When Citi Field and Yankee Stadium 2.0 opened in 2009, there were inevitable and exhaustive comparisons between the two. The consensus was, at least among my friends, that the Mets park was much better than what the Yankees had built in that it felt more like a baseball stadium. It seemed that the Yankees didn’t build a baseball stadium as much as they openend an airport shopping mall with a baseball field in the middle of it, peppering it with a few hot dog stands. Also, Citi Field had better food offerings: a pair of Danny Meyer food stands, a beer garden, and vegetarian options.
Although both stadiums were built almost exactly where the old parks stood, the two parks were built as centerpieces of urban redevelopment in the South Bronx and at Willets Point in Queens.
The Yankees opened a Hard Rock Cafe that is open year-round, even when the Yankees aren’t playing. I don’t know a single person that would plan a trip to go there.
At Citi Field, however, there will be a much more compelling reason to schlep to Willets Point during the baseball offseason. Danish brewery Mikkeller is coming to Citi Field:
Mikkeller announced that it’s expanding, and will open its first East Coast Brewery this fall at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. The forthcoming brewery “Mikkeller Brewing NYC” will be in a non-ticketed part of the stadium, and remain open year-round.
I think the Mets outdid the Yankees here, again. Mikkeller has a sterling reputation among beer nerds with their breweries in Copenhagen, Denmark and in San Diego, California and with two bars—also in California—in San Francisco and Los Angeles. This will be their first foothold in the US East Coast. And although the food options are “safe,” trafficking in established household names of contemporary cuisine, namely David Chang’s fried chicken and Pat LaFrieda’s burgers, it sure beats eating whatever passes for food at a Hard Rock Cafe these days.
Mikkeller NYC is due to open this fall, presumably shortly after the Mets have been eliminated from qualifying for the postseason.
Before the home opener at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, the team paid tribute to Vin Scully by replaying some of the most memorable calls of his 67-year tenure as the Dodger’s broadcast announcer. The fifteen-minute–long tribute included the players from those moments, including Sandy Koufax, three-quarters of the celebrated 1970s Dodgers infield, a video tribute from Kirk Gibson, and even Don Newcombe. The now eighty-nine year–old Newcombe who was Brooklyn’s starting pitcher at Scully’s first Dodger’s game assignment.1
As Scully gets closers to calling his final game this year, there will undoubtedly be more tributes such as these. But perhaps the best tribute to his career is the nearly–5000-word biographical article Greg King wrote for SABR.
As King notes, it is Scully—not Koufax or Kershaw— who is clearly the “greatest left hander” in Dodger history.
I would embed the video, but, inexplicably, MLB does not support HTTPS embeds. ↩
The Dodgers had an excellent season. However, the team’s flaws became evident as they faced the Mets, a team that apparently has forgotten how to lose.
Speaking of which, the Mets and the Royals are the last two teams standing. A lot of players will be enacting their childhood dreams tonight as they play in the World Series! It must an absolutely exciting experience for everyone involved, including the fans. Players, managers, coaches, and front-office personnel have spent their entire professional lives for this opportunity, and heaven knows that fans of the Mets and of the Royals have suffered through some pretty terrible teams over the last couple of decades. They’re all due.
But as is common with any winning team, the bandwagon starts to pick up hop-ons. It’s amusing to see many baseball fans, many of whom I’ve seen wear NY Yankees gear, suddenly trade in their slovenly navy-and-white, interlocking “NY” caps for a crisp blue-and-orange one, with a curvier set of letters on the front.
However, I’m excited for the many long-suffering fans who have the warmest seats on their team’s bandwagon. I usually avoid naming people on this site, but I think, in this case, they deserve to be recognized their loyalty. Hopefully, people Googling their names in the future will not be fans of the Yankees or Cardinals…or whoever wins this year’s series.
New York Nationals
Michele B. had a ticket package when I first met her, and she was the only one of Sarah’s friends who knew more about baseball than I did. She also initially approved of my going out with Sarah because I “liked the Mets.”
Julian C. was a grad-school colleague, and I attended several games with him at Shea Stadium from his family’s Saturday-game plan in the early 2000s. He knows more about baseball than anyone else I’ve ever met, save for the late Robert Sklar.
