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Where Else But Here?

God, I love this city. Don't let L.A., Chicago, or Europeans dissuade you, it truly is the greatest city in the world. I love the traffic, I love the intolerable heat, the cold that seems to enter into your very soul. I love the smog. I love the people going sixty on Broadway in their Jeep Wrangler with a broken muffler that sure is hell isn't gonna stop for some old woman who doesn't have the initiative to succeed in this city that never sleeps. I love the diversity. I love how defensive New Yorkers are of New York- with good reason. I love how impersonal the whole thing is. I love the nightlife (baby.... oo-oo). I love how I can see The Boss (Springsteen not Steinbrenner) on the sidewalk getting into his car and it's not even that cool, just because the odds of that happening are almost statistically in one's favor. I love Central Park. I love the pizza. I love the history. Just thinking about it lifts my spirits. You could even say:

Ha that's brilliantly original. Am I the first one to think of that? But hey... I'm not here to preach the greatness of NY. =) I'm getting to the point.

I love New York sports.

And in my traverses throughout the world of the NY sportlife, one phrase has really captured the entire experience.

Where else but here?

I swear it's the single most entertaining and original experience that I've ever encountered as a sports fan. Where else but here could there but a professional sports team paying their athletes nearly 200 MILLION dollars. To play a game. But that's a different problem and a different article. (possibly coming soon?) I love the ridiculosity of it all. Where else can a manager (Billy Martin) get fired and rehired five times by the owner (Steinbrenner). I love the rivalries. Where else can there be such an unbelievable hatred between the collective fans of two teams? A hatred to the point that the two sides have almost become two different ideologies? My question to you is this.

At what point in your NY sport experience did something occur that was so ridiculous/strange/fabulous that you really had to ask yourself the question.
Where else but here?
There are plenty of moments out there and I think I know mine- chime in.

Coming up in the travels of Dyslexia:
A close up on Derek Jeter as #9 in my favorite 10 Yankees since 1918. (and I reiterate, hear me through before labeling me any names like 'heretic' or 'moron'.)
A close up on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Maybe a little further in the future- Book review (I'm not copying anyone):
The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: Buster Olney
A look at game 7 of the '01 series between the Dbacks and Yankees and the series of events that permanently shattered the dynasty that we all had come to know and love.
Nostalgia promised for all.

Bigups to all those in the Big Apple:
Love Thy City!
P.S. How's your bracket?

Schuyla's Book Club: Pedro, Carlos, and Omar : The Story of a Season in the Big Apple and the Pursuit of Baseball's Top Latino Stars

Today: Schuyla reviews Mets beat writer Adam Rubin's tale of the '05 Mets

It's hard to say what seasons are bookworthy. One could certainly say that 1986 was a Mets season worthy of a book. 1969 too. 1973 maybe? 2000 even. But 2005? Why on earth would anyone write a book about this season, and, moreover, why would anyone buy it? Adam Rubin's book defies that logic. The book takes the reader inside the retooled and rebuilt Mets, going into details about clubhouse hijinks (Cliff Floyd throwing a watermelon at Ramon Castro) and recruiting of players (Jeff Wilpon and Pedro drag racing through the Dominican Republic in Ferraris). Rubin talks about pivotal points in the season, including Beltran's shot against Smoltz, Loop's big blowup in the Bronx, Cammy and Beltran's collision, Jake's thunder in the desert, Miguel Cabrera's bases-clearing double against DaeJean Koo and Loopy's 2 blown saves on one Atlanta night. The book discusses the pursuit of Pedro and Beltran and Omar Minaya's struggle to combat prejudice and take the team to the top. Rubin speaks firsthand about Willie Randolph's struggles and triumphs as a first-year manager. This book mentioned so many moments that dominated my past summer and, in that vein, it brought along a nostalgic sniffle. While it is logical to fear a book that mentions Mike Matthews and Manny Aybar and somehow can get past an editor, this book is everything it should be and more. Highly recommended.


