Debate the wrongs and rights of the BBWAA all you like, but let's take a moment to congratulate ourselves—the committed, rational members of baseball's online community—who have been supporting the "campaign" of Bert Blyleven for years. And by ourselves, I chiefly mean Rich Lederer of the incomparable Baseball Analysts, who has been the leading advocate for Blyleven's enshrinement, nationally. That he managed to convince so many to vote for Blyleven is a testament to, of course, Blyleven's genius on the mound, but also to Lederer's own determination, and the growing presence and influence of smart and rational discourse on the web, conducted by passionate amateurs and professionals without big-name credentials. Bravo.
I hear they're picking on us up in Beantown, rank amateurs that we are down here in NYC when it comes to snow removal. We took it on the chin, no doubt about it; as I write, a good day and a half since the white started falling, my Brooklyn block remains unplowed, virgin powder from end to end, except for some tracks down the middle. Things haven't changed much since last night, when a boxer came around doing sprints through the snow exhorted by his trainer: run to the corner, a combination—jab, jab, one, two, three—and then back. [That's him in the picture.] Lucky he didn't keel over, because EMS would still be trying to get here.
We're not completely housebound, fortunately. SF and I did met up for some hand-pulled noodles in Chinatown this afternoon. That hit the spot. Knicks in Miami tonite. Bring on the heat.
What a busy couple of weeks on the hot stove. I've been enjoying it from afar, happy especially to see this site rejuvenated a little bit. I will admit that, this fall, my attention has been turned elsewhere. The Yanks have always been and will remain my first sporting love, but the Knicks have always run a close second, and their resurgence has been the most fun thing on the New York sports scene in a good while. God knows we've waited long enough, and sat through enough shenanigans. The last couple years, the waiting-for-Lebron-years, were tough, I will admit, and when his eminence took his talents south, there was a collective cri-de-coeur among diehards. Nevertheless, I had some feeling that this year might be different, and have been watching from day one, every game. It got off to an ugly start, yes, but over the last two weeks, our Knicks, winners of 11 of 12, have turned things around. They've racked up wins against the dregs of the league, fine, but they're crazy fun to watch. They're smart with the ball, aggressive, and improving daily. Amar'e looks like Stringer Bell, has Jewish roots, and runs the floor like a gazelle. They've got solid players up and down the roster, and they're straight up likable—there's not a sour apple in the bunch, which in fact may be a problem; they could use a little more backbone in the paint. But whatever, the trick is they're finally a pleasure to root for, and they're going to be even better next year, when they can finally dump Eddy Curry. Anyway, they're a nice diversion, and the Knicks play the Celtics this week, so topical. Go New York, go.
With all of the news coming out of the Winter Meetings, here's a tidbit you might have missed, and none more exciting: Jay Jaffe, a friend of this blog virtually from day one, has been elected a member of the Baseball Writer's Association of America. We're thrilled for Jay, and we're also excited for what this means: a passionate fan with a deep understanding of the game's history who values rational analysis will have a vote when it comes to important postseason awards and the Hall of Fame, about which there is no greater expert. A really proud day here at YFSF.
Hard as it still is to believe, the new Yankee Stadium is heading toward the close of its second season. Though I can’t say I love it, I think I’ve come to terms with its existence. The old ballpark next door is now gone, having given way to construction fencing, so there’s no longer a specter looming ominously over the new joint. Still, it's that rough-and-ugly, 1970s-era edition of the House that Ruth Built that will always be my Yankee Stadium. The late architect Philip Johnson, subject of my next book, liked to talk about architectural "procession," and how important it was for a building to unfold dramatically. Yankee Stadium was a great lesson in this idea: to walk up one of its tunnels to see the emerald field revealed below was stirring every time, and for a big game it was electric, tangibly so when it shook a bit with the cheering crowd.
Baseball, of course, lives on the memories it inspires, and that place has left more that its share. As a tribute to it, last year Alex Belth published a series of the reminiscences of the old park on the Banter. My contribution, about life in the bleachers in the 1980s is here. Now, Alex has collected all the pieces he commissioned, and added many more for a new book, Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories, out next month. It’s got an intro by Yogi Berra (who else?), and pieces by Richard Ben Cramer, Jane Leavy, Kevin Baker, and countless others. A great project, and a worthy memorial to a great New York place. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
We're late, so have at it. Price on the hill for the Tampas.
I'm no great fan of David Paterson, and I know the Yanks have business before the State, but, I don't know, shouldn't the Governor of New York be allowed to take his kid to the World Series? Make a call to silence an aide's domestic abuse arrest go away? Definitely not. A couple of October Yankees tickets? Fine, just so long as you don't go all Rudy on the public dime. Matter of perspective.
Johnny Damon has signed with the Detroit Tigers for 1 year at $8 million. It was a fun ride while it lasted. If Joe Torre's quasi-autobiography is to be believed, his tenure wasn't always as happy go lucky as we were lead to believe. But, for the most part, Johnny was a fun player to watch, at least on offense. We wish him the best and thank him for many great memories, and maybe the greatest base-running play in modern history.
Reports indicate that the Yankees have signed
out machine outfielder Randy Winn. As the great Jay Jaffe notes on his Twitter stream, Winn's splits against lefties (158/184/200) are the worst in the history of the Retrosheet Era. Great! Also, he'll be 36 and he had a .318 obp with 2 hr last year. But he's nice? We can only hope.
We have a lot to be thankful for here at YFSF. For Yankee fans, certainly, 2009 was one for the books: the year our franchise launched a new home, seemed to reinvent itself on and off the field, and took home the World Series. Huzzah. Sox fans, however disappointing a season it may have been in the end, still saw some wonderful baseball, made the playoffs, and can rest knowing their management has the intellectual and financial tools—if not the personnel!—to put a contender out next year.
—On the left, Think/Make, the new monograph on the inventive architectural firm of which SF is a principal.
I have a feeling the Yanks will win the World Series tonite. They are, on paper, the better team, they have the advantage of playing with a DH, and they will be before a home crowd in the Bronx. Mariano Rivera means the Phils are playing with somewhere between 21 and 24 outs to the Bomber's full 27.