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Tag Archives: Jorge Posada

Baseball Midseason / Rivera’s Long Goodbye

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English: Baseball with clock to represent a &q...

Baseball with clock represents a current sports or baseball event. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Baseball fans of my blog might have noticed that posts on that topic have been more sparse than usual this season. I’ve been kind of disinterested this year thanks to the dismal state of Team Yankee—if I’ve written anything on baseball, it’s been about that. A 3-game run against the Boston Red Sox begins Friday, starring the ragtag group I call Strangers on the Field–and here comes the cherry on top of this mess: no Robinson Cano in the series: he was hit by pitch at the All-Star Game (which is why, incidentally, some players don’t attend the ASG). Some might see the situation as pure happenstance, nobody’s fault—but there are a few moves management made that contributed to the situation, like getting rid of Raul Ibanez and Nick Swisher. I know, I know: a lot of fans were in favor of the moves, in particular of dumping Swish. Not me. I’m not big on lateral trades and team re-organization. I need look no further than my own backyard for evidence: the Oakland As are in an eternal state of flux, always doing yet another re-org.

The All-Star Game was played at CitiField this week, with the American League the winner. The big event this year was a farewell to Mariano Rivera. Manager Jim Leyland sent him to the mound in the 8th inning, in case they didn’t play a  9th, to ensure he’d be out there for a planned tribute. When The Sandman reached the mound he was surprised to be the only player out there. The rest of them were in front of the dugouts leading a standing ovation. Rivera later said it was a highlight of his 19-year career, second only to his World Series wins. (More on Rivera’s farewell tour later).

Red Carpet Parade

Red Carpet Parade

Playing host to Major League Baseball, New York pulled out all the stops, beginning with carpets on Times Square for the Red Carpet Parade in which players rode through the Canyon of Heroes.

NPR’s sportscaster (sorry, I never got his name) delivered a mid-season recap starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he defined as the season’s Big Story.  Having paid less attention (i.e., none) to the Pirates than to the Yankees, I hadn’t noticed. It’s true that after 20 losing seasons, they seem to be turning things around. More  Pirates—5 of them–played in the All-Star game than at any time since 1972, and their pitching staff leads the majors in shutouts. Still, his report was somewhat skewed.

AllStar Game logo

For instance, he paid special attention to California, saying our teams aren’t up to snuff, particularly last year’s champions, the SF Giants. We’ve also had poor performances from the Anaheim…excuse me, Los Angeles Angels and the Brooklyn…excuse me, Los Angeles Dodgers. Well? Does anyone else notice a glaring omission? Not one mention of the Oakland A’s, who IMO are as Big a Story as the Pirates: any time a team as poor as the A’s lands on top of their division for most of the season, it’s a Big Story.

Finally, he ignored the Yankees, except to say he “usually talks too much about them” (to me there’s no such thing). And he also ignored the Mets, which is indefensible considering they hosted the ASG, which he was in New York to cover. Arggh! Commentators! 

Rivera’s Long Goodbye

English: Photo courtesy of Keith Allison on Fl...

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr. Mariano Rivera  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most fans are no doubt aware of Mariano Rivera’s impending retirement and the way he’s saying his goodbyes. Rivera’s been thinking it over for some time, and with the Yankees’ director of communications, Jason Zillo, came up with a plan to visit the people who work for each team—administrative staff, chefs, janitors, refreshment vendors—doing something different before the games. He delivered a pizza to the offices of the Oakland A’s, sat around in a suite talking baseball in Minnesota with invited guests that included, among others, the team chef , and hung around outside some parks holding baseball rap sessions with local  kids. Reported The New York Times: “With all their money and success, the Yankees may be the most widely disliked team in baseball. A rival executive once branded them the Evil Empire, and few people came to their defense. But in stadium conference rooms and offices, Rivera thanks rival fans, charms them, regales them, awes them. And he turns many Yankees haters into admirers.”

The teams, even arch rivals, (I can hardly wait to see what the Red Sox offer!) are showing enormous respect for the best closer of all time by giving him farewell gifts and donating to the Mariano Rivera Foundation, which focuses on the needs of children in his home country of Panama. As I reported a few days ago, the Twins outdid them all with The Chair of Broken Dreams.

