Tag:Bruce Springsteen
Posted on: September 24, 2009 8:03 pm
 

Shorter Hops

 Don't underestimate the different look Brett Gardner's wheels give the Yankees into the playoffs. The guy can flat-out fly. Comparing Gardner with some of the American League's fastest players, like Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and his own Chone Figgins, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said gave the nod to Gardner. "He's one of the fastest guys we've seen," Scioscia said. "Put them all in a race and he might win by an eyelash."

 Damon, of course, can run -- though not like he once could -- and Robinson Cano and even Mark Teixeira make this Yankees team more athletic than some clubs in the past, especially when Jason Giambi was manning first. "We don't want to be one-dimensional, whether it's home runs or all small ball," Teixeira said. "Gardner gives us another option."

 Not surprising that the only form of celebration from the Yankees after clinching a playoff spot against the Angels the other night was a few handshakes and smiles. As Damon said, "Winning the division would make us a little happier. Unfortunately, this doesn't seal the deal for us like winning a World Series." Ah, how Johnny has grown from his Kansas City days.

 If Milton Bradley's apology was sincere, then why did Cubs players not even find out about it until the statement was issued? Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat Twittered that the players knew nothing of an apology until the statement.

 Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has been fiercely loyal to manager Eric Wedge, but with the Tribe having lost 10 in a row into Thursday night's series finale against Detroit and showing little sign of life -- combined with the fact that they're finishing a second consecutive disappointing season following high expectations -- he likely will have no choice but to make a change. The Indians have been outscored 65-25 during the losing streak and had scored three or fewer runs in seven of the 10 games. Indians starting pitchers were 0-9. When they took a 2-0 lead Thursday against Detroit, it was their first lead in 69 innings. Ugh.

 Talk about blowing up a disappointing team: As Wedge waits to learn his fate, only 10 of the current 30 Indians on the active roster were active with the club on opening day.

 Mr. Clutch: Colorado catcher Yorvit Torrealba, over his past 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position, is hitting .654.

 Jim Fregosi, now scouting for Atlanta, would love to manage again. One dark horse candidate for openings this winter: Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke, who is very good and deserves a chance to interview somewhere.

 Closest thing to solid evidence of significant changes this winter for the White Sox: General manager Kenny Williams had some strong things to say to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times this week. "I know who's quit and who hasn't, who's willing to sacrifice," Williams said. "It's hard to win. Winning and success, whether it be baseball or any other facet of life, if you are not willing to sacrifice, you're not willint go put in the work, you're not going to be successful. You're just not. ... If you are not willing to do that, I can't have you here and I will send you to a better place for you."

 Loved the fact that it was Strike Out Violence Day two Sundays ago at San Francisco's AT&T Park ... and then the game was followed by a Bob Arum press conference promoting a fight between Manny Pacquiao and another guy I've never heard of. It was almost as good as the Dodgers giving away Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Dolls on Drug Prevention Night at Dodger Stadium.

Likes: The Panda Cam, as they refer to replays on San Francisco telecasts that feature Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval. ... Bobby Cox back managing Atlanta next year. Say what you will, and I know there are detractors out there who diminish his streak of winning division titles because the Braves only won one World Series, but he's a Hall of Fame manager. ... Glad X-rays were negative after Yankees catcher Jorge Posada fouled a ball off of his foot the other night. You hate to see injuries to significant players at this time of year, especially for teams headed to the playoffs. ... My Weber grill. ... I mentioned James Maddock's disc Sunrise on Avenue C the other day. It's great. Especially great is the cut When the Suns Out. ... Entourage has been especially well-written and acted this year. Last summer, I feared it had jumped the shark.

Dislikes: There were a couple of chat-room comments on the last Bull Pennings disparaging David Letterman after I gave him a shout out for the show earlier this week when President Barack Obama was a guest. Memo to you who wrote the comments: Glad you're reading. Thanks. But sorry, you're dead wrong on Letterman. He's sharp, and it's not even close at 11:30 p.m. -- and hasn't been for a long, long time. Conan is likeable and funny. But Jay Leno? Come on. He's one of the top 10 exhibits for the dumbing down of America. ... My wife has enjoyed the first few shows of Glee, and the critics love it, but I just can't go there. If I wanted to watch pseudo-Backstreet Boys videos, I'd ... well, come to think of it, I absolutely, positively don't want to watch pseudo-Backstreet Boys videos.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I ain't got much sense
"But I still got my feet"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Girls in Their Summer Clothes

Posted on: August 21, 2009 12:24 am
 

Greene, Padres settle dispute

Khalil Greene arrived in San Diego on Thursday with his St. Louis Cardinals teammates -- but without union representation.

