Monday, July 28, 2014

Yankees in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Note: This list only includes players and others who had notable contributions to the Yankees, not Hall-of-Famers who were briefly Yankees like Paul Waner and Phil Niekro. And while I do count broadcasters, I'm not counting Joe Garagiola because he wasn't a Yankee broadcaster for long; nor Tony Kubek, even though he played for the Yankees, because he wasn't elected as a Yankee broadcaster.

1. Babe Ruth, elected 1936 with the first class.
2. Willie Keeler, 1939
3. Lou Gehrig, 1939
4. Clark Griffith, 1946, pitcher and first manager, nearly won 1904 Pennant
5. Jack Chesbro, 1946
6. Herb Pennock, 1948
7. Ed Barrow, 1953
8. Bill Dickey, 1954
9. Joe DiMaggio, 1955
10. Joe McCarthy, 1957
11. Miller Huggins, 1964
12. Casey Stengel, 1966
13. Red Ruffing, 1967
14. Waite Hoyt, 1969
15. Earle Combs, 1970
16. George Weiss, 1971
17. Lefty Gomez, 1972
18. Yogi Berra, 1972
19. Mickey Mantle, 1974
20. Whitey Ford, 1974
21. Bucky Harris, 1975, just 2 years as manager but won 1947 World Series
22. Bob Lemon, 1976, Yankee pitching coach then, won 1978 World Series as manager
23. Joe Sewell, 1977, only 3 years as Yankee but won 1932 World Series
24. Larry MacPhail, 1978, only 2 years as owner but modernized team, won 1947 World Series
25. Mel Allen, 1978, Ford Frick Award for broadcasters
26. Red Barber, 1978, he and Mel were the first Frick Award honorees
27. Johnny Mize, 1981
28. Enos Slaughter, 1985
29. Buck Canel, 1985, did Spanish broadcasts for both Yankees and Mets
30. Catfish Hunter, 1987
31. Tony Lazzeri, 1991
32. Reggie Jackson, 1993
33. Phil Rizzuto, 1994
34. Dave Winfield, 2001
35. Wade Boggs, 2005
36. Jerry Coleman, 2005, elected as broadcaster for Yankees and San Diego Padres
37. Goose Gossage, 2008
38. Rickey Henderson, 2009, I wouldn't count him but he keeps getting invited to Old-Timers' Day
39. Jacob Ruppert, 2013
40. Joe Torre, 2014

Yogi, Whitey, Reggie, Winfield, Boggs, Goose, Rickey and Torre are still alive -- that's 8.

How to Go to a Giants or Jets Game at the Meadowlands

With the 2014 National Football League season approaching, I decided to do my "How to Be a (team name) fan in (city name)" series for football, starting with the home teams, the New York Giants of East Rutherford and the New York Jets of East Rutherford (as the baseball Angels might call them). This is, of course, less for those of you who are Tri-State Area fans, more for those of you visiting from other cities/metropolitan areas.

I'll also be doing this for each of their 2014 away opponents too, including (should they make it) any teams they go away to in the Playoffs if I haven't already done them.

Before You Go. In New York and North Jersey, anything is possible as far as the weather goes, but there are some usuals. It can get really hot early in the season, really cold from November on out, and the biggest thing wrong with Giants Stadium, the wind, wasn't fixed even with $1.6 billion at their disposal. So be aware of that. Check the newspaper or local TV websites for the forecast before you decide what to wear.

It's the Eastern Time Zone, so you don't have to worry about fiddling with your timepieces if you actually are a Giants fan, or a Jets fan, or a fan of any of the teams in the East visiting them (Giants: Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles; Jets: Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots). It's 1 hour ahead of the Central Time Zone (Giants: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys; Jets: Chicago Bears), 2 hours ahead of Mountain (Giants: Arizona Cardinals; Jets: Denver Broncos), and 3 hours ahead of Pacific (Giants: San Francisco 49ers; Jets: Oakland Raiders).

Tickets. The games are usually sold out well in advance, with all 82,566 seats sold (if not actually occupied during the game). This in spite of the fact of the familiar joke that the only reason anyone goes to Jet games is that they can't get tickets to Giant games.

This may be right: In 2013, the Giants averaged 80,148 fans per home game, a near-sellout, and 2nd in the League only to the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets? "Only" 76,957, or 93 percent of capacity.

As with Giants Stadium, MetLife Stadium has 3 main decks. In the lower level, expect to pay $400 to $1,400 on the sidelines, and $219 to $332 in the end zones. In the middle level, $593 to $792 sidelines, $227 to $265 end zones. In the upper level, $128 to $443 sidelines, $123 to $233 end zones.

Getting There. For reasons that will soon become clear, I'm advising you to get to New York/New Jersey by a means other than driving: Plane, train, bus. Then get a hotel nearby (there are several near both Newark Airport and the Meadowlands Sports Complex), and then either get a rental car or take public transportation (especially the latter if you're actually staying in New York City).

If you're driving, here's how to get to MetLife Stadium by car:

* Philadelphia Eagles: Get into New Jersey and take the Turnpike North to Exit 16W, and follow the signs for the Stadium. About 1 hour and 45 minutes.

* Washington Redskins: Get on Interstate 95 North, and then follow the directions from Philadelphia. About 3 hours and 45 minutes.

* New England Patriots: It really depends on what part of New England you're starting from. From Cape Cod, Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, take Interstate 95 South the whole way. From northern Connecticut, western Massachusetts and Vermont, take Interstate 91 South until you reach New Haven, and then follow the preceding directions. From Boston, take Interstate 90/Massachusetts Turnpike West to Exit 9, take Interstate 84 West to Hartford, take Exit 86 onto I-91, and then follow the preceding directions. From New Hampshire, take Interstate 93 South until you get to Interstate 495, and take that until you get to the Pike, and then follow the directions from Boston. From Maine, you could take I-95 all the way, but it will probably be faster if you take it to I-495, and then follow the directions from New Hampshire. Once you get into New York City, cross over the George Washington Bridge, then get on the New Jersey Turnpike South, and take Exit 16W, and follow the signs for the stadium. The time you will need will also vary, depending on what part of New England you start from, but, from Boston, figure on at least 4 hours; northern New England, at least 5 hours.

* Buffalo Bills: The simplest way is to get on I-90, the New York State Thruway East, to Syracuse, then take Interstate 81 South to Scranton, switch to Interstate 380 South, to Interstate 80 East, then take that to Exit 53 for New Jersey Route 3, and take that to the Stadium. About 6 hours.

* Pittsburgh Steelers: Take Interstate 76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike East, to Harrisburg, then switch to Interstate 78 East for its entire length. This will get you to the New Jersey Turnpike, and then take Exit 16W, and follow the signs for the Stadium. About 6 hours.

* Detroit Lions: Take Interstate 75 South to Toledo, then I-80 to the New Jersey Turnpike, and that to Exit 16W. About 9 hours.

