Tag:Neil Young
Posted on: April 23, 2010 11:43 pm
 

Champion Yankees already in historic company

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Absolutely amazing statistic here: The New York Yankees, heading into their weekend series here Friday, have won each of their first five series ... and they're the first defending World Series champion to do that in 88 years.

Yes, 88.

Doesn't seem possible that that many World Series champions have come and gone without winning that many series out of the gate the following year.

But according to the Elias Sports Bureau, these Yankees are the first since the 1922 New York Giants to do it -- and only the third World Series champion ever to do it. The only other one: The 1904 Boston Red Sox.

Meantime, in another stat that doesn't seem possible, the 2010 Yankees have equaled the all-time franchise record by winning each of their first five series, matching that of the 1926 Yankees. Only one other Yankees team has ever started the season with as many as four series' wins in a row -- the 1922 Yanks.

The Yankees are one of three teams to begin this season with five consecutive series wins. The other two are the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals.

Likes: Watching Derek Jeter play, any day. ... Craig Ferguson might be the single funniest man on television. His Late, Late Show is consistently outstanding. ... One more week until Friday Night Lights is back for a fourth season. I know, if I had DirecTV, I could have watched the fourth season last fall. But I don't.

Dislikes: Terrible night for Angels catcher Bobby Wilson on Friday, leaving with an ankle injury and a concussion after getting drilled in an extraordinarily violent collision at the plate with Mark Teixeira. It wasn't a dirty play, just a bad and unfortunate initial decision by Teixeira not to slide. Wilson was in front of the plate to receive the throw from right field, and Teixeira went for the back half of the plate. When he finally decided to slide, belatedly, he was caught in-between and though his feet were starting to go down, his body was still up as Wilson dove across the plate from front to back to tag him. At that point, Teixeira lowered his shoulder to brace for a collision when it became apparent there would be one. Anyway, Wilson is a 26-year-old rookie who was making his first start behind the plate.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"There's colors on the street
"Red, white and blue
"People shufflin' their feet
"People sleepin' in their shoes
"But there's a warnin' sign
"On the road ahead
"There's a lot of people sayin'
"We'd be better off dead
"Don't feel like Satan,
"But I am to them
"So I try to forget it,
"Any way I can"

-- Neil Young, Rockin' in the Free World

Posted on: October 10, 2009 9:21 pm
 

Who's throwing out the first snowball?

DENVER -- The only thing missing is the Christmas carols. Showed up for Game 3 of the NL Division Series between Philadelphia and Colorado here Saturday and a Currier & Ives print broke out.

They postponed the game even before my plane landed Saturday morning, crystallizing baseball's worst nightmare this postseason. No, not me landing to cover a game.

Weather.

Already, this postseason is running late because the season was pushed back because of the lunar calendar this year (Easter, Labor Day, everything was running late) and because they had to shoehorn the World Baseball Classic into the schedule this spring.

If the World Series goes the distance, Game 7 is scheduled for Nov. 5.

With the Yankees, Boston, Philadelphia and Colorado all still alive -- some more alive than others -- there is a very real chance that Saturday's 20-something temperatures in Denver will not be the only time this postseason that Mother Nature throws baseball a curve.

Playing into November is ludicrous. Unless ... the two Los Angeles teams meet in a Freeway Series. Could happen, too, with the Dodgers closing out St. Louis in the one playoff game played on Saturday and with the Angels opening in Boston on Sunday just one win away from advancing to the AL Championship Seires.

Failing an Angels-Dodgers Fall Classic, last year's rain, bitter cold and ridiculous start times in Philadelphia could look innocuous compared to what might be in store later this fall.

As for Denver on Saturday, when I left the hotel for a walk and lunch around midday, I walked through serious snow flurries. It was so cold that the skin on my face started to feel numb.

Baseball was absolutely correct to postpone the game, particularly with temperatures in Denver on Sunday and Monday predicted to range from a high in the low 50s to a low in the upper 30s.

I just hope the early taste of winter blows out as quickly as it came in, and a reasonably seasonal autumn follows.

At least until Nov. 6.

Likes: Carl Pavano starting for Minnesota against the Yankees' Andy Pettitte on Sunday in Game 3. Given Pavano's history with the Yankees ("Ouch! ... Ouch! ... Ouch! ... Ouch!"), I like this in a perverse way. That's how I like it. ... If Houston hires Manny Acta as manager, the Astros could do much worse. I still think Jim Fregosi is just what the Astros need, as I wrote several days ago. ... Not too much traffic in the airports on Saturday. ... If we're going to have a playoff postponement, I guess a Saturday is as good a time as any to do it, what with all the college football games on television. It's never a bad thing to work in the hotel with all those games on the television. ... Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II.

