July 22nd, 2013

Sports on Earth

I won’t claim that I’m going to start updating this site regularly… frankly, that seems like a bit of a longshot. Let’s just say it’s a goal. I wanted to offer a quick update, though, because I know people still stop by this place every once in a while.

For the last year (almost) I’ve been editing full-time and also writing over at Sports On Earth, a site from MLB.com and USA Today that launched last August. Almost a year in, we still have a lot to improve and a lot of growing to do, but I’m really proud of the site overall. My writing can be found here, but there are a lot of excellent writers there, and I am happy to be consistently overshadowed. I’ve enjoyed editing very much, though I often feel karma is at work for the things I put my poor editors through back in the day.

I rarely get time for much else, though I am hoping to do a movie-related project soon. In the meantime I’m on Twitter more often than I should be.

August 9th, 2012

The Hall of Nearly Great


Allow me to offer an only slightly belated plug for The Hall of Nearly Great, to which I contributed a chapter allong with some pretty kickass writers: Joe Posnanski, Jonah Keri, Jeff Passan, Will Leitch, Wendy Thurm, David Roth, Rob Neyer, Craig Calcaterra, Twitter’s own Old Hoss Radbourn, and Jay Jaffe and his mustache, among many others.

I wrote about Lenny Dykstra, which means that while my chapter may not be the book’s best, it is the only one to feature antisemetic slurs, multiple felonies, a bounced check to an escort, and Amy Fisher boxing the Octomom.

The book comes in all different ebook formats (I like the pdf best, myself) and is available here for $12: http://www.hallofnearlygreat.com/

June 29th, 2012

Oh Hi

I guess two years is too long to let a blog go. Here is a picture of a disapproving otter.


I have a recap of Thursday night’s Yankees game up on Bronx Banter.

Over the last year or so, I’ve mostly been editing. But I miss writing, so I’m going to try to do it a bit more often.

September 14th, 2010

Misty Water-Colored “Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories”

They say you shouldn’t dwell on the past, but with the Yankees on a spiraling losing streak (which I wrote about for the Banter last night), and the Mets organization re-enacting some kind of bizarre adult pro-sports version of Lord of the Flies, this seems like a good time to do just that. My friend Alex Belth, Bronx Banter founder, Yankee Blogfather, and walking talking social network, put together a pretty remarkable collection of essays about the old Stadium, and now they’re being published in pretty, shiny hardcover form: “Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories – Unforgettable Tales From the House That Ruth Built.” The project is dedicated to the memory of our Banter colleague Todd Drew, a great writer who passed away unexpectedly and much too soon in January of 2009; on the right, under Yankee Blogs, you can find a link to his old site Yankees for Justice.

Between remembering Todd, and the bittersweetness of dwelling on a beloved building that no longer exists, there’s some real sadness behind the project, but the book itself turns out to be more raucous wake than mournful memorial service. There’s all kinds of essays in here, by many very different personalities, but it has the air of a community coming together to  swap stories and celebrate the good times (even the healthy number of contributors who, like most patriotic god-fearing Americans, hate the Yankees).

I have an essay in there, about Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, and I’m happy with the way it came out. But more than that, it’s very cool to share a book with writers I’ve long admired like Richard Ben Cramer, Pete Hamill, Joe Posnanski, Jane Leavy, Tony Kornheiser, Rob Neyer, and Jeff Pearlman — and also with friends (who are also writers I admire) like Alex, Jay Jaffe, Cliff Corcoran, Diane Firstman, Jonah Keri and more. Furthermore Yogi Berra is credited with the introduction, making this sort of my third close brush with Yogi… although the first of those to involve the phrase “ball-licking asshole.” (My essay is a tad bit blue. But then, so was Yankee Stadium.)

I won’t do a proper review here I’m obviously biased, but I love having this book on my shelf.

August 4th, 2010

Live Every Week Like It’s Shark Week

I’ve been remiss in not linking to some of my previous Banter movie posts: I already wrote a paean to “Sweet Smell of Success” and complained about “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But today’s post is probably my favorite thus far, in honor of Shark Week: Deep Blue Sea.