* Indianapolis Colts: Take Interstate 70 East until it merges with I-76 outside Pittsburgh, and then follow the directions from there. About 10 hours and 45 minutes.

* Chicago Bears: Take Interstate 94 South to I-80, and take that all the way to the New Jersey Turnpike, and that to Exit 16W. About 11 hours and 45 minutes.

* Atlanta Falcons: Take Interstate 85 North until you hit I-95 in Virginia, and then follow the directions from Washington. About 13 hours.

* Miami Dolphins: Take Interstate 95 North the whole way. About 18 hours and 30 minutes.

* Dallas Cowboys: Uh, yeah, you're flying. But if you really want to drive all the way from North Texas, take Interstate 20 East until you reach Atlanta, and then follow the directions from there. About 24 hours.

* Anybody else: Forget it, fly.

Be advised that traffic is going to be hellacious, even though you'll never actually be entering New York City. So, whatever driving time I gave you, allow yourself at least half an hour to get from Exit 16W to your parking space.

Once In the City. East Rutherford is a Borough of 8,913 people in Bergen County, New Jersey. Its most famous native is basketball announcer Dick Vitale. If not for the Meadowlands complex, which opened in 1976 with Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack, added the arena now named the IZOD Center in 1981, and replaced the Stadium with MetLife in 2010, it might very well be best known for producing Dickie V, bay-bee! It's not like, aside from the Complex, there's anything noticeable about it.

So if you're flying in, and your hotel isn't at the Complex or by the Airport, most likely, you'll be staying in New York City -- a.k.a. The City.

Pennsylvania Station, a.k.a. Penn Station, is between 31st and 33rd Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Port Authority Bus Terminal is between 40th and 42nd Streets, between 8th and 9th Avenues. They are one stop apart on the Subway's A, C and E trains. Outside Port Authority, there is a statue of Jackie Gleason dressed as bus driver Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, one of a series of statues commissioned by cable network TV Land.

When you get to your hotel, Penn Station or Port Authority, go to a Hudson News stand and pick up copies of The New York Times and the Daily News. Don’t read the New York Post. Like anything owned by Rupert Murdoch, it’s a bunch of right-wing lies with an occasionally good sports section added. The Times and the Daily News, however, are not only manned by responsible journalists, but have great sports sections. The Times is the face New York City likes to show the rest of the world. The Daily News is the face the City prefers to show itself. The Post is a face only a mother could love. Not my mother, though. Nor hers.

The sales tax in New York City is 8.25 percent, in New Jersey 7 percent.

The city of New Amsterdam, and the colony of New Netherland, was founded by the Dutch in 1624. In 1664, the English took over, and named both city and colony New York, for the Duke of York, brother of King Charles II. As none of Charles' many children were legitimate, when he died in 1685, that brother became King James II -- and his reign did not end well, and let's leave it at that.

New York County, a.k.a. the Borough of Manhattan, was also named for James. "Manahatta" was an Indian word meaning "island of many hills." Kings County was named for King Charles, but the Dutch name Breuckelen stuck, and it became the City, and after 1898 the Borough, of Brooklyn. Queens County, or the Borough of Queens, was named for King Charles' Portuguese wife, Catherine of Braganza. Richmond County was named for one of Charles' sons, Charles Lennox, Earl of Richmond, but the Dutch name Staaten Eylandt stuck, and it became the Borough of Staten Island. And Jonas Bronck settled the land north of Manhattan, which became known as Bronck's Land, which somehow morphed into "The Bronx." Apparently, the "The" became attached because of the Bronx River that passes through it, as rivers are still frequently called that: The Hudson is, although never "The Harlem" or "The East." Anyway, it's the Borough of The Bronx and Bronx County.

New York has been the most populous city in America since surpassing Philadelphia in the post-Revolutionary period, and now has about 8.4 million people living in the Five Boroughs. About 20 million live in the New York Metropolitan Area, a.k.a. the New York Tri-State Area.

New York has a street grid, but doesn't quite follow a centerpoint system. For the east-west numbered Streets, below Washington Square Park, Broadway is the divider between the East Side and the West Side; above Washington Square to the Harlem River, it's 5th Avenue; in The Bronx, it's Jerome Avenue, which borders the 3rd-base stands of the new Stadium.

On the East Side, the Avenues go 5th, Madison, Park (which takes the place of 4th Avenue above Union Square), Lexington, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, York, East End. Numbered Streets will reach an address of 1 at 5th, 100 at Park, 200 at 3rd, 300 at 2nd, 400 at 1st. On the Lower East Side, this extends to 500 at Avenue A, 600 at Avenue B, 700 at Avenue C and 800 at Avenue D. (A, B, C and D, hence the nickname for this neighborhood: "Alphabet City.") The Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive (FDR Drive), formerly the East River Drive and once so dangerous it was called the Falling Down Roadway, separates the island from the East River.

On the West Side, the Avenues go 6th, a.k.a. Avenue of the Americas, Lenox Avenue or Malcolm X Blvd. above Central Park; 7th, a.k.a. Fashion Avenue, or Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. above Central Park; 8th, Central Park West above 59th Street, or Frederick Douglass Blvd. above Central Park; 9th, Columbus Avenue above 59th, or Morningside Drive above 110th; 10th, Amsterdam Avenue above 59th; 11th, West End Avenue above 59th, merging with Broadway at 108th; and Riverside Drive. The West Side Highway, a.k.a. the Joe DiMaggio Highway, separates the island from the Hudson River.

The north-south numbered Avenues start with 1 at their southern ends, and the addresses go up going Uptown, but there's no set pattern (every X blocks = 100 house numbers), and the vary as to where they begin: 

Broadway, The Battery at the island's southern tip; 1st and 2nd, Houston Street (roughly, Zero Street -- and that's pronounced HOW-stin, not HEW-stin like the Texas city); 3rd, 9th Street; Lexington, 21st Street; Park, 32nd Street (Park Avenue South extends to 17th Street); Madison, 23rd Street (at Madison Square); 5th, Washington Square North (roughly, 6th Street); 6th, Franklin Street (the only numbered Avenue below Houston, so it's about -12th Street); 7th, 11th Street (7th Avenue South extends to Carmine Street, roughly at Houston or Zero); 8th, Bleecker Street (roughly 10th Street at that point); 9th, Gansevoort Street (roughly 12th Street); 10th and 11th, 13th Street; 12th, 22nd Street.

The Subway system looks complicated. A single ride is $2.50, and you're better off getting a multi-ride MetroCard. There will be a $1.00 charge for a new card.

Going In. If you're in the City, getting to the Meadowlands by public transportation was never easy. It used to be that the only way to do it was to get to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st Street & 8th Avenue (A, C or E train to 42nd Street), and then take the New Jersey Transit 320 bus in. This is still possible, and, theoretically, you can get from bus station to stadium gate in 20 minutes. But, as I said, the traffic will be bad.

