September 2010

End of the Year Awards

 

Time to hand out some awards!

As the end of the 2010 regular Major League Baseball season rapidly approaches, the Yankees once again have lived to play autumn baseball in New York. At the very least, the Bronx Bombers will go into the postseason as the American League Wild Card team. Yet they can still capture the American League Eastern Division over the Tampa Bay Rays.

At press time they are a ½ game out of first place in the AL East.

With only three games left after tonight’s 8-3 loss vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, it is once again time to hand out the Yankee Yapping End of the Year Awards. Last year I gave out various commendations to numerous Yankees who showed what being a Bronx Bomber is all about.

Since 2010 was a stark contrast to 2009, there are new awards this year to accommodate what each player has done or accomplished this past season. Without any further ado, here are the 2010 Yankee Yapping Awards!

 

Yankee Yapping Most Valuable Player

Winner: Robinson Cano

 

Most Valuable Cano

The Yankees are very lucky to have a player like Robinson Cano. This season, the slugging second baseman has put together an MVP caliber season with 28 home runs and 106 RBIs to this point. His numbers indicate a great year, but he did not win the YY MVP simply because of his offensive production.

His defense and overall character put him over the top.

In 155 games at second base this season (talk about durability!) Cano has only committed three errors. He has also helped turn 111 double plays and has secured a fielding percentage of .996.

Can you say Gold Glove?

Cano has also had the most consistent season among all Yankee hitters. Derek Jeter is currently hitting under .300, Mark Teixeira got off to a tortoise-like start, and Alex Rodriguez spent time on the disabled list. Cano did not slip under .300 this year, nor did he start off slow or get injured.

His season has all the makings of a valuable player.

Congrats Robinson!

 

Yankee Yapping’s Most Pleasant Surprise

Winner: Marcus Thames

Thames did well. I gotta hand it to him.

I’ll be the first to admit that when the Yankees let Johnny Damon go…or he let himself go…that I thought picking up Marcus Thames was a bad idea. He had already been a Yankee in 2002, although he was not what we would call a real Yankee.

Everyone knows that, in his first stint in pinstripes, Thames clubbed his first career home run in his first career at-bat off brand-name future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. What most people don’t know is that home run was the only long ball Thames hit in his first go-round with the Yankees and he only played seven games.

2010 was his second chance and he certainly took advantage of it.

To go along with his batting average of .291, Thames has smacked 12 home runs this year and has driven in 33 runs. Two of his homers this season stand out to me.

First off, his third home run of the year, which came on July 11–only because of who he hit it off: Brian Sweeney of the Seattle Mariners.

As almost everyone knows by now, I interviewed Sweeney over the summer and he is a graduate of my College. That home run was bittersweet for me. I was happy to see Thames get around on a hanging curveball and smash a homer, but at the same time I felt bad for Sweeney.

Being such a nice guy and, without any sarcasm, the best interview I have ever conducted, I had no choice but to feel remorseful for my fellow Mercy alumnus. But Thames did a fantastic job of clubbing the ball!

The second home run that sticks out was his walk-off blast against Jonathan Papelbon and the Boston Red Sox on May 17. After A-Rod tied the game with one swing of the bat, Thames played the role of hero and swatted Papelbon to a loss.

A glorious home run to cap off a glorious victory over Boston in the Bronx.

I may have said some harsh things about him at the beginning of the year when he struggled, but he has proved me wrong. Congrats Marcus!

 

Yankee Yapping Player Who Needs to Improve for 2011

Winner: A.J. Burnett

I love you, buddy.

He had a terrible season. I know. All of Yankee Universe knows. The whole world knows.

A.J. Burnett has one more start this season (on Saturday in Boston) and will finish 2010 under .500. He is currently 10-15 with an earned run average of 5.33. In his last 10 games Burnett is 1-6 with an ERA of 6.26. Opponents are hitting .286 against him and he has allowed 107 earned runs this season.

If that doesn’t scream the words “off-year” I really don’t know what does.

Many Yankee fans are skeptical about how he will perform in the postseason and would not trust Burnett with the ball in an important game. Yankee Universe also feels he should be bumped from the number two spot in the starting rotation; some are even going as far as saying he should be put in the bullpen.

