June 02, 2020

America: On Wounded Knee

When I started to compose this essay, I couldn't get three images out of my mind. The first image is of former NFL quarterback, Colin Rand Kaepernick, who took to kneeling during the national anthem, in protest against police brutality and racial inequality in this country:


Some folks expressed great moral indignation at Kaepernick's "disrespectful" behavior; Donald Trump himself called on NFL owners to fire anyone who "disrespects our flag." At the time, he said: "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired! ... That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for." The NFL was so petrified by the public outcry that it adopted a league policy, allowing teams to fine any players who exhibited such behavior "an unspecified sum"---demanding further that such players be relegated to the locker room rather than exhibit disrespect for the flag on the field, for all to see. When all was said and done, Kaepernick went unsigned after the 2016 season, and filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of the league. He later reached a confidential settlement with the league, and withdrew the grievance.

Alas, the technicalities of NFL ownership of teams didn't make this a clear-cut issue that might fall under free speech guidelines; players employed by the NFL either play by the rules or get another job. The fact that most of them play in stadiums that have been built with taxpayer dollars or through the use of eminent domain didn't mitigate the circumstances in favor of free expression.

Next to that image of an NFL player taking a knee during the national anthem, and all the hoopla that surrounded it, there is the harrowing image of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, handcuffed, face down, pinned to the ground by a white policeman, Derek Chauvin, whose knee was also bent---grinding into the back of Floyd's neck, even as he pleaded with Chauvin that he couldn't breathe, that he was going to die.


Fortunately, the moral outcry over this nightmarish injustice seems to have eclipsed the umbrage expressed by so many when they saw an NFL player kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner"---in protest of police brutality.

But there is now a third image that haunts me. It is the image of another man, George Floyd's brother Terence, who traveled from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to the spot in Minneapolis, where his brother was killed. Terence tried to kneel, but the wounds in his soul ran so deep, that they crippled his ability to balance himself. He collapsed in tears.


These three images tell different stories---but they are all united in some way. They tell the story of protest---both after and before, before and after, the ongoing murder of unarmed black men throughout our country by police officers. They tell the story of what happens when taking a knee in prayer morphs into using a knee as a weapon to snuff out the life of another human being. They tell the story of what happens in the aftermath of that death, when a kneeling man can barely steady himself in an effort to pay tribute to his fallen brother.

America is now under siege, not by rioters, but by what these three images project: protest, death, and remembrance. And if what we are seeing on the streets of America is a war of sorts, I can only quote Herman Wouk: "The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance."


Over these last three months, I have lived in a home town that has lost nearly 30,000 human beings to a pandemic. I've posted twenty-six installments on the Coronavirus. It is typical of funeral processions around these parts for the hearse carrying a person's remains to pass that person's home on the way to the cemetery. So, every morning, over the past few months, as I get on my stationary bike to work out in the front room of my home, I look out the bay window of my apartment, which faces the street below, and I've seen---day-in, day-out---one funeral procession after another. A part of you becomes numb to the vision. Until it doesn't.

The morning after Memorial Day, I heard of yet another nightmarish tragedy taking place in an American city. It was the day after George Floyd was killed on the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota by police officer Derek Chauvin, whose knee was pinned to the right side of Floyd's neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, even as the victim pleaded that he could not breathe---and onlookers screamed for the officer to stop [warning: graphic YouTube link].

When I first heard this news report, I found myself just as numb. Numb not because it was yet another death in a time of unending mass death, devastation, and destruction. Numb because it was the death of one more African American man, in a long list of such atrocities, by a police officer. These senseless brutalities have become so common over the years. But the outrage expressed in their aftermath has become so predictable---and so ineffective---that as I watched the news, all my overtaxed brain could manufacture as a response was: "Another one."

I shook my head in despair, I felt my eyes well up with tears, but I was confident that, once again, people would express their anger for a few days, the politicians would get in their potshots at each other, as they did in the aftermath of Charlottesville, and life would return to "normal"---whatever the hell that term means nowadays.

But I was wrong. By Friday night, May 29th, the protests were spreading from coast-to-coast. And when I turned on the television at around 11 pm, and saw the streets of my home town, Brooklyn, aflame, in front of the Barclays Center, and down Flatbush Avenue, I could not contain the depths of my sorrow. I just began to cry. Night after night, I have watched peaceful protests punctuated by violence and looting, with the typical push-back from police.

I'm not going to sit here and pontificate about how violence is not the answer. For a person who has celebrated the riotous response of the Stonewall Rebellion fifty-one years ago, I certainly appreciate how a violent reaction against a corrupt police force attempting to destroy the lives, liberties, and property of a marginalized group can have a revolutionary effect. Those rebellious souls in 1969 directed their anger specifically at a corrupt police force that routinely raided the Stonewall Inn and arrested its peaceful patrons to clamp down on "lewd behavior" (that is, same-sex folks who were holding hands and kissing in the confines of a private establishment). Those raids were almost predictable---especially if the police didn't get their timely payola from the Mafia owners of the bar. This singular violent event has been marked ever since that fateful late June day not with further violence, but with annual parades, in which police---some of them out and about, walk arm-in-arm with their same-sex partners and friends.

The current violence that has punctuated otherwise peaceful mass protests across the country might be chalked up to spontaneous outbursts from those who feel the sting of poverty and institutional inequality, magnified further in the wake of lockdowns and high unemployment during a period in which a pandemic has taken the lives of over 100,000 Americans (many of them Latino and African American, in percentages disproportionate to their populations).

In many instances, the violence, however, has not been spontaneous at all, since it does appear that outside groups have infiltrated these protests specifically to cause mayhem---provocateurs from the left or the right, perhaps. The looting of a Target store in Minneapolis, known for its collaboration with the police, might seem justified to some. But mob action sustained over these many days must, by necessity, degenerate over time. It is not about striking a blow for equality or against oppression; it is not about looting luxury stores in midtown Manhattan or Macy's on 34th Street or the swanky shopping districts in SoHo [YouTube links] as a symbol against "excess" [Twitter link]. The mob does not distinguish; it ultimately aims its wrath even at small neighborhood businesses and stores like those along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx [YouTube link], which directly impact the very communities that have been victimized by police brutality. Their store owners have struggled to keep afloat throughout this pandemic, and now they have no businesses left to open.

Terence Floyd, George's brother, who traveled from Brooklyn to pray at the site in Minneapolis where George was murdered, collapsed in agonizing grief when he arrived there. You could hear him praying---"I need you and Pops to watch over me"---as he cried uncontrollably.

But then he turned to the crowd: "I understand ya'll upset. But ... I doubt y'all are half as upset as I am. So if I'm not over here wilding out, if I'm not over here blowing up stuff, if I'm not over here messing up my community---then what are y'all doing!? What are y'all doing? Y'all doing nothing! Because that's not gonna bring my brother back at all. ... You all protest, you all destroy stuff. And they [the powers that be] don't move. You know why they don't move? Because it's not their stuff. It's our stuff. They want us to destroy our stuff." He implored them to find "another way." "My family is a peaceful family," he exclaimed. He asked the protesters to use their anger as a tool for peaceful, nonviolent change. He urged them to exercise their power at the ballot box and implored them to an even higher cause: "Educate yourself," he said. "It's a lot of us. And we still gonna do this peacefully."

This has been a mantra among long-time civil rights advocates. Even Al Sharpton, an "imperfect vessel" if ever there was one, has also expressed an urgent moral indignation: "Don’t use George Floyd and Eric Garner as props," he declared. "Activists go for causes and justice, not for designer shoes. New York should set the tone, because the first time we heard, 'I can't breathe,' it was not in Minneapolis. It was on Staten Island, six years ago, and we did nothing."

I have always understood the horrific structural issues at work, the broader, tragic context of historic and systemic brutality that breeds violent responses such as we've seen over the past week. I have addressed these issues countless times over the past three decades, including essays, in recent years, on subjects as varied as the war on drugs and the problems of mass incarceration, the trouble with Trump and Antifa, and the reciprocal relationship between the growth of state power and racism as a cultural and political phenomenon. I refer readers to those highlighted links because this is just not the time to say: "I Told You So."

Nevertheless, understanding why violence often punctuates protests does not mean that I subscribe to the view that nonviolent resistance is somehow deficient or protective of the status quo.

For a person, like me, who has dedicated his life to exploring the context of human freedom, who has upheld the libertarian ideal of a free society, the status quo is a system that is the embodiment of violent brutalization. Violence is a way of life in this country. It is the means by which a genuinely political economy redistributes wealth to those who are powerful enough to wield the mechanisms of state. They have been wielding those mechanisms at home and abroad for eons, especially through the apparatuses of "national security," designed to sustain a policy of "perpetual war for perpetual peace." It sometimes astonishes me that so many folks who are understandably threatened by these newest displays of violence on the streets of America's cities and who call upon their government to "dominate" the rioters, have rarely given thought to how such "domination" has given the United States the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the entire world---higher than both China and Russia, and the even more horrific distinction of being, historically, among the most powerful forces for instability throughout the globe, given sustained policies of interventionism abroad.

On the importance of using strategies of nonviolent resistance---not to be confused with pacifism---I highly recommend the work of Gene Sharp, a man of integrity whom I met and with whom I had a 25-year correspondence. The author of such books as From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation, Social Power and Political Freedom and a three-volume work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Sharp did more to champion various strategies by which to overturn the status quo in ways that tend not to reproduce the patterns of brutality that its practitioners seek to end.

Over this past week, there have been remarkable displays of how nonviolent protest---in some profoundly symbolic gestures---can change the dynamics between protesters and those to whom their protests are typically directed. Yes, we have seen burning neighborhoods, but we have also heard stories and seen images marked by an extraordinary depth of humanity. From Bellevue, Washington, where the Police Chief declared "We are with you. We are not against you"---to Miami, Florida [YouTube links], where a highway trooper hugged a protester, who told him "I love you"... from Foley Square in Manhattan, where police officers kneeled to the applause of the protesters, a young African American man reaching out, telling them: "I really appreciate you doing that. Thank you very much. I hope you all stay safe and have a great night" to images of protesters in Louisville, Kentucky forming a human barrier to protect a police officer who had been separated from his unit, from violent attack. White women standing in a line, to separate and protect protesters from police and police from protesters. Police chiefs from New Jersey to Wisconsin walking side-by-side with protesters. Chief of Department of the New York City Police, Terence Monahan, hugging an activist as protesters paused in Washington Square Park, the same park where I once protested myself---against the reinstatement of selective service registration for the draft by President Jimmy Carter---telling protesters that he was with them standing against police brutality.

And then there was an unforgettable video that went viral [YouTube link] of Flint Michigan, Genesee county sheriff Chris Swanson [YouTube link], who confronted a gathering of protesters and spoke to them from his heart. He assured the crowd that he meant them no harm. He took off his riot gear, put down his baton, and yelled out to the crowd: "We want to be with you all … I want to make this a parade, not a protest. ... These cops love you." The crowd chanted: "Walk with us!" And he did. "We will protect you. We are with you," he said. Later, he observed: "I knew that the benefit far outweighed the risk. And when you show action of, listen: I'm going to make myself vulnerable in order to come into your circle and show you that I want to be that solution. That was the change maker right there. It was beautiful. Not a single arrest. Not a single injury. Not a single fire."

As much as these stories and images uplift and inspire, Kumbaya is not going to cut it. (Indeed, in some instances, the same police who knelt with the protesters were later involved in tear-gassing the folks with whom they expressed solidarity.) Nor is the opposite tendency among those who simply call for the outright abolition of the police going to cut it. Why stop there? Abolish the state!

To my principled anarchist friends (not the "bomb-throwing" kind),** who see the state and its police functions as the distillation of evil in the modern world, I am compelled to ask: If you were capable of "pushing the button," what do you propose to replace it with? This is the danger of thinking undialectically, of dropping the context of the conditions that exist in the real world. We are dealing with structural racism that permeates not only our political institutions but our very culture. Certain measures can be taken (from ending qualified immunity to challenging the militarization of the police force) but a genuine cultural transformation is a necessary precondition for any genuinely radical social and political change.


Despite all these mixed messages in an age of mixed premises, I must end this essay where it began---with images. Images of many police officers who have now taken to one knee, one wounded knee, the position of the Colin Kaepernicks of this world---in opposition to the brutality in their own ranks and the racial inequality it perpetuates. [Ed.: This practice has continued in earnest even weeks after the riots have subsided... to the credit of people on both sides of a crumbling blue wall.]



** In a recent study group discussion for the anthology, The Dialectics of Liberty, I had the occasion to quote from a Spring 1980 article I wrote, while an undergraduate at New York University for The New Spectator: The NYU Journal of Politics:

Anarchism has had a long and negative conceptual history. Traditionally, the image of the anarchist has always been one of a bearded, bomb-hurling immigrant attempting to violently overthrow the social order in a revolutionary and bloody battle against authority. It is quite ironic that skeptics will see anarchism as a ridiculous, idealistic, floating abstraction without realizing that the present-day situation is in essence, one of international anarchy among monopoly governments, which have considerably refined the practice of bomb-throwing beyond what any anarchist would have dreamed. In this context, the real issue seems to be what kind of "anarchy" we want---governmental or voluntary.

April 25, 2020

Coronavirus (20): A Light-Hearted Moment in the Post Office

I have not ventured out much since the Coronavirus pandemic deepened here in New York City. But I did have a chance around the time that I went grocery shopping (three weeks ago) to stop by the Post Office to mail a small package to a friend. I have truly marveled at the hard work---and courage---displayed by all of the men and women who are delivering the mail during a period of high stress and high volume, whether from the USPS, Fed Ex, UPS, or any number of other delivery services, not to mention the folks who deliver from restaurants, pizzerias, and other eateries in the neighborhood.

But my last visit to the Post Office gave me a chuckle. Three postal workers are sitting behind thick plexiglass windows, and the line is short. A window opens as the customer just ahead of me departs. I walk over to the window.

Here's a dialogue worthy of Plato:

She (the postal worker): Oh, I was just going on break.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry. That's okay, I'll just wait for the next window to open.
She: No, no, it's okay, sweetheart. Hand it over.
Me: Are you sure? I can wait, it's not a big deal!
She: No, no, I'll be happy to take care of this quickly... it's just that I gotta pee like Seabiscuit!
Me: (Convulsed in Laughter... happily handing the package over to the postal worker) -- At least I'm old enough to know who Seabiscuit is!
She: Don't make me laugh, sweetheart, or there's gonna be a problem!

Only in New York! :)

April 13, 2020

What's In a Number? (Part Two)

On 26 July 2002, the New York Daily News published "New Yorkers of the American Imagination: From The Fountainhead: Howard Roark"---which I'd written for their series, "Big Town Classic Characters." It was later republished on the site of the Atlas Society here.

On that same day, I began blogging on what I would call "Notablog." It started as a page on my home site, until "October 1, 2004," the title of my first post to the new interface with which New York University provided me. Through the years, I have written on subjects as diverse as economics (especially Austrian economics), culture, dialectical method, education and pedagogy, film, TV, and theater, fiscal policy, food, foreign policy, frivolity, music (including a "Song of the Day" feature now up to #1781 and counting), politics (not just elections, but a focus on theory, history, and current events), Ayn Rand studies (including the "Journal of..."), religion, remembrance, sexuality, and sports.

Earlier today, I posted a somber update on the Coronavirus pandemic, asking "What's in a Number?" Tonight, I ask that same question, with a far less somber tone. For with this entry, I have reached the 3,000th post in the history of Notablog over these last eighteen years. In many respects, it seems like a relatively small output, when you consider that there have been nearly 6,500 days since that very first post. But I'm very happy to have reached this milestone, if, for nothing else, to count my blessings that I'm still here and that I've been around long enough to keep writing---shedding some light and, on occasion, some heat, but always doing my best to tell it the way I see it.

To 3,000 more! Or 30,000! Nothing will shut me up after all this time!

March 31, 2020

Coronavirus (11): "Opening Day" and Pitching In ...

As I previously suggested, one of the leisurely activities I am most missing during this pandemic is watching baseball. Opening Day was scheduled for 26 March 2020. The NY Mets were to open at home at Citi Field on that day; the NY Yankees were due to open this Thursday, April 2nd at Yankee Stadium. As it turns out, the Coronavirus had other ideas: With 75,795 confirmed cases in NY state (and nearly 41,000 cases in NYC)---not to mention nearly 177,000 cases nationally---MLB and virtually all other professional sports have come to a grinding halt. [Ed.: The United States has now passed China in the number of deaths related to CORVID-19: 3,440 deaths to China's 3,309 "reported" deaths.]

But just because baseball is suspended for the time being doesn't mean you can't "pitch in" when the opportunity arises. Brooklyn Technical High School's Alumni Foundation had purchased, with its privately raised funds, hundreds of bottles of Purell for its annual Homecoming weekend, which was scheduled for the 27th and 28th of March. The event, which typically attracts 800 or so alumni back to the prestigious specialized high school, had to be suspended due to the breakout of this pandemic. So the boxes containing the Purell were redirected from the school to my home (since my sister is the Executive Director of the BTHS Alumni Foundation). Then, through the decisive actions of BTHS Alumni Foundation President Larry Cary, the boxes were sent to the workers of the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. For those who don't know, "[t]he Hunts Point Cooperative Market is a 24/7 wholesale food market located on 60 acres ... in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx, New York City. The largest food distribution center of its kind in the world, it earns annual revenues of over $2 billion."

As Kings County Politics reports today:

The Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation is donating 800 personal size bottles of Purell to IBT Local 202 for distribution among its members working at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. The Market is the main hub for the distribution of fresh vegetables and fruit to grocery stores in New York City. These are essential workers still making deliveries. The Alumni Foundation purchased the Purell in preparation for its annual homecoming which takes place at Brooklyn Technical High School every March. The Foundation postponed homecoming until after the epidemic is resolved. "We are happy that the Purell we purchased has been repurposed to help keep these essential workers safe as they deliver much-needed food for New Yorkers during this time of crisis," said Larry Cary, President of the Foundation. The Alumni Foundation is the most successful public high school alumni organization with 50,000 members. Brooklyn Technical High School is one of the city’s specialized high schools.

We're all doing what we can to "pitch in" for our fellow New Yorkers. And we hope the workers at Hunts Point continue hitting home runs as they make deliveries to those in need.

March 22, 2020

Coronavirus (3): Love, Pets, and Booze to the Rescue!

So, my hometown state, New York is leading the United States in the number of administered Coronavirus tests (over 61,000 at last count) in identifying people who are positive. It now also leads the United States in the number of identified Coronavirus cases (over 15,000)---and of these, my hometown city, New York City, comprises 9,600+, while my hometown borough, Brooklyn, leads the city with 2,800+. Well, let's just say, every time I boast that New York is the center of the universe, this is not what I had in mind.

So, what does a typical day in the Sciabarra household look like, now that New York has once again embraced the status of another "Ground Zero," as we are hunkered down in our apartment?

To be honest: Not much different than it looked before this situation became an omnipresent fact of our reality (despite the fact that I'm seriously missing the springtime resurgence of "America's Pastime": Baseball and my New York Yankees). The apartment is full of food, films, music, and more rolls of toilet tissue than I could count for reasons that most of my friends would fully understand! Cali the Cat is still Queen of the Castle, which is a good thing, because the New York Daily News reports that more and more "self-isolated New Yorkers are becoming foster parents for pets," and no sentient being in this household makes us laugh (or say "Awwwwww") more than our cat!

And, yet, because I always edit and write from my home, I am in the same position---in front of this laptop---that is typical of me. Except for an hour a day on the Gazelle and the Stationary Bike, and the fact that my sister is working next to me, on her own laptop (which makes for very pleasant teamwork), I'm still doing every day, pretty much what I was doing every day, prior to this current situation. When I do go out to the supermarket or the pharmacy or the post office, I run into folks wearing masks and gloves, some of whom I don't immediately recognize as my neighbors (and yes, I'm practicing social distancing to the best of my ability).

I am not oblivious to the fact that there is a certain palpable fear that one sees in my neighbor's eyes---not just over the virus, but also over employment, the next rent payment, travel restrictions, and even a concern about the growing encroachment on basic liberties---because you can't keep rambunctious New Yorkers down.

Still, as I discovered long before 9/11, New Yorkers are among the kindest, most supportive people one can find, especially in a crisis. Folks are affable, assisting one another, holding doors when they see other folks whose arms are full of groceries, inquiring about the health of each other's families, and wishing each other well. Yes, we are running low on some essential sanitizing items, like alcohol and Purell, but I am inspired by my friend Allen Mendenhall's article that even here, "booze comes to the rescue," as distilleries are now producing hand sanitizers!

So that's what things are like here at home, in New York, New York. Indeed, "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!" [YouTube link].

I'm expressing my warmest wishes to everyone---to stay safe, healthy, and vigilant---as we get through this.

Postscript: The numbers on Coronavirus infections in New York City alone are increasing hour-by-hour at a staggering rate. As reported by the New York Post: "There were 10,764 confirmed cases of the virus in the Big Apple as of 6 p.m. . . . Brooklyn had the most cases out of any borough, 3,154, followed by Queens, with 3,050; Manhattan, 2,324; the Bronx, 1,564; and Staten Island, 666."

Postscript (23 March 2020): Check out Sally and Ken from Penzance in Cornwall, England, both in their 80s, self-isolating in style to Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm." Indeed, as I put it on Facebook: "They've got each other ... who can ask for anything more?"

February 11, 2020

Song of the Day #1752

Song of the Day: The Mark of Zorro ("Soundtrack Suite") [YouTube link], composed by Alfred Newman, includes all of the key themes to this swashbuckling 1940 adventure film, starring Tyrone Power as Zorro. The score was among the seventeen scores nominated in 1940 for "Best Original Score" (losing out to "Pinocchio"). It illustrates just why Newman is considered one of the great composers of the Golden Age of Classical Hollywood Cinema. With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring training for both the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, it would be nice to see a little swashbuckling magic in the upcoming 2020 MLB season!

January 30, 2020

Mike Lupica on Eli and Derek

I've been so busy preparing the first of two twentieth anniversary issues of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, while working simultaneously on the forthcoming moderated discussion of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, that I'm behind in my reading. I really enjoyed a recent Mike Lupica column on the retirement of New York Giants QB Eli Manning and the election of Yankees' captain Derek Jeter to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"Eli Manning and Derek Jeter Remind Us How Good We had it For all Those Years" speaks specifically to New York sports fans, but it also speaks to the character of the players and the sports they honored with their gifts.

Nice piece.

January 21, 2020

Derek Jeter: Hall of Fame Yankee Captain

The great Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, the 1996 Rookie of the Year, who went on to a storied career in the Bronx, has been elected one vote shy of unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

As Notablog readers surely know, Jeter was among my all-time favorite Yankees. His 20-year Yankee career was marked by some of the most iconic moments in baseball history from "the flip" and his dive into the stands to his "Mr. November" home-run, 3000th hit in a 5 for 5 game and remarkable final game at Yankee Stadium [YouTube links]. As Wikipedia reminds us:

A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is regarded as one of the primary contributors to the Yankees' success of the late 1990s and early 2000s for his hitting, baserunning, fielding, and leadership. He is the Yankees' all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). His accolades include 14 All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter was the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits and finished his career ranked sixth in MLB history in career hits and first among shortstops. In 2017, the Yankees retired his uniform number 2.

Jeter got 396 out of 397 votes to qualify for the Hall of Fame (Yankee great closer, Mariano Rivera, remains the only unanimous inductee into the Hall). Yeah, it makes you wonder what baseball writer was the spiteful one... but he's still a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He joins a legion of great Yankees who have been elected into the Hall of Fame.

Joining Jeter is Larry Walker from the Colorado Rockies. The Hall of Fame Induction ceremony is set for July 26, 2020. Congratulations, Derek!

January 02, 2020

Don Larsen, RIP

Don Larsen, the only pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to throw a perfect game in a World Series, died yesterday at the age of 90. The Yankee pitcher, who didn't have a particularly noteworthy career (he went 81-91 in a career that spanned from 1953 to 1967, pitching for seven different major league teams) was perhaps the least likely candidate to pitch the first---and only---no-hit perfect game in a World Series. It took place on October 8, 1956, Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, in which Larsen threw 97 pitches, 70 of them for strikes [YouTube link].

He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1956 World Series, which the New York Yankees won over the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games. I wasn't even a gleam in my parents' eyes back in 1956, but the great Vin Scully's classic call of the end of that game, in which Yogi Berra jumped into the arms of Larsen, is branded in my memory of greatest television sports moments [YouTube link].

