s hardly “controversial,” unless you count the night I begged my husband to follow A-Rod into a restaurant men’s room so I’d have a funny anecdote to write about.
When I told a friend what had happened, she said sarcastically, “So the Yankees blackballed their #1 fan. Good PR on their part.”
She wasn’t kidding. Here’s the Page Six item that ran in today’s NY Post.

YANKEE DISS

RELATED TOPICS

March 27, 2009 –

THE Yankees are snubbing one of their biggest fans. Novelist Jane Heller‘s latest, “Confessions of a She-Fan,” chronicles the time she spent traveling the country with her husband, watching the transformation of the 2007 squad from the doldrums to a wild-card playoff berth. The book earned praise from play-by-play manJohn Sterling, but the Yankees wouldn’t run an ad for it in their Opening Day program because they deemed it too “controversial.” “It’s sad to have the Yankees so mad at a fan who writes about how much she loves her team,” Heller said. A rep for the Yankees declined to comment.

And then came this from the Subway Squawkers blog.

Are the She-Fan’s ‘Confessions’ too much for Yankeeland to handle?

Shocker! Best-selling author – and friend of the SquawkersJane Heller - has been deemed “too controversial” by the Yan
kees!

Here’s the story. Jane, whose book “Confessions of a She-Fan” I’ve highly touted in this blog, was all set to buy a full-page advertisement for her book in the Yankees’ Opening Day program. In the ad, she had blurbs from three people: Peter Golenbock, John Sterling, and…wait for it…yours truly! (I was quoted describing the book as “passionate, funny, smart, and sassy.”)

Anyhow, I was very excited for Jane that she had this ad. And I, of course, was excited for myself, that the Squawkers were going to be mentioned in the same breath as the Yankees – or at least the same program!

So much for that. Jane’s ad was rejected by the Yanks this week.

When asked why they refused to approve it, some knucklehead in their front office explained, “We know who she is and we know about her book and it’s too controversial. We don’t want it in the publication.”

What the heck? (I actually said stronger words than that when I heard about this, but I try to keep the blog PG-rated!)

It’s not like Heller is Selena Roberts here. Readers of “Confessions” know that not only is the book a love letter to the Yanks, but that John Sterling, the Voice of the Yankees, is very helpful to Jane’s journey in the book. So why in the world could somebody who has that Sterling seal of approval be deemed too controversial for the Yanks? It makes no sense.

Given all the problems the Yankees have had in selling their luxury boxes in the new stadium, you would think they would be happy to take Jane’s money for her ad. Not to mention that her book would be of interest to Yankee fans.

C’mon, Yanks, free the She-Fan’s ad! 

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Andrew Fletcher of Scott Proctor’s Arm posted on his blog, too.

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009


‘Controversial’ Jane Heller denied advertisement

Friend of Scott Proctor’s Arm Jane Heller recently wrote a book entitled “Confessions of a She-Fan.” (I urge you all to buy it.)

Via Lisa Swan over at Subway Squawkers comes the news that Jane wanted to advertise her book in the Yankees’ Opening Day program. It was set to have quotes from John Sterling, Peter Golenback and Swan herself. No big deal, right? Wrong.

Turns out the Yankees think she’s “too controversial” so they “don’t want it in the publication.”

Page Six caught wind of it and quoted Heller as saying: “It’s sad to have the Yankees so mad at a fan who writes about how much she loves her team.”

This infuriates me. Sorry that you have to go through this, Jane!

A few minutes ago I heard from a company that’s producing another commemorative publication that will be a tribute to the new Yankee Stadium.
“I read about what happened and wanted to offer you an ad in our program,” he said. “We partner with USA Today and our publication is sold wherever the newspaper is sold. We used to do the Yankees Opening Day program, but they were too difficult to deal with.”
He told me a truly hilarious story about an office furniture company in the New York area. This company designed an ad for the Yankees program showing a row of seats at the Stadium, one of which had a type of office chair super-imposed on it. George Steinbrenn
er wouldn’t approve the ad because he thought the office chair was too wide and would insinuate that Yankee fans were fat.
Sigh. You can’t make these things up.
Do I still love the Yankees? With all my heart. No divorce. Not even a trial separation. You don’t have to love a team’s front office to love the team. 
What I also love is the overwhelming support I’ve gotten from readers, bloggers, acquaintances I haven’t heard from in years, you name it. As for the #1 ranking here at MLBlogs, I honestly don’t think of us as competitors and am just grateful people are stopping by. Thanks, everybody.
Meanwhile, there’s a game tonight against the Reds. CC will be on the mound. Go Yankees!

Bernie Annoyed Jeter With His Guitar Playing

Bernie Williams has a new album coming out in a couple of weeks called “Moving Forward.”

