Thursday, July 15, 2010

New York State of Mind

It was a rough week to be a Yankee fan. First, Bob Sheppard, the voice of Yankee Stadium or as Reggie Jackson called him "the voice of God" passed away. Two days later, the Boss, George Steinbrenner joined him. Losing the voice and the heart of the franchise was definitely a tough pill to swallow.
His unrelenting thirst for greatness and dominance is unparalleled in sports ownership. I have a hard time believing that I will see anything else similar in my lifetime. His legacy and how he transformed not only the franchise but the business of sports. Steinbrenner turned a $10 million dollar investment into a $2 billion and growing franchise. Despite their legacy of greatness, Steinbrenner purchased the team when they were in the basement of the standings and within 5 years, had two WS titles. Of course, the water ran dry again, and after a disappointing decade and strong cultivation of the farm system, glory was restored to the Bronx Bombers in the mid 90's.
In his passing, of course, the naysayers run amuck. Given that I'm a New Englander and yet diehard Yankees fan, I'm used to the banter, smack talk, and at times, moronical ways of the Boston fan. What some Boston fans do not realize is that their own team and franchise follow a modified Steinbrenner business model. Yes, I always hear the "Steinbrenner buys championships." While the 2009 World Championship roster was the most elite and highest earning, you cannot pay the ball to leave the park. You cannot pay the ball to strike a batter out. You cannot pay for double play balls and leaping dives in the outfield. But you can pay the best people to work for you and to do their job. That's what the Steinbrenner mantra became. Spend whatever it takes to get the most possible people on his roster. This desire to spend money and to create a worldwide franchise has the Red Sox, the Mets and the Phillies reaching into their pockets and shelling out payrolls of $150M+. What Steinbrenner simply did was business. He paid big money for the big guns, sometimes it worked, and sometimes it was an embarrassing failure. The big and mid market teams had to follow suit as baseball became corporate. Yay capitalism! Speaking of capitalism, I hope Scott Boras knows how lucky he is that Steinbrenner pioneered and revolutionized the free agency market in baseball. The Boss brought in Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Coney, Moose, and A-Rod to name a few through the free agency market. I also contend that EBay has George to thank for making bidding wars a household game. Sure, that's a stretch, but I'm sticking with it.

I liken the Boss to a high level corporate tyrant who frustrates their employees, pisses off the competition to no end, but it's all in a quest for greatness and to win. Having worked for a boss with a similar mentality, it's not all rainbows and kittens when you're on that side of the fence, but as a fan, I appreciated his selfish, unrelenting need to win and intensity. Now, from my birth until 1996, the Yankees were not a major contender. I'm purposely not discussing 1995. I'm still bitter. Damn you Edgar Martinez.

Winning is after all the objective in the game of baseball and in all sports. There wasn't a person on the planet that loved the Yankees, baseball the city of New York and winning as much as the Boss. I think that's what it means to be a Yankee fan. The Yankee fans I know don't want to hear excuses, we just want to win. We don't blame the other team, city, umpires, weather, rally monkey, crowd noise for a loss, it's all about who is the better team on the diamond that day. I know that as a product of the Steinbrenner era, despite half of my fan life in the cellar of the standings, this need to win and be the best only grows stronger as each season passes. I have always a person that loves to win and hates to lose. I can't decide which is greater. My love of the win or my hatred of the loss. I'm not a sore winner, but I'm a sore loser, not to the general public, I internalize it. Ever since I was a child, whether it was a game of cards, Monopoly, basketball, mini golf...I have to win and I will try my damnest to be the victor by not only beating my competition, but my own personal bests. Again, it could be a game of Yahtzee or a 3 mile run, I need beat everyone around me and have a PR. Although I know that's a family trait, I can't help but think that my being a Yankees fan in the Steinbrenner era has contributed.
Speaking of winning, I'm sure the Steinbrenner family and George himself in his dying moments was thankful to Jeter for his crusade last season to "win one for the Boss." It has been weird to have George out of the public spotlight and shielded from the public eye in recent years. I can't imagine how he must have felt watching his beloved Yanks win against the Phillies last fall. I was a grinning, tearful idiot simply because I couldn't help but remember October 26,1996...when I skipped Katie's birthday party to watch game 6..I will never forget that day.....and then again in 2009 with Jeter, Pettitte, Jorge, and Mo getting it done again for what very well might be the last time on the same team. Words cannot describe I felt, so I can only imagine how the Yankees' biggest fan and critic felt on that day in 1996 and then again in 2009 with the Core Four at the heart of the roster.