My fondest memory of Don Larsen was when he showed up on Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999, and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Yogi. What followed was almost surreal. Yankee pitcher David Cone, as if anointed by the presence of two blessed Yankees, went on to throw a regular season perfect game [YouTube link], only the 16th perfect game in MLB history at that time, out of a total of 23---21 of these in the modern era, which began in 1900.

RIP, Don Larsen.

October 31, 2019

Congrats to the Nats

I watched the 2019 World Series, all seven games, and thought the Washington Nationals, the biggest underdogs in about a dozen years, didn't have much a chance to beat the heavily favored Houston Astros. In many ways, the Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos, a franchise that relocated to Washington, D. C.) reminded me just a bit of the Miracle Mets of 1969, who defeated the much more heavily favored Baltimore Orioles to win their first World Series Championship.

This is the first franchise to bring Washington, D. C. a World Series championship since the 1924 Washington Senators did it. It is also the first time any franchise in any major league sports that any team has gone on to a championship by winning all of its games on the road, and not a single game at home! So much for "home-field advantage"! (To be clear, the Houston Astros won all three games played at the Washington Nationals' Home Park, while the Washington Nationals won all four games played at the Astros' Home Park. That's simply unheard of in a seven-game series!)

Anyway, Congrats to the Nats! A truly enjoyable World Series to watch from beginning to end.

October 20, 2019

At Least There Were the Geico Commercials ...

Yes, at least there were the hilarious Geico commercials to watch during the American League Championship Series, like this one about the guy who passes up an opportunity to purchase a new home because of what's in the attic. Yeah, THAT made me laugh.

The American League Championship Series: Not so much.

Kudos to the Houston Astros for beating the Yanks, whom they out-pitched, out-hit, and out-played. I really thought we might be going to a Game 7, but the Astros took the American League Pennant in the bottom of the ninth inning after a thrilling comeback two-run homer by DJ LeMahieu tied the game in the top of that inning. But He Who is Not Mariano Rivera gave up a two-run homer to He Who Shall Not Be Named to lead the Astros to a 6-4 victory over the Yanks in Game 6 in Houston.

I'm super-pissed off at the Yanks for leaving so many guys in scoring position and not being able to come up with the big hit when the team needed it. And for not beefing up their starting pitching. And for ... oh, well, what's the sense?

Anyway, I'm not bitter at the Astros.

(Go Nats.)

October 12, 2019

New York Postseason Baseball Continues ...

And so tonight it begins: A re-match of the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees (who last met in the AL Championship Series in 2017, which the Astros won in 7 games to go on to win their franchise's first World Championship). The winner of this series will represent the American League in the World Series.

There should be no doubt who this Bronx Bombers Fanatic is rooting for.

But while I'm at it, I'd like to extend a Big Congratulations to Pete Alonso of the New York Mets who has been selected unanimously by Baseball America as Rookie of the Year! Next up, I think, should be the bona fide Baseball Writers' Association of America's selection of Alonso for NL Rookie of the Year. It would be well deserved; he broke the Yanks' Aaron Judge's single season home run record for a rookie, hitting his 53rd home run on September 28, 2019.

But it's the postseason now... and it's time to focus on the Yankees quest for a 28th World Series Championship. GO YANKS!

October 08, 2019

Yanks Win ALDS: Advance to the ALCS

The New York Yankees sweep the Minnesota Twins and advance to the American League Championship Series!


September 19, 2019

NY Yankees Take the AL East

The New York Yankees just clinched the American League Eastern Division title with their 100th win of the season!

Long way to go! But for now: Woo-Hoo!!!

July 21, 2019

Baseball Hall of Fame: Mo and More

I just finished watching the live MLB broadcast of the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony of the 2019 inductees into Cooperstown. It is very difficult for any baseball fan to watch a ceremony like this and not be moved or sometimes brought to tears by the presentations, speeches, and various tributes. And this year was no exception.

The 2019 inductees included: the late Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Mariano "Mo" Rivera, along with "game era inductees" Harold Baines and Lee Smith.

Former New York Yankee outfielder, Bernie Williams, opened up the ceremonies with an instrumental rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" on guitar (see here [YouTube link]). And he also provided us with a sweet guitar rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (with a touch of "Enter Sandman") before Mo took the stage. Indeed, by the time Mariano Rivera reached the podium, as the last person honored today, with the other three members of the Core Four present (who won five World Series between 1996 and 2009)---Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter---well, there wasn't a dry eye left in the Sciabarra household.

I was privileged to see Mo throw his wicked cut fastball to record just a few of his 652 regular season saves (not to mention 42 postseason saves) when I traveled to the old Yankee Stadium some years ago. I am delighted to have seen him enter the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, the only baseball player to have ever been selected unanimously by the Baseball Writers Association of America. You did good, Mo, and you once again "closed out" a sporting event with a touch of class.

June 29, 2019

What a Jolly Good Time! Yanks Beat Boston in London!

For the first time in Major League Baseball history, two storied American baseball franchises faced off in a regular season MLB game in Europe. At London Stadium, today, the New York Yankees out-slugged the Boston Red Sox, in a marathon 4+ hour game, with a score more befitting the National Football League (and we're not talking "soccer"): 17-13.

Meghan Markle (a potential distant relative of the Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts) and Prince Harry were on hand, visiting both clubhouses, and the mound itself, where they accompanied ten participants of the Invictus Games, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. There was a really lovely performance by the Kingdom Choir of the National Anthems of both the United States of America and Great Britain [MLB video link], and the seventh-inning stretch gave 60,000+ folks, across the pond, a chance to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" [Goo Goo Dolls, YouTube link]. And because this was considered a Boston "home game," we were even treated to a recording of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the eighth inning.

But in the end, the Yanks outlasted the Sawx, who played for the first time in their 100-year old rivalry on artificial turf; the teams scored a combined 30 runs (second highest combined score in the history of their rivalry) and will meet again tomorrow (10 am Eastern time) to close out their MLB debut on the London Sports Stage. The game ended with Frank Sinatra singing, What else?: "New York, New York" [YouTube link].

March 28, 2019

Song of the Day #1686

Song of the Day: The Thrill of it All, words and music by Bryan Ferry, opens the 1974 Roxy Music album, "Country Life"---considered a milestone in the history of British art rock, one of the reasons for their upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check out the 6+ minute album version [YouTube link]. Today is Opening Day for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, and I can't think of a better phrase ("the thrill of it all") to sum up this baseball fan's enthusiasm about the upcoming season. [Ed.: Great Opening for New York: Mariano Rivera throws out ceremonial first pitch and the Yanks win at Home, 7-2 over the Orioles, and the Mets win on the road, with former Yankee Robinson Cano driving in 2 runs to give de Grom his first win, 2-0 over the Nationals!]

February 03, 2019

Song of the Day #1657

Song of the Day: Bohemian Rhapsody ("We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions") are two separate songs that have often been paired when heard on the radio, going all the way back to their 1977 debut on the Queen album, "News of the World." The first song is credited to Brian May, the second to Freddie Mercury. With its "Boom, Boom, Clap" beginning, and its anthemic sound, "We Will Rock You" has probably become the most sampled track in history for use at sports-stadium events. It was also part of the last medley performed by a reunited Queen at the Live Aid charity concert at Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985 [YouTube link]. In 2005, Queen's 20+ minute set [YouTube link] was voted by sixty artists, journalists, and music industry executives as the greatest live performance in the history of rock. It is also only one of the highlights of this 2018 Oscar-nominated Best Picture, one of the most emotionally-wrenching paeans to the tortured soul and artistic genius of Freddie Mercury, played courageously and poignantly by the Oscar-nominated Rami Malek, who has already won Best Actor Awards for his performance from the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. I confess that the film often left me a slobbering mess, in terms of its emotional impact, which speaks to its powerful cinematic portrait of Mercury. Check out this remarkable side-by-side comparison of the Live Aid performance and its depiction in the 2018 film [YouTube link]. And also check out the original album recording [YouTube link]. Today, in Atlanta, where the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will be vying for the Super Bowl Championship, one team is going to rock the other and declare "We Are the Champions."

Postscript: Love them or hate them, Brady does it again, as the Pats win their Sixth Super Bowl Title (with Brady wearing five of those rings). And celebrating the 50th anniversary of his own Super Bowl win, former New York Jets QB Joe Namath brings the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the podium.

January 22, 2019

Enter Sandman, Unanimously: Rivera Elected to the Hall of Fame

Three cheers to Mariano Rivera who becomes the first person to be unanimously elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I was among those who were fortunate enough to attend several games at Yankee Stadium to see this consummate relief pitcher save just a few of his all-time record 652 career saves. Mo would come in from the bullpen, day-in and day-out, to the sounds of "Enter Sandman" by Metallica and was perhaps the Most Valuable member of the New York Yankees' "Core Four", indispensable to the five World Series Championships won by that team from 1996 through 2009. This thirteen-time All-Star was pure class, poised in his ability to shut down the opposition with a killer cutter (or "cut fastball").

It is amazing that of all the greats who have entered Cooperstown, Rivera is the only baseball player to have been elected to the Hall of Fame unanimously. An honor so well deserved. Bravo to the last man to wear the 42 jersey (now forever retired in honor of the great Jackie Robinson).

January 14, 2019

Mel Stottlemyre, RIP

Yesterday, one of the all-time great Yankees, Mel Stottlemyre passed away at the age of 77, after a long battle with cancer. He pitched for eleven seasons with the New York Yankees, before going on to a distinguished career as a pitching coach, a key component to World Series championships for two New York baseball teams: the 1986 World Champion New York Mets and the World Series Champion New York Yankee dynasty that won four World Series championships in the five-year period between 1996 and 2000. The Yankees honored him with a plaque in their famed Monument Park at The Stadium.

He was a gentle man who was deeply passionate for America's favorite sports pastime and leaves us with a wonderful legacy of great baseball memories. RIP, Mel.

November 15, 2018

de Grom is de Best!

As anybody who is a baseball fan knows, there were few pitchers in 2018 who were better than New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob de Grom. The man had the misfortune of playing for a team that just couldn't score runs for him, explaining his 10-9 record. But as David Schoenfield of ESPN put it: "He ended the season with a stretch of 24 starts in a row where he pitched at least six innings and allowed three runs or fewer, an all-time record. Essentially, the man didn't have a bad start all season, so even though he finished with just 10 wins, it's no surprise that deGrom is your National League Cy Young winner."

The biggest tribute I can give de Grom is to say that as a New York Yankees fan, I wish he was pitching for the Yankees rather than the Mets. He's pure class all the way, and I tip my hat to "de Best" and to those who were not dissuaded from voting for him, despite his season's win-loss record. Bravo Jacob! Here's hoping that there are plenty more Cy Youngs in your future!

October 10, 2018

Song of the Day #1645

Song of the Day: Suffer features the words and music of Breyan Isaac and Charlie Puth, who recorded this song for his debut album, "Nine Track Mind." Check out the album version, the extended video single, and then check out how well Charlie tickles the ivories on some bluesy, jazzy live versions from Radio City Music Hall, the Live Nation-recorded stop in Saint Paul, Minnesota (at 1:00 exactly), and the Vince Staples/AndreaLo Remix video [YouTube links]. I put this song up tonight in honor of the New York Yankee fans... who had to "suffer" the loss of their division series to the Boston Red Sox, who now move on to face the Houston Astros for the American League Pennant. All 100-game winning teams, but only the ones who win in these short series get to move toward a World Series ring. I'm not bitter. But "Go Houston!" And wait till next year!

September 29, 2018

NY Baseball: Yankees 100 and The Wright Stuff

The 2018 Major League Baseball Season is winding down, as Yankee fans poise for a one-game wild card playoff spot this coming Wednesday, October 5, 2018, when the Bronx will host the Oakland Athletics for a chance to advance in the postseason. But today, the New York Yankees set a couple of notable team and individual records. Off the bat of rookie Gleyber Torres came the 265th home run of the Yankee season, setting the all-time record for team home runs in a single season (previously held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners). Moreover, hitting in the ninth spot of the order, Gleyber gave the Yankees the distinction of being the only team in baseball history to post 20 or more home runs from every batting spot in the nine-man line-up. Giancarlo Stanton added another Yankee home run in the seventh inning, upping that team season record to 266 home runs---and getting his 100th RBI of the season. (I can't imagine how many home runs would have been recorded by this team if last year's Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, who hit 52 home runs in 2017, were not on the disabled list for so long!) On top of all this, the Yankees scored their 100th victory of the season, second only to the American League Eastern Division-leading Boston Red Sox (currently holding at 107 wins, with one more regular season game to play). It's the first time in the storied history of both franchises that each of these teams has won 100 games or more in the same season. In fact, with the Houston Astros already having over 100 wins, we find one of those rare moments in MLB history with three teams from the same league having 100 wins or more advancing to the postseason.

Another record was broken today, by Rookie of the Year-candidate Miguel Andujar, who, with his 45th double of the season, broke the Yankees' franchise rookie doubles record set in 1936 by a guy named Joe DiMaggio.

With this 100th New York Yankees victory this afternoon, any genuine baseball fans worth their pinstripes can't help but look to Citi Field tonight, home of the Yanks' cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, who, despite a disappointing season, sport a pitcher who is, arguably, a National League Cy Young Candidate: the remarkable Jacob deGrom. Tonight, however, in Queens, the New York Mets' captain, David Wright, who has suffered many injuries throughout his career, including spinal stenosis, will be retiring from the game. Wright is a class act---and a seven-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove Award winner, and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He holds the New York Mets' franchise records for most career RBIs, doubles, total bases, runs scored, sacrifice flies, times on base, extra base hits, and hits---to name a few. And in 2007, he became a member of the elite 30-30 club (hitting 30 home runs and stealing 34 bases). This Yankees fan tips his hat to the Mets captain and wishes him well.

P. S. [Added to Facebook, 30 September 2018, 11:02 AM]: It took HOURS for the Mets to finally win that one, but they did so in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the 13th inning, and that was followed by a really wonderful video tribute to David Wright, and a loving tribute to the fans from David himself [YouTube link to video tribute and Wright's address to the fans]. He will be missed, and you're right, cuz (Michael J Turzilli), he was and remains a class act! Also check out this YouTube synopsis of Wright's Night.

September 06, 2018

Sports and 9/11: 2001 Mets Visit Memorial Museum

Next Tuesday, September 11, 2018, I will publish my annual essay in remembrance of the horrific events of that day in 2001.

Today, however, many members of the 2001 New York Mets team visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to view a new exhibit, "Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11." Among the events commemorated at the museum was the first baseball game played in New York City after the terrorist attacks. It was at Shea Stadium, old home of the New York Mets, in which Mike Piazza put the Mets ahead for good to win the game 3-2 over the Atlanta Braves [YouTube link]. Hall of Fame Catcher Piazza recalls the events [YouTube link], as the Mets were down 2-1, when he hit what was ultimately the game-winning home run. In one blast of the bat, even this New York Yankees fan found a reason to cheer.

As it turned out, the New York Yankees gave New Yorkers something to smile about in the postseason too---even if briefly---as they fought their way into the 2001 World Series [YouTube link], winning three iconic games in New York City, before ultimately losing the Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven unforgettable games.

Still, one can't look back on the events of September 11, 2001 without recognizing the role of sports and its capacity to lift the spirits of a broken-hearted town.

August 16, 2018

Song of the Day #1618

Song of the Day: Respect was written by Otis Redding, who recorded the song in 1965 [YouTube link]. But it was in 1967, that Aretha Franklin recorded a version of this tune that went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became her signature song, featured on her album "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You." Franklin would go on to win her first two (out of eighteen) Grammy Awards for her rendition, for "Best Rhythm & Blues Recording" and "Best Rhythm and Blues, Vocal Performance, Female"---in the latter category, the first of an unprecedented eight consecutive wins, and a record-holding 11 wins out of a record-holding 23 nominations. The song was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 1998), added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry (in 2002), and rated #5 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The Memphis-born Aretha herself became the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 1987). On a date that marks the sixtieth birthday of the Queen of Pop (Madonna), the forty-fifth anniversary of the passing of "The King" (Elvis Presley), as well as the seventieth anniversary of the death of the Bambino and Sultan of Swat (Babe Ruth), we have lost the Queen of Soul today at the age of 76. Ironically, I had already programmed this song for later in our 2018 "Summer Dance Party"---but moving it up to today is so much more apropos. Check out Aretha's soul-shaking recorded version of this classic, along with two live performances, one in Detroit and the other in Paris (at 16:33) [YouTube links].

July 05, 2018

Michael Kay Pays Tribute to John Sterling on His 80th Birthday

What's July 4th without good food, fireworks over the East River, checking out Joey Chestnut set a world record of 74-downed hot dogs in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN [YouTube link, if you can stomach watching it], and watching the Great American Pastime. And yesterday, for this Yankee fan, it was a Yankee victory over the Atlanta Braves, 6-2.

Only Yankee fans will appreciate this Notablog entry, however. John Sterling, who has been in the Yankee broadcast booth for 30 years, tied with Mel Allen, and second only to The Scooter, Phil Rizzuto (who was in the broadcast booth for 40 years!), turned 80 years old yesterday. The Yankee Doodle Dandy sat next to Suzyn Waldman (in her traditional red, white, and blue vest) in the WFAN radio broadcast booth, while Michael Kay and Paul O'Neill were broadcasting from the YES television booth.

Sterling is known for some of his individualized, customized home-run calls for Yankee ballplayers. For last year's Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge, it was: "He's judge and jury. And this is judgement day!" For Alex Rodriguez, it was: "It's an A-Bomb! From A-Rod!" And so forth. So when Giancarlo Stanton had his first Yankee home run, it was "Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo! It is a Stantonian home run"---which, roughly translated from the Italian, is "Giancarlo, You can not stop it! It is a Stantonian home run."

Well, in honor of Sterling's 80th birthday, Michael Kay was musing in the TV booth that he wanted to be able to pay a birthday tribute to his long-time colleague by making a Sterling-like call for a home run, should any player hit one out. And wouldn't you know it? It was Giancarlo. And Kay nailed it. Check out the comparative calls in this MLB video clip, where the broadcasters are clearly having a ball (no pun intended).

June 09, 2018

Song of the Day #1581

Song of the Day: The Horse, words and music by Jesse James, was a million-selling #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. It was technically the instrumental B-side of the 1968 single "Love is All Right" [YouTube link], by Cliff Nobles and Company. A slice of Philadelphia soul at its best, it boasts a horn section that went on to become the group MFSB. I provide this second "Song of the Day" for one reason only: Today, the Horse, Justify, vies for a place in Thoroughbred Racing History, looking for a win at the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes to take the Triple Crown. Go Justify! And check out this classic instrumental [YouTube link]. [Ed: And Justify becomes the 13th Horse in History, and only the second undefeated Thoroughbred, to win the Triple Crown!]

May 20, 2018

Song of the Day #1577

Song of the Day: That's the Way Love Goes features the words and music of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Charles Bobbit, and Janet Jackson, with samples credited to James Brown, Fred Wesley, and John "Jabo" Starks. This sensual Grammy-winning R&B downtempo song was the lead single from Jackson's fifth studio album, "Janet," topping the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks (the longest reign atop that chart of any Jackson family member!), and remains the only single in chart history to debut at #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Airplay Chart. Check out the music video and the soulful album version [YouTube links]. At the end of a weekend of Royal love, and with Justify now vying for a Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Royalty, tonight Janet ("Miss Jackson, If you're Nasty") will offer up a bit of American musical royalty with a medley of her hits as she receives the Icon Trophy on the Billboard Music Awards, televised on NBC.

October 11, 2017

Holy Cow! Yanks Win ALDS - Bring on the Astros!

As Phil Rizzuto used to say, "Holy Cow!" The Yankees win three straight after losing the first two to the Cleveland Indians, and advance to the American League Championship Series to face the Houston Astros!

Go Yankees!

Postscript (24 October 2017): Well, it has taken a few days to get over the Yankees loss in seven games to the Houston Astros; tonight the World Series begins with the Astros taking on the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. May the best team win. As for the Yankees: they went further this year than any fan could have possibly expected. May there be many more Octobers in the future of this great franchise. The current crop is brimming with youth and potential, and gave many Yankee fans a reason to cheer again.

Postscript II (27 October 2017): I was sad to learn that Joe Girardi was fired as New York Yankees manager; some folks are saying: "If he'd taken the Yanks into the World Series, he would have retained his job." Hogwash! Do people forget that Yogi Berra was fired in 1964 precisely because he didn't win the Series? Of course, I've always been skeptical as to how crucial a manager is to the success of a team. Casey Stengel presided over the Yankees during a period in which they won seven World Series; not too long thereafter he went over to manage the new New York Mets, who for the next three years lost 100+ games per season. Apparently, the Mets didn't have Mantle, Berra, Whitey Ford, etc. So much for the impact of a manager on a team. Not that managers can't affect the direction of a team in terms of clubhouse unity and strategic decisions on the field; but Joe took this young Yankee team, with so much potential, much further than anybody ever anticipated at the opening of the 2017 season. Good luck, Joe! And good luck, Yankees, on finding a manager more "suitable" to the Bronx Bombers.

October 04, 2017

A Wild Yankee Win... Onto Cleveland!

The New York Yankees were down 3-0 in the first inning of tonight's one-game "Wild Card" playoff with the Minnesota Twins, the winner of which would go on to face the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series, preceding the American League pennant and the World Series.

They came back in style, despite having to use the bullpen for 8 and 2/3 innings, and won the game 8-4, with Aaron Judge hitting a 2-run homer in the process.

This young team has already exceeded my expectations, but now that the team is in the running, I say: Go Yankees!

September 29, 2017

Michael Southern: Triumphs and Tragedy

In May 1981, I had earned my undergraduate degree magna cum laude from New York University, with a triple major in politics, economics, and history (with honors). To say I was stoked to have been accepted to the NYU doctoral program in politics, where I would go on in 1983, to earn a master's degree in political theory, and in 1988, a Ph.D. with distinction in political theory, philosophy, and methodology, is an understatement. I was positively ecstatic.

I had, by this time, laid out a path of professional goals that merged my passionate libertarian political convictions with a rigorous course of study that would include seminars and colloquia with scholars that only New York University could offer. I would study with such Austrian-school economists as Israel Kirzner, Mario Rizzo, Don Lavoie, and others, as well as leftist political and social theorists such as Bertell Ollman and Wolf Heydebrand. In this combustible intersection of ideas, there would emerge the seeds of what would become a life-long commitment to the development of a "dialectical libertarianism", and a trilogy of books---Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism---that would articulate the foundations of that approach.

Alas, these scholarly goals were made all the more joyful to achieve because of so many individuals whose lives touched mine in ways that were fundamental both to my intellectual and personal growth as a human being.

One of these individuals was a guy named Michael Southern. It was September 1981, my first day as an NYU graduate student, when I walked into Professor Israel Kirzner's seminar on the "History of Economic Thought." Looking around the room, few seats were available, so I found myself sitting next to Michael. When Kirzner finished his first lecture, logically structured as one would expect from any esteemed student of the great Ludwig von Mises, I introduced myself to Michael. He seemed a little shy at first, but I think he was genuinely surprised by my friendliness and that unmistakable Brooklyn accent. We went to a local cafe and talked for a very long time. I got to know a lot about him in that first encounter.

I learned, for example, that he was two years older than me, almost to the day: I was born on February 17, 1960; he was born on February 23, 1958. I also learned that he hailed from Massachusetts, and was a rabid Boston Red Sox fan. Back then, that was almost a non-starter for me.

After all, I was and remain a New York Yankees fanatic. We jousted and dueled over the Curse of the Bambino, and argued about who really deserved the American League MVP for the 1978 baseball season: the Red Sox hot-hitting outfielder Jim Rice or the Yankee pitching ace, and Cy Young Award winner, Ron Guidry, who went 25-3, with a 1.74 ERA. In 1978, the Yankees were 14 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in July, and on the last day of the season, they found themselves in a tie for first place. And, I argued, no man was more valuable to that team than Guidry, who had pitched back-to-back two-hit shutouts against Boston down the stretch, and won the deciding extra 163rd game of the season, enabling the Yanks to advance to the AL Championship series against the Kansas City Royals, and ultimately to win their second straight World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Michael was going on and on about Rice's hitting. Blah, blah, blah.

In any event, it wasn't Guidry's victory that was the most memorable aspect of that deciding game; it was a miraculous 3-run homer hit over Fenway Park's Green Monster by the Yankee shortstop Bucky "F*&%ing" Dent, as Michael put it, who had hit a measly four homers prior to this game throughout the entire season. But that homer lifted the Yanks ahead for good. I guess Michael was still a little bitter. For Dent, apparently, was as beloved by Boston fans as Bill "F*&%ing" Buckner, whose fielding error in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, ultimately allowed the New York Mets to win the trophy in Game Seven. Even this diehard Yankees fan reveled in Boston's loss that year! Oh was it fun locking horns with Michael on these issues.