Which was a very good thing for him.

Greene and the Padres settled a grievance in which the club was attempting to recover up to $1.47 million in salary from last August and September when the shortstop was sidelined after a suffering a self-inflicted injury. The grievance hearing had been scheduled for this month.

"It was resolved a couple of weeks ago in a mutually satisfactory way," Padres chairman Jeff Moorad said.

Moorad declined to reveal terms because the parties signed a confidentiality clause. David Prouty, chief labor counsel for the major league baseball players association, confirmed the settlement Thursday.

"It certainly was something, as far as it being over and done, I'm glad it's over," Greene said. "It was something that was on my mind for a long time up until the point when it was finally finished.

"I'm glad to be done with it."

Greene suffered a broken hand last July 30 when, in a fit of anger, he punched a storage locker in Petco Park during a game. The Padres, angry to have lost their shortstop for the season and in a financial pinch, wanted to dock his salary for the time he missed.

It is believed that Greene wound up receiving most of, if not all of, the $1.47 million due him. One precedent the players' union was citing in its case involved former pitcher Doyle Alexander, who won a similar grievance in 1982 when the Yankees attempted to recover salary paid while he was sidelined for two months because of a similar self-inflicted injury. Then, Alexander fractured a knuckle when he punched the dugout wall.

Greene has been on the disabled list twice this summer with anxiety disorder issues and is hitting only .211 with five homers and 23 RBI in 57 games for St. Louis. He also has eight errors.

Likes: When people talk about Albert Pujols' greatness as a complete player, this is what they're talking about: Pujols swiping second on a 3-and-0 count to Matt Holliday in the ninth inning of a tied game in Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. It caught the Dodgers so flat-footed that shortstop Rafael Furcal didn't even back up the play, so nobody was there when the ball skipped away from Orlando Hudson. So Pujols took third, then scored the winning run on Holliday's fly ball. It even got a smile from normally stone-faced manager Tony La Russa when I asked him about it. ... College football getting close. ... Don Middlebrook's new CD Beach Bar Serenade. Check out Don's stuff here. ... Bob Dylan's latest Together Through Life. Really good. ... Dark Star's Sports Tonight radio program in Minnesota. ... The latest leg of Bruce Springsteen's tour opening in the United States -- in Hartford, Conn. -- on Wednesday. ... The Farrah Fawcett photo on the cover of this month's Vanity Fair. And I'm particularly glad that, of the two covers of this month's magazine -- Fawcett and Michael Jackson -- the issue featuring Fawcett was the one that landed in my mailbox. ... John Mellencamp's new song Save Some Time to Dream, that apparently will appear on a CD to be issued this fall. He's playing it in concert this summer. ... The free Friday concerts in the park near my house in the summertime. Just one more to go this weekend. Quick, somebody slow summer down. It's disappearing too quickly.

Dislikes: Who says the education system in this country doesn't need fixing? And I'm not talking math, science or even diagramming sentences. I'm talking about the young police officers in New Jersey who didn't even know who Bob Dylan was last month. Very amusing story here.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
"He gets me my drinks for free
"And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
"But there's someplace that he'd rather be
"He says Bill, I believe this is killing me
"As the smile ran away from his face
"Well Im sure that I could be a movie star
"If I could get out of this place"

-- Billy Joel, Piano Man

Posted on: April 17, 2009 3:46 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2009 4:07 pm
 

The Giants have issues, the Boss doesn't

The only drawback with that clever MLB 2K9 video game advertisement in which San Francisco Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum offers his animated double some tips on how to behave in the major leagues is this: It doesn't include wisdom from the real Lincecum that helps drag the Giants out of their crappy start.

