Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cursing the curse

I was all set to put forth to my reading public the Health Club Rules of Decency today, but it seems what I witnessed Wednesday night is more timely, though equally groundbreaking.

The mammothness of watching the Boston Red Sox crown themselves the best team in the world, and to have the bylaws of the sport of baseball bestow such a title on them at the same time, is too sexy a topic to let go by unmolested.

Hundreds of sportswriters, several of which were better than me (Jim Murray and Red Smith come to mind), never had the chance to offer to the world their thoughts on Red Sockian mastery. I’ll be cursed for 86 years if I don’t remark on this historical occasion. Not being able to curse about this curse will be difficult.

I watched from the back of the newsroom, a pair of Bostonian fans to my distant right, another closer to my left, with a few Yankee haters sprinkled in between. They felt the way I did in my wanna-be welfare apartment in college when the Yankees won in 1996. That was my first title as a real fan (I was 3 years old in 1978, so I have no recollection of anything other than by big wheels -- I had the Superman model.)

However, Yankee fans around the world are a disgusted group. That disgust will last through the offseason, or at least until the Yankees sign Pedro Martinez in December. They’ll come out of the woodwork with inane excuses and insane trade/free-agent ideas. It’s all misplaced aggression. Psychiatrists and psychologists will all have bountiful holidays this season with all the money they’ll rake in from new customers.

In my attempt at benevolence (and future political aspirations), I offer Yankee fans a better (and cheaper) way to work through your Bostonian-inflicted pain: blame the Mets.

Think about how much easier it would be to swallow the bitter pill in 2004 if the Mets didn’t rally to beat the Red Sox in 1986. If Mookie Wilson could have just hit a pop-up instead of a “tough” grounder to Buckner (he doesn’t deserve publication of his first name), Boston would be reveling in its first World Series victory since . . . 1986. That would be 18 years of inferiority, which is precisely how long the Yankees went before winning in 1996.

18 or 86? Which hurts a Yankee fan less?

See, the problem begins in Flushing (wow, how many times have we said that in our lifetimes). So don’t curse the Red Sox. They did something extraordinary and deserve their moment. Embrace what they did, then hate on the Mets for making 2004 even more extraordinary.

And cheer up, Yankee fans. Your owner has a lot more money than anyone else.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Gad-Zooks! You're fired, but not yet

It was just a blip on the New York sports radar Monday morning, but it caused a stir in Florida and got me thinking.

Ron Zook was fired as head football coach at the University of Florida. Most of us in New York couldn't care less about this, unless of course:
a) We're displaced Floridians
b) We're displaced SEC football people
c) We care about the exciting sport of college football
d) We have friends in Lexington, Ky., or other assorted SEC towns with bad SEC football teams and quick access to e-mail
e) We gamble heavily
f) some combination of the above

However, the manner in which he was forced to start updating his resume (and burning every gametape from the past three seasons) is becoming a disturbing trend in sports. He was fired from his job and "allowed" to stay on to finish the remainder of the season. While this may not rival the Richie Phillips "We're all resigning" MLB umpire snafu from a few seasons ago (still the greatest labor move ever), it could be the stupidest thing in NCAA history, and that's no easy Top 25 list to crack.

Zook became the third major sports coach to get fired and still keep his job. Jim Fassel got canned with two weeks left for allowing his 2003 Giants, a Super Bowl contender in the preseason, to take a dump on the season. Stupidity finally caught up to Art Howe late in the Mets' 2004 season and he got booted out of Flushing but then was asked by management to be a pal and stick around for the final few weeks.

In a mad, mad world where the runner-up to a music contest still gets a record deal and every kid in Little League gets a trophy (even that rightfielder with the .023 average on a 1-15 team), losing a job and keeping it in the same conversation seems a little odd.

This is equivalent to getting fired by Donald Trump on "The Apprentice," then being allowed to still compete in the next three episodes. This is extending the 1994 NBA Finals to an eighth game because John Starks didn't shoot too well in Game 7 for the Knicks. This is Lindsay Lohan's new video not making the Top 10 on MTV's TRL, but still showing it anyway because she's hot. (Full disclosure: I voted for her video the other day. Hey, she's from Long Island.)

Zook was doing such a horrendous job at the University of Florida that the bosses at the University of Florida said FU, but could you please stick around for a few more weeks just to help out.

That's Lottodog in "8 Mile," telling B. Rabbit at the end of a rap battle, "I'll end this $--- with a [f-bomb] you, but have a nice day."

Why do these coaches think it's appropriate to hang around a place they're not wanted? It's almost as bad as watching old athletes not knowing when to quit, but definitely worse than B-level celebrities who refuse to acknowledge their "USA Up All Night" status.

It's not about finishing what you started, or saving face, or any of that glory of the game yang they peddle to reporters and fans. It's about doing a bad job and getting called out on it.

Close your eyes and imagine this scene. OK, wait a minute, keep your eyes open so you can read this. So, just imagine your boss sends you an e-mail to come chat in the office on payday. The boss then tells you that your next paycheck will come from the unemployment office. Do you then say, "OK, but can I still work here for a few weeks even though you just fired me and obviously think I'm not effective enough to keep working here?"

Not me. If my boss did that, I'd pack up my desk, reformat my hard drive, "misplace" the phone receiver, then go out blaze-of-glory style by dropping the kids off at the pool where the pool is the hood of the boss' car. (Note to boss: Just kidding, really. Just a fun little joke. C'mon, you know you laughed.)

And if the boss asked me, moments after removing me from the world of employment, to stick around a few more days to help out, I'd go Stone Cold. That's right, I'd drop a stunner on the boss, whip out a steel chair and start swinging, then crack open a Coors Light (in a can, of course) and scream "That's the bottom line" over and over again.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Embracing Bostonian history

I partied with one Red Sox fan and a bunch of Yankee haters in the hours of revelry following the greatest collapse in the history of baseball, sports and possibly the world.

The dismantling of the Berlin Wall? The fall of Communism in the USSR? The withdrawal of troops from Vietnam? They can't hold a candle to the Yankees becoming the first team to squander a 3-0 lead in baseball postseason history. Actually, squander is too soft a word. They choked. They blew it. They crapped out after betting max on the pass line. They left their hearts in the clubhouse . . . in Boston.

Respect must be given to the Bostonian "Idiots" for their accomplishment. It was an amazing comeback and one that deserves admiration from even the most "diehard" Yankee fans and even the "biggest Yankee fans" ever. If not, then your fan pass should be revoked. The Red Sox are the government. The Yankees are Henry Hill. And yes, they folded under questioning. It's an undeniable fact.

