My Life’s Great Adventure

They say that writers write.  Well, I want to be a writer, so, I’ll write.

Not that I’m a terrific writer or anything, but I do have thoughts in my head that rattle around and need to get out.  I’ve thought for years that I’ve got a good book trapped somewhere inside this muddled brain of mine, so maybe this is the beginning of that.

I read Jane Heller’s column every day.  Her “Confessions of a She-Fan” is delightful.  You want a writer?  There’s a writer!  She writes with such ease.  Compared to her I’m a two-bit hack.  Ok, I’m always a two-bit hack, but compared to her I’m worse.

The thing is, I like to write.  Maybe it’s cathartic or something, I don’t know.  I took the obligatory creative writing courses in college, but I never cared about anything I wrote.  It was always about Gandalf or Winston Churchill or something like that.  It was never anything I really cared about.

After college I got a job at a small-town newspaper that was run by about six people.  Somehow, I got my own column and so took the opportunity to write about people in that small town.  It was fun.  I mean, it was a lot of fun.  And people seemed to enjoy it.  For the first time in my life I was really writing about something I loved.

Now, thirty years later, I’m a project manager for a Fortune 500 company.  Gone are my writing days, except for this blog.  Oh, I keep a journal, but it’s not the same.

So, I’ve decided that since it’s the off season, I’m going to write about more than just the Yankees.  I love the Yankees and have since I was able to know what baseball was.  But there’s only so much you can write about your favorite team, though you love them dearly, in the off season. 

I’ve kept a small pad in my pocket the last six or eight months, and at times, during boring meetings, I sit and contemplate my life.  Every time I think of something I’d like to write about, I write it down.  I’ve filled up about twelve or thirteen pages now, so I think it’s time I sprung a leak in my brain and let some of those ideas drain out.

Over the last 50 years I kept waiting for my life’s great adventure.  Maybe it would be some James Bond .007 adventure where I had to save some beautiful woman from certain death. 

Or maybe it would be an Indiana Jones-type adventure in which I found some great and lost relic that would alter history.

Or maybe it would be an adventure that would put me on the moon or in a history book or would make some mark on the world.

Little did I know that during those first 50 years, I was living that adventure every day in the small, seemingly irrelevant and mundane activities of every day life.

This is my life’s great adventure, told by the person who actually lived it and wouldn’t change one minute of it.

Back to Work

Well, it was back to work this morning.  Business as usual, as they say.  Now we get down to the real baseball season where teams are made and broken.

Believe me, I’m no fan of the business of baseball.  I think it has ruined, to an extent, the greatest game that was ever devised.  Baseball should NOT be run by businessmen who’s only care is whether or not they make money.  It should, instead, be run by people who care about baseball itself, people like, hmm, well, I can’t really think of anyone.  But you know what I mean.

However, since we’re in the world of big business and multi-million dollar contracts, let me tell you what I’d do if it were me who ran the Yankees.

Let’s face it.  The Yankees are the World Champions, much to the chagrin of the rest of baseball.  I always learned that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so I wouldn’t do a whole lot of tinkering with the team.  However, I would do a couple of things.

On the sign side, the first thing I’d do is sign Andy Pettitte, Johnny D and Godzilla.  Yes, I know the they’re all “old”, that Johnny D has an arm that is a liability and that Godzilla’s knees just won’t let him do much of anything but DH.  I know all of this.  But I’d sign them anyway.  Andy has proven he’s a money pitcher, especially in the postseason.  Johnny has proven that he’s a money hitter, clutch, and smart as a whip (I still shake my head at his double steal in game 4).  Godzilla, well, is the MVP of the Series.  Need I say more?

On the dump side, I’d have to say goodbye to Chien-Ming Wang, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, and Jose Molina.  Look at it like this.  Wang has been too much work to keep healthy.  And there is no guarantee he’s going to be able to go next year.  Gaudin and Mitre both contributed bupkus.  I wouldn’t have either one of them back if they paid ME to play.  And let’s face it,   Jorgie’s not going to last forever.  Let’s get another catcher in here who can take over when Jorgie’s done.  Molina’s not going to do that. 

As far as the free agent signings, I’d sign Jason Bay and John Lackey and that’s it.  Cream of the crop, right?  Well, wouldn’t both of them like to win a championship?  Bring them in, we’ll play them.  Lackey would fit nicely into that rotation and Bay can play outfield and hit like nobody’s business.  Make room for both of them.

That’s it.  Nice and simple.  Keep the core like it is.  It will last another three or four years.  Tex at one, Robbie at two, DJ at short, Al at three, Johnnie D, Melky and Jason Bay in the OF.  Rotation of CC, AJ, Andy, and Lackey and then throw Joba in every now and then.  Keep him mostly in the pen with Coke, Hughes and Mo.  Jorgie behind the plate with some new guy backing him up.  Sounds like a winner to me.