Jill G. and Jake L. are two new friends from the McCarren Park softball world. I can almost see the scars on their bodies from years of disappointing Mets teams. Jill could probably name you every player who has ever batted clean-up for the Mets. For example, she reminded me about Jose Valentin. Jake, on the other hand, is a bit more reserved. I suspect it’s a bit hard for him to conjure up memories of those terrible, terrible teams.
Steve L. recently finished his exhausting tour of thirty major league parks. He didn’t finish it in a year, but that’s because he mostly—if not only—went to Mets games. He’s getting married next spring, and if the Mets pull this off, I feel he’ll have the most unreal twelve months of his life. Only a kid and a paid residency at a BBQ joint would make the year better.
Eddie and Rich S. are twin brothers I met over a decade ago in McCarren Park playing softball. Eddie recently showed me photos of his Mets memorabilia collection, including his signed Benny Aghbayani jersey. Rich lives in Jersey now so he’s miserable enough to need those kind of tchotchkes.
Matt S. is someone I met in grad school and played softball with on our Cinema Studies intramural team. He was always a die-hard Mets fan, and I’m excited that he finally gets to forgive Carlos Beltran for striking out in 2006.
Eric S. and I have watched more Mets games together—both on TV and at the park—than any of my other friends. We even had a ticket package at old Shea Stadium in mid-2000s that got us some Opening Day games and a handful of Yankee games. We sometimes sold those at a nice markup.
Kansas City Americans
Jonathan M. told me a couple of years ago that he was a Royals fan. I thought he was joking.
As for me, I’m quietly rooting for the New York Nationals. I had followed the Dodgers since Opening Day and, although I had a feeling they would poop the bed in the playoffs, I wanted them to do well. At the same time, I have been a Mets sympathizer but only kinda. Since moving to New York so many years ago I vowed to root for the Mets, but the only times they’ve even made the playoffs since I’ve been here, they’ve faced—and then beaten—the Dodgers. But even now that the Mets have risen to the top of the National League, I’m staying off the bandwagon. I don’t have a right to claim a seat, and after all, I am not big on crowds.
Back in 2004, there was an older version of this site. It was pretty much a blog like it is today, but it was running Moveable Type and I was posting to it a lot more often than I do today. Since 2009, I migrated the site to WordPress and, although I vowed to import all those old entries into the new CMS, I never did.
Eleven years ago this month, the Yankees held a commanding 3-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. Game 3 was an absolute ass kicking at Fenway Park. The Red Sox were embarrassed at home by the Yankees, 19-8, and were in danger of being swept the next day.
At the time, I wrote the following on the old blog:
Saturday night’s Game 3 was tragic for the Bostons and their fans1. The Yankees pummeled them 19-8. The game lasted over four hours, partly because it was an American League playoff game and partly because the teams combined to score 27 runs. After losing that game, the Red Sox would have to win the next 4 games to advance to the World Series. Fat chance because, as we’ve all heard by now, only hockey teams have come back from an 0-3 deficit in a best o’ seven series.
But it might not be all that bad for the Bostons. The Red Sox have retired the jersey numbers of four player’s numbers: 1 (Bobby Doerr), 9 (Ted Williams), 8 (Carl Yastrzemski), and 27 (Carlton Fisk). Those numbers are the same as the score of Saturday’s game, 19-8, and the combined runs for the game, 27. I think this bodes well for the B-towners.
By now, everyone knows the story. The Red Sox beat the Yankees four games in a row, including two epic extra-inning affairs in Game 4 and Game 5, to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.
Last night, the Mets took a commanding 3-0 lead against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series. The Mets beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 5-2, in a game that seemed much more out of hand than that slim three-run margin would suggest. Around here, Mets fans and their bandwagon seat-mates are confident that the Mets will take the pennant and advance to the World Series.
Allow me to play devil’s advocate. Wouldn’t it be something if the Cubs took the series? After all, there’s a lot of similarities between the plight of the Chicago Nationals in 2015 and the Bostons in 20042. If that happens…
The Cubs would have broken their “curse” by going down 0-3 in a league championship series to a New York team and then won four games in a row to advance to the World Series.
