Friday, November 30, 2007

Point Of View

Javier steps out of his building and looks across a sunny Walton Avenue.

“It’s gonna be a great day, isn’t it?”

“That depends,” shot Marcus who is sitting on the steps reading the newspaper.

“Depends on what?” Javier asks.

“Your point of view,” Marcus says. “About fifteen guys have been by here and all of them are nervous about this trade business.

“Some say we need Johan Santana,” he continues. “Others say we can’t give up all the young players. One guy almost punched me when I mentioned that one of the papers said Hughes and Kennedy and Melky might go in this deal.”

“The tales are getting pretty tall,” Javier says. “People are focused on every scrap of news because there are no games to watch.

“Some of them are so desperate that they’ll believe anything,” Javier goes on. “Everyone just needs to relax and let Cashman do his job. He’ll put together a winner.”

“You’re pretty confident,” Marcus says.

Javier smiles.

“It’s all in your point of view.”

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Regular Job

Mahamadou drags on the 2 train at 149th Street. He is loaded down with a folding table, six large boxes, a tarp, a plastic crate, an over-stuffed backpack and a radio roped around his neck.

“They’re the tools of the trade,” he says.

Selling merchandise along 14th Street is his trade.

“Yankee stuff mostly,” Mahamadou says with a smile. “T-shirts are a hot seller in the summer, but now I’ve got gloves and socks and winter hats and Yankee Stadium snow globes, too.

“Business is good,” he continues. “One person bought 20 snow globes yesterday.”

He came from Senegal about eight years ago and has carved out a spot in the city.

“It feels good to know where you’re going every morning,” Mahamadou explains. “Having a regular job is the best thing in the world.”

There’s some disappointment in the morning paper.

“I feel bad for Phil Hughes,” he says. “The newspapers talk about trading him like he is an old shoe or a snow globe.

“He’s a man with feelings,” Mahamadou continues. “And he doesn’t even know where he’ll be working tomorrow. That would scare me.”

He stuffs the paper in his backpack and drags off the train for another day on the job.

“I’m hoping to sell 20 more snow globes.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Art of Baseball

I was in a vulnerable position on the 2 train this morning.

Squeezed against a door in Penn Station during rush hour is one of the most dangerous spots in the city. There is always a stampede of people coming from the Long Island Railroad and you get pushed and pulled by men in suits and women in fur coats.

I was wedged between two suits by the time we started for 14th Street. The guy on my left was nice, for a suit, and he tried to give me some advice on following the Johan Santana trade rumors.

“You need to try and play the game as if you were a General Manager,” he said. “Look at the numbers and don’t be emotional about the deal.”

“Don’t be emotional?” I snapped. “Everything is emotional in the Bronx. It might be fun to ‘play GM’ in the suburbs, but baseball is serious business around here.”

“I’m just more analytical,” the suit said. “I prefer statistics and ‘The Art of the Deal.’”

“That’s interesting,” I said. “But I prefer ‘The Art of Baseball.’”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Something Lost

Questions are being asked and opinions passed in front of Juan Carlos’s coffee cart this morning.

“What do you guys think of the Johan Santana trade talk?” asks Jon from Highbridge.

A tangle of voices builds and breaks before Javier from Walton Avenue is able to restore order.

“Hold on,” he says. “Let’s cut this debate down to size. Everyone agrees that Santana is one of the best pitchers in baseball, correct?”

Everyone nods.

“He’s a guy that can lead a staff for years, correct again?”

More nods.

“Now it gets tougher,” Javier continues. “You can’t get a player like that without giving something up. Who’s it gonna be?”

“Not Joba,” someone shoots.

“And I’d hate to lose Phil Hughes,” Jon says.

“Kennedy’s gonna be a good one, too,” someone offers.

“What about Melky?” Jon asks.

“No,” the group fires.

Javier reclaims the conversation.

“Very tough choices,” he says shaking his head. “With something gained there is always something lost.”

“Yeah,” the group mumbles. “Something lost.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Broken Justice

Justice is hard to find and easy to lose and it usually gets broken in the fight.

That’s why Khiel Coppin was killed by the New York City Police Department in a hail of 20 bullets outside his Brooklyn home just under a year from the day that Sean Bell was killed in his Queens neighborhood by 50 more NYPD bullets which came seven years after Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times by the police outside his Bronx building.

