Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How Squawker Lisa actually finished a half-marathon -- and lived to tell the tale!

A few minutes after the half-marathon.
I am in one piece!
Please let me indulge in this personal, (mostly) non-baseball Squawk. I wanted to thank all my friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances, both in real life and on Facebook, for all the kind words they have showered on me over the past few weeks. A lot has happened in my life recently. As you may remember, an article I wrote for Guideposts magazine -- about running a Spartan Race -- was recently published.  The magazine also did a video interview with me. Oh, and the Staten Island Advance just did an article about me as part of their Staten Island Survivors. They wrote in the article about my fitness journey, and the fact that I completed my first half-marathon two weeks ago. Yes, I still can't believe it myself!

I did the MORE/FITNESS/SHAPE Women's Half-Marathon on Saturday, April 19. All you need to know about the likelihood of me finishing a half-marathon is this -- Squawker Jon was not at the finish line, because he thought it would be at least a half an hour more before I crossed it! He was at an earlier spot at the race -- one I had already passed -- thinking that I would be much further back than I was.

If you haven't already read the articles I linked above, or followed this blog regularly, here is my basic story. I was overweight, middle-aged, and out of shape when I decided over the last year or so to change my life and get healthy. I did a Spartan Race in April 2014, even though most of the contestants were in much better shape than me. Since that time, I have run (more like plodded) my way through over 40 road races. I also won a writing contest for Guideposts magazine thanks to writing about my experience at the Spartan Race, and beat out over 4000 fellow writers for one of 12 spots in the magazine's weeklong Writers' Workshop. The leap of faith I took has changed my life.

A toast at Sarabeth's after the race.
One of the things about my story that has resonated with people is that it is realistic. I am still not at my goal weight. I am still at the back of the pack in races. This isn't one of these "Biggest Loser"-type stories where I lose 150 pounds in three months or something and become a fitness marvel. But the point is that we shouldn't give up on trying to achieve things because we are waiting to get to that perfect weight and that perfect level of fitness. I am now competing against myself, to be the best I can be. If I had waited to do a Spartan Race until I got to the right weight, it never would have happened. But doing the race gave me the confidence to keep on going.

The same goes for doing a half-marathon. I wanted to have a challenge to aim for in April, the way I did the year before. Running friends had advised me not to set time goals for the race -- just to concentrate on finishing. I had also volunteered at several half-marathons over the past year, and saw people who looked like me crossing the finish line, some of whom were literally incoherent at the end. So I had three goals at the end of finishing a half-marathon -- to finish, to finish without needing the medical tent, and to finish and actually sound coherent at the end! Fortunately, I achieved all three. My finishing time was 3:11:42, which isn't a great time, but it was not about the time. It is about completing the challenge.

I did the training for the race this winter, and had gotten up to around 8-9 miles at a time when I got two separate injuries two and a half weeks before the race. My right quad was very sore, and I banged up my right pinky toe hitting it against furniture. I was advised to shut down the training and heal. I only ran once in those last two weeks, a four-mile race in Central Park Squawker Jon had signed up for months ago. So I had real doubts myself as to whether I would have the physical and mental strength to complete the race.

The half-marathon course is two loops of Central Park, a place I had done many races before. So I knew every part of the course, which served me well in the first loop of the course. Despite my nerves, and even though I took it easy in order to save something in the tank for the end, I had PRs (personal records) for the first 5K and 10K of the course, and felt fantastic. The weather was perfect, I had great music -- playlists featuring the Grateful Dead, punk rock, and the like -- and I was very upbeat.

I became significantly less upbeat for the second loop around Central Park. I started to feel tired around Mile 8. By Mile 9, I felt like I was slogging away. Those last 4.1 miles were a particular struggle to get through. I was so exhausted, but I couldn't quit. I didn't want to hear any "Well, at least you tried" about the race. That was not what I had trained for. I wanted to cross that finish line.

All my past running experience came into play in those last few miles, reminding me of what I could do. The five-mile Fourth of July race in the heat. The 10K in 15 degree weather in January. The Pi Day 3.14 mile race, run entirely in pouring rain. All of the training sessions.