They limp home this weekend carrying with them one of the game's two worst records. Difference between the Giants (2-7) and the Washington Nationals (1-7), however, is the Giants at least were supposed to have a first-class rotation, and even that's been disappointing.

Some thoughts after a couple of days with the Giants this week in Los Angeles:

  • Lincecum's Cy encore is off to a rocky start at 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA in two starts. Even at that, Lincecum is the least of manager Bruce Bochy's concerns. The manager's take: Lincecum hasn't yet harnessed his fastball. When the command returns, he'll be fine. Lincecum spent a long bullpen session this week working with pitching coach Dave Righetti on mechanics. In layman's terms, right now, Lincecum's upper body is not in sync with his lower body during his delivery.
  • Randy Johnson started the season five wins shy of historic No. 300 and, after two starts he remains five wins away. He's 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA -- but, for now, unconcerned. Johnson pitched very well in his first start, against Milwaukee until surrendering the first home run to a pitcher he's ever allowed. Yovani Gallardo was the villain.

As for Monday's flop against the Dodgers, in which he yielded seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, Johnson produced a thick fistful of charts from his locker during a conversation Wednesday afternoon, charts he keeps on opposing hitters and regularly refers to for intelligence. Among his points: He produced a similar clunker against the Dodgers while facing Hideo Nomo back in May, 2002 (seven earned runs, eight hits, five innings).

"And obviously, I was in my prime then," Johnson said of the season in which he won his fifth Cy Young award. "Bad games happen."

Johnson, 45, is happy and in good spirits because he's healthy. And he remains confident that things will soon get better for him, too.

And as for standing five wins away from 300. ...

"I'm still looking for No. 1 (this year)," he says. "So let's put things in perspective. I'm feeling good, that's the main thing."

Three more strikes vs. the Giants:

  • Mentioning Barry Zito's name mostly elicits cringing around here. He was blasted again by the Dodgers Thursday night, his ERA is 10.00 and scouts who have watched him just shake their heads. There still are no answers, and every day it looks more like there never will be any answers.
  • The young Giants hitters are pressing badly, as evidenced in part by their embarrassing and toothless streak of going 32 1/3 innings between a real, live base on balls from last Friday in San Diego to Wednesday in Los Angeles "We need to do better in situational hitting," says Giants veteran Randy Winn of a club that has left runners in scoring position in several key places during their six-game losing streak. "For a team that's not going to hit a lot of home runs, those are things we need to do."
  • Third baseman Pablo Sandoval had a big spring and looks like a future star. But he's slogging along at .212, and that was after collecting two hits Thursday night. What he mostly looks like now is a young player who is extremely overeager. And that's played right into the hands of opposing pitchers. "I think he's more overanxious," Bochy says. "We know Pablo, he's always in swing mode. But he's expanded his zone even more."

Hanging with the Boss

Two fantastic nights with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band this week at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It never gets old. It's always fresh. And as I've said before, as the band heads East, catch them if you get a chance. It's like getting a chance to see Ty Cobb, or Babe Ruth, or Willie Mays in their primes. Even if you're not ecstatic with their new disc Working on a Dream , it doesn't matter.

The show is tailored to current events, as it always is (this time the economy and the struggles so many people are facing), and there are so many standout moments. The first encore song is culled (and updated) from Stephen Foster's songbook from the 1850s, Hard Times Come Again No More . A bluesy, gospel-sounding take, it's different and cool.

Mike Ness from Social Distortion was a special guest Thursday night and the band ripped through Ness' Bad Luck . What a moment. Ness, Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren all blazing on guitars midway through the song was outstanding.

No Surrender , Growin' Up , Thunder Road , Backstreets , Racing in the Street , The Wrestler ... so many highlights. One of the moments that stands out, and it's part of what keeps people coming back, came Thursday night when Springsteen collected signs for song requests from the crowd (as he has taken to doing) and picked out Proud Mary , the old Creedence Clearwater Revival chestnut (I've always wanted to use that word -- I feel just like a rock critic or something!).