Broken justice keeps killing and killing and killing.

It’s easy to blame the shooters, but this is more about brutal police policies than brutal police officers.

The real problem is with a Mayor and a Police Commissioner who have made no attempt to change a system that ended the lives of Coppin at 18 years, 20 bullets and Bell at 23 years, 50 bullets and Diallo at 23 years, 41 bullets.

New York State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith created a Legislative Task Force on Police Procedures in the wake of the Bell shooting. The goal was to establish better relations between the police and the neighborhoods they are supposed to protect.

The NYPD decided not to participate.

“This is not an attack against the Police Department,” Smith said yesterday after the Task Force’s final hearing. “This is a way of saying we want to help and we want better relations. But in order to have that you must communicate. That lack of communication is a little concerning.”

Another attempt at justice is broken in the fight.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

For Justice

My memory of Sean Bell was taped to a brick wall on Liverpool Street in Queens. It was a picture of him in a baseball uniform. It was just a few days after he was killed by the New York City Police Department, but the photo was already wrinkled by the rain and cracked by the wind.

It has since turned to dust just like the justice we stood for and marched for and fought for in the following days and weeks.

We have seen lots of pictures in the past year. We have seen Bell with Nicole Paultre-Bell, who he was supposed to marry just a few hours after the police filled his car and the whole neighborhood with 50 bullets. We have seen him with his daughters Jada – who misses her father – and Jordyn – who wasn’t even old enough to remember him. We have seen him with his mother and father and his friends and his teammates.

We have seen everything, but justice for the brutal way he died.

Reverend Al Sharpton led a few hundred people in an overnight vigil to mark the anniversary of Bell‘s death. Sharpton is the only man who stands up for everyone in this city and it’s time for more of us to stand with him. Then maybe someday there are no more kids gunned down in the streets.

I will always carry the memory of Sean Bell the pitcher, who won 11 games with a 2.30 ERA and 97 strikeouts in his senior year at John Adams High School in Ozone Park.

And I will never forget the 50 bullets because there will be 50 more with another name on them if we don’t keep standing and marching and fighting for justice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Here is what we know: Nothing.

There is absolutely nothing going on in the Bronx.

There is a lot coming – finalizing Alex Rodriguez’s contract and announcing those of Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Jose Molina – but that’s all for another day.

One more day of nothing between us and a new baseball season.

Friday, November 23, 2007

On The Floor

Jon showed up at Juan Carlos’s coffee cart looking a bit worn and tired this morning.

“What happened to you?” Javier asked.

“I was given a ‘Great Honor’ at Thanksgiving dinner,” Jon said.

“I don’t see a World Series ring and you aren’t carrying a trophy,” Javier said. “So what the heck was it?”

“I got to carve the turkey,” Jon said.

“That’s no big deal,” Javier scoffed.

“It is when you’ve never carved anything before,” Jon snapped. “They put me at the head of the table and nine hungry people were staring at me. I was a little nervous and I’d had a few beers and, well, the whole damn turkey ended up on the floor.”

“What did you do?” Javier asked.

Jon stood up extra straight and said, “I looked at them and said, “At least there’s only 86 days until pitchers and catchers report.

“We didn’t have any turkey,” he continued, “but everyone was on the floor laughing.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Javier from Walton Avenue peeled the lid off his morning coffee and asked the obvious question.

“What are you guys doing for dinner?”

Everyone laughed.

“I’m going to my in-laws,” said Jon from Highbridge. “Dry turkey, dry mashed potatoes, dry conversation, but plenty of beer.”

“Doesn’t the conversation pick up when everyone gets a few beers in them?” Javier asked.

“My father-in-law and I are the only ones who drink and we are quiet drunks,” Jon said. “That, at least, makes the day bearable.”

“There’s always a lot of trash after the big feast,” said Fat Paulie who works at a building on Gerard Avenue. “I gotta get it all bagged up. Thanksgiving dinner ain’t so pleasant the day after.”

“It ain’t all that pleasant the day of either,” Jon shot.

Everyone laughed at the obvious answer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Weather

Javier from Walton Avenue didn’t say a word when he arrived at Juan Carlos’s coffee cart this morning.

“Are you sick?” someone asked.

“What, me?” Javier said weakly. “No, I’m just a little down I guess.”