Roger P. Clemens-Manning and why Troy Polamalu is Mexican

I feel like I'm an Indianapolis Colt. I feel like Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne. I feel the powers that be are doing everything to let us win. Bud Selig is a sham artist. So is Paul Tagliabue. The World Baseball Classic, which is surprisingly drawing interest from Americans, lost the team hailing from the red, white and blue yesterday. In case you didn't watch yesterday, the Mexican hitter, Mario Valenzuela, smacked a ball off of the right field foul pole. The ball hit the yellow pole clearly, a good five feet above right fielder Vernon Wells' head. The ball was ruled a ground rule double. Crew chief Bob Davidson (if you don't remember him from another incident, I'll explain later), who made the call, refused to change it despite the fact that it was obviously a homer. The Mexicans argued to no avail. Although Roger Clemens caught a break there, he is too incompetent to take advantage of anything. The runner scored on a single by Jorge Cantu. This missed call by Davidson reminded me of when the USA snagged a run from Japan's grasp by overturning a safe call on a sacrifice fly. This call, oddly enough, was overturned by Davidson. This officiating snafu took me back to Sunday, January 15. Steelers-Colts. Fourth quarter. Troy Polamalu clearly picked Peyton Manning. It was ruled an incomplete pass. Although Mike Vanderjagt wound up missing the field goal that would have made the missed call worth something and the Steelers won, Joey Porter still felt the need to speak. He accused the NFL of cheating the Steelers. I think he was right. And now, I'm Brandon Stokley and Roger Peyton Clemens-Manning still couldn't win it. He got the gift. So did Peyton. The unfortunate truth is that the WBC is rigged. The drug testing is rigged. The officiating is a sham. And somehow, Roger couldn't dominate a lineup whose biggest threat was Jorge Cantu and the Americans couldn't hit Oliver Perez, Francisco Campos, Edgar Gonzalez, Ricardo Rincon, Oscar Villareal, Jorge De La Rosa, Luis Ayala or David Cortes. These players are hardly the cream of the crop in the Major Leagues. So, while the USA suffers its second major defeat in international sports in as many months, take it with a grain of salt. At least we can sleep knowing it was rigged in our favor.

A little SNY update:
I tuned in from my Connecticut home base to be foiled by some of the worst sounds I've ever heard. And I've heard a Celine Dion song before. The network, first, was on the wrong channel. Comcast told me it would be on Channel 78; it turned out to be on Channel 5. The video quality was shoddy, the audio was bad, and I missed all of the Curtis Martin interview during Daily News Live. Also, the Mike Schmidt interview was poorly edited, especially for a "live" show. It was obviously not live. The game was okay. I liked Ron Darling in the studio. I liked Gary and Keith's chemistry, and, despite the poor audio and video quality, I have bright hopes for the network and I'll be flipping back and forth between UConn-Albany and Dodgers-Mets tonight. See you then.

coming to a weblog near you

So. We meet again. Baseball's just around the corner, and it seems like it's been a while. Any fan can tell you that the AL East has been revamped and reworked, starting from the bottom up. Tampa Bay's got a new mentality, and Delmon Young. Baltimore, uhhhhh... well, they lost Sidney. Blue Jays are the talk of the town with their FA additions, and Boston is still picking up the pieces from the 5 minutes that Theo wasn't there to hold the organization's hand. Leading up to opening day I'll be profiling each team in this beast of a division (including the Yanks). What they have to build on, what's improved from last year, and what kinda damage I feel that they'll be making in the division and the league this year.

I'll be starting in a few days with the D-Rays, because I always feel bad for those God has forsaken.


sneak peak

Opening day is t-minus 19 days with the Mets opening in Flushing vs. dem Nationals while the Yanks open in Oakland in a late game. Here are a few things you can expect when it comes time for baseball.

Before the Series:

- A wee bit o' scouting on the opposing team (starting pitchers, strengths, weaknesses, players to watch)

- News on the Yankees and Mets (headlines, injuries, etc.)

