September 2010

Mad Men

Lots of people are spending this off-day blogging about the Yankees’ chances for:
a) winning the division
b) having a viable starting rotation for the playoffs
c) avoiding the need for Austin Kearns
d) enjoying a series at Fenway for the first time ever.
Not me. I spent the day having a lunch meeting in L.A. with the producer of “An Ex to Grind,” the novel I hope will become a movie soon. She told me that Benecio Del Toro, who’s attached to play the male lead, and Jeremy Garelick, who wrote “The Hangover” and is working on our script, got together and talked about making Benecio’s character a baseball player instead of a football player. Apparently, both are baseball fans. (I was totally ferklempt when I heard that.) Anyhow, the other subject that came up at lunch today was the TV show “Mad Men.” I admitted I’d never watched it. 
“How can you not watch it?” said the flabbergasted producer.
“I want to,” I said. “I just haven’t had time. Either I’m watching a ballgame or I forget. One of these days I’ll buy the first season on DVD and catch up.”
As I drove back to Santa Barbara, I was determined to order the show and start watching. In the meantime, here’s my own version. It stars, in alphabetical order:
Cameron Diaz
Derek Jeter
Minka Kelly
Alex Rodriguez
No wonder people are so into this show! 

Farewell, Javy. Thanks for the Memories.

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I don’t know if tonight was the last time we’ll see Vazquez in pinstripes, but I’d be willing to bet it is. It wasn’t his fault that he was a home run derby server-upper against the Blue Jays. That’s who he is. That’s what he does. That’s the way things started out for him this year and that’s the way they’ve ended up. No surprises. I wish him well in his return to the National League, where he will inevitably become a 20-game winner next season. Bye bye, Javy.
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What I don’t understand is why Girardi used all the regulars in this game but didn’t let Andy pitch. I know, he wanted him “lined up” for the playoffs, but still. You either want to win the division or you don’t. And with the Rays losing to the O’s, tonight was one big wasted opportunity to climb back on top. But hey. At least A-Rod notched his 30th homer and 100th RBI yet again – no small feat for a guy who spent all that time on the DL and was supposed to have had a down year. Congrats, Alex. But please don’t cool off any time soon.
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Not much else to say about the game except that I didn’t mind getting stuck with the Toronto feed on TV. The fans gave Cito Gaston a really nice sendoff, and he deserved it. I always liked him as a manager and I appreciated how gracious he was about having the Yankees at his going away party. So there were two farewells tonight. Bye bye, Cito.
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There Was Only One Thing To Do After This One

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Celebrate. Uh-huh. 
Getting into the postseason is no small feat, and, like the Yankees, I decided not to let the occasion go by with merely a “Yay.” After watching the players douse each other in the visitors clubhouse at the Rogers Centre (I don’t get the post-game show here, so I had to wait for the party clips on the YES web site), Michael covered the shower wall with plastic so it would look “authentic” (a Hefty garbage bag like last year), escorted me inside, dumped champagne on my head and handed me the rest of the bottle. It wasn’t the good stuff and tasted like stale beer, but the sentiment was there even if I did end up looking like Alice Cooper. Woohoo, Yankeeeeeeees!
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CC was The Man. He gave the team innings. He gave them effectiveness. He gave them the confidence to score runs. (Loved all the sac flies.) He gave them a true ace. And Mo. Well. Of course he wrapped it up. I know the division title is still up for grabs, but just knowing for sure that we’ll be watching October baseball is a thrill that never gets old. I thought back to 2007 when I was following the Yanks around the country for the She-Fan book. We were in Tampa, at the Trop, when they clinched their Wild Card berth and the Post’s Charles Wenzelberg promised he’d bring me back a champagne cork from the party. True to his word, he brought me the cork when we were in Cleveland for the ALDS. I still have it.
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I keep it with my jewelry. To me, having a memento from a Yankees celebration is more valuable than diamonds or pearls.