Hearing the E Street band play that song was cool enough, but the best moments were those just before they tore into the song. Bruce held the sign for the band to see what they were going to play next, and the look of incredulity on the faces of those on stage was priceless. Lofgren was shouting across the stage to either bass player Gary Tallent or pianist Roy Bittan ( I couldn't quite tell which), double-checking the key, grinning widely. Lofgren held his hands together in the form of a D -- key of D? was his clear question -- hollering and motioning as the band scrambled to get its signals straight.

During the guitar solo midway through the song, as Springsteen played, Lofgren and Van Zandt played a few steps back, grinning at each other in amusement or amazement. Maybe both. It's one of the greatest things about seeing the band in concert, and it's the same thing that happens every time you walk into a baseball stadium: You absolutely, positively can never be sure of what you're about to see. You never know what the next moment will bring. And sometimes they're incredibly uplifting.

At the Dodgers' home opener on Monday, I watched Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle. While I've covered two no-hitters (David Wells' perfect game for the Yankees in 1998 and Eric Milton's for Minnesota in 1999), I'd never seen a cycle.

Then, Thursday night, I'm watching the E Street Band scramble to get its signals straight before Proud Mary and then, later in the show, I'm watching 18-year-old Jay Weinberg sit in on the drums for three songs for his dad, Max (Lonesome Day , The Rising and Born to Run ). Max is going to miss six or so shows in Europe this summer -- I believe around the time when Conan O'Brien replaces Jay Leno on The Tonight Show in early June (Max is the bandleader on the show, in case you don't know) -- and Jay is going to play those shows for his pop.

Jay just killed -- the kid is really, really good. And making the moment even more special, I looked about 15 feet to my right as he was playing on Lonesome Day (I was lucky enough to score a spot in the front row in front of the stage), and Max had come around from backstage to watch his son. Watching the band, watching Max watch his son, watching Van Zandt grinning and beaming at Max down front while playing guitar in front of Jay ... wow.

With baseball and at a Springsteen show, you never know when the next special moment is coming. You just know that, when it does, you'd better catch it, and hold on for as long as possible.


Likes, Dislikes and Rockin'

Likes: Baseball as a social institution? Check out this study that says the divorce rate among people in major-league cities is significantly lower than that among those who dwell in cities that wanted major-league baseball clubs but didn't get them. Bet the NFL can't say that. ... Step Brothers has some pretty darn funny moments. I'm not so sure I would have been thrilled paying $10 to see it in the theaters, but it's definitely worth a rental.

Dislikes: Was going to check out State of Play with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams this weekend, but I don't know. I've read two reviews that have scared me off.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"And I count my blessings
"That you're mine for always
"We laugh beneath the covers
"And count the wrinkles and the grays

-- Bruce Springsteen, Kingdom of Days

 

 

Posted on: March 29, 2009 2:48 pm
 

Cubs name Gregg as closer

 MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago manager Lou Piniella said Sunday that Kevin Gregg has won the Cubs' closer job, with Carlos Marmol being relegated to the set-up duties he performed last season for Kerry Wood.

"We said we'd let both pitchers compete in the spring, and both have pitched very well," Piniella said Sunday morning after informing Gregg and Marmol of the decision. "I'm fortunate that I have two pitchers I have confidence in."

Piniella was being generous to Marmol in his assessment of the spring. While Gregg hasn't allowed a run in 8 1/3 innings this spring (four hits, 10 strikeouts, one walk), Marmol has allowed four runs in eight innings and, most noticeably, has had difficulty with his command. Marmol has hit five batters during his eight innings.

"I think, leaving spring training, we're a better team the way we put this together," said Piniella, whose Cubs open next Monday in Houston. "Now, what we have to do with Marmol in the set-up role is find a couple of pitchers who can help him so we can get to where we don't have to used him as much as we did (early) last year."

Veteran Aaron Heilman, who should see a lot of work in the seventh innings, figures prominently in that mix. Piniella also mentioned Luis Vizcaino and lefty Neal Cotts. Right-handers Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija are two others who could factor in, but the Cubs aren't certain how the last spot or two in their bullpen will shake out.