Animated baseball disagreements aside, it was clear that Michael and I had a lot in common; we were both avid fans of Ayn Rand, devoted readers of Nathaniel Branden, extremely interested in politics and culture, lovers of film and of music from jazz to progressive rock. All he had to say was that he had seen my favorite jazz pianist Bill Evans perform live, and that he had fallen in love with the emotional depth of his music, and I just knew that there was something very special about this man.

Over time, our friendship deepened; he'd tell me about some trouble he was having with a girl he was dating, I'd tell him about my own dating woes; we talked about our families, our friends, our goals, our triumphs, and our tragedies. He had extraordinary qualities about him; he was perceptive, intelligent, gentle, kind, compassionate, and had a great sense of humor.

By holiday time in December, that sense of humor manifested itself on both sides of the baseball divide. Michael gifted me a Jim Rice T-shirt, which I own till this day, and I gifted him a Ron Guidry T-shirt. Such was the nature of our developing affection for one another.

He had taken a waiter's job at the Cheese Cellar on East 54th Street in Manhattan, which became a regular stop for me and my family. The waiter's service was terrific, I might add. As he got to know my jazz guitarist brother Carl and jazz vocalist sister-in-law Joanne, and saw them perform at so many jazz clubs in Manhattan, loving their music, he eventually offered to do a website for them (as he would eventually develop my own website---all for free).

But something was troubling him deeply, early in that first semester, as the class with Kirzner continued. I'm paraphrasing the conversation from memory, but it went something like this. He said to me: "I can see you coming from blocks away. You just have a way about you. It's in your walk. Your step. It's never timid, but it's not overbearing. It's just the walk of a man comfortable in his own body, walking purposefully to his destination, wherever that might be. The way you walk is a bit of an inspiration to me. I just don't walk that way. I don't feel that way inside."

My walk? Lord . . . I'd never even given a second thought to the way I walked. And here, my friend was telling me that there was something in my walk that inspired him, and that made him focus on the things that he felt he lacked. He had attended weekend Intensives in New York run by Nathaniel Branden and his wife Devers Branden, and felt that they had tapped into something that needed greater attention.

I was no professional, but I was becoming a very dear and trusted friend. I tried to help him through it, with long phone conversations into the wee hours, but he seemed stuck, unable to get through a term paper for Kirzner's class. It was then that he made a momentous decision that I figured spelled the end of a friendship; he decided he was too overwhelmed by the course, that something deeper was at work, and that he needed help. As he put it later in "My Years with Nathaniel Branden," a deeply personal essay written for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies symposium, "Nathaniel Branden: His Work and Legacy":

For the third time, I'd finished reading The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Breaking Free, and The Disowned Self, all books by Nathaniel Branden. I placed my meager belongings in a backpack, went to the Registrar's Office at New York University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, officially withdrew from Graduate School, booked a flight, and in two days landed at Los Angeles International airport; I had come to be a client of Nathaniel Branden.
Prior to my time at NYU, I had finished an undergraduate degree with honors. I was thrilled when I got accepted to NYU, to study the history of economic thought under Israel Kirzner, who had been a student of Ludwig von Mises­---both being giants in the field to me. And as it all nicely fell into place, I froze.
I don't ever remember this happening to me before. While Kirzner's class was better than even I had anticipated, I couldn't write the paper for the course. I sat at home, or at the library with ten and twelve books piled up in front of me, but I couldn't begin. Anything I thought about writing seemed trivial after a little research. I began to panic so that the more I tried to push myself, the greater the feeling that whatever I produced wouldn't be enough. I tried everything I knew to get myself "back on track." I believed I had something to offer, but I was paralyzed, much like an actor might experience stage fright. I spoke with Kirzner, and he was kind and logical and gave me some suggestions, but I was too in awe of him to show just how lost I was in terms of generating a paper. It seemed an emotional block, not an intellectual one; how could I ask for his help for an emotional problem? I understood the coursework, and the books on his reading list. I just couldn't seem to create.
Sitting in an outdoor cafe in the Village I reached in my backpack for The Disowned Self. I ordered coffee, threw the waiter a gigantic tip so he'd leave me alone, lit a cigarette (you could do that back then), and read the entire book, slowly, making notes; the lights and noise of the West Village turned on around me as night fell.
The next day I headed for Los Angeles, wanting to resolve, heal, and grow. I was beginning to suspect that I had had a particularly difficult childhood, and had responded to it by shutting down huge parts of myself.

To my surprise, Michael and I never lost touch. He was in therapy with Nathaniel Branden, and making strides. Every so often, we'd speak, not so much about the details of his therapy, but more about how he was challenging himself to keep moving . . . forward. Sometimes a month would pass, or two, and he'd call, and it was as if the last conversation had occurred only an hour ago; we picked up where we left off, never missing a beat. And during this period, as I faced my own trials and tribulations---with everything from relationships to my health problems (an outgrowth of a congenital intestinal condition)---he was as present and tuned-in to me, as I was to him. This was never a one-way street; the friendship that I thought would be lost by distance, had intensified. And the feeling that he was a "brotha from another mutha" only deepened. It was clear that we loved one another as only brothers could---something that geographic distance did nothing to alter.

As Michael explained in that wonderful essay of his, he was able to work through so many of his problems; he credited Nathaniel Branden and Devers Branden with saving years of his life. He would become an intern for Branden and then an office manager at Branden's Biocentric Institute in Beverly Hills, California. He'd go back to school to earn a master of science in management from Lesley College and a master of science in information systems from Boston University. As a technology specialist, he did wonderful work for Fortune 500 companies.

Through all the years, our friendship only grew. He would go on to develop my website, and the original website of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. In fact, he was a member of the JARS family from its beginnings in 1999, as we unveiled the website on the day that our first issue was published. While I remained with NYU as a Visiting Scholar for twenty years (I guess you could say I bleed "violet"), he would travel the world. He was never so far away, however, that he didn't participate once or twice in my cyberseminars on "Dialectics and Liberty." Eventually he married, and even moved back to New York City for a while, living in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

There were bumps along the way---though never between us. His marriage didn't work out, his work took him out of New York again, and his interests, especially in the history of the Holocaust, took him to other countries. But again, geographic distance never seemed to interfere with our friendship. Eventually, he came back to the states, and his software expertise gave him many job opportunities, including business with a company in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked for several years.

Indeed, his software expertise was certainly highly valued by JARS; the two of us worked hard in 2015-2016 as he created a brand spanking-new website for the journal, which made its debut with the Nathaniel Branden symposium, to which he contributed that enormously revealing and enlightening essay.

In many ways, writing that essay was, for Michael, a catharsis of sorts; while it served the greater symposium's purpose of understanding the work and legacy of Branden, it also served as a profoundly personal statement of how Michael stood up courageously to the challenges he faced. It was a commitment to a life of promise, of so much more to come.

Immediately after the debut of the new JARS site and the publication of our Branden symposium, Michael began working on a prototype to finally revamp my website, which, he said, "embarrassed" him because he'd become so much more sophisticated in his software development. We had so many plans for so many projects.

But, of course, life always seemed to get in the way of smooth transitions. As my own health problems became more difficult to bear, he spent as many hours on the phone with me in 2016, as I had spent on the phone with him in 1981, except that now, we both knew each other so well that we could complete each other's sentences, anticipate each other's thoughts. Thirty-five-plus years will do that.

We last spoke in early September about the website and a few other issues; Lord knows, we still had our differences with regard to sports teams (though I was enough of a good sport to congratulate him back in 2004, when his Red Sox finally beat the Yankees, and went on to win their first World Series since 1918). We even had developed a few political differences. But nothing ever affected our mutual love, admiration, and respect for one another. When I'd call him on the phone, he'd answer "Chris!"---as if with an exclamation point. There was always joy in his voice when he heard mine on the other end of the phone. And if I needed to cry because of a slew of unending medical or personal problems, the gentility with which he treated me was just the medicine I needed.

We last corresponded on September 11th. A few days passed by, and I hadn't heard back from him, so I wrote him again. Still, no reply.

I figured he was busy or traveling, but it was unlike him not to reply to an email. So on the weekend of September 23rd, I called him on both his personal and business lines and left voice mail. It was comforting to hear his voice, even if it was automated, telling callers to leave a message. So I left messages. And still, no reply.

On Tuesday, September 26th, I got an email from his cousin, who lived in Waco, Texas, where Michael had been staying. She told me to give her a call. My heart dropped. I knew that this meant something had happened to Michael; maybe he was in a hospital. Maybe something worse. I called her immediately.

She told me that Michael had been pursuing new business in Detroit, a city where he had once worked for so many years.

And then she told me that his body was found at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 19th; he had been killed by gunshots. Police are investigating the crime as a homicide.

I have suffered many losses in my life. I lost my father suddenly to a massive coronary, when I was 12 years old. I lost my Uncle Sam, who was like a second father to me, in 1994, to prostate cancer. I lost my mother in 1995, before my first two books were published, after five years of being one of her primary care-givers, as she struggled with the ravages of lung cancer and the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I've lost many loving friends and relatives over the years, in circumstances that were painful and difficult.

But absolutely nothing could have possibly prepared me for the grief that I felt upon hearing that one of my best friends in the whole wide world had just lost his life by a wanton act of brutality. I had the phone in my hands, tears streaming down my face, stunned, shocked, horrified, feeling literally destroyed. My heart had not been broken; it had felt as if it had been completely shattered. I still can't quite wrap my mind around this event.

Michael's funeral is scheduled for Monday, October 2, 2017 in Waco, Texas. My health issues prevent me from attending his funeral. But my heart goes out to his family and friends, who so loved him, and who suffer with unimaginable grief.

I pray that justice will be done, and that the murderer will be apprehended.

But nothing will bring Michael back.

The December 2017 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be dedicated to Murray Franck (1946-2017), who died this past July, and to Michael Southern (1958-2017). Both of these men were part of the JARS family from the very beginning, and deserve to be so honored. But they were both among the dearest human beings and friends I've ever known. To have lost both of them within two months of one another is unbelievable. But to have lost Michael in such a violent manner is just beyond tragic. He didn't deserve this ending. The pain of this loss is almost unbearable.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You made such a difference in the lives of so many people. And you made a difference in my life. I will honor you and remember you for the rest of my days. And I will miss you until the day I die.

Postscript (October 2, 2017): I posted a link to this tribute to Facebook, and was comforted by how many folks have shared the post and shared their condolences with me, both publicly and privately; I added this to my own Facebook thread:

Thanks to everyone who shared my post and who have expressed their condolences to me, both privately and publicly, here and elsewhere. Anyone who was fortunate to know Michael was blessed by his presence in their lives. And I express my condolences to all of you for this loss.
Today is Michael's funeral in Waco, Texas. It's also a day that I awake to hear that this country has just experienced the worst mass shooting in its history, this time in Las Vegas, with over 50 people shot to death and over 200 injured. Not counting the folks I knew who were murdered on 9/11, I have never had the experience of having lost a loved one to a shooting. This morning, I send my empathy and condolences to those who are mourning the deaths of their own loved ones who have died in this massacre.
Savagery and brutality have always been a part of the human condition; that is not a comforting thought, however. What is comforting is that there are still far more people in this world who care and who will not give into the fear of such carnage, even when it hits so close to home.

September 25, 2017

All Rise for The Judge

Since the 2017 season began, I have been watching the young Bronx Bombers (aka "the Baby Bombers") with great interest. In my playbook, with the era of the Core Four long gone, and a young group being nourished in the big leagues right before our eyes, I would have been satisfied with a season in which wins outweighed losses. But it now appears that the young Yanks are headed for at least a wild card playoff game, their first postseason appearance since 2015. That's more than any fan could have asked for.

I have taken special interest in Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge. The rookie had a great first half and then put on a majestic show for the All-Star Home Run Derby at Marlins Park, becoming the first rookie to win the competition outright (hitting a total of 47 HRs, including four that travelled over 500 feet, one of them measuring 513 feet). He cooled off a bit after the All-Star break, but showed great poise throughout that slump.

Slump no more. Whereas yesterday, many in the National Football League gave the President a knee to the groin, today, I rise for the Judge. Aaron hit two home runs against the Kansas City Royals in a Yankee 11-3 win. After hitting two home runs yesterday, Judge went deep for another two today, reaching a total, thus far, of 50 Home Runs for the season. His 50 home runs this season breaks the all-time Major League Baseball season record for a rookie, previously held by Mark McGwire (yes, he of the Steroid Era).

Whatever happens in the postseason, I think the Yankees have a lot of youthful potential for a wonderful future. Today, Judge joins an exclusive club of great Yankees who have had seasons of 50 or more home-runs. This list now includes only five Yankees, three of whom did it in the non-Steroid era: Babe Ruth (who did it four times); Mickey Mantle (who did it twice); and Roger Maris. (Alex Rodriguez hit 54 for the Bombers in 2007---but this was during the Steroid Era.)

I think Judge wins the American League Rookie of the Year hands-down. He has not only amassed 50 home runs, but is the first Yankee right-handed hitter to have at least 110 walks, 110 runs scored, and over 100 RBIs in a single season (Mantle held such records, but he was a miraculous switch-hitter). An argument can be made for Judge having Most Valuable Player credentials; but even if he does not get the American League MVP, he has certainly been this season's Yankee MVP.

Either way, congratulations to Aaron Judge. And... GO YANKEES!!!

September 16, 2017

WFAN-AM: My 2 Minutes and 30 Seconds of Fame

So let me report on my 2 minutes and 30 seconds of chit-chat on New York Sports Radio WFAN-AM (660), where I called the knowledgeable and hilarious sports commentator, Steve Somers sometime around midnight. I was a first-time caller, and once I was screened, I was put in the queue, as I waited for Steve to announce "Chris from Brooklyn."

The reason for my call was because a few nights ago, I was listening to his broadcast, and a gentleman had called from the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn (the neighborhood one step removed from my Gravesend section of the county of Kings). Steve remembered that Bensonhurst was home to Lafayette High School, famous for its many sports alumni. They mentioned Dodgers pitching Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, the wonderful Mets reliever John Franco, and Mets owner Fred Wilpon (whom Steve affectionately calls "Fred Coupon" for his unwillingness to spend any money to improve the Mets organization). And then, the guy from Bensonhurst got stuck and said something about another Lafayette alumnus, named "Marv," who ran with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. And Somers wondered, because the guy couldn't be talking about sports announcer Marv Albert, who was born six years after those Olympic games, and was actually a graduate of another Brooklyn educational institution: Abraham Lincoln High School.

So I'm sitting home, and screaming at the radio: "Not Marv Albert"---it was that other voice of New York Knicks basketball (for 21 years), mentor to Albert, and famous also as the radio voice of the football New York Giants (for 23 years), among other sports: Marty Glickman. And Glickman was not a graduate of Lafayette High School, but of James Madison High School. I should know, because my Mom was in the same graduating class as Glickman, and she remembered what a great athlete he was.

So I called for two straight nights and couldn't get through; lo and behold, I got through after midnight today, and finally spoke to Steve on the air! It was a hoot. First I told him, very sincerely, that I thought he was the most entertaining guy in sports commentary, and that anyone who uses snippets from films like "The Ten Commandments" to make fun of sports moments was out of this world. He couldn't thank me enough.

So we finally turned to the nature of my call, and I reported the facts to him. I told him that the guy from Bensonhurst was actually referring to Marty Glickman; of course, Steve knew immediately about the Great Glickman, and we spoke a bit about the superb HBO documentary on his life. It was actually Glickman and fellow runner Sam Stoller, who were removed at the last minute from the track and field events at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. We recalled that the U.S. didn't want to embarrass or offend Adolf Hitler, the host of the games by having two Jewish American athletes on the Olympic field. Of course, Hitler ate dirt anyway, because one of the athletes who took the place of Glickman and Stoller was Owens, who went on to win the Gold Medal.

When I told Steve that my Mom had been a member of Glickman's senior class at Madison High, he mentioned "Ah! Six Degrees of Separation." He added that Brooklyn had given the world so many famous people, including Barbra Streisand from Erasmus Hall High School.

So my 2 minutes and 30 seconds were over, and knowing I was a first-time caller, he told me to call back anytime.

Now that was a lot of fun!

July 18, 2017

In Memory of Three New Yorkers: Wolff, Landau, and Romero

This past weekend, three New Yorkers died, each of whom left a significant mark on American popular culture.

On Saturday, July 15, 2017, legendary sports broadcaster Bob Wolff died, at the age of 96. Born in New York City on November 29, 1920, Wolff broadcasted his first sporting event in 1939 as a student at Duke University. He had the longest career of any sports broadcaster in history; he also has the distinction of having called games in the four major American sports: hockey (for the New York Rangers), basketball (for the New York Knicks), football and baseball. In fact, throughout his eight decades as a sportscaster, he called two of the most iconic games in football and baseball history: the 1958 NFL championship game between the Giants and the Colts and Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series (between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers).

Also on Saturday, a son of Brooklyn, New York (born on June 20, 1928), died at the age of 89: actor Martin Landau. Landau made his debut on the Broadway stage in 1957, but his film career began with a bang, as a supporting actor in my all-time favorite Alfred Hitchcock film, the 1959 classic "North by Northwest," starring Cary Grant, James Mason, and Eva Marie Saint. He would go on to star in memorable roles on both the small screen (in the TV series "Mission: Impossible") and the big screen, for which he received three Oscar nominations throughout his career, winning in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of film icon Bela Lugosi in the 1994 Tim Burton film, "Ed Wood."

Of course, Lugosi was the famed actor who brought Bram Stoker's Dracula to life, so-to-speak, on both the stage and screen. Speaking of vampires brings to mind another category of the Un-Dead: the Zombie. And no director was more instrumental to the development of the Zombie genre of horror flicks than the Bronx, New York-born George Romero, who died on Sunday, July 16, 2017, at the age of 77. Romero (who was born on February 4, 1940) directed the first in a series of Zombie cult classic films, the creepy 1968 black-and-white movie "Night of the Living Dead," which scared the living daylights out of me as a kid. In fact, it's still not a film I like to watch before going to bed. But for any fan of horror flicks, Romero remains the "progenitor of the fictional zombie of modern culture."

Each of these men, in his own distinctive New York way, had an impact on entertainment in general, and on my youth in particular, as I developed my love of sports and film. They will be missed.

June 25, 2017

Song of the Day #1467

Song of the Day: Jam features the words and music of Rene Moore, Bruce Swedien, Teddy Riley, and Michael Jackson, who died on this date in 2009. The song, from Jackson's 1991 album "Dangerous," features a rap by the late Heavy D (who died in 2011). Take a look at the official video [YouTube link], which features the immortal Michael Jordan. Also check out the Silky 12" Remix, Space Vibes Mix, and a live version with a sweet dance segment by MJ. And check out a great mash-up of "Uptown Funk" and "Jam," featuring Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, and MJ, as well as this one, this 24K one, and that one; and another mash-up with MJ and Bruno of "Beat It" and "Beating on Heaven's Gate." And for another visit down memory lane, check out a 2017 remix of MJ's "Smooth Criminal" [all YouTube links].

May 14, 2017

Derek Jeter Day in the Bronx

Today, in the Bronx, at the iconic Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees organization retires the Number 2 worn by its All-Star shortstop [YouTube link] from 1996 to his retirement in 2014. Derek Jeter remains pure class in my scorebook; he was the face of baseball for nearly two decades, especially at a time when the sport was being routinely sullied by juicing scandals. It is not by pure chance that this day of tribute falls on "Mother's Day"; Jeter has always spoken of how deeply his mother, his father, and his family have given him inspiration and love. Today, all of New York and baseball fans everywhere will have a chance to share in that love.

Jeter's #2 Gets Retired at Yankee Stadium

I was fortunate enough to see Jeter play quite a few times at the old Yankee Stadium. His eloquent speech at the closing of that Stadium [YouTube link], (a year before he was among those players who went on to open the New Yankee Stadium, with a 2009 World Series Championship), his final All-Star Game appearance, his farewell speech to the home crowd, his final home game, his final tribute to the crowd, and his final career at-bat against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park (where even the Fenway Faithful applauded him) remain among the most poignant moments of his storied career [YouTube links].

His drive and his dedication to win and his passion for the game were a marvel to behold and a joy to watch. He was an absolute gem both at the plate and on the field. He was a five-time World Series champion, which included a 2000 Most Valuable Player Award for the Subway Series against the New York Mets. More than anything, he was, with that classic "inside-out" swing, a clutch hitter (having more than 200 hits per season eight times in his career). He was someone whom the opposition feared when the game was on the line. It was no misnomer when he earned the nickname "Captain Clutch," since his postseason play was as sparkling as his regular season statistics (he retired with a career .310 regular season average, and with a comparable .308 postseason average, having 200 total hits in his postseason history). But his postseason stats are even more remarkable, because they were earned against the best teams in baseball. Who can forget that "Mr. November" [MLB link] moment at the Stadium in 2001? It was at a time when New York City had more than its share of real heroes, but, like Hall of Fame New York Mets' catcher, Mike Piazza [YouTube link] before him, Jeter gave symbolic meaning to New York grit, at the center of three consecutive miraculous Yankee Stadium victories in New York (despite losing the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games).

Jeter holds many all-time franchise records for the New York Yankees, including most all-time hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716), plate appearances (12,602) and at bats (11,195). He was the 1996 Rookie of the Year, a 14-time All-Star (including a Most Valuable Player All-Star Game award the same year he was named World Series MVP). He won 5 Gold Glove Awards, 5 Silver Slugger Awards, 2 Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. He was the 28th player in Major League Baseball History to pass the 3,000 hit mark. Always a teammate with a "flair for the dramatic," his 3000th hit was a home-run on a day in which he went 5 for 5, driving in the winning run. He is, in fact, the only Yankee player with more than 3,000 lifetime hits (which ranks sixth all-time among Major League Baseball players, and the most all-time hits by a shortstop).

Pause one moment and think about that.

Jeter has more hits for the Yankees than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and the last Yankee shortstop to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Phil Rizzuto.

Check out some of Jeter's greatest plays, along with some of his greatest defensive plays (including the "flip play" in the 2001 playoffs against the Oakland Athletics and the flying-into-the-stands catch against the Boston Red Sox in 2004) [YouTube links].

I should digress a moment to provide a little personal context for my own celebration of this great ballplayer. Being a Yankee fan my whole life, I rooted mainly for a losing team; this was not the "GM" of American baseball that I'd heard about from my elders, who lived through the 1940s and 1950s. In my lifetime, there were two years of World Championships that I celebrated: 1977, with Reggie Jackson smacking three home runs in a single game, and the amazing 1978 comeback team, led by the overwhelming dominance of pitcher Ron Guidry (25-3). That team was down 14 1/2 games in July to the Boston Red Sox, and went on to win a one-game playoff against their notorious rivals, before eventually taking the World Series for a second consecutive year over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After that, except for a World Series loss in 1981 and a few exciting, but ultimately frustrating, years of "Donnie Baseball" (led by Team Captain Don Mattingly), the Yankees saw very little of the postseason. The Yankees may have been a New York institution, but New York has always been a National League town. After all, it once supported two National League teams: the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. So from the time of the Miracle Mets of 1969 through the 1986 World Champion Mets, even the late 1970s Yankees were just a blip on the baseball radar (in fact, in their own miracle 1978 season, you couldn't even find them on the back pages of New York's daily newspapers because the newspapers were on strike!).

For me, therefore, it was no coincidence that with the arrival of Derek Jeter in pinstripes as the full-time shortstop of the Yankees in 1996, the team began a renaissance that ended its eighteen-year drought in the World Series. With his matinee idol looks, remarkably steady demeanor, and incredible talent, he seemed perfectly matched for a city that demanded nothing but the best from its sports heroes, "a larger than life presence in a larger than life town," as sportscaster Michael Kay has put it. And from 1996 through 2001, with teams chockful of talent and Joe Torre's managerial expertise, the Yankees won four out of five World Series contests. It is no understatement to say that so much of this success was tied to Jeter's growing maturity as a ballplayer. Later, in 2009, Derek Jeter slipped a fifth World Series ring onto his gifted fingers, with the opening of the new Yankee Stadium.