I agree. He should be bumped from the number two spot and I doubt that he will be plugged into any spot in the starting rotation, at least for the American League Division Series. If he goes to the bullpen, he might be able to carve a niche for himself, the same way Phil Hughes did last year in relief.

Although Burnett had an abysmal year, the one thing I will not do is give up on him. I understand how poorly he produced over the summer, but something many fans forget is that he began the year at 4-0 with an ERA under three. He got off to the best start of his career only to have it collapse on him; the most successful start of his life tragically morphed into the worst season he has ever had.

The other day I was asked if the Yankees would trade Burnett over the off-season because of his poor season.

The answer is easy: No. Here are three reasons Burnett is staying in pinstripes.

1)      His salary. He is owed $49.5 million over the next three years. Give me the name of a team who is going to pick up that tab? Oh, that’s right. You can’t.

 

2)       His trade value. With his lopsided numbers, who would want him?

 

3)      The Yankees’ faith in their big free agent pitchers. Anyone remember Carl Pavano? He was owed less money than Burnett, pitched worse than Burnett, and the Yankees held onto him without even trying to shop him.

 

It’s no contest. Burnett will be in pinstripes for awhile.

And while he is in pinstripes, he needs to learn how to handle himself, go out and win games. I have seen how physically capable Burnett is really is when he is pitching. He can throw 96-98 mph fastballs, something not even Mike Mussina could pull off in 2008, the year he won 20 games.

I think it’s all mental when it comes to Burnett’s struggles. Perhaps he should consult the team psychiatrist. Wait, is there a team psychiatrist?

At any rate, it’s a not a particularly good award to win, A.J. But I still have faith that you can improve, bounce back, have a solid postseason like last year and return strong in 2011.

I still believe in you, A.J. We A.J.s have to stick together through thick and thin.

 

Yankee Yapping Sayonara Award

Winners: Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson


TERRIBLE. 

First of all, allow me to explain the nature of this award. I am handing out this award to two players who the Yankees signed, are not under contract for next season, and are most likely not coming back next year.

I had no choice but to give it Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson.

When the Yankees decided to acquire Vazquez during the off-season, I was unbelievably confused. With a somewhat failed season in pinstripes already under his belt (2004) it shocked me that the Yanks went out and traded Melky Cabrera for Vazquez during the winter meetings.

This season just proved to me that Vazquez is not and never was suited for pinstripes. The reason the Yanks wanted him was because of how well he pitched last season, but what they did not take into consideration was that he pitched in the National League.

Vazquez made the move from the NL to the AL, and not just the AL–the AL East, where the best of the best play. And when he made that move, he traveled to a 10-10 record this year with an ERA over five.

That’s enough to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. See ya, Javy.”

Now onto Johnson…

Talk about a waste of money and time. I think his uncle, Larry Bowa, should chastise him for being such a mediocre and otherwise useless ballplayer. The Yanks signed Johnson to be an everyday designated hitter and replace Hideki Matsui in the lineup.

His numbers: 24 games played, two home runs, eight RBIs, and a .167 batting average.

…………………….

Sorry, I had to run to my bathroom and puke.

Both Vazquez and Johnson are no longer under contract for 2011. Thank God.

Congrats on the award, fellas. Have fun on another team next season!

 

Yankee Yapping Ace of the Year

Winner: CC Sabathia

Big Bad CC does it again.

When all the dust had cleared at the end of 2009, CC Sabathia had 22 wins, including the postseason. The postseason has not even begun this year and the Yankees’ number one man has 21 wins. With that, he became the first Yankee to win 21 games in the regular season since Andy Pettitte, who accomplished the feat in 1996.

 If the regular season is any indication of how Sabathia will perform in October, the Yankees will be in excellent shape every time he toes the rubber. Just as Burnett has had the worst season of his career, Sabathia has statistically had the best season he has ever had.

Needless to say, he is a shoe in for the Cy Young Award. CC might very well be “Cy Cy.”

Sabathia logged 237 2/3 innings this year, coupled with 197 strikeouts. He made 34 starts, tossed two complete games, and opponents only hit .239 against him.

If all goes right for him again, he could capture another postseason MVP award, as he was the American League Championship Series MVP in 2009. Either way, I have no doubt that Sabathia will have more hardware in his trophy case very soon.