“Down about what?” someone asked.

“The weather,” Javier said.

“What are you talking about?” someone shot. “It’s pretty nice for November.”

“That’s the problem,” Javier fired back. “I want it to get cold and snow and sleet so we can get it over with. I’m ready for Opening Day and winter won’t even get here.”

“So you like the way the team is coming together?”

“Oh yeah,” Javier howled. “In the last week we’ve gotten back our catcher and closer and cleanup hitter. Now if it would just get cold...”

“It’s always gotta be something with you,” someone said.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Most Deserving Player

Someday it will all be behind Alex Rodriguez: The MVPs and the home-run crowns and the game-winning hits and game-saving plays. Any rough spots will have been smoothed over by time and titles and he will be able to enjoy what it’s been like to be the greatest player in the only game that matters to this city.

Maybe then he can admire the view. Maybe.

It’s still about doing the job for now.

“I have some unfinished business in New York,” he recently told reporters.

There is always unfinished business with Rodriguez. That’s really the only way to explain his dedication.

“Nobody works harder than Alex,” Mariano Rivera once said. “Nobody.”

The awards haven’t changed that. Neither have the huge contracts. You get the feeling that a World Series wouldn’t change it either. It will always be about the next World Series for him.

That kind of drive makes a great baseball player, but it’s not an easy life. I hope Rodriguez can clear those expectations someday and enjoy his work.

Nobody deserves that more. Nobody.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I have seen Mariano Rivera do amazing things.

He once signed autographs for about 15 minutes outside Yankee Stadium while holding two of his children.

“Don’t your arms get tired?” someone asked.

“No,” he said with a smile. “Do yours?”

Everyone laughed and the greatest closer ever kept signing.

Rivera puts everyone else first: His family, his friends, his teammates and even a bunch of people that wait around to watch him walk out of Yankee Stadium.

“Thanks for signing,” someone said that day.

“Thanks for being here,” he said.

Rivera has been at the end of every big win for a dozen years. He got the final out in three-consecutive World Series and pitched three shutout innings to win the 2003 American League Pennant. He saved Roger Clemens’s 300th win and Andy Pettitte’s 200th.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else closing out my games,” Pettitte said after that milestone victory. “He’s absolutely amazing.”

Rivera has saved everyone’s bacon about a millions times, but he never wants to talk about that.

“I am just a simple worker,” Rivera likes to say. “I’m nothing without my teammates.”

And they are nothing without you.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not Right

The word on the streets is that Mariano Rivera is going to accept the Yankees’ contract offer.

If that’s true, it’s good news for people on these streets: Baseball’s most dominant closer will stay in the Bronx where he is beloved.

But it’s also bad news for people on these streets: The greatest pitcher in this team’s history was allowed to be bullied by some of the richest men in the world.

Major League Baseball owners, as they always seem to do, turned the system inside out and upside down to make sure they got what they wanted.

They scolded the Yankees for giving Jorge Posada a four-year deal and banded together to make sure they didn’t do the same for Rivera. Then, in an amazing slight-of-hand, they were able to publicly label Rivera an “ingrate” who wasn’t satisfied with a “more than generous” three-year, $45 million offer from a group of fat cats sitting on $6.075 billion from just this year.

People who use numbers to calculate a man’s worth will tell you why standing on the three-year offer was a “prudent business, humm, I mean, baseball decision.”

People on these streets will tell you why it wasn’t right.

The negotiations should have been between our team – the team we support with the pennies that trickle down from the wealthy that run this game and this country – and our player – the man we have cheered and supported from day one.

But the wealthy consider people on the streets even less than the great Mariano Rivera. They fleece him and then use him to fleece us. They make sure the money flows to the top one way or another.

Ultimately, Rivera will sign this deal for his teammates and for the people on these streets who fill Yankee Stadium.

It may be good news for us, but that doesn’t make it right.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


The bargaining table is a bit crowded these days. Mariano Rivera and his agent Fern Cuza are sitting across from Brian Cashman and Hank Steinbrenner, but there are also 29 other owners looking over their shoulders.

According to reports, the Yankees have been “admonished” and “chastised” by baseball executives for offering Rivera the three-year, $45 million deal that is currently on the table.