I also thought about A-Rod during those last few miles. Some male readers have insinuated that my support of him over the years was due to having a crush on him, a sexist thing to say that they would never say about a man. That is not what I like about A-Rod. While he is a flawed individual, to say the least, he has gotten some undeserved attacks, too, especially this year. Yet he has kept on keeping on, even though he knows that the entire Yankee organization wants him gone. That perseverance in the face of adversity is admirable.  

Like him, I kept on keeping on through the race, when I wanted nothing more but to be done with it. I also had to deal with men jumping onto the course during the race to do their morning runs, something those at the front of the pack didn't have to deal with. I was very cranky at this point, so I yelled at a few of them, in particular, the jerk who took water meant for those of us who paid $80 to do the race!

At about Mile 11, I was totally exhausted. I literally had to give myself a pep talk out loud, telling myself, "You got this," to the delight of several spectators cheering me on. I was extremely slow at this point, but like the proverbial turtle, slow and steady can win (or at least finish) the race.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I crossed the finish line, listening on my headphones to U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)," the song I was also playing when I gave myself that pep talk. I had visualized for months how it would be to complete the half-marathon. I was sure I would burst into tears after finishing. I imagined the crowds, and seeing Squawker Jon, and getting my medal and heatsheet.

Well, at that point, the crowds were pretty sparse, and Jon wasn't at the finish line, but I did get my medal and heatsheet. I didn't cry, though, although I was so sure I would.

The tears came later, when I finally connected with Jon about 10 minutes after the race. When I showed him my medal and said, "Can you believe I did it?" that is when the tears flowed. This was real. I had actually finished what I set out to do, and I was feeling (mostly) no worse for the wear. (My legs were fine two days later; the only thing I felt sore with was the terrible chafing I had on my right arm that lasted for the next week!) I walked -- make that strutted -- around Manhattan with my medal and heatsheet on afterwards, and had a celebratory brunch at Sarabeth's with Jon.

Two and a half weeks later, I still have a bit of a strut in my step. I still can't believe I finished a half-marathon! Now I can put one of those 13.1 stickers on my car. Now I can say to myself that I achieved something I didn't think was possible. What a great feeling that is.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A-Rod shuts up Red Sox fans with #660, and Jesse Pinkman lookalike catches the home run ball

I was on the express bus on the way home from Manhattan last night listening to the Yankee game on the radio when the reception went out for a few minutes. Wouldn't you know it? That was literally the exact time that Alex Rodriguez was hitting No. 660! So I totally missed hearing it live! Bummer.

When I got home, I did get to see the TV clip in the postgame of A-Rod hitting it, then I stayed up late to watch the rebroadcast of the game to see the homer in context. Just seeing a clip of the homer itself really doesn't do the event justice. Red Sox fans were s on their feet, standing and booing A-Rod from literally the moment he left the dugout to pinch-hit for Garrett Jones. The boos were as loud and vociferous as I have ever heard in Boston. And sanctimonious and hypocritical, too, given that David (Failed 2003 PED Test) Ortiz is the team's biggest hero, and that Manny (Failed Three PED Tests) Ramirez helped them get two rings.

A-Rod has had some dramatic homer runs against the Red Sox at Fenway Park: the 2005 homer against Curt Schilling, last year's homer against Ryan Dempster after getting plunked, but I think last night's HR was the most amazing.  It was the baseball equivalent of Paul Sheldon telling Annie Wilkes in Misery to eat it!

Jesse Pinkman waits after the game.
The thing that made me laugh out loud when watching the replay was the fan who caught the ball. That member of Red Sox Nation was booing and doing thumbs-down gestures to A-Rod at the very same time he was hanging onto the ball for dear life.

Doesn't this fan look like a Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad lookalike or what? I half-expected him to say this to A-Rod after the game. My friend Jerome says that this fan also looks like he is saying "my precious" about the ball!