This afternoon, about two hours before the NLCS Game 4 takes place at Wrigley Field, this outcome seems unthinkable. But baseball is a strange game. The Cubs still have a chance to advance to the World Series, and if they win, it would be, as someone who passed away earlier this year reputedly said, “dejá vu all over again.”
Update: I did some post-facto “research,” and found that Phil Rogers at MLB.com has also linked the 2004 Red Sox and the 2015 Cubs to Theo Epstein and a 0-3 deficit to a New York team. Also similar, Rogers refers to the Cubs by their location, calling them the “North Siders.” Cute.
At the time, I apparently referred to baseball teams by their city names. It now seems strange that I ever did that. ↩
There I go…naming baseball teams after their cities again. ↩
Pardon my silence over the last three weeks. I was asked to take an unpaid gardening leave for two weeks, and I stayed away from the computer as much as I could. And after my digital sabbatical was over, the beginning of the semester loomed on the horizon. Between the two, I stopped posting on this site.
I should have said something about it, but I was surprised as anyone that I would take such an extended leave from posting.
Before starting my leave, I planned to a bunch of awesome things, although tending to a garden was not one of them, including:
Visiting my friend Joe in Maine. He works there during the summer, and invited me to spend some time in the summer resort town of Northeast Harbor. Having never been before, it sounded like paradise.
Join my friend Steve in Baltimore as he watches a baseball game at a thirtieth different ballpark. Over the last three years, Steve leveraged all the spending his business generates into frequent flyer miles. Those miles allowed him to travel to a bunch of different cities to watch a baseball game at every current major league ballpark. His last stop was on August 17, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. He’s not sure whether he’s going to do the International League or the Pacific Coast League next…or whether he’ll ever attend another baseball game again.
Hit the beach. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve been going to the beaches around here, and it’s pretty easy to bike to many of the beaches around here.
Organize my living and working space. Since I switched to the other side of the Newtown Creek, I’ve been uninspired to unpack the boxes I used to carry and hold my possessions. Going on cleaning and organizing binges used to be an embarrassing indulgence.
Go to Block Island or somewhere similarly exotic. As well as bikes and trains work together, bikes and ferries work even better. I had considered doing something like riding my bike out to Montauk and then catching the ferry to Block Island. But I could never find a time to do that.
As is the case with most of my grand plans, I did very few of these. Yes, I did go to the beach once, and I did go to Baltimore to watch the Mets play at Citi Field South Camden Yards with Steve and a few friends. But I didn’t visit any new places, such as the northeastern coast of Maine or one of America’s “Last Great Places”. Instead, I did a few familiar bike rides.
Biked to Peekskill. This was a Monday ride that turned into an opportunity to enjoy dollar-oysters at the Peekskill’s Brewery. It however started as a coin-toss ride. My friend Brian and I rode the Westchester and Putnam county trails to Carmel, then rode on NY-301 to the junction with US-9. There we flipped a coin. Heads: we turned right to Beacon; Tails: we turned left to Peekskill. Since neither of us had a coin, I asked Siri to do so. At first, it gave us a smart-ass response: “You’re never going to believe this, but the coin landed on its edge.” We flipped again, Siri said “tails,” and we headed south to Peekskill. I’m considering making this a formal club ride, calling it something like “Heads Beacon, Tails Peekskill.”
Biked to Philadelphia. I am planning to write a dedicated post about this ride. In the meantime, suffice to say that I had planned to ride all the way to Baltimore, over two days, to meet my friend Steve for that game at his thirtieth major-league park. However, after riding 97 miles to Philadelphia in 95°F heat, I decided it would be better to ship my bike back to New York and take a bus to Baltimore. The ride did serve as a testing ground for my canonical route to Philadelphia.
Biked to Amagansett. Like the aborted ride to Baltimore, this was supposed to a Babylon-to-Montauk ride. On the same day as this ride through the Hamptons, our house was hosting a BBQ—a DreBQ as we call it out here. Since I didn’t want to miss the party, I aimed to return to NYC on the 3:30 PM train out of Montauk, which would put me in NYC by 7:00 PM. A couple of mechanical issues delayed our group’s progress so I bailed in Amagansett to catch that Montauk train along its westbound route. Until we had those flats, after the first half of the ride, we were due to finish the whole 92-mile course in about six hours.