More than anything, Derek Jeter proved to be a genuine leader, not just as a Captain of the team, but as a gentleman of the sport, a beloved man who inspires young players even today. In my book, #2 will always be #1. It was an honor to watch this man's career unfold. Like All-Star relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, who holds the all-time record for saves, and who is, no doubt, headed for Cooperstown, I hope to see "Captain Clutch" enter Cooperstown as well when he becomes eligible in 2020. For now, I'm just looking forward to hearing the voice of the late Bob Sheppard [YouTube link] introducing Derek Jeter as he steps up to be honored by the team with which he spent his entire baseball career -- a rarity nowadays, for sure. It was quite emotional for this fan to say "farewell" [YouTube link] to the Captain (the Yankees paid tribute to him back in September 2014 [YouTube link]). But it will be sheer delight to welcome him back home for this tribute.

Jeter recently said: "No one had more fun that I did. You're playing a game. . . . I understand that it is your job, it's your profession. You have a lot of responsibilities. But at the same time, you're playing a game, and you have to have fun. And if you don't have fun playing it, I think it's impossible to be good at it. I had fun. Every moment on the field was fun for me."

Jeter made it fun to be a Yankee fan. But that fun transcended the team for which he played. It was one of the most important gifts he gave to the game of baseball: Long live the Captain!

Postscript I [15 May 2017]: Take a look at the plaque unveiled at Yankee Stadium in honor of Jeter during yesterday's ceremony, and Derek's speech as well. And check out Mike Lupica's column today in the New York Daily News.

Postscript II [16 May 2017]: It was reported by the Associated Press that the ceremony to honor Jeter "was the most-viewed program in the New York area in its time period on Sunday night and the most-watched non-game in the history of the YES network . . ." The ceremony was also televised on ESPN. Check out this really sweet Budweiser tribute to #2 [YouTube link].

February 06, 2017

Song of the Day #1419

Song of the Day: Under the Cherry Moon ("Kiss"), words and music by Prince, is heard in the 1986 film, which featured the first of many collaborations between the artist and jazz pianist Clare Fischer. The soundtrack to the film was marketed under the title of "Parade." This song was a huge hit; it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot 12" Singles Sales, Hot US Club Play, and Hot Black Singles. Check out the single (it's #11 at this link). The song has been covered by many artists, but among the most fun-filled recordings is the one by Tom Jones. And it's not unusual! [YouTube links]. I'm sure that today Gisele Bundchen is not the only person wanting to Kiss Tom Brady, for leading the New England Patriots to an epic, comeback, overtime 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

February 05, 2017

Song of the Day #1418

Song of the Day: Purple Rain ("When Doves Cry"), words and music by Prince, is featured in the 1984 film and was the biggest hit single from the soundtrack album. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Black Singles chart, and Dance/Disco chart. It is one of those notable R&B-inspired tracks lacking a bass line, but certainly not lacking in soul. On the soundtrack album, Prince plays all the instruments in addition to providing the vocals. Check out the music video [video link]. Some football fans are going to be crying at the end of Super Bowl Sunday; maybe this song will ease the agony of de-feet. If not, then watch the commercials for a laugh or embrace Lady Gaga's halftime show for a little shock and awe.

November 23, 2016

George Smith on Rand's Insights on the U.S. "Slide Toward Fascism"

Just wanted to alert readers to a fine article penned by George Smith, "Ayn Rand Predicted an American Slide Toward Fascism" on the FEE website.

I was especially happy to see this discussion resurrected since Rand herself has often been tagged by her detractors as a "fascist"; my own essays on Rand's insights into the U.S. tendencies toward neofascism ("The New Fascism," as she called it) are indexed here. The discussion is particularly important in the days since the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Following Rand and others in the libertarian tradition, I've argued that the system of "crony capitalism" or what Roy Childs and others once called "liberal corporativism," is the system that exists in this country; it is not a free market and whether it is peppered with the authoritarian rhethoric (and policies) of the left or of the right, it all comes down to a civil war of pressure groups, each vying for special privileges at the expense of one another, a "class" warfare that not even Karl Marx could have imagined. For as F. A. Hayek so powerfully observed, once political power becomes the central means of gaining social control, it becomes the only power worth having. That is why he argued, in The Road to Serfdom, "the worst get on top." I've expressed my concerns for months now, but it remains to be seen just how much worse this tendency will be manifested in the new administration. Whatever the campaign rhetoric, time will tell. (Ed: And I am reminded by a colleague that in a country where, within a single week, the Chicago Cubs can win the World Series and Donald J. Trump can win the White House, anything is possible!)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States; I want to wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving [YouTube link]. Be thankful that, for now, at least in some crucial aspects, this country remains, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, "a republic, if you can keep it." Which makes Rand's insights into the degeneration of the American republic all the more trenchant.

November 03, 2016

Song of the Day #1398

Song of the Day: Go, Cubs, Go!, words and music by Steve Goodman, is the song of the day for the baseball team that has broken the 108-year World Series victory drought for the fans who will soon see a banner rise over Wrigley Field, now home to the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs. I'd never thought I'd see, in my lifetime, the Boston Red Sox end an 86-year World Series victory drought (a consequence of the so-called "Curse of the Bambino") or the Chicago White Sox end an 88-year World Series victory drought (a consequence of the curse of the "Black Sox Scandal"), but the Cubbies have achieved something that is the stuff of legend, vanquishing the so-called Curse of the Billy Goat! With guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, they have a winning future ahead of them. Now I know that the Cleveland Indians have their own "curse" to conquer (the so-called "Curse of Rocky Colavito" that has prevented them from winning a World Series since 1948, though this Colavito "curse" traces to 1960). But this big New York Yankees fan congratulates the Chicago Cubs and their fans for a tenth-inning Game 7 victory and a World Series title! Anyway, check out the Cubbies' song [YouTube].

September 15, 2016

Zornberg's "Jews, Quakers and the Holocaust"

Jews, Quakers and the Holocaust: The Struggle to Save the Lives of Twenty-Thousand Children
By Ira Zornberg

Available in both Kindle and paperback editions from

It is customary in reviews of this sort to state one's biases upfront. With author Ira Zornberg, I have an enormous bias. As I said in an interview in Full Context , Ira Zornberg had a "big influence on me." He was my Social Studies teacher at John Dewey High School, who was the first teacher in the United States to bring the study of the Holocaust to high school students." I credit him for his encouragement of my growing political philosophy and for my first forays into political writing and academic editing. Indeed, he was the faculty advisor of the school's social studies newspaper, Gadfly, of which I eventually became editor-in-chief. I knew that I was making waves when one of the front-page essays I wrote, criticizing the school's "Young Socialist Alliance," ended up face forward in the boy's bathroom, in the urinal, where it had been baptized by human excrement. If they ain't talkin' about you, or pissin' on you, you ain't makin' a difference. One of the lessons I learned early on.

But the lessons I learned from Zornberg in that trailblazing class on the Holocaust were lessons I simply could never have learned anywhere else or in any other gifted high school. At least back then, John Dewey High School was a shining beacon that encouraged independent study. With a school year divided into five cycles, the school provided specialized course offerings that ran the gamut from the Crusades to the Kennedy assassination. But Zornberg's course was unique for its intensity and sheer depth. We studied the origins of anti-Semitism, the birth of the national socialist movement in Germany, the waning days of the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Third Reich, and the tribalist. racist, and anti-Semitic cultural premises that empowered it. Such premises provided a rationale for a "Final Solution" that led to the inversion of the rule of law, the destruction of "undesirables," and a war against European Jewry that culminated in a network of concentration camps and the systematic slaughter of millions of people.

Ultimately, however, the biggest lesson that Zornberg taught me was to be true to your convictions, to engage your critics constructively, and to value civil discourse. I learned too that this was a man who embodied intellectual honesty and a sense of justice that required a recognition of the inviolability of individual human dignity. His serious commitment to the teaching of history and his remarkable capacity as mentor and guide, made an indelible mark on my young student's mind. Then, as today, I honor him, and I am proud to call him my friend.

So, when Superstorm Sandy hit, and I learned that Zornberg had lost virtually all of his library and his 40+ years of lesson plans, I offered to send him all the copious notes I took from his Holocaust class. After the October 10, 2013 fire that nearly consumed our apartment, I had the occasion to completely reorganize my file system, and among the things that survived were all my notes and papers from his superb course, which I attended as a senior at Dewey. I photocopied them and sent them to him; he expressed appreciation for the accuracy of my notetaking, which reflected the mind of a young student, whose answers raised even more questions, questions that could never be answered quite to my satisfaction. After all, students of history and even a generation of scholars who have written hundreds of books in the Holocaust, have been probing the madness of genocide for eons, and it is virtually impossible to wrap one's mind around the kind of phenomenon that could possibly give birth to a multiplicity of savage cruelties, ingenious forms of torture, and sophisticated instruments of mass murder, all used by real human beings to destroy the lives of other real human beings. I remember discovering Ayn Rand during that final year of high school, and I shared Leonard Peikoff's book, The Ominous Parallels, with my teacher. But the nightmare of the Holocaust remains deeply embedded in my mind, if only for the sheer scale of human horror that it exhibited.

Which makes reviewing his new book all the more wonderful---because this man of honor has turned out a book that reflects all the virtues and values he exemplified as a great teacher. And he is teaching us still. I was ecstatic to learn of my former teacher's continuing work in this area of study. His new book on the subject, Jews, Quakers and the Holocaust: The Struggle to Save the Lives of Twenty-Thousand Children, is more than a revelation; it is a testament not only to the horrors of Nazi Germany, but to the heroic, largely thwarted, efforts of some to save the lives of others: those who were slated for extermination by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. As Zornberg tells us in his introduction, this book

describes the causes of the immigration crisis of 1939, the response of those who were the targets of its venom, the efforts of American Jews to assist people of their faith, the denial of locations for resettlement, the Kindertransport in Europe, and the struggle led by Christians who fought to save the lives of Jewish children. It identifies people who labored to save the lives of the Jewish children. It cites the arguments and acts of those who fought for the passage of the Wagner-Rogers Bill, and the arguments employed by its adversaries. The struggle to win congressional approval for that bill failed.
This is an American story because it is a part of the history and debate over the nature of U.S. immigration policies. . . . This story adds to our common knowledge of the U.S. immigration policies, and will hopefully provide an additional basis for constructive contemporary reasoning.

Zornberg provides us first with an historical context, a portrait of a complex "background" to the cataclysm that was to engulf Germay, Europe, and eventually the world. We move from the tribalist and racist biases that were deeply embedded in German culture to the birth of the Nuremberg Laws, which encoded not the rule of law, but the rule of Aryan blood and the criminalization of Jewish blood. He discusses at length the response of German Jews to this perversion of law. Many emigrated to other countries. Indeed, an estimated 60,000 German Jews were among the
emigrees, and many of them had fought loyally as Germans during World War I. They eventually reached Palestine due to a "transfer agreement" between the German finance ministry and the Jewish Agency in Palestine.

We are given glimpses of rapidly unfolding events that both expressed and magnified the anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime. One of those glimpses of discrimination was on display at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, including the last minute removal of Marty Glickman" of the U.S. track team from several Olympic track events (Glickman was a classmate of my mother's at James Madison High School).

In 1938, the Night of Broken Glass ("Kristallnacht") followed, and slowly the exits from Europe were closing to Jews who sought to escape from the onslaught of Nazi brutality. It was in the wake of Kristallnacht, Zornberg tells us, that the "Quakers were to assume important roles in the effort to assist Jews," focusing especially on rescuing Jewish children from German territories.

It is not that Jews were silent during these years of growing repression. But the response of Jews and non-Jews alike, in America, was far more complicated and complex. Anti-Semitism knew no national boundaries, and it was alive and well in the United States of America, a country whose various government sterilization programs for the "unfit" inspired Hitler himself.

Yes, the United States had a history of welcoming immigrants. Indeed, the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, was not a hollow symbol taking up space in New York Harbor. It gave expression to the principles of freedom that encapsulated the promise of America. And yet, throughout U.S. history, various quotas on immigration existed, and in the context of post-World War I America, the "Emergency Quota Act of 1921" was enacted, illustrative of the emergent, and growing, isolationist political culture. By the time of the Great Depression, with unemployment reaching historic heights, Zornberg writes, the demands for even greater "limits to immigration came from many quarters, and they provided a cover for those whose intent was to limit the immigration of Jews without openly saying so.

So, though many Jews fought hard to lobby Congress and other organizations to make America a refuge for those seeking freedom from Nazi tyranny, they were keenly aware that anti-Semitism was a reality in the U.S., and, Zornberg argues, this "helps explain why many Jewish organizations chose to be supportive of Christian efforts to assist refugees rather than assume the public face of those efforts," which would have only further fueled such anti-Semitism.

The portrait Zornberg paints of these heroic Christian efforts is both poignant and instructive.

The story is a testament to a Quaker act of human decency and it is at the soul of Zornberg's work in this extraordinary book. It is an inspiring tale that uplifts the human spirit. The attention to detail that Zornberg exhibits in his exploration of this historical episode is exemplary. We learn that politics is politics no matter what era of history we study. He examines in great detail the heroic roles of such people as New York psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Marion Kenworthy in calling for an American Kindertransport and of Clarence Pickett of the Quakers' American Friends Service Committee in fighting for the passage of the Wagner-Rogers Bill, which would have allowed for the entrance into America of 20,000 Jewish children under the age of 14. The bill never came to a vote, getting no help from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was clearly "not emotionally committed to saving European Jews." The political machinations that went on in the fight for this bill are revealed by Zornberg in all their shameful details.

Ultimately, of course, the Quakers were involved in worldwide efforts to stem the tide of terror; the historical record shows that the American Friends Service Committee "chose Jewish children from [their] homes and refugee camps in southern France for transfer to the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Committee for the Care of European Children," exhibiting "that interfaith activity on behalf of European Jews could be successful."

But this success, however modest, does not erase the dishonorable actions of politicians and various opinion-makers who brought the Wagner-Rogers Bill down to defeat.

I must say that Zornberg's epilogue alone is worth the price of admission. He reminds us that in 1939, when the Wagner-Rogers Bill was crushed by political cowardice, many Americans had embraced an Action comic book hero in Superman, a character developed by Jerry Siegel and Joel Schuster, two Jews living in Cleveland. Zornberg concludes powerfully:

As an adult, Superman fights the forces of evil, intent upon world domination. In embracing Superman as an American hero, Americans were embracing a survivng child, an alien, as a defender of our nation. This was something our lawmakers in the spring of 1939 refused to do.

The problem of immigration is surely one that continues to plague the U.S. political landscape to this very day; the issues may differ considerably from the crises of the 1930s, but the threats today are certainly no worse than the threats posed by the Third Reich. If nothing else, Zornberg's book provokes us to focus on yesterday's history and today's issues with the care of a highly-skilled surgeon's scalpel, rather than with the sledgehammer of the various demagogues among us.

This is a five-star book that I cannot more strongly recommend. In a summary of the above review, I say at ("A Provocative History That Speaks to Contemporary Immigration Issues"):

Zornberg’s new book, Jews, Quakers and the Holocaust: The Struggle to Save the Lives of Twenty-Thousand Children, is more than a revelation; it is a testament not only to the horrors of Nazi Germany, but to the heroic efforts of some to save the lives of those who were slated for extermination by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. … The story of the Quaker’s attempts to save the lives of Jewish children is a story of human decency that reveals the soul of Zornberg's work; it is an inspiring tale that uplifts the human spirit…. The problem of immigration is surely one that continues to plague the U.S. landscape to this very day; the issues may differ considerably from the crises of the 1930s, but the threats today are certainly no worse than the threats posed by the Third Reich. If nothing else, Zornberg's book provokes us to think through yesterday's history and today's issues with the care of a highly-skilled surgeon's scalpel, rather than with the sledgehammer of the various demagogues among us. This is a five-star book that I cannot more strongly recommend.

September 11, 2016

WTC Remembrance: Fifteen Years Ago - Through the Looking Glass of a Video Time Machine

My annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," turns this year to my own personal reflections on the fifteenth anniversary of the day that my hometown was attacked in 2001, a day that changed our lives forever. These reflections emerge from my viewing of a series of VHS tapes that I used to record the tragic events of that day and the days, weeks, and months that followed. My focus for this essay is exclusively on the unfolding minute-by-minute television coverage from 8:46 a.m. to midnight on the day of terror that we commemorate today.

I have to admit that this essay was one of the most difficult, and yet cathartic, pieces I've ever written in my entire life. I invite readers to view the newest addition to my annual series here.

I also provide this index for those readers who would like easy access to the previous entries in this series:

2001: As It Happened . . .

2002: New York, New York

2003: Remembering the World Trade Center: A Tribute

2004: My Friend Ray

2005: Patrick Burke, Educator

2006: Cousin Scott

2007: Charlie: To Build and Rebuild

2008: Eddie Mecner, Firefighter

2009: Lenny: Losses and Loves

2010: Tim Drinan, Student

2011: Ten Years Later

2012: A Memorial for the Ages: A Pictorial

2013: My Friend Matthew: A 9/11 Baby of a Different Stripe

2014: A Museum for the Ages: A Pictorial

2015: A New One World Trade Center Rises From the Ashes: A Pictorial

2016: Fifteen Years Ago: Through the Looking Glass of a Video Time Machine

Never forget.

Postscript: Much appreciation to Ilana Mercer, who has noted the newest essay on her blog here. She writes:

I recall calling Chris Matthew Sciabarra around the time September 11 happened. Like the best of New York, Chris was hyper, in fight-but-never-flight mode. That’s my Chris. And he has commemorated the attack on the greatest city in the world—was I overcome by patriotism when I visited New York!—his hometown, in the most personal way each year.

Postscript 2: Much appreciation to Rational Review News Digest for making this the lead commentary in their September 11th edition. See here. Special thanks to long-time colleague and friend Thomas L. Knapp for noticing.

August 21, 2016

Song of the Day #1381a

Song of the Day: Summer Samba ("So Nice"), music by Brazilian composer Marcos Valle, with Portuguese lyrics by Paulo Sergio Valle, and English lyrics by Norman Gimbel, has been recorded by so many artists through the years, second, perhaps, only to the bossa nova anthem "Girl from Ipanema," to which Gisele Bundchen [video link] strutted her stuff in the Opening Ceremonies [video link] of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. We heard this song too during the Opening Ceremonies, and we have been treated throughout these last two weeks to so many entertaining musical interludes featuring this lyrical Brazilian bossa nova fusion of samba rhythms and jazz, each derived from both African and (North and South) American roots. But tonight the Torch is extinguished as the Summer Olympics come to a close. The games were "So Nice" to see and to root for some of our favorite international athletes. Check out renditions by the Walter Wanderly Trio, Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66, Nancy Ames, organist Walter Wanderly with vocalist Astrud Gilberto (who sang that great "Girl from Ipanema" [YouTube links] rendition on the Grammy-award winning album featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz, called "Getz/Gilberto". Check out a TV performance of the Ipanema classic with Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz [YouTube link]). And yes, this repeats another song from my long list, so I've called it "Song of the Day #1381a."

August 09, 2016

Rio, Remixes and the Ridiculous

While sitting here watching Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, and Simone Biles and the US Women's Gymnastics Team kick ass, at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, I have been answering two-month old emails (that's what happens when you spend so much time working with a couple of dozen people on a pathbreaking double-issue of JARS... you fall behind in too many other things!!!). I have also updated my entry for "Song of the Day #1343," "Can't Stop the Feeling!," by Justin Timberlake, which went to #1 on the Billboard charts for the Hot 100, Digital Songs Sales, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, Dance Club, and Mainstream Top 40, as well as hitting the Top 5 on both the Dance/Mix Show Airplay and Rhythmic charts. And that's just in the U.S.; Timberlake hit #1 in 22 other countries as well. I picked the song way back on May 20th. Can I pick 'em, or what?

In the meanwhile, do check out the updated links to my Song of the Day #1343 Timberlake entry, which now includes many diverse remixes of the song and a few hilarious "Storm Trooper" videos. No, I can't explain them; they are whacked out!

July 24, 2016

A Yankee Fan Salutes Mets' Mike Piazza, Hall of Famer

When the Yankees used to face off against the Mets in interleague play, even during their late 1990s-early 2000s storm into the postseason, the most feared man on the opposing team was always Mike Piazza, the former Mets catcher. He was the baseball "stud" the Mets needed to bring them back into the postseason, and to an eventual World Series showdown in 2000 against their crosstown rivals. The Mets lost that "Subway Series," and eventually Piazza went off into the sunset. But today, the sun rises over Cooperstown as Mike Piazza joins Ken Griffey, Jr. as an inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was the man who hit that famed game-winning home run on the first home game played in New York, ten days after the nightmare of September 11, 2001, defeating the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium, lifting even this Yankee fan out of his seat to applaud the newest, but long-overdue, inductee into the Hall of Fame.

Three cheers for a feared opponent, a great ballplayer, a classy human being always: Michael Joseph Piazza.

Postscript: Watch some excerpts on YouTube of one of the finest speeches ever given by an inductee of the Hall of Fame. For me, Piazza knocked it out of the park. Bravo!

June 20, 2016

Song of the Day #1357

Song of the Day: Back to Life (However Do You Want Me), music and lyrics written by Jazzie B, Carol Wheeler, Nellee Hooper, and Simon Law, who constituted the British R&B group Soul II Soul, took this 1989 song to #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart. It's Monday, but the summer solstice arrives in Brooklyn at 6:34 p.m, and for the first time in nearly 70 years it syncs with a full moon (a so-called "strawberry moon"). What truth in that title, for summer brings us all "back to life." This summer on Notablog, every Saturday, we'll have our own little "Saturday Night Dance Party," and feature a classic dance song, running from the 1970s to today's contemporary dance hits. But it's always nice to start with a so-called "sleaze beat" dance track, that sensual R&B pulse that New York beachgoers could hear blaring out of many a "boom box" every summer, from Coney Island to Brighton Beach to Manhattan Beach. This party will continue until the Saturday before the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd. I'm doing this because I still have a humongous vinyl collection of favorite dance hits, having been a mobile DJ in the 1980s, playing everything from senior proms to Bar Mitzvahs! Anyway, check out the original a cappella version and the utterly wonderful R&B classic hit on YouTube. And here's a special nod to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who came "back to life," down 3 games to 1, to take Game 7 and win the NBA championship!

June 05, 2016

Song of the Day #1348

Song of the Day: Nothing Compares 2 U, words and music by Prince, for a side-project band called "The Family" from their self-titled 1985 album. Sinead O'Connor had a huge hit with this one, but I still love the original Prince version. Check out that original here, and the O'Connor version here [YouTube links]. I should note that on June 3rd, America lost one of its most controversial and entertaining cultural icons and nothing compared to him either: "The Greatest" Muhammad Ali.

December 11, 2015

Song of the Day #1296

Song of the Day: Drinking Water (Agua De Beber), music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Brazilian lyrics by Vinicius de Moreas, English lyrics by Norman Gimbel, was not in the original line-up of songs that appeared on the 1967 Grammy-nominated album "Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim." (Though one thing is for sure: I don't think Sinatra was drinking water!) Instead, it appeared in the 1971 album, "Sinatra & Company"; it was also included in the fully reconstituted Sinatra-Jobim collaboration, a 20-track compilation, "Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings," released in 2010. I did a double "Song of the Day" dose on December 8th, and I can still list almost every song Sinatra ever recorded with Jobim, so I'm squeezing at least one more in before tomorrow's finale. It's just such a melodic, lyrical, flowing tune, with lyrics like "Your love is rain. My heart the flower." All I can say is: Rio hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics, and if, in the Opening Ceremonies, there is not a single mention of Jobim and all the other magnificent Brazilian artists who gave birth to this lilting melodic genre, impacting American music, and music throughout the world: Well, it's practicaly grounds to boycott the Games! In any event, celebrate this Sinatra-Jobim collaboration [YouTube link]. And for those who would like the DVD collection of all four "Man and His Music" television specials, one of which featured Jobim, check it out on

October 21, 2015

Can a Diehard Yankees Fan Root for the Mets? You Betcha!

Yesterday, I was listening to ESPN Radio, to Yankees sports broadcaster Michael Kay, whom I respect, going on and on that a "diehard Yankee fan" can't possibly root for the New York Mets in the postseason. He's gone so far as to say that Mets fans should "choke on their own bile!"

Now let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am a diehard Yankees fan. My apartment might as well be a veritable Cooperstown of Yankee memorabilia. When the Yankees face the Mets in Interleague play, I root for the Yankees. When, in 2000, the Yankees faced off against the Mets in the first Subway Series in a generation, I rooted for the Yankees, who were victorious, and who, at that time, were busy carving out a virtual dynasty of pinstripe victories (World Series wins in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000).