Rivera and Cuza are clearly outnumbered because the Major League Baseball Players Association seems unwilling to challenge the owners on anything from leaking players’ personal medical records to this type of outright collusion.

That’s really too bad because Rivera’s contract isn’t just about what he’ll be paid for the next three years or four years. It’s about what Francisco Cordero will be paid this year, too. And it’s about what Francisco Rodriguez might be paid next year. It’s also about Jonathan Papelbon and Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz and Joakim Soria and Manny Corpus and every other reliever that trudges in from the bullpen when they can barely lift their arm.

This is about economic justice for players that work just as hard and endure just as much, but may never be the greatest closer in baseball. Rivera owes them this fight.

There’s talk that Rivera is unhappy with the Yankees for not adding another year to their offer, but he has to understand that he’s not dealing with the Yankees anymore. This is a negotiation between him and the Baseball Industrial Complex.

The richest men in the room have laid down the law and they expect the son of the Panamanian fisherman to bow. Rivera apparently didn’t get that message and if there is any justice in the world he will deliver one of his own.

Cutter, up and in.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Major League Baseball owners have no decency, no shame, and lots of money.

Commissioner Bud Selig is trumpeting the fact that baseball’s revenues climbed to a record $6.075 billion this year.

“As I told the clubs, we’re on a great high here,” Selig said at the recent owners’ meetings in Naples, Florida.

Apparently, the first rule of being “on a great high” is to make sure everyone stays in line.

According to Mark Feinsand’s story in today’s Daily News, the Yankees are taking heat for their three-year, $45 million contract offer to Mariano Rivera.

Feinsand reported that the deal drew criticism from Major League Baseball executives in charge of monitoring salaries and payrolls, as sources said that Yankee executives Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine were admonished during the owners’ meetings for drastically upping the market for relievers.

Hank Steinbrenner commented to The New York Times on Rivera’s contract situation:

“They haven’t rejected it outright, as far as I know,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s pretty much known that they’re seeking a fourth year, or more [money] for three years.

“I want him back, and that’s why the offer is as high as it is,” Steinbrenner continued. “We don’t have to change anything. Everyone in baseball knows it’s a great offer; we’ve even gotten a couple of complaints about it.”

Those complaints – which clearly constitute collusion – basically ended negotiations between the Yankees and Rivera. The Yankees can’t up their offer even if they wanted to and Rivera can’t shop his services to other teams because it is those teams that are criticizing the Yankees’ current offer.

So it’s take-it-or-leave-it for the greatest relief pitcher ever.

It’s take-it-or-leave-it for the son of the Panamanian fisherman, who now knows what it’s like to swim with the sharks.

It’s take-it-or-leave-it from 30 men who think $6.075 billion isn’t nearly enough.

Major League Baseball owners have lots of money these days and they wield even more power. They are a monopoly with an anti-trust exemption that can openly collude against the great Mariano Rivera.

Their arrogance knows no bounds.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Scene

It’s coming down to this scene:

Scott Boras sits in a waiting room as a receptionist eyes him suspiciously. He is wearing a blue suit and his hands are folded neatly on his old leather briefcase. A clock ticks.

He glances at the photos hanging on the wood-paneled walls: Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Elston Howard, Phil Rizzuto, Whitey Ford, Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Ron Guidry, General Patton…”

General Patton?

Boras’s eyes circle the walls again. And then again. He tugs at his collar and focuses on a large door at the end of the room. The clock ticks. And ticks. He mops his brow.

He leans in as voices come from behind the door. It bursts open and out comes George, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner along with Brian Cashman and Alex Rodriguez. They are all laughing and smoking long cigars.

GEORGE: “They’re good aren’t they? These are the kind Castro smokes. I’ve got a guy that gets ‘em for me.”

ALEX: “Very nice, Boss.”

Boras clears his throat.

ALEX: “Oh, Scott, I’m glad you’re here. Can you look over this contract? We’re going to grab some lunch.”

GEORGE: “You like pancakes big guy? The IHOP down the street does a banana-walnut thing that melts in your mouth.”

ALEX: “I love pancakes.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Like sweat and pain, anonymity comes with the job. It really doesn’t matter that he spends half his life behind a mask. He wouldn’t get noticed anyway. It will always be about Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera or Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon or maybe just another Alex Rodriguez rumor.