The World Series is over.  Time to get down to business.

So much for the afterglow.

Sign ‘Em

Let’s face it, Brian Cashman did a masterful job during last year’s
offseason.  He brought in CC, AJ and Tex, whose presence on the team
just helped win us a 27th championship.  Without those three, I don’t
think the Yankees even get to the big show.

Then he brought in some
minor role players like Jerry Jr and Swish during the summer.  Terrific
moves.  Both contributed in a big way down the stretch.

But now, as the Bombers roll down the Canyon of Heroes in a tickertape storm, my mind wanders to what he’ll do THIS offseason.

There are some big-name free agents out there this winter, including Johnny D and Godzilla.  Guys like Adam LaRoche, Brian Roberts, Chone Figgins, Jason Bay, Jason Werth, Carl Crawford, and Vladimir Guerrero head this class’s crop of prospective position players.  John Lackey will be the class of this year’s crop of pitchers, but Josh Beckett, Brandon Webb, Rich Harden, Cliff Lee, Brett Myers and Erik Bedard are also available.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d love to have another strong arm like Cliff Lee (although I hate his stinking guts) or another great stick like Jason Bay would bring (stinking Sox).  But if I were Brian Cashman, I’d start putting all of my current efforts into resigning Johnny and Hideki. 

I know, I know.  The Yankees are old.  I hear it all the time.  They need to move toward getting younger.  But those two guys gave an awful lot to the team this year, and even more during the postseason, and I think they deserve to be rewarded with nice, new contracts.  They don’t have to be long termers, just new.

Godzilla’s got bum knees, but he’s proved he can still go deep.  Johhny’s not quite as fast as some of the younger players, but what a stick.  They were both money in the postseason.

Listen, I’m not going to get into who Cashman should bring in this year.  I’m going to leave that up to him and the Yankee brass.  But I do want to make one thing perfectly clear.  Johnny D and Godzilla want to play in the Bronx and Cashman should make it his priority to make it so.

Service with a smile

There are precious few times in this life when you get what you came
for.  Most of the time you have to go back through the
drive-thru because the person who couldn’t speak English got your order
wrong. 

The other day I went through the drive-thru at one of your larger burger chains and asked for a very simple order.  One number 7 with a Sprite, one number 11 with a Sprite and one chicken nuggets kids’ meal with an Icee.  What I got in my bag was a number 2, a number 12 and a kids meal without the crummy toy, so I turned around and went back.  What I got the second time was still wrong, so I went back again.  What I got from the “friendly” server was an icy stare.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not picking on the fast food industry.  Service is bad all over.  Phone service, food service, television
service.  You’ve got to pump your own gas now (unless you live in NJ). 
When I was a kid we sat in the car and let the attendant fill ‘er up,
along with checking the oil and washing the windshield.  Not so any
more.

Nobody seems to care any more, and there seem to be fewer every minute.  But what I got last night was exactly what I wanted…a Yankees championship.

First, let me congratulate the Phillies.  They are an excellent team and they deserved to be in the Series.  Great hitters, great pitching, great coaching.  Charlie Manuel is a class act and I am proud to know that my team beat the best.  Like we always tell our Little League boys, “If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”  The Yankees did just that.

What I wanted was a dominating performance by Andy Pettitte.  Check.  Then I wanted a side of Mo with maybe a little bit of Joba thrown in.  Check.  After that I wanted to see dramatic, timely hitting.  What I got was exactly that from Tex, Johnnie D, Al and of course, Godzilla.  Last, but not least, I wanted some good defense.  Check, check, check.  Everything in my bag was exactly as ordered.  Yankee championship to go, please, and hold the mayo.

I’ll have the same order to go for 2010, too, if you please.

I Hope Andy’s the Man

All I can say today is “I love Andy Pettitte”.  If that helps him win tonight, that’s all I care about.  I’ve thought Andy was great since he came up way back in the mid-90s.  I’ve thought Andy was terrific since he won all those games for us die-hards back in the late 90s.  I even loved Andy when he went to the dis-Astros. 

I’m nervous.  I thought Joe should have started someone other than AJ the other night.  My son told me before the game started that the Yankees were going to lose because he didn’t trust AJ.  He said AJ hadn’t had enough rest.  I countered with a look at CC and how he did on three day’s rest.  Then he said, “AJ’s not CC”.  And so it was.

I really thought we had them there in the top of the 9th.  They kept battling back and battling back and they sucked me right in.  By that time my son had falled asleep, but if Tex had gotten on, I would have awakened him.  Jeter’s DP was a killer and so was Tex’s K.  He swung at several balls there, and we could have had Al come up to the plate.  Instead, we pack up our troubles in our old kit bag and wait for tonight.