The new option, established with the new Stadium, is by rail. You can get to Penn Station, at 32nd Street & 7th Avenue (1, 2, 3, A, C, or E train to 34th Street), and then switch to New Jersey Transit. Even then, you'll have to change trains at Secaucus Junction. At least then, it will only be one more stop, although why the rail spur goes around the Stadium, and not right to it, I'll never know. NJ Transit makes no sense whatsoever. But if you do it right, it should take about half an hour. Round-trip fare from New York's Penn Station is $10.50, and from Newark's Penn Station (from which you would also transfer at Secaucus Junction) is $8.00.

The official address of the Stadium is One MetLife Stadium Drive. Tailgating is allowed in the Stadium parking lots. The Stadium has 5 gates, all named for corporations: Bud Light, SAP, Verizon, MetLife (an insurance company, in case you didn't know) and Pepsi. The SAP Gate is the closest one to the train station.

For Giants games, the exterior of the Stadium lights up in blue. For Jets games, it lights up in green. This is a way of finally giving the Jets and their fans, who for a quarter of a century were stuck playing "home games" at a stadium named for another team, a sense of home-field advantage.

There are large video boards at each of the four corners of the stadium. The field is artificial turf.

Food. I don't want this post to be any longer than it has to be, but the food options at MetLife are quite extensive. Whether they're appetizing is for you to decide. So here's a link.

Team History Displays. As the only stadium in the NFL that had, as they would say in soccer, "groundsharing," it was difficult to do that at Giants Stadium. The Jets would hang banners with their retired numbers on the sideline, but the Giants, who naturally (as the older team and the more successful team) did not. And neither team, thus far, hangs representations of their World Championships (the Jets only the 1, the Giants 8, more than any team except the Green Bay Packers' 13 and the Chicago Bears' 9).

But with the opening of MetLife Stadium, and the electronically-aided switching between home teams, signs can be turned out around the lip of the upper deck, showing the Giants' and Jets' Rings of Honor.

The Giants honor the following 35 individuals:

* From their 1927 NFL Champions: Founders/Owners Tim and Jack Mara, and two-way tackle Steve Owen (Number 55). Tim Mara and Owen are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So is two-way end Ray Flaherty (1, retired); and quarterback Benny Friedman (6), who came a little bit after this and didn't stay for the next title.)

* From their 1934 NFL Champions: The Mara brothers, now head coach Owen, center/linebacker Mel Hein (Number 7, retired), and running back/defensive back Ken Strong (50, retired). All of these except Jack Mara are in the Hall, as are Flaherty and two-way end Red Badgro (17).

* From their 1938 NFL Champions: Each of the preceding, running back/defensive back Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans (4, retired), two-way end Jim Lee Howell (81). All of these except Howell and Jack Mara are in the Hall.

* From their 1944 team that lost the NFL Championship Game to the Green Bay Packers: The Mara brothers, Owen, and two-way tackle Al Blozis. Blozis' Number 32 is retired -- not because he was a great player, but because he then went into the service and was killed in action in World War II. So was another Giant from that 1944 team, two-way end Jack Lummus. Blozis, from Garfield, Bergen County, New Jersey, played 3 seasons for the Giants before being drafted, and was killed fighting the Nazis in France. Lummus only played the 1941 season for the Giants, then enlisted in the Marines, and died fighting the Japanese at Iwo Jima, from stepping on a land mine, but not before his heroics there got him the Congressional Medal of Honor, though he never knew it. Blozis and Lummus both had plaques in their memory on the center field clubhouse at the Polo Grounds, along with baseball Giants John McGraw, Christy Mathewson and Ross Youngs, former Mayor and Giants fan Jimmy Walker, and a monument for Eddie Grant, the baseball Giant killed in World War I.)

* From their 1956 NFL Champions: The Mara brothers, Howell (now head coach), quarterback Charlie Conerly (Number 42 retired), running backs Frank Gifford (Number 16 retired) and Alex Webster (29), offensive tackle Roosevelt Brown (79), defensive end Andy Robustelli (81), linebacker Sam Huff (70), and defensive back Emlen Tunnell (45). Each of these except Howell and Jack Mara is in the Hall. But two of Howell's assistant coaches are, though not for what they did with the Giants: Offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi, and defensive coordinator Tom Landry, who, after the early 1950s' switch to two-platoon football, was the first great defensive back (49), who did not also play defensive back, but retired and switched to a coaching role in time for the 1956 title, and may have made that title possible as much as anyone. Also in the Hall, but leaving the Giants before their 1956-63 glory days, was two-way tackle Arnie Weinmeister (73).

* From their 1958-63 teams that reached 5 NFL Championship Games and lost them all: Each of the preceding (Tim Mara died during that run), quarterback Y.A. Tittle (Number 14 retired), running back Joe Morrison (Number 40 retired), and defensive back Dick Lynch. All of these except Jack Mara, Morrison and Lynch are in the Hall.

* From the 1964-85 interregnum: Owner Wellington Mara, kicker Pete Gogolak (3), linebacker Brad Van Pelt (10), and punter Dave Jennings (13). Mara is in the Hall. So is quarterback Fran Tarkenton (10), who was a Giant between his two stints with the Minnesota Vikings.

* From their 1986-87 and 1990-91 Super Bowl XXI and XXV winners: Mara, general manager George Young, coach Bill Parcells, quarterback Phil Simms (Number 11 retired), tight end Mark Bavaro (89), defensive end George Martin (75), and linebackers Lawrence Taylor (56, retired), Harry Carson (53) and Carl Banks (58). Mara, Parcells, Taylor and Carson are in the Hall. Why isn't Young? Or Simms? 

* From their 2000-01 team that lost Super Bowl XXXV: Mara, co-owner Bob Tisch, running back Tiki Barber (21), receiver Amani Toomer (81), defensive end Michael Strahan (92) and linebacker Jessie Armstead (98). Mara and Strahan are in the Hall. Barber is not, despite being the all-time leading rusher in New York Tri-State Area football history (slightly ahead of Curtis Martin, who is in).

* From their 2007-08 Super Bowl XLII winners: Toomer and Strahan. Strahan is in the Hall. As yet, no player who was on their 2011-12 Super Bowl XLVI winners has been enshrined, mainly because so many of them are still active, such as quarterback Eli Manning.

The Jets honor the following 13 individuals:

* From their 1968-69 Super Bowl III winners: Coach Weeb Ewbank (a representation of a green coach's jacket stood in for a "retired number"), quarterback Joe Namath (Number 12 retired), receiver Don Maynard (13, retired), offensive lineman Winston Hill (75), defensive lineman Gerry Philbin (81) and linebacker Larry Grantham (60). Ewbank, Namath and Maynard are in the Hall of Fame. So is running back John Riggins (44), who arrived after the Super Bowl win, and played enough seasons to qualify as a "Jet in the Hall of Fame," although he's better known for his play with the Washington Redskins.