I’m Sorry; This Entire Post Is A Rant About A.J. Burnett

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When I saw this picture, I couldn’t help thinking of another character altogether.
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But the image that sticks in my mind is the one of him walking off the mound after Joe pulled him tonight.
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He’s kind of smirking, kind of scowling, kind of nutty – sort of like Tony Perkins in “Psycho.”
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But then I lit on the shot from the “It Is High” blog, and that did it. I started cracking up, and tonight’s miserable game became just a bad joke. Their caption is entitled…”A.J. Brunette.”
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He’s cute, isn’t he?
OK, enough about the photos and onto AJ’s “performance.” He had nothing. I mean nothing. The Jays can hit the ball, no question, but did every pitch have to be right in their happy zone? What the hell is wrong with Burnett? Is it just a confidence thing at this point? Because I thought he and Dave Eiland had worked it out, talked it out, hugged it out, whatever it is they do, and yet the result has been awful. I get why he needs to stay in the rotation; he did pitch well in the playoffs last year and Ivan Nova isn’t ready for prime time. But his 2010 has been abysmal, and it’s hard to understand why. Yes, I know. The Rays lost. So what? This isn’t about other teams. It’s about the fact that we need starters. Now. When I saw that Roy Halladay clinched tonight for the Phillies, I turned green with envy. He was the one I wanted all along. People said, “Oh, we don’t need him. We already have an ace.” True, but what would have been the problem with having two aces?
I’d better stop now before I explode.
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That Game Nearly Killed Me – In A Good Way

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Is there a Yankee fan who wasn’t hyperventilating tonight? I doubt it. Where/how do I even begin to talk about this game?
First: the decision to start Hughes instead of Moseley. Whether it was Girardi’s idea or Cashman’s edict, who cares. It was the right move for every reason, and Huuuuughes rose to the occasion. I feel so much better about our pitching after seeing how he stepped up.
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Dice K was dealing, so Tex’s bloop single and A-Rod’s homer were enormous. Just huge. Kudos to them for giving us the lead for the first time in ages. A-Rod looks ready and willing to carry this team if necessary.
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Cano drove home the tying run and is a lock for the MVP now. OK, not a lock, but he sure made a good case for himself tonight.
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Dave Robertson. Great job in a pressure situation. How lucky are we to have him? Same goes for Kerry Wood. And really nice outing by Joba – yes, Joba – as well as Boone Logan.
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Girardi was playing Russian roulette with all the moving parts, but the game had a happy ending. Miranda’s walkoff walk (I love typing that) wasn’t a pretty type of win, but who needs pretty. Given the Rays’ loss, we’re only a half a game back in the division. Way to capitalize, Yankees.
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I can’t not mention the obvious: Mo blew another save – his fourth in the month of September. I’ve been saying, “No big deal,” but maybe there’s cause for concern after all. I’d love to know if he’s injured and not telling anyone, or whether he’s simply going through an ineffective period. I love him too much to even contemplate the possibility that he’s wearing down.
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And Jorge. Seriously. Not only couldn’t he give us a sac fly when we needed a run, but those throws. Ugh. Why not just send out a press release to other teams that they should run on his arm whenever possible?
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But I quibble. Tonight was a great baseball game and the Yankees came out on top. (Freya, you promised we’d win and you came through!) I’m going to bed feeling nice and secure.
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Stumbling to the Finish Line