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During an interview with Entertainment Weekly to promote the album (hat tip: “Was Watching”), Bernie admitted that he used to annoy Derek Jeter with his guitar playing, especially on long plane trips. He would try to serenade the captain, but Jeter, who needed his beauty sleep, told him to “shut up.”
Bernie’s little anecdote was meant to be lighthearted and funny – at least I assume it was – but it got me thinking. How do ballplayers spend eight or nine straight months together and not get on each other’s nerves?
I decided to imagine myself in the Yankees clubhouse, on the charter flights, everywhere they spend time together, and try to guess who would get on my nerves. I love them all, of course, since they’re Yankees, but nobody’s perfect.
* Jeter. If he gave another interview in which he said, “Bottom line: We just have to win games,” I would nudge him in the ribs and say, “Just tell them what you really think already.”
* A-Rod. If I caught him looking in the mirror, pursing his glossy lips, I would break the mirror.
* Cano. I would be driven mad by his aversion to taking walks – and I don’t mean leisurely strolls.
* Joba. I would get annoyed by his nonstop talking.
* Matsui: I’d make him produce an actual photograph of his wife instead of that silly line drawing he showed the media.
* AJ: I would ask him to stop praising Halladay, since Doc was the pitcher I really wanted.
* Pettitte: I’m not over his long contract hold-out in the off-season, and at some point I would have to confront him about it.
* Damon. If he continued to wear his hair like a little boy who just got out of bed, I would be tempted to set fire to it.
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Is there anyone on your favorite team who annoys you? Or are you going to read this post and pretend the answer is no? Come on. Tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
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In other news, the Yankees beat the Phillies 10-2. I like the idea of Jeter batting lead off and Damon moving to the #2 slot. Why didn’t Girardi think of that last year? Maybe I need to add him to my list of annoying Yankees.
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Of course, there is nothing Mariano Rivera could ever do to annoy me – not if he sang off-key or talked with his mouth full or told unfunny jokes. If he were a church, I would be a member of it.
And finally, courtesy of “The Voice of Yankees Universe,” here are the latest pix of the new Yankee Stadium. The place looks so clean I bet it has that new car smell.
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From My Inbox

For today’s post I decided to dip into some of the emails I’ve gotten recently from readers of my book. They’re all ages and from all parts of the country, and the excerpts are in their own words. See if you can relate to any of them.

From R: “My husband is a White Sox fan whose self-esteem is based entirely on whether his team wins or loses. When they lose, he gets so depressed that it scares me. I’m afraid he’ll do something crazy.”
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I wrote back that while I do take it hard when the Yankees lose, I don’t take it that hard and that she should consider seeking professional help and/or medication for her husband.
From K: “I, too, have my rituals and superstitions. I blamed my husband for the loss of the Yankees’ 2004 season. It was his fault because he brought home the wrong kind of seltzer.”
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I wrote back that I understood perfectly, having blamed myself for the Yankees 2001 loss to the Diamondbacks. It was my fault because I invited friends over for dinner instead of watching the game obsessively and without interruption.
From F: “My Mom grew up in Kansas City and passed on her passion for the Royals to me. But I grew up in New York and became a Yankee fan. I now live in Indiana, and because of the lack of coverage for either team and because I want to annoy all the incredibly annoying Cubs fans around me, I’m a Cardinals fan. So I’m a three-team girl.”
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I wrote back that I can hardly cope with rooting for one team, but that having three teams to root for would definitely increase the odds of winning a game.
From W: “I’m a Yankee fan now living in Oklahoma. We migrate south for ‘Holy Week’ every year – the week the Yankees are in Arlington to play the Rangers. On Opening Day, dinner at our house is hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack, and it’s every bit as symbolic as turkey on Thanksgiving.”
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I wrote back that ballpark food is fun, but that nothing beats turkey and stuffing (with gravy). If that makes me a bad fan, so be it.
From I: “I was in my Public Relations class today and our professor was handing back quizzes. She handed one to a girl wearing a Cubs hat and said, ‘Here’s a tip. Don’t wear a Cubs hat to class. You’ll fail automatically.’ I looked down at my Yankee sweatshirt and thought, Oh, great. I wonder what she’ll say to me. When she called out my name, I stood up in my Yankee attire and waited for her to say I’d fail. Instead, she said, “See, now THIS is what you need to wear to class if you want to get an automatic A.’ She even added, ‘If there’s ever a morning Yankee game, class will be cancelled.’ I didn’t really like her before today.”
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I wrote back that I never had a teacher who talked about baseball, much less had a favorite team.
From D: “My local paper just ran a story about a young man who was drafted by the Yankees after he graduated from college, but he turned down the offer to go into the ministry.”
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(No, she wasn’t talking about A-Rod. I just couldn’t help myself.) I wrote back that I hoped the young man was thriving in the ministry and that the Yankees’ farm system could manage with one less farmhand.
But wait. Could the farm system manage with one less farmhand? Sure, we had Ajax, Jesus, Miranda, Melancon, Brackman, Hughes and many other prospects. But what if this young man – the kid D had written to me about – was The Natural? What if he had the potential to be the next Ruth/Gehrig/DiMaggio/Mantle/Mattingly/Jeter? What if the greatest Yankee ever to put on the pinstripes was praying in church instead of playing in Triple A?
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I couldn’t take any chances. I hopped on a plane and went in search of him. I’ll let you know if find him.