I just hope Andy is the man.  Please Andy.  Please give us something to cheer about. 

I Just Can’t Watch

I’ve got this thing.  I’m not proud of it, but I can’t really get rid of it.  Some might call it an abnormality.  Some might call it idiotic.  Personally, I call it caring too much. 

You see, I can’t watch the World Series.

I watch when the Yankees are batting, but I can’t watch when the opposing team is batting.  I just can’t force myself to watch them take their raps.  Why?  I get too nervous.  I want the Pinstripes to win so badly that I get too nervous to watch.

I figure that the Yankees can score runs while they’re batting.  The only good things that can happen while the other team is batting strikeouts, good defensive plays or something of that nature.  The bad thing is that the other team can score runs, and that’s what I don’t want to see. 

I mean, seriously, how many strikeouts are there in a game?  Ten?  Seven?  Five?  Depends on who’s pitching, right? Howmany great defensive plays are there?  Two?  Three?  Four?  So, if you take the largest numbers and add them together, you get about 14.  So, I would want to be watching 14 times during the Yankees defensive times on the field.  Sorry, but that’s not enough.

When the Yanks won the Series in 1996, I turned it off in Game 6.  When they won in 1998, I watched because I knew they’d win.  1999, too.  In 2000, I turned the channel when they were in the field.  Same for 2001 and 2003.

Now, I watch the other channels and my hands shake.  My son keeps asking me to change the channel back, but I just can’t do it. 

“Who’s ahead?” my wife asks.

“I don’t know because I’m not watching it right now.”

She just rolls here eyes and walks off in disgust.  “You’re very odd,” she mumbles.

Yea, I know.

I Still Hate You, Cliff Lee

My wife called me this morning on her way to work to tell me I was a jerk.  Turns out I was pretty grouchy last night.  And with good reason.  I hate Cliff Lee.

If you will remember, I picked him up last year from the waiver wire and straightway put him into the lineup of my fantasy team.  He won and won and won in the summer of 2008 and I looked like a fantasy baseball genius.  Not only did he get me into the playoffs, but he won the Cy Young award.  All from a guy who was foundering on the waiver wire.

Then came September 23rd, 2008.  The Yankees had one chance in a million to get into the playoffs and if Cliff Lee could beat Boston we still had a chance.  But could he do it?  No, he lost, and with that loss the Yankees were sent home for the winter for the first time in DJ’s career. 

I hated Cliff Lee all winter long last year.  I threw darts at a picture of him.  I made a Cliff Lee doll and pulled its head off.  It was a very long and healthy hate.

Now this.

You think I hated Cliff Lee last year?  Just wait.  Not only did he shut down my beloved Yankees on only 6 stinking hits, but he made Johnny D’s popup in the ninth look like he was having a day at the beach.  He struck out Tex, A-Rod and Jorgie 7 times combined!  Seriously?  Seriously?

Don’t get me wrong.  The Yanks didn’t play badly.  CC only gave up four hits in 7 innings.  Too bad two of them had to be Utley dingers. 

But when CC was done, Joe brought in the parade of clowns.  Unbelievably, Marte wasn’t half bad.  But the rest of those jokers?  Hughes?  Stinko!  Robertson?  Horrible.  Coke?  Terrible.  Bruney?  A joke.  Joe Buck got it right.  Girardi had to worry about those four runs his pen gave up.  If not for those, the score could have only been 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth.  CC kept us close.  The pen let the horse out of the barn.

So, tonight we go again.  Invariably, Fox will show Cliff Lee sitting in the dugout.  I’ll grind my teeth every time I see him because now I hate him even more. 

Cliff Lee, you stink.

Throwing Caution to the Wind

I honestly don’t know what to write today.  The World Series starts tonight and I’m feeling a little cautious about it. 

When the Yankees were in the World Series back in 2001 I told my wife that they’d beat the Diamondbacks without much problem.  Yea, so much for my prognosicating skills.

Then in 2003 I was intrepid enough to say that they’d beat the Marlins, but it would be a real battle since the ‘Lins had Beckett and all that firepower.  Ok.  They didn’t hire me in Vegas.

Now it’s 2009 and I don’t know what to say.  I feel good about the Bombers’ chances, but I am more guarded now.  The success of the late 90’s made me a little overconfident.  Padres?  Yankees in four.  Mets?  Yankees in four (ok, I missed that one by one game).  Braves?  No problem.  Six games.

Now?  I don’t know.  The Daily News says Yankees in five.  I think it will be Yankees in seven, but I just never know anymore.  The Phillies are a very good team, much better than those Padres, Mets or Braves.  But the Yankees are a better team now, too.  There are at least four or five legitimate first round Hall of Famers on this team (Jetes, A-Rod, Pettitte, Jorgie and Mo), and five more who are at least candidates (Robbie, Tex, CC, AJ, Johnny D).  That’s a lot of talent on one team.

