"Nice Game Pretty Boy!"

Friday, April 28, 2006

"Babe Ruth was Nothing More than a Fat Old Man, with Little-Girl Legs. And Here's Something I Just Found Out Recently. He Wasn't Really a Sultan!"

Tomorrow, I will be heading out to Yankee Stadium to see the Bronx Bombers take on the Toronto Blue Jays in an afternoon matinee. As a Mets Fan, I don't generally frequent the House that Ruth Built, but as a baseball fan, I do like to take in a game in the hallowed ball park, from time to time (or, for that matter, any ballpark, but the Stadium happens to be the closest place to go when the Amazin's are out of town). This being my inaugural trip to the Stadium in '06, I thought I would share my thoughts on the pros and cons of the facility. For a Yankee fan's perspective on this, check out this post by Larry at ThisIsWhatWeDoNow (whom I swear I am not copying, but I just happen to be going to the ballpark this weekend.) Anyway, in the most objective way possible for me, here are the pros and cons:


Location, Location, Location: I am not talking about The Bronx here. I mean that the ballpark is very conveniently situated next to stops on two express subway lines and adjacent to a row of bars, food and shops for your pregame enjoyment. The 4 and D trains running to 161st Street are a delight compared to the marathon ride on the 7 train that must be endured for a trip out to Shea. And Met fans can talk all they want about tailgating Shea's parking lots, but the truth is that tailgating is for football season. There is nothing like knocking back a few hearty brews before the ballgame with some of your fellow Yankee partisans. Now, this is not to suggest that Stan's and its Yankee bar brethren are the standard bearer for ballpark bars (eg., it doesn't even touch the scene in Wrigleyville), but the scene certainly beats the chop shops that adorn the outskirts of Shea.

Souvlaki: Available outside the Stadium, it's cheap and goes down relatively easy (insert "you mama" joke here).

Asymmetrical Dimensions: Nothing gives a ballpark some character like asymmetrical outfield walls. I love the short right field porch and the 399-foot power alley in left-center.

Monument Park & Retired Numbers: Nobody does history like the Yankees. They live it, breathe it, and force it down your throat at every turn (see below). That being said, the retired number plaques visible through the left field wall, and monument park monuments behind the center field wall certainly are awe-inspiring, though it was a lot cooler back in the old days when the monuments were in the field of play.


"The Most Somber Place in Sports": My knickname for the Old Ballpark. Though I am by no means a regular, I do catch anywhere from 3-6 games at Yankee Stadium each year, and each time I go, I know I can count on three things: (i) the pinstriped uniforms, (ii) Bob Sheppard's voice and (iii) the American Flag at half mast honoring some recently deceased loyal fan of the Bronx Bombers. I have never seem a place more eager for a funeral in my life. This is probably why they erected the cemetery in the outfield. Memo to the Yankees: A sad fact of life is that in a city of approximately 8 million people, with millions more in the suburbs, people will die every day, and it is a good bet that one or more of those unfortunate souls will be partial to a particular sports team. However, this does not require that every single one of them be eulogized with a tribute before the baseball game! Let them (and the rest of us) rest in peace. Geez.

"God Bless America": Karl Rove has got nothing on the Yankees brass when it comes to using forced patriotism as a weapon to guilt the opposition into submission. In order to "ice" opposing pitchers in the late innings of games, fans are foreced to suffer an interminable rendition of the Irving Berlin classic. And while we're at it, I would argue that "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (written in 1908, predating "God Bless America" by 10 years) is as patriotic as any song ever written, so there. And while we're still at it, Cottoneyed Joe sucks too.

Narrow Concourses: If brave enough to leave his or her seat to visit the restroom or a concession stand, a patron is forced to attempt to negotiate these narrow passages around the stadium. Not only does it make you late for the next inning, you could end up behind #1 Yankee Fan Vito Spatafore and risk missing the entire game (and further risk being forced to receive unwanted male fellatio).

Overpriced Concessions: This is pandemic at all professional sports facilities, but the sin is particularly egregious in the Bronx, where a Bud Light will cost you upwards of $8.50 and a hot dog is fast-approaching $5.00.

I'm sure there are many other complaints I could share, and I leave it to you to share your likes (not expecting many of those) and dislikes. I will, however, close by saying that the opening of the Mets' new ballpark cannot get here fast enough. In fact, I am strongly considering posting a countdown clock, once I am technologically capable.

"Keith Hernandez?! I DESPISE the Man!"