But Jorge Posada – the toughest ballplayer in the world – doesn’t seem to mind the background.

He came out of Yankee Stadium one day last year with his son. The crowd gathered around the players’ gate yelled: “Jorge!”

Jorge, the best catcher in baseball, gave his usual quick smile and wave and kept walking. Jorge, the 7-year-old son of the best catcher in baseball, stopped to face the crowd, flashed a toothy grin and waved both hands.

The crowd let out another: “Jorge!”

The best catcher in baseball spun around and laughed before pleading with his son to hurry. “We’re gonna be late for dinner...”

Up went another: “Jorge!”

The younger Posada kept waving as his father scooped him up.

It was just another day in the background for the best catcher in baseball.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Union Made

Javier from Walton Avenue tugged my elbow on the 2 train this morning.

“I’ve been reading your blog,” he said. “You support the union more than the union supports the union.”

“Someone has to stand up for the workers,” I said. “The media likes to paint the billionaires as the heroes and the workers as the villains these days.”

“That’s because billionaires own the newspapers and the television stations,” Javier said. “They get people looking in the other direction and then they can pick their pockets.”

Javier felt for his wallet.

“They ain’t got mine,” he said. “You always gotta keep your guard up.”

That’s an old habit with me. My father was a union man and he taught me that organized labor is the only path to economic justice.

The Major League Baseball Players Association leads that fight for ballplayers, but their work extends to everyone.

Throughout history, unions haven’t just raised wages and benefits for members. They’ve raised them for every worker.

That’s what the billionaires don’t what you thinking about.

Quick, check your wallet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

One For All

Alex Rodriguez has been through this before. Management tried to drive a wedge between him and the Major League Baseball Players Association prior to the 2004 season.

Back then, it was about devaluing his contract to facilitate a trade from Texas to Boston. Rodriguez may have wanted out of Texas, but he stood by the MLBPA:

“I am willing to restructure my contract,” Rodriguez said, “but only within the guidelines prescribed by union officials. I recognize the principle involved, and fully support the need to protect the interests of my fellow players.”

Now, management is trying to drive another wedge – this time between Rodriguez and the other players – by selling the union’s collusion concerns as a move to protect only him.

The MLBPA doesn’t represent Rodriguez. Scott Boras does. The MLBPA represents the collective interest of all players and Rodriguez clearly believes in that.

I’ve heard Rodriguez mention that Wall Street is his favorite movie. I always figured we liked the same things about the story: Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) as the bad guy and Carl Fox (Martin Sheen) as the good guy.

The key moment in the film comes when Gekko lays out his plan to buy the Bluestar airline with assurances that he will receive union concessions:

CARL FOX: “I came into Egypt a Pharaoh who did not know.”

GORDON GEKKO: “I beg your pardon, is that a proverb?”

CARL FOX: “No, a prophecy. The rich have been doing it to the poor since the beginning of time. The only difference between the Pyramids and the Empire State Building is that the Egyptians didn’t allow labor unions. I know what this guy is all about: greed. He don’t give a damn about Bluestar or the unions. He’s in and out for the buck and he don’t take prisoners.”

There are 30 Gordon Gekkos in baseball and Alex Rodriguez isn’t one of them. Owners will always try to distort the issues, but baseball players are just trade unionists.

Don’t be fooled by the numbers, the battle between management and labor is the same for ballplayers as it is for sheet-metal workers and stagehands and transit workers and screenwriters.

Rodriguez understands that. The rest of us should, too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The owners played the card up their sleeve when the Major League Baseball Players Association mentioned collusion a few days ago. That card, of course, would have everyone believe that this is all about one player.

The owners love to play the one-bad-apple game. Barry Bonds was the bad apple of the steroid era and now they want to make Alex Rodriguez the bad apple of the greedy-player era. If everyone is kicking the bad apples they won’t pay attention to what’s really going on, which, right now, is clearly collusion.

In this morning’s Daily News, Mike Lupica was selling bad apples for the owners the same way Dick Cheney sells wars for the White House.

Lupica and the owners want everyone to believe that Alex Rodriguez is the only reason that the Major League Baseball Players Association is raising concerns about collusion. They want everyone to forget the meeting in Orlando last week where every Major League general manager unburdened themselves of their off-season plans like some sort of Alcoholics Anonymous for GMs.