* From their 1982 team that got to the AFC Championship Game: Running back Freeman McNeil (24), receiver Wesley Walker (85), and 3 of the 4 members of the defensive line known as the New York Sack Exchange: Tackles Joe Klecko (73 retired) and Marty Lyons (93) and end Mark Gastineau (99). Tackle Abdul Salaam (74) has yet to be added.

* From the late 1980s and early 1990s: Receiver Al Toon (88). Defensive end Dennis Byrd, whose struggle to walk again led the Jets to retire his Number 90, has not yet been enshrined.

* From their 1998 team that won the AFC East and got to the AFC Championship Game, and their 2002 AFC East Champions: Running back Curtis Martin (28, retired). Receiver Wayne Chrebet has not yet been enshrined, and his Number 80 has not been officially retired, but the Jets have removed it from circulation. Parcells, the architect of this team after coaching the Giants and the New England Patriots, is in the Hall, but, as yet, enshrined only by the Giants, not the Jets.

* No players from their 2009 or '10 teams that reached the AFC Championship Games, have yet been honored.

Stuff. On the first floor of the outer edge of the stadium, along the west sideline, is a large store, as big as most Sports Authority or Modell's outlets, that sells both Giant and Jet gear.

It does not, however, sell team DVDs or books about the teams. I can, however, make some recommendations. New York Giants: The Complete Illustrated History, by Lew Freedman and former Giants player turned broadcaster Pat Summerall (who has since died) was updated in 2012.

Jack Cavanaugh's Giants Among Men tells how, as the subtitle puts it, the 1956-63 Giants "Made New York a Football Town and Changed the NFL." (Those Giants changed the NFL in 2 significant ways: They helped move pro football into the TV era, and made defense something to cheer for the first time. In fact, the now-familiar "Dee-FENSE!" chant was invented by Giant fans at the old Yankee Stadium.) Linebacker Jim Burt and sportswriter Hank Gola told the story of the next great Giant team in Hard Nose: The Story of the 1986 Giants.

Carlo DeVito and Sam Huff wrote Wellington: The Maras, the Giants, and the City of New York, about the late owner's relationship to the team and the Tri-State Area, with significant attention to how the Giants got forced out of The City by the impending renovation of Yankee Stadium, and how the team and The City have reacted to each other ever since.

Just as Summerall assisted on the Giants' version, Joe Namath co-write New York Jets: The Complete Illustrated History, with sportswriter Mark Cannizzaro. Shortly before Parcells brought the Jets back to respectability, longtime New York Times sportswriter Gerald Eskenazi wrote Gang Green: An Irreverent Look Behind the Scenes at Thirty-Eight (Well, Thirty-Seven) Seasons of New York Jets Football Futility. And Andrew Goldstein recently published Growing Up Green: Living, Dying, and Dying Again as a Fan of the New York Jets.

NFL Films produced installments in their The Complete History of the... series for both teams, in both cases going up through the 2007 season (enabling them to include the Giants' Super Bowl XLII win). And all 4 Giant Super Bowl wins, and the Jets' even more significant 1, are all available in DVD packages.

The film Little Giants is about youth football, and has nothing to do with the Big Blue Wrecking Crew. And one (oh-so-slightly) Jet-related film you do not want to get is the 1980 version of Flash Gordon. This piece of outer-space camp cast Sam J. Jones as an updated version of the 1930s film-serial hero, now identifying himself as, "Flash Gordon, quarterback, New York Jets." (I have to admit, though, he did bear a resemblance to the Jet quarterback of that time, Richard Todd.) It not only failed to show any football action (even The Dark Knight Returns showed one play), it failed to properly ride the rise of science fiction generated by Star Trek and Star Wars, and made Flash look even more ridiculous than did the then-current TV version of Flash's long-ago contemporary, Buck Rogers.

During the Game. Although New Yorkers and New Jerseyans can be intense, a visiting fan will probably be safe attending a game at MetLife Stadium. Giant fans may harass people wearing Eagles or Cowboys gear, but if you don't provoke them, it won't get any worse than that. As far Jet fans, they'll probably leave you alone unless you're wearing Patriots gear. (Even Dolphin and Raider paraphernalia won't get under their skin.) But, again, don't provoke them, and you should be all right.

Neither the Giants nor the Jets have a mascot. The Giants do not have cheerleaders. The Jets didn't, either, until the 2007 establishment of the Jets Flight Crew, who are dressed considerably more modestly than most NFL cheerleading squads.

The teams really don't need cheerleaders. These are, after all, New Yorkers, New Jerseyans, and Connecticutians... uh, Connecticutites... uh, people from Connecticut.

As I said, it was Giant fans in 1956 that invented the "Dee-FENSE!" chant. Jet fans, however, are content to chant, "J! E! T! S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" Giant fans may wonder if that's the best that Jet fans can do, but Jet fans can say, "At least we've proven we can spell." Of course, Giant fans could come back with "'Jets' is a four-letter word."

The man who long led the J-E-T-S chants from Section 134 (an end zone) of Giants Stadium, New York fireman Edwin "Fireman Ed" Anzalone, while still attending games at MetLife, no longer does so "in character." A native of College Point, Queens, not far from the Jets' former home of Shea Stadium, he had worn a fireman's hat decorated with Jets gear, and a jersey, Number 42, in honor of former Jet running back Bruce Harper, before switching to 6 in support of beleaguered quarterback Mark Sanchez. Apparently, it was Sanchez's "Butt Fumble," on Thanksgiving Night 2012 against the arch-rival New England Patriots, that made him give up. (Oddly, while continuing to work with the FDNY, he actually lives in East Rutherford.)

As for the Giants, they don't have any fans who are any more noticeable than the others.

After the Game. Traffic may be even worse after the game than before. After all, those 80,000 people have tried all day to get into the parking lot, some to tailgate, some just to see the game; afterward, they all want to get out as soon as possible. (Well, maybe not all. Some fans like to do a postgame tailgate, too.) Be advised, it may take a while to get out.

Route 3 is probably your best bet for a postgame meal, as there are plenty of chain restaurants. It's a typically tacky and commercial Jersey highway. However, Manny's Cocktail Lounge, a.k.a. "Manny's of Moonachie" (that's pronounced Moo-NAH-key), made famous as a watering hole by fans of the 1980s Giants, has long since gone out of business. Its location, at 110 Moonachie Avenue, has been replaced by a Cuban-themed restaurant and banquet hall, La Havana 59.

Sidelights. This is where I discuss other sports-related sites in the metropolitan area in question, and then move on to tourist attractions that have no (or little) connection to sports. Since most people reading this will be from the Tri-State Area, I'll keep it short.