I know, I know, two Keith Hernandez-themed posts in the span of a week. Well to those thinking that, I say: (i) Keith has been in the news a lot this week and (ii) look at the freaking title of this blog! Anyway, this is just a brief note regarding this article/story on ESPN.com by Jim Caple, which people have been e-mailing me. Jim has written an episode of Seinfeld inspired by the recent story involving Keith Hernandez being repremanded by SNY for certain remarks the network deemed inappropriate in Keith's incredulous reaction to seeing Padres assistant trainer/massage therapist Kelly Calabrese in the San Diego dugout. This is relatively old news (from this past weekend), so you can click the link for more details. However, because the Caple satire keeps ending up in my in-box, I though I would post a link here, along with my reaction (and the accompanying photo, which makes me laugh just looking at it). Anyway, the story is mildly amusing, and I chuckled a couple of times, but I don't see what all the fuss is about. Extra points for featuring the Mets (duh) and having some of the storylines come together at the end, in classic Seinfeld fashion. However, points off for phoning it in on the dialogue with the usual Jerry lines beginning with"What's the deal with..." and trying in vain to recreate the classic Jerry-George banter at Monk's Coffee Shop. You may think I'm being a little harsh, but to paraphrase what Simon told Katherine McPhee on American Idol** this past Tuesday, "By choosing to parody Sienfeld, it's like coming out here and saying 'I am as good as Larry David.' And you're not."

**For my post on American Idol from this week, click here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"I can't watch a man sing a song...They get all emotional , they sway. It's embarrassing."

Last night, Kellie Pickler was voted off American Idol, thus reducing the number of American Idol finalists still alive in the competition to 5. (For those of you wondering, I would have posted a photo of Kelly, but since the Seinfeld quote referred to "a man" I felt this pic to be more appropriate). As an AI fan, I am very happy about this, as given Kelly's performances the past two weeks, she proved she did not belong, and any continuation of her completely baffling (okay, maybe not so baffling) run, would really have called the show's integrity into question.

Before I continue my thoughts, I should take a moment to explain why I (along with over 20 million of my fellow Americans) am such a big fan of the show. You see, Idol combines all of those elements, we Americans know and love--competition, the rise to glory of an unknown, music, pretty faces and, the most important element, getting to sit back and judge other people. What a wonderful feeling it is to sit on the couch with my wife every week and pass judgment on young hopefuls with much more talent than I could ever hope to have, by making snide, obnoxious comments. (Try it, it's empowering.) Add in the opportunity to see the washed-up, aging crooners who are forced to do the show each week to rescue sagging album sales by bolstering their q-factor with "Middle America" and you've got yourself a great combination of suspence, schattenfreude and unintentional comedy that makes for some compelling television.

Anyway, back to the show, as indicated above, we are left with 5 finalists--so-called "alt rocker" Chris Daughtry, who must have thought he was auditioning for CBS flop, Rock Star: INXS, crooner Elliot Yamin, who has somehow managed to combine the harsh looks of Clay Aiken and the liliputuan stature of Ryan Seacrest, the voluptuous Katherine McPhee, whose womanly phisique and penchant for forgetting to wear a bra on stage has made her a favorite of the BookieD houseold, teenager Paris Bennett, who looks like what might have happened if Jean-Benet Ramsey grew up and became a black teenager and Taylor Hicks, the silver-haried, Michael McDonald wannabe, whose claim to be 29 years old, is more specious than that of your average MLB import from Latin America. Personally, I hink Taylor's goofy "aw shucks" schtick will wear thin with the voters, and Paris just isn't mature enough to play with the big boys. Eilliot, God bless him, is a tremendous vocal talent, but will ultimately be done in by his robotic stage presence and feeble attempt at dance moves. This will leave Chris and Katherine vying for the top prize in what will be a spectacular and sexualy-charged Idol finale. Personally, I think Chris is more suited to font a band than to be a solo pop idol, but his winning would be a nice change of pace from the recent run of good, not great, in some cases mildly interesting, but ultimately forgettable Idol champions. On the other hand, in addition to her, ahem, ample assets, Katherine does have star quality evocative of another Idol winner, the only one who has truly gone on to enjoy fortue along with her fame (and who, like McPhee, started out on the chunky side and worked her way up to bona fide hotty). My prediction, is Chris in a close one, but with enough screentime for Katherine to make the trip totally worthwhile.

For much better recaps of American Idol, check out:
MSNBC's Idol Recap
Entertainment Weekly