Despite my peacemaking with the situation, it felt a little strange as the lone Yankee fan surrounded by demonic Yankee haters living their dream. But it was somewhat refreshing. There's no more pressure on the Yankees anymore. No more curse to play in fear of. No more, "Oh my God, imagine if we lost" yang to listen to from idiot Yankee fans. (Note: There are three intelligent Yankee fans left in the world, and I believe I am one of them.)

To see the man we call Bus, a true Red Sockian, shed his patriarchal title of sultan of the Vortex of Negativity and adopt a Mr. Positive attitude was heartwarming. He looked like a proud man who just became a grandfather for the first time.

Derisive chants of "Twooooo-thousand" and "John-ny Da-mon" filled the bar at unchoreographed moments. Then, Eddie Mac, the chieftain of the Vortex of Negativity, gave a toast he's been waiting at least 34 years to share with America: "When the banner of Evil is finally burned, great men will rejoice."

The party lasted until one light remained on inside the Great Saloon of Bostonian Revelry . . . in Farmingdale. Even being a Yankee fan, there was no other place I'd rather be on this night. Euphoria for a region that is a four-hour drive away, with good people who waited a lifetime to share this moment with anyone who would listen.

This was history the likes of which people will never see again and Yankee fans will never understand. The closest thing I can compare it to is Charlie Hayes catching Mark Lemke's foul ball to clinch the 1996 World Series. Anyone Yankee fan under 35 worth his pinstripes must consider that night the most Utopian of October nights. Any Yankee fan under 35 who disagrees wasn't a Yankee fan until 1997 and they should just stop reading this immediately and search the Internet for the latest bandwagon. Rumor has it there is plenty of room with the New York Giants, so do a quick search and see how much the best seats are being scalped for.

Yankee fans, we will live to play another day. But the world will go, your paychecks will still be deposited directly into your bank accounts, your children will still love you, your credit card statements and student loan payment coupons will still be delivered by e- or snail mail, your car will still need an oil change every 3,000 miles, your cell phone will still get reception, your boss will still instruct you to do something that you believe is completely ridiculous, you'll still have low-carb diets, I can't believe it's not butter lite and ATM fees at banks other than your own.

So embrace being a part of history, and for a moment, no matter how brief, allow someone else to experience the joys of October. Live vicariously through someone else for the next two weeks. Besides, Steinbrenner will bring in Pedro and Derek Lowe next year, so get used to rooting for them.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Laissez Faire

Restaurant friend Rob checked in with this mid-afternoon e-mail report:

"mark bellhorn just had lunch in the restaurant....... he looked shook......"

The restaurant in question is Marseilles, a lovely casual fine dining French joint in Manhattan's Theatre District. I immediately called for more details into this explosive situation of a Red Sock daring to eat food prepared by New Yorkers outside the team hotel in the hours leading up to Game 7.

"He ain't making any plays today, don't worry. Mysterious food illness," Rob said.

Settle down Board of Health and neurotic readers, he was joking, because as Rob said, "I don't want to win like that."

He's such a good-natured fan, at least on the business side of things. He's hands off when it comes to torturing Red Sox-turned-customers. Damn laissez-faire government! Me, I would have spit in his food then undercooked it, followed by a drugging of his beverages. But maybe that's why I'm not in the food business.

Onto the second part of Rob's report: "he looked shook." A weary Bellhorn is a good Bellhorn for New Yorkers. Even if he only has about 4 hits this entire postseason, one of those was a three-run homer in Game 6, the hit that forced this perilous Game 7. (Normally, I'd root for a guy who wears a double-flapped helmet, but he's a Red Sock with Cub tendencies, and these are the playoffs).

Here's hoping Bellhorn ordered a French dish with heavy cream sauce!

esruc eht esrever

I didn’t feel this way last week. The Yankees jumped out to a quick three game lead and it was over before I could even begin to root against them. The tide has changed.

Call me a bandwagon fan, but let’s reverse this curse tonight!

I have no allegiance to the Red Sox; as a matter of fact I don’t particularly like any of these guys. Martinez is a punk, Francona is just riding Schilling’s coat tails and they all need a hair cut. But the feeling I have this morning is one of hope.

My name is Jonathan and I am a Mets fan.

As a child I marched across the grass at Shea Stadium with a banner that read “My two favorite teams are the Mets and anyone playing the Yankees.” I slept with a cup full of grass and dirt from the Shea outfield on my nightstand. I couldn’t sleep for weeks after the 2000 series.

The past few seasons have been lost ones for me as a fan. Even I didn’t get excited when they were ½ game out at the All-Star break. I knew better. I stopped paying attention. I forgot for a few months that I hate the Yankees.

I woke up last night. Watching A-Rod complain to the ump was beautiful. Watching Jeter pout in the dugout filled my heart with warmth.

The phrase ‘historic collapse’ is something that I look forward to talking about with every Yankee fan I know. As an Islander fan I was destroyed when I could no longer cheer 1940. This could replace that.

If Boston wins tonight I will stop rooting for them and begin rooting for a new curse.

The curse of the Rocket.

A Bronx tale

Torn between rooting for the Yankees super-fan style in Game 7 tonight and hoping to see a historic collapse and the idiot Yankee fans (yes, they exist) moronically complaining about losing in a city that has produced more baseball playoff excitement in the past 10 years than other cities get in a lifetime across all sports, I turned to my spiritual guru to guide me through these tumultuous hours.

Perhaps Sonny, the no-last-name-having wiseguy played by Chazz Palminteri, can help with this Bronx tale. So I rented a gray, double-breasted suit and a white tie, opened up a bottle of white wine, made a dish of linguini, slicked the hair back and summoned the goodfella spirits for a late-night quid pro quo with Sonny, the man who had five fingers but only used three. Here’s how it went:

Me: As a Yankee fan, should I care if they become the first team in baseball postseason history to blow a 3-0 series lead?
Sonny: Nobody cares.

Me: But Derek Jeter looked so downtrodded after losing Game 6?
Sonny: Well, let’s see if Derek Jeter pays your rent.

Me: Jeter, A-Rod, Sheff, Rivera, Matsui, Mussina. These guys are great. How can I not root for them? They put the wind in the Yankees’ sails.
Sonny: Kid, you only get three great ones.

Me: OK, I’ll take Pettitte in Game 5 of 1996 World Series, Jeter in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against Oakland and Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. What about you, Sonny? Who are your three great ones?
Sonny: Me, I had my three when I was 16. What are you gonna do?