- Picks for who wins the series and for player of the series

After the Series:

- Recap (box scores and key plays)

- Player of the Series

- Final Thoughts and Reflections

Let's get ready for a wild one, boys and girls, it should be fun.


a few thoughts on loyalty

I love the Yankees. I love the history. I love the players. I love the dynamic personalities, the epic plays, the countless championships. I also am one known to preach loyalty. It makes me sad when I see an old player stagger his way into retirement. Sometimes it's ugly. Sometimes, he holds on a little too long.
But what I simply cannot stand for is when a beloved character is tossed aside in favor of the 32 year old flavor of the week. It is almost unforgivable. Now, compound that with the fact that this 'idiot' is from the other side of the fence. Unproven, generally hated, Johnny Damon is waltzing in and taking Bernie's job from him. It makes me sick. Bernie gave us fifteen years, four world series, he is the best postseason hitter in history. And without a second thought, hereeeeeeee's Johnny, prancing around like he owns the place. And the worst part is, the most gut-wrenching part is - Bernie is too much of a gentleman to say something. He's too nice of a guy to go to the media and make a stir, and that's why everyone loved him. And it's the very reason for his downfall. Now look inside yourself, as a Yankee fan, and try to convince yourself that this is the right thing. That because Damon gives us a better chance to win, he should play. That that's how the business works, cutthroat maybe, but hey. Try it. Bernie gave us everything, and what does he get in return? A seat on the bench while some red sock plays Bernie's position, traverses Bernie's field. Despicable. Is this really where the Yankee organization is going? Do we have no respect for our history? Are we really driven so blindly by the need to win that we can't give an old player his last curtain call? He might lose a few in the sun, he might not be as productive, but don't you think that he has earned the right to play the game he loves for one more year? Apparently not. I can almost see a movie script. Bernie, loved by all, getting replaced by some low-rent more talented/less heart bigshot who doesn't have the rest of the team behind him. And oh how I wish Damon will fail accordingly. Fall right on his face. Maybe then, only then, Cashman and Steinbrenner will learn a thing or two about sticking with their guns and not selling themselves, Bernie, and the fans short. Because that's exactly what they're doing. And as hard as I try to laugh off and sometimes even accept the fact that the organization is devoid of compassion, of a sense of loyalty to its players, this is almost too much. It makes me question yet again, as has become cliched these days. What are we playing for? George is playing to win. Some are playing for the money. And Bernie...? Well Bernie's not playing at all. But if he was, he'd be doing it for his love of the city and for the fans. I think it's wrong that he and us are being deprived of that. It would be sad seeing him struggle at times. Because he was once so great. But we owe it to him. We, as a city owe it to him. Because he was better to us than that. Maybe I'm a little too old school when it comes to these matters. Maybe bringing in Damon and suring up our outfield really was the best FA signing of the off season, as some speculate. Maybe Bernie has had his time in the limelight, and maybe he doesn't deserve a gracious exit. I happen to think he does. Evidently, not everyone agrees with me.

I think it would be wrong to let him fade into the background without any sort of goodbye. I think that there are still those who love him for more than what talent he brought to the game but for what he stood for. And that was dedication. And hard work. And loyalty. What they refuse to give back to him. What we can give him is a standing ovation. And the knowledge that although he may not be playing, he still is and forever will be in the hearts of Yankee fans. And that no hippie with a bat can ever replace him.
Cya Bernie,
It's been real