So this fan -- the New York Post says his name is Mike Shuster, and he is is 25-year-old financial advisor from Rhode Island -- wouldn't turn over the ball last night, despite both the Yankees and Red Sox offering him stuff. He also wouldn't throw the ball back, the way other Boston fans wanted him to do. My first reaction was that this guy, unlike fanboy Christian Lopez who gave up Derek Jeter's 3000th hit ball without asking for anything in return, actually had some smarts and sense. Here is some of what I wrote about Lopez then, and the same goes for this guy:
I will never believe that giving away a ball worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars for free to a guy worth hundreds of millions is somehow a moral obligation, or the right thing to do. I will never think that a guy still living at home with his parents, who has over $100K in student loans, owed the baseball he rightfully caught to somebody who just built a house the square footage of a supermarket. It's not "classy" to do that -- it's ridiculous. It's the equivalent of scratching off a winning lottery ticket and giving it away to Jeter, just because.
Shuster says he is going to sleep on it and then decide what to do. But he did tell the New York Post this, something my friend Joe predicted on Facebook last night would happen! Joe wrote this on my page around midnight last night:
Ready for this? Don't be surprised if the guy makes a YouTube video of him destroying the ball. To make a statement, for Sox cred, whatever. That's the vibe I got when I saw him acting out after he caught the ball.
Sure enough, this is what Shuster tells the Post:
“It’s a questionable ball,” Shuster said. “Throwing it back definitely makes a statement, but that’s done all the time for a lot of things. I think something different should be done with this ball with greater significance. I’m not sure what that is yet. I thought about blowing the ball up and making a video of it.”
Unless he gets paid a lot of money to do that, he would be a complete moron to do so. IMHO, the only way you should give up a ball for anything but money is if you could get something for the history books. I wrote for Guideposts.org last fall about how the San Francisco Giants fan who caught Travis Ishikawa's pennant-winning homer ended up getting to throw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the World Series. That is something worth sacrificing the money for. This silly video idea, not so much.

In closing, check out this video, which has all of the home run calls. My favorite is the Spanish-language one. Alleluia!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Subway Series Game 3: The 659th Home Run Song (Feelin' Petty)

It's nights like this that I want to be like Eric Campbell when it comes to numbers. I want to forget how many errors the Mets made (four), how many runs Jon Niese gave up (six, four earned) and how many games the Mets lost to the Yankees (two).

However, Squawker Lisa, there is one number I am quite pleased to remember, and that is 659. I wanted A-Rod to get just shy of 660 while the Yankees were at home so media and fan attention would mushroom. After all, what else do Yankee fans have to focus on - whether Nathan Eovaldi can complete five innings with a lead?

I especially did not want to see A-Rod get to 660 on an ESPN broadcast, not just because it would have been against the Mets, but because I want to hear the Yankee broadcasters stumble through the call. Ideally, Yankee fans would demand a curtain call, leaving Michael Kay struggling to explain why the fans are cheering so much ("Kenny, I think they just announced that all concession stands will no longer have condiments!").

Best of all would be if John Sterling couldn't help spewing home run calls for A-Rod's milestone-that-must-not-be-named,  why Suzyn Waldman desperately tried to stop him:

John:It is high! It is far! It is gone! He did it! A-Rod is A-MAYS-ing!
Suzyn: You know, John, Stephen Drew is closing in on the 500-50 club - 500 RBI and 50 steals for his career.

John: Say Hey-Rod!
Suzyn: John, the Yankees sure have a lot of pitchers with two first names: Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, Chris Martin, even Esmil Rogers if you consider Rogers Hornsby.

John: A-Rod tuned his radio to 660!
Suzyn: Goodness gracious, John, give it a rest!

John: A-Rod's the Six Million Dollar Man!

Subway Series Game 3: A-Rod hits #659, Yankees win, mayhem ensues

How are you feeling, Squawker Jon? Are you sore like Mr. Met, now that your team has lost two out of three to the Yankees? Did you forget how many outs there were, like Met Eric Campbell did tonight?

Boy, that was a sloppy, messy game. Bad pitching, lots of bad plays. Not exactly one for the highlight reels. But ultimately, the Yankees won, and they (and I) have the bragging rights. Sorry, Jon!