Until then he is the Yankee Yapping Ace of the Year. Congrats CC!

*Note: CC has won this award for the second year in a row!

 

Yankee Yapping Best Trade Deadline Pickup

Winner: Kerry Wood


Wood was a great pickup.   

When the trade deadline neared the end, the Yankees picked up three notable players: Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, and Kerry Wood. Without a doubt, Wood has made the best impact of all three players.

Wood was the Cleveland Indians’ closer and the Yankees needed to add a reliever to aid their scuffling bullpen. Suffice it to say, they added the right man. Wood has posted a low ERA in pinstripes and has really become a solid arm in relief.

Throughout his career, Wood has taken a lot of criticism because of his injuries; I am sure the Yankees knew about that when they traded for him. However, he was a former National League Rookie of the Year (1998, with the Chicago Cubs) and certainly possessed the capability to change the atmosphere of the bullpen.

It’s almost as if when Wood arrived, things started to turn around for them.

I remember his first outing as a Yankee against the Tampa Bay Rays. When Wood tossed that knee-buckling breaking ball and caught Evan Longoria looking like a deer in headlights, I knew right then and there he would fit in right away.

And he has.

Looking at his last 10 appearances alone is proof of that: 10 innings, no runs, four hits, five walks, 12 strikeouts, and an ERA of 0.00. He has flourished in his role as a late-inning relief pitcher and if he keeps it moving, he will be a wonderful asset when the playoffs begin.

Congrats Kerry!

 

Yankee Yapping Reliever of the Year

Winner: David Robertson

David Robertson battled back & earned it.

I know what everyone is thinking: how in the world could I have not awarded this honor to Mariano Rivera?! I would just like to say that The Great Rivera is his own “Walking Award,” so-to-speak. Rivera won it last year and he followed that up with another Mo-like season.

32 saves and a puny 1.32 ERA. Typical Mo.

But I am giving it to David Robertson simply because of how far he has come this year. At the outset of the season, Robertson could not get anyone out. He was placed in easy-going situations and lost control of everything.

Case-in-point: Opening Day vs. the Los Angeles Angels.

Robertson came into the game in a situation where there was absolutely no pressure; the Yankees were ahead 7-1 in the top of the ninth inning and he allowed that pressure get to him. He wound up surrendering a grand slam to Bobby Abreu and he nearly gave up the game because of it.

Yet, what struck me was what he said the day after it happened. I remember reading in the news the next day that he grabbed his glove before the game and had two words:

“New day.”

That’s precisely the attitude that won him this award. Well, that and his 67 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings pitched this season. He never gave up, battled back from defeat, and is a solid and trustworthy arm out of the bullpen.

He deserves the honor. Congrats David!

 

Yankee Yapping Warrior Award

Winner: Mark Teixeira

Tex is a warrior.

As I mentioned before, Mark Teixeira began the season awfully slow. He was singled out on ESPN and every other sports media outlet about how he was not producing along with being criticized for his low batting average and meager power numbers.

But by around June it all changed and the sleeping giant woke up.

The power-hitting first baseman flipped the “on switch” and quickly became the dangerous hitter he has always been. Teixeira will finish 2010 with over 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for his second straight year in pinstripes.

He has 33 home runs and 107 RBIs at press time.

The reason he is regarded as a warrior is because he has been playing for a number of days, possibly even weeks, with a broken toe. Despite a relatively painful injury, he managed to keep himself in the lineup and at first base every day.  

Obviously playing in pain, Teixeira maintained his season and never let it affect him; Paul O’Neill, revered as the consummate “Yankee Warrior,” would certainly be proud of him.

Congrats Tex!

 

Yankee Yapping Grand Slam Champion

Winner: Alex Rodriguez

Grand Slam Man: A-Rod.

Whip out the mustard and rye: it’s grand salami!

Not once. Not twice. But three times this season Alex Rodriguez has delivered with the bases loaded. The former three-time AL MVP clobbered three grand slams this season, which accounts for 3/10 of the Yankees’ grand slams this year.

In fact, the Yankees tied their single season record for grand slams, originally set in 1987–Don Mattingly led the Yanks that year with six grannies out of their 10.