And remember: A diehard fan isn't a fairweather fan. A diehard fan roots for his team even when they are perpetual losers. I was only 2 years old (1962) when the Yankees of Maris and Mantle won their last World Series before the late 1970s revival of the winning franchise, though in 1970, I did see the Yankees beat the Mets in the old Yankee Stadium for that exhibition game, "The Mayor's Trophy Game." That was about the only glory I could find in Yankee land until the back-to-back 1977 and 1978 World Series wins, with great ballplayers like Ron Guidry, who won the 163rd game of 1978 (the Cy Young year that he went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA), when the Yankees came back from a 14-game deficit to tie the hated Boston Red Sox, and beat them at Fenway, going on to win the American League Pennant and the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers, for the second year in a row. And then... nada. The BLEAK 1980s and early 1990s. The Yankees were most certainly NOT the "General Motors" of baseball when I was growing up. I suffered through more than a decade of this city being a Mets town. In fact, New York City has almost always been a National League town; it supported two National League teams (the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers), and it was only natural that the National League loyalists embraced the Mets when the franchise took to the Polo Grounds field (abandoned home of the New York Giants) in 1962, and later, Shea Stadium in 1964, and Citi Field in 2009. They became the Miracle Mets of 1969, winning their first World Series over the Baltimore Orioles; they went back to the Series in 1973, losing Game 7 to the Oakland Athletics, but they won the insane 1986 World Series. For diehard Yankee fans, it was literally INSANE. The New York Mets, our crosstown rivals, were facing the Boston Red Sox... yes, the DESPISED Boston Red Sox, who were living under the "Curse of the Bambino," not having won a World Series since they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Their last Series win was in 1918. Now, Michael Kay, can you honestly tell me that you weren't just a little ... elated ... that that ball went through Bill Buckner's Red Sox leggings in Game 6, leading to a Mets victory, and a subsequent Mets championship in Game 7? You can't possibly have wanted the Boston Red Sox to win over the New York Mets. I mean, above all, we are diehard New Yawkas!!! I ain't gonna be rooting for the freaking Red Sox to win over a New York team, no way, no how!

Same goes for Second City Chicago (or is that Third City?). I mean, yeah, I know, the Chicago Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908 (though we don't have to listen to the Chicago White Sox anymore, telling us that they haven't won since 1917, thank goodness!). And if the Cubbies pulled off some kind of Red Sox miracle and win four straight over the Mets, I might even want to see them settle their own scores and join the ranks of modern World Series champions.

But as long as a New York team is in the race, I'm a diehard New Yorker. However, as I said, miracles do happen. I'm a diehard Yogi Berra fan too, and it was Yogi who said "It Ain't Over Til It's Over." The Yankees ought to know. That "Red Sox miracle," I just referred to, happened in 2004. Up 3 games to none, the Yankees lost FOUR STRAIGHT GAMES to the Boston Red Sox, who took the American League Pennant, and swept the St. Louis Cardinals to end their 86-year championship drought. When they were down to their last outs in their four-game victory over the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, there was a tiny part of my heart that said, "All right, already, win the damn thing so we don't have to hear about this Curse of the Bambino anymore!" Now, that doesn't mean I was ecstatic that they went on to win the World Series in 2007 and 2013, but enough is enough!

I may never root for the Red Sox, but who can doubt the humanity of the Fenway Faithful when they broke out spontaneously in a rendition of "New York, New York," after 9/11, or the humanity of the Pinstripe Faithful when they broke out in a rendition of "Sweet Caroline" after the Boston marathon tragedy? In the end, we're all just American baseball fans, and we honor the talented, even when they are on the other team. The Red Sox did good by Derek Jeter in his last games at Fenway, and the New York Mets did no less. All of baseball paid respect to the great #2.

So just because I'm a diehard Yankees fan doesn't mean that I can't admire the talented ballplayers on other teams. (Or the theme song of other teams!) Who doesn't marvel at the achievements of the fine Mets pitchers, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, or Matt Harvey. Harvey grew up a diehard Yankees fan, and attended the last game that Derek Jeter played at Yankee Stadium in 2014, rooting on one of his baseball heroes in another one of his great finales. The teams have had amazing cross-fertilization; how could a diehard Yankee player and former Yankee manager like Yogi Berra go on and manage the Mets to a World Series? How could a Mets manager like Joe Torre, go on and manage the Yankees to four World Series championships? I have admired the achievements of Mets from Tom Seaver to Mike Piazza to David Wright, current captain of the Mets, who, like Jeter, is a class act. How does admiration of talent on another New York ballclub make one any less a diehard fan of the New York Yankees?

So as another sports broadcaster, Howie Rose, would say, "Put it in the books": "Let's Go Mets!"

Postscript: Anything stated above does not mean that I identify with obnoxious Yankees fans who think they have a birthright to a World Series trophy, or to obnoxious Mets fans, who are usually expressing their Yankee hatred out of envy (my brother and sister-in-law, Mets fans, are, of course, exceptions!). And it should be noted that I have rooted for the Mets in the National League for as far back as I can remember. How else could the Yankees have met them in a Subway Series in 2000 if I didn't!?

Post-postscript: Congratulations to the New York Mets, who captured the National League pennant last night, sweeping the Chicago Cubs four games straight. In listening to all the post-game interviews, I could not help but think about all the current Mets who wore Yankee pinstripes in one capacity or another (Newsday actually tells us that through 2015, 122 players have played for both teams, including 62 position players and 60 pitchers): Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon (who was the winning pitcher last night), Tyler Lee Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and let us not forget the current Mets (and former Yankees) hitting coach: Kevin Long. I mention this because if it is supposed to be traitorous for diehard Yankee fans to root for the Mets, it must be positively sacreligious for former Yankee players and coaches to work for the Mets. This whole Kay-inspired tirade against rooting for the Mets is just laughably off-base, especially when rooting for the Mets almost always means that one is rooting for former Yankees, who just happened to be wearing blue and orange instead of Navy Blue pinstripes.

September 23, 2015

It's Over But it Ain't

One of the most famous sayings attributed to the late, great New York Yankees' catcher, Yogi Berra, was: "It ain't over 'til it's over." Alas, today we learned that for Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra, the consummate ballplayer, it is indeed over. Yogi passed away late on Tuesday, 22 September 2015, at the age of 90, and on the 69th anniversary to the day of his big-league debut.

But with Yogi, it ain't over. It can never be over. The legacy he left to this world is one that will keep on going for generations to come.

He was one of the greatest catchers in the history of the sport, a three-time American League MVP, 18-time All Star, and a remarkably and aggressively talented ballplayer who was essential to every winning Yankee ballclub, which earned him 10 World Series rings. He went on to coach and manage both the New York Yankees and their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets to League pennants, even though neither team won a World Series under his leadership. But those losses did nothing to tarnish his magnificent career. He was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1972.

There is nothing I can say about this gentle man that hasn't been said already by the people he knew and all of those whose lives were deeply touched by his greatness. I was not a part of the generation that had the privilege to see this man play the game he so loved, but I was part of the generation that saw him emerge as one of the most beloved human beings ever to grace that game. There wasn't a single Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium that didn't bring the Yankee faithful to their feet every time he was introduced. There he was, wearing his iconic Number 8 uniform, a number shared by Yankee catcher Bill Dickey, a number retired in honor of both men on 22 July 1988 by the Yankees, and made an eternal part of Monument Park at The Stadium.

I did have a chance to see how infectious and inspiring his very presence was to the Yankees and their fans. After a long estrangement from Yankee team owner George Steinbrenner, Yogi returned to Yankee Stadium on the 18th of July 1999 for a tribute, billed as "Yogi Berra Day." I will never forget that day. We listened to the proceedings on the car radio, traveling to a mini-vacation on the Jersey Shore. Pitcher Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game to catcher Berra--the only perfect game ever thrown in the World Series--threw out the first pitch to Yogi, and to the delight of the fans.

As if touched by the greatness of their presence, David Cone took to the mound, and, almost eerily, threw a total of 88 pitches to his batterymate, catcher Joe Girardi. Eighty-eight pitches of perfection, for not a single ballplayer on the opposing team (the Montreal Expos) ever reached first base. 27 batters up. 27 batters down. On the day of Yogi's triumphant return to The House that Ruth Built, Berra became a Yankee Good Luck Charm.

I will miss him, but in the power of memory, his sincerity, his integrity, and his unique ability to make us smile, will live on.

Postscript [4 October 2015]: I am reminded by readers that I cited Yogi for his wisdom on the tacit dimensions of knowledge, in my book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism:

[Michael] Polanyi develops this distinction between "subsidiary awareness" and "focal awareness" by using the example of the pianist who cannot shift "his attention from the piece he is playing" to the movement of each of "his fingers while playing it," without messing up his performance. . . . This distinction was also recognized by that great philosopher of baseball, Yogi Berra, who, when he was told to "think" about what he was doing at the plate, struck out. Berra observed: "You can't hit and think at the same time." [177 n. 69]

June 07, 2015

Song of the Day #1258

Song of the Day: The King and I ("Shall We Dance?"), music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was featured in the original 1951 production, which won the Tony for Best Musical, based on the Margaret Landon novel, "Anna and the King of Siam," which was made into a 1946 film drama, starring Rex Harrison as the King and Irene Dunne as Anna. Tonight, it's up for Best Revival of a Musical. On the stage and in the 1956 film, the role of the King of Siam was played by Yul Brynner (who, that same year, portrayed Ramesses, the Pharaoh, in DeMille's classic epic, "The Ten Commandments"). Brynner won the Tony and the Oscar for the role of the King of Siam, etc. etc. etc. In the film, Brynner played opposite Oscar-nominated Deborah Kerr (whose singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon), and in the original musical, he played opposite Tony Award winner Gertrude Lawrence. Check out the original Broadway version and the scene from the 1956 film. In any event, it seems so apropos that I highlight a musical that stars an actor who played a King and a Pharaoh both in the same year, for yesterday, American Pharoah (yes, that's the spelling) became King of the World. So before ending this year's mini-tribute to the music that has graced the Broadway stage, I am just delighted that my "Song of the Day" yesterday hit the nail on the head, so-to-speak; congratulations to American Pharoah for taking the first Triple Crown in 37 years, the 4th in my lifetime and only the 12th thoroughbred to achieve this since its nineteenth-century inception. Though, for me, nothing comes close to Secretariat, who ended a 25-year drought in Triple Crown winners extending back in time to Citation in 1948, for it was Secretariat who set records for the fastest run in all three legs of the Triple Crown (1:59 2/5 in the Kentucky Derby; 1:53 seconds in the Preakness Stakes; and a scorching 2:24 seconds flat to run the 1.5 miles of that grueling third leg in the Belmont Stakes (after all, "if you can make here, you can make it anywhere"). Moreover, Secretariat achieved his third victory by 31 lengths over the second-place finisher. None of this takes away from yesterday's winner. I'm glad I witnessed Seatle Slew and Affirmed take the last two trips to the Triple Crown in 1977 and 1978, respectively, but I was beginning to doubt we'd ever see another winner, considering that we're waiting 37 years in annual disappointment. So three cheers for American Pharoah. I'm so happy, well, I could just ask the next person I see: "Shall We Dance?" (Julie Andrews and Ben Vereen cover). And three cheers for those productions that are honored in tonight's Tony Awards. And so ends our annual mini-Broaday tribute, even if it was interspersed with a little sports history.
[Ed.: It looks like I picked two winners: "The King and I" won "Best Revival" and American Pharoah revived the Triple Crown!]

May 16, 2015

Song of the Day #1249

Song of the Day: Let the Good Times Roll, words and music by New Orleans-blues singer Sam Theard and his wife Fleecie Moore, was first recorded by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five [YouTube link] for the 1947 film, "Reet, Petite, and Gone." The song has been recorded by so many different artists from so many different genres. But yesterday, the King of the Blues passed away [clip of Eric Clapton's eulogy]. And so today, I give you three Monarchs, and maybe One in waiting: Tony Bennett, joining B. B. King on vocals (who always played a mean blues guitar), from the Bennett album "Playin' with My Friends." And check out the live Bobby Bland and B. B. King version as well [YouTube link]. This King knew had to live; his discography will let the good times roll as long as human beings have the capacity to hear. Long live the King. Tonight, you can check out more blues royalty, a biopic of the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith, played by Queen Latifah in "Bessie." (And let's not forget Ben E.King.) And here's to what I hope will be a Monarch-in-Waiting: American Pharoah, winner of the Kentucky Derby, has just won the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes, the second victory on the way to the Belmont and the Triple Crown.

February 01, 2015

Song of the Day #1211

Song of the Day: Sunday in New York ("On Frantic Fifth") [YouTube link], music by the very jazzy Brooklyn-born Peter Nero, gets Our Annual Film Music February Off To A Flying Start. Nero even appears in the 1963 film showing off his piano chops. This cue captures some of the frenzy one might find even on a beautiful "Sunday in New York." I featured the title track to this film back in 2005, the year I kicked off my tribute to cinema music (though not with a link to the Mel Torme-performed song that can be heard in the opening credits or Joe Pass on 12-string guitar [YouTube links]). So stay with us right up to 22 February 2015, the night that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards achievement in scoring and song. And if you're anywhere near the greatest city on earth, enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday in New York.

September 28, 2014

Song of the Day #1207

Song of the Day: My Way, with English lyrics written by Paul Anka, was set to music by Claude Francois and Jacques Revaux, for the French composition, "Comme d'habitude." It was popularized by the Chairman of the Board, and though it was never my favorite Frank Sinatra recording, there is a dignity to the lyrics that cannot be denied. Derek Jeter used the song for a Gatorade commercial, in which he says farewell to his many fans. Check out that Gatorade advertisement on YouTube as well as the full song as recorded by Ol' Blue Eyes. Today, Derek Jeter completed his exemplary career in baseball with his 3,645th hit (a lifetime .310 average). He was replaced by a pinch runner, Brian McCann, after hitting a Baltimore chop in the third inning, at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. His infield hit drove in a run, and the Yanks went on to win the game 9-5. The Red Sox fans gave him a standing ovation, not only when he departed the game, but also in a pre-game ceremony honoring him (where even Yaz showed up!). The seventh inning stretch featured a rendition of "God Bless America" by Ronan Tynan (who often performed the song at Yankee Stadium) and a gorgeously arranged version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," by guitarist Bernie Williams, a former Jeter teammate. This was a classy sendoff to one of the greatest ballplayers to grace any sports field, and the Fenway crowd showed the respect and appreciation one would expect from any crowd so steeped in the history of baseball. Okay, and yes, I've been crying, and I'm going to miss one of my all-time favorite Yankees. Bless you, Derek, in all your future endeavors.

September 26, 2014

It Ain't Over Till It's Over, But . . .

I have seen many remarkable moments in Derek Jeter's remarkable career. From his 1996 "Rookie of the Year" season to his 2012 season, when, at the age of 38, he led the major leagues with 212 hits, before opening the postseason with a fractured ankle.

But as that great baseball philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said: It ain't over till it's over. And this season is still most definitely not over, though, mathematically speaking, the New York Yankees have been eliminated from contention in the postseason.

But Derek Jeter and the Yanks still have one more weekend of regular season baseball left to play, the last weekend, to be played on another stage, in another storied field: Fenway Park. I'd call it "enemy territory"---except in this season, Derek Jeter has had no enemies. Everywhere he has gone, on this farewell retirement tour, his opponents have shown him the "RE2PECT" he has earned over a two-decade career of consistently extraordinary achievement. Every opposing team, in every ballpark in which he has appeared across this country, has honored him, and given generously to his Turn 2 Foundation.

So last night, several weeks after the Stadium celebrated an almost funereal Derek Jeter Day (September 7, 2014), Yankee fans knew this would be their last opportunity to see this future Hall of Famer play in his home pinstriped uniform on his home field.

There isn't a Jeter fan I know that didn't want this man to leave this grandest of sports stages without the kind of "last hurrah" that each of us has come to expect. Jeter provides us with a legacy that transcends self; for all his self-achievement, it has always been about The Team, in his view; he has marked his career with an obsessive concern for winning, and it is only with an integrated team, one with professionalism and passion, one that embraces a stoic celebration of tradition, history, and pride---and a youthful exuberance.

Last night, partly through Jeter's efforts, the Yankees entered the top of the ninth inning, leading the 2014 ALDS victors, the Baltimore Orioles, 5-2. But reliever, David Robertson, pitched up a few home runs, and by the time Jeter came up in the bottom of the inning, the Orioles had tied the score, 5-5. With two men on, the Voice of God, the late Bob Sheppard announced Number 2, Derek Jeter, for the last time at Yankee Stadium; and it was a youthful Jeter who seemed to approach the batter's box on this field of dreams. He lined a first pitch to right field, demonstrating the inside-out style that has come to be called "Jeterian", and drove in the winning run, unleashing an explosive ovation from the soldout stadium crowd as if the Yanks had just clinched the World Series. He even got a Gatorade Baptism for this walk-off single, usually reserved for the walk-off HR.

Jeter would later crouch down by his shortstop position, kneeling as if in prayer, and later announced that he had just completed his last game as shortstop for the New York Yankees, opting for the Designated Hitter role at this weekend's Fenway Fest.

By Sunday night, I should be all cried out.

September 07, 2014

Every Day is Derek Jeter Day

Religious fan that I am of the great shortstop of the New York Yankees, I am glued to my television set today, watching the festivities in celebration of the achievements of the Captain of the team, who retires at the end of the 2014 season: Derek Jeter.

To say it's been emotional is an understatement. But in true Jeter fashion, at the end of his speech thanking the fans and his professional colleagues and friends, he reminded the roaring crowd of the Sports Cathedral that is Yankee Stadium that 'we have a game to play.' However that game turns out, however much his game has suffered since that devastating injury in the 2012 postseason, he remains the Yankee of his generation. I have been a Yankees fan my whole life; that wasn't easy in the late 1960s and through the mid-1970s, when they were perpetual losers, or in the 1980s, when they lost after winning back-to-back World Series championships in 1977-1978, with guys like Guidry, Nettles, Randolph, and Bucky "Fu__king" Dent" as he is known in Boston, who hit a home run in the 163rd game of the 1978 Yankees-Red Sox one-game playoff that propelled the Yanks to the American League Championship Series, an AL pennant win, and another World Series win, their second consecutive Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But in the 1980s, the New York Mets owned this town; so most of my growing up as a Yankees fan was not like rooting for "General Motors" as the Yankees detractors had always said. But in 1996, that all changed; Joe Torre took the helm; the New York sports pages called him "Clueless Joe," and Derek became the Yankees regular shortstop, the last regular season player to wear the last single digit available (#2), after all those retired numbers (#4, Lou Gehrig; #3 Babe Ruth, #7 Mickey Mantle, you get the picture). He became Rookie of the Year in 1996; he owns five World Series rings, and was an MVP of the All-Star Game and the Word Series in the same year (2000).

They didn't retire his number today, though that day is surely coming. As will the Hall of Fame; it isn't just that he is the player with the sixth most hits in Major League History (#3,449 and counting), or franchise records in most hits, most doubles, most at bats, most stolen bases, and so on and so on. It is that he is a consummate professional with all the charm of a New York celebrity, and all the quiet certitude in his talents befitting of a Howard Roark.

Three cheers for Derek on his special day; for me #2 will always be #1. But the Yanks are fighting for a postseason spot (a long shot, if you ask me). We'll have more to say about him as the season comes to its close. For now, I'm just taking every last minute in, and thankful to have witnessed the career of such a legendary sports figure in my lifetime.

July 16, 2014

Song of the Day #1190

Song of the Day: I Will Say Goodbye, music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, is a gloriously melodic, if sad, song from the Legrand-Bergman songbook. My favorite instrumental version of the song is by jazz pianist Bill Evans [YouTube link], with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund (and it actually won a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo in 1981). Among the fine vocal interpretations are renditions by Sarah Vaughan, Jack Jones, Lena Horne (from that classic Monsanto-sponsored Legrand special), and Carmen McRae with the Shirley Horn Trio. Last night was about "Goodbye" in many ways; Derek Jeter, baseball icon, played in his final All-Star Game, and went 2 for 2, shining just as brightly on the field. He is pure class, and this Jeter fan has had teary eyes ever since he announced that this will be his last year as a professional baseball player. It's going to be tough saying goodbye at the end of the season. Check out this sweet Jordan commercial tribute [YouTube link].

July 04, 2014

Song of the Day #1189

Song of the Day: Always, words and music by Irving Berlin, is a 1925 gem that Berlin wrote as a wedding gift for his wife. The song has been recorded so many times by artists from Frank Sinatra to Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, who gives it a swing feel [YouTube links]. But its most memorable spin, for me, can be heard in the greatest sports film of all time, in my view, the 1942 Lou Gehrig biopic, "The Pride of the Yankees." Check out one scene from the film [YouTube link], featuring singer Bettye Avery, with Gary Cooper playing the immortal Gehrig and Teresa Wright, his wife Eleanor (Cooper and Wright received Best Actor and Actress nominations, respectively; only Wright walked away with the gold statuette, but for her Best Supporting Actress role in the Best Picture of that year, "Mrs. Miniver"). Seventy-five years ago today, Gehrig gave one of the most remarkable speeches in all of Americana, saying goodbye to 60,000+ Yankee faithful in attendance at a 1939 Indepedence Day ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Check out the speech as given by Gehrig, as emulated by Major League Baseball, and also as immortalized in celluloid history by the wonderful Cooper [YouTube links] (and that's the real Babe Ruth appearing in the film). Gehrig later passed away from ALS, a disease known to many as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." Gehrig was one of the Yankees' most memorable team captains; today's Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, in his final career season, recently tied Gehrig's franchise record for lifetime doubles. For Yankees fans, for fans of America's game, Gehrig will always be the Iron Horse; on this Independence Day, we say Happy Birthday, America, and we celebrate Gehrig and the national passtime with a song written by one of America's most celebrated songwriters.

June 26, 2014

Song of the Day #1187

Song of the Day: Rock the Boat, words and music by Waldo Holmes, was a #1 Billboard Hot 100 single, that was bubbling in the Top Ten on this very date in 1974, when Derek Jeter was born. On this date, on the occasion of his fortieth birthday, I think we can safely say that Derek has "rocked the boat" for fans of the game throughout his stellar career. Having announced that this will be his final year as a professional baseball player, Derek leaves us with many rockin' moments to remember throughout a stellar career. Check here [YouTube link] for the original Hues Corporation single and Celebrate Jeter, Captain of the Yankees, and of my pinstripe heart, now and forever.

June 16, 2014

Song of the Day #1186

Song of the Day: The Love You Save, music and lyrics by The Corporation, Motown's Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonzo Mizell, and Deke Richards, went to Number One, the third of four straight number one singles released by the Jackson 5, which held that position on the Billboard chart for two weeks, 27 June through 4 July 1970. But Casey Kasem, who passed away yesterday, was always one week ahead of the curve, giving us a weekend countdown that reflected the chart of the following week's Tuesday release of Billboard. So the song had actually dropped to the number two position on the 4th of July debut show of Kasem's classic, "American Top 40 (AT40)." I can't help but credit Kasem with stoking my love of pop music as I grew up listening to his show on the radio, whether it was in the dead of winter or on the hot sands of Manhattan Beach through Brooklyn's steamiest summers. This song was one of my favorite early Jackson 5 songs, made all the more poignant because its lead singer is no longer with us either. Check out the original single here, and while you're listening, save a little love too for screen and stage actress Ruby Dee, who passed away on June 11th, the great and endearing Don Zimmer, who passed away on June 4th, and the ultimate gentle man of baseball, Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres Hall of Famer, who sadly passed away today, at the young age of 54. All of them gone too soon.

June 13, 2014

Song of the Day #1185

Song of the Day: Friday the 13th ("Opening Theme") [YouTube link], composed by jazzman Henry Manfredini, clearly exhibits the composer's Bernard Herrmann "Psycho" lineage. What better way to mark a rare full-moon Friday the 13th on a rainy and grim New York June day. ("I love New York in June, How About You?"... but this one's been too rainy and it feels like March!). Nevertheless, a few thunderstorms will add to the atmosphere of watching this film. Manfredini actually composed for the whole "Friday the 13th" franchise, but the original 1980 Jason was the best (especially in that famed Hockey mask, so appropriate on a weekend in which the New York Rangers are struggling for the Stanley Cup, right now having won only 1 frightening game to the LA Kings, who are one game away from winning that horror series). The first two John Carpenter produced-"Halloween" films are, in my view, better examples of the post-1960s evil slasher genre, all of which owes its spirit to Hitchcock's utterly brilliant "Psycho." In any event, Friday the 13ths have been typically "good luck" days for me, having signed contracts for books on those days, in fact, but it's always fun revisiting a horror film from the vault.