As anyone who’s read my book (or ever met me) already knows, I have a longstanding love of bad movies (although Deep Blue Sea is an extremely well-done bad movie, and actually kind of good in places… but still: it’s about genetically engineered genius sharks whose brain fluid can cure Alzheimer’s chasing hot people in wet suits and LL Cool J, so I think it qualifies). For a while now, a few friends and I have been having a weekly Bad Movie Night, and I’m thinking on turning that into a weekly post… because the world needs to know about “Bionic Ninja.”

July 14th, 2010

It Was the Age of Wisdom, It Was the Age of Foolishness

I have a lot of friends who aren’t baseball fans. Not one of them knows who owns the Red Sox or Cubs or Dodgers (granted, the Dodgers themselves aren’t too sure about that at the moment, but you get my point). But all of them know who George Steinbrenner is.

Or, I guess I should say, who he was. I was alerted to Steinbrenner’s death — long approaching, but still somehow sudden — by texts from several friends who couldn’t tell you what a cutter is or even, in some cases, how many innings there are in a game, but who saw the news about Steinbrenner and knew their Yankees-fan friend who was at work without steady internet access would want to know right away. Not many owners become household names (or end up on Seinfeld), but Steinbrenner’s force of personality set him apart and ensured that, no matter how much you might have wanted to, you could not ignore him.

In many ways Steinbrenner made it easy to be a Yankees fan, at least from my high school years on: all the money he spent on players, all the winning, all the World Series games. And he also — non-Yankees fans, bear with me — made it harder, because he could be such a bully, a felon, so tactless, embodying a number of traits which I personally didn’t wish to defend or associate myself with. Of course he had a better side, too, giving millions to charity and staying loyal to friends and some employees long after common sense required him to; but often I rolled my eyes at his silly statements to the media, or the horror stories that emerged of his treatment of underlings, and even at his spending. I loved that he was willing to invest his money back in the team, no matter what, but sometimes it was downright embarrassing, how much he outspent absolutely everyone else. I could defend it because it was allowed but I couldn’t pretend it seemed entirely fair.

On the other hand – the Yankees played in New York, so of course they had the most money, right? One of New York Magazine’s Steinbrenner posts had an excellent quote from The Boss:

“The first few years I was here, I didn’t thoroughly understand how mentally tough New Yorkers are. It’s a great trait in people… I used to get greatly hurt by some of the things that were written. But I don’t anymore. You learn to handle it. If the fans don’t think you’re striving to be the best in New York, they’ll gobble you up, and I don’t blame ‘em. An army travels on its stomach, and New York City travels on its heart and its love for the Yankees. We are New York. We are the biggest and the best, and we should be No. 1. And when you reward New York, it reaches out to you. It goes beyond what any other city can do.”

Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that New York “travels on its heart and its love for the Yankees.” Or that the Yankees “are New York” – that would eliminate many of my good friends, who, transplanted from other cities or rooting from the Mets, absolutely loathe the Yankees and would rather cut off certain fingers than ever clap for the Bombers. But never mind. That’s the ultimate New York quote, and the ultimate Yankees quote: “We are the biggest and the best, and we should be No. 1.” This is exactly what most New Yorkers think, and why so much of the rest of the country does not like New York — and even as I acknowledge how myopic and obnoxious the attitude is, well, I kind of think that way about New York too. Of course New York is the center of the universe – if not here, then where? Why should Kansas City even dream of beating New York at ANYTHING? So why wouldn’t we have the most money and the most championships? Isn’t it natural?

Except that it isn’t, really – see the Knicks, if you need an example, or the Jets or the Rangers for many years. New York may feel it deserves to win at everything, but the universe doesn’t always agree. And the thing is, Steinbrenner took winning as the Yankees’ birthright, but he didn’t just leave it at that: he gave nearly everything he had to make it happen. Sometimes too much, probably, and sometimes it was unfair, and unsporting, and distasteful. But whatever you might fault him for, he didn’t leave anything on the field.

It was hard to watch Steinbrenner in recent years, obviously seriously ailing and not entirely with it, and the Yankees refusing to acknowledge that fact openly. Maybe that’s what Steinbrenner wanted, I don’t know. But when someone on Twitter (I’ve forgotten who) compared the team’s persistent release of “statements from owner George Steinbrenner” to Weekend at Bernie’s, well, it wasn’t tactful but it didn’t seem too far off the mark to me, either. I was genuinely moved by Steinbrenner’s death, to a degree that really surprised me, actually, but I am glad not to have to watch any more of those moments.