For the past decade my favorite players were Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera—who together were the Yankees’ closing battery, a team within a team. Posada was pushed out two years ago and I’ve missed him like crazy. Now goes Rivera. (Going soon: Derek Jeter.) I’m not sure how I’m going to withstand the loss.

What Mariano Rivera is doing with his final season is unprecedented—then again, his whole career has been unprecedented. No pitcher in history, as far as I know, ever built a remarkable record with one—count it, one!—kind of pitch. Rivera says God gave him his cutter. As a non-believer, all I can say is what Shakespeare said in Hamlet:

“There are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Mariano Rivera

(sung to the tune of “Maria”)

Mariano—

I just saw a pitcher named Mariano

And suddenly I see how wonderful a pitch

Can be.

Mariano—

I just saw a closer named

Mariano

And suddenly the game

will never ever be the same to me.

Mariano

Pitch it fast

And they just can’t hit it

Pitch it slow

And the catcher will catch it.

Mariano

I’ll never stop loving

Mariano………

{sing operatically}

Ninth inning–

Mariano!

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He’s a Giant! He’s a Catcher! He’s Busta!

Buster Posey was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player on Thursday. This season Posey had returned after being out more than half of last season after a collision at home plate that left him with a devastating leg injury. Not only did he fully recover, but in 2012 Posey set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBIs. He helped the San Francisco Giants get to the World Series and win it in four games, becoming the World Champions for the second time in 3 years. Posey is the first catcher in four decades to win the award, determined by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Posey’s 2011 collision

My admiration for catchers is immense. In my opinion, they do the hardest job in the game, squatting for 9 or more innings, up and down, up and down–the physical wear and tear alone is enormous. Then there’s the psychological aspect of managing pitchers, who, as I’ve pointed out before, are frequently psychotic.  

Catchers are underpaid and underrated. Jorge Posadawas my favorite player partly because of his position. I used to call him “Jorge-He-Does-It-All” whenever he hit a clutch home run or a Grand Slam. He was a catcher who hit well.

Jorge Posada

Not superlatively, but well; some catchers can barely connect bat to ball. They’re also notorious for not running very fast on those wobbly “catcher’s legs” that are always going up and down, up and down…okay, no need to belabor the point. It’s a tough job.

That’s why, when a Buster Posey comes along, give credit where credit is due. He’s only 25 and just starting his career–with a bang. It’s going to be fun watching him mature and get even better. Go Buster!

Slideshow: Baseball’s Greatest Catchers

 

Adios Jorge

Jorge Posada

Image via Wikipedia

Jorge Posada has never spent a summer with his children. That’s what he’s most looking forward to now that he’s retired from baseball.  Like everything else Posada said today at his press conference, the guy’s sincerity is never in doubt. Mental images of Jorge splashing about in the ocean with his kids fill my head as I write this.

It was a sad sad day for Yankee fans, some of whom were on hand for the press conference organized by the Yankees. The “Bleacher Creatures” who do roll call at the start of every game and other season ticket-holders were not only present, but featured in a video farewell. Thurman Munson’s widow, Diana, spoke, saying she was lucky she “loved two Yankee catchers in my life.” Also present were the Steinbrenners, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera.

It wasn’t only about baseball, either: from Wisconsin came Lisa Niederer and her son Brett, who has craniosynostosis, a condition shared by Jorge Jr. for which the Posadas started a Foundation. Niederer  said she found out about the group while watching the 2002 All-Star Game, when Jorge Jr. came out on the field with his father, and the announcers told his story. “It was the first time,” said Niederer, “I didn’t feel alone.” She now works with the foundation mentoring other parents of children with the condition. She called Posada “a hero, not just for what he did as a Yankee but what he’s done for craniosynostosis families.”

But the biggest tear-jerker of the day was Jorge himself, who choked up every time he referred to his Yankee “brothers” and the Yankee “brotherhood.” In response to the question of whether he’d play for another team — several have come calling — Posada said, choking on his words, “I can’t put on another uniform. I don’t have it in me.”