As for the ESPN broadcasters, It was funny hearing John Kruk talking about A-Rod guessing on pitches, and then get to see A-Rod "guess" his way to home run #659.  I also had to laugh about them second-guessing on the A-Rod milestone thing, suggesting that they weren't going to tell him what to do, and then doing just that.

Sorry, folks, but I don't care if Alex wants to spend his $6 million on portraits of himself as great men in history. A-Rod as Napoleon! A-Rod as Patton! A-Rod as Einstein! It's his money. He doesn't need to promise to give it to charity or anything else.

Show A-Rod the money!
The Yankees signed the A-Rod contract in December 2007, the exact date that the Mitchell Report was released, and four months after Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's record. They could have put contingencies in there. They didn't. Am I supposed to feel sorry that a $4 billion team is going to have to pay $6 million -- pocket change for them -- for a contract they signed? No way.

My friend Joe had this great comment on Facebook tonight:

When A-Rod hits his next home run I want him to cross home plate, point to the owners box, and do the Johnny Manziel money sign. The back page of the NY Post needs this to happen.
I agree, Joe! 


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Subway Series Game 2: Call it a 'Lisaography' -- Let's pretend this game didn't happen

A toast -- to myself! -- after a grueling obstacle race.
So much for my predictions about A-Rod hitting No. 660 off Matt Harvey. So much for the Yankees' hitting off Matt Harvey. So much for CC Sabathia being an effective major league pitcher! Oy, what a nightmare. Game 2 of the Subway Series was not fun.

Squawker Jon, I actually did have an excuse as to why I hadn't written about yesterday's game, aside from it being my version of "Yankeeography." In the "Lisaography," I wish we could pretend Saturday's game didn't happen!

The state of my trail shoes -- and my socks! -- after the race.
As for my valid excuse, this morning I was at the High Rock Solo, an obstacle race on Staten Island. It is the local version of a Spartan Race. Our readers may remember that when I did the Spartan Race last April, I couldn't do the
climbing obstacles, so I had to do 90 burpees in a row. (Click here if you haven't read my Guideposts article.) Anyhow, one year later, guess what? I still can't do the climby things. (Even if I had wanted to try, my arm is still messed up and sore from the chafing from my half-marathon, so I wasn't going to try! Maybe next year.) So I had to do a lot of jumping jacks -- 25 for each obstacle I missed!

Ranger Ropes: one of the obstacles at
the High Rock Solo. Courtesy
of Run & Shoot Photography
This race was four miles of trail running and over 25 obstacles, including a mud challenge that my shoes got stuck in -- what a nightmare! I had one shoe get stuck so badly that I had to take my foot out in order to get my shoe out. Then it happened with the other shoe. And that was before the first mile was done!

There were a lot of hurdles -- as in literal hurdles -- to do in the race. We also had a slip 'n' slide type thing, which was great fun. Also, my trail running was more like trail walking, as I was very careful not to slip 'n' fall and hurt myself.

My biggest obstacle was the Ranger Ropes shortly before the end of the race.  This consisted of two metal cables strung over a pond. One cable you hang onto with your hands, and one cable you hang onto with your feet. It looked horrible! I was about to skip it and just do the jumping jacks, as I figured I would fall off and end up in the water. But my friend Brian from the running club I belong to suggested I just try it for a few steps. Once I was on, I was hooked, so to speak, and ended up going further! I was scared the whole time, and was sure I was going to fall. But somehow, I ended up finishing -- without falling in! It was a miracle!

After finishing the race, I got a medal and also got to relax with an adult beverage. Squawker Jon, they have a High Rock Challenge for duos. Whaddaya say we do it together next year?

As for Saturday's game, I leave you with this: Matt Harvey's comments about him showing up for Derek Jeter's last home game -- the Yankees were his childhood fave team. Jeremy Schaap recently asked him about that, and why Mets fans were bent out of shape over it. He said (emphasis added):
“I definitely see that side of it,” Harvey answered. “I completely understand. But the other side is that I have bled in a Mets uniform. I’ve definitely sweat in a Mets uniform. And that’s my life. Right now, that’s who I play for.
Right now, he's a Met. In 2019 (or 2024 or something!), I fully expect Harvey to be wearing pinstripes!