Dislikes: The "Beyond Baseball" promo during Saturday's Los Angeles-St. Louis NL Division Series game touted the Minnesota Twins in the postseason, and the guy said "Joe Mauer is going to do everything he can to get to the World Series." And I immediately thought, "And umpire Phil Cuzzi is going to do everything he can to prevent that from happening."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well, red lights are flashin' and the sirens were a screamin'
"We had to pinch each other just to see if we was dreamin'
"Made it to Loveland Pass in under less than half an hour
"Lord, it started drizzlin' and it turned into a thunder shower"

-- Bob Seger, Get Out of Denver

 

Posted on: June 24, 2009 10:47 pm
 

Word of advice on foul balls: Duck

OK, now. Let's see. To write and post a blog. ...

How does this computer thing work again?

Forgive me if I seem a little tentative. See, I've been without my laptop for the past week or so. It was blasted by a foul ball while I was working in San Diego's Petco Park last Wednesday, sending it immediately to the disabled list and me scrambling.

Ah, the joys -- and hazards -- of making your living as a baseball writer.

San Diego catcher Nick Hundley was the culprit. He sliced a foul ball against Seattle that came rocketing straight back toward the press box at warp speed. I mean, it was screaming.

I saw the ball whistling straight at me, so I did what pretty much anybody from a working stiff to a fourth grader would do in the computer age: I immediately risked life and limb to protect the doggone laptop.

You were thinking, "Duck"?

Or, perhaps, "Try and catch it, dummy"?

No dice on either of those.

What I did was wrap my right arm in front of the laptop, positioning myself to block the ball from making a crash landing. The plan, devised in, oh, a split-second, was to knock the ball down with my hand.

Result?

It was sort of like Texas catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia attempting to corral Jason Jennings' sinker with the Giants' Nate Schierholz on third base and the score tied in the 11th inning in San Francisco on Saturday night. Wild pitch, Schierholz scored, game over.

The ball was sinking so quickly I didn't get my hand down in time. I missed. The baseball smashed into the back of the computer screen. Game over.

In this case, E-W didn't mean the magazine Entertainment Weekly. No, it was E-Writer. Though several colleagues sitting near me in the press box enthusiastically commented on what a good thing it was that I did miss, otherwise I may have a broken hand.

Instead, it was just the laptop screen.

Fortunately, the hard drive stuff was fine. And my friend Tim lent me a monitor, which, when plugged into my laptop, at least allowed me to see stuff on that screen.

The Dell technician came by the house on Tuesday and installed a new screen, and 15 minutes later, presto. I was portable again. I can actually bring my laptop with me to the ballpark and work there. What a thing.

I'm telling you, it was six harrowing days.

Meantime, two days after the, uh, incident, the Padres placed Hundley on the disabled list with a bruised wrist.

They couldn't have done that 48 hours earlier?

Likes:
Glad to see Jim Tracy get another chance to manage. After the way things ended for him in Pittsburgh, you bet he's thrilled to get another opportunity in Colorado. ... Love to see the way Juan Pierre, one of the best and hardest-working guys around, has taken advantage of the absence of Manny Ramirez. ... Blueberries in the summer. There are few better things. ... Caught up with a rash of music-related DVDs lately and highly recommend Neil Young's Heart of Gold, the Jonathan Demme-directed concert video shot at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. . ... Also enjoyed I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, the documentary tracking the band Wilco through the making of its classic disc, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Very interesting behind-the-scenes stuff regarding how a band writes songs, puts an album together and then deals with record companies.

Dislikes: The Manny Ramirez circus in Albuquerque. Good for the baseball fans in that city that they get to see a superstar in person. And when he returns to the Dodgers, I'm sure I'll be writing plenty about it. But though I considered flying to Albuquerque for Manny's games there this week, I'll be damned if I'm going to join the circus and feed the hype before I have to.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"There's bourbon on the breath
of the singer you love so much
He takes all his words from the books
that you don't read anyway"

-- Wilco, Poor Places

Posted on: October 6, 2008 11:08 pm
 

"We got every ounce out of this team. ..."

CHICAGO -- When their remarkable run of winning when they had to was finally finished, there were no tears in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. At least, none that were visible.

Maybe it was simply sheer exhaustion as their wild, two-week sprint to out-race time finally expired. Maybe there was comfort in knowing that, yet again, they had out-shined the crosstown Cubs (check this out: In the White Sox's last two postseason appearances, they've won 12 games. In the Cubs' past two postseason appearances, they've won zero).

Most likely, however, it simply was accepting the reality of what was.

"We feel we can hold our heads high," first baseman Paul Konerko said in a subdued and disappointed -- but not distraught -- clubhouse. "We got every ounce out of this team that we could."