Gregg, 30, compiled 61 saves over the past two seasons combined for the Florida Marlins. Marmol, 26, has eight career saves -- seven last year. Though Piniella did not mention the World Baseball Classic as factoring into the decision, Marmol spent part of this spring away from Cubs camp, pitching for the Dominican Republic. He struggled there as well, blowing a save opportunity in the Dominican Republic's 2-1 loss to The Netherlands.

"I told him the better he does his job, the better we'll be as a team," Piniella said of his message to Marmol. "I told him not to be disappointed, that there will be plenty of opportunities down the road for him for him to close. I told him to improve and maintain, and a lot of good things will happen for him in his career."

Besides, in a perfect Cubs world, if they win as often as they hope, Marmol may still get a chance to close at times because Piniella hopes to refrain from using Gregg more than two or three days in a row.

Of course, worse-case scenario is that Gregg stumbles early and a full-blown controversy develops.

"We're not going to tiptoe through the tulips with this thing," Piniella said. "We've made our decision. We're going to give (Gregg) every chance to succeed, and I'm sure he will."

Piniella added: "I couldn't go wrong either way, I really couldn't. I thought about this for a long time. It's tough to bring a young man into this office like that (and tell Marmol he lost the job), especially someone who's played such a big role in our success."

Likes: How can you beat this upcoming week: Bruce Springsteen's new tour kicking off on Wednesday night, the Final Four games on Saturday, Braves at Phillies in the season opener on Sunday, 28 major-league clubs opening on Monday and then the NCAA championship hoops game on Monday night. If you can't find some things to smile about in there, you may as well give it up. ... Aaron Boone continuing to do well following open-heart surgery last week. ... Clubs like the Cubs making final roster decisions. ... Jordan Zimmerman in the Washington Nationals' April rotation. Why not? What, they've got somebody both more experienced AND better. ... Villanova. What a great, gutsy team.

Dislikes: Watching Pittsburgh (and so much of the Big East, for that matter) play basketball. Grab, push, shove, hip-check ... it's all brawn, little artistry. But the Panthers sure do have onions, as television commentator Bill Raftery would say.

Sunblock day? Partly cloudy on Sunday in the desert, actually. I suppose it sunblock wouldn't hurt, but it's been on the cool side.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey Frank, won't you pack your bags
"And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall
"Just one kiss from you my brother
"And we'll ride until we fall
"We'll sleep in the fields
"We'll sleep by the rivers
"And in the morning we'll make a plan
"Well, if you can't make it
"Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive
"If you can
"And meet me in a dream of this hard land"

-- Bruce Springsteen, This Hard Land

 

 

 

Posted on: March 25, 2009 5:29 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2009 6:29 pm
 

It was always swell listening to George Kell

 Some of you older readers heard about the passing of Hall of Famer George Kell this week and no doubt flashed back to his slick fielding and quick bat for five clubs over 15 seasons in the 1940s and 1950s.

Some of you younger readers saw the news and wondered, who's George Kell?

Then there's a third group, those who lived in Michigan in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and knew him as the television voice of the Detroit Tigers.

That's when and where I cut my baseball teeth, and that was my good fortune.

Ernie Harwell is the legendary radio voice from that part of the country, and I always thought that partly because of Ernie, Kell was underrated for what he did.

Kell, too, helped teach baseball to a generation of fans, describing and illustrating the Tigers with that soft, lilting Arkansas accent. He, too, was part of your extended family each summer if you watched and cared for the Tigers.

He was as pleasant in the summer as Dairy Queen and the county fair, and along about late February or March, often more eagerly anticipated.

Among other things, Kelly represented stability. He worked during the time before broadcasts bounced around the radio dial and the television channel lineup like a free agent utilitymen. Every single season in the 1980s, George Kell and Al Kaline were in the booth. With them on television and Harwell and Paul Carey on WJR radio, things were covered.

Not only was Kell's delivery and accent as addicting as peach cobbler, it was easily imitated. I bet every Michigan high school kid who even had a passing interest in baseball did some version of Kell at some point in his youth.

In 1983 and 1984, George Baier of WRIF radio did a hilarious, spot-on impersonation of Kell and Kaline, culminating in a send-up of The Police's Every Breath You Take. Baier's version, as "George Swell", was Every Swing You Take.