On May 14, Rodriguez visited granny for the first time this season. Minnesota Twins reliever intentionally walked Teixeira to pitch to Rodriguez–a strategy that never seems to pay off, according to the numbers. The Yankee third baseman responded by crushing a go-ahead grand slam over the left field wall to give the Yanks a 7-4 edge.

They went on to win 8-4.

On May 31, merely 17 days after the slam vs. the Twins, A-Rod stepped up to the plate against the Indians. With a full count, Rodriguez smashed a bomb into Monument Park, a glorious grand slam home run to give the Yanks a 6-1 lead over the Tribe.

Once again the Bombers cruised to a victory, 11-2 over Cleveland.

Rodriguez struck one last slam on July 6 in Oakland vs. the Athletics. A-Rod helped slam the Yanks to a 6-1 win. He came up in the top of the third and blasted a grand slam off Trevor Cahill, driving in four out of the Yankees’ five runs that inning.

In addition to his slam, Rodriguez later came up in the sixth and hit a solo homer, as he knocked in five of the Yanks’ six runs by himself.

A-Rod’s excellence and ability to come through when the bases are loaded earned him this award. Hopefully he can continue to rake when the postseason starts.

Congrats Alex!

 

Well that does it for this year. Either way it goes, the Yankees have an opportunity to repeat as World Champs. While whether they win it all or not remains to be seen, it’s clear these standout players made a difference in New York this season.

Congrats to all the Yankee Yapping Award winners and to all of the Yankees.

We’ll see you in October. Good luck!

My Summer was Baseball

My summer....

If I could sum up my summer in one word it would be baseball. Then again, if I could sum up my existence in one word, it would probably be baseball.

Now that the summer is over and school is back in session (for most of us, but not all of us–I graduated college!) I thought I would reflect on everything that was special about this summer. Never in my life have I ever spent a summer that involved the sport of baseball so much. Here are a few reasons baseball has dominated my life for the past three months.

Yankee Games

 

Yankee games = FUN summer!What would a summer be without a few visits to Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks play? Well, it would be a very dull and sad summer. Thankfully that was not the case, as I was able to attend three Yankee games over the vacation.

 

Yanks/Phils on my birthdayThe first game I went to was on June 15, my 23rd birthday; a World Series rematch with the Philadelphia Phillies, in which the Yankees won 8-3. When I walked into the Stadium that night I remember thinking to myself, “The last time the Yanks and Phillies met at this ballpark, the Yanks hoisted the 2009 World Series trophy over their heads.” I felt very lucky to be at that game.

 

Yanks/Mets five days laterFive days later I made another trip to the big ballpark in the Bronx for the rubber game of the Subway Series. Yankees vs. Mets; CC Sabathia vs. Johan Santana; it doesn’t get any better than that. Mark Teixeira made it a special day by clubbing a grand slam home run, the only offense on the afternoon. The Bombers went on to beat their cross-town rivals 4-0.

 

First time in the new Monument Park

I once again experienced the thrill of Yankee Stadium on Aug. 18 when the Yankees played the Tigers. For the first time I got into Monument Park in the new house and it was nice to see Johnny Damon make his return to the Bronx–as a Tiger. The Yanks won, 9-5. Plus, before the game we got very close to the field. We could practically reach out and touch Joba Chamberlain!

Joba was so close to us! 

All of these games of course were over the summer. I also attended Opening Day, which was a great way to kick off my baseball summer.

The Yankees were 4-0 at games I went to this year and they are 8-0 at games I have been to in the new Yankee Stadium. My only hope is that they keep winning whenever I go to see them.

 

Trip to Cooperstown

 

Cooperstown was awesome

 

I don’t want to say this experience changed me at all, but in a way it did. On July 3, my friends and I took a day trip up to Cooperstown, N.Y. to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

I have already written about everything that happened that day, so I won’t re-hash every little detail of the trip. Yet, I will say that the trip increased not only my appreciation for the sport of baseball, but my love for the sport as well.

It was almost as if I was whisked back to the past; Cooperstown provides such a rich history and gives you an old-time feel.


Memories. 

What’s more, as a huge Yankee fan, it relieved me to see that about 80% of the museum was filled with Yankee memorabilia and historic artifacts. Everything from World Series rings and trophies to Babe Ruth’s jersey was on display for all to see.

