Monday, June 22, 2009

Off Night: Call It Stormy Monday

As we discussed last week, these off nights are a real pain in the balls. It's a Monday, what the hell else am I doing if I'm not watching the Yankees game? Unfortunately, this is the second of three consecutive Mondays during which there'll be no Yankee baseball. So what are our options?

There are four MLB games scheduled for tonight. The Mets and Cards will be on SNY at 7:10, so you can do some advance scouting before this weekend's Subway Series. For those outside the metro-NYC area, that game will also be broadcast on ESPN2. The mothership will have LSU vs. Texas in the College World Series, which I believe is now in its 43rd round.

The Cubs visit the Braves tonight in a make-up of a rainout from earlier this month. My cable system carries WGN and TBS, but unfortunately CSN has the Cubs' telecast and TBS doesn't carry the Braves any longer, so there'll be no advance scouting of the Braves for me. Of course if you sprung for or the Extra Innings package, you can watch this. They'll probably replay the final round of the U.S. Open somewhere too since virtually no one could watch it today.

There's a probably a bunch of shit on premium channels I don't get: Weeds, a re-run of Friday's Bill Maher, Carmela Soprano's new show, but I'm not watching any of that. Unfortunately Joe Buck Live doesn't return for another few weeks, so there will be no televised train wrecks tonight.

For those of you who want to venture out into the world, don't forget Bernie Williams plays two shows at The Iridium tonight. Alternatively, you could head to Home Depot and start buying enough lumber to construct a large wooden ark. Then tomorrow you can start rounding up the animals two by two.

A few quick news items:
  • A.J. Burnett had his suspension reduced from six games to five and began serving yesterday. Thanks to the off day today Burnett won't miss a single start. That's the type of hard line discipline I like to see out of MLB.

  • Don Fehr is stepping down as the head of the MLBPA. Good riddance. Take Orza with you and see if you both can convince Bud to retire too. I hope some sort of unrest amongst the players regarding Fehr's blind-eye PED policies was behind this.

  • In music news, while the Yankees invade Atlanta, about 75 miles east in Athens the famed Georgia Theater burned to the ground Friday. No word as to whether General William Tecumseh Sherman was involved. The Georgia Theater had hosted many a good band in its time, and served as a launcing pad for Athens bands Widespread Panic and the Drive-By Truckers. Two of my favorite live albums were recorded there: Panic's Live in the Classic City and the Derek Trucks Band's Live at Georgia Theater.
That's all I got. It's still raining here in CT, and the radar says it's on and off in NYC as well. Summer's gotta get here eventually. Stormy Monday is one the most-covered blues tunes in history. YouTube has great versions by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers Band, Bobby Blue Bland, and B.B. King. But we'll go with the original. Take it away Mr. T-Bone Walker...

My New Favorite Reader

Most of the time, a blog is a one way mode of communication. Only a small fraction of those who read posts make comments and an ever tinier percentage feel compelled to write an email to us saying that they enjoy the site, there is an egregious error in one of our posts or to ask why there are no women listed as contributors. It's really exciting whenever that happens because I get to connect names with the numbers I see on Google Analytics and have actual proof that writing for this blog isn't a complete and total waste of time.

Well, over the weekend I received far and away the best email in the history of the site from a reader named Giles McNamee (presumably of no relation to this man). Here it goes:
Dear Jay:

I was just over at Fenway Park with some friends who were recording your friend Youk and a couple of the other Socks players singing Sweet Caroline and Dirty Water. Youk is putting out an album for his charity.

Interesting that the Socks would play Sweet Caroline, a song which was written by a 40 year old man in tribute to an 11 or 12 year old girl, in the eighth inning of every game. “Touching me, touching you.” Think about it. This has to be on the pedophile classic hits top ten list, don’t you think?

Anyway I was there because a band I’m in laid down the instrumental tracks for the songs. As a Yankee fan, I only agreed to do this because I could then bring my kids, who are Bostonians and died-in-the-wool Red Sock fans, to meet Youk and some of the other players. Being a dad sometimes trumps being a Yankee fan... Sort of...

Anyway, I had Youk sign a ball to you because I thought you would enjoy it (see attached photo).

Shoot me an address and I will send you the ball.

Keep up the excellent work on your blog.



Pretty sweet, right? I don't gather that Giles told Youk that the person he was signing the ball for actually created a blog named after his hatred of him, but that is quite understandable. The event was for a good cause, after all.

I made sure he was okay with me turning the email into a post and his response he also added:
Four explanatory things for the record: (1) Youk’s charity is called “Hits for Kids” and it supports a number of worthy children’s causes in the greater Boston area; (2) The CD is being produced by Rounder Records and, in theory, all the bands who have played at Fenway Park (Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Dave Matthews, etc) are going to donate one song each to put on the album; (3) The little girl about whom Sweet Caroline was written was Caroline Kennedy which makes Neil Diamond seem even creepier; (4) My band is called EGGSLAP, a recent incarnation which includes myself and the drummer from my former band, the Rockhoppers.
So, Bostonian readers, keep an eye out for EGGSLAP appearing to a music venue near you. And if any of you happen to meet our boy Youk, you know what to do if you would like to star in your very own guest post. Operators are standing by.