Both the Giants (1925-55) and the Jets (1960-63) used to play at the Polo Grounds, 155th Street & 8th Avenue in Upper Manhattan. D train to 155th Street. Definitely visit in daylight only.

The original Yankee Stadium, the former home of the Yankees (1923-2008) and the Giants (1956-73), was on the south side of 161st Street at River Avenue. The new Stadium is on the north side. D or 4 train to 161st Street.

Shea Stadium, the former home of the Mets (1964-2008) and Jets (1964-83), was in Flushing Meadow, Queens, just to the left of the new Mets ballpark Citi Field. 7 train to Mets-Willets Point. The Giants played 1 season there, 1975. The Giants played half of 1973 and all of 1974 at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, but that's a long ride, so unless you have to see it, you should skip it. Metro-North from Grand Central to New Haven, then walk from Union Station to Chapel Street, and take the F bus.

The current version of Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks and Rangers since 1968, is at 32nd Street & 7th Avenue, on top of Penn Station. 1, 2, 3, A, C or E train to 34th Street-Penn Station. "The Old Garden" was at 49th Street & 8th Avenue, and is now home to an office and residential tower, Worldwide Plaza. C train to 50th Street, and the station contains a mural about the Garden.

The NBA's Nets and the NHL's Devils used to play at the Meadowlands Complex, at the building now named the IZOD Center. Now, the Nets play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the Islanders will move in for the 2015-16 season. 620 Atlantic Avenue & Flatbush Avenue. 2, 3, 4, 5, D, N or R train to Atlantic Avenue.

The Islanders will play 1 more season before moving to Brooklyn at the Nassau Coliseum. The Nets also played their best years (1971-77) there. 1255 Hempstead Turnpike in Hempstead (the mailing address is Uniondale). Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from Penn Station to Hempstead Terminal, then transfer to N70, N71 or N72 bus. The Devils now play at the Prudential Center in Newark. 165 Mulberry Street & Edison Place. New Jersey Transit rail from New York's Penn Station to Newark's station of the same name. However, because of the distance involved, I'd say forget it unless you're a sports nut with an entire weekend to spare.

If you have more than 1 day (and more than a little money) to spend in and around New York, I do recommend the American Museum of Natural History (79th Street & Central Park West, C train to 81st Street), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (82nd Street & 5th Avenue, 4, 5 or 6 train to 86th Street and then walk 3 blocks west to 5th Avenue), the observation deck of the Empire State Building (34th Street & 5th Avenue, B, D, F, N, Q or R train to 34th Street-Herald Square and walk 1 block east), and the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site (the only President thus far born in The City was born at 28 East 20th Street, N or R train to 23rd Street).

However, I can't recommend the Statue of Liberty, as it's not cheap, it's time-consuming both to get there and to get through, and the view from the crown isn't what you might hope. And the new World Trade Center isn't open yet, and the 9/11 Memorial is expensive and has long lines.

*

The New York Giants and the New York Jets no longer play in New York City, or even in New York State, but still represent the Big Apple after all these years. To be fair, the Meadowlands Sports Complex is only slightly farther from Midtown Manhattan than Shea Stadium was, and not that much further than Yankee Stadium. So they're still a good match for The City.

If you follow these instructions carefully, you'll be able to get in, through and out of a Giants or Jets game safely. Not without stress, to be sure, and I can't guarantee a win (I'm Uncle Mike, not Broadway Joe), but safely.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Yankees Get Another Pitcher, Beat Those Pesky Blue Jays

Before last night's game, the Yankees made another acquisition to boost their starting rotation, purchasing Chris Capuano from the Colorado Rockies.

This is not a long-term signing, as the lefthander from Springfield, Massachusetts -- Red Sox Nation, but also the hometown of early 1950s Yankee Legend Vic Raschi -- is about to turn 36. He missed all of 2008 and 2009 due to, yes, Tommy John surgery, and his career record is 74-84. He was only with the Rockies for a few days, as they signed him after he was released by his home-State Red Sox. He's made 28 appearances this season, all in relief, but he's already been slotted in as today's Yankee starter. He'll wear Number 26.

Last night, in the opener of a 3-game home series against those pesky Toronto Blue Jays, Hiroki Kuroda settled down after a rough start. The Jays scored 3 runs, on a Jose Reyes single, a Melky Cabrera single, and a Jose Bautista home run, before Kuroda could even get a 2nd out in the 1st inning. But, the rest of the way, the Jays only got 1 run on 7 hits against the Yankee pitchers -- that 1 run coming on another home by "Joey Bats." (How come we never hear about him being tested for steroids?)

In the bottom of the 2nd, Brian Roberts got an infield single with the bases loaded, to get the Yankees on the board. Then Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to score another. In the 3rd, the Yankees got home runs from Carlos Beltran (his 11th of the season, solo) and, believe it or not, Ichiro Suzuki (his 1st of the year, 3 runs).

It was 6-4 Yankees after 3 innings -- and yet, that was the final score. WP: Kuroda (7-6). SV: David Robertson (26). LP: Mark Buehrle (10-7).

The series continues this afternoon, with Capuano opposed by Drew Hutchison.

*

And, in a little over 6 hours, the New York Red Bulls will host a friendly (exhibition game) against Arsenal. For the first time, I will get to see my favorite soccer team play live, and it's, as they say over there, "on my manor." It'll be Thierry Henry leading Metro against the Gunners, the club with whom he made his name.

Hopefully, within the next few years, I'll have enough money to go over to London and see them play at home.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yankees Win for the Nieces and Me

Today was a very special day. For the first time, my 7-year-old nieces watched an entire Yankee game with me.

Making it imperative that the Yankees win.

But before I get to that, I forgot to discuss last night's Yankee game.

*

So after playing 14 innings against the Texas Rangers the night before, last night the Yankees only played 5. So that's 19, which comes out to 2 full and change.

David Phelps started against Yu Darvish. I was not optimistic. But Phelps was very strong over his 5 innings: One run, 5 hits, no walks.

In the bottom of the 3rd, with the Rangers up 1-0, Francisco Cervelli was on 3rd, and Brett Gardner was up. Darvish committed a balk, and that sent Cervelli home with the tying run.

Darvish must have been rattled, because he gave up a  home run to Gardner. Imagine if, before the season started, I had told you that Gardner would have more home runs than Jacoby Ellsbury. You'd have thought I was crazy. But it's true: Gardner has 10, Ellsbury 8... and Robinson Cano 7.

In the bottom of the 5th, with the Yankees still up 2-1, the rains came. The umpires waited over 2 hours before calling it. With the home team up in the bottom of the 5th, the game was official. Yankees win.

WP: Phelps (5-4). No save. LP: Darvish (9-6).


*

Now, for this afternoon's game. Brandon McCarthy started, and, using the cutter that the Arizona Diamondbacks told him to stop throwing, pitched 6 very strong innings. He only allowed 1 run, and that was partly due to an error by Brian Roberts.