The Most Selfish of Desires

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be the team that's cursed: the Red Sox, the Cubs or the White Sox. It would even hurt to be a team without a championship in franchise history, like the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers or the Exponationals. The Mets would be experiencing quite the drought had they not won the 1986 World Series. Sure, they were good in 1985, 1987 and 1988, but all of those seasons ended without titles. This team was composed of many key pieces. You had Darling and Ojeda as aces. McDowell and Orosco provided a tag-team closer tandem. Carter was a slugger with a smile built for Madison Avenue. The slick-fielding Keith Hernandez and Rafael Santana provided gloves in the infield, with Ray Knight and Teufel/Backman providing good batwork as well. In the outfield, the speedy Lenny Dykstra, the emerging speedy slugger Darryl Strawberry and the catalyst Mookie Wilson. Kevin Mitchell provided some rookie thump as well.
However, one could argue that the fate of the Mets of the late 80s and early 90s rested squarely on the shoulders of Dwight Gooden. Doc had unquestionably the best performance since Bob Gibson in 1985. Dr. K posted numbers which surely echo in your head as you read this. Twenty-four wins, four losses. 276 innings pitched: 268 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.53. Doc dominated that year and made the Mets what they were as the ace of that staff. Unfortunately, that would be the greatest success of his career. Nobody exactly knew why his ERA went up nearly a run and a half the next year, but with emerging information, it surprised no one that he never posted a sub-three ERA the rest of his tenure. He missed almost half of the 1987 season due to a positive cocaine test in spring training. To avoid news of the suspension, he entered rehab. Gooden became trapped under the spell of cocaine, a drug which had held baseball players prisoner during that time period. Mets, like Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry, used the drug. It ate up the careers of other promising stars, like LaMarr Hoyt and Pascual Perez. While Gooden struggled to fight his addiction, other players relented and stopped using after Commissioner Bowie Kuhn threatened year-long suspensions without pay. Gooden, however, faced problems the rest of his career. The immense strain that pitching in excess of 250 innings per year caused Gooden to break down and miss time during the 1989 and 1991 seasons. Gooden was also accused of rape in 1991, and the charges were later dropped. By 1992, Gooden and Sid Fernandez were the only players left on that team from 1986. But the promising ace had already begun to burn out. At 27, the pitcher put up the first losing season of his career (10-13, 3.67 ERA) and another one followed in 1993 with a 12-15 mark. 1994 marked the end of hope for Dwight. In 1994, he played through seven starts and posted a troubling 3-4 record with a 6.31 ERA before being suspended sixty days for cocaine use (For a more detailed account of this particular incident, check out this post at Mets Walkoffs). Gooden received a full-season suspension for the 1995 season due to a positive test for cocaine during his suspension. He came back in 1996 with the Yankees as a free agent, being reunited with his equally troubled former Mets teammate, Darryl Strawberry. His campaign with the Bronx Bombers that year was far from impressive, but he tossed a no-hitter and posted a winning record. Gooden's career after 1996 was the career of a journeyman. He pitched for the Yankees in 1997, was released, signed by the Cleveland Indians for 1998 and 1999, and then was released. He signed with Houston in 2000, was traded to Tampa Bay and, following his release from the Rays, returned to pitch for the Yankees for the rest of the 2000 season. During this time, he beat the Mets at Shea and captured a World Series ring at the end of the year, despite not pitching during the Subway Series. This is what it would be like if Tom Seaver was on a Red Sox roster while the Mets were playing the Red Sox during the World Series.
Gooden pitched through 2001 Spring Training with the Yankees, but, without a chance to make the team, he retired with a career record of 194-112. Gooden took a job in the Yankees front office, and lived a relatively quiet existance compared to Darryl Strawberry's, who had battled cocaine addiction after retirement as well as prison time and colon cancer. Gooden was arrested for DUI, throwing a phone at his girlfriend's head, but nothing too serious. Most thought his problematic past was behind him. In 2005, Gooden was a fugitive for three days, and ran from the police until he turned himself in for DUI. Now we find that Gooden has once again been arrested for cocaine.
I'm disappointed. That's not because his downward spiral is a terrible tragedy or a sad tale of what drugs can do to a person. I'm disappointed because the Mets didn't win more than one championship when that great team was together. Gooden, Strawberry and others know they didn't live up to their responsibility. The fingers can be pointed at everyone: Cashen, Davey, George Foster. However, the inevitable truth is that there is only one culprit. It was Doc's fault. It was his choice to try this drug. It was his choice to keep using it. It was his choice to stop being Doc and to start being Dwight Gooden on cocaine. His addiction caused the relative failure of those Mets. One championship was great, but who knows what magic laid in waiting for this team. One could have thought the future of this team was held in the cards, held in the promising future of all of the players. Unfortunately, the future of that team is nowhere near there.
The future of those teams is currently being held in a cell near Tampa, Florida. Without bond.