Konerko -- and others in the room -- mentioned the absence due to injury of "shoo-in MVP" Carlos Quentin, third baseman Joe Crede and starter Jose Contreras. But it was more matter-of-fact. It wasn't in a whiny, searching-for-excuses manner.

"We did our best," Konerko said. "We just ran out of gas."

General manager Kenny Williams said he will step back and let a bit of time pass -- "get away from the moment" -- before assessing everything and again assembling a club "that's going to give you a run for your money."

The one saving grace of this season, Williams said, was the fact that many of the new White Sox who weren't around for the 2005 World Series run learned what the postseason is like. Guys like Alexei Ramirez, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Josh Fields, Jerry Owens and reliever Matt Thornton.

"We have a new core," Williams said. "That's one of the things we've tried to do, rebuild and compete at the same time, have the new core learn from the World Series core, add to the puzzle for sustained success.

"In that respect, that might be the only happy thing standing here today. Our young guys got some major, major playoff experience."

Williams perhaps was most pleased that this particular White Sox club showed him some fight and, in that respect, he and his manager were thinking alike.

"We played hard," Ozzie Guillen said. "I feel proud of my ballplayers. We went through a lot of tough times. One thing nobody can take away from us is we fight every day. We fight every day."

Guillen said he spoke with his players after Tampa Bay ended their season, telling them "make sure you keep your head up, feel proud of yourself, walk on the street with your head up and feel proud of what (you) did.

"It's not an easy season for us, but we do a lot of nice things for this organization and for the players."

In beating Cleveland, Detroit (rain makeup) and Minnesota (one-game playoff) last week, the Sox became the first big league team ever to defeat three different teams in three days, all while being on the verge of elimination.

Then they beat Tampa Bay here in Game 3 on Sunday, again while facing elimination. As their run progressed, the White Sox appeared to thrive on the pressure.

"Most of us said a couple of weeks ago that if we don't make the playoffs, let's not let it be because we're tight," Konerko said.

And, in the end, they didn't lose because they were tight.

Their season simply ran out because they weren't quite good enough -- especially in the end, playing without injured outfielder Carlos Quentin, third baseman Joe Crede and starter Jose Contreras. And for a team that, this spring, was an afterthought behind Detroit and Cleveland, there's no shame in that.

"All in all, when I look back at this year, I think we went exactly as far as we were supposed to go," Konerko said.

Likes: Late night at at Giordano's Pizza on Rush St. Sunday following a day with the White Sox and Rays. Fabulous deep-dish sausage pizza at the bar watching an even more fabulous Angels-Red Sox game from Boston. ... The good people who have worked in Tampa Bay's organization for so long finally getting to enjoy a winner.

Dislikes: Just how many Viagra commercials must we endure this postseason?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Who's the man who hired all the criminals
"The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
"They bend the facts to fit with their new stories
"Of why we have to send our men to war"

-- Neil Young, Let's Impeach the President

Posted on: March 4, 2008 4:53 pm
 

Detroit Rock City

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Michigan's 7.5 percent unemployment rate this winter is the highest in the country. Since 2006, more than 70,000 homes have been foreclosed in Detroit alone. And property values are down nearly 20 percent.

Yet after the Detroit Tigers traded for shortstop Edgar Renteria, third baseman Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis this winter, they sold so many season tickets that they eventually halted sales to make sure last year's season ticketholders didn't get shut out.

And, incredibly, when the Tigers put 2008 individual game tickets on sale Saturday, they sold 80,000 in the first two hours, 176,000 over the first eight hours and 192,000 by noon Sunday.
 
Baseball is back in Detroit, maybe just when folks needed it most.

And the Tigers themselves absolutely have noticed.

"It's one of the best sports towns I've ever been in," slugger Gary Sheffield says. "I didn't know that much about it. But they're the most passionate fans I've ever seen."

Center fielder Curtis Granderson, beginning his third full season with the Tigers, shakes his head in awe at the number of tickets that are flying off of the shelves for '08.

He knows it's because these Tigers are loaded, and he believes there's another reason, too.

"I think it's the fact that we play hard," he says. "It's a hard-working area, and I think people are like, 'Hey, I'm working hard, and I want to enjoy watching others work hard, too.'"

Whatever, as the auto industry sags, concern over job security grows and homes sit unsold, maybe Tigers rounding the bases will at least ease the suffering for some.

"I have no idea how many runs we scored last year," Granderson says, chuckling. "I know it was a lot.

"It's a good buzz for the city of Detroit. They want to be excited, and they should be."