Monday, April 24, 2006


Tonight, the New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Rangers in Game 2 of their NHL Stanley Cup playoff series, giving the Devils a 2-0 series edge. On Saturday, the Devils whipped up on the Blueshirts 6-1 and completely dominated in every phase of the game, save for a couple of nice hits by the Rangers late in the game. The foregoing recap notwithstanding, this post is less about hockey and more about my theory about the current stewardship of the Knicks and Rangers by Cablesvision. You see, my theory is that Charles and Jim Dolan have hatched a nefarious scheme inspired byThe Producers, the movie, cum Broadway phenomenon cum movie again (to be released this year). In the movie/show, producers Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom discover that they could make more money by producing a Broadway show that fails than with one that succeeds and sells tickets. Their idea is to sell shares in the show to a large number of investors, selling more shares than there could possibly be in the show (i.e, they find 50 people and sell each of them 50% of the show). When the show tanks, the unwitting investors assume their money is lost and never come looking for any returns, thus allowing Bialystock and Bloom to keep all their money. Their plan ultimately fails becuase the two are so happless that the can't-miss failure they choose to produce actually succeds, and their scam is found out. I believe that like Bialystock and Bloom, Charlie and Jim Dolan have deduced that they could make more money with teams that are perpetually mediocre than they can by going through the trouble of assembling a team that can actually win a championship. Their plan is to continue to acquire players with big names and bigger contracts to play for the Knicks and Rangers in the hopes that the marquis names will draw fans to the Garden and the marginal talent will be good enough for the teams to make the playoffs each year. The teams therefore can continue to sell tickets and enjoy playoff revenue each year, without going through the losses and pains necessary to rebuild a team from the ground up in order to win a championship. Although I have done no empirical analysis of this, I believe the Dolans have figured that the revenues generated by a team that is in the playoffs each year, even for only a round or two will far exceed the revenues generated by a championship team that first must suffer an extended period of failure before enjoying success. Of course, like Bialystock and Bloom, the Dolans' plan appears to also be doomed to failure, because the two are so happless, that the high-priced talent they have encouraged their GMs to bring to the City (specifically, the Knicks have acquired Glen Rice, Antonio McDyess, Stephon Marbury, Jalen Rose and, most recently, Steve Francis; the Rangers have added Pavel Bure, Theoren Fleury, Eric Lindros, Bobby Holik, and, of course, Jaromir Jagr) has actually performed so poorly that the Knicks and Rangers have not even been good enough to satisfy the plan's requirement that the teams make the playoffs. Undeterred, the Dolans have continued on this course, and under their ownership, the Garden has suffered a paucity of success unprecedented in the history of the two proud franchises that reside there. The Knicks have not enjoyed a winning season since 2001 and lost 59 games this past season, the 2nd-most in team history. The Rangers have performed even worse during that span, having failed to make the playoffs each year since 1998, and reaching 80 total points on the season only once in that span (an uninspired 36-38-4-4 campaign in 2001-02). As a fan, I am so outraged that I have taken to actually rooting hard against the Knicks each time they play. I'm not talkng about that fake rooting that you do when your brain knows the team is better off losing (eg., for better draft picks or playoff positioning), but in your heart you just can't do it. I am talking about a deep-seeded hatred for my team and a real pleasure in learning they have lost. Thank you Cablevision for helping me break new ground in my fandom. Now, in 2006, the Rangers are in the playoffs for the first time in 7 seasons, despite a last-ditch effort by the team to play their way out, and Team Dolan is claiming vindication. Well, color me unimpressed. The team finished the regular season as a dead-team walking (losers of 5 straight), and it's only a matter of 2 games before the Devils send them to their final resting place. This is most appropriate, as while Cablevision has done everything it could to run the MSG franchises into the ground, the Devils ownership has built a semi-dynasty, bringing 3 Stanley Cups to the Meadowlands since Cablevision has come to power across the river (and, while we're at it, the Nets have been as successful as any team in the NBA's Eastern Conference outside of Detroit). Here's hoping the lesson tought by David Puddy's Favorite Team is a painful one for Cablevision. Let's go Devils!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

"Nice Game, Pretty Boy!" (Welcome to Bookie's Place)

Okay, I only started this blog because Blogspot.com made me sign in to post on Danny's blog. Still, there is a chance I might take advantage of this space and actually post some of my clever wordly insights. The name combines two of my greatest passions, Seinfeld reruns and the NY Mets. I also have some actual "real world" interests, which I may or may not write about, but at the moment, this is on my mind, so I thought the picture above would be an appropriate beginning. Looking at it, the picture actually looks pretty photoshopped, but that is in fact Mex and me at Smith & Wollensky in 2004. My boss won a lunch with Keith at a charity event and took me along. Keith was very nice, spent about 2-1/2 hours with us, and though he obviously had better things to do, his demeanor didn't reveal it. Anyway, in addition to the thrill of running Seinfeld quotes with him ("A crucial Hernandez error opened the door to a 4-run 8th inning." "Our day was ruined!"), we also discussed things to do in and around Sag Harbor, New York, where Keith had recently purchased a summer home (this was before SNY shrewdly hired him away to do Mets telecasts). Anyway, I recomended the Dock House (unfortunately, no URL), a small clam shack on the wharf. I didn't think anything of it afterward, but later that summer, when I stopped in, I innocently inquired as to whether Keith Hernandez had ever been by. The owner replied, "Yeah, actually. He said some guy from the City told him about us. I wondered, 'who the hell in the City knows about us?'" Evidently, Keith took a little something more away from our encoutner than the usual man-crush discomfort experienced by celebrities I get to meet. Anyway, that's my Mex story. A post-script: Later that summer, in Chicago at the Sheffield Garden Walk, I ran into Keith's daughter (a friend of hers brought her over to me when he recognized my Mets t-shirt). Yes, 2004 was the Summer of Mex.