George Steinbrenner is a greedy, arrogant, moneygrubbing slob. Fred Wilpon is a nice and happy man who needs a little cash to build Ebbets Field again and a little lovin' to spite James and Charles Dolan who held him and his team prisoner on MSG and FSNY for the past decade. Fred and his baby boy Jeff know what to do to spite people and make money: Create a network. Yankees fans became giddy (like they expected the MES(S) network or something) and Mets fans were floored. With this network came new and marketable faces: Randolph, Minaya, Delgado, Beltran, Wright, Reyes and Pedro. This saved the increasing likelihood of Joe McUseless and Wilson Delgado filler promos.
With the new network launching on Thursday, here are a few things that will be included:
  • Telecasts of Mets games (all home games and select road games in HD)

  • Exclusive Jets programming

  • College football and basketball games

  • 2 Daily Sports Recaps (SportsNIte and SportsRise)

  • National Lacrosse League Game of the Week

  • Daily News Live (a show in which Daily News sports personalities appear)

  • Bowflex Infomercials (you know they're coming)

  • And Some Things That Won't Be Appearing
  • Law and Order reruns (although they're on every other cable channel)

  • Yankeeography

  • Poker Superstars with Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson

  • John Rocker's Community Voices

  • SNY should be great, regardless of what's coming. I know I want to see vintage Kevin McReynolds. And there's only one place to find it.

    da daig

    As one of our readers pointed out, when you think of Joe Dimaggio, you think of everything a baseball player should be. He was good-mannered, played harder than almost anyone else you're likely to see, and most importantly, he was unbelievably talented. Plus, he was married to Monroe for nine months.
    (By the way, to see how far the Monroe/Dimaggio/Kennedy conspiracy actually might have gone, check out this article.) It's pretty interesting stuff.
    Even more impressive than all this was the fact that Joe was a pureblood. He spent every last one of his thirteen seasons in the league wearing pinstripes. Granted, baseball in the 40's wasn't the trade first ask questions later league it is becoming today, but still, no small feat.
    However, when you mention Dimaggio, it is inevitable that your mind should rest on the number 56. (CHOKE JIMMY!) And what he did in '41 was one of the most impressive feats of athleticism and endurance ever shown. (By the way, did you know that during his hit streak, he only had ONE three hit game? Weird.) But there was a lot more to Dimaggio than the streak can show. He was so good in so many ways, it's almost intimidating just looking at his numbers. In '37, his 2nd year in the league mind you, his statline was as follows.
    .346/.412/.673 46 HR 167 RBI
    A hundred and sixty seven ribbies. That's practically unheard of, and in my opinion, this was the best season for a hitter in the history of baseball... not named Babe Ruth. The Daig was just so well rounded and so terribly consistent that there wasn't a rotation in baseball that could retire him in every at bat- for 56 games.
    He was part of nine world series winning Yankee teams. He was a three time AL MVP winner. A two time batting champ. He was fast, faster than his six foot two frame suggested, and he even led the league in triples in 1936 as a rookie. What did the Yankee Clipper (a fairly lackluster nickname in my opinion) do the following year? Oh, nothing really, just led the league in home runs. Consider that. Think about how mindbogglingly GOOD a player has to be in order to one year lead the league in triples, and the next, homers. They're two remarkably different stats that require two remarkably different skills. I don't think anyone has ever repeated the feat. In fact I don't think anyone has even done it over their entire career. I love the Daig, I think he was a great person and a great Yankee, and I think he was one of the best baseball players to ever live. He deserves to be on this list, and although he may seem high to many, I just felt that he never really reached out enough to the fans of New York, never really was beloved enough. He was too reclusive, he never really loved being loved, and had he accepted his stardom, he could have been a great role model. However, all this sure as hell didn't diminsh his skill any, and that's why he is my 10th favorite Yankee since 1918.
    One final thing: Did I mention CHOKE JIMMY!

    Next, #9: Derek Jeter SS 1995-2005
    BEFORE YOU STOP READING IN DISGUST! I know what you're thinking. DJ ahead of Dimaggio? Blasphemy. Another new age Yankee fan who doesn't appreciate the past. No no no, you've got me all wrong. I'll tell you what. You come back in another couple days and I'll convince you that Jeter belongs here.

    Peace out A-town,