February 12, 2014

OH NO My Captain, Say it Ain't So

The last of the so-called "Core Four," Captain Derek Jeter has announced that the 2014 season will be his final in professional baseball. The past year, he sported so many injuries, this Yankee fan was starting to doubt that he'd ever come back. But of that "Core Four," all but three are now retired: Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera to much well-deserved fanfare, and soon, Derek will join them.

I am upset and depressed; Jeter, by far, my favorite baseball player (in my lifetime of active involvement in Yankee fanaticism, Jeter ranks only with two other former captains of the Yankees: Ron Guidry and Don Mattingly, for both talent and humanity). Though my apartment still requires much work after the October fire, it has been and remains (since the mid-1990s), a virtual shrine to Derek. I will miss him, but I will always cherish the fact that I got to see him play, the personification of class, grace, heart, and talent.

Go Derek! Go Yanks!

October 18, 2013

Song of the Day #1143

Song of the Day: Enter Sandman, written by Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, and Lars Ulrich, is the Metallica song that allows us to celebrate the exit of The Sandman himself, legendary relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of the game, with the most regular season and postseason saves in baseball history. One of the Core Four, who sports five World Series rings, he is the last active Major League Baseball player to wear the Number 42 (the MLB-wide retired number of the trailblazing Jackie Robinson), now retired at Yankee Stadium, on a ceremonial day that greeted him to the field as Metallica performed this song live in his honor (a theme song for Mo upon his entrance in any save situation at The Stadium). As we stand on the precipice of this year's World Series, the postseason isn't the same without him (or the Yankees for this frustrated fan), but no season will ever be the same without Mo. Here's the official video from the band and their appearance at Yankee Stadium on Mo's Day.

April 18, 2013

Song of the Day #1125

Song of the Day: Sweet Caroline, words and music by Neil Diamond, was a huge hit for the singer. Today, a few days after the horrific massacre at the Boston Marathon, the song takes on an even more poignant tone than its original intent as a paean to the young Caroline Kennedy. A perennial at Fenway Park, it was played after the 3rd inning on April 16, 2013 in Yankee Stadium, as the New York Yankees faithful sang along in solidarity [YouTube link] with those whose lives have been forever altered by the events in Boston. On a day when Yankees and Diamondback players all wore #42 in tribute to a famed Brooklyn Dodger, this was as sweet a gesture as one could find among great sports rivals, who put aside competition for a day, in remembrance. The Fenway Faithful did the same in the days after 9/11, when they sang along to "New York, New York." I watched the Stadium crowd rise to the occasion, and I now can't listen to the song with dry eyes. Stand tall. Check out the full Neil Diamond recording.

April 01, 2013

Song of the Day #1123

Song of the Day: Drive By, words and music by Patrick Monahan, Espen Lind, and Amund Bjorklund, was recorded by the band Train. The full song can be heard on YouTube, but I must admit that I have a sentimental attachment to it because it was featured in a Tri-State New York-area Ford car commercial starring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Jeter misses Opening Day 2013, despite having started for 16 of the last 17 years. He's still on the mend from last year's devastating post-season ankle break. I wish it were all an April Fools' Day joke, but it isn't.  Still, baseball is back in New York today, Big Time! For the first time since 1956, when the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers each held Opening Day festivities, two New York teams are opening at home today: the New York Mets host the San Diego Padres and the New York Yankees host the Boston Red Sox (and they are dedicating their games to those who lost their lives in the Newtown tragedy). Here's hoping that The Captain joins the party before too long. But for now: Play Ball!

October 29, 2012

Song of the Day #1080

Song of the Day: Swept Away, words and music by Sara Allen and Daryl Hall (who provides the guitar solo), was a terrific #1 1984 dance track recorded by Diana Ross. So, the Detroit Tigers Swept Away the New York Yankees in 4 straight, and the San Francisco Giants (not the New York Football Giants, who barely swept away the Dallas Cowboys yesterday) did likewise to the Tigers, winning the World Series in 4 games. And here in the New York tri-state area, we dig in so as not to be Swept Away by Hurricane Sandy. Check out the Arthur Baker 12" club mix on YouTube.

October 18, 2012

Yankees: On To Spring Training!


Boy was that awful. The Detroit Tigers swept the New York Yankees in the ALCS, and move on to the World Series.

Nothing was more awful than losing The Captain, who went down in Game 1 of this series with a broken ankle. But not even Derek Jeter could have saved this team's anemic hitting.


Hopefully, the Yanks, and Derek, will be back in the swing of things in Spring 2013.

October 12, 2012

Yankees: On To the ALCS!!!

The New York Yankees just won the ALDS in 5 games, beating the tough Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, with C.C. Sabathia going the distance.

It never gets old.

Now, the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.

Go Yanks!

September 28, 2012

Song of the Day #1076

Song of the Day: Empire State of Mind features the words and music of Alexander Shuckburgh, Angela Hunte and Jane't "Jnay" Sewell-Ulepic, Bert Keyes and Sylvia Robinson (a sample from their "Love on a Two-Way Street"), Alicia Keys and Shawn Corey Carter, otherwise known as Jay-Z, both of whom perform on the recording. Tonight, Jay-Z opens up eight concert dates at Brooklyn's new entertainment arena: the Barclays Center, where Jay-Z's basketball team, the newly named Brooklyn Nets, will open their season in October. Professional sports will return to Brooklyn for the first time since Dem Bums left. This is a paean to the city where Jay-Z was born. And any song with a shout out to Sinatra gets Two Thumbs Up in my book, any day. Tonight, Brooklyn gives the Empire State another jewel in its crown. Check out the official video.

August 12, 2012

Song of the Day #1068

Song of the Day: Olympics Fanfare Medley combines the robust "Bugler's Dream," composed by Leo Arnaud and the celebratory John Williams composition, "Summon the Heroes." They are both wonderful fanfares, tributes to the indomitable spirit of the Olympics. Tonight is the closing ceremony of the exciting 2012 London Summer Olympics. Check out the Arnaud theme, the John Williams theme, and the medley.

April 13, 2012

Song of the Day #1038

Song of the Day: The Unsinkable Molly Brown ("I Ain't Down Yet"), words and music by Meredith Wilson, is featured in the 1960 Broadway musical, in which the lead character was played by Tammy Grimes, who won the 1961 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress. The 1964 cinematic adaptation garnered six Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Debbie Reynolds who became the feisty Molly Brown on screen. Born Margaret, though her friends called her Maggie, she is known to history as Molly. A traveler on the Titanic, she was the quintessential strong woman and suffragist who, in Lifeboat No. 6, exhorted the crew to return to the waters of death, in search of survivors. On screen, so many have portrayed her, including: the independent, playful, and feisty Kathy Bates in the 1997 Cameron blockbuster; the ever-effervescent Thelma Ritter, who is named "Maude Young" but is clearly Molly, in the 1953 film, "Titanic"; and Cloris Leachman played her twice: as Maggie Brown in a 1950s dramatization for "Television Time" [YouTube link to that episode], and in the television movie, "S.O.S. Titanic". Molly Brown survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic. No wonder the character sings this song as a celebration of The Unsinkable. No better day to note it than on Friday the 13th, which happens to be both Good Friday for the Eastern Orthodox and Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Check out Tammy Grimes in the Broadway cast version [ sample] and, my favorite, Debbie Reynolds from the film version and (watch her inspire Titanic lifeboat survivors) [YouTube links]. You'll be singing: "Told Ya So! Told Ya So! Told Ya, Told Ya, Told Ya So!"

April 06, 2012

Song of the Day #1081

Song of the Day: Glory Days, composed and performed by "The Boss," Bruce Springsteen, appears on his huge hit album, "Born in the U.S.A." It's the perfect way to kick off the New York Yankees' 2012 baseball season, which begins today in Florida against the Rays. Check out the terrific baseball-inspired video on YouTube. And Go Yanks!!!

April 05, 2012

Song of the Day #1080

Song of the Day: Meet the Mets, words and lyrics by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz, is the fight song of the New York Mets, who open their 2012 baseball season today at Citi Field. I'm a diehard Yankees fan, but I have to admit . . . uh, I actually have always liked this theme from the cross-town rivals. Play ball! And check out the Mets song [YouTube link].

February 06, 2012

Song of the Day #1021

Song of the Day: The Verdict ("The Bottom") [sample clip at that link], composed by Johnny Mandel, captures perfectly the mind-set of Frank Galvin, a seemingly washed-up attorney, who has one last chance to take on a big case, one last chance for personal redemption. The character is played by the Oscar-nominated Paul Newman, in what was, arguably, his greatest performance as an actor. The acclaimed director Sidney Lumet, who passed away in April 2011, said this of Newman's work in the 1982 film: "The slightest gesture, the slightest look, deep riches pour out." Amen. (Oh, and This Verdict Is In and It's Not 'The Bottom' but the Very Top!: The New York Giants Win the Super Bowl!! Bravo!!!)

February 05, 2012

Song of the Day #1020

Song of the Day: Heaven Can Wait features the Oscar-nominated score of composer Dave Grusin. It's one of my favorite cinema comedies (actually an adaptation of Harry Segall's 1938 play of the same name, and a remake of the 1941 film, "Here Comes Mr. Jordan"). But it's also a movie whose final sequences take place at the Super Bowl. And that's where the New York Giants are today, facing off with their arch football rivals, the New England Patriots, whom Big Blue beat at the 2007 Super Bowl. (Okay, okay, I'll give handsome Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady 1/2 of 1 point, just for admitting to a "man-crush" on New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.) But I say: One Mo' Time! Go Eli Manning! Go Giants! And Go Grusin for capturing so many moods in his kaleidoscopic main theme from this 1978 film (YouTube clip at that link).

October 01, 2011

Yankees: Looking Back ... and To The Future

Fifty years ago today, New York Yankees right fielder Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season, setting what was, then, the single-season home run record. 61 in '61. It was long said, however, that this achievement would always be tarnished by an asterisk, since the 61st home run came on the final day of a 162-game regular season schedule, whereas The Babe had hit his record-setting 60th home run in the old 154-game regular season schedule.

All the more reason to add a few asterisks to the "records" set by those players who "surpassed" Maris in the Steroid Era.

Be that as it may, here's a Salute to one of the Great M&M boys, as the Yankees win their first 2011 post-season game, tonight, beating Detroit, 9-3.

Viva Maris! And Go Yanks!

July 09, 2011


Readers of Notablog surely know that I've had a long-time bromance with the great Yankee Captain, shortstop Derek Jeter.

A few minutes ago, DJ got his 3000th hit, the first New York Yankee player... in fact, the first player in the history of New York baseball, and the 4th youngest player in MLB history, to achieve this remarkable career feat. Only 27 other players in baseball history have achieved this feat, and only 10 of these have achieved it with a single team.

DJ did it with style... a Home Run, to tie the score, 1-1, against the Tampa Bay Rays. I am so elated, so proud, so happy for this man. He is pure, unadulterated class.

Three (thousand) cheers for Derek Sanderson Jeter

Ok... there's still a ballgame to play... Yankees just went ahead, 2-1. But oh how sweet it is to see history this afternoon.

PS - DJ, who wears Number 2, hit his 2nd hit of the day at 2pm, only the 2nd player in MLB history to hit a Home Run for his 3000th hit. Oh, and this 3000th hit was his 3rd Home Run of the season.

PPS - DJ goes 5 for 5 on the day, and drives in what becomes the winning run, in a 5-4 Yankee victory!

November 05, 2009

New York Yankees: World Series Champs!

It's like New Year's Eve in the neighborhood right now... because the New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 4 games to 2, to earn their 27th World Series Championship!

CONGRATULATIONS to the greatest franchise in sports history!

October 26, 2009

Congrats to the Yankees for 40th AL Banner!

Last night, the New York Yankees won their 40th American League Championship Pennant, beating the LA Angels of Anaheim four games to two. The World Series opens in Da Bronx on Wednesday, October 28th against the Philadelphia Phillies. Yuck.

I can't stand the Phillies. Anyway.

I'll be root, root, rooting for the home team! Go Yankees!!!

September 12, 2009

Derek Jeter: All-Time Yankees Hits Leader

My favorite Yankee player just broke the all-time franchise hit record, held by the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, for the past 72 years. Derek Jeter's single in the third inning---his 2,722nd lifetime hit---pulled him ahead of Gehrig, for the lead in all-time Yankee hits. It was a thrill to watch. Even the principal owner, George Steinbrenner, had something nice to say about Jeter: "For those who say today's game can't produce legendary players, I have two words: Derek Jeter. ... As historic and significant as becoming the Yankees' all-time hit leader is, the accomplishment is all the more impressive because Derek is one of the finest young men playing the game today."


And, for the record, Jeter added another hit during the game, increasing his franchise record to 2,723 hits. Bravo!

September 29, 2008

Shea Goodbye to 2008 Baseball Season

The Mets and the Yankees ended the 2008 season on losing notes yesterday; the Mets closed Shea Stadium to make way for the 2009 opening of Citi Field with a devastating loss to the Florida Marlins for the second straight year, preventing them from moving into the playoffs. And the Yanks lost the final game of their season in Fenway Park, having already played the last game at Yankee Stadium ... to make way for a new Yankee Stadium opening next year.

The Yanks' loss last night was in the second game of a doubleheader (due to a rainout on Saturday) with the Red Sox; they had won the first game, giving pitcher Mike Mussina the first 20-game winning season of his career. But it's going to be a quiet postseason in NYC... the first time since the 1994 strike-shortened season that the city will not host October baseball.

I did watch some of the festivities at Shea, however, as the Mets hosted some of the baseball stars of yesteryear. This was a stadium that was, in 1975, home to both the Yankees and the Mets, and the football Giants and the Jets, while Yankee Stadium was being remodeled. This was a stadium that had hosted concerts from the Beatles to the Boss, and even Pope John Paul II. The stadium farewell tribute ended with a final pitch from Hall of Famer Tom Seaver to soon-to-be-Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza. Even Yankee great Yogi Berra showed up (he had managed the team in the early 1970s, taking them to World Series in 1973).

I'd gone to a few games at Shea through the years; while it was not the baseball cathedral that Yankee Stadium was, it still had its charm. I will miss these two stadiums; here's hoping the 2009 season brings the teams two new homes, and two winning seasons (well, okay, in the unlikely event that they face each other in the World Series ... ONE winning season).

Shea Goodbye. Wait 'til next year!

September 21, 2008

Farewell, Yankee Stadium

Readers of Notablog know that I am a fanatic when it comes to the New York Yankees. Tonight, the 85-year old Yankee Stadium, "the House that Ruth Built," hosts the final regular season baseball game of its storied history. The Yankees face the Baltimore Orioles in a prime-time ESPN event, a great goodbye to The Stadium.

I am not too thrilled about this move away from one of the hallowed fields of baseball. Back in 2005, I was privileged to tour this "baseball cathedral." It was a day that ranks up there with some of my fondest memories of the place. A Yankee fan since childhood, I first set foot in the Stadium... the old Stadium, long before its mid-70s refurbishing. It was for a Mayor's Trophy game between the Mets and the Yankees and the Stadium was incredibly imposing to my young eyes. But when the Yankees returned to their home turf, after a two-season stint at Shea Stadium (which also closes at the end of this year's baseball season), I started attending many more games, especially in 1978, when the Yankees came back from a 14-game mid-season deficit to win their division against the Boston Red Sox, and then, the American League Pennant and the World Series.

There was a long drought in the Bronx through the 1980s and early 1990s ... but I still root, root, rooted for the home team, though, in truth, it was mostly the Mets who owned NYC baseball and the back of the sports pages during this period. Indeed, I spent most of my adult years rooting for a loser, so unspoiled was I by the decades of remarkable Yankee dominance.

When the team returned to its winning ways in the late '90s, with a new crop of talent, it was a true delight. Alas, this year hasn't been such a delight; after 13 straight years of making it to the postseason, the Yankees are most likely playing the very last baseball game on this field.

ABC World News Tonight tributed the place as part of last Friday's "Person of the Week" segment (you can read or, better still, view that segment here). Charlie Gibson reminds us that it wasn't just a home for baseball; it has hosted "Popes and Presidents," and some of the greatest sports events of the past century, from the 1938 Joe Louis-Max Schmeling boxing match to the 1958 Colts-Giants "all-time greatest" football game.

But, ultimately, it is about baseball. As Gibson said, "With a nod to Wrigley and Fenway, this has been baseball's capital for so many years."

I hope to make it to the "new" Yankee Stadium, with its retro design that harks back to the old beauty I first encountered as a child. But no place will be this place. A Field of Dreams, for sure. And for so many memorable realities.

Farewell, Yankee Stadium.

Update: Take a look at these really nice essays and links from the NY Times and the NY Daily News, dealing with tonight's Stadium finale:

Echoes in the Bronx
Blogging the Bombers
Reggie Jackson Has a Hard Time Leaving
Mike Lupica, Magic of Stadium Bridges Generations (and check out Lupica's piece on Derek Jeter)
A Tribute to the Great Bob Sheppard (Yankee Stadium Announcer)

Update #2, 9/22/2008: Check out these follow-up stories by Bill Madden, Filip Bondy, Mike Lupica, Mark Feinsand, and a couple of NY Times features here and here. Cliche that it is... it was truly a night to remember...

September 17, 2008

Derek Jeter Breaks Record

Yankee fans have little to cheer this year; the team ain't gonna make the postseason, and the Ol' Stadium is being torn down at the end of the season, as a new one opens across the street for the 2009 baseball season.

But last night, Derek Jeter gave fans a reason to cheer. He moved into sole possession of 1st place: the player with the most hits in Yankee Stadium, a record that, arguably will always be held by #2. (I say "arguably" because a case might be made that there is still a record there to be beat: Most home-field hits by a Yankee, which, conceivably, might be broken in the new stadium.) Jeter beat Lou Gehrig's former record of 1,269 hits, and now holds 1,271 hits at the great baseball cathedral in Da Bronx. And just last week, he moved into second place on the all-time Yankee hit list, jumping over Babe Ruth's 2,518 hits, and now standing behind Gehrig, who holds the team record 2,721 hits. Jeter currently has 2,532 hits; if he stays healthy, he may be the one Yankee player who, someday, reaches the 3000 hit plateau.

In any event, thanks, Captain Jeter... for giving us something to cheer about.

August 16, 2008

Phabulous Phelps!

Swimmer Michael Phelps, with a little help from Team USA, takes home his eighth gold medal tonight at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He writes himself into the history books, beating the 1972 7-medal Gold Haul of Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz.

Bravo, Michael! Bravo!

July 16, 2008

All Star Stadium

Thank goodness for DVR... 'cause some of us just keep fighting to stay awake for some of these events that seem to go on and on all night!

Nevertheless, it was an event worth watching, if only because the 2008 All-Star Game took place at Yankee Stadium, the last time any All Star Game will have ever been played on that particular field of dreams. The ol' ballpark in Da Bronx is being replaced in 2009 by a new retro stadium across the street.

It was certainly odd to see Red Sox and Yankees players on the same side, the American League, which happened to win the game in the 15th inning, 4-3. Seeing 49 Hall of Fame ballplayers and all those current stars on the same field was a thrill for sure. Heck, even seeing Yankee Boss George Steinbrenner was poignant.

But, in reality, it was the Stadium itself, that Cathedral of Baseball, that was the biggest All Star on this night. I've not been out to the ballpark in the Bronx for quite a while, but I will always hold dear its history, and my memories of it.

There's still another half of a season to go, and while it looks improbable that the Yankees will give New York another October... I'm still root, root, rooting for the home team.

Go Yanks!

July 13, 2008

Bobby Murcer, RIP

I was very deeply saddened by the loss of Bobby Murcer, a long-time Yankees player and broadcaster, and all-around-good-guy. Murcer had been battling cancer for quite a while, and his fans, and I count myself among them, were rooting for his return to the broadcast booth. He'd made a brief return after cancer treatments, but he eventually had to leave the YES network; Yankees fans had hoped to see him back at the stadium in time for this week's All-Star Game, which is the last All-Star Game to be played in the old Yankee Stadium. Next year, the new Yankee Stadium opens across the street; after this season, the House that Ruth Built will be no more.

Alas, now Bobby has joined the field of dreams of baseball eternity.

In the New York Daily News, Bill Madden had this to say, reminiscing about how Murcer, who had been traded from the Yanks late in his baseball career, made his way back to the Bronx:

It wasn't until late June of 1979 that [Yankees owner, George] Steinbrenner reunited the 33-year-old Murcer with the Yankees, as the Cubs, who were just looking to dump his $320,000 contract, sent him back to the Bronx for a non-prospect minor-league pitcher named Paul Semall. At the time of the deal, the Yankees, who had lost their closer, [Rich "Goose"] Gossage, to a thumb injury (the result of a shower room fight with teammate Cliff Johnson) were already falling out of the AL East pennant race. Then, on Aug. 2, an off-day, the Yankees and the rest of baseball were shocked by the news that [Yankees catcher and team captain, Thurman] Munson had been killed in the crash of his single-engine private jet as he was practicing landings at the Canton, Ohio, airport.
No one in baseball was closer to Munson than Murcer, who, only the night before, had watched from his car at the end of the runway of a small Chicago airport as Munson took off on his solo flight home to Canton. Four days later, after delivering the eulogy at the Munson funeral in Canton, Murcer, despite having gotten no sleep, implored Yankee manager Billy Martin to let him play in the game that night at the Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles. It would be his finest hour as a Yankee as he honored Munson's memory by driving in all five runs, with a three-run homer and two-run single, in their emotional 5-4 win.
"He loved the game, his fans, his friends, and most of all his family," Murcer had said in the eulogy for Munson. "He is lost, but not gone. He will be missed, but not forgotten."
Now they are both lost.

Mike Lupica tells us of this "prince of the city": "There will be a moment of silence for him Tuesday night, at the All-Star Game. Then one last time they will cheer Bobby Murcer big at Yankee Stadium, the biggest place the kid from Oklahoma ever saw, this time to the heavens."

June 07, 2008

No Brown Crown, No Jim McKay

I guess we were spoiled back in the 1970s; in 1973, I saw Secretariat, the greatest of them all, in my opinion, take the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. Seattle Slew followed in 1977, and Affirmed beat out Alydar in three successive thrilling races to take the Crown in 1978.

But Da' Tara beat Big Brown in his bid to be the first horse to take the Triple Crown in 30 years. Having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, Big Brown came up short at New York's Belmont.

I sometimes wonder if we'll ever see another Triple Crown winner!

On a much sadder note, it is perhaps ironic that on this day, another great voice of sports broadcasting was silenced: Jim McKay, who passed away at the age of 86. I will always remember his stints at the "Wide World of Sports" and his remarkable reporting from the tragic Munich Olympics. He will be missed by sports fans the world over.

March 31, 2008

Play Ball 2008!

Today marks the last Opening Day at the Old Yankee Stadium. Next year, a new ballpark opens across the street from the field of dreams. And in another week, Shea Stadium will have its last Opening Day, as the Mets prepare to move into their new ballpark.

Good luck to New York's teams ... and if you haven't been to these ballparks, make a trip in 2008. Take advantage of the stadium tours. Indeed, for me, the Yankee Stadium tour was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Play ball!

February 05, 2008

No Rain on Our Parade

There is a 50% chance for rain in the Big Apple, but it's all sunshine in Giants land today. The Giants parade up the "Canyon of Heroes" begins at 11 a.m. in celebration of their improbable victory over the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl.

You can watch the action here or on any local TV channel in NYC.

Sometimes, New York Daily News writer Mike Lupica infuriates me (I've been enjoying his political articles more than his sports articles of late!). But when he's good, he's great. Yesterday was one terrific article followed by another today. Lupica writes:

This time the Yankees didn't go out in the first round and the Mets didn't blow a seven-game lead. The Patriots didn't go to 19-0. Boston didn't ring up New York again. The Giants come across the river today and bring the Lombardi Trophy with them. For the first time in a long time the sports capital of the world isn't someplace else.

Some of us would like the good cheer of the Giants to rub off on our local baseball teams.

Good news: Ten days for pitchers and catchers to report to Spring Training. Woo hoo!

For now, however, it's time to have a parade! Go Big Blue!

February 03, 2008

HOLY $#%&!!! The Giants Win the Super Bowl!!!

I don't #%^$*^@ believe it!!!!


Postscript (7:17 a.m., February 04, 2008): Ok, now I'm a little calmer. :) But the Giants achieved one of the greatest upsets in NFL Super Bowl history, stunning the Perfect Patriots, who were vying for a 19-0 season, beating them with 35 seconds left on the clock, 17-14. As New Yorkers chanted "18 and 1"... the Giants won the game, led by Most Valuable Player, Quarterback Eli Manning (who follows his MVP brother Peyton, who took the Colts to a Super Bowl victory last year).