Me: But they try so hard all the time.
Sonny: The working man is a sucker.

Me: My friends say I should root for Boston.
Sonny: Your friends are j------s.

Me: What about this Babe Ruth curse thing? Is he really floating about the Stadium watching the game?
Sonny: It’s about availability. Those who like the Babe are happy because he’s close by. Those who want to hurt the Yankees think twice because they know he’s close by.

Me: How do you think Game 7 will play out?
Sonny: These Red Sox will walk into the Stadium, Steinbrenner will lock the gates so now they can’t leave, then the Yankees will go to work with the bats. Before the Red Sox drag their bloodied bodies onto the bus after the game, Torre will run up to them, look Francona in the face and say, “Remember me, I’m the one that did this to you.”

Me: Thanks, Sonny. You’re always right.

LET’S GO YANKS!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Yankees fans: Spoiled brats

Enough already!

Yankees fans, we are tired of your act -- your spoiled rotten, childish, embarrassing act. For years you've flooded the airwaves with desperate cries for superfluous superstars. You've routinely bashed one of the great managers in postseason history. You've acted like winning the World Series is a your God-given right, not your once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime a privilege.

Now this.

You ruined a perfectly good baseball game -- good in contrast to Saturday night's mind-numbing 19-8 snorefest -- with your idiotic behavior. You defied the meaning of sportsmanship and humiliated yourselves, your team and your city.

There's an expression John Sterling, Michael Kay and the rest of the Yankee proletariate like to use: "The Yankee Way." It's supposed to represent a higher standard, as if World Series rings buy you class or perspective. After last night's game, the only thing The Yankee Way represents is a panicked fan culture that has alienated itself in many ways with its moronic behavior.

As I watched debris cascade onto the Yankee Stadium field last night and Alex Rodriguez made his absurd denials, I couldn't help but think to myself, These are not the Yankees fans of old. I thought of the fans I remembered from 1996. They were a fresh-faced group of diehards who'd been longing for a champion since 1981. They were like the '96 team itself. Scrappy. Homegrown. Bursting with energy and enthusiasm. But last night's audience seemed nervous, frustrated, confused. They were an anxious, obnoxious bunch impatiently waiting for their $200 million bats to wake up, numbed to the pure excitement of playoff baseball by years of storebought victory.

So when a few calls didn't go their way, they reacted the way spoiled children do: They threw a temper tantrum. It was a sad way for a proud team to go down, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the fans who know that winning does not entitle you to more winning. The ones who managed to keep their baseballs and popcorn in their laps.

When I think of the '96 Yanks I'll always remember Charlie Hayes' clinching catch and Wade Boggs' jubiliant trot around the Stadium. But if the Yanks choke away this 3-0 lead, my lasting memory may just be A-Rod's swat, and the NYPD ringing the Stadium walls.

The Mustache Maxim

The real idiots here are those who continue to refuse to intentionally walk David Ortiz. But that’s not what this is about because there is a bigger idiot than anyone in a Red Sox uniform right now: Tom Gordon.

Never trust a guy with a mustache. That’s what they always say, and by “they” I mean myself, Lawyer friend Tim, Lawyer friend Steve and whoever repeats that sentence when we say it to them.

In case you don’t believe me, we’ll take a tour through history to help support the theory. But, first, a breakdown of Gordon’s ALCS performance:

  • Game 1: 0.2 IP, 2 ER
  • Game 2: 0.2 IP, 0 ER
  • Game 3: 1 IP, 0 ER
  • Game 4: 2 IP, 0 ER
  • Game 5: 0.2 IP, 2 ER
  • Totals: 5 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 7.20 ERA

    That’s a pathetic ERA for a supposed dominant set-up man. Kudos to Fox broadcasting (did I really just write that?) for giving us so many close-up shots of Gordon during this series. They gave us a chance to examine the Gordon ’stache. It’s a perfect strip of hair across his upper lip. There is no curve to it, no shape, no character. It’s an f-bombing unibrow disguised as a mustache. It’s got D.S. written all over it.

    A brief pause to define the mustache in the Mustache Maxim: beards and goatees do not count, nor do character mustaches such as ones with handlebars or ones that extend down to the chin like a goatee without the accompanying chin patch.

    Gordon has a run-of-the-mill mustache, which means he cannot be trusted in a big spot. And seeing how we’re in the playoffs, every spot is big. Shave the ’stache and maybe he could save a game for the Yankees instead of imploding on the mound like was still wearing a Boston jersey.

    Which brings us to another theory working here: “Once a Red Sock, always a Red Sock.” In conjunction with the Mustache Maxim, this is deadly. It’s like oil and vinegar, Simon & Garfunkel, cats & dogs, J. Lo and Ben Affleck. It may be too much for any one team to overcome, even a team that includes the impervious Derek Jeter and the half-asleep Joe Torre.

    Now for some historical significance to the Mustache Maxim. A brief look at famous people who chose to allow hair to grow on their upper lip and nowhere else on their face:

  • Adolf Hitler: A compelling historical figure, but a real $*&@^#* (insert curse word or words of choice here).
  • Burt Reynolds: His entire acting career centered around his mustache, and for every “Cannonball Run” and “Boogie Nights,” there’s a “Smokey & the Bandit III” and a “Rent-a-cop.”
  • Eddie Murphy: "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Delirious" were awesome movies, but did you ever see “The Adventures of Pluto Nash?” Exactly. You can never be sure of an Eddie Murphy movie anymore. Sad, given his Long Island roots.
  • Tom Selleck: Had early success with the mustache Magnum, P.I., but wised up as the ’90s kicked in and shaved it for his role on Friends.
  • Ravishing Rick Rude: He was a professional wrestler, which means his life was based on deception.
  • Dr. Phil: Any self-respecting man knows better than to continue paying attention when their ladies quote Dr. Phil. He knows less about men than men do.
  • Alex Trebek: He pretends to be the most intelligent man in America, but it’s all a ruse. He has the answers on the Jeopardy cards in front of him. He probably cheated his way through high school.
  • Lando Calrissian: He f-bombing sold out Han Solo in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
  • Frank Lopez: The hassa tried to have Tony Montana killed in “Scarface.” Montana was his employee, then he tries to rub him out? Not to be trusted. Why? It’s the ’stache.
  • Don Corleone: Hey, I loved “The Godfather,” but he was a murdering, loansharking, bootlegging criminal. And he had one of those thin-lined mustaches. When searching for shadiest guy in the room, always begin with the thin-stached people. They walk in the shade, even on a sunny day in the desert with no clouds.