And since returning to work, I assembled syllabi for three classes:
With the long summer break and my own gardening leave behind me and the semester beginning today, I recognize that I didn’t completely “turn off” during the break or do something completely unfamiliar. But I did do things that I enjoy and do pretty well.
Last Thursday night, I was watching the LA feed of the Dodgers-Phillies game in Los Angeles. As is the case with all Dodgers home games, Vin Scully was calling the game. In the sixth inning, the Philadelphia pitcher Severino Gonzales was struggling with his control and walked Andre Eithier. After the walk, the Phillies catcher jumps out of his crouch and jogs to the pitching mound to calm his pitcher. Vin Scully colorfully narrated the mound visit, saying, “and Cameron Rupp goes out there like a Dutch uncle to talk to him.”
What on earth is a dutch uncle?
Many, many years ago, the renown film scholar Thomas Elsaesser, who is an Englishman with a post at the University of Amsterdam, visited NYU. At a large dinner held in his honor, he told me that the English have at least one-hundred expressions that are derogatory to the Dutch. He offered this pearl of wisdom after I jokingly asked Elsaesser whether we were each “going dutch” as we were presented the check, although I believe NYU ultimately paid for the dinner.
The many derogatory expressions makes sense considering England and the Netherlands are neighboring countries, separated by the North Sea, who fought a series of wars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries over trade routes and imperialism. It’s no secret that the people in one nation generally take a degrading view towards their neighbors. Consider the American expression Canadian tuxedo and the countless things people in the southwest say about Mexicans.
To the English, a dutch uncle is someone who advises by admonishment. It is, as the Wikipedia entry succinctly puts it, the opposite of someone who is “avuncular or uncle-like.”
Just as our long, brutal winter ended in the northeast, major league baseball swiftly returned last week to usher in the new spring season. It couldn’t come soon enough.
Although I didn’t mention it on this site at the time, baseball—along with late-season bicycling—was a welcome distraction last fall as my life was basically falling apart. Baseball seemed like an unlikely source of solace at the time because I had essentially missed the entire 2014 regular season. As a cord cutter, it was impractical to watch a game on television. Also, watching baseball at home was, to me, not unlike drinking—it’s kind of fun but socially unacceptable unless you’re doing it with other people.
The unthinkable happened: I managed to miss an entire season of baseball
Even more unusual for me, I didn’t attend a single baseball game in 2014. I hadn’t gone an entire season without going to a baseball game since the Clinton administration. The closest I came to following the 2014 baseball season was catching a few occasional glimpses, such wood-cover notebooks for the hipster set that resemble baseball bats, better-than-perfect games, a film about the late Doc Ellis, and yes, Derek Jeter retiring. It was so bad that I was basically shocked to learn that the Washington Nationals were considered a favorite to win the World Series.
As I was sleeping on a friend’s couch in late September, I learned via Twitter that the As and Royals were playing perhaps the best one-game playoff in the history of the game. That excitement, that connection to other people, and that feeling of not-knowing the outcome are why I loved watching baseball in the first place. After that game, I was determined to watch as much baseball as possible to reconnect with friends and strangers alike. I had felt alone for the past two months and, even if I was always around my friends, they were around mostly to console me. With the baseball playoffs, however, it was an activity we could all share that wasn’t about my own emotional pain. In the end, I watched every almost game of the playoffs anyway I could: on a television screen at a friend’s place, on a projected image at a local bar, or through a streaming device using a VPN. By the time the World Series finished at the end of October, my life seemed to make a little more sense than it did before the that crazy game in Kansas City.
All I want is one more baseball game. “See you tomorrow night!” I need the distraction
For all the relief baseball brought me last year, I had basically missed spring training and was vaguely aware that baseball was starting this year. But last week, while I was in California for a wedding and some other business, my brother came through with an irresistible offer: he had tickets to Opening Day at Dodger’s Stadium.