Congratulations to Big Blue!!!

Song of the Day #867

Song of the Day: Blue Bossa is a jazz standard composed by jazz trumpeter Kenny Dorham. It's a lilting bossa nova that has been recorded by many artists, including jazz greats Joe Pass and J. J. Johnson, super pianist McCoy Tyner, and Kenny Dorham himself (audio clips at those links). And watch a YouTube video performance by Zack Kim. Today is Super Bowl Sunday, and I'm cheering on Big Blue: Go Giants!

January 20, 2008

Go Giants!

Okay, okay, so they play in Joisey. But they still wear that NY on their helmuts, and the New York Giants are going to the Super Bowl. WTF!?! I can't believe it that Little Manning is taking his team to Arizona.


To face those unbeaten New England Patriots. Ugh.

Well, for the second year in a row, a Manning makes the Super Bowl, and Eli tries to follow his brother Peyton to victory. Well, at least the temperatures will be higher than the ones the Giants had to deal with in Lambeau Field, against the Green Bay Packers. A nice 23-20 sudden death overtime victory for Big Blue. Congratulations!

October 30, 2007

Goodbye Donnie Baseball; Hello Joe G.

Many Yankee fans thought for sure that beloved Don Mattingly would become the new manager of the New York Yankees. It turns out that Donnie Baseball is not to be in the Bronx, and former Yankees catcher Joe Girardi (who was also a former NL Manager of the Year, when he managed the Florida Marlins in 2006) is slated to be the new manager in the post-Torre era.

Word has it that the "front office" guys didn't want another manager like Joe Torre, with a quieter disposition, which rules out Mattingly. In his previous stint with the Marlins, Girardi showed a bit of 'kick-ass,' but that 'kick ass' quality got him into a bit of trouble with the owners. Hmmm... not sure if that is a good thing with the Steinbrenner family, but I'm already looking forward to Spring Training.

Meanwhile, Joe Torre might be going to the west coast to manage the LA Dodgers... and Mattingly might join him as hitting coach.

October 29, 2007

Baseball $ox

Congratulations to Red Sox Nation for their second World Series championship in the new century. Looks like the beginning of the last century ...

Perhaps the Bosox will try to deal a death blow to their hated rivals, the New York Yankees, by making Alex Rodriguez an offer he can't refuse. Apparently, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars wasn't enough to keep A-Rod in the Bronx ... so a Big Bronx Cheer to this talented free agent and probable 2007 MVP.

Don't let the clubhouse door hit you on the way out.

October 19, 2007


Changes happening... some permanent... let me note a few:

o Deborah Kerr, whom I loved in such movies as "The King and I," "An Affair to Remember," and "Quo Vadis," passed away on Tuesday, October 16, 2007.

o Joey Bishop, whose humor made me chuckle in the 1960s and 1970s, passed away on Wednesday, October 17, 2007; he was the last surviving member of Hollywood's famed "Rat Pack."

o Laissez Faire Books is closing its doors after 36 years in business. I will always be enormously thankful to LFB for carrying my various books and monographs through the years. My very best wishes to everybody connected to LFB for providing liberty lovers with one of the most important sources of libertarian literature in the world.

o And, finally, I note the passing of the Joe Torre Era of Yankees Baseball. I still think that the Yankees greatest weakness is their starting pitching (and their long relief), not their manager. It's the pitching (or lack thereof) that has led to early exits from the postseason for several years running now. The organization is going a long way toward correcting its pitching weakness by re-investing in a long-depleted farm system. The rebuilding may take a few years, but I'm confident it will be for the best. Losing Manager Joe Torre, however, is not for the best, and I will miss his steady hand and stabilizing influence. Thanks, Joe, for a great run!

September 27, 2007

Holy Cow! Yanks Clinch Wild Card!

Holy Cow, indeed! After a miserable start to the season, the Yanks came roaring back and have clinched the Wild Card in the American League. Post-season starts next week! Stay tuned!

August 14, 2007

Merv and The Scooter

Over the past two days, two of the most memorable personalities of my youth passed away. Yesterday, I found out about the passing of Merv Griffin, who is known best today as the producer of long-running game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune and, my favorite, Jeopardy. But my fondest memory of the affable Griffin is as the syndicated television talk show host who always gave us great entertainment, like that night back in the late 1970s when Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme scatted their way through "Lady Be Good" and other jazz standards.

This afternoon, I heard about the loss of the great Hall of Fame Yankee shortstop, Phil Rizzuto. I wasn't around when Rizzuto played shortstop for the Yankees, but his voice was a staple on radio and television for those of us who followed the Yankees from the 1960s through the 1990s. Nothing was more hilarious than listening to his color commentary during a game. His classic stories, his shout-out "happy birthday" wishes to various fans, his love of the cannoli provided us with a diet of gut-busting riotous moments on any given summer night (check out the book, O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto, for some of Rizzuto's 'poetry').

I'll miss Merv and the Scooter. Rest in peace.

June 09, 2007

You Go, Girl!

Congratulations to "Rags to Riches" ... first Filly to win the Belmont Stakes in 102 years!

February 21, 2007

As the (Yankee) World Turns

Spring Training is here, and that means that as the Yankees take Legends Field in Florida, Soap Opera takes Center Stage!

The media has been all over the changing relationship between Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter. A couple of days ago, A-Rod told reporters:

"Let's make a contract. . . . You don’t ask about Derek anymore, and I promise I’ll stop lying to you. Rodriguez went on to admit that he and Jeter were not the buddies they once were, while stressing that they function well as teammates. "We were best of friends about 10, 13 or 14 years ago, and we still get along well," Rodriguez said. "We have a good working relationship. I cheer very hard for him, and he cheers hard for me, and, more importantly, we’re both trying to win a world championship. We’ll leave it right there. . . . People are just assuming that things are a lot worse than what they are," Rodriguez said. "They’re not. But obviously, it's not as good as it used to be, when we were blood brothers. . . . You go from sleeping over at somebody's house five days a week and now you don't sleep over," Rodriguez said. "It's not that big of a deal."

Well, uh, A-Rod also got, uh, married. That could have helped to change his, uh, sleeping habits, no?

Oy vey. I could run with this one. (Biting tongue... trying hard not to say anything outrageous...)

So, Captain Jeter responded the day after:

"On the field and in the clubhouse, our relationship is fine," Jeter said before the workout. "Away from the field, people want to keep tabs on how many times we go out to eat. That has no bearing on what we're trying to do on the field. . . . I don't have a rift with Alex," Jeter said. "We go out there, we work together. This is our fourth year together. It's annoying to hear about it all the time. Everyone assumes they know what our relationship is. They see us on the field. If one person gives another one a look, it's a story. If we're at opposite ends of the bench, people say it's a story." Jeter, whose romantic life has turned up in the pages of gossip magazines, values his privacy. He said he considers his friendship with Rodriguez a private matter. "I understand my job is public," Jeter said. "But your private life is your private life. Once you open that door, it never stops. I don't feel it's necessary to talk about things that don't have to do with baseball. It doesn't have an impact on anything."

Asked to characterize his relationship with A-Rod, Jeter said further:

"How would I characterize it? I would characterize it as it doesn't make a difference," Jeter said. "I have a lot of relationships that have changed over 10 years. What we do away from the field, how much time we spend together, it makes no difference."

So, there you have it! Spring is in the air! Pretty soon we'll all be talking about the game, I hope!

February 01, 2007

Song of the Day #785

Song of the Day: If You Go Away, words and music by Jacques Brel (English translation by Rod McKuen), speaks of a "summer day" ... which is precisely what I'd like right now. There's not too much to complain about this winter in New York City, as it has been milder than usual. However, we are expecting a bit of snow, ice, and rain tonight. Ugh. But hey, only 14 days till pitchers and catchers report to the Yankee Spring Training Camp! In any event, this is a terrific song that has been recorded by artists such as Damita Jo, Frank Sinatra, and Dusty Springfield (audio clips at those links). I first heard this song when my sister-in-law, Joanne Barry, performed it at Gil Hodges' Grand Slam Cocktail Lounge.

November 22, 2006

Jeter Wuz Robbed!

Readers of Notablog know that I'm a huge New York Yankees fan and a big Derek Jeter fan, and let me just say that, with regard to yesterday's balloting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, in which Jeter came in second, I'd like to give the Baseball Writers a BIG BRONX CHEER!

This year, Jeter won the Hank Aaron Award, the Silver Slugger Award, and the Gold Glove. And yet, it was Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins who took home MVP honors.

Now, I am not saying that Morneau isn't a fine player; but I don't see how anybody votes for Morneau as the MVP when the Twins line-up also includes the terrifically talented 2006 AL batting champion Joe Mauer.

In a season during which so many Yankee players were injured (e.g., Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui) or relatively ineffective (e.g., Alex Rodriguez), Jeter remained Mr. Consistency: one of baseball's fiercest clutch hitters, who hit .381 with runners in scoring position. Take Jeter out of that Yankee line-up and I don't believe the team makes the playoffs. He was that valuable to their success this year.

While Mike Lupica of the NY Daily News thinks the vote was "most logical," I tell ya, Jeter Wuz Robbed!.

Wait 'til next year!

Update: I have already been questioned by a few people with regard to the comparative statistics for Morneau and Jeter. Okay, okay, let's talk numbers:

Morneau beats Jeter in only three categories: RBIs (Morneau has 130 to Jeter's 97); Home Runs (Morneau has 34 to Jeter's 14), and the batting average with runners-in-scoring-position stat (Morneau .375 to Jeter's .343).

So let's talk about every other category: Jeter beats Morneau in runs scored (118 to 97); hits (214 to 190); doubles (39 to 37); triples (3 to 1); walks (69 to 53); steals (34 to 3); batting average (.343 to .321); on-base percentage (.417 to .375); runners-in-scoring-position with two outs (.369 to .303) and batting average "close and late" (.325 to .299).

And, again, Jeter did it in a line-up that was struck by injuries to key offensive players (Sheffield, Matsui, Cano, and others for limited times) and awful inconsistency from regular players, like A-Rod. His fielding was also consistent, earning him a Gold Glove, and he brings to the table all the "intangibles" that make him one of the greatest Yankees of his generation.

'Nuff said.

October 04, 2006

Postseason Sparkle

There's a long, long way to go, but yesterday the postseason started off with a bang for Yankee fans. The Yanks took the opener of their division series against the Detroit Tigers, 8-4. MVP candidate Derek Jeter was terrific, going 5 for 5, with a solo homer, and some sparkling defensive plays as well. Whatever path these Yankees take this October, I still marvel at the record-setting production of this great Yankee ballplayer.

Go Jeter. Go Yanks.

September 21, 2006

Baseball Fever Grips Apple

The Mets have won the National League East for the first time in 18 years. And the Yanks have taken the American League East for the ninth straight year. (And after a 25-game hitting streak, Captain Clutch is an MVP candidate as well!) There is melodrama, for sure, but one thing is clear: New York, New York is a baseball town, heading for what many of us hope will be a memorable October.

And the fans agree: The Yanks and Mets will both set attendance records this year.

Pass the Cracker Jacks.

Comments welcome.

August 18, 2006

The House that George Built

Okay. Please put your rationality to the side. We're talking baseball fanaticism here. And the utility of good luck charms. And the disutility of curses!

Last summer, I expressed jitters with regard to the newly proposed Yankee Stadium, which will sit across the street from the current Cathedral of Baseball. On Wednesday, August 16th, the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new stadium was held. The stadium is scheduled to make its public debut on Opening Day, 2009.

Well, I still got them jitters. It's just not going to be the same. That's not the field on which Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle played. Despite its "retro" look, the "mystique" of the new venue is just not going to be the same. Call me a mysitc! I don't care!

Some friends remind me that Madison Square Garden wasn't always in its current place and that things change all the time. Puhlease. Don't even compare the two. And right now, nobody would flip out if the Knicks found a new home or even ... a new team!

Anyway, Boss George Steinbrenner has been itching for this stadium for a couple of decades. And everybody is happy that he's staying in Da Bronx (though, rightfully, not so happy that so many tax dollars are going for "infrastructure" development), rather than moving the team to New Jersey. (Yeah, the Joisey Yanks... like THAT would ever fly!)

It was, of course, careful planning that led to the selection of August 16th as the date of the groundbreaking. That was the date, in 1921, that the groundbreaking for the original Yankee Stadium took place. And that was the date, in 1948, that Babe Ruth passed away.

And it might yet be the day that Babe Ruth rolled over in his grave. Indeed, Yankee fan that I am, I do hope the Yanks continue their winning ways, or people will be talking about the Curse of the Bambino again... only this time, it will be one that infects the Yankees, rather than that team from Boston.

Comments welcome.

June 18, 2006

All-Time Yankees

Tom Stone continues to post draft chapters on his all-time baseball teams. Yesterday, he posted on his selections for the Yankees All-Time Team, and I largely agree with all his choices.

If Alex Rodriguez ever comes into his own at third base, he might give players like Graig Nettles a run for the money, but Lord... the jury is still out. (I used to have debates all the time with a friend, who used to be a fan of Clete Boyer, and who insisted Boyer was better than Nettles. But I keep thinking of Nettles flying through the air and that's enough for me.)

My only possible divergence from Tom is in terms of the Extra Spot on the roster. I know Dave Winfield had good numbers, but I can't shake that impression of him as "Mr. May"... whereas when a guy like Thurmon Munson was in the World Series, he was a real clutch hitter.

In any event, it's a very enjoyable discussion for Yankee fans... check it out!

May 26, 2006


Notablog readers don't need to be reminded that Derek Jeter is one of my favorite Yankees of all time.

Well, the Yanks are currently losing to the Kansas City Royals, 7-5; the game is in rain delay. But this much is official: Derek Jeter started the evening with 1,999 career hits, and he collected two more, putting his total at 2,001. That makes Jeter only the eighth Yankee in the team's illustrious history to collect 2000 or more hits.

Congratulations to the Yankee Captain!

And Go Yanks!

Update: Uh, yeah, the Yanks did end up losing that game, 7-6.

Comments welcome.

April 18, 2006

Jason Dixon Interviews Me

Today, I publish a Notablog exclusive: An interview of me conducted by Jason Dixon. The interview was conducted in late 2005-early 2006, but is finally seeing the light of day here at Notablog.

Check it out:

An Interview Conducted by Jason Dixon

Comments welcome. Also noted at L&P.

April 12, 2006

Opening Day in Da Bronx

Yesterday, the Yanks took the ninth consecutive Opening Day in Da Bronx. And they did it with "Captain Clout."

Go Yanks!

Comments welcome.

April 04, 2006

Major League Round-Up

The New York Mets won their opener, 3-2, hosting the biggest Opening Day sellout crowd in their history at Shea Stadium, with 3B David Wright hitting an opposite field home run.

And then, last night, the New York Yankees rocked pitcher Barry Zito and the Oakland As with a 15-2 opening day victory. A-Rod had a grand slam home run, Johnny Damon went 3 for 7 in his Yankee debut, Hideki Matsui tacked on a HR too, and The Captain had 2 RBIs, 2 hits, and scored 2 runs.

That's not all the news: I caught a few moments of the San Diego Padres-San Francisco Giants game on ESPN as well. Former Mets catcher Mike Piazza hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Padres player; he led his team to a 6-1 victory over the Giants. Barry Bonds, under suspicion of rampant steroid use over the last few years, was greeted with quite a few boos; at one point a fan threw a syringe in his direction. Bonds should expect that and more in the coming weeks, as he moves toward eclipsing Babe Ruth's and Hank Aaron's career home run stats.

One game down, 161 games to go.

Oh, and that reminds me: Check out fellow blogger Tom Stone's post on his baseball book project here. I have had some really good baseball chats with Tom, who runs Episteme Links. His Philosopher Stone blog started up last month.

Comments welcome.

April 03, 2006

Play Ball!

The World Champion Chicago White Sox opened the 2006 baseball season with a win last night.

Today, weather permitting, the New York Mets open their season at Shea Stadium, and the Yankees open their season on the road, in Oakland.

I'm still busy with journal editing, but you can rest assured I'll be watching the Yanks, starting 10 p.m. tonight.


Comments welcome.

February 26, 2006

Apolo Anton Oh-Yesss!

Congrats to Apolo Anton Ohno on winning the Gold Medal in the thrilling 500-meter short-track speedskating race last night.

Tonight, the Closing Ceremonies of the XX Winter Olympics.

Comments welcome.

February 25, 2006

Winter Olympics and More

Readers may have noticed that I'm doing a lot of singing and music-listening on the blog over the past couple of weeks. I just haven't had as much time to blog, even though there have been quite a few issues I'd like to write about. The upcoming Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Spring issue has been taking up a lot of my time during the day, and will continue to occupy me through the month of March. In the evening, I've been catching up on my reading, and enjoying the XX Winter Olympics (which has compelled me to tape a few of the TV series I watch on a regular basis ... so I'm behind on a number of programs...).

I have really enjoyed the skiing and the aerials, ice hockey, speed skating, snowboarding, and figure skating too (though I was rather disappointed that Sasha Cohen failed to get the gold). Last night, the figure skaters treated us to the Exhibition Gala; I have to say that I was most impressed with, and moved by, the interpretive piece performed by Johnny Weir to Frank Sinatra's rendition of "My Way." If ever there were a song perfect for a specific figure skater, this was it. Too much grace is sacrificed during the competitions in the quest to achieve technical points. Weir was among those who reminded us of just how graceful and beautiful this sport can be.

I'll have some things to say about current events in the coming days and weeks.

Comments welcome.

February 17, 2006

Spring (Training) is Here

With a dismal forecast by the Groundhog, and the biggest snowfall in New York City history, with temperatures entering the 60s today, and dropping back down to the 20s tonight, we're not quite sure what season it is. But yesterday, pitchers and catchers reported to Yankees Spring Training Camp. And that's good enough for me on my birthday (which is today!).

Welcome back, Yanks! Only 13 days, 3 hours, and 45 minutes to the first Spring Training Exhibition Game!

Comments welcome.

February 16, 2006

Song of the Day #549

Song of the Day: Nessun Dorma, an aria composed by Giacomo Puccini, with librettists Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, for the opera, "Turandot," has been sung by many great tenors. Listen to an audio clip from Luciano Pavarotti, who performed the piece for the XX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.

February 11, 2006

Song of the Day #544

Song of the Day: Spank, words and music by Ronald L. Smith, was recorded by Jimmy "Bo" Horne. It was one of a multitude of classic dance tracks mixed to perfection during the XX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Torino, Italy last night. Leave it to my Italian paisans to stage a "Parade of Nations" as if it were one huge disco party. And many of the featured songs can be found on my list of favorites, including today's pick, a huge dance hit from 1979. Listen to audio clips of the irresistible original version and a remixed version as well.

January 09, 2006

Song of the Day #514

Song of the Day: All Blues, composed by Miles Davis, is from one of my favorite jazz albums of all time: "Kind of Blue." After "Blue Suede Shoes" and a Big Blue loss, I'll be in Blue for a few days. This classic features such players as Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, and the great Bill Evans, who contributed much to the modal approach to jazz featured on this recording. Listen to audio clips here and here.

January 06, 2006

Go Giants!

I am only a casual football fan; my passion remains baseball, and I'm counting the days to February 14, 2006. Yes, it's Valentine's Day. But it's also when pitchers and catchers report to Yankee Spring Training Camp.

As football goes, I grew up when the Giants and the Jets actually played in New York City. They were (and still are) called the New York Giants and the New York Jets... and yet, they play in New Jersey, and are on the verge of creating a new sports complex in the Garden State, where they will both continue to play.

But I still find myself rooting for Big Blue and Gang Green. I know that's sacrilegious; you're supposed to be a fan of one or the other. Like I said: I'm a casual fan.

In any event, my hopes for the Jets were dashed when poor Chad Pennington had another season-ending injury in 2005. But I still do like the future prospects for young Eli Manning (who just turned 25), Quarterback for the Giants, and I'm hoping for a Giant Sunday as the NFC East Division champs begin their playoff quest.

Go Giants!

Comments welcome.

December 21, 2005


The whole freaking world is falling apart, I know. The Iraqi elections have emboldened a religious element with ties to Iran. Iran has a President who spouts anti-Semitic garbage, boasts about nuclear ambitions, and bans Western music. The Transit Worker's Union has staged a damn strike as buses and subways ground to a halt in New York City. I'm having to get up at 4 a.m. just to help my sister get off to work. At least the courts struck down that Intelligent Design nonsense in Pennsylvania.

But if you were expecting predictable commentary about all the above, fuhgedaboudit.

All that matters to me this morning is that the New York Yankees have Followed Their Damon.

He's not the best fielding center fielder, but he is Johnny Damon, and this signing of the now-former Boston Red Sox leadoff hitter must surely be creating havoc in Beantown, among those who see the Yanks as the Evil Empire.

Poor Johnny is going to have to go for a haircut and trim his beard; for Yankee fans, however, let's just hope this trimming doesn't trim his stats, Samson-like.

Comments welcome.

November 25, 2005

Song of the Day #467

Song of the Day: Vogue features the words and music of the remixer and producer Shep Pettibone and pop icon Madonna, who recorded the song. This dance track, bathed in a pop-house beat, captures the once-underground phenomenon of "voguing." In her "rap," Madonna mentions many great stars who "strike a pose ... on the cover of a magazine," including the Yankee Clipper, [Joe] DiMaggio, who was born on this day in 1914. Listen to audio clips of several versions of this song here.

November 14, 2005

A-Rod: MVP

Alex Rodriguez, third baseman for the NY Yankees, edged out Bosox DH David Ortiz to become the 2005 MVP of the American League. Read all about it here.

As I expressed here, I'm somewhat ambivalent about A-Rod's MVP. He had the stats ... but he still has something to prove to me in the postseason. Granted, the MVP award is not about the postseason. But something is missing.

In any event, I don't want to be a killjoy... so congrats, A-Rod. Next year, I'd like to see you put a World Series Ring on your finger too.

Update: Check out Mike Lupica and Sam Borden on all this in the New York Daily News.

Comments welcome.

November 05, 2005

Ron Guidry: Yankee Pitching Coach

Notablog readers know that Ron Guidry is one of my favorite Yankees of all-time (see here, for example).

I was really sorry to see pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre leave the Bronx, but good news for the Yanks: Guidry has taken the position of Yankee pitching coach. Read all about it here. Of course, it would be really nice if Gator actually has healthy pitchers to coach.

Anyway, congrats to Louisiana Lightning!

Comments welcome.

November 01, 2005

Oh Captain, My Captain

Well, it's little consolation for being knocked out of the postseason so quickly, but... the first of the postseason honors are coming in, and my favorite Yankee, shortstop and Captain of the team, Derek Jeter got his second straight Gold Glove today.

Go Derek!

Now I'm waiting for the announcements for MVP (A-Rod is in contention) and Rookie of the Year (Robinson Cano is in contention). We'll see...

Comments welcome.

October 27, 2005

Song of the Day #438 (for #1 Sox)

Song of the Day (b): Chicago (That Toddlin' Town) features the words and music of Fred Fischer, a popular Tin Pan Alley composer. It's my musical tribute to the Chicago White Sox for winning their first World Series Championship since 1917. They swept the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros, and took 11 out of 12 in the postseason. Shoeless Joe? Dirty Black Sox? After the Red Sox, there are no more curses in baseball. Maybe the Chicago Cubs are next! Or maybe these triumphs are only possible for teams named after different kinds of, uh, socks. Either way, listen here to an audio clip of Frank Sinatra singing this timeless tune.

October 11, 2005

Waitil Next Year!

Yeah, yeah, I'm disappointed in the Yankees' loss last night to the Angels. The "Waitil Next Year!" refrain is starting to make me sound like an old Brooklyn Dodgers' fan.

I could go on and on about why I think the Yankees are coming up short. It's just that I've said it all before, back in the 1980s. And it does feel like the 1980s all over again.

Boss George Steinbrenner should start thinking about what it was that got the Yankees back to their winning ways in the late '90s. He spent a lot of time getting away from his "gotta-win-now" philosophy in the '80s when he turned toward his farm system and nourished the talents of a Derek Jeter, a Jorge Posada, an Andy Pettitte, a Bernie Williams, a Mo Rivera. That core team, peppered with fine acquisitions through trades and free agency, gave New York a great run after a long drought.

Since 2000, Steinbrenner has gone back to the '80s; he has spent too much time spending too much money on A-list All-Stars, some of whom have yet to prove that they can really make it in the postseason. I still get the feeling that it's not a team, not the kind of team that brought New York four World Series Championships in five years from 1996 to 2000.