Every baseball fan needs (and I stress the word NEEDS) to go to Cooperstown at least once in their life. If you do not go, you are truly missing out and history and quite possibly a life-changing experience.

 

Hudson Valley Renegades

 


A great experience; a step in the right direction.Working for a minor league baseball team all summer certainly played a huge part in how much I was involved with the sport of baseball this summer.
I have shared several stories about things I have done, players I have spoken to, and how much fun it was to get to know my coworkers.

The ‘Gades’ season ended on Sunday and it was a great way to go out: a win over the Lowell Spinners, who are a farm team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. The Renegades finished with a winning record of 39-36 and it was pretty cool that I got to be a part of their family for the summer.

As it turns out, Rick Zolzer, one of the main bosses from the organization, took notice of “Yankee Yapping” and now wants me to take over the Renegades blogging. He also knows some writers at MLB.com and he said he would mention me to them, which makes me really happy; I would be ecstatic to get my foot in MLB.com’s door. After all, writing and working for them is my ultimate goal.

Working for the Renegades will undoubtedly pay dividends for me.

 

Interview with Brian Sweeney

 

Brian Sweeney and I graduated from the same college!

One of the best things about this summer was actually talking to an active player on an MLB team. Brian Sweeney of the Seattle Mariners talked to me about his life, his background, and his family; he shared some great stories with me and I feel truly blessed that I was able to conduct an interview with him.

I’ll always remember what Sweeney said when I called him to conduct the interview: “Sure we can do the interview now…as long as it doesn’t go longer than about an hour because I have to head over to SafeCo for the game.”   

In awe, I had three words in response: “Wow, that’s awesome.”

The way he said it just left me amazed. He just said it so “matter-of-factly,” if you will.

Sweeney became the first active MLB player I have ever interviewed. I interviewed and wrote a story on John Flaherty last year, but he is retired and now a broadcaster on the YES Network. It was a bit different, considering Sweeney is still playing and he pitched at Yankee Stadium this summer.

What also made it special was that Sweeney and I graduated from the same college. It was nice to discuss what our experiences were like at Mercy, and we were able to relate to one another through that common achievement.  

Hopefully Sweeney is not the last MLB player I interview. I’m hoping for a lot more where that came from.

Now that the summer is over, there is still more baseball to look forward to. The Yankees are playing for their postseason lives and need to pick things up. 1-5 in their last six games is not a good sign, but they can pick up the slack and regain their livelihood.

Tonight CC Sabathia toes the rubber against the Tampa Bay Rays in hopes of playing the role of “stopper.”

The Yankee ace is also looking for his 20th win of 2010.

Fun Team 2010 Forever

Editor’s note: For all of the regular readers of this blog, I wrote this specifically for my summer co-workers at the Hudson Valley Renegades. It is filled with inside jokes and memories that I will hold onto for a long time.

 

 

 


It's been a great summer, Fun Team.It’s been a long summer for us, Fun Team. Countless games of whack-an-intern, store your stuff, and put it in the can basically defined my summer. But I’m really glad I got to meet and get to know each and every one of you this summer and I figured I’d write something about everyone to remember this eventful experience.

Here I go…

Jay: You are a good boss. I’m sorry I almost took your head off with that line drive during batting practice before one of the Home Run Derbies. I still laugh when I think about you trying to go around multiple times on the lazy river at Splash Down. That girl should have just let us stay on the ride for as long as we wanted!

Ellissa: I don’t know of anyone who could have manned the Pitch For Kids corner like you. Every single game you were in there, rolling dice and handing out prizes. Honestly, I would have gotten bored with it on the second night, but you have a lot of patience, which is admirable.

Jeff Helion: Like Jay, you are a good boss. Tough, but very fair. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom at Lily Logan’s that night and I’ll certainly use you as a reference for future jobs. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

E.D.: I’m glad I did this internship because I got to know you. When we were both at OLL, I really didn’t know you very well and now I do. You did an excellent job getting the contestants into the pits. “Follow those lads there.”

Crash: Thank you for driving me around a few times this summer, especially the night of the party. You did a lot for me these past two months and I’m really glad I met you. I’ll never forget the softball game with “The Mad Hatter!!!!” I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around Yorktown a lot more now.