Editorial note: As I wrote this Squawk, A-Rod hit No. 659. Gentlemen, start your lawsuits!

Subway Series Game 2: Dark Knight rises, CC not even so-so

The Mets walloped the Yankees, 8-2, on Saturday, but Squawker Lisa has somehow only gotten around to writing about Game 1, which reminds me of the Yankeeography retelling of the 2001 World Series, which conveniently ended after Game 5. While we're waiting for Lisa's game 2 wrapup this afternoon, here are some thoughts from the game:

Matt Harvey is great. You want your ace to the a stopper. Granted, it was only a one-game losing streak, but a loss yesterday would have given the Yankees the Subway Series and could have started the Mets on a downward trend. And Lisa would have had to write about the game.

CC Sabathia is no longer great. Sabathia is now 0-4 with a 5.96 ERA. He gave up three home runs to the Mets, who had hit ten homers all season before Saturday.  Two of the homers were hit by Kevin Plawecki and Eric Campbell, who were both in the minors until recent callups as injury replacements.

I do concede that the seven-year contract the Yankees gave Sabathia before the 2009 season has turned out to be one of the better long-term deals for ace pitchers, even if this final season turns out as poorly as it appears it's going to be.

Oh, wait, the Yankees gave CC an extension - $25 million for 2016, with a $25M option for 2017 that will vest as long as Sabathia:

1) does not end 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury, 2) does not spend more than 45 days in 2016 on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury or 3) does not make more than six relief appearances in 2016 because of a left shoulder injury

Sabathia's 2014 season ended in July when he underwent knee surgery.  Adam Wainwright stumbled coming out of the batter's box yesterday and may have torn his Achilles.  Every pitcher these days seems to be at risk for Tommy John surgery. But fear not, Yankee fans - none of those injuries would prevent Sabathia's $25M option from vesting for 2017.

So Harvey is 4-0 (as is Bartolo Colon), while Sabathia is 0-4. The Mets are 14-4 (still the best record in baseball) while the Yankees are 10-8.  Take away Harvey's record and Sabathia's record and both teams are 10-4.  The way Sabathia currently looks, he's the reverse stopper - every fifth day, he gives his team a great chance to lose.

Kevin Plawecki hit his first major-league home run.  The Mets announcers mentioned this fact on the telecast. On our side of town, we are allowed to acknowledge home run milestones.

Subway Series Game 1: Squawking Mets fans get their comeuppance



Yes, I know I am writing my Game 1 wrapup after Game 2. So sue me!

Anyhow, Squawker Jon and I didn't buy Subway Series tickets months ago, as we should have. And because this series has been a hot ticket, with even standing room only tickets going for $80 and up on the secondary market for Friday's game, and Harvey Day tix going for $150 and up, it wasn't looking good for the Subway Squawkers to get Subway Series tickets.

The 7 Line is in the top left part of the picture.
The seats in this picture were more full
than the expensive seats.
However, I threw out to the universe that we needed tickets. (Although, not in this blog -- Squawker Jon made me take out my line about needing Subway Series tickets. He thought it was too "beggy"!) My request finally worked, though. On Friday afternoon, one of the directors at my day job came through with free two tickets for us, courtesy of a certain TV network, in the main level of Yankee Stadium. This included access to the Audi Club and the Mohegan Sun Club, both places I had never gotten to visit! I was so happy to get these tickets!

This was great -- not only to get to see Friday's game, and see it in good seats, but to give Jon a bit of comeuppance, after his mocking my throwing our ticket request out to the universe! (Incidentally, after all this, Jon "joked" to me during Saturday's game that I should have gotten us tickets for *that* game! Sheesh.)

The tickets Jon thought I would never get!
Anyhow, before the game, we checked out both clubs to see what was what. In retrospect, given how much Squawker Jon griped about the weather (you can read him whining about the cold and the price of hot chocolate here), we probably should have gone to one of the clubs later on in the game. But then Jon probably would have found something else to whine about, like Yankee fans!