Likes: There are few finer people in the game than Curtis Granderson. ... The paw prints in the carpet in the Tigers' Lakeland clubhouse. ... Thunderstorms, like the one that just rolled in following the Tigers-Astros game this afternoon over in Kissimmee. ... Even without Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, the Astros have as loose a clubhouse as you'll find. ... Watching election returns. ... The prospect of a couple of days at home this weekend before landing in Arizona and the Cactus League next week. ... Astros broadcaster Jim Deshaies. ... Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on XM. And Dylan's Modern Times disc.

 Dislikes: Orlando traffic. ... Kissimmee traffic. ... Route 192.

Sunblock day? Not really. Warm, but very overcast. Dry, but thunderstorms expected later this afternoon and evening. Check that. The T-storms are here. It's dry no longer. I'm going to get absolutely soaked walking to my car.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Have you seen the flags of freedom?
"What color are they now?
"Do you think that you believe in yours
"More than they do theirs somehow?

-- Neil Young, Flags of Freedom

Posted on: March 2, 2008 5:54 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2008 5:55 pm
 

The Bensons: More Kris, less Anna this year?

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- While Kyle Lohse, Jeff Weaver, Freddy Garcia and a handful of other pitchers look for work, a guy you haven't heard much from in awhile is toiling in the background here and odds are he could become one of the bigger comeback stories of 2008.

Remember Kris Benson?

Sure you do.

First off, he's much quieter than his wife. Anna Benson never met a reporter she couldn't leave with a controversial quote, from the explicit interview she did with Penthouse magazine when Kris was still pitching in Pittsburgh to the sexy Santa outfit she wore to a charity appearance in New York that finally pushed the Mets to get Kris out of town.

For those more familiar with Anna than Kris, he's nothing like what you'd expect. He's quiet, intelligent and speaks in measured tones. He didn't pitch at all last season while recovering from shoulder surgery but early reports here in the Phillies camp are that he could help -- and, perhaps, sooner rather than later.

Kris estimates that he's only a week or two behind the other pitchers in camp, and Charley Kerfeld, special assistant to general manager Pat Gillick, has been impressed with what he's seen.

"I thought he looked great," Kerfeld says. "Usually after a surgery like that, the last thing to come back is command. And his command has been great.

"Now, it's a question of when his velocity comes back."

Kerfeld estimates that Benson could be ready to pitch for the Phillies by May 1.

That would be great with Benson, who can opt out of his contract March 25 if he isn't placed on the PHillies' major-league roster but says he's open to starting the season in the minors with the club if his shoulder isn't quite ready.

He's also throwing his curve again after junking it in New York at the suggestion of Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson. When he started to develop his slider, Benson says, his curve wasn't as effective anymore. Partly, it was because his then-weakening shoulder wouldn't allow him to throw the curve as hard has he needed to to get a sharp break on it.

"This spring, I'm trying to develop those two pitches together," Benson says.

Another year older at 33 and all the wiser following surgery, the right-hander is the latest in a long line of hurlers who have had to learn to pitch, rather than just throw.

Maybe one day soon, he can make more headlines than his wife.

Likes: Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, with sparkling Lake Lulu in the background. This is it, though, as Cleveland is moving to Goodyear, Ariz., next spring. Last one out of Winter Haven, turn off the lights. ... I know Chain of Lakes gets knocked, but there's so much history here -- going back to when the Red Sox trained here -- and besides, how can you not like a press box in which a snake slithered over the computer keyboard of Indians beat man Paul Hoynes (Cleveland Plain Dealer) last spring? ... Kristin Laine's book American Band: Music, Dreams and Coming of Age in the Heartland. Very moving ending. ... From the Southern Cleaners' marquee on Lakeland's Florida St., this bit of wisdom: "The bigger the menu, the smaller the portions." ... Smoked sausage with red beans and rice at Harry's in Lakeland. ... The 134-pound burger they concocted at Mallie's Sports Grill and Bar in Southgate, Mich., last week. Glad to see folks are making constructive use of their time.

Dislikes: Can any driver in Florida use a turn signal? Please? ... So I'm working in the room Saturday night while watching Kansas-Kansas State, and ESPN goes out. I've got, like, 60-some channels in the hotel room, and every single one of them is working except ESPN. So that lasts about 15 minutes, and it finally comes on. Great. Then midway through the first half, it goes out again. Why couldn't, say, the Jewelry Channel have gone out? Or QVC? Or the Food Network. Lemme tell ya, life on the road is not easy. ... Aw, the end came too soon for the St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons, 69-52 losers to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard in a Class C Michigan High School boys' basketball District tournament final.

Sunblock day? Gorgeous. Warm sun, bit of a breeze, temps around 80.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Lookin' for somebody
Young enough to take it on
Clean up the corruption
And make the country strong

-- Neil Young, Lookin' for a Leader

 
 
 
 
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