Dice: I know I’ve said this a million times, but I’M SORRY I missed the first Fun Team Frenzy party–words cannot express how disappointed I was that I missed it. I guess I made up for it with the second party, though. Whenever you have your next gathering, just let me know. It doesn’t matter what I have going on at the time, I’ll be there. I promise.

Kevin: Without any sarcasm, you threw the absolute BEST party I have ever been to in my life. I know I was a little out of it that night, but thank you for not killing me with the arm bar.

Yetti: The water fight we started with Derek Dietrich on your last night (Rain Delay Night) was a lot of fun. You’re a funny kid with a great sense of humor. I also laugh every time I look at the picture of you and that random guy who looks like you…Dice: “Yetti, is that your dad???”

 


Yetti's dad...?Sizzle:  
Thank you for (at least trying) to get me sober at the party. I enjoyed it when you squirted Jared Sandberg’s lineup card with the water gun and Yetti got blamed for it. It’s all good, because he later told me he was just messing with us.

Dog:  You are a good guy with a lot of hustle (according to Sandberg). The other night when the little kid was asking us for a ball and Sandberg told him to guess your nickname–that was awesome. Especially when he started whistling to give the kid a hint. “Is his name Kyle?” I have no idea where the kid came up with that name. It was so random.

Dan Vincenzi: I had a lot of fun quoting movies and the Andrew Dice Clay/CNN video with you all the time.  “You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”…”You’re supposed to be a news guy. Running a gym???” You also came prepared to the party with the flask of Jameson. That…was epic. You also saved me the first night of training. I couldn’t find the Gold’s Gym, I crossed paths with you at the Mobil station, and you got me there. What can I say? You ran me to the gym…

Emma: I am truly disappointed that I never got the opportunity to witness (first hand) your amazing pie-eating contest super powers. However, the game that you were Rascal and I was handling you all night was one of my favorite nights of work. I was very happy you didn’t fall out of the car during Honda Ball Toss and the two of us got everything right that game.

 


We did good, Emma.Marissa:
No matter what you say, Dan and I dethroned you and Emma as flip cup champs at the party. In all seriousness though, you are a great person and getting to know you was just awesome. I really enjoyed all of our conversations about our future goals. Just always remember…journalism is better than public relations.

Hort: It’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to get to know you or talk to you as much as some of the other Fun Teamers. But the night we all had to be mascots was great. I’m sure the crowd laughed when they saw Thomas the Tank Engine (you) dancing with Captain America (me). Driving home that night, I thought to myself, “I’m sure that was a sight to behold for the fans–a train dancing with a super hero.”

 


Great night.Ben:
You were one of the hardest working members on the entire Fun Team. Giving out those build-a-bears the other night was a pain in the neck, but thankfully we got out of it after awhile. You were a master at selling those tennis balls and you really know how to connect with people.

Louis: I’m really happy that, like Dan Vincenzi, I was able to get you hooked on the “Running a Gym?” quote. I cannot express how much I loved talking about Family Guy and the Chuck Norris jokes every day. I really wish I could have been there when you got pied in the face (for about four straight innings) on Groundhog Day night (I was in Playland). And just so I understand this completely…at no point were you running a gym?

Conor: The first night of training at Gold’s Gym, it was really cool to hear that you caught Jorge Posada’s grand slam ball. I also think it was cool that you got to drive the player from the Jamestown Jammers to the airport, even though he didn’t talk much. You are a really great kid and I’m really happy I met you.

Nick at Nite: Here’s to the fastest runner on the Fun Team! I enjoyed both of our races, even though my left knee received extreme physical trauma as a result of our first race. You beat me fair and square in the second race, though. I said last night that you are a good kid and I meant it.

Alex Kamen: I really don’t have much to say to you except…we do things the “Alex Kamen way of doing things: guaranteed to work every time.” According to Crash, you want us to come to your school to party and visit. Sounds good to me!

Honest Abe: I am not very happy that you left the Fun Team and then showed up to more games after you quit. I really don’t think that made a lot of sense and many of the other Fun Teamers were annoyed with the decision you made. But thank you for taking the photo of me in the Captain America costume. It’s one of my favorite pictures.

 


Solid.Slim Jim:
You made an excellent Rookie on the night of the mascot wedding vow renewal. You are a nice guy and good luck with everything at Penn State.