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This race will be over soon. One way or another, the Yankees will get through this Boston series, the one at Fenway and the one in Toronto, and they will be in the playoffs. Don’t ask me how, given how badly they’re playing right now, but somehow it’ll happen. Not with Ivan Nova, however, and certainly not with Chad Gaudin. Nova has been intriguing and I wish him well for next season, but today he confirmed that he unravels way too easily.
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And Gaudin just needs to be gone. Period. As for the Yankees offense, Lester is a very good pitcher, just like David Price is a very good pitcher, but where’s the opportunistic, hungry, attacking lineup we know and love? When a guy like Lester or Price gives up walks, you have to take advantage and make something happen. Are we doing that? No. Why? Because we are playing like dead people!
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Or maybe, as someone said on Twitter, the real Yankees have been taken over by the body snatchers and are just pods.
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I know, I know. Yesterday I was chirping about all the homers we hit. Today I was happy to see Granderson and A-Rod go deep. But other than smacking home runs, what is this team doing? What? If I were Girardi….Well, if I were Girardi I wouldn’t have brought in Gaudin when the game was still winnable, but that’s another story… If I were Girardi, I would insist on a closed door meeting with the boys before Sunday’s finale, remind them that last year was last year and this year is this year, tell them that maximum effort is required ASAP and that the idea that “there’s always the wild card” is not acceptable. I would, in other words, get mad. Vein-popping-out-of-my-forehead mad.
I was pretty mad myself after today’s game, but then I went for a walk on the beach. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Santa Barbara, and I came upon a couple in the process of getting married.
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After I took this pic I saw their getaway car all shiny and pretty waiting for them.
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It was a 1955 T-Bird in pristine condition, and it – and the newlyweds – got me thinking that life’s too short to obsess about baseball. Seriously. At least for the next 24 hours.

Yeah, We Lost, But I Feel Strangely Better About Things

Just got back from a concert and it’s late, so I’ll keep this post short. The game tonight was actually uplifting. For me, anyway. Pettitte was horrendous and the Yanks were taking a 10-1 beating and Beckett looked more like the Beckett of old. And then a miracle: We ended up scoring eight runs, homering off every pitcher the Red Sox threw out there except Bard. The power surge was encouraging. The fighting spirit was a good sign. The fact that we almost came back and tied the game after being down by nine runs was positive. Even Mitre’s outing was impressive. (Don’t get me started on Albaladejo.)
We’re not in first place tonight. That’s not wonderful. The fact that time is running out for Pettitte to be stretched out isn’t great. But I’m not panicking. I’m just not. 
OK, so the concert I went to helped me forget this little losing jag we’re on. Even if you’re not into jazz, which I’m not, I recommended the music of Charles Lloyd and his quartet, including his new recording called “Mirror.”
Here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day, baseball wise.

Yanks-Rays Round 4: Back Where We Started

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Yes, we ended up with a split. And there was nothing pretty or sweet about it. How many times have we watched CC disintegrate? Hardly ever, that’s how many times. And yet he looked vulnerable through the fifth inning and positively horrendous in the sixth – like a great big parade float that was punctured and fell to the ground.
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Still, I give him a pass. He’s been terrific, so he’s entitled to a bad game even if it did cost him the Cy Young award. And David Price is a really, really good pitcher. Still, how to explain the Yankees inability to score with the bases loaded – more than once? That was more troubling to me, as was Joba’s ineffectiveness and the fact that Vazquez couldn’t find home plate if he had a shovel.
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Did he hit three batters in a row or did I dream it? Never mind. I know the answer. If he had plans for the postseason, he can probably forget about them and schedule a nice, long vacation for himself. Will the Yankees win the division now that they’re basically tied with the Rays again? Tampa has some comfy match ups, while we’re stuck with the Red Sox and Blue Jays. I have no idea what will happen from here on – none. Maybe I should consult the tarot card reader I spoke to last year, but I’ve been afraid to. What if she tells me something I don’t want to hear? Couldn’t handle it.
Changing the subject, did everybody see the ESPN Steinbrenner documentary directed by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple? I missed its premiere on Tuesday night, but watched it after the game tonight. As some may remember, I flew to New York last year to be interviewed for the doc.
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I met Barbara too, and it turned out we both grew up in Scarsdale loving the Yankees.
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Here’s the bad news: I ended up on the cutting room floor of the doc. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t in it and wasn’t surprised. Barbara shot a ton of film, interviewed hundreds of people and only had an hour of air time. The focus turned out to be the transition from the old Stadium and George’s running the team to the new Stadium and Hal’s ascendance, and I don’t think I said anything particularly interesting about any of that. I really enjoyed the film, especially the interview with Hal. Here’s a clip. It requires sitting through Pujols hawking Dove soap, but it’s worth a look.
Getting back to the present, I’m nervous about the Red Sox series this weekend. Not because it’s the Red Sox but because we just need to win games right now. Need to win games. Right now. Please.