    There are many more, but you get the point. Tom Gordon cannot be trusted to get a key out for the Yankees. Remove the mustache and that could change. Maybe A-Rod can shell out a few bucks for a Mach 3 razor and some cream.

    (Note: There are three exceptions to the rule – Cliff Claven from “Cheers,” Viper from “Top Gun,” and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

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  • Monday, October 18, 2004

    Random ALCS Thoughts II

    * Stated simply, Paul Quantrill is not a very good pitcher. Stated Keyboard Quarterback-ly, Paul Quantrill is this year's Donnie Moore.

    * Tony Clark looks very similar to ex-NBA/Court TV star Jayson Williams. After watching Clark bobble that groundball, I found myself wishing Clark had Williams' aim to go along with the comparable height and DNA strands.

    * John Olerud needs a nickname. I suggest "Johnny Ola" from The Godfather II, provided he plays again. If not, I suggest "John Ole-dud."

    * An insane Game 4 led me searching for clarity. The search led me to Joe Beningo on the FAN ranting about the Jets. The juxtaposition of sanity, Beningo and the FAN is a humorous concept, much like the phrase "reputable massage parlor." Strangely, it worked -- the FAN, that is. I can't speak to the healing powers of a massage parlor. Uh, I mean, I can't write about that.

    * Regardless of the 3-0 lead in the series heading into the game, I can never get upset when Mariano Rivera blows a save. The guy is the best ever, and when a team beats Rivera, you know they earned the win.

    * Why do the Yankees still pitch to David Ortiz? Why do the Red Sox still pitch to Hideki Matsui?

    * Sure Ortiz beat the Yankees in Game 4, but his tossing of the helmet 20 feet before touching home plate was pretty funny.

    * Stuart Scott should be banished to ESPN 38, or perhaps random Patriot League football radio broadcast. Sorry to digress, but his presence on SportsCenter Sunday night/Monday morning prevented me from watching the Game 4 highlights.

    * Will Daddy use the spoon, the foot, the belt or the back of the hand when he brings the pain to Pedro tonight in Game 5?

    E-mail me

    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    I'll make this short and sweet

    I'm sitting in my apartment, surrounded by my bagless stick Shark vaccuum, my clorox Grip-it ready mop, a broom and other various cleaning supplies. Why?

    Because I'm ready for the sweep! Get these Bostonian Red Sockers out of the playoffs.

    Perhaps I could use that whisk broom Kevin Millar has attached to his face to help wipe up the mess that is Boston.

    Saturday, October 16, 2004

    A Decade of Magic

    An off-day followed by a rainout? How does one kill 48 hours of no baseball in October? Well, one could spend the off-day thinking about one's favorite Yankee playoff moments of the past 10 seasons. One could then spend the rainout sweating out the over in the TCU-UAB game (it was 61, and TCU got a touchdown and two-point conversion with less than two minutes to play to lose, 41-25) while ranking those favorite Yankee playoff moments of the past 10 seasons.

    The list:

    10) Game 1, 1998 World Series, Part I: Tony Gwynn crushed a home run in the fifth inning off David Wells. Granted, Gwynn was a Padre at the time, but he was always one of my favorite baseball players, so I was happy to experience the moment.

    9) Game 1, 1998 World Series, Part II:Tino Martinez used his keen sense of the strike zone to hold off on a 2-and-2 pitch from Mark Langston that was low, and by low, I mean it was right at the knee and should have been strike three. Martinez hit a grand slam on the next pitch. I almost jumped through the roof in excitement. However, hours earlier, I nearly choked to death on a piece of chicken. If not for Canadian chiropractor friend Zamboni, I would not be blogging this lovely late Friday night/early Saturday morning.

    8) Game 2, 1997 ALDS:: I sat four rows from the field, and two boxes to Rudy Giuliani's left. Ushers served us food and drink. The tickets were free. Oh yeah, Raines, Jeter and O'Neill hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to beat the Indians, 8-6.

    7) Game 4, 1996 ALCS: Darryl Strawberry hit a pair of home runs to help beat the Orioles. I was blessed, thanks to Prince fan friend Scurvy, with the chance to watch the sweetest home run swing of my generation in person at Camden Yards. Prior to Straw's second home run, an inebriated Marylander screamed, "Damn coke head. He doesn't deserve to be in the game." Insulted as I was about this person's closed-mindedness and inability to give people a second chance on life, I stood up in my Yankee road jersey, Yankee hat and Yankee turtleneck, and yelled into a crowd of crazy inebriated Marylanders, "I hope he's coked up now, you dumb redneck hick!" as Strawberry rounded the bases. I was a proud New Yorker. Dumb, but proud. A step closer to an early death, but proud.

    6) Game 5, 2000 World Series: Lawyer friend Steve came through with tickets to the game. Sure, I had to go to Flushing Toilet Stadium to watch the Yankees play, but a chance to see Mets fans wallow in misery is always worth a ride on the LIRR. There's a buzz in the air outside The Dump (er, Shea) as the Yankees lead the series, 3-1. Jimmy Kimmel walked by me before the game. At the time, his career was all about upset specials on Fox Sunday. I yelled out, "Hey, look, it's Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy, who's gonna win the Raiders game this weekend?" No response. Always a shame when B-level stars think they're one notch higher and refuse to embrace their B-level celebrity. Jeter homered in the first. Mets fans began to cry. I began perpetuate the stereotype that Yankees fans generally are obnoxious. Piazza flew out to Bernie Williams and the Mets lost the World Series. On the train ride home, I listened to sober Mets fan talk about how they will sign A-Rod in the offseason. I smiled for 37 hours straight, based solely on that conversation.

    5) Game 5, 2001 ALDS: Watching the Oakland A's collapse is as time-honored an October tradition as watching the Yankees win. Two games after Jeter's famous flip play, and a few hours after his dive into the stands, I partied in the upper deck with Restaurant friend Rob and Consultant friend Jason as the Yankees capped a tremendous three-game rally over the Oakland A-minuses. Sinatra played seven times over before I could even think about leaving the Stadium.

    5a) Game 5, 1997 ALDS:I know the Yankees lost this game and the series, but the sight of Paul O'Neill clinging to second base after he legged out a double in the ninth inning of a one-run game should be a defining moment in any Yankee fan's life. It teaches us one important lesson: Never give up, no matter who follows you in the order. Too bad Bernie Williams didn't learn that lesson earlier. Maybe then he wouldn't have swung at the first pitch and popped it up.