Stevie Wonder: You are truly talented, my friend. You were the centerpiece of the Thriller dance and the Under the Sea dance. You also have a lot of courage; after all, it takes guts to grab your crotch like Michael Jackson in front of a packed stadium. I enjoyed working with you this summer and your outgoing personality is admirable.

Tyler: It’s unfortunate that you could not stay with us for the whole summer. But I am very happy you found another internship with the New York Jets. I really hope that went well for you and good luck up in Cortland.

Padre: I heard stories about your experience from the first Fun Team party and (going back to what I said to Dice) I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. I laugh every time I think about you dressed up in the Cookie Monster costume the night of the mascot wedding and you’re a good guy. I hope everything works out for you in terms of football.

Bob Hand: You are one of a kind. I’ll always remember you for your rally belly and affinity for beer. When the majority of the Fun Team went back to college, you helped us out in a major way. I am sad that the Renegades didn’t walk off with any wins toward the end of the season, meaning I didn’t get the chance to pie any of the players in the face. I’ll get one of them someday, though…

Curious George:  I remember (ever so vividly) when you were given your nickname the first night of training at the Dutch. You climbed that gate and Jay called you Curious George. You wanted to be called A.D.D. Adam, but trust me; you went with the better nickname.

J.D.:  Your parents are really cool. They went out of their way to feed us sandwiches and cookies that one night, which was very thoughtful. And you are a lot like your parents J.D., because you are really cool. But we are never putting you in the ticket office again. “So that’s what that button does…”

Little Lurch: I will say that you are a little strange (dressing up in all those crazy costumes) but you have a lot of spirit. I would have never gotten on the dugout to pump up the crowd the way you did; your actions showed a lot of heart. We also made a great team bagging and numbering tennis balls.

Jeff Allison: The best memory I have with you is probably the party. Like Sizzle, you were valiantly trying to sober me up and I really enjoyed working with you.

Lucas: Technically, you weren’t on the Fun Team but you helped me out a lot when you weren’t in the Rascal costume. I loved handling the mascots because you never complicated anything; it was a simple job and it never became difficult. Plus, the mascot dance parties were always great. I’m glad I met you this summer and good luck with running track at Lourdes (my alma mater, as I always pointed out when you mentioned school). I loved when me and you (Rascal) played frisbee on the field before baseball buddies and the reliever intercepted your throw. Good times. 

And last, but never the least…

Bri-man: We had a great team, and a great team is nothing without a great captain. After every game you gave us motivation to keep moving forward with your speeches, which meant a lot to every Fun Teamer. We would have been nothing without you this season and it was so nice getting to know you, Bri-man. I have learned that you have a great heart and a sensitive soul, but you also possess a deep passion for success.

We had a great run this summer and I will never forget this experience. There’s not much left to say except…

Fun Team 2010 Forever.


Watching the season fade away...  

A Nice Baby BoSox Player

The world might be ending. I never thought I would say nice things about a potential Boston player.

I am just about finished with my summer internship with the Hudson Valley Renegades these past two nights have been eventful, in terms of speaking with more players. I wrote the other night about the Staten Island Yankee who interestingly enough hates the big Yankees and how he wanted to go home.

The Renegades host the Lowell Spinners this weekend

To close out the season the Renegades are playing the Lowell Spinners, a farm team of the Boston Red Sox, in a three game series. In game one on Friday night, the Spinners beat the ‘Gades 11-3.

At one point in the game, the Renegades pitcher came set to deliver to one of the Spinners. Right before he was about to throw the pitch, the batter called time and stepped out of the box. Our man on the mound said, “Are you going to get in the box and hit or stand there and watch it all night?”

That didn’t go over very well.

After that exchange there was a little bit of a standoff between both sides. The Renegades stayed in their dugout (albeit their defensive players were on the field, obviously) but the Spinners looked ready to pounce. They all came out of their dugout and stared down the Renegades before order was restored.

However, one player toward the end of the dugout looked at me. I was working in the third base pit, standing less than five feet away from him. He smiled at me and some of the other interns who were working. One of my friends smiled back and jokingly said, “You guys need backup?”

He couldn’t help but laugh.

I wound up talking with him for the better part of the night. His name is Garrett Rau, an up-and-coming reliever. Honestly, he was a nice guy. He was asking me where the best local bars were, because he was contemplating a night out after the game. I told him about a bar down the street from the Stadium and gave him the drink prices.