Yanks-Rays Round 3: Death By Bullpen

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Ring…Moseley…Gaudin…Albaladejo. Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.
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Actually, Ring can be forgiven. It was his Yankees debut and he gave up a walk. Not a criminal offense. But the others? Please. All we needed to complete the parade of mediocrity was Mitre, but he must have been busy toweling off after the rain or something.
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The rain. I forgot to blame it too. For all we know, A.J. would have had a nice outing and we wouldn’t have had to use our D-list relief corps. On the other hand, the offense was getting no-hit until Berkman went deep. I guess it wasn’t the Yankees’ night, except for the defense; there were some terrific plays by Tex, among others. He can hardly hold a bat but he still shines at first base. Now for the Big Question: Did our friends Peggy, Melissa, YankeeCase/Eddie and Ladyjane/Jane stay through the long rain delay? Did they meet up as planned? Did they get drenched?
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I hope they’ll check in and tell all. Meanwhile, I’m counting on CC to wrap up the series tomorrow night with a dominant performance. Like a complete game shutout performance. Like a no-doubter that sends me into the weekend feeling better than I feel right now.
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Update: Right after I hit “publish,” an email from Melissa floated into my inbox with a photo of our “core four” at the game tonight. Without further ado, here are (from left to right): Jane, Melissa, Eddie and Peggy.
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And take a look at the buttons the gang is sporting. Melissa made them and here’s what they say…
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How cool are they? I love them!!!!!

Yanks-Rays Round 2: My Head Was At Borders But My Heart Was In The Bronx

I knew tonight would present a conflict.
I was scheduled to be on a writers panel at Borders here in the Santa Barbara area, but I didn’t have to arrive until 7 pm. Since the game started at 4 pm PT, I figured I’d see most of it before I left the house. (I couldn’t very well cancel my appearance; authors never pass up an opportunity to plug their books.) But I was a little panicky prying myself away from the TV with the score at 5-3 and Hughes coming out for Vazquez.
I listened on my phone in the car on the way to the store. Still 5-3.
I continued to listen even after I walked in, was introduced to my fellow panelists, sat down and waited for the Borders events coordinator to clear his throat and begin the program. Phone tucked away in my purse, I spent the next 90 minutes answering questions about the She-Fan book and this blog, as well as focusing on the work of the other writers. And then, when there were no further questions and we were done, an audience member approached me.
“The Yankees won 8-3,” he said with a big smile.
I was taken aback at first. I mean you don’t expect to meet a lot of Yankee fans in California. For example, the panelist who sat next to me was a sportswriter who rooted for the Dodgers, and the panelist next to him was a newspaper editor who rooted for the Giants, and the events coordinator from Borders was an Angels guy.
“Thanks for telling me,” I said. “So you’re a fan too?”
He was a fan all right. He told me that his house had burned down in the last wildfire and that the possession he was most saddened to lose was the signed copy of the autobiography of Mickey Mantle, his childhood hero. Now that’s bleeding pinstripes.
Meet Jerry.
I had a good time at Borders, but I had an even better time when I got home and watched the rest of the game. Yaaaay, us! I was afraid the Rays would keep chipping their way back, especially with so many of our relievers unavailable. But Cano’s shot past Crawford was huge and Joba held on, and my night had a very happy ending after all. 
After the game I watched the profile of CC on HBO’s “Real Sports.”
What a lovable guy. When he teared up about his father, I teared up too. Of course, I had to laugh when I saw the size of his house at the end of the piece. It’s….large.
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Oh, one more thing. Here’s a pic of The Boss’ newly unveiled monument. It was sent to me by Friend of the Blog John (aka ooaooa) and taken by his daughter, who was at tonight’s game. Thanks, John.
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