But there was nothing anonymous about the plans and the players discussed. There will be well over 100 free agents this year and this affects every one of them. It affects free agents next year, too. And it affects free agents the year after that and the year after that and the year after that, which is to say: it affects everyone.

Collusion isn’t a joke. What happened to Major League Baseball in 1980s was the biggest fix in the history of sports. A bunch of rich baseball owners gathered in a room and decided who was going to win and who was going to lose and how they were going to make money on all of it.

Those were good days to be a baseball owner and bad days to be a baseball player or fan. The owners and their lapdogs in the media would love to return to those days. They believe wealth should always remain in the hands of the wealthiest.

The rest of us aren’t buying their game no mater how many cards they have up their sleeve.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Time To Fight

The Major League Baseball Players Association has been ducking high fastballs for years. They’ve signed consecutive Collective Bargaining Agreements that have significantly weakened the players’ position and Major League Baseball officials has been allowed to bully players and leak confidential medical tests and records to the media without much resistance.

I understand that Don Fehr and Gene Orza have done their best in an anti-labor climate. I know that unions need to pick their battles carefully in this society that is currently awash in conservative, Right Wing sentiment.

I also know when it’s time to stop politicking and start fighting. That time came when 30 general managers gathered in Orlando this past week and told each other their plans for the off-season and their team’s needs and what players might be available in trades.

There’s a clause in the collective bargaining agreement that says clubs shall not act in concert with other clubs and players shall not act in concert with other players.

The Orlando meeting – which featured every club acting in concert with every other club – was the grand slam of collusion.

Eventually it had to come to this because bullies don’t stop pushing until someone pushes back. It’s time for the Major League Baseball Players Association to make Bud Selig duck for a change.

Fastball, up and in.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Collusion Is Back

If it looks like collusion and sounds like collusion and acts like collusion, then isn’t it collusion?

Major League Baseball has pulled out this old reliable weapon against the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Baseball used collusion in the 1980s and they have, of course, wanted to break the Union from day one. Just about every business that deals with organized labor wants to “break the union,” but most aren’t as open with their assaults.

What baseball’s general managers did at their, now famous, group session this past week in Orlando clearly crossed the line of collusion.

If gathering every general manager in a room and asking them to tell the group their plans for the off-season and their team’s needs and what players might be available in trades isn't collusion, then what is?

The more Major League Baseball executives and general managers try to pass this off as some innocent exchange of information, the guiltier they look.

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for labor relations told Murray Chass of The New York Times:

“Conversations about specific players, given the history of the industry, would be more problematic, but that didn’t happen. I know for a fact that there was no discussion about specific players.”

Boston general manager Theo Epstein, who co-chaired the event with Florida’s Larry Beinfest, told USA Today a different story:

“It’s increased our efficiency tremendously and has saved us a lot of time. Some teams are specific; others are more guarded…”

So were specifics discussed or not?

According to Chass, Epstein was quoted as telling the group he is trying to resign Mike Lowell, the Red Sox free-agent third baseman.

That sounds pretty specific, especially if you are Mike Lowell.

The collusion case in the 1980s was settled without anyone admitting a violation of the clause that says clubs shall not act in concert with other clubs and players shall not act in concert with other players.

It doesn’t look like this case will be wrapped up as neatly.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


There are plenty of questions in the Bronx.

“Questions are fine,” says Javier. “It means we are moving forward with building a better baseball team.”

Not everyone in the group gathered along Gerard Avenue agrees.

“We gotta start signing some players,” someone shoots. “What’s going on with Mariano and Posada? And now we have to wait on Pettitte and we don’t know who’s playing third and we need to add some bullpen arms and, and…”

“Is that all you got?” Javier fires back.

Everyone laughs.

Javier continues.

“There wouldn’t be any questions if we had the same team as last year and that didn’t end well. I think it’s better to have questions because that means you’ll get answers.”

“I’d just like to hear a few,” someone says.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007


News comes in papers and on the radio and sometimes it scrolls across the bottom of television screens. Promise comes in the wind.

It has swirled into the Bronx from places like Mission Viejo, California and Lincoln, Nebraska and Huntington Beach, California.

“I love the kids,” says Jon from Highbridge. “They have cannons for right arms and all the talent in the world.”

Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy are the talk of the neighborhood even as newspaper columns and radio shows and blogs buzz with plans to trade them.

“I don’t want them going anywhere,” Jon explains. “I know it can happen, but I hope we get the chance to see them grow.”

And there’s more on the way.

“Humberto Sanchez,” Jon smiles. “He’s a Bronx kid and I can’t wait to see him. I know he’s recovering from surgery, but he might be able to help later in the year. And wouldn’t it be something if he had a chance to start the first Opening Day in the new Stadium?”

Now that’s promise.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Javier pulled his hat low against the rain as he walked along Walton Avenue.

“It’s gonna be a lousy day,” someone said.

“It’s not so bad,” Javier smiled. “There are less than five months until Opening Day.”

“But who’s gonna start?” someone asked. “Pettitte might not be back.”

“You never know what’s gonna happen in baseball,” Javier shrugged. “I think Pettitte will be back, but we’ll be ready to play either way.

“That’s the only thing that really matters,” he continued. “Give me a team of tough, talented ballplayers and I can make it through just about anything.”

Even a rainy morning in the Bronx.

Monday, November 5, 2007

What A Waste

Javier from Walton Avenue admitted some regret to the group gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart this morning.

“I didn’t do anything special with my extra hour,” he said. “It feels like such a waste since there wasn’t even a ballgame.”

“They take that hour away in the spring,” someone said.

“They can have it back right now,” Javier laughed. “Why would anyone need an extra hour in November?”

“I heard that is saves energy,” someone said.

“How much energy do any of us use?” Javier shrugged. “The whole thing is probably just some scam that bunch of rich people cooked up.”

“Yeah,” someone said. “It’s probably like when our lights went out and the CEO of Con Ed gets a raise and a pat on the back from the Mayor.”

Javier shook his head and wrapped it up.

“What a waste.”

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Weekends in this neighborhood are a bit empty these days. The streets are full, but time slogs along without much happening.

“Things do feel kinda dead,” Javier admits. “I guess everyone’s just killing time until we find out what comes next.”

“So what comes next?” someone asks.

“Something will come along,” Javier says. “I just hope it doesn’t take too much longer. We could all use some Yankee news.”


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Time Piece

I always lose track of time in November.

There really isn’t anything going on that demands precision timing. Pitchers and catchers don’t report for 103 days and Opening Day is too far away to see.

A clock certainly isn’t needed to track the minutes.

I’ll just put my head down and grind through the next few months.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Gotta Love ‘em

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Fat Paulie says as he looks at a big one on Gerard Avenue. “I should have known better than to pour concrete on Halloween.”

The sidewalk in front of his building is marked with hand prints, initials, a “Joba Rules,” an “I love Derek Jeter,” and, of course, an “I (heart) Derek Jeter.”

“Those wacky kids,” Fat Paulie laughs. “You gotta love ‘em.”

Fat Paulie has worked his whole life in the South Bronx.

“I started cleaning up and bagging trash at a building over on Jerome,” he explains. “They just called me Paulie back then, but that was a bunch of donuts ago.”

Fat Paulie moves a little slower these days, but he still gets the job done.

“A little concrete will smooth out most of this,” he says looking at the sidewalk. “I’ll leave the Joba and Jeter stuff because I don’t want the kids egging my windows.

“You really do gotta love ‘em.”

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Box Score

I hope Mike Lupica checked his line in the box score this morning.

They can be fun to look at after a good day and Lupica had a very good Wednesday. Two columns in The Daily News: A decent one on Joe Torre going to Los Angeles and a solid, two-RBI single on Brian Cashman.

1 AB - 1 R - 1 H - 2 RBI - 1 BB.

The Cashman column – Man Taming The Bronx Zoo – may not have been groundbreaking journalism, but it was a glimpse of what Lupica once was and could be again.

It all came down to one great quote from the Yankee General Manager:

“I don’t give a s--- about how the decisions I’m making might impact me. Just how those decisions impact the New York Yankees. I’m not here to keep my job. I’m not here to save my job. I’m here to do my job.”

Jimmy Breslin once revealed the secret of journalism:

“You’ve got to chase, chase, chase, and chase. And then you might find something that really gives the reader a lift and a jolt. That guarantees they’ll come back tomorrow and that’s the f---in’ ballgame.”

Lupica played a good ballgame yesterday.