Chase Headley, doing very nicely since the Yankees got him a couple of days ago, singled home Gardner in the 4th. In the 5th, Cervelli doubled home Ichiro Suzuki, advanced to 3rd on a Brendan Ryan bunt, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Ellsbury.

Joe Girardi brought Adam Warren in to pitch the 7th, and he gave up a home run to J.P. Arencibia. A guy batting .133, and he hit 2 home runs in this series. Then Girardi brought in Matt Thornton to pitch to 1 lefty. It just occurred to me now that he wears Number 48, the same number as Boone Logan, Girardi's previous "Save me, lefty!" But Thornton got out of it.

My niece Rachel kept calling Girardi "Joe DiMaggio." I had to remind her that DiMaggio was a long time ago. But she was much more into the game than Ashley was. She heard the announcers mention that Girardi was wearing a wristband in connection with something that his daughter Lina was doing. Lina is the same age as my nieces, and Rachel noticeably perked up every time the cameras showed Girardi and his wristband.

Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless 8th, and then the Yankees got an insurance run when Brian McCann doubled home Carlos Beltran. David Robertson walked a batter in the 9th, but finished it off.

Yankees 4, Rangers 2. WP: McCarthy (5-10). SV: Robertson (25). LP: Colby Lewis (6-8). Happy Uncle: Me. Happy Nieces: Ashley and Rachel. And the time of the game, a very nice 2 hours and 47 minutes.

*

So the Yankees have now won 6 out of 7 since the All-Star Break. They are just 2 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for 1st place in the American League Eastern Division, and they have the 2nd AL Wild Card berth -- pending the results of tonight's games. All this despite loads of injuries, including to 4 of the 5 opening week starters.

There's still quite a bit of baseball to be played, and anybody who counted the Yankees out is looking pretty silly right about now.

By the way, during the game, I saw a fan in the Stadium bleachers wearing a 2005 Arsenal home shirt -- with the O2 sponsorship.

Just over 48 hours from kickoff between Arsenal and the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, and the Gooners aren't merely coming to New York and New Jersey... they're HERE!

*

Hours until the Arsenal-Red Bulls match at Red Bull Arena: 48. Just 5 days after that, Red Bull Arena will also host Bayern Munich, perennially and again Champions of Germany, vs. C.D. Chivas of Guadalajara, perhaps the most legendary club of Mexico.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 8, a week from tomorrow night, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 9, a week from Saturday, at 7:00 PM, home to the New England Revolution. So that's New York vs. New England in both MLB and MLS.

Days until the 2014-15 Premier League season begins: 23, on Saturday, August 16, with Arsenal at home to Southeast London club Crystal Palace. A little over 3 weeks.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 35, on Thursday, August 28, at 10:00 PM (7:00 local), away to Washington State, at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks. Just 5 weeks.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 41, on Wednesday, September 3, a friendly, away to the Czech Republic in Prague. The Czechs have given the U.S. trouble before, including a 3-0 humiliation at the 2006 World Cup. But things are different now. There's also discussions about playing Ireland away later in the year.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 42, on Thursday, September 4, home to Woodbridge. Just 6 weeks. It's on a Thursday night, rather than a Friday night, because of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Days until Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut: 51, on Saturday, September 13, at 8:00 PM, against old enemy Penn State. A little over 7 weeks.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season home game (barring injury): 63, on Thursday, September 25, against the Baltimore Orioles. Exactly 9 weeks.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 65, on Saturday, September 27, at the Emirates Stadium. Just over a month.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 66, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Days until the Devils play again: 77. They open on Thursday, October 9, away to the Philadelphia Flyers. Just 11 weeks. They once again get screwed by Commissioner Gary Bettman and his schedulemakers, this time having to play 4 road games before their home opener, on Saturday, October 18, at 7:00 PM, vs. the San Jose Sharks.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: See the previous answer. The first game against The Scum is Tuesday night, October 21, at the Prudential Center. The first game against the Islanders is Saturday night, November 29, at the Nassau Coliseum. The Devils' last trip to Uniondale, before the Isles move to Brooklyn, is Monday night, December 15.

Days until Game 7 of the 2014 World Series -- the absolute latest you can ever again see Derek Jeter in a competitive game: 97, on Wednesday, October 29. A little over 3 months, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 126, on Thursday morning, November 27, at 10:00 AM. A little over 4 months.

Days until New York City FC make their Major League Soccer debut: Unknown, but a new MLS season usually begins on the 2nd Saturday in March, which would be March 14, 2015. That's 233 days. Under 8 months. Whether it will be a home game, and thus at the new Yankee Stadium, is yet to be determined.

Days until Alex Rodriguez is eligible to play for the Yankees again: 251 -- presuming, that is, that 2015's Opening Day is on April 1, and wouldn't it just work out that way, that A-Rod is again allowed to play a regular-season game for the Yankees on April Fool's Day? Anyway, that's a little over 8 months.

Days until the New York Islanders' last game at the Nassau Coliseum: 261, on April 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Under 9 months.

Days until the Islanders' first home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: Unknown, but an NHL regular season usually begins on the 1st Friday in October, which would be October 2, 2015. That's 436 days. That's a little over 14 months. Or, to put it another way, "436 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until Euro 2016 begins in France: 688, on Friday, June 10. Under 2 years.

Days until the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 745, on Friday, August 5, 2016. A little over 2 years.

Days until the next World Cup begins in Russia: 1,418, on Friday June 8, 2018. Under 4 years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins Hall-of-Famers?

For years, the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans were lucky: They were reaching the Playoffs, largely due to having the greatest 1st baseman, the greatest 2nd baseman, and the greatest shortstop in team history, all at their peaks at the same time.

But now Ryan Howard has fallen victim to injuries that have rendered him not even ready to be a designated hitter, Chase Utley developed an old man’s knees, and Jimmy Rollins is no longer as effective as he once was.

There are other facts in the Phillies’ collapse from reaching 5 straight postseasons, including back-to-back Pennants and a World Series win, but this one is the most shocking.

It looks like this Big 3 is nearly finished, at least as regular contributors to a winning team. Is any of them worthy of Hall of Fame election?

*

Ryan Howard. He has a lifetime batting average of .267 (not good), on-base .356 (better), slugging .532 (very good), OPS+ 131 (very good). Hits, 1,259; home runs, 326; in each case, good, but not nearly enough.

He’s had only 1 season batting at least .300, but has had 6 seasons of at least 30 homers, 4 of at least 40, and topped out at 58, the most of any National League lefthanded hitter ever, and tying Jimmie Foxx of the old Athletics for the most in Philadelphia history. He had 6 seasons of at least 100 RBIs; for comparison’s sake, Mickey Mantle had just 4. Still, given that Citizens Bank Park is a hitters’ park, he should have bigger numbers, both seasonal and career.

He has 3 All-Star berths and the 2006 National League MVP, and 3 other times he has finished in the top 5 in the MVP voting. That’s not enough.