    4) Game 2, 1995 ALDS: Jimmy Leyritz's first taste of playoff heroism. I was DJing that night in Dino's, a high-fallutant watering hole in Collegetown at Cornell in the upstate mecca that is Ithaca, N.Y. I was a 20-year-old junior, so I could only drink soda and virgin daquiris that night. As if my body could really process alchohol that night. I couldn't even mix and scratch the records that night. My hands were twitching like Pookie in those first few nights of rehab in "New Jack City." Confession time: In the 10th inning, I put on a mix-tape that I had made a few weeks earlier and then faked the mixes during the game. For those who were in that bar that night, I'd apologize but I doubt you noticed.

    3) Game 5, 1996 World Series: Paul O'Neill, who would later become my favorite Yankee after the one-year moratorium upon Don Mattingly's sabbatical/retirement, used his one good leg to flag down Luis Polonia's shot to right-centerfield in Atlanta. Still the greatest playoff catch I've seen by a guy not named Jeter.

    2) Game 7, 2003 ALCS:Lawyer friend Steve was also Lynbrook housemate Steve during this game. I sat dejected on his shady lime-green couch as the Red Sox mounted what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. Jorge Posada doubled in the eighth and everything changed. By the 11th inning, I was jumping into walls, waking our downstairs neighbor, punching Steve in excitement and calling Boston friend Andy and screaming "Nomaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" and assorted other curse words into his voicemail. Come to think of it, he never did return that phone call. Uh oh, I wonder if he still has the same phone number . . . .

    1) Game No. 162, 1995 regular season: OK, so this technically isn't a playoff game, but the sight of Bernie Williams catching the fly ball in centerfield that sent Donnie Baseball to the playoffs for the first time in his amazing career. (Note: I know he'll never make the Hall, but the guy was my hero so I don't mind my bias in calling his career "amazing.") The camera then cut to Donnie, who fell to one knee and put his left fist to the turf at Toronto's SkyDome. I cried. I stood up and clapped for about 15 minutes like a proud parent at his kid's third-grade spring recital and good hygiene. My girlfriend at the time thought I was being stupid. She was right. Stupid was not walking out right there, never to return, which is precisely what I did not do. Damn, I was stupid.

    Others receiving votes:
    1) Game 5, 1996 ALCS: Andy Pettitte field sacrifice bunt and gets force out at third base.
    2) Game 1, 1999 ALCS: Artist-in-Italy friend Jenny, who was then Artist-in-Syracuse friend Jenny, temporarily tattooing herself with a Yankee logo to help ward off evil Red Sockian spirits.
    3) Game 5, 1995 ALDS: Set in motion the last nine years of playoff excitement.
    4) Game 6, 1996 World Series: Poor little Mark Lemke.
    5) Game 5, 2001 World Series: A second straight night of game-winning home runs off Byung-Hyun Kim.

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    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    Random ALCS Thoughts

    * How would Game 2 have been chronicled if not for Pedro's "call them my daddies" quote three weeks ago? Likely, "Who's your daddy?" would have remained behind closed doors, where it's most effective.

    * I wish the sports editor of bostonherald.com returned my e-mail. I would have enjoyed being part of one of those city-to-city bets, like when the mayors of each city place a friendly wager involving geographically specific commodities.

    * Oh how I yearned this evening for a current Yankee named Cane or Kane or anything similar in sound or spelling. I could have written the headline "Big Daddy Kane" or a reasonable facsimile thereof to honor to Prince of Darkness and old-school rap legend. What the heck, it is the 30th anniversary of hip-hop.

    * Jack Nicholson, Conan O'Brien, Lorne Michaels and Penny Marshall were photographed together at the Stadium in what appeared to be exceptional seats. How is this possible? None of them are on Fox. Somewhere, Rupert Murdoch is pummeling a network executive for not filling up those seats with the women of "Boston Public."

    * Tom Gordon is doing nothing to help disprove the "Never trust a guy with a mustache" theory. (For the record, Tom Skerritt's Viper in "Top Gun" is the only exception to this rule),

    * How long after the ALCS until the suckers who bought all the "daddy" paraphernalia wish they had their money back?

    * I watched both games on mute, so I'm pretty sure I didn't miss anything meaningful being said by Tim McCarver.

    * The Red Sox lose to the Yankees in the Bronx, Pedro fails again, Schilling could be done for the series, Rivera dominates again, the NHL misses out on opening night because of its lockout, and the Jets don't lose a game. Is there a more Utopian sports night . . . that doesn't involve Jennie Finch or Maria Sharapova?

    * It must really be painful growing up a Bostonian baseball fan. No wonder they like hockey so much up there.

    * I miss ubiquitous, gratuitous J. Lo shots during the games. Oh well. I know a few Internet sites that can help with that.

    * Sometimes I wish Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake would run out to centerfield, slap a sleeper hold on Johnny Damon, then shave his head, just like the old days of 1992 WWF.

    * When does the brawl start?

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    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    Withstanding the whammy

    In the early hours of Tuesday afternoon, Mama La Monica seemed irked by Schilling’s comments about shutting up 55,000 people at Yankee Stadium.

    Mama La Monica is a very lovely lady, but when it comes to talking trash about her Yankees, trouble is to be had.

    So when her Yankees smacked Schilling all around the South Bronx, South South Bronx, Mama La Monica picked up the phone in her family room and called my phone at my desk at work.

    “Newsday, this is Mark.”

    “55,000 people don’t sound too quiet right now,” Mama La Monica screams into
    the phone (and no, she hadn’t been drinking).

    Though we admire the ability to live in the present, three innings does not a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS game make. This would be Whammy No. 1. At this point, I begin to fathom how the Yankees will blow the lead. I figure Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz would hit back-to-back homers in three separate innings to tie it at 6. Johnny Damon would then single, steal second and third on one pitch, then score on a Tom Gordon balk for the 7-6 lead in the eighth.

    None of that occurred, as the Yankees managed to withstand the first whammy of the October evening.

    I am directly responsible for Whammy No. 2, and while it helped yield me a financial windfall (the over was 8 ½), I still felt bad when I was doing it. But, journalistically speaking, it was the right thing to do.

    I wrote a headline on the Newsday.com home page that read “Moose perfect through four, Yanks lead 6-0.

    My passport to the Bronx should have been revoked three seconds after I clicked the save button, regardless of whether or not my job is to provide live updates on the game to the Web site. I could just as easily have written “Yanks mash Schilling, take early 6-0 lead,” but I didn’t. Secretly, I wanted to see if Mussina had the intestinal fortitude to withstand the whammy. Secretly, I wanted the over.