Sample lyrics:

Every Sweet Lou (Whitaker) stab
Every (Chet) Lemon grab
We'll be watching you

I don't know whether or not Kell enjoyed it -- I hope he did, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery -- but for those of us young baseball fans with a bit of a rock 'n' roll tilt, we loved it.

We're all a part of where we came from. I know I'm not alone in being grateful that Kell brought a little bit of Arkansas into Michigan on so many warm, enjoyable summer nights, with the ballgame on television and the thought that anything was possible on the other side of that screen door.

Bless you, George.

Likes: Burgers. ... The World Baseball Classic championship Monday night between Japan and Korea. Textbook baseball and a great atmosphere. My ears are still ringing. ... A boy who looked to be about 7 or 8, walking with his dad (both of them wearing Cubs caps) and opening a pack of baseball cards outside of Peoria Stadium before Wednesday's Indians-Padres game. ... Roster decisions being made daily now. Shouldn't we be to opening day by now? ... Cole Hamels back on the mound in Philadelphia. ... John Smoltz ahead of schedule in Boston. ... U2's new disc, No Line on the Horizon. Not a classic, but some good stuff. ... Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band in rehearsals, preparing for the new tour to begin April 1. What a treat, we get two opening days this year. The baseball version, and the new Springsteen tour version.

Dislikes: OK, I get it, that some Roman Catholics in Detroit are upset that the Tigers' home opener is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. on Good Friday. It's not optimal. But here's a thought: If you're offended, don't go to the game. And don't watch on television or listen on the radio.

Sunblock Day? Warm sun, but temps only in the high 70s. Which isn't bad. It can be over 90 at this time of year in the desert.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The more you see the less you know
"The less you find out as you go
"I knew much more then than I do now"

-- U2, City of Blinding Lights

 

 

 

Posted on: September 28, 2008 8:07 pm
 

A toast to Yost

MILWAUKEE -- Gone but not forgotten is the man who helped lead the Brewers through their final years of darkness.

It's just too bad manager Ned Yost's expiration date hit two weeks ago, when an increasingly desperate Milwaukee fired him with 12 games to play and named Dale Sveum as the interim.

"Ned is one of my best friends," Sveum said in the aftermath of Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Cubs as the champagne sprayed. "I love Ned from the bottom of my heart."

Slugger Ryan Braun said that Yost shares in the celebration, even in his absence.

"He does, without a doubt," Braun said. "He brought this entire team to this point. I wish he was here celebrating with us.

"I'm sure he's at home right now drinking a glass of champagne. He certainly deserves it."

LIkes: Seeing ities starved for good baseball news finally get some. ... The fact that they still play Roll Out the Barrel following Take Me Out to the Ballgame in Milwaukee during the seventh inning, and the fact that many fans sing along with gusto. ... Gilles Frozen Custard. It's Milwaukee's oldest -- it's been around since 1938, and the Heavenly Chocolate I had the other day was superb. ... I also like the fact that St. Pius X High School is right next to Gilles. Sat next to a table full of boys who obviously just finished with their school day the other day. Like going back in time.

Dislikes: Construction on I-94. ... Summer beginning to disappear.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey, little girlie in the blue jeans so tight
"Drivin' alone through the Wisconsin night
"You're my last love baby you're my last chance
"Don't let 'em take me to the Cadillac Ranch"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Cadillac Ranch

Posted on: September 21, 2008 7:19 pm
 

Now paging Rudy Giuliani's wife

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Everybody's checking in with their Yankee Stadium memories, but here's one you're not going to hear anywhere else.

You know how former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani spends more time in Yankee Stadium than some of the box seats?

Well, before the first game of the 2002 playoffs, Los Angeles Angels bench coach Joe Maddon -- now generating a few stories as the manager who turned the Tampa Bay Rays around -- approached. But not necessarily to see Guiliani.

Maddon's motive: He went to high school with Judith Nathan, who was Giuliani's girlfriend at the time and now wife.

"Graduated together in 1972 in Hazelton, Pa.," Maddon says. "Her mom and my mom were buddies. I'm not saying we were great friends in high school. ..."

Anyway. ...