Baserunning doesn’t help him: 12 stolen bases for a career, although his 75 percent success rate (12 out of 16) is good. Nor does fielding help him: He's never won a Gold Glove.

In postseason play, he came through in the 2008 NLCS and World Series, the 2009 NLDS and NLCS (winning the MVP in the latter), and the 2010 NLDS and NLCS. But in four other postseason series, he was poor, including a World Series record 13 strikeouts in 2009.

Baseball-Reference.com’s Hall of Fame Monitor, on which 100 is a "Likely HOFer," Howard is at 98, just short. On their Hall of Fame Standards, which is more weighted toward career stats, and on which 50 is the "Average HOFer," he's at 25, well short.

B-R also has 10 “Most Similar Batters.” Howard's are Richie Sexson, Prince Fielder, Cecil Fielder, Hank Sauer, Tony Clark, Jay Buhner, Travis Hafner, Justin Morneau, Kevin Mitchell and Danny Tartabull. None of those are currently in the Hall, and nly Prince Fielder has a legitimate chance to make it.

There’s no serious evidence that "Big Piece" used performance-enhancing drugs, but he does fit the profile: From ages 25 to 31, he was one of the best sluggers in the game; since then, he’s been plagued by injuries and just hasn’t been getting it done.

*

Chase Utley. Lifetime BA .287 (good), OBP .371 (very good), SLG .493 (good), OPS+ 126 (good). Hits, 1,519; home runs, 225; in each case, decent, but not nearly enough.

He’s batted .300 twice, and has had 3 seasons of at least 30 homers, and 4 of at least 100 RBIs. Given his ballpark, there should be more.

He has 6 All-Star berths, including this season. But his highest place in the MVP voting has been 7th. Baserunning doesn’t help him much: Only 133 career steals (though with an 88 percent success rate). Fielding doesn’t help much: No Gold Gloves.

He has been inconsistent in postseason play: He was great in the NLDS in 2009, ’10 and ’11, in the NLCS in 2008, and the World Series in 2009. However, in 4 other series, he was nearly invisible. In the 2008 World Series, he only got 3 hits, but 2 were home runs, for 4 RBIs.

B-R has him at 77 on their HOF Monitor, and 33 on their HOF Standards; in both cases, well short.

His most similar batters include interesting players like Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Guillen, and the still-active Robinson Cano, David Wright, Hanley Ramirez and Victor Martinez; but the only one of the 10 already in the Hall is Joe Gordon.

There’s no evidence that he cheated, but, as with Howard, there is a big statistical dropoff and injury tendency from age 31 onward.

*

Jimmy Rollins. Now, we’re talking about a different kind of player: J-Roll is known as a contact hitter, a good baserunner, a good fielder, and a team leader. He's more a Derek Jeter type than a big boomer, Miguel Cabrera type like Howard; or a scrappy but powerful middle infielder, Robin Yount type like Utley.

He has a lifetime BA of .268; OBP, .327; SLG, .424; OPS+, 97; hits, 2,265; home runs, 212. Aside from the career hits, none of those statistics suggests even All-Star status, let alone Hall of Fame. He’s never batted .300 in a season (only twice topping .290), has 4 20-homer seasons but only 1 reaching 30, and has never had a 100-RBI season.

He has, however, led the NL in triples 4 times and in runs scored once. He’s had 10 seasons of at least 30 doubles, and 4 of at least 40. That suggests a little power, and good baserunning. That thought is backed by his 444 career stolen bases (83 percent success), including 10 seasons of at least 30 and 4 of at least 40. However, he has only led the League in stolen bases once.

His fielding also helps him, as he’s won 4 Gold Gloves. But he’s only made 3 All-Star teams, none since 2005. He has won an MVP, in 2007, but that’s the only time he’s come close in the voting. He’s been the Phils’ sparkplug, their leader on the field and off, getting them to postseason play 5 times and nearly 2 others.

He excelled in the 2008 NLCS, and hit well in the 2011 NLDS. Other than that, he hasn’t been a positive factor, including batting .222 with just 2 RBIs in his 2 World Series (11 games).

B-R's HOF Monitor has him at 104, meaning he makes it; but their HOF Standards have him at 38, putting him well short. His 10 most similar batters provide an interesting look: 2 of them, Barry Larkin and Pee Wee Reese, are in the Hall; a 3, Alan Trammell, has some supporters for his election (including me). In each of the 4 cases (counting Rollins himself), the defense helps a lot.

Just in the last year, there has been talk of disputes between Rollins and Phillies’ manager Ryne Sandberg, and it has coincided with a statistical decline. From ages 22 to 33, he was one of the leading figures of National League baseball. After that, he’s been just another player.

My conclusion: Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are good guys, and were once great sluggers. And Jimmy Rollins was one of the most exciting players of our era. They were once winners. But, barring big-time comebacks at late ages, none is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

And that’s something I never would have expected to say as recently as 2011.

Chase Headley -- That's Who!

Yesterday, I ripped Brian Cashman for bringing in trading the promising Yangervis Solarte to the San Diego Padres for Chase Headley, a one-year wonder (2012) who strikes out too much -- essentially, a younger but slower version of Alfonso Soriano.

I titled last night's post, "Cashman Throws Away Solarte for WHO?!?"

So it took 14 innings for Headley to make me look like a fool last night.

I'll take it, if it means winning.

*

The Chase we already had, Chase Whitley, gave us 6 shutout innings against the Texas Rangers. He allowed 7 hits, but no walks, and no runs.

Matt Thornton and Adam Warren -- neither a welcome sight lately -- got us through the 7th inning, Dellin Betances through the 8th, David Robertson through the 9th.

But the Yankees didn't hit. In the first 20 innings of this series, the Yankees scored 2 runs. That's not good enough. The hits last night included a double by Derek Jeter with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th -- the 535th double of his career, surpassing Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees' all-time leader. It was also the 3,413th hit of his career, bringing him within 6 hits of Carl Yastrzemski for 8th on the all-time list, 7 of Honus Wagner for 7th, and 22 of Cap Anson for 6th.

Man on 2nd with 1 out. But after Jacoby Ellsbury was intentionally walked to set up the inning-ending double play, Carlos Beltran, regrettably, obliged, and we went to extra innings, scoreless.

Robertson pitched a perfect 10th. The Yankees went 1-2-3.

Shawn Kelley pitched a perfect 11th. Brett Gardner and then Jeter walked, but got stranded when Ellsbury grounded out.

David Huff pitched a perfect 12th. Beltran beat out an infield single to lead off, and got to 2nd on a wild pitch. Brian McCann singled him hom--

Not so fast -- literally. Beltran couldn't score, and would have been out if he'd tried.

Ichiro Suzuki tried a squeeze bunt, but Beltran couldn't score. McCann did get to 2nd. Brian Roberts was intentionally walked to set up the double play. Francisco Cervelli lined out to 3rd.