Posada caught for the Yankees for 17 years. At an early age he decided he wanted to play in the major leagues, and never doubted for a moment that he would. The only deviation from his plan was the catching part: the first time they decided to try him in that position, he said, “It wasn’t a pretty sight.” But gradually he came to love the challenge, and developed an identity so strongly tied to catching that last season, when told he’d be Designated Hitter and do no catching, it was “really tough…. I had to fight for my job.”

We all saw how Jorge suffered last season, some of us outraged by the way he was treated. So it was a surprise, to me at least, that retirement seems to be his own choice. At least, that’s how it looks—and like I said, it’s impossible to doubt anything he says.

My friend Nan, also a Yankee fanatic, is hoping Joe Torre, who just bought the Dodgers, will hire Jorge as a coach. I don’t see it happening, though; he’d have to wear a different uniform.

One time, during a baseball conversation with a few people in a bar, a guy I didn’t know pegged me as a typical “girl” who followed baseball just to ogle cute guys in tight uniforms. “Who’s your favorite player? he asked with a sneer, “Derek Jeter?” I retorted, with pride, “Jorge Posada!”  Nobody can accuse me of liking Jorge for his looks : they’re nothing to write home about. But as Diana Munson put it, he has “The IT factor,” something inexplicable but there. I’m gonna miss ya like crazy, Jorge. Adios and vaya con dios. 

Weekend Wrapup

Portlandia (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

Portlandia

I couldn’t wait to see Portlandia.  Last year I didn’t even know it existed, but this time the PR was intense: I heard a Fresh Air interview with Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein  and read a profile of them in the New Yorker.  They even did a big-city pre-season promotional tour. The show sounded fabulous, maybe the first intelligent sitcom to come along in a dozen years or so.

Portland sounded so great in the hoopla that I was starting to regret not having moved there four years ago, when I’d seriously considered it – I even went and looked at houses with a realtor, big rambling houses for a third of what they’d go for in the Bay Area. The sidewalk cafés sold cups of upscale chocolate, and friendly folk started conversations with me. The bathroom graffiti was high-quality, the bulletin boards jammed with psychic workshops and environmentalist groups. Full-service gas stations! City-wide bicycle lanes! Light rail! It reminded me a little of San Francisco 24 years back, when I first moved here. Then it was an extremely livable city, but I didn’t know I’d arrived on the tail end of laid back: during the next decade traffic increased to an untenable volume, and climbing rents forced people like me to move across the bridge. I wonder if Portland will follow a similar trajectory, now that it’s The Place To Be.

But I digress. Portlandia didn’t grab me as much as I’d anticipated. In deviating from tired sitcom patterns, Armisen and Brownstein have made a bit of a muddle. They play most of the characters — and what characters! – but they aren’t entirely convincing, and I think they would’ve been better off hiring actors. Armisen is currently a player on SNL and it shows: Portlandia is more a string of clever skits than an ongoing story. But hey, it was only the premiere of the second season, and maybe it was just too much hype that caused the letdown, so I’ll give it a few more viewings.

My Week With Marilyn

Yet another disappointment. Full disclosure: I slept through parts of the movie, so I’m not certain I have the right to critique it, or that my impressions are reality based. Still, I saw enough of Michelle Williams to know she’s no Marilyn Monroe. Having just watched The Misfits for the fifth time last week, Marilyn’s gestures, voice, laughter, walk and mannerisms were fresh in my memory, and Williams got none of them down (if only Meryl Streep was still young enough to play Marilyn!). And of all the stupid inattentive screwups, the makeup artists didn’t do their homework: Marilyn’s makeup was pretty much always the same, so how hard could it be to replicate? Yet they couldn’t manage to create that shadow at the outer corners of her eyes, or the almost reflective shine of her lips. Plus, of all things, her beauty mark traveled to different places in different scenes, sometimes on the left side and sometimes on the right! I figure this has something to do with camera technology, but is it really impossible to fix? And finally, dear god, Kenneth Branagh playing Lawrence Olivier?! Check out their pictures. ‘Nuff said.

To the left, Sir Lawrence Olivier. To the right, Kenneth Branagh. Come on!