As expected, Yankee Stadium food choices were awful. We were sitting near the Papa John's pizza stand. Most popular pizza city in the world, and your pizza choice is Papa John? Really? Before the game, Jon found the Parm stand, which is hidden in a different place it was hidden in from last year. I tried the fried chicken and waffles stand, sponsored by Aunt Jemima. It is a sorry commentary on the food at Yankee Stadium that my chicken and waffle sliders meal, with the waffle courtesy of a corporate food company, was one of the only edible things I have ever eaten at the ballpark!

Yes, that is an A-Rod shirt!
When looking online for a photo of the sliders, I found this quote last year from the person in charge of cuisine at Yankee Stadium:
"We are always trying to push the culinary envelope, making sure that we align ourselves with current culinary trends and our guests' expectations," said Yankee Stadium Executive Chef, Matt Gibson. "For us, it is important to make sure that everyone who walks through the gates of Yankee Stadium has a memorable food experience."
Yeah, nothing says pushing the culinary envelope like the Johnny Rockets' stand. And I guess the time I got food poisoning after eating the Yankee Stadium sushi was memorable. As was seeing how the once expensive but delicious Lobel's prime rib sandwich is now expensive and disgusting (and not delicious.) C'mon, Yankees -- step up your food game already!

Subway Series t-shirt in the Yankees clubhouse shop.
Anyhow, the game itself was perfect for Yankee fans. Even though there were four (!) sections of the 7 Line Army at the game, the Met fans didn't really have much to cheer about, as the Yankees started mauling on Jacob DeGrom right from the beginning. Some Rookie of the Year! And as Jon noted, we had a great view of all of the homers flying out of the ballpark, including Mark Teixeira's two homers!

I do think the entertainment between innings is pretty lame. You have Alex Rodriguez, the most charismatic player on the team, but you don't use him in your skits, in favor of an assortment of indistinguishable, unmemorable players? Not to mention Brian Cashman inserting himself into a skit. Good grief. 

But the game was great for Yankee fans, shutting up most Met fans pretty early. However, when I went to go use the restroom during the game when the score was 6-0 Yankees, I heard some Met fan yelling "Yankees suck" over and over. I took the bait and yelled back, "Scoreboard!" The fan busted out laughing and said that he was looking for a reaction, but everybody else was ignoring him. We talked a little and laughed a little, and he ended up hugging me!  This is the Mets' "Army" for you -- even the trash talkers aren't very fierce!

At about the sixth inning or so, two knuckleheaded Yankee fans -- a young woman and a young man -- sat right behind us, as the people behind us had either left for the night, or gone into one of the clubs to warm up. (Incidentally, the game's official attendance was 45,310, but the stands were more empty than you would think for such a Subway Series game. Many of the people in the expensive seats either didn't show up, or were in the clubs all evening.)

Anyhow, this twosome, especially the woman, were foulmouthed, even by ballpark standards. This woman, who was more than a little wasted, screamed at her companion for at least two minutes straight, unleashing epithets that would make a drunken sailor blush. And she wouldn't shut up. I told Jon by the eighth inning that if we didn't move elsewhere, I was going to say something to her, and it wasn't going to end well! So we moved a level down, and watched the rest of the game from the back of the field level.

I had noticed that at that the t-shirt stand near us didn't have any A-Rod stuff. So at the end of the game, I went to the official Yankees clubhouse store, and did find some A-Rod shirts. But no dirt capsules!

I am off to the solo version of the High Rock Challenge (click to see what madness I am doing today!), so my Game 2 report will not be written until this afternoon. So sue me!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Subway Series Game 1: Winter is coming

The good news is that Squawker Lisa was able to score us some decent seats just hours before the game. As far as I'm concerned, that's pretty much where the good news ends. By the third inning, it was 6-0 Yankees, and since we were sitting in the 200 level toward the right field corner, we had a good view of all the Yankee homers sailing over the short right field porch. And the weather was even colder than the Mets' bats against Michael Pineda.

Lisa is a big fan of the Christmas special featuring Heat Miser and Cold Miser, and while I was feeling like a cold miser, shivering in my seat and grumbling at the $10 the vendor was asking for hot chocolate, heat miser Lisa was glowing as the Yankees stomped on the previously hot Mets. "Some Rookie of the Year, " Lisa smirked about Jacob deGrom.