Headley came up. Somebody on Twitter said he would win the game, because he hadn't been "infected" yet. Well, not this time: He grounded into a force play to end the threat.

And then Huff, who'd been so strong in the 12th, began the 13th by giving up a home run to J.P. Arencibia. And he allowed 2 more hits.

Huff got out of it, but the Yankees still went to the bottom of the 13th losing. But Gardner led off with a double. Jeter bunted him over to 3rd. Tying run at 3rd, winning run at the plate, 1 out. Ellsbury singled Gardner home. Beltran singled. Winning run at 3rd, runner on 1st, 1 out.

McCann, who's so slow he makes molasses look like Nestlé's Quik (I think they call that stuff "NesQuik" now), grounded into a double play. We went to the 14th.

Girardi went to his last starter, Jeff Francis, who'd already been released by 2 teams this season, making (like Headley) his first Yankee appearance. There were no relievers left: Only starting pitchers. It was Francis or nobody.

Francis allowed a 2-out single, but that was it. Bottom of the 14th.

Ichiro grounded out. But Brian Roberts hit a ground-rule double down the right field line. Man on 2nd, 1 out. Cervelli singled... but Roberts, of whose good speed John Sterling had just been talking, couldn't score.

Up came Headley. Base hit to left-center. Roberts scores. Ballgame finally over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeee Yankees win!

Yankees 2, Rangers 1: WP: Francis (1-1). No save. LP: Nick Tepesch (3-6).

“When I found out (about the trade), obviously you have mixed emotions when you’ve been at a place for as long as I’ve been in San Diego,” Headley said. “But I couldn’t be happier to be a Yankee. It’s unbelievable. I can’t even believe I’m saying that. Long day, but great way to finish.”

*

Within minutes, the jokes began. Headley is "a true Yankee." Tomorrow (meaning today) this game would be on YES' Yankees Classics, and Headley's Yankeeography couldn't be far behind.

As my fellow Arsenal fans would say, If he'd done this for Tottenham, the DVD of last night's game would already be in stores.

The Yankees have now won 4 out of 5 since the All-Star Break. Optimism.

The series continues tonight. David Phelps starts for the Yankees, Yu Darvish for the Rangers.

So much for optimism.

But, hey, you never know. Obviously, since, 14 innings ago, I was ready to bail on Hedy Lamarr.

"That's Headley!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Girardi Throws Away Game, Cashman Throws Away Solarte for WHO?!?

I was supposed to go to last night's Yankee game. A friend won 4 tickets, but has no interest in baseball, and was willing to let me have them, provided I could give the other 3 away.

Would you believe, no takers? My brother-in-law was going to be one of them, and it would have been fairly easy for him to give the other 2. But he had to work late, so he couldn't go, and I couldn't find takers for the tickets.

And then he found out his meeting was canceled. So he, and thus I, could have gone after all.

It's just as well that we didn't go. I would have wanted Joe Girardi fired. I still might.

*

The Yankees opened a 4-game home series with the Texas Rangers last night. The Rangers have gone into an unbelievable tailspin, while the Houston Astros seem to have found their footing. Not only do the Astros no longer have the worst record in baseball, they're ahead of the Rangers in the AL West. Worst team in baseball? The Astros aren't even the worst team in Texas anymore.

Carlos Beltran opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the 1st inning. The Rangers tied it up in the 3rd, but Jacoby Ellsbury made it 2-1 in the 4th with a home run, his 8th of the season.

Going into the 6th inning, Shane Greene was doing well in his first Yankee Stadium start. And he got the first 2 outs. Things were looking good.

Then he allowed a single, and then a walk, and then an RBI single.

At this moment, the right thing to do would have been to get somebody warmed up in the bullpen.

The problem was, Girardi had already done that, and he pulled Greene. And brought in Matt Thornton.

Why Girardi pulled Greene, I understand. He might have been tiring. I didn't agree with the decision, but I understand it.

But Thornton? Thornton has not gotten the job done all year. Yes, the next batter up was a lefthanded hitter, but how many times did the lefty-on-lefty matchup burn Girardi when it was Boone Logan who was the lefty out of the pen?

And that next batter? Rougned Odor. No, that's not a misprint: It's pronounced "ROOG-ned OH-dore" -- not "OH-der" like a smell. He's 20 years old, a 2nd baseman from Venezuela, who until last night had 195 major league plate appearances. Any righthanded pitcher should have been able to get himself out.

But Girardi's Binder told him, "Bring in Logan Thornton, or I let general manager Brian Cashman release those embarrassing pictures of you."

Girardi brought in Thornton. Odor singled to left, bringing home the go-ahead run. Thornton allowed another RBI single to Shin-Soo Choo, before Girardi realized, "Holy cow, bringing in Thornton was a mistake. What does my Binder say now?" It said, "Bring in Adam Warren," and Warren stopped the bleeding by striking out Elvis Andrus.

But, speaking of guys named Elvis, we can't go on together with either suspicious minds or Girardi's Binder.

Rangers 4, Yankees 2. WP: Miles Mikolas (1-2 -- no, I'd never heard of him before, either.) SV: Joakim Soria (17). LP: Greene (2-1, and this loss was very much undeserved, but you can't charge a loss to the manager).

*

But as the old saying goes, it can always get worse. You know what damn fool thing Cashman did today?

He traded Yangervis Solarte! Solarte had gotten off to a great start this season, but stopped hitting, went down to the minors, and was called back up, but then Girardi traded him to the San Diego Padres before he could re-prove himself.

Who did the Yankees get from the Padres for Solarte? Chase Headley.

Who? Chase Headley? Isn't that the actress who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones? No, that's Lena Headey. Isn't Chase Headley a pitcher we already have? No, that's Chase Whitley.

Headley is 30 years old, from Colorado, a switch-hitting 3rd baseman who can also play the outfield. Until now, he's played his entire career in San Diego, since 2007. In 2012, he won a Gold Glove, and led the National League with 112 RBIs -- but talk about an outlier, his next-highest total is 64. He hit 31 home runs that year, otherwise his peak year is 13. And he strikes out more than Mickey Mantle or Reggie Jackson ever did: 73 times already this season, 142 last year.

Seriously: Cashman thought this was a good trade.

His reasoning is that Headley is a defensive upgrade on Solarte. Funny, but he wasn't all that interested in defensive upgrades when he had Eduardo NunE5!

Now, Headley is supposed to be the everyday 3rd baseman -- even though the recently-arrived Zelous Wheeler is doing the business both at bat and in the field.

What the hell is wrong with Cashman? At least with Girardi, we know what the hell is wrong with him: He's too "by the book"!

These guys may both have to go.

Anyway, good luck in San Diego, Yangervis. Chase Headley, I hope you can win games for us, but the way the manager and the GM are going, who knows.