Land Shark Stadium

The stadium the Marlins call home certainly isn't the first facility to host a baseball team named after a shitty beer. But it's probably the most embarrassing to the game.

To start, with a total of 244 reviews on Beer Advocate, Land Shark has received a D+. For an alcoholic beverage to receive a barely passing grade with that large of a sample size is remarkably terrible. I've had exactly one Land Shark in my drinking career and hope to keep it that way. You should probably stick to your margaritas, Jimmy Buffett.

Secondly, "Land Shark" may be the worst possible name for a building that two teams with actual marine animals for mascots call home. Land shark is a bit of an oxymoron, you see? Listen, I love sharks as much as the next guy. Once upon a time in South Africa, I payed a healthy sum to don a wetsuit and stare a Great White in the face through the bars of a cage. It was incredible. I read the The Devil's Teeth and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Shark Week. I get the fascination with sharks, but not the impulse to pretend they exist on dry land (although this classic SNL skit is quite hilarious).

Lastly, and most obviously, watching a baseball game played in Miami makes one played at Tropicana Field feel like an authentic baseball experience. Fact: No football stadium has ever made a good home for a baseball team. When they set up the Carrier Dome for a basketball game and pack it with 30,000+ fans, looking towards the opposite endzone makes it feel desolate. Likewise, when the Yankees come to town and exceed the team's average attendance by 250%, it still feels empty and depressing on TV. Further accentuating the problem is the fact that the upper deck seats are bright orange which makes every empty chair all the more noticeable.

Now it appears the Marlins are getting their own publicly-financed Stadium in 2012, complete with a swimming pool and other gimmicky bullshit. Good luck with that. As the Nationals have shown most recently, a new park doesn't necessarily translate to sellout crowds and a diehard fan base. The one and only thing that it does promise to accomplish is locking a franchise into a city that is destined never to truly appreciate it.

Yankees Fathers and Sons [Part 2]

Still killing time on a Monday off day. Here's the exciting conclusion of Yankees Fathers and Sons"

Jesse Barfield: A Yankee OFer from 1989-1992, he's the father Josh Barfield, who after a decent rookie campaign with the Padres in 2006, was traded to the Indians and has really fallen off the map.

Danny Tartabull: A Yankee from 1992-1995, his father Jose was an outfielder from 1961-1970.

Cecil Fielder: Big Daddy was with the Yanks in 1996 and 97. His son is one the game's top sluggers but lamentably the two aren't on speaking terms. Stories abound about a young Prince jacking BP HRs in Tiger Stadium as a youngster. A relative of mine ran into father and son Fielder in a Florida grocery store when Prince wasn't yet a teenager. He said the kid was huge.

Ruben Amaro: Amaro Sr was with the Yanks from 1966-68. Ruben Jr had a mediocre Big League career and is now the General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jose Cruz: Cruz Sr ended his career with the 1988 Yankees. His son Jose Jr played in the Majors through last season.

John Mayberry: Mayberry ended his career with the Yankees in 1982. His son John Jr made his Big League debut against the Yankees earlier this year and hit his first Major League HR.

Matt Keough: A pitcher on the 1983 Yankees, his father played from 1956-66

Joe Niekro: The late knuckleballer was with the Yankees in 1985, 86, and 87, briefly as a teammate of his Hall of Fame brother Phil. His son Lance was a firstbaseman with the Giants from 2003-07. After washing out, he tried to reinvent himself a knuckleballer like his father and uncle before him.

Dave Parrish: Parrish was the Yankees first round pick in 2000. He never appeared in a Major League game, but was called up briefly a few years ago when Jorge Posada broke his nose breaking up a double play. He is the son of former Big League catcher Lance Parrish.

Dick Schofield: The Senior Schofield played 25 games for 1966 Yankees as part of a 19 year Big League career. His son Dick Jr played from 1983-96. He is also the grandfather of Jayson Werth, whose step-father Dennis Werth played for the Yanks from 1979-81.

Joel Skinner: Light hitting back-up catcher from 1986-1988, his father Bob was an outfielder for 12 years, predominantly with the Pirates.

Roy Smalley: A Yankee from 1982-84, his father Roy Sr had an 11 year career. His is also the nephew of former manager Gene Mauch.

Steve Trout: Steve had a brief and disastrous stint as a Yankee in 1987. His father Dizzy had a good 15 year career as a pitcher.