How To Beat The Red Sox? Bleach!

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No, I’m not implying that the Red Sox need a good cleaning. I’m simply celebrating the fact that our highly touted prospect, Austin Jackson, smacked a grand slam in the Yankees’ 7-1 victory tonight. It was great to see Ajax deliver after all the hype, and I have a feeling he won’t be toiling away in Trenton (or Scranton) for long.
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But if he makes it to the bigs as the Yankees’ center fielder of the future, what happens to Brett Gardner?
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 Brett tripled and scored, and his speed is drawing comparisons to one of these.

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AJ Burnett was very effective until the sixth, and Mo was his usual brilliant self. But what’s up with Marte?
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Whenever he comes into a game these days, I start to get the shakes – just like I used to with this guy.
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As for An-hell Berroa, he’s hitting as if it’s his 2003 Rookie of the Year season. Could the Yankees have hired someone from NASA to build a secret Way Back Machine?
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The win was nice, but the truth is I found what came after the game to be much more riveting: the MLB Network’s interview with Dwight Gooden.
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Doc looked great compared to the above mug shot in which he scarily resembled Ike Turner, and he seemed comfortable covering everything from his no-hitter as a Yankee on the day his father had open-heart surgery to his time in jail with the son he always hoped would play baseball with him. But did anyone else have trouble understanding him? I’ve never heard a person talk so fast, and there were a few minutes during the interview when I wondered if he was high. I hope not, obviously. What a pitcher he was.
On a lighter note, I was glad to have Jeter back. It’s been reported that he’s building a 30,000 square foot house on a private island off of Tampa. Since 30,000 square feet is large, even by a professional athlete’s standards, I’m wondering if he’s planning to take in boarders.
His family members, maybe?
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His new friends from Team USA and their family members?
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The Octomom and her family members?
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I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

I’m Hungry

The Yankees sent out a press release today. No, it wasn’t about Jeter’s return to spring training camp or A-Rod’s rehab in Colorado or the Igwana’s demotion to Triple A. It was about the concessions and restaurants that will be available to patrons at the new Stadium.

Since it’s almost dinner time here in California, I couldn’t stop reading the info, courtesy of Peter Abraham, and decided that this post would be about food.

Here’s a sample of what the Yankees will be offering this season. (And no, I’m not making any of this up.)
#1) There will be a “fresh-to-order” window in the left-field concourse where fans can watch butchers preparing prime, dry-aged steaks. 
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Will the steaks be sold raw? Will the Stadium have George Foreman grills in every section for a “do it yourself” meal? Will anyone be able to afford steak?
2) There will be something called the Bleachers Cafe in center field.
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Will Bald Vinny have a corner table?
3) In addition to traditional favorites, the new Stadium will debut a “Latin Corner,” serving nachos and burritos.

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Shouldn’t there be at least one mariachi band?
4) There will be healthy alternatives, including Melissa’s, a “farmers market, carrying fresh fruits and vegetables.”

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Will the fans throw Melissa’s fresh tomatoes at the players and each other after one beer too many?
5) The Yankees will offer a complete menu of Kosher food, as well as the standard Hebrew National fare.
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Perhaps they will sell Kosher hats to go with the food?
6) Even the kids will have their own food, as the Stadium will sell such “child friendly” products as Kozy Shack Pudding.

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Oops. Wrong Shack.
7) To ensure that the local Bronx community doesn’t feel slighted by the many first-class dining experiences at the Stadium, the Yankees will donate “edible leftovers” to those in need.
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Will they at least put the leftovers in Styrofoam containers?
8) And finally, they will sell Pepsi instead of Coke.

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Does Pepsi taste better or did the Yankees just get a better deal on it?
There will certainly be variety at the new Stadium concessions and restaurants, but after writing this post I have a hankering for a plain old hot dog.
hotdog.jpgP.S. Just finished watching Japan/Korea in the WBC. Great game (I was rooting for Bum Ho Lee to be the hero – oh, well), but I couldn’t help wondering….What were the fans eating? Any of the above?
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