Addendum : Tuesday January 10th

Maybe I’m crazy: I read a bunch of reviews, all raves, particularly about Michelle Williams and her excellent portrayal of Marilyn. One review said Branagh looked enough like Olivier to play the part. AM I crazy? I fell in love with Sir Olivier, based at least 50% on his looks, when I was in college and saw him do Hamlet (film). Kenneth Branagh is, to my eyes, one of the least good-looking actors in the known universe. Did I get this movie wrong because I slept through some of it? Or did I sleep through some of it because it wasn’t that great? (I don’t think it’s the latter, because when I saw the Johnny Cash biopic I also fell asleep, and decided it was lousy. Two years later I saw it again and loved it.) Guess I’ll wait for this to come out on DVD to do a reality check. In the meantime….anyone have an opinion? That’s what the comment boxes are for!

Home Room

One weekend special that did not disappoint was in the food category, at a new restaurant near Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Home Room’s  menu consists solely of mac & cheese entreés. Even though the meal was probably responsible for my movie napping, it was worth it. I had The Gilroy, made with pecorino, gouda and roasted garlic (hence the Gilroy appellation). Daryl had Mac & Blue, made, naturally, with blue cheese. Scrumptious — and so filling I took more than half of it home for dinner.

Baseball Note: Hip Hip Jorge!

Jorge Posada, shafted by the team he was dog-loyal to for 17 years, has decided to retire in pinstripes, despite offers from the Tampa Bay Rays and at least one other team. No surprises here – but I was hoping he might go down to Florida to play against the Yankees and remind Girardi, Cashman and Steinbrenners Junior – dense nincompoops all – of what they so casually threw away.

Only Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra have caught more games in pinstripes than Posada (1574). With his departure the Core Four – Jeter, Rivera, Pettite and Posada – shrivel to two. My bet is on Rivera as the next to leave; I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened after this season. Posada and Rivera are my favorite players, not only among Yankees but in all of baseball, and losing them is tough. But I don’t begrudge Jorge  spending more time with family, considering what must go on there: Jorge Jr. was born with  craniosynostosis, and has had a number of surgeries over the years. Happy Retirement Jorge: you deserve it! I hope he doesn’t end up missing the game too badly.

Will the Real Marilyn Please Stand Up?

Still Here

I’m Still Here….

As my idol Barbra Streisand sings, “Good times/bad times/sometimes a kick in the rear/but I’m here.” Just because I haven’t been recording my life for posterity doesn’t mean my life isnt still happening….or so I tell myself. I do wonder about that sometimes. In any case, since my last post – Labor Day! more than a month ago! – I finished ghosting Connecting With The IN Crowd, which was published with my name under the boss’s, so I guess I’m not a ghost anymore; I went to a Book Launch at the St. Francis Hotel with it and my novel  Halfway to the Stars; I started another ghost gig; made plans to go to Costa Rica next month; and, as always, watched the world go by.


Yankees Still Playing….

In the world of baseball/Yankees, Jeter made his 3000th hit, Rivera made his 600th save, Posada was publicly humiliated and just as publicly resurrected; pitchers had meltdowns and freeze-ups; and at this moment the Division Series are in progress. Moneyball hit the screen and I still haven’t seen it – I hope to today. Billy Beane now thinks he’s as hot as Brad Pitt, and on the basis of the movie he’s been making the rounds on the financial speaker circuit — which should tell you something about sabermetrics and his baseball philosophy. Meanwhile, the Oakland A’s can apparently rot in hell as far as he’s concerned. Time for a new manager? It was time for a new manager at least three years ago!

And The Kids Are In The Street!

We seem to be in the throes of revolution, and I don’t mean Arab Spring. Wall Street protests are spawning demonstrations all over the country. They’re finding their platforms as they gather, making it up as they go along. This is, I think, for real: first of all, Karl Marx said that capitalism would implode on itself when it was no longer working. Secondly, all my life I’ve heard that the way to foment revolution is to let things get so bad the country hits bottom. And finally, electing someone we thought would make a difference, then being bitterly betrayed by him, showed people it’s the system, not who’s in charge of it, that has to change. So here we are. I wonder if this movement is strong enough to go the distance, or if the government, media, and corporations will find a way to defeat it. So far, it’s still here.