My thoughts are all over the place in this blog, but I simply wanted to just remember the Boss for the tyrannical nightmare that changed the face of baseball and made me a very happy Yankee fan. I will never forget how each championship win felt and how heartbreaking each WS/playoff loss was. I am thankful for the legacy he bestowed upon New York, the organization, baseball, and sports in general. Luckily in my lifetime, I have witnessed 5 championships and unmeasureable joy and pain and I have the Boss to thank for that by hiring the management, cultivating the talent, trading for players, or playing the free agency market for 5 rings, 7 pennants, and 11 AL East titles he bestowed on the fans. I guess Sheppard had to go first so that he could announce the Boss into heaven. I'm sure he wouldn't have had it any other way.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How many hits does he have this season? TWO!

Great job Jay Bruce. Way to stay classy Cincinnati.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We are the World.....

we are the children....

ok seriously before I go on a tirade about the fact that this song has been REMADE...I must first discuss my new love for Yelp. I will be Yelping alot as I'm obsessed with trying new places across the country! This blog was going to do some of that, which I'm sure it will when I begin my expose on drinking/eating/navigating airports throughout the USA.....seriously, no one does it better than me.

Ok, now usually, I would enjoy any song that has Snoop Dogg AND Santana on it. Brilliant! but Justin Bieber? and that skank from the Pussycat Dolls? Absolutely not. The line up of this rechoke is simply offensive to the memory of the late, great, fabulous, MJ. How can you compare this horrific excuse for a song with the vocal stylings of meth face Fergie, Miley "thank you Dad for your one hit wonder" Cyrus, JONAS BROTHERS, and T-Pain and Kanye both KNOWN for using Autotune. Why don't they just let the surviving member of Milli Vanilli get up there and lip sync the orignal? At least that's funny.

Now, Janet Jackson, Mary J, Usher, Santana, even Celine Dion....I can get behind these vocalists 100% as they have the chops and the creds to be involved with this type of tribute.

I'm just at a loss. The original We Are The World is one of my fav collaborations of all time. How could it not be? Steve Perry, Kenny Loggins, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, the Boss, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan....each ONE of these musicians is an absolute legend in music.

I'm most disappointed in my boy Lionel. Not only did he desecrate his own song that he coauthored with Michael Jackson, but then he let that trollop of a kid of his into the chorus of the remake.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sweet delicious beer

So I had the pleasure of accompanying my favorite married couple out for a birthday celebration and mini beer tasting.

Now, I enjoy a good beer, but to be honest, I'm usually in the Bud Light/Coors Light category. There are few beers I will not drink. Red Dog, Heineken, Hoegaarden, any IPA's, and Sam Adams Lager. Other than that, I've run the gambit on beers in my short drinking career.

On last night's tasting list, Allagash Odysessy, which was absolutely delightful. It's 10% alcohol, and barrel aged. It was delicious cold and even tastier as it warmed up. I really liked the oaky taste to it. Dark beers rock my world.....well most of the time.

I have to talk about Kona Longboard Lager. First of all, I'm into most things Hawaiian. This beer is out of this world crisp and delicious. It has the same color as my preferred Bud Light/Coors Light, but has this sweet summer, fruity almost smell without the overly sweet smell of a fruit beer. This is not a fruit beer by any means, but it has a sweet smell as if it wants to be a girly beer, but it's not. Also of note, it's a tiny bit stronger than your typical lager clocking in at 5.5%. This beer is definitely on my new favorite list.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WHO DAT? my Super Bowl rundown.

Yes, America. Who Dat? The Saints will be marching on the field in Miami this Sunday, and I can't be more excited. Now, as a New England fan, the thought of any Manning in a Super Bowl is utterly sickening. What sickens me more is the fact that that's all we are hearing about. I can't work out at the gym and enjoy my usual treadmill in front of the TV that airs the NFL Network year-round because each time I look up, I see Peyton Manning's cocky face.

Football fans new and old, prepare for less pre-game coverage and media stories swirling around not only the marvelous city of New Orleans and how they have finally made it to the big dance after many hard years of poor seasons and natural disasters, and more talk of Archie Manning. Archie Manning, who yes was a two time Pro Bowler, but the media seems to leave out that he had one of the worst all time records as a QB in NFL history. I refuse to sit through more Manning family coverage of Archie, Peyton, Eli, and the forgotten child, Cooper. What's with the media's obsession of this family?

I'm hoping that these commentators and pregame shows focus on the game facts like Indy actually has a secondary, and that this is no longer a team that relies on a cover-2. Despite the fact that Freeney's condition is still up in the air, even I, the biggest Colts/Manning hater can't take anything away from this team. That being said, the Saints O-Line has been phenomenal this year and has given Brees amazing protection in the pocket allowing him to hit Bush or Henderson deep. Brees and the Saints have a ton of weapons to utilize. Brees takes many chances and this season, has capitalized and crushed opponents. It will be exciting to see this matchup of Saints offense v Indy Defense.