"I walked toward him and go to introduce myself and the goons started coming over and said, 'Hey, slow down!'" Maddon says. "I said, 'I just want to introduce myself to Mr. Giuliani.'"

So he did, told the mayor he was from Hazelton and Giuliani replied, "Hey, that's where Judy's from." Maddon told him they went to high school together and he just wanted to say hello, and Giuliani said she was running late and should be there in about 15 minutes.

Maddon didn't get to see her that night, nor has he seen her since.

That's one of his Yankee Stadium memories, but not the most vivid. No, that came in August, 1963.

"My dad took me with my Uncle Pete and Hank Toth to a Yankees-White Sox game," Maddon says. "The Yankees won 3-0, Whitey Ford pitched, Johnny Blanchard hit a home run, we exited out the center field gate by the monuments and when we walked outside my dad asked if I wanted a hat.

"I said yes, and I chose the St. Louis baseball Cardinals hat. That's the year I became a Cardinals fan. St. Louis Blues, Hawks, football Cardinals, even the St. Louis Billikens for awhile.

"All from that hat."

Likes: Been a lot of fun to watch baseball fans develop a crush on the Tampa Bay Rays here during the past week. ... The New York Times coverage of the closing of Yankee Stadium, including reminiscences Sunday from singer Paul Simon, director Penny Marshall and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, among others. ... Also, the memories of two of the Times' terrific, long-time baseball writers, Jack Curry  and Tyler Kepner. ... Another W for the Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High football team, this one 49-21 over New Boston Huron on Friday night. The mighty Falcons are 4-0, and all of those young sophomores they're starting are gaining some experience.

Dislikes: So many teams are fading that there's little drama shaping up during the season's final week. Milwaukee, Minnesota, the White Sox, Arizona ... just one of those years.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey Frank won’t you pack your bags
"And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall
"Just one kiss from you my brother
"And we’ll ride until we fall
"We’ll sleep in the fields
"We’ll sleep by the rivers and in the morning
"We’ll make a plan
"Well if you can’t make it
"Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive
"If you can
"And meet me in a dream of this hard land"

-- Bruce Springsteen, This Hard Land

 

Posted on: April 19, 2008 12:00 am
 

Marathon nights and long memories

Lots of baseball people have long stories.

Few can tell the tales of a 22-inning marathon such as the one Colorado and San Diego played Thursday night/Friday morning in Petco Park.

After 659 pitches, 15 different pitchers and 6 hours and 16 minutes, the Colorado Rockies finally beat the San Diego Padres 2-1.

Then the Rockies flew to Houston for this weekend's series, landed a little after 8 a.m. ... and promptly got stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to check into their hotel.

Funny. Because as word boomeranged throughout baseball of the riveting/ridiculous/incredible goings-on in San Diego, the Seattle Mariners were spending some time in traffic, too.

"We were on the bus (Thursday night) leaving Oakland when we saw the score," Mariners manager John McLaren said, referring to the aftermath of his club's 8-1 victory at Whatever They're Calling the Oakland Coliseum Now. "We picked it back up when we landed here (in Southern California).

"I think it was in the 14th when we left Oakland and in the 20th when we landed."

Fortunately, Colorado manager Clint Hurdle and San Diego skipper Bud Black each were able to avoid being charged with inflicting cruel and unusual punishment Friday when they gave the men who caught the marathon game a night off.

Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba and San Diego's Josh Bard each caught the entire 22-inning affair, something Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn't even have to do back when he was playing in 1989 in either of the Dodgers' 22-inning games.

Yep, the Padres and Rockies think they had it rough? How about the Dodgers in '89? They lost in Houston 5-4 in a 22-inning game on June 3, '89 ... then beat Montreal 1-0 in 22 innings on Aug. 23, '89.

"We couldn't score," Scioscia said Friday, cringing at the memory. "We could pitch, we just couldn't score."

Rick Dempsey started behind the plate for the Dodgers in the June 3 game, and Scioscia entered in a sixth-inning double-switch. He played the rest of the way, going 0-for-5 with two walks.

And wanna know something funny? That was on Saturday night. The next day, the Dodgers and Astros played 13 innings -- Scioscia started as the Dodgers catcher, hit a grand slam in the first and played nearly the entire game before being removed in the bottom of the 13th.