    And I wasn’t going to quit until I got it.

    “Moose perfect through five, Yanks lead 7-0.”

    “Moose perfect through six, Yanks lead 8-0.”

    The headlines screamed across the top of the page.

    “Moose perfect through 6 1/3, Yanks lead 8-0.”

    Next thing I know, the Red Sox are mounting a comeback. I turn my head (I wasn’t asked to cough), turn back and it’s 8-7 Yankees and Mariano is coming in from the pen.

    I consider calling Mama La Monica and thanking her for the whammy, but I am just as guilty as her. Plus, Mariano is Mariano, so the situation seems whammy proof.

    Mariano gets the out in the eighth, Bernie extends the lead to 10-7, life is good for the moment. Still three more outs to go.

    C’mon, big bucks, big bucks, no whammies, no whammies.

    A pair of one-out singles by Varitek and Cabrera raise the whammy alert to orange. Mariano, the greatest reliever in postseason history, gets a comebacker, doesn’t throw the ball into centerfield and Jeter turns the double play to end the game.

    The Bronx is a No Whammy Zone.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    The ALCS of a Lifetime

    Since listening to the "experts" is pointless, and I can't afford a lengthy phone call to the Psychic Friends Network, I turn to substance abuse for help is understanding what I will witness in these next nine baseball days. One American pasttime deserves another.

    The bottle of Bacardi was finished earlier in the week, (and yes, I'm aware that Tuesday is but a few hours old), so it appears Ny-Quil is the next best thing.

    Besides, no mind-altering substances can compare to Yankees-Red Sox, in October, in New York, in Boston, in the midst of an 86-year one-sided beatdown.

    So I offer this analytical view of what will be known to the average person as the 2004 ALCS and to New Yorkers and Beantowners as either "Another Boston beatdown" or "The day the world stood still so God could smile on Boston," depending on your team of choice.

    Game 1: Red Sox win, 5-3.
    Mike Mussina assumes his title as best pitcher who stinks in a big spot. Curt Schilling pitches like the ace he is. Mariano Rivera's triumphant return to the Stadium electrifies 57,000-plus people in the Bronx as he pitches the ninth to keep the game close. But, Keith Foulke strikes out Jorge Posada with runners on first and third to end the game. Ben Affleck rejoices. John Kerry gains 6 points in the poll. New York hangs its head. It's the Year of the Red Sock.

    Game 2: Yanks win, 11-8.
    Lieber stinks up the joint like he was Kenny Rogers in 1996. Pedro is effective for six innings. In the seventh inning, what is believed to be the first occurrence of a GM on the mound, Theo Epstein does what no one else in Boston can. He pulls Pedro. Yanks rally for six runs in the seventh and another two in the eighth to finish off the big rally. Epstein is battered with hardcover copies of "Moneyball" as he leaves the Stadium. Most throwers of these books are Boston fans. Lots of cursing ensues.

    Game 3: Yanks win, 7-2.
    Kevin Brown throws a gem. Bronson Arroyo is kidnapped by Yankee fans after the game and his cornrows are removed at Faneuil Hall. In a unrelated abuse of athletes, several Bostonians chase Wade Boggs around Boston Common and steal his pants.

    Game 4: Red Sox win, 13-4.
    Javier Vazquez starts for the Yankees. How much more do you really need to know?

    Game 5: Red Sox win, 2-1.
    Mussina and Schilling square off in a postseason epic. YES producers create the first-ever Yankeeography about a game 28 minutes after the ninth inning ends. It airs that night, beating ESPN Instant Classic by three days. The highlight of this defensive game comes when Derek Jeter runs through Luis Sojo's stop sign and Manny Ramirez throws him out at the plate. America wonders how Mr. Clutch could do such a thing in October. Somewhere, Mariah Carey smiles. Somewhere else, Jordana Brewster smiles. Somewhere else, a former Miss Universe smiles. In a moment of Bostonian euphora, Ben Affleck calls J. Lo and the torrid love affair begins again. Marc Anthony is seen at a check-cashing place in New York later that night, asking people "Which club do Aura and Mystique work at?"

    Game 6: Yanks win, 14-13.
    One ingenious fan sneaks into Yankee Stadium a few hours early and puts cardboard signage underneath every seat. In the third inning, Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard asks fans to reach under their seats and hold up the signs. In giant letters that extend to all three decks and wrap around the Stadium from the right-field foul pole to the left-field foul pole, it reads WE'RE YOUR DADDIES!!!. Pedro drills Jeter in the back with the next pitch. Here comes the brawl.
    Jeter charges Pedro. A-Rod runs into the dugout, puts on a catcher's mask, runs back onto the field and dropkicks Varitek in the back. Gabe Kapler rips off his jersey, oils up, flexes in the on-deck circle and challenges America to an "I quit" match for the Intercontinental belt. Don Zimmer comes from out of nowhere, but Ted Danson, wearing his Sam Malone uniform bashes Zimmer as if his bar tab was bigger than Norm's and he was taking it out on his posterior. John Rocker, disguised as a beer vendor, sheds his Volume Services hat and runs in from right field with his satin Braves jacket in hand. "What's he doing here?" says Tim McCarver on air.

    Pandemonium breaks out. Joe Buck snaps and clocks McCarver with a steel chair. "Mean" Gene Okerlund takes over the play-by-play as years of pent-up frustration flow from Buck's right hands to McCarver's beaten, bloodied carcas. Buck's hands are full of blood and pancake foundation makeup. Nomaaaaaaaah Garciaparra slides in to do color commentary. Guiliani finds John Kerry and demonstrates how the police officers of his former mayoral land used to violently abuse the citizens of New York. Other New Yorkers lose their resolve and pound Giuliani's kid until he wet his pants.

    Order is eventually restored. Loaiza gets rocked for seven runs in two innings but Enrique Wilson hits a two-run single to tie it at 13 in the eighth off Alan Embree, who is in his fifth inning of relief because everyone else was ejected. Jeter steals home with two outs in the ninth to win it. It's a strange day all around. Fans are escorted out of the Stadium one-by-one. No one is safe.