I don’t know what to expect from Hank and Hal; whether they’ll carry on in a relatively quiet, businesslike way (well – that’s Hal carrying on, with Hank tied up in a safe house somewhere), or whether they’ll… gulp… sell the team, or who knows what.  Either way we won’t have George Steinbrenner to kick around anymore. He was wrong about a lot of things, but I think he understood New York pretty well – how tough it can be, and how great. He was determined to be on the right side of the city, and for the last 15 years of his life, although he took a ton of justified criticism along the way, he generally was. That was a hard-fought victory, and I hope it was a satisfying enough reward for all the entertainment we got out of watching him work.

June 13th, 2010

Baseball Player Name of the Week

It’s been a while since I found an inspiring name of the week, but this one could not be overlooked. Ladies and gentlemen, I present:

Buttercup Dickerson.

Buttercup gets bonus points for having played for the Worcester Ruby Legs, which is clearly the Baseball Team Name of the Week.

I stumbled onto Mr. Lewis Pessano Dickerson this weekend after passing through Troy, New York, on my way to my dad’s wedding upstate. Troy is, as my companion pointed out, the erstwhile home of the Troy Haymakers, one of the first professional baseball teams, and then later the Troy Trojans, for whom Buttercup played. He was a pretty good player by the standards of his time, with a lifetime OPS+ of 121, though of course his power numbers and OBP don’t look like much these days. Let’s not lose track of what’s important, however – namely, that HE WAS CALLED BUTTERCUP DICKERSON.

Also, check out this ‘stache from later in his career:

Indeed.

March 31st, 2010

AL East Preview

I did an AL East preview for Perpetual Post; you can go there (and scroll down) to read the whole thing, but I thought I’d excerpt my Yankees section here:

NEW YORK YANKEES:

The veiling shadow that glowers in the East takes shape. The Yankees will suffer no rival. From the summit their eyes watch ceaselessly. But they are not so mighty yet that they are above fear. Doubt ever gnaws at them… the Yankees fear you – they fear what you may become. And so they will strike hard and fast at the world of men.

The power of the enemy is growing. They sense the Ring is close… you know this – you have foreseen it. In the gathering dark, the will of the Ring grows strong. It works hard now to find its way back into the hands of men – men, who are so easily seduced by its power. It is close now, so close to achieving its goal. For the Yankees will have dominion over all life on this Earth, even unto the ending of the world.

Also, look for a breakout year from Phil Hughes.

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March 23rd, 2010

Mo’ Mauer

I had a post on Bronx Banter earlier today, about my continuing indecision over whether or not to have a fantasy team this year. Yes, these huge life-altering decisions are always the hardest.

Meanwhile, I was glad to hear the news about Joe Mauer’s new Twins deal. I like Mauer, I like the Twins, and I like the absence of shrill wailing about how the Yankees have ruined baseball (the normal, quieter wailing about how the Yankees have ruined baseball suits me better). Besides, for all the speculation about the current AL MVP one day landing on the Yankees, I don’t think New York City is big enough to contain both David Wright and Joe Mauer. I worry that their clean-shaven, all-American, aw-shucks good-guy personas would cancel each other out, and turn them both in to druggy, whoring Commies. It’s better for everyone this way.

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In other news, for any upstate NYers reading this, I’ll be heading to Glens Falls this Friday night for a reading/signing/discussion at the Red Fox bookstore. My dad will be there too. He’s quite a character, and it should be a fun evening – so if you’re in the area, come on by.

March 19th, 2010

Is This Thing On?

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote…
Then longen folk to switch to WordPress.

So it took a bit longer than I expected (as things usually do), but: new website!

I transferred most of my old posts over, but there were a few glitches; anything that’s not here should still be up at eephus.blogspot.com. (Not that I expect anyone is hankering to relive my 2007 notes on Scott Schoeneweis, but hey, what’s the point of having an internet if you’re not gonna use it?). And thanks to the guys at Mannix for their quality design work.

I do not want to overdo the annoying book promotion in the long-term but, of course, I have to at least mention it. E.g.: My book is out! Finally and at long last. A few people (…awesome people) have asked if I have any preference about how they buy the book – whether Amazon is better, or a local independent bookstore, or what. To which I reply: there is NO WRONG WAY to purchase this book.

It’s good to be back blogging again. But for now it’s almost 2 AM, so excuse me while I go party with Ron Washington.