In the Aug. 23 game, Scoscia started but left in the eighth inning when Billy Bean pinch-ran for him.

His memories are vague -- he thought the Montreal game went 16 or 17 innings, not 22 -- but Scioscia distinctly remembers that after one of those games, several players remained at the stadium and slept in the clubhouse because they had a day game the next day and had to be back in the park in six or seven hours.

"A game that long, some guys start with sore hamstrings and end up healthy," Scioscia cracked.

Nevertheless, just in case, Torrealba wasn't the only Colorado player who was given the night off in Houston on Friday. First baseman Todd Helton, second baseman Jayson Nix and outfielders Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe also were awarded a night of rest. In Arizona, the Padres gave second baseman Tadahito Iguchi the night off.

Hurdle, who used eight pitchers -- Kip Wells got the win -- said he was close to using infielder Clint Barmes as his emergency pitcher. Padres manager Bud Black rode Bard behind the plate partly because his other catcher, Colt Morton, had pinch-hit in the 14th. Outfielder Paul McAnulty was Black's emergency catcher -- though the Padres skipper admitted Friday that McAnulty was blissfully unaware of that during Thursday's proceedings.

They staged a seventh-inning stretch at Petco Park in the seventh, 14th and 21st innings. And though they stopped selling beer in the seventh -- as is usually the case -- coffee and ice cream were big sellers late, Padres vice-president Richard Anderson said.

"I think that's the beauty of this game, it's unpredictability," McLaren, the Seattle skipper, said.

While talking about the Padres-Rockies game, McLaren, who grew up near Houston, recalled attending the Astros-New York Mets' 24-inning game on Monday night, April 15, 1968. He was in high school at the time, and you bet he stayed until the bitter end.

"My mom was waiting up for me, and when I got home she said, 'Don't think you're staying home -- you're going to school tomorrow,'" McLaren recalled, chuckling. "She thought we had gone someplace else after the game.

"When I got home from school the next day, she said, 'I should have known you'd stay until the final out.'"

Thursday's game was a record-setter for length, by innings, for both the Colorado and San Diego franchises. Black called it "incredible", adding that "everybody who was here will never forget it."

You would think that would be true.

Yet, Scioscia's memory on those two 22-inning games in 1989 is awfully fuzzy.

And, perhaps, there are those who were so exhausted they might even try to forget it. Detroit shortstop Edgar Renteria played in baseball's last 20-inning game, five years ago, and he even scored the winning run for St. Louis.

Yet, on Friday, as Detroit Tigers beat man Danny Knobler of the Booth (Mich.) Newspaper Group was putting together a note in the aftermath of the Padres-Rockies marathon, Renteria couldn't even recall it.

"I don't remember," Renteria said. "Not at all."

Thirty minutes later, Renteria still couldn't remember it.

"I'm serious, man," he told Knobler apologetically. "I don't remember."

Likes: Late-night baseball. I listened to the Padres' radio broadcast Thursday night, picking it up in about the 11th or 12th inning in my car when the Angels-Royals finished. Listened on radio until about the 15th inning, when I reached my house. Then I watched until the 20th inning on my family room television. Then I took the dog out for a quick walk between innings and caught the final two innings on my bedroom television. Padres broadcasters Ted Leitner and Andy Masur were very entertaining on the car radio and Matt Vasgersian -- one of the game's most underrated television play-by-play men -- and former pitcher Mark Grant were enjoyable as always on the tube. ... Springsteen's Hungry Heart, Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Kitty's Back and You're Missing. Specifically, the organ parts.

Dislikes: Sad, sad day. Danny Federici, the E St. Band organist, passed away Thursday after battling melanoma for three years. Here's how you can help the cause, if you wish.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now the hardness of this world
"Slowly grinds your dreams away
"Makin' a fool's joke
"Out of the promises we make
"And what once seemed black and white
"Turns to so many shades of gray
"We lose ourselves in work to do
"Work to do, and bills to pay
"And it's a ride, ride, ride
"And there ain't much cover
"With no one runnin' by your side
"My blood brother"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Blood Brothers

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com