    Game 7: Yanks win, 8-6 (10 innings).
    Brown can't get it done. Vazquez was already shipped to St. Louis to prepare for his Game 3 start, so it's up to El Duque to save the world again. He goes two innings but his right shoulder is still dead. So, he throws another two innings left-handed, baffling the Boston lineup with 11-mph sliders and 32-mph curveballs. El Duque uses so many arm angles, Posada has to remove his catcher's mitt to call signals. Ramirez and Ortiz hit back-to-back homers in the top of the 10th off Mariano to take a 6-4 lead. Bostonians prepare to ransack their own city in excitement. Foulke comes in to pitch the tent. Cairo walks, Lofton singles, Jeter steps to the plate. Boston's riot police goes home. They know it's over. Jeter doubles in two runs to tie the score at 6. A-Rod walks. Francona comes to the mound. Foulke punches his lights out. Francona is dragged off the field. Sheffield hits a fielder's choice, advancing both runners. Matsui strikes out. Bernie comes to bat. Contemplating retirement, evidenced by his play in the series so far rather than by what he's saying to reporters, Bernie comes throw with a ground-rule double for the 8-6 win. The Bronx rejoices. Pedro shaves his head and buries his locks at the base of Babe Ruth's monument. Francona is hung in effigy in Boston, in real life in the visiting clubhouse in the Bronx by Millar and Trot Nixon.

    The Boston organization is disbanded, fans relocate to remote parts of the world, Schilling retires, Pedro joins the Yankees' roster for the World Series.

    Wow, this Ny-Quil is one hell of a substance.

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    Saturday, October 09, 2004

    Twin Killings

    The Twins should be banned from baseball. Contraction simply isn't good enough. They should be condemned to a life without baseball and a life filled with John Tesh and Yanni CDs played on endless loop from now until it snows at the equator.

    Though I fully plan on resuming my Yankee fandom once the ALCS starts (since I have no choice but to do the work that accompanies such a series, I might as well root for my team to win; besides, another ALCS against the Red Sox is far more exciting than a World Series), for now I will bash the Twins for not doing what they were supposed to do, which is knock off the Yankees in the ALDS and make my occupational life a little bit easier this October.

    With the blowing of leads in 50 percent of the games in the ALDS, the Twins have subjected New Yorkers, Tri-Staters and those watching on satellite around the world to the following list of travesties that could have been prevented without involving the Centers for Disease Control, the FCC and all-around non-sensical judgment:

    1) A barrage of idiotic man-on-the-street interviews where fans' voices drop three octaves, intelligent quotients plummet like the NASDAQ when Alan Greenspan wakes up cranky, and everyone seems to become Nostradamus. Likely, these are the same people who call radio stations and say the Yankees should trade Miguel Cairo and CJ Nitkowski for Barry Bonds and think the Giants would do that.

    2) A barrage of idiotic man-on-the-street interviews that wind up being man-from-the-bar interviews.

    3) A virtual cornucopia of unbiased television "journalists" who conduct slice-of-life interviews for news stations wearing a Yankee hat. As if that makes the impact of what's being said so much stronger.

    4) The perennial "I've always been a Yankee fan," as if the time continuum starts on Oct. 10 and continues until the season ends.

    5) More shots of Ben Lopez, excuse me Ben Garner, oopsies, Ben Affleck at Fenway Park in his Red Sox hat. Like his presence in the ballpark makes a difference to the viewers or ratings. Like he paid for those seats.

    6) More Stephen King, more bad "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" jokes.

    7) More Michael Kay, more John Sterling and more Charley Steiner. That never starts off as a good idea.

    8) Shameless plugs of good actors in bad FOX shows.

    9) More heartache for Bostonians, which could lead to a blood donor shortage on the entire Eastern seaboard.

    10) More meaningless insights and master-of-the-obvious comments from Tim "I jumped the shark about 13 years ago" McCarver.

    11) 32 unnecessary pages of newsprint in New York, per day, devoted to ridiculous stories about a Boston cop's sister who married a New York City Department of Sanitation worker whose father is a Yankee fan and mother is a Red Sox fan.

    12) "Great for baseball" quotes from Bud Selig.

    Thank you Minnesota. Thank you for being worthless and heartless. But then again, what else can we expect from a state that votes Jesse "The Body" Ventura into its highest office?

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    Friday, October 08, 2004

    Cue the Dark Vader music...

    It's official, I've gone over to the dark side. The minute David Ortiz's home run left the ballpark, I signed up for the Yankee bandwagon.

    Don't worry, folks. It's only temporary. Very, very, very temporary. Like two-games-long temporary.

    That's how long I'm hoping it will take the Yankees to oust the game, but clearly undermanned Minnesota Twins. It's got nothing to do with a dislike for the Twins, nor a disdain for the sympathetic darlings of baseball in Boston. I haven't been snorting or sniffing anything and I'm not a madman.

    I'm just a baseball romantic with a soft spot for history... And I'm a glutton for punishment.

    I foolishly rooted for the Yankees to beat Seattle in the 2000 ALCS, so that we could have the first Subway Series in 44 years. A tortured Mets fan, I truly believed my miracle men could pull off the greatest wonder of all: Beating the dynastic, turn-of-the-century Yanks in a World Series for the ages. Alas, I was misguided, and I sat slumped in the left field mezzanine as the Bronx Bullies celebrated their 26th World Series on Shea Stadium turf.

    Four years later, I haven't learned my lesson. I find myself again pulling for the Evil Empire, with no clear reward on the other side of the darkness but a chance to see baseball history. I envision a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS like the one that teased, tortured, and tantalized us for seven scintillating games last October. I picture beanballs, brushbacks, heart-breaking losses, astounding comebacks, Rivera and Schilling dueling to the finish in Game 7. As a baseball fan, I find it so hard to resist that.

    So if you don't catch me around the Island muttering "effing Yankees" for the next few days, you'll know why. I've traded in my light saber and white cape for James Earl Jones and the keys to the Death Star. (You've gotta admit, it's a powerful machine.)

    But as soon as Jeter circles the bases with the winning run in Game 4, I'll be back to my usual self. I'll pull for history; only this time, I'll hope it's the Red Sox who make it, at the Yankees' considerable expense.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go take a shower. A long one.

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    Hang on Twins, please!

    In any other year, I'd be Hulk Hogan-ing my T-shirts after the amazing comeback we saw in Game 2 last night by those gritty Yankees. Instead, I'm hitting myself with steel chairs and inventing the first known occurrence of the one-man figure-four leglock after the Minnesota Tweakies blew the ALDS.

    As publicly declared yesterday, I'm all about the "less work is better" theory this year. For those not familiar with that theory, it goes like this: The quicker the Yankees lose in the ALDS, the less work I have to do, which makes everyone happy, and by "everyone," I mean me.