Gary Ward: A Yankee from 1987-89, his son Daryle played in the Bigs through last year and has been one of the NL's top pinch hitters.

Stan Javier: Javier made his Major League debut as a 20 year-old with the 1984 Yankees. He was included in the Rickey Henderson deal following the season and carved out a nice 17 year career. His father Juliam was a Major League second baseman in the sixties and early seventies.

Anyone got anymore? Leave them in the comments.

Yankees Fathers and Sons [Part 1]

In yesterday's game preview, in honor of Father's Day, we mentioned that Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher are the two second generation Major Leaguers on the Yankee roster. It's Monday; you don't want to work; the team isn't playing too well right now, and we have an off night tonight. Let's kill some time by furthering yesterday's theme and looking at some past Yankees who were part of baseball families:

Shelley Duncan: Everyone's favorite high five/forearm bash enthusiast is pasting the ball at AAA Scranton and is the son of former Big League catcher and famous pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Tom Tresh: Tresh was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1962. He was a switch hitting shortstop with power, who was eventually moved to the outfield. So of course, he faced innumerable comparisons to Mickey Mantle. A back injury ruined Tresh's career and forced him to retire at 31. But before that, he had six pretty good seasons for the Yankees, played on three pennant winners and one World Series winner. Tresh was the son of former White Sox cather Mike Tresh, and passed away last October at 70.

Bill Kunkel: Kunkel pitched for the Yankees briefly in 1963. He washed out of the majors, but began a second career as an umpire, working the AL from 1968 to 1984. Kunkel retired when his son Jeff reached the Majors with the Texas Rangers. He is the last man to both play and umpire in the Major Leagues.

Dale Berra: Everyone knows Yogi, but his son Dale also played in the Majors, including a stint with the Yankees in 1985-86, during which he briefly played with his father as his manager. Dale wasn't very good in his time as a Yankee, with perhaps his most infamous moment coming in this game when he and Bobby Meacham were both thrown out at home on the same play.

Mel Stottlemyre: The former Yankee ace and longtime pitching coach had two sons, Todd and Mel Jr. pitch in the big leagues. Mel Jr lasted only briefly, but Todd had a decent and lengthy career and is now the Diamondbacks pitching coach.

Tim Raines: The former Yankee and current Newark Bears manager is the father of Tim "Little Rock" Raines Jr. After retiring in Spring Training in 2000, Tim Raines unretired for the 2001 season. He spent the bulk of the season in Montreal, where his career had begun. After the Orioles made his son a September call-up, the Expos traded Raines to the O's for the season's final week so he could join his son. They became the second father-son combination to play as teammates.

Ken Griffey: Ken Griffeys Senior and Junior were the first father-son teammate combination and the first father and son to be active in the Majors at the same time. The two hit back-to-back HRs in this game. Griffey Sr. is best remembered as Junior's father and as a member of the Big Red Machine, but he spent 4+ fairly productive years with the Yankees from 1982-86.

Bobby Bonds: If Ken Griffey didn't sire the best ballplaying son of a former Yankee then Bobby Bonds did. Bonds came from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Bobby Murcer in a big trade for both teams. Bonds spent only the 1975 season with the Yankees, but it was a great one, as he hit .270/.375/.512 with a career high 151 OPS+. He hit 32 HRs and had 30 SB, becoming the first Yankee to go 30/30. He was traded after the season for Ed Figueroa and Mickey Rivers, two key components of the pennant winning teams of the late 70s. Bonds became a bit of a vagabond after that, moving from team to team and traded for several future Yankees: Rich Dotson, Jerry Mumphrey, and Claudell Washington. The Yankees re-signed him in 1982, but after toiling in AAA Columbus for a month, he was released, ending his career. Bonds spent the third year of his pro career playing AA ball in Waterbury, CT, close to where I live. He always liked the city, and in his retirement he ran a celebrity golf tournament there each summer until his death in 2003.

Felipe Alou: A Yankee from 1971-73, Alou's brothers Jesus and Matty were also Big Leaguers, with Matty joining him on the 1973 team. In addition to his son Moises reaching the Bigs, Felipe was also the cousin of Jose Sosa and uncle of Mel Rojas. That's a Big League family right there.

Aaron Boone: Boone did one huge and historic thing in his time in pinstripes and was absolute horseshit for the rest of it. Perhaps more than the Alous, the Boones are a baseball family. Boone's brother Brett, father Bob, and grandfather Ray all had long Major League careers. The Boones and the Bells are the only three generation MLB families to date.

Sandy Alomar: Sandy Senior was with the Yankees in 1975 and 76 and was the on-deck batter when Chris Chambliss hit the homerun that won the 1976 AL Pennant. Given that Alomar Sr. was .245/.290/.288 career hitter, we should all be glad that Chambliss hit that HR. His sons had far better careers and Roberto will likely reach the Hall of Fame.

We'll be back with some more later on.