“$3.50 for a bottle of Bud Lite,” I told him.

He nodded, as if to say, “Not bad.”

I saw Rau again tonight, as I was back in the third base pit for tonight’s game. The Renegades won 6-2.

“Did you go out last night?” I asked.

“No, I was just too tired to go out, so I nixed the idea,” he replied.

“I hear you,” I said, sympathizing with the exhausted feeling after last night’s game.

Garrett Rau: A Baby Bosock. A nice guy.

We chatted for a little while longer about the silly games that take place on the field in between innings. The Renegades have a different theme every night and tonight was (no joke) “Child Please Night.” We honored the end of summer and the start of the NFL season with different football style games on the field.

One contest was the touchdown celebration game. We picked contestants out of the crowd and gave them a football. They had to do their best touchdown celebration and the winner was decided by loudest ovation from the crowd.

None of the celebrations were all that original.

Rau looked at me said, “That was lame.”

I agreed.

“They should have come up with something cool, like Terrell Owens falling asleep on the ball,” I said.

Rau agreed. He then said that we at least change up the games every night. According to him, the interns at the Spinners’ ballpark in Massachusetts conduct the same contests every night and the players get tired of them.

It’s good to know we are at least providing everyone with new material on a nightly basis.

The ‘Gades and Spinners will play the rubber game tomorrow night to finish off their 2010 New York Penn League seasons. Rau was a little annoyed about the start time of tomorrow’s game. Before the game ended tonight, he asked me what time tomorrow’s game started.

“Seven, I think,” I answered.

“Great,” he sarcastically remarked. “It’s our last game of the season and we’re going to be starting later than usual.”

Normally Sunday games begin at 5:00 but since it’s the last game of the year, it starts later.

Perhaps I’ll see him again tomorrow, but driving home I got to thinking: is it bad that I was conversing and almost cultivating a friendship with a baby Red Sox player? After all, I am one of the most die-hard Yankee fans there is, so is it wrong for me to be talking to this guy?

I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s not his fault he was drafted by Boston. It’s just like the Staten Island Yankee who hates the Yankees–he is not playing for the team by choice, he is only playing for them because they drafted him.

Maybe one day Rau will make the majors. If he does happen to go all the way and he becomes a member of the Red Sox, I will not like him so much.

But for now, I’ll say that he’s not a bad guy.

A Baby Yankee Hates the Big Yankees

This isn’t going to be a long entry, to begin. This particular exchange happened tonight, I found it amusing, and I figured I would write a small blog about it–just to let everyone know what happened.

Tonight I was working at Dutchess Stadium, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades. I blogged earlier in the summer about the internship opportunity they afforded me.

The ‘Gades were hosting the Staten Island Yankees , the short season Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, in a doubleheader.

At one point in the night I went with my buddy Dan Burckhard (A.K.A. “Crash”… it’s his nickname. Long story) to open up a gate behind the opposing bullpen for an on-the-field activity in between innings.

We wound up getting a chance to speak with some of the relief pitchers on the Staten Island Yankees. One of them looked right at me and then asked me a strange question.

Number 50 hates the Yankees.

“Do you have a gun? I’d like to shoot myself now.”

“No,” I responded. “I’m guessing you want to go home?”

He laughed and said, “Yes. We’ve been here for way too long.”

No argument from me. I wanted to leave, too.

He continued, “Can you get me a beer?”

I laughed and said, “If I could I definitely would. And I would have a drink with you, since technically you are a Yankee and I am a huge Yankee fan.”
Here’s when it happened.

“I F-(expletive) HATE the Yankees,” he said.

“But…you play for them,” I responded.

“Yeah, but not by choice,” he said.

Wow. I laughed pretty hard when he said that. A player on a team of baby Yankees hates the adult Yankees. I just found it rather ironic and it was quite interesting to me.
It made for good conversation, at least.

When I got home I looked him up. His name is Michael Recchia from Crestwood, Illinois. Maybe he’s a White Sox fan? Or maybe he likes losing. He could be a Cubs fan.

And if you were wondering, the Renegades beat the Yanks 2-1 in the first game and crushed them 15-1 in game two of the twin bill.

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