    I was prepared to purchase my Torii Hunter jersey after his 12th inning home run. Now I'm cursing Ron "little Grady" Gardenhire for leaving Joe Nathan in for the 12th inning.

    I submerged myself in the Vortex of Negativity, a small section of the Newsday office that includes a bitter Red Sox fan and our Gridiron Guide, hoping to drum up some positive Minnesota vibes. The Gridiron Guide welcomed me to his side of the fence, though no ceremony was planned. We exchanged various anti-Yankee vibes and mocked Writer friend Joe, who was a pair of pants shy of a full Yankee uniform.

    For the 8th and 9th inning, the chanting in the Vortex of Negativity worked beautifully. Mariano Rivera blew the save (I couldn't bring myself to openly root against him, so I remained quiet and let the rest of the Vortex do my work for me). On any pitch, Tanyon Sturtze could blow the game and the series for Writer friend Joe and cause the Vortex to erupt in unparalleled glee.

    To paraphrase Stella from The Italian Job, "I trust everyone. It's the Devil Ray inside them I don't trust."

    Whammo! Torii Hunter hits what should have been the game-winner. The Vortex, which by now includes most of the office (half rooting against Yankees, other half rooting for deadlines), erupts.

    The Vortex survives on other people's misfortunes the way plants live off our exhaled carbon dioxide. Yet, secretly we all know the excitement won't last. These are the Yankees. These are the Twins.

    Then there's the story of the disappearance of Jacque Jones' left arm and right side of his brain. What kind of throw was that? Was he throwing directly to first base to try for the double play? Hey, Jacque (which should be French for jerk), try making a real throw to home. You weren't that deep. It was a line drive, for (insert diety of choice)'s sake. I saw better throws in Little League.

    The Tweakies will now lose the series, because that's what always happens. They'll fold under questioning, the Yankees will advance to the ALCS and play the Red Sox and my Armageddon will occur, just without Bruce Willis.

    Though it's a time-honored tradition for sportswriters to flip-flop in their opinions from one day to the next, I'm not prepared to do that . . . yet. I'm still pro-Twins for this series. But when they melt like cheese in the oven and watch the Yankees beat them again, then I'll have no choice but to re-assert my Yankee-fandom.

    Here's why: The Yankees will play the Red Sox in the ALCS, which will make for 10 times more work for me than any World Series game. And since I can't prevent the ALCS from happening, I might as well embrace my Yanks again. Rooting for the Red Sox in that situatin is like Ohio State cheering for Michigan, or Kobe cheering for Shaq.

    But here's to hoping we don't get that far.

    Can my Tweakies not be as soft as Twinkies and perhaps show some heart? Carlos Silva, if you're out there reading this, throw an f-bombing no-hitter. For me. Just once, Minnesota, do what's right.

    Otherwise, the contraction talks will start again.

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    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    Go Twins Go

    The moment I've been waiting for arrived a few hours before Game 1 of the ALDS in the Bronx. It's the turning point of my career. In moviespeak, we call this the denouement, i.e. the spot where the proverbial plot no longer can be considered thin, such as when Mr. Miyagi shows Danielson that all his waxing on and painting of the fence was rally karate training and not just slave labor.

    I'm offically a jaded journalist.

    I know this because I'm a Yankee fan but I secretly hope the Twins win the best-of-five series. Why you ask? Why would I become a bad guy like when The Rock joined The Corporation?

    There are several reasons I could put forth to help make sense of this new world development (Torii Hunter is awesome; would like to see a small market team win again; tired of watching Yanks win all the time; no more Andy Pettitte, just to name a few), but they all would disguise the truth, which is I'm lazy.

    The quicker the Yankees remove themselves from these playoffs, the sooner I can resume a normal life. Less Yankees equals less work for me, at least until the standard perennial Joe Torre Watch goes into effect after the World Series.

    My pursuit of occupational Utopia marks the turning point of my life. When I entered this business, I eagerly awaited the day I could call myself a jaded journalist. It took 4 years, 1 month and 1 day. That's longer than some presidents serve in office, but shorter than the shelf life of most cake products at 7-11. Not a bad range to fall in between.

    I'm that bitter guy in the corner now. The over/under on how long until I wind up in OTB on a first-name basis with the teller is 318 days. I'm putting $4 across the board on the under.

    It was hard to watch the ninth inning last night, when Stony Brook University graduate and my fantasy closer Joe Nathan shut down my Yankees. I hoped for a 1-2-3 inning, but I also hoped for back-to-back-to-back homers from Ruben Sierra, John Olerud and Enrique Wilson.

    Confusion reigned. Inner turmoil caused my spleen to stop producing whatever it is that it produces to make my body function at a relatively normal level. My youth is officially gone. I'm an old man.

    Go Twins!

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    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Pump down the volume

    I snuck out of work a few minutes early last night (shhh, don't e-mail my boss), hoping to catch the final bit of football from Week 4.

    I made it home with less than a minute left, which means I saw two kneeldowns, the coaches' handshake and the "we made the plays" postgame interview.

    That got me thinking about interviews. Is the American public really dumb enough to be enthralled by the halftime and postgame interviews with athletes and coaches? Has there ever been anything meaningful said in one of these interviews? Please e-mail me immediately (with proof) if these soundbites actually add value to the broadcast.

    It's a contractual obligation for a coach to hear things like, "Tell us how you're winning right now" and "How do you stop their offense in the second half?" It's a moral imperative for these coaches to respond in Madden-esque master of the obvious format.

    Joe Gibbs snubbed the halftime chitchat in his first game back as Redskins coach after 12 years in NASCAR, and sadly, there was no ripple effect. We still have these wastes of airtime.

    We know the coaches hate these things, so maybe the competition committee can negotiate a buyout from this deal. And if you TV execs are upset over it, just think of it like this: that's another 15-second commercial you can sell to help recuperate the $89 gazillion dollars you paid for the broadcast rights to the NFL.

    I was actually forced to watch ESPN last night to find out what happened in the game. Steve "Say hello to my little friend" Berthiume actually was insightful on the Ravens-Chiefs game . . . well, about as insightful as an idiot ESPN anchor can be these days.

    And then I switched to ESPNEWS, where there were no dumb questions asked by reporters in the postgame news conference. That's probably because most of those questions were asked by print reporters rather than TV people. None of those "How does it feel to win?" or "How much did those two touchdowns and 150 yards rushing help?" questions.

    For the love of football people everywhere, ban the interviews! Use the time for more highlights and analysis. There are 37 people in each network studio these days, so let them earn their money.

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