I forgot how exciting it is to go to an Opening Day game. It had been close over ten years since I had been to one, most recently at the now-demolished Shea Stadium. It had been even longer, since 2001 or so, since I had seen an opening day game at Dodger Stadium: I remember Chan Ho Park pitching a shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Last Monday was a truly exhilarating experience that included several highlights.
The Dodger Stadium Express bus didn’t exist more than five years ago, but it was a very popular way to get to the stadium that day. When we saw the long lines of people waiting board the bus, one guy in our crew called an Uber to take us to the stadium. It was a foolish decision because the driver couldn’t get us any closer than a mile from the stadium. We ended up getting out of the car and hiking up the hill. After the game, however, we waited patiently to board the bus, but it took close to an hour to travel down the hill to Union Station. The interminable trip however did not dampen our mood: most everyone remained festive recounting the game’s highlights and debating about the best option for post-game revelry. By the way, the duration and popularity of this shuttle bus service convinced me there are two places in Los Angeles that could really use direct rail service: LAX and Dodger Stadium. I hope to see it happen in my lifetime.
Two things happened around the same time. Pitcher Yimi Garcia entered the game in the seventh inning to relieve Clayton Kershaw, and new Dodger and veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins hit a three-run homer to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning that ultimately won the game for the Dodgers. First, we learned to pronounce Garcia’s first name—Yee-mee!— in the seventh. We later repurposed it for Rollins in the eighth—Yee-mee!
Getting reacquainted with Mexican slang and their colorful uses at a ballgame. Although this is hardly what I would call a “family blog,” I won’t get into any details here.
Watching the game in person was not only the best way to watch the game, it was probably also the only way for most people. For the second season, most fans can’t watch the Dodgers on TV because of a retransmission dispute between SportsNet LA and most area MVPDs, including DirecTV. My guess is that the game was available on TV for as many people in 2015 as it was when Dodger home games were available only on ON-TV in the 1980s.
It was not only a great way to start watching baseball again, it was the best way end this awful and depressing winter.
But by notching one more strikeout than Cain or Koufax, Kershaw bested them by one point. However, reading the description of each game, Kershaw seemed to dominate in more ways than Game Score can measure. Let’s see, here. Kershaw faced 28 batters, and one reached due to a Hanley Ramirez error. Kershaw punched-out fifteen of the remaining twenty-seven batters, which leaves twelve batters. Eight of those put the ball in play but failed to get the ball out of the infield. That leaves four batters who, according to the accounts I read, made soft contact, managing to only lift some lazy fly balls to the outfield. Let that sink in: there were only four lazy fly balls hit to the outfield! By comparison, in Matt Cain’s perfect game from 2012, there were seven balls hit to the outfield, and that seemed freakishly low at the time. In either case, it shows how dominating Cain and Kershaw were in these historic games, turning big league hitters into beer league players.
One was perfect, but one was better than perfect.
Hanley Ramirez seriously owes Kershaw a nice gift for blowing that play, like a sports car or a year of college tuition. ↩
Home | TripMode | Your mobile data savior.2017/03/01 MacSparky suggested this to help you save data transfer when tethering. Looks reasonable for those of us considering switching to an unlimited plan with tethering.
The Jobs Americans Do - NYTimes.com2017/02/24 An enlightening set of portrayals of nine job Americans do now. An old college chum, Eric Steuer, penned on of the portraits in the series.
Underground New York2017/02/22 "A rare behind-the-scenes view of the exploding New York “underground” in the late sixties, a turbulent time and place that was to change American culture forever. A German TV crew, led by journalist Gideon Bachmann, explores the epicenter of the sixties revolution in art, music, poetry and film and interviews the main players in the “New American Cinema,” that was born on the streets of New York. Against a backdrop of cultural upheaval in all of the arts and growing political agitation against the Vietnam War, Bachman interviews the most prominent figures in “underground film,” including Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke, the Kuchar Brothers and Bruce Connor, and visits the most notorious location in the New York art world of the era - Andy Warhol’s Factory - to conduct an interview with the genius of Pop Art himself."
– Scott Hammen
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