But Lisa never pointed out how much better the Yankees' 26-year-old rising star Pineda was doing than the Mets' 26-year-old rising star deGrom.  To do so would mean she would have to give Brian Cashman credit for making a good trade when he sent Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Pineda. For Lisa, acknowledging a good move by the man she calls Fredo would be like the Yankees acknowledging a milestone by A-Rod.

The Yankees did, however, see fit to again acknowledge Mark Teixeira's 350th homer from last May, complete with John Sterling's call, in which he happily goes through all of his little sayings for Teixeira before Suzyn Waldman interrupts his reverie with actual news about Teixeira's milestone.

Yankee fans frustrated at their inability to purchase memorabilia for A-Rod's upcoming 660th homer can take solace in the fact there were frequent ads at the stadium last night for something called the "Derek Jeter Dirt Capsule." It turns out that this is a "game-used dirt capsule" from Derek Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium. That implies to me that it was the capsule that was used in the game and not the dirt, but who cares about grammar when it's only $9.99 - cheaper than Yankee Stadium hot chocolate!

Bernie Williams threw out the first pitch last night in honor of the fact that he finally officially retired. (At age 46, he probably figured that he could at least DH for the current Yankee team.) Seeing Williams reminded me again at how ridiculous it is that Jorge Posada is part of the "Core Four" and not Williams.  During the Yankees' 1996-2000 dynasty, Williams had a WAR of 25.3, while Posada's was 9.8 (numbers from Baseball Reference). For their careers, Williams outdid Posada, 49.4-42.7.

I can only assume that Williams had a clause in his contract awarding him $6 million if the Yankees acknowledge that he belongs in the Core Four. 

The Yankees had a lot of dumb ads on the big video screen in which members of the team attempted to be humorous.  Even Brian Cashman tried to get into the act.  What's next - some standup from Randy Levine and Lonn Trost?

One of the ads featured Didi Gregorius trying to teach his teammates to say "inside out" in Dutch.  Not sure why that phrase was chosen, unless the Yankees were trying to claim that Gregorius' .204 batting average was somehow "inside out."  Looks like Sir Didi won't be getting his dirt capsule anytime soon.

At least we got to see the major-league debut of Mets pitcher Hansel Robles.  His name sounds like character out of "Game of Thrones."  (Arya, when you meet a man named Hansel Robles, show him this coin and say, "Nieuwenhuis.")

Unfortunately, winter returned for the Mets last night. Today, it's time for Matt Harvey to bring back the sunshine.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Subway Squawkers Preview: How the 2009 Subway Series sent the Mets on a downward spiral

Squawker Jon and I have been to many Yankees and Mets games together over the years, but two games stand out as being the top ones we attended together. Warning: Mets fans will not like these happy recaps!

The first was on Friday, June 12, 2009. The Mets were about to beat the Yankees, 8-7. Alex Rodriguez was up at bat with two men on and two out, and Francisco Rodriguez on the mound. I had told Jon in the previous inning that the game would come down to A-Rod, and I was right. Alex pops up to Luis Castillo, and A-Rod-hating Yankee fans are in mid-boo when Castillo drops the ball. Let me refresh you memory with this clip:

Here is what I had to say in 2009 in the blog after the game:

After I screamed "Holy Bleep" a whole bunch of times, I literally couldn't stop laughing, especially when the Yanks kept on showing the play over and over again on that gigantic video screen. I also clapped my hands so hard I thought I broke a blood vessel in my finger! ....
I wasn't taunting Jon - I was cackling while looking towards home plate, which was in the opposite direction of Jon. He was very quiet right after the play. It took him a few minutes to speak. When he did finally speak, he was about as devastated as I've ever heard him after a loss.  
Here is what Jon wrote then:
 The worst thing about being at Friday night's horrendous Met loss to the Yankees was Squawker Lisa's reaction. She couldn't stop laughing. 
 I say New York is a two-team town. Lisa says the Mets are the little brother. I want my team to show Lisa that she is wrong. That the Mets are just as good, if not better than, the Yankees. Just as deserving of respect. 
 But after tonight's debacle, even I cannot respect the Mets.
In another blog entry, he said this, about the Yankees' rallying clips before the dropped ball:
Apparently it takes a lot to rally the Yankees. You would think a clip from "Rocky" would suffice, given that the Yankees were only one run down to the Mets and playing in a bandbox where the ball could go flying out at any moment. But no, the sluggish Bombers and their fans apparently also required clips from "300" and "We Are Marshall." How desperate must you be to look for inspiration from Matthew McConaughey?