The thing I worry about now is 2001 and 2003.  I thought they had it then, too.

But this is a different team.  This is a different year.  So let’s all join in the familiar chorus of “Let’s Go Yankees!” and hope it goes less than five.

How do they compare?

I thought that since tonight is World Series Eve I’d compare the two
teams to see what we can expect in Game 1.  So, here you go.  My feeble
attempt to see who’s going to win.

– Yankees – Tex
  Phillies – Ryan Howard
  Advantage – Phillies

Though
Tex is one of my favorite players, he hasn’t been having the greatest
postseason ever.  He hit his share of dingers this year, but not like
Howard.  He is a man among men.  I think he’s only second in the NL to
Pujols, who is a giant man among boys.

– Yankees – Robbie
  Phillies – Chase Utley
  Advantage – Even

Utley
is a great second baseman, and he has a powerful stick.  But Robbie
gets it done, too.  I think this one comes in neck and neck.

– Yankees – Jetes
  Phillies – Jimmy Rollins
  Advantage – Yankees

Don’t
get me wrong.  I actually like Jimmy Rollins.  But Derek Jeter is my
pick for the AL MVP this year and he may be the World Series MVP if the
Yankees can take it.  He is the best clutch hitter in the history of
the game.  I think the nod goes to Jeter, in a big way.

– Yankees – A-Rod
  Phillies – Pedro Feliz
  Advantage – Yankees

This
one isn’t even close.  Compare A-Rod to Howard, if you want, and I
think he still comes out ahead just because of the monster postseason
he’s having.  Yankees big here.

– Yankees – Johnny D, Melk Man, Swish
  Phillies – Ibanez, Flying Hawaiian, Wertz
  Advantage – Even

The
Phils actually may come out a little ahead on this one.  Ibanez is
having a great postseason and so is Victorino.  But Johnny D came
through the other night and so did Melky.  I only worry about Swish in
the outfield.  His arm is great, though, wouldn’t you say Vlad?

– Yankees – Jorgie
  Phillies – Bako
  Advantage – Yankees

Not
only do the Yankees have Jorge, but they have Molina who can come in at
a moment’s notice without too much degradation.  Slight advantage
Yankees.

– Yankees – CC
  Phillies – Cliff Lee
  Advantage – Yankees

MVP
of the ALCS.  Need I do more than to point you in that direction?  He
was the man in the ALCS.  And don’t worry about game 7.  If they have
to play it, CC will be ready on three day’s notice again.  Oh, just
give me a reason.

– Yankees – Home
  Phillies – Away
  Advantage – Yankees

Quick.  How many games have the Yankees lost in the postseason in
the new Yankee Stadium?  Yea, you got that right.  ZERO.  And that
trend will continue on Wednesday night as CC shuts down the
high-powered offense of the Phils. 

So, the total advantage comes to five categories Yankees, one category
Phillies and two even.  I think there will be a lot of runs scored in
this series, maybe none more than in the first and second games because
of the wind and short porches.  But I’m thinking they’ll all be scored
by the home team. 

Let’s go Yankees!

Let’s go Yankees!!

“Hey, congratulations on your Yankees,” he said as I sat down in his office.

“Thanks,” I replied stiffly, not really knowing what to say.

“I guess that makes you pretty happy, huh?”

Yes, it does, but how do I say that to an Angels fan, who also just happens to be my boss?

“It sure was an exciting series,” I replied, trying to avoid the obvious response.

“Yea, I ‘spose,” he said.  “We just threw it away.”

I know, and almost literally.

“Your guys will be back next year,” I said, hoping to avoid picking the scab that had just barely started to heal.

“Maybe,” he said, “but they were made for this year.  What with the Adenhart thing and all, I think it was this year or nothing.  Won’t mean as much now.”

I looked at the floor and shuffled some dirt off the bottom of my shoe that stuck there while I was walking into the building.  “Aw, I doubt it.  All those guys will be back, plus, now they’ll have Kazmir for an entire season.”

I cringed the second the words came out of my mouth, for it had been Kazmir who’d allowed the Yankees to score their two insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th.
 
He looked at me in that head-tilted way he always did.  Then he blinked and said, almost grievingly, “Well, good luck in the Series.”

I thanked him, stood and turned to leave.  I looked over my shoulder and thought I caught the tail end of a tear wipe, but I couldn’t be sure.  He might have just been scratching his cheek.  “Your team played better than mine,” he whispered as I shut the door behind me.

“Let’s go Yankees,” I said quietly as I walked back to my desk.  “Let’s go!”