Now the Indy offense v Saints Defense. I won't even talk about the amazing Indy offense. I just can't. Everyone on the planet knows how amaaaaaaazing Manning is. Just ask his boyfriend Greg Gumbel. In all seriousness, you know Manning is going to throw. The Colts offense was 30th in rushing yards this season. The entire Indy offense is centered around Manning's no huddle...which another downside for Indy is that Saints fans are expected to vastly outnumber Colts fans, so noise could be a factor for the all mighty Mr. Manning. He loves to throw to Clark and Wayne. Anyone who has ever watched a Colts game could tell you that. Unexpectedly, rookie, Austin Collie got many throws from Manning during the AFC Championship game and I think New Orleans has prepared for Manning to consider Collie as an additional threat along with Wayne, Addai and Clark.

That being said, the Saints D thrives on their ability to force turnovers. They led the league this year in defensive turnovers....I wish I would have drafted that DEF for fantasy any case. In addition to leading in defensive points, they have 141 points in points after takeaways.....that is just ridiculous. I never expected this franchise to go from being horrifyingly miserable, to barely average, to .500, to NFC champion, and with any luck, Super Bowl champ.

Who Dat? Believe me. I'm hoping for the Saints and their fans to march into Miami and unleash their fury upon the Colts and their smug, "fearless" leader. All in all, this Super Bowl
is probably the best matchup any football fan could have asked for because legitimately the best two teams are playing. As expected, the betting line on this game is even, and the over is high. I'm predicting a win by the Saints. I don't think this will be an entirely close game, although I think it will remain close until about the 3rd quarter where I'm praying for Manning and his infamous and uncreative (thank you Jim Kelly) no huddle offense to make bad decisions and have the fans decked in beads, fleur-de-lis, black and gold on their feet dancing. I'm sure some of them will be wearing Archie Manning jerseys which is just ironic, but I digress.

This will be not a "cinderella" tale like my boys 8 years ago today. (I still love you Adam.) I hope Saints fans get to have memories like I have. The sheer joy that ran through my body when Law intercepted Warner, Vinatieri's kick was good....the look on Brady's face as the confetti fell, Belicheck's grinning face...was unbelievable, unforgettable, and irreplaceable. So Saints fans, bring it to Miami, bring your noise and your years of frustration and scream your hearts out....because the best defense against Peyton Manning is taking his head out of the game. Nothing would make me happier than to see Manning crumble and buckle and to see Saints fans rejoice and enjoy their first Super Bowl victory as I got to 8 years ago today. The sweetness of that night has never gone away for me, and I don't think it ever will.

I'm usually not the type to root for the underdog, I'm a Yankees fan..let's be honest. In this case, I don't think the Saints themselves are the underdog, but their franchise. It would be glorious to see a new chapter in their history book....and to see a blemish on the career of Manning.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 16 part deux.

Colts fans got what they wished for. A rematch against the J-E-T-S. I followed this game feverishly from my blackberry as I was celebrating the Pats AFC East clinch after defeating Jax. I can't remember a game in recent history that I was so anxious to watch one team lose. Well no, I take that back.....I've never wanted the Bears to win as much as I did when they played, you guessed it, the Colts.

I can safely say I NEVER in a million years dreamed I would be rooting for the New York Jets again. To be fair, the rivalry just wasn't there this year. Without Mangina and Favre, it just didn't feel the same. I mean, yes, they'll always be one of my most hated teams simply due to the long standing AFC East rivalry. As a Pats fan, I'm programmed to detest anything green and white during football season. I mean, how can you really respect a team that shares a stadium with the Giants?

Let's face it, the Jets and Rex Ryan told the football world by storm and surprise....and despite a few tears shed along the way this season, they've managed to fly under the radar.

So Rex Ryan, please make good on your promise to show Manning coverage like he's never seen. And leave it to Ryan to reference a "combo platter" when discussing his defense schemes planned for this week.

Enter Manning. The entire world seems to just fall to his knees and bow to him. I can admit that the man is a talent, he makes things happen..I mean, the guy is constantly in a no huddle...that alone is something to respect. Sportscasters and other media types are obsessed with Mr. Manning and I understand why. His regular season numbers continue to get better as the years go by, and aside from his Super Bowl season, his postseason numbers/stats have been a far cry from what he accomplishes in the regular season.

Now yes, I'm biased because other than the Super Bowl disaster and this season's blowout v the Ravens, I have the amazing combo of Brady/Belicheck running the show. I'll never understand why Manning commands so much respect and people forgot how he is a major choke artist.

So Jets. Remember the time you won the played the Colts in the wild card, 2003 and destroyed the Colts? Please do that again. I want to see Manning crying and blaming someone else when he loses and looking like the little bitch he is.