Ahem. That's now Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, Squawker Jon!

Later on that month, we showed up at Citi Field for the first Subway Series in that ballpark. And wouldn't you know it? There was another memorable game! Mariano Rivera got his 500th save -- and his first career RBI, thanks to Francisco Rodriguez walking him with the bases loaded!

Jon was so depressed after that game, which capped a sweep for the Yanks in Citi Field, that he said the loss was even worse than the Castillo game! He talked about the freeze-frame at the end of the movie "The Wrestler," and had a new wish for the way the series ended:
My highlight show of this year's Subway Series would end with a freeze frame of A-Rod's popup still in the air, A-Rod's bat slamming to the ground, K-Rod starting to pump his fist, Yankee fans starting to boo A-Rod, and Met fans starting to cheer.
If there was any moment to point when the Mets went down the drain, it was right then at the Castillo game! And we were there to see it! Isn't that cool, Squawker Jon?

Subway Series Preview: Why the Mets' winning streak is good for Subway Squawkers!

Here is a "Behind the Squawkers" look at this blog: Way back in early 2006, when Squawker Jon and I worked together at the web department of the New York Daily News, we used to trash talk each other on our respective teams. That winter, it looked like both the Yankees and Mets would be playoff-worthy for the first time since the Subway Series year of 2000. So Squawker Jon suggested we do this thing called a "blog" together, our boss Kevin gave us permission, and we started writing Subway Squawkers (Jon came up with the name) on March 1, 2006.

In our first season, we didn't even have blog software! Instead, it was just one long article entry each month on the Daily News website. And Jon was right -- both the Yankees and Mets would make the playoffs that year, with the Yankees losing to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS (and Joe Torre batting A-Rod eighth!) and the Mets going further, getting all the way to Game 7 of the NLCS. Then Carlos Beltran took that called third strike, and the Mets went on a downward spiral, choking in 2007 and 2008 without making the playoffs, and not even having a winning record since 2008.

The Mets' losing ways changed the state of this blog a lot, taking away much of the trash talk. It was one thing for me to mock the Mets when they were actually a decent team. But mocking Jon and his team when the Mets were in last place didn't have the same cachet. I just looked kinda mean doing so. That meant I had to pull my punches a lot over the last few years.

So now that the magic is back in Citi Field, I can go back to insulting Squawker Jon and the Mets! Yippee! Let me get started with that:

  • I see that Jon brought up 1986 in the very first sentence of this morning's Squawk. If we did a drinking game based on how often Mets fans (and their broadcasters) bring up 1986 during a typical game, this photo is what we would all look like by the second inning.
  • If you go to the Mets' franchise page on Baseball-Reference.com, you will see pictures of the top 20 Mets, according to their WAR numbers. No. 3 is Dwight Gooden, who pitched a no-hitter for my Yankees. No. 5 is Darryl Strawberry, who has three rings as a Yankee. No. 6 is Carlos Beltran, who has (oh, wait, there is no Beltran highlight as a Yankee! Never mind!) Anyhow, No. 11 and No. 16 are Al Leiter and David Cone. Cone has four rings as a Yankee, none as a Met. And both Leiter and Cone are Yankee broadcasters. Tell me, Jon, how many franchises have five of their top 20 players with such connections to their biggest rivals? 
  • Then there is the great Chris Young. When he was a Met, your fans all hated him. Now that he is a Yankee, he is a star! Must be that being in our team's pinstripes worked some magic on him!

So Squawker Jon and Mets fans, watch out!  Now that your team is good again, I am free to bring the pain!