Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who is in the Playoffs?

This has been one of the greatest seasons ever. Here it is, with one game to go, and the NL still hasn't determined which teams are in the playoffs. Only one division is decided (the Central--go Cubbies!) while the East is a flat-footed tie between the Phillies and Mets. I think everybody is still alive in the West. That was a slight exaggeration. The D-Backs are in, but it may be as division winner or wild card. The wild card has not been determined, because the Mets, Phils and Padres may all wind up with the same record.

The most amazing part of this year is that the Yankees were written off a few months ago, as were the Phillies. Baseball is a long season. And I can't remember any season when the words of Yogi Berra were ever more appropriate, "It ain't over, til it's over."

A-Rod has all but won the MVP award, and that brings up an interesting question. How can a guy sign a 10 year deal with the option to walk at 7? Which genius executive signed off on that? And it makes one wonder just how high is up? A-Rod is getting 25 mil per year, and he is seeking a raise? WTH!!! I realize he is probably the best player in the game today, but more than 25 mil per? Didn't he catch enough crap when he signed last time? And, yes, I completely understand that baseball contracts are not about the money per year, but the total dollars. And A-Rod is at the age where this may be his last shot at another mega contract. What would have been wrong with another 7 years at 25 mil per? That would make his total for the last 2 contracts for 14 years at 25 mil per year. Total contract 350 mil. That should make for a fairly comfortable retirement.

I was watching the Phillies game today, and saw something so stupid. Sitting in the stands, at a Philadelphia Stadium, watching a game against the Washington franchise, was some moron in a Mets cap. Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but this is just wrong. It's great to support one's team, and if the Mets were within 50 miles of the Stadium I could understand it. But when you wear shirt, caps, etc. representing a team that is no where in sight, that is just plain rude and ignorant. The only exception to this would be if one had a classic bit of memorabilia, like a Negro League cap or a Carl Hubbel jersey. Otherwise, just wear a cap saying, "Booger Eating Moron."

Playoffs begin Tuesday with the Yankees against the Indians.

GO YANKEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

September 11th, 2001

September, 11, 2001 changed America forever. It affected thousands of lives in ways many of us didn‘t initially anticipate. Allow me to explain. I had two students who lost their Dad in the Twin Towers that fateful day. I never met the man, but met his children about four months after the loss of their father. More than five years later I still can’t get the image out of my mind of my two students. Here’s a little bit of the background story: dad went to work nice and early that Tuesday morning, got on the train in Central New Jersey, and headed to the World Trade Center for a special early morning business event.
I like to think he kissed his wife and kids goodbye, picked up his valise, and headed out the door. Maybe he asked her to make something special for dinner, or he may have told her he would try to get home early that night. I’m sure he left with hope and a little bounce in his step on that bright Tuesday morning.
He was headed to a business card exchange at Windows on the World. This was one of the premiere restaurants in NYC, and the place where men and women networked to try to help themselves by helping each other. They weren’t captains of industry, but instead were the “regular guys.” They were men and women working hard to provide food and shelter for their families. I’m sure some were highly paid, among the best and brightest in their field, but most were average Joes. Folks who got on the train in suburbia, and headed into “The City” to earn their daily bread.
Everyone knows what happened next. The planes hit the Tower at 9:11 a.m. and tens of thousands of lives changed forever in that instant.
America itself changed drastically that day. No longer did we feel safe from attack. Everyone should have known that we were vulnerable. Bombs had been set off around the world for years. In 1993, the Trade Center had been attacked, and survived. My friend Jim, a Transit cop who died on 9-11, had been honored previously for his actions back then. The Tower was considered indestructible. America was tough, strong, and safe. 9-11, however, showed that we were indeed vulnerable. Our innocence was lost.
In January 2002 I worked tutoring children. As stated previously, two of my students were children of one of the many victims. The more time I spent with them, the more I realized that they were also the victims, in addition to their dad. The boy was in 8th grade, while his sister was in 5th. But they didn’t look like typical middle school age kids. It was something about their eyes. Their brown eyes looked perpetually sad. I never recall seeing the normal joy and playfulness in the demeanor of the boy. This young man was the most morose teenager I ever met. In my over 5 years of tutoring, he was the only child I never could make laugh. He had the eyes of an old man. And, unfortunately, the soul of a beaten down old man.
His sister had the same sad eyes. But after a while, she changed around me. She started to smile more, and even laughed at my incredibly witty jokes. They were witty to a 5th grader, anyway. By the time my birthday came around, she gave me a very beautiful hand made card. It took everything I had not to cry when she gave it to me. The best part is she made the card a funny one. Was my sense of humor helping her a little bit to heal? I’ll never know, but I certainly hope it did.
I think about my two special students often. The memories of September 11th surround us here in the NY metro area. We have monuments everywhere-- at train stations, parks, and shopping centers. I wonder if they are able to look past these various memorials as so many of us do, or if they serve as reminders to them on a daily basis of the worst day of their lives.
Time heals all wounds, even those that have cut so deeply.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


The Yankees have taken over the wild card, and don't look like they are going to relinquish the lead any time soon. The pitching is coming around at last. Other than Mussina, they have a credible starting staff, especially in a short series. A few years ago the Diamondbacks showed that with just 2 strong starters the World Series can be won. Wang, Pettitte and Clemens should be able to do the job. And the bullpen is balanced with Joba (my new favorite player, and the one voted "Best Son-in-Law Candidate Among New York Sports Stars, So How Do I Introduce Him To My Daughter") Chamberlain along with Mo who seems to be hitting postseason stride. Vizcaino is doing well, and Ramirez seems to be getting better with every game. I'm not worried about the pitching for the first time in many years. Considering how young many of the pitchers are, they should be dominant in the near future, also.

The offense is not quite as productive as expected, but some of the guys who were struggling early have picked up the pace. Abreu and Matsui have come back from slow starts and are both well on the way to 100 RBI years again. A-Rod is having an MVP year, while Jorge is having one of his best years at bat and in the field. I thought catchers slowed down at his age? Couldn't happen to a better guy.

Damon is starting to hit a little, and he has decided to shut up. Both of these are good moves on his part, and good for the team. And, against all odds, Jason Giambi is back, and has been playing first like a Gold Glover. Yeah, Giambi has been making good plays around the bag. He even made a couple run saving plays. I'm a huge fan of the G man, but never thought he would ever remind me of Mattingly at first.

I remember an announcer a few years ago remarked that bad teams seem to play well early before they realize how bad they are. Seemed silly at the time, but it sure does seem to follow throughout the years. It almost is as if the Yankees suddenly realized how good they were, and have been playing great since the All-Star break. Since the break, thay have been playing at a blistering .667 pace. If they had done this from April, they would have 90 wins already, and the howling in Beantown about the payroll would have been so long and loud. I'm glad it happened this way. I haven't been subjected to the usual mid-season whining from all the teams with ownership that doesn't care about their teams enough to try to give them what they need to put a winning squad on the field.