In any event, baseball fan that I am, I will be watching the playoffs and the World Series. I'm hoping that the Rings go to yet another team named after an important piece of footwear. Like the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox who hadn't won a title since 1918, the Chicago White Sox are long overdue for one (since they've not won a Championship since 1917).

If these Sox make it to the finish line, can the Chicago Cubs be far behind?

In any event, if the White Sox make it, at least I'll have a few former Yankee pitchers (Contreras and El Duque) to cheer in the Series. And if the Astros beat the Cardinals in the National League to face the White Sox in the Series, it'll be like a New York Yankees' pitchers' reunion, with Clemens and Pettitte on the mound for Houston.

The Yankees could have used some of those former pinstripers this year.

Comments welcome.

October 03, 2005

Touring a Baseball Cathedral

The 2005 baseball postseason is set: Of most interest to this New York fan, the Yankees are headed out West to play the Angels. (If the rumors are true, some NY baseball greats might be joining the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim next season; if true, I tip my baseball cap to the Mets' Mike Piazza, All-Star catcher.)

In the meanwhile, it is very difficult to predict what will happen in a short series. With Derek Jeter bruising his knee yesterday, and some of the other regulars not in the best of shape, the Yanks still move forward in their quest for an unprecedented 27th World Series Championship.

As a diehard Yankee fan, I genuinely celebrate all the great victories that the Yankees have had. Younger fans have been somewhat spoiled in the Joe Torre era, in terms of postseason play. Ironically, I have seen more "downs" than "ups" for my teamthat's what happens when you're born in 1960, instead of, say, 1940. I remember the long drought between 1965 and 1976 ('76 is the year the Yanks were swept four straight by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series). I didn't experience the true euphoria of a World Series victory until 1977-78, and then had to deal with the even longer drought of the 1980s and early 90s. (The Yanks lost the Series in 1981, and couldn't get near another World Series competition for another 15 years.)

Today, as Yankee fans look forward to another trophy, I want to take time out to look backwardto the Summer of '05. I could have easily titled this essay, "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" but it centers instead on my love of the New York Yankees and a memorable summer tour of Yankee Stadium, an iconic baseball cathedral. You can read the full photo essay here:

Touring a Baseball Cathedral

Comments welcome.

October 01, 2005

Yankees Win the AL East!!!

The New York Yankees win the Eastern Division of the American League, beating Boston today, and heading to the postseason for the 11th straight year.

Lots more to follow. It's just great to achieve this AL title (and Boston is not out of the postseason yet... that won't be determined for another day, or possibly two).

For now... CONGRATULATIONS to the Yankees... and GRIND IT!!!


Comments welcome.

September 29, 2005

Barry Bonds v. Babe Ruth

Last night, Alex Rodriguez set the Yankees' single-season club home-run record for right-handed hitters: he hit the 47th home-run of the season, eclipsing Joe DiMaggio's record 46 HRs. (And the Yanks have moved one game up, into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Division of the American League, with four games to play, including three with the Boston Red Sox this weekend. Nail-biting till the last out, I'm sure...)

Home runs are still the sexiest of baseball hits. And other players are still vying to set all-time career home-run tallies. Chief among these is San Francisco Giants player Barry Bonds. He's third on the career home run list and is only a few behind Babe Ruth, who is second only to Hank Aaron.

Now, I'm not really wanting to debate the virtues and vices of Bonds and Ruth. These two exemplary players are of a different time and place. The game has changed so much over the years, and comparisons are likely to be of the apple-and-orange variety.

But lots of people are making noise about who has been the greatest HR hitter of all time.

A cursory look at career home-run statistics will show a few interesting tidbits: Ruth hit 714 career home runs in the regular season, with 8,399 career at-bats. Placed in that context, it beats Hank Aaron, who hit 755 career HRs in 12,364 at-bats, and Barry Bonds, who currently has 708 HRs in 9,137 at-bats.

But NY Times sports writer Alan Schwarz compares Bonds and Ruth on another measure: triples. In his September 18, 2005 article, "Statistical Twins Are Separated By Triples," he has a few very interesting observations:

With every beguiling arc he shoots into the San Francisco night, Barry Bondswho returned to the Giants' lineup Monday after missing the first 142 games of the season with a knee injurysteps closer to Babe Ruth on the career home run list. ... Bonds has dominated his era almost as much as Ruth did his, so comparisons between the two players' home run rates, on-base percentages, walks and what-not are quite the rage. There are few surprises, except for this: The greatest difference between the career batting records of Bonds, a smooth and swift athlete for most of his career, and Ruth, generally remembered as a lumbering oaf, is that Ruth hit vastly more triples.

Think about that. Babe Ruth ... the "lumbering oaf"... hit more triples. I found that remarkable. Schwarz continues:

Numbers are the marionettes of rhetoric, but a surface glance at the record books does paint a rather bizarre picture of these two sluggers. They got other hits at reasonably similar paces: Ruth hit home runs more often (1 per 14.9 plate appearances to Bonds's 16.5), while Bonds had a higher frequency of doubles (every 20.6 times up to Ruth's 21.0). Ruth singled 20 percent more often than Bonds, which is quite a bit.
But that is not nearly as striking as the triples column. Bonds has 77 triples in his career; Ruth legged out 136more than only a handful of players since his retirement. When you compare how the performances of Ruth and Bonds towered over their respective leagues, a considerable portion of Ruth's edge derives from his noseand legsfor the triple. As Casey Stengel once said, Huh?

Schwarz offers this explanation: "Bonds plays in a home run era, thanks to cozier ballparks, smaller strike zones and additional fertilizer."

And we all know that "fertilizer" is a euphemism for a word that begins with S. Yeah. Steroids.

In Ruth's era, however, the "fences, often quite tall, stood much farther from home plate, often an extra 20 to 60 feet or more from the power alleys to center field." But this surely had a productive effect on the number of Ruth's triples: "Booming drives would often land over outfielders' heads and roll all the way to the fence, during which time even Ruth, an average runner at his best, could reach third base comfortably."

Schwarz tells us an interesting story about how, in 1918, star Red Sox pitcher, Babe Ruth, wrote an article for Baseball Magazine entitled ''Why a Pitcher Should Hit.'' He quotes Ruth as saying: ''If there is any one thing that appeals to me more than winning a close game from a tough rival, it's knocking out a good clean three bagger with men on bases.''

Interestingly, baseball historian John Thorn says that most of Ruth's triples probably would have been HRs in today's smaller ballparks. Ruth may have ended up with a tally closer to 800.

Schwarz continues:

Ruth's career O.P.S. (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) was 1.164, or 53 percent higher than his contemporaries. Bonds entered this week at 1.053, 41 percent above his league. Take away the at-bats in which each player tripled, and Bonds winds up just .087 behind Ruth in O.P.S. Ruth's 53-41 edge in percentage over his competition would be cut to 48-37.

Bonds, of course, was once quoted (during the 2003 All-Star break) as saying: ''In the baseball world, Babe Ruth's everything, right? I got his slugging percentage and I'll take his home runs and that's it. Don't talk about him no more.''

Schwarz reminds us, though, that even if "Bonds could have easily caught the Bambino in a footrace, and will most likely catch him in home runs," it is Babe Ruth who "will forever stand alone" on the three-bagger.

I confess that Bonds's hubris has always pissed me off. I think he's one remarkably talented ballplayer. But Mr. Baseball he'll never be. And, in fact, Schwarz's good points on triples don't even begin to do justice to the comparison.

So I wrote to the NY Times. I'm a bit like Don Quixote in this quest: Over many, many years, not a single letter I've sent in, to any section of the paper, has ever been published. Now having heard from Schwarz, my "hitless" streak continues. I know that my letter won't be published. So I publish it here, as I reflect on the Bonds vs. Ruth debate:

Barry Bonds said that "In the baseball world, Babe Ruth's everything, right?" Well, by comparison, Ruth is still "everything." And not only in triples. Ruth set the overwhelming majority of his records in fewer at-bats than Bonds. He was the face of baseball because he was one of the all-time greatest hitters and a fine pitcher too, who held records in that department for the better part of the 20th century. Oh, and as one of the most physically "unfit" baseball players of his era, he also set his records without any hint of steroid use. Bonds may "step closer to Babe Ruth," but he'll forever be in Ruthian shadows.

Comments welcome.

September 24, 2005

There Are No Rose Petals in Baseball

Readers of Notablog are familiar with the humanity inherent in my "Rose Petal Assumption," that is, the assumption that it is possible to find "one rose petal in a pile of manure." It makes for a wonderful way to bridge differences and to create a context of civility when people are discussing contentious topics honestly.

It's the kind of premise that informs the best of sportsmanship too: "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."

Well, of course. Nobody who is a true sports fiend wants to win the game by cheating.

But let me be very clear about one thing: This close to the end of the regular baseball season: IT'S ALL ABOUT WINNING FAIR AND SQUARE. With an emphasis here on winning.

At this point, I'm not interested in philosophic platitudes about Rose Petals.

I'm a Yankee fanatic. My team has been "grinding it" all season long; it has been painful to watch some of these older ballplayers grinding themselves onto the disabled list with each passing week. But I've been a Yankee fan all my life. Even through the mid-to-late 1960s and through the early 1970s, when they didn't win. Even through the long drought of the 80s and through 1995, when Donnie "Baseball" Mattingly couldn't get himself arrested into a World Series if he tried.


My pal George Cordero reminds me in this thread:

The following comment has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand; however, I strongly believe Mr. Sciabarra will not mind. Chris, did you happen to notice that the Yankees have moved into first place! Small is 9-0, R. Johnson "might" finally be healthy enough to be a play-offs factor, and Rivera continues to be brilliant. If the BoSox miss the play-offs, Francon will be crucified in Boston. My only fear (and I suspect) is that after Francon is fired, Torre will be the new BoSox manager for next year.

It's a legitimate fear, George, especially with that other George, "Boss" Steinbrenner, making nice-nice with Lou Piniella, who is most definitely not returning to the dreaded Devil Rays as manager (those dreaded Rays have kicked Yankee butt this season).

But the Yanks are in 1st Place again, for the first time since mid-July. The Red Sox are chasing the Yanks, and the two teams face-off in a major duel next weekend, the final three games of the season. I have a suspicion that the team that wins that series is going into the postseason. The loser probably won't have enough wins to take the AL wild card. So...

IT'S WIN OR LOSE! There are No Rose Petals in Baseball. I'm not looking to find that "one rose petal" in any manure piles. Not to mix metaphors, but I'm taking the hose to the manure, and looking for the clean sweep!

Today, Yankee Stadium will set an all-time franchise record as the season attendance goes above 4 million for the first time in Yankee history. That's an average of more than 50,000 fans per game. It's my hope that they will all be cheering:


Comments welcome. No civility can be guaranteed if you're a Yankee hater.

September 20, 2005

The Bugs of Summer

A few summers back, I was going through a particularly difficult period. Everything seemed to be going wrong on so many levels. The weather was miserable. My health wasn't too great. Friends and family were in distress over other life problems.

On one hot, humid, sticky, and terribly cloudy day that summer, I walked down my block, a bit disheartened by this state of affairs. For one brief moment, I looked up at the sky and saw the most elegant Monarch butterfly. And for that one moment, a feeling of total relaxation came over me. A world with that kind of beauty, I reasoned, will allow for all these difficulties to pass.

And in that instant ... I kid you not ... a bird flew by, grabbed the Monarch in its beak, and flew off.

I looked up at the sky again. Shook my head in disbelief. And couldn't help but chuckle. It was as if the gods had sent me a message: "Life really is that dismal, Chris, and you'll get no relief today!"

But it all came to pass. And several consecutive summers with lousy weather have given way to one of the most glorious summers in New York City that we've had in recent years.

I love the summer.

Now, in its waning days, I have a slight sense of melancholy, which is tempered only by the still-warm temperatures in the still-Baking Apple. They'll reach 84 degrees today, and the 80s throughout the rest of this week.

One of the things I'll most miss about summer, however, are the bugs. The insects. Flying. Crawling. Creeping. They are a perennial sign of life. And this summer in the city was like the classic summers of old. Bugs that were not too plentiful in recent years seem to have come back in droves. Maybe it was the weather.

June into early July started out with the biggest burst of fireflies ("lightning bugs") that I've ever seen in my entire life while living here in Brooklyn. So sparkling was the nightly display that the front lawns and backyards of my neighborhood looked as if it were Christmas in July. Mating insects never seemed so sexy.

The fireflies eventually went away ... only to be replaced by hordes of various kinds of butterflies. There were even more Monarch butterflies this summer. One afternoon, two Monarchs were fluttering around one another in a spiral; I followed their dance for almost the length of my entire block, my dog Blondie in tow. I'm sure they found romance beyond my field of vision. At least there were no birds descending this time 'round!

I've had a Beetle land in my hair, a Ladybug land on my hand, a Jurassic-sized Dragonfly (or "Dining Needle") land bingo on my beach blanket. I've marveled at athletic grasshoppers and diligent ants. In fact, as my aging dog's diet has changed, I had all this leftover Fit and Trim. I chopped it into a fine substance, and dumped it on the borders of sand and grass at Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. When I came back the following week, I saw that the ants had made a hotel out of it ... the kind of hotel that you could eat if you got tired of living there!

As July literally melted into the "Dog Days of August," the Cicadas arrived like clockwork for their annual appearance. In unison, they sing, though their melody sounds more like a sprawling sprinkler system, reverberating for miles around, reassuring us that they'll hold off the Fall for as long as they can.

September is here. Their sounds are almost gone.

And I confess that I'll miss the sounds and sights of the Bugs of Summer.

But there are Sounds and Sights of Autumn too.

Soon the Boys of Summer will be gearing up for the Fall Classic. For me, the crack of the October bat is as musical as the nightly chorus of crickets still serenading us (they'll stick around for quite a while yet...).

Do not ask me about the Yankees' chances; I'm having periodic nervous breakdowns with this team all season! But that's part of the summer too! At least these Damn Yankees (who have adopted the phrase "Grind It" as their mantra) are giving us a fun run in the final weeks of the regular season (Bubba Crosby's walk-off home run last night was terrific).

So here's to the Summer of 2005 ... you and your bugs were nice to be around.

Comments welcome.

June 18, 2005

Derek Jeter, Yankee

From the very first moment that he took the field in 1995 to his full Rookie of the Year season in 1996, from his naming as MVP of the 2000 All-Star Game and 2000 World Series to his naming as Captain of the Yankees, from his stellar Gold Glove play as shortstop to his clutch hitting, Derek Jeter has been my favorite Yankee player for over a decade now.

But his greatness will never be captured by raw statistics, which, no matter how good they might be simply do not express the consummate professionalism or remarkable talent and passion of this wonderful ballplayer. As older generations looked to the Ruths and the Gehrigs, the DiMaggios and the Mantles, this generation gets to see Jeter, Number 2, leaping into the stands to catch a foul ball to save the game or hitting a walk-off homer to win the game. This generation gets to see what it hopes will be another retired number, another Yankee great, whose image will someday grace Monument Park.

And yet, in his 11 years as Yankee shortstop, Derek Jeter has never hit a Grand Slam home run. 135 at-bats with the bases loaded, he's hit for a .333 average, but has never hit a home run to clear the bases.

Until today. Live on Fox. Game of the Week against the Chicago Cubs in a regular season interleague contest. First time the Cubs have been in for a series at Yankee Stadium since 1938. And he hit a second solo homer for good measure to power the Yanks to an 8-1 victory over the NL team.

Now if only the Yanks could get themselves together this year.


Either way, I'm in awe of The Captain.

Comments welcome.

June 16, 2005

A New Yankee Stadium?

I watched the whole YES Network press conference, with all those self-congratulating politicians, as the Yankee brass unveiled their plans for a new Stadium, this one a retro-design that harks back to the original 1923 cathedral of baseball. Okay, so the team foots the entire $800 million price tag. But ... the stadium will no longer be located on its original hallowed sports ground. It will be built across the street on the land of Macombs Dam Park and John Mully Park.

They're playing with "the House that Ruth built." This will no longer be the ball field of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, or Berra. I'm sure it will be pretty. And I'm glad it's staying in the Bronx.

But I got the jitters already.

If you've not seen the original, you've got till the 2009 season.

Comments welcome.

May 26, 2005

Another Winner Last Night

Derek Jeter led the New York Yankees to a win over the Detroit Tigers, 4-2, with one of those classic catches that will be shown on sports highlight shows for eons ... along with his many other spectacular plays.

Yanks and Bosox face off this weekend. Go Derek! Go Yanks!

Comments welcome... unless you're a Boston Red Sox fan. :)

May 24, 2005

Subway Series Slopfest

Well, it was an enjoyable "Subway Series" between baseball's New York Yankees and New York Mets. Yanks took two of the three games at Shea Stadium, including the last one pitched by Pedro Martinez (formerly of Red Sox Nation).

Though the series was riddled with errors and sloppy play on both sides, I was impressed with the promise shown by some of the young players on the Mets, including David Wright (nice story on him in today's NY Times).

Still, the best image I saw was in the New York Daily News. A fan did a take-off on the "Who's Your Daddy" chant that followed Pedro Martinez last season every time he faced off against the Yankees. The fan, dressed like Darth Vader, sported a sign: "Pedro, I am Your Father."

Yanks face the Red Sox this coming Memorial Day weekend; neither team is in first place in the American League East... but it will be fun, regardless.

Comments welcome.

April 17, 2005

The Dialectics of Baseball

Some people, who admit to their own obsessions, have noted my obsession with baseball, and have wondered when I'm going to explain the sport's "dialectical significance," along with its "singular place in the fabric of liberty and of our nations cultural life."

Well. With the Baltimore Orioles sweeping my last place New York Yankees in a three-game set, I'm not feeling very baseball-friendly right now. Ah, the season is early... though I think owner George Steinbrenner has probably just set a record for the earliest moment in the season to express his disgust with his multimillion dollar ball club.

So. The only dialectical insight I have right now is that there is an internal relationship between Steinbrenner's disgust and the Yankee losing record, and that winning is the yin to the losing of yang.

We'll get 'em tomorrow.

Comments welcome. But Yankee haters... BEWARE.

This post is noted at Not PC too (with a suitably triadic title: Baseball v. Rugby v. AFL).

April 05, 2005

Yanks 2, Boston 0

I know, I know, it's still very early ... but that was fun.

The Bosox tied the game in the 9th inning, and Derek Jeter came up in the bottom of the 9th, the Stadium bathed in spring sunlight, and hit a walk-off home run to win the game for the Yanks, 4-3. Carl Pavano failed to get his first Yankee win, but he had 7Ks in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Okay, I promise not to do this for every game. It's just so good to see baseball again.

Comments welcome.

April 04, 2005

Yanks 1, Boston 0

Okay, we've got a long way to go. But it was still nice seeing pitcher Randy Johnson make his debut at The Stadium. It was still nice seeing shortstop, and Yankee captain, Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees beat the, cough, cough, ahem, World Champion Boston Red Sox, 9-2, in the first game of the 2005 Major League Baseball Season.

Let's Go Yanks!

In the meanwhile, today, the New York Mets have their first official game of the new season, led by their new manager, former Yankee Willie Randolph. They are a team to watch, especially their fresh third baseman, David Wright.

Spring is here. Daylight Savings Time has returned. Baseball is back. Life is good.

Comments welcome.

April 03, 2005

Song of the Day #221

Song of the Day: Take Me Out to the Ball Game, composed by Jack Norworth in 1908 (and re-fashioned in 1927), is a perennial baseball park favorite, and one of my all-time favorites too... because it reminds me of my favorite sport, played in my favorite ballpark, by my favorite team, which just so happens to be opening up the 2005 baseball season tonight. Go Yanks! Oh, and I loved a 1996 commercial version of this song by the Goo Goo Dolls. Listen to an audio clip of that version here. And read David Hinckley's essay on this "Great Baseball Song."

January 09, 2005

Go Jets!

I didn't think they'd pull it off... but they did. Who knows what else is in store in this post-season, but for now: GO JETS!

January 03, 2005

Bring on the NFL Postseason!

The end of their season may not have been all that great, but congratulations to the New York Jets for making their way into the postseason. And though the New York Giants did not get into the postseason, it was really great to see rookie quarterback Eli Manning win his first professional football game.

November 20, 2004

The Washington Nationals Are Born!

An old baseball team is relocated to the nation's capital: "The Washington Nationals Are Born!" (noted at Liberty & Power Group Blog).

Update: See comments at L&P here.

November 04, 2004

Congratulations to Ken and Willie

In the world of games and sports, big congratulations to two winners today:

Ken Jennings, who, after 66 appearances on "Jeopardy," has cumulative winnings of $2,197,000, making him the biggest game-show winner ever.

And to former Yankee second baseman and coach Willie Randolph, who joins the New York Mets as their new manager: Good luck, Willie. We'll miss your presence at The Stadium!

November 03, 2004

I Told You So

I'm ecstatic over the results of yesterday's vote!

Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter won his first Gold Glove! (See follow-up "Go Jeter!" comments at L&P.)

As for that other race, the one in which President George W. Bush won four more years? Aside from a brief mention at SOLO HQ, read my lengthier, if preliminary, post-election analysis at L&P: "I Told You So." A PDF is available here. And check out follow-up comments here at L&P.

October 28, 2004

All Bets Are Off!

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox for their 4-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 100th World Series! The Sox were a wild card team; they beat the 101-game winning Yanks and the 105-game winning Cards. What's the significance of this underdog victory? Check out my L&P essay, "All Bets Are Off!" ... and find out.

October 22, 2004

The Fall Classic

I have some follow-up thoughts about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry in today's L&P post: "The Fall Classic." Check out the comments too.

October 21, 2004

When You're a Loser ...

... it doesn't feel all that good. And what a loss it was for Yankee fans. But who am I to talk about losses? Not in the face of a history of enormous losses by the Boston Red Sox, who have spent nearly a century under the delusion that they are victims of the Curse of the Bambino, an alleged curse that emerged after they dealt Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees; for this, they have not won a World Series since 1918 ... and whatever their victories over the guys in pinstripes, it is only a World Series win that will vanquish that curse forever in the hearts of the Beantown faithful.

Continue reading "When You're a Loser ..." »

October 20, 2004

It All Comes Down to This

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are tied at three games each in the American League Championship Series. The winner meets the National League champ in the World Series.

Boston pitcher Curt Schilling was the big winner last night. Take a look at Aeon Skoble's thoughts on this: Who's Your Daddy? Uh, I mean: "Who's Your Heavenly Father?" And I have two comments on Schilling's Bleeding Red Sox.

Update: And don't forget, it is Mickey Mantle's Birthday. GO YANKS!

October 09, 2004

Yanks versus Sox, Again

The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, and advance to the American League Championship Series to face their long-time rivals, the Boston Red Sox. See my post at L&P: Here We Go Again....

October 07, 2004

October Baseball

Whether the Yankees ultimately win or lose this division series with the Minnesota Twins, last night's game, for Yankee fans especially, was the quintessential example of October baseball. A thrilling, dramatic extra-inning game in Da Bronx, as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, and the Yanks won, 7-6. The series is now even, and the action now shifts to Minnesota.

October 05, 2004

Song of the Day #36

(Yes, #36: I neglected to take into account the two songs I picked on 9/11/04; so the titles have been corrected, and even the daily listing here has been corrected to reflect the change.)

Song of the Day: Here Come the Yankees is music to my ears, given that today is the opening of baseball's 2004 post-season. The New York Yankees face-off against the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series. GO YANKS!

October 02, 2004

October 01, 2004

Congratulations to the New York Yankees, who won their 100th game of the season last night, along with the Eastern Division of the American League. The game was won on Bernie Williams' walk-off 2-run homer, the 241st home-run of the season for the team, setting a new team record for the Bronx Bombers (beating the old one set by the great 1961 team). The Yanks also set a single-season attendance record: 3,775,292 (and an all-time road attendance record). Three more games to the regular season; the postseason begins next week. GO YANKS!  (Yes, Aeon Skoble posted on this too... at L&P.)

I have a number of posts and essays that will be posted in the coming days, with reflections on everything from the Presidential debates to the legacy of singer Mario Lanza; but October is here, and so is the ...

Song of the Day (#32): When October Goes is a unique song in many ways for its "evocation of life's twilight years." Barry Manilow actually wrote the music to poetry left behind by Johnny Mercer. It has been recorded by Rosemary Clooney and Nancy Wilson. But Manilow himself offers a most tender version, featured on his fine jazz-inspired album, 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe.