Friday, October 31, 2008

Holiday Story

It always comes back to The Captain in the Bronx.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lessons In Journalism

I once worked for an editor who always said:

“Short words are better than long words. Short sentences are better than long sentences. Short paragraphs are better than long paragraphs. Short stories are better than long stories. And you show nothing but contempt for the reader if you make them pick up a dictionary. You are a journalist, not a vocabulary teacher.”

Everyone didn’t get that speech.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The 2 Train

I still get most of my stories on the 2 train.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Small Crowd

The Bronx isn’t as crowed as it was last week and there’s nothing good about that.

The whole story is at Bronx Banter today.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Love And Baseball

There is a story about love and baseball over at Bronx Banter today.

It’s full of a whole bunch of other stuff, too. There are kids and old men and a guy who thinks he’s pretty clever. There is someone selling tickets and everyone is doing their best.

It’s a story about life and hope in the South Bronx where so much rides on the love of baseball.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Big Blow

The rain blew sideways in Battery Park last night. Big Ken Carlton pulled his Yankees cap low and angled against the wind. His massive hands held down the folding table loaded with the Yankees T-shirts that he sells to visitors heading for the Statue of Liberty.

“The weather’s getting worse,” he yelled to his neighbors. “Let’s get out of here.”

Carlo, who was setup next to Big Ken, sells framed photos of famous New Yorkers: Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium, John Lennon in front of the Statue of Liberty and King Kong on top of the Empire State Building. His heavy merchandise requires a large cart and with the storm closing fast everyone in the area started piling on for a quick getaway.

Big Ken packed his T-shirts, Alexis loaded boxes of foam Liberty crowns and Jose threw on two crates filled with water globes and ceramic models of Yankee Stadium.

The cart was heavy and sagged in the middle, but the four men – Big Ken, Carlo, Alexis and Jose – got it rolling through the park. A gust of wind gave it a big push at the mouth of Pearl Street and Carlo jumped on for the ride.

He flew through Whitehall and on toward Broad as the rest of the guys raced to catch up. They found Carlo collecting boxes after the wind blown cart crashed into a construction barrier.

“Are you okay?” they all asked.

“That was a helluva ride,” Carlo yelled. “Let’s go back and try it again.”

“You’re crazy,” they all said.

Carlo nodded and smiled.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Watch Stories

The 2 train was running local this morning, but Marcus from Jerome Avenue didn’t seem to mind.

“I’m just enjoying the ride,” he explained. “The beauty of Saturdays is that there’s no rush to get to work because everyone else is sleeping in anyway.”

Marcus sells watches in Battery Park.

“I know it sounds shady,” Marcus said, “but really it’s not. My watches look like a Rolex and they work even better. The best part is that they’re only 20 bucks.”

And Marcus slips a story in with every watch.

“Most of the people are going to see the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island,” Marcus said. “They are visiting the city and want more than a watch to take home with them.”

Marcus smiled and winked.

“I give ‘em all a good story,” he said. “I like to tell ‘em about the time I saw Jeter outside Lincoln Center or A-Rod walking on 59th Street near Mickey Mantle’s place. If they want my best story I show ‘em the napkin that Johnny Damon signed when he was eating at a pizza joint on Stone Street.

“I’ve also got stories about the Mets,” Marcus continued. “I once saw Carlos Delgado in Midtown, but I didn’t say anything. I saw Pedro too and I said something, but it wasn’t very nice.”

“Your stories about the Yankees are better,” someone said.

“That’s just the way it is with me,” Marcus admitted. “I have a good story about seeing Charlie Sheen on Broadway and he was wearing a Yankees hat.”

Marcus stopped for a moment and then asked:

“Hey, are you gonna buy a watch or what?”

Friday, October 24, 2008

More With Less

Everyone in the Bronx is doing more with less.

Juan Carlos woke up early this morning – 4:30 a.m. – and started baking.

“I hate putting my hands in dough,” Juan Carlos explained, “but things are tough all over.”

He still picked up a small bakery order – a few donuts, muffins and bagels – but there was a new sign taped to his coffee cart when customers arrived:

Large Coffee & Apple Square $1

“What’s an apple square?” someone asked.

“It’s just dough, apples and sugar,” Juan Carlos said.

The man checked the sign again.

“Okay,” he said. “For a buck I’ll take a large coffee and try an apple square.”

The man took a bite.

“This is pretty good,” he said, “but it looks too plain. Why don’t you cut them in the shape of a baseball diamond?”

Juan Carlos shook his head.

“Just turn it,” he said. “A square is a diamond.”

“Oh yeah,” the man said laughing at himself. “Then you should call them something like: Apple Baseball Diamonds. It’s all about marketing with these things.”

Juan Carlos shot the man a look and said:

“Just eat your damn apple square!”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

City Secrets

New York is full of secrets. They are on the streets and in the trains and they do the hard work that keeps this city moving.

Miguel Aquino is one of New York’s secrets. He left the Bronx apartment he shares with seven others at 6:00 a.m. There was a quick stop for a newspaper before catching the 2 train. He found a seat in the back corner of the last car, pulled his Yankees cap low and started through the paper as the train worked its way under the Harlem River and down Manhattan’s westside.

Aquino gave his seat to a woman at 42nd Street because the train was full. He stood in the corner and kept his eyes on the paper.

Aquino wasn’t looking for the stock reports or even the score of last night’s World Series opener. He was trying to become invisible because that’s the key to his survival.

He hauls steel and concrete for a fancy new building in SoHo that will provide homes for millionaires. When it’s finished, Aquino will move on to the next hard job that needs to be done. His eyes will always stay buried in a newspaper because he doesn’t want any trouble in a city and a country that gives people like him nothing but trouble.

That is our dirtiest secret.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Piece Of The Pie

Jason Blevins showed interest in something other than baseball this morning. He bought the newspaper and settled in at the back of the 2 train to get the latest details on the presidential campaign.

He was most interested in the pie story. There has been talk about big pies and little pies and growing pies and shrinking pies. And then there were all the pieces: More pieces and less pieces and bigger pieces and smaller pieces.

“I don’t even know what kind of pie they’re talking about,” Blevins said. “I like cream pies – banana cream and coconut cream – but fruit pies are better. Apple is my favorite.”

Blevins laughed to himself.

“Maybe they’re talking about pizza pies,” he said. “There’s that old Yogi Berra story about the time he ordered a pizza and the waitress asked: ‘How many pieces do you want your pie cut into?’ So Yogi said: ‘Four because I don’t think I can eat eight.’”

Blevins shook his head.

“It always comes back to baseball with me, doesn’t it?”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Moving Train

Barack Obama – a Chicago White Sox fan – stood in front of a huge crowd at George M. Steinbrenner Field – the Spring Training home of the New York Yankees – with the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays.

“I’ve said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate,” Obama explained yesterday. “When you see a White Sox fan showing some love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back, you know we’re on to something right here.”

David Price, who closed out Boston on Sunday night, introduced Obama as: “The next President of the United States.” He later said that Obama is: “Definitely an icon right now and probably will be for a long time.”

Price was joined by Fernando Perez, Jonny Gomes, Carl Crawford, Edwin Jackson and Cliff Floyd.

Ballplayers don’t often take sides outside the game. Michael Jordan declined to weigh in on the racially-charged 1990 North Carolina Senate race between Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt. Jordan explained that: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Jordan certainly had a point and no one blamed him for staying out of the fight back then.

But historian and activist Howard Zinn likes to say: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”

It was nice to see some baseball players on the same train with the rest of us yesterday.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Derek Jeter brings hope to the Bronx.

The guys gathered at Juan Carlos’s coffee cart this morning went on about his style and his smile and his skip and The Flip. They talked about his determination and his talent and his heroics. But mostly they marveled at his loyalty and compassion.

“Derek is the absolute best,” said Javier from Walton Avenue. “He makes his teammates better players and he makes us better people. We all believe in ourselves and each other because of him.”

Everyone nodded and smiled.

This conversation came from the news that Jeter spent part of the weekend in Texas and went to a football game with Roger Clemens. There are some people who think Jeter should avoid Clemens like so many others do these days.

But that’s never been Jeter’s style.

When the whole world was down a Jason Giambi a few winters ago it was Jeter who traveled to Las Vegas to visit him.

Jeter never forgets his teammates and always stands up for his friends. He is the person we all want to be and the friend we all need.

“That’s why he’s The Captain,” Javier told the guys. “He’s the most special player any of us will ever see. He gives us hope even before he picks up a bat or a glove.”


Sunday, October 19, 2008

What They Want

Big Ken Carlton caught the 2 train at Freeman Street this morning. He threw on his over-stuffed backpack and quickly loaded a folding table, half-a-dozen large boxes and a plastic tarp before the doors closed.

He rode to West 96th Street and then moved everything across the platform and onto the 1 train.

“You gotta be fast,” Big Ken explained. “The train will leave with half your stuff if you’re too slow.”

Big Ken has never lost anything.

“Fear gives me my speed,” he said. “I’m afraid of not being able to pay the rent and not having anything to eat. Losing any of my merchandise would put me out of business for sure.”

Big Ken’s business is selling T-shirts and hats to people headed for the Statue of Liberty.

“They like everything with the tall lady on it,” Big Ken said. “That’s all I used to sell, but people were always asking me about my Yankees hat. They wanted to know where they could buy one.

“So I started bringing some with me,” he continued. “Now I sell more Yankees stuff than I do Liberty. It’s all about giving the people what they want.”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Back Home

Marco Fiore came to New York looking for his home.

His grandfather came more than 60 years ago, but didn’t stay long.

“He couldn’t find good jobs,” Fiore explained. “He struggled to get by for a few years and then went back to Italy. But he always wanted to return and make it in America.”

His grandfather never made it back and his father never came either. But young Marco put his name on a list and one day he got a letter saying he could come to America.

“It was always my dream,” he said. “My family didn’t want me to go, but I was never scared because I knew this place would feel like home.”

His grandfather told him the stories. He heard about the trains and the bridges and the big ships in New York Harbor and all about the Lower Eastside. And he learned about Joe DiMaggio and the New York Yankees, too.

“I didn’t know anything about baseball,” Fiore admitted. “My grandfather never explained the game, but he would go on and on about the Yankees and it was always: DiMaggio, DiMaggio, DiMaggio.”

Fiore carried all the stories to New York.

“The first thing I did was walk my grandfather’s old neighborhood,” Fiore explained. “The whole thing was mapped in my head: Mott Street and Mulberry Street and Grand Street and Broome Street and Canal Street.

“Then I got on a train and went Yankee Stadium,” Fiore continued. “I couldn’t believe I was really in the same place where my grandfather saw DiMaggio. That’s when I knew I was really home.”

DiMaggio died during Fiore’s first year in New York (1999). The Yankees wore number 5 on their sleeves in his honor and Fiore went to all the games.

“I learned about baseball,” Fiore said. “And now I love it so much. I will always remember my grandfather’s stories about DiMaggio, but for me it’s: Jeter, Jeter, Jeter.”

Fiore smiled.

“Those are my stories.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bad Medicine

My friend Javier never does what he’s told.

A doctor once warned him about a heart murmur and said that he should slow down a bit. Javier started taking two steps at a time on the way up to his fifth floor apartment on Walton Avenue.

The doctor also told him to cut down on the five-cheese omelets and cheeseburgers from the Crown Diner. And he told him to layoff chocolate donuts and coffee and cigars, too.

“Why don’t you just kill me now?” Javier snapped.

The doctor said that Javier would die for sure if he didn’t have a certain operation. He also said that Javier would need to avoid excitement during his recovery.

“What do you get excited about?” the doctor asked.

“My Yankees,” Javier said.

“Then you won’t be able to watch baseball for awhile,” the doctor said.

“What a quack,” Javier said as he was leaving.

That was more than five years ago.

“I’d probably be dead if I had that operation,” Javier was saying just the other day. “Now I eat what I want and do what I want and yell for the Yankees as loud as I want. But I do have less aggravation because I don’t have to deal with that doctor.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Other Side

Three boys were walking on East 149th Street near where it meets Melrose Avenue and Third Avenue in the Bronx. The morning traffic was thick, trucks were double parked and deliverymen hustled boxes to the curb.

The boys made a move through the congestion and across Melrose. They had a near miss with a speeding car, but reach the other side safely.

They were ready to try their luck against Third Avenue when a gravely voice made them turn.

“Be careful,” an old man said.

The boys nodded and laughed.

“Sure, old man,” they all said.

“I didn’t get to be this old by running through traffic,” the old man shot.

The boys laughed again.

“You’re a ballplayer aren’t you?” the old man said nodding at the tallest one. “I’ve seen you pitch. You’ve got a good fastball and a pretty good curveball.”

“I’ve got a great curveball,” the boy snapped. “It’s a hammer.”

“Keeping working on your hammer,” the old man said. “And get to the other side safely.”

“Sure, old man,” the boys said as they waited for the light to turn and traffic to stop.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just Like Derek Jeter

An 8-year-old boy rests against his mother’s arm on an early-morning 2 train. His oversized Yankees cap slides over his eyes as he drifts off to sleep.

His mother is too worried to sleep.

She has two jobs: The first is at a diner on Chambers Street and the second is cleaning offices in Midtown. In between she has to get the boy to school and then back home where he stays with neighbors until she gets off close to midnight.

The boy’s father used to help, but he was killed two years ago in a Brooklyn building accident.

“My son wants to be a baseball player like Derek Jeter,” she says softly so the boy can sleep. “I tell him that he can do anything and his father will be proud.”

Other things are harder to explain.

“I am afraid of losing my jobs because business is bad,” the mother says. “My bosses tell me it might happen any day, but I don’t want my son to know because it will make him scared. I just keep telling him: ‘You’re gonna grow up to be just like Derek Jeter.’”

She straightens the boy’s Yankees cap and continues:

“That makes him smile,” she says. “And I smile, too.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Best Moments

There is an old man who stops at Juan Carlos’s coffee cart every morning. He orders a regular with two sugars and announces that this is the best moment of his life.

The rest of the guys always laugh and the old man explains:

“I’ve survived 89 years,” he says. “There have been lots of great days, but this one feels like the best because I’m still here.”

The old man peels the lid off his cup, takes a sip and continues:

“Have I told you guys about Babe Ruth?” the old man always asks.

Everyone nods and lets him continue:

“I used to ride the train down to the Ansonia on Broadway and wait for Babe to come out. He would talk to all us kids and we’d race home to tell everyone what he said.

“I also saw him hit,” the old man likes to say. “He could really wallop ‘em.”

Someone always asks the old man about Alex Rodriguez.

“I was getting to him,” the old man snaps. “You made me skip over Gehrig and Joe D. and Whitey and Mickey and Munson and Gator and Reggie.

“You kids are always in such a hurry,” he tells the guys.

They all smile and the old man goes on:

“A-Rod is the best of all of them. He’s gonna hit a boatload of dingers and get a bunch of World Series rings.”

The old man always stops at this point. He takes a big gulp of coffee and then finishes up:

“I plan on seeing the dingers and all the World Series wins, too. Those will be the best moments of my life.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Like Us

The bodega door banged open and a rat darted into the afternoon rush on Gerard Avenue.

“He’s probably looking for work,” a man said.

“Rats are never out of work in this city,” someone shot.

“They’re gonna be tearing down the old Yankee Stadium,” the man explained. “That will put a lot of ‘em out on the streets.”

“They’ll just move over to the new Stadium,” someone fired back.

“There’s nothing to eat in the new place,” the man said. “Nobody has dumped any popcorn or dropped any peanuts or left any of those big pretzels under the seats.

“The rats will get moved into the new Stadium for Opening Day,” the man continued. “But first they gotta make it through the winter just like us.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Knocking It Out

Arturo doesn’t like Sundays.

“They’re too slow,” he said. “I’m looking for some action.”

He stood behind the counter at a diner on Church Street in Manhattan. A huge mound of chopped potatoes was pushed to the corner of the grill. Egg cartons were stacked to the right and on the other side were loafs of bread and bags of rolls and sliced bagels.

The containers of bacon, ham and cheese were still in the cooler because there was no business.

“I’d be hammering out orders if this was Monday,” Arturo said. “It’s nonstop all morning and then you barely have time to get ready for the lunch crowd.”

Arturo shook his head.

“The day goes by faster when it’s busy,” he said.

Arturo got his wish when a man walked in from a construction site over on West Broadway.

The man dug a scrap of paper from his pocket and rattled off the order:

“Six egg and cheese sandwiches on rolls. Four ham, egg and cheese sandwiches on rolls. Ten orders of home fries. One ham and cheese omelet with wheat toast and one feta cheese omelet with rye toast. Also, one toasted bagel with cream cheese.”

The man checked over the list and continued:

“I need a dozen coffees total. Seven regulars with sugar. Two regulars with no sugar. One black with sugar and two blacks with no sugar. I need a small orange juice, too.

“Everything is to go,” the man added. “Got all that?”

“No problem,” Arturo said with a smile.

He spun his Yankee cap around, pulled on a make-believe catchers mask and slapped a fist into his open palm.

“I’ve been waiting for this order all morning,” Arturo said. “I’m ready to knock it out of here.”

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quiet Day

The Bronx was quiet today. The guys gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart didn’t have much to say and the counter at the Crown Diner was nearly silent. Even Ballpark Lanes was more about bowling than baseball this afternoon.

“There’s really nothing to do but wait,” said a man smoking on River Avenue. “We’re waiting for someone to win the American League pennant and someone to win the National League pennant and then one of them to win the World Series.

“I don’t think anyone around here cares who wins,” the man continued. “We just want the season over so we can get next season started. Then we’ll be ready to make some noise again.”

The man took a deep drag on his cigarette and said:

“I’m looking forward to that.”

Friday, October 10, 2008

Looking For Luck

My friend Javier was looking for some luck this morning. But things went sour when he stepped on the 2 train.

“I don’t believe it,” he groaned. “Some drunk puked on the train yesterday, too.”

“Wow, what are the odds of someone puking on the train?” someone shot sarcastically.

Javier smiled and sucked in the bitter smell.

“At least they hosed it out,” he said. “You take what you get sometimes. It may not be perfect, but it’s better than some people got.”

A thin smile slid across Javier’s face.

“Besides,” he said. “I’d rather save all my luck for the Yankees.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Lineup

Jason brushed chocolate-donut crumbs from his Robinson Cano T-shirt while waiting for the 2 train this morning.

“I’ve gotta keep it clean,” Jason explained. “A stain would mean buying a new T-shirt and I can’t afford that right now.”

“Is that your only shirt?” someone asked.

“No,” Jason answered, “but it’s the only shirt I wear on Thursdays.”

The puzzled expression launched Jason into an explanation:

“I have a different shirt for each day of the week: Jeter, Posada, Joba, A-Rod, Cano, Damon and Mariano. That’s my lineup and I stick to it.

“I always wear a Jeter shirt on Sunday because he’s the leader,” Jason continued. “Everything around here starts with him.

“Monday is Posada because he has the fire to get the work week going,” Jason went on. “Tuesday is Joba because 100 m.p.h. gas should always follow fire.”

Jason laughed to himself and kept going:

“On Wednesday – the fourth day of the week – I wear an A-Rod shirt because he’s our cleanup hitter. Thursday is Cano because he’s gonna be our best hitter one day.

“Friday is the start of the weekend,” he continued. “That’s Johnny Damon all the way. And Mariano, of course, closes things out on Saturday. Sometimes I even play ‘Enter Sandman’ at the end of the day.”

Jason smiled and wrapped it up:

“Then I do laundry.”

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Debate

The debate started at Juan Carlos’s coffee cart and it continued down the Grand Concourse to 149th Street and on to the 2 train.

“Mike Mussina is gonna come back and pitch next year,” said Javier from Walton Avenue. “How could he walk away after leading this staff and winning 20 games?”

“Because he wants to go out on top,” answered Jose from Jerome Avenue. “This is the perfect ending for Mussina.”

Javier threw up his hands.

“There are no perfect endings,” he shot. “Maybe you gotta be as old as me to really understand that. Mussina has had a great career and he just finished one of his best seasons. I’m sure he feels satisfied right now. He probably thinks that feeling will last the rest of his life, but it will barely make it through the winter.”

Javier shook his head.

“If anyone has got the chance to be a big leaguer for even one more day they better damn well take it,” he fired. “Walking away from something that special may not be a crime, but it should be.”

Jose had nothing to add.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sigh Of Relief

Carl was headed home after a long day, but he was still working the crowd. He prodded everyone on the 2 train for information about Mariano Rivera’s surgery.

“Everything went fine,” someone finally said. “I checked online before I left the office and the reports were that the procedure was successful and he will be ready for Spring Training.”

“That’s great news,” Carl said. “Now I can rest easy.”

One Of The Family

Carl looked worried when got on the 2 train at 125th Street this morning. He grabbed a seat and flipped through the newspaper.

“There’s no news,” he said to everyone within earshot. “How could there be no news?”

“What are you looking for?” someone asked.

“Mariano is having surgery today,” Carl explained. “I want to know when it’s scheduled for and how long it will take.

“It’s supposed to be minor,” he continued, “but I’m still anxious for news.”

Carl laughed to himself.

“I talk about Mariano like he’s part of my family,” he said. “I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s not that far off.”

Carl shook his head and went through the paper again.

“I know everything is gonna be fine,” he said. “But I just can’t believe there’s no news.”

Monday, October 6, 2008

Keeping The Faith

The guys gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart couldn’t look each other in the eye this morning. They gripped their steaming cups, ripped into glazed donuts and nervously toed the sidewalk.

The silence grew unbearable and Juan Carlos took action.

“Did you guys pull a bank job together?” he asked.

There was nervous laughter, but no one looked up.

“So what did all of you do this weekend?” Juan Carlos asked.

“Watched baseball,” someone muttered.

“So that’s what this is about,” Juan Carlos said. “You are guilty about pulling for another team. Who was it? Chicago? It couldn’t be Boston or Tampa Bay or the Angels, could it?”

“I wasn’t pulling for any of them,” someone snapped. “I hope they all lose.”

“But all of them can’t lose,” Juan Carlos pointed out.

“Hey,” someone fired. “You never know what can happen in this game. Anything is possible and you have to keep the faith.”

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Through The Pain

A man grabbed my arm as I worked though a cup of coffee on Seventh Avenue this morning. He wanted to talk about pain.

“I saw the Cubs go down,” he said. “I hurt for Soriano and Piniella because they were Yankees. I hurt for Cubs fans and I don’t even know one. And I hurt for Chicago and I’ve never even been there.”

The man shook his head and tightened his grip.

“Losing hurts a lot more than winning doesn’t,” he said. “I felt good for Joe Torre and Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa, but that didn’t come close to covering how bad I felt for the Cubs.”

The man shrugged and loosened his hold.

“We’ve felt some pain around here lately,” he said. “So maybe this stuff hurts us more. Or maybe it just makes us want to win more than anything.”

The man nodded and smiled.

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s it.”

Saturday, October 4, 2008


This country loves to take shots at Ralph Nader.

Maybe it’s because he changed things. He helped make our air safe to breath and our water safe to drink and our food safe to eat. He helped millions of Americans get better working conditions and better pay. And he held corporations accountable for dangerous products and criminal schemes.

Or maybe this country likes to take shots at Nader because he grew up in a Yankee corner of Connecticut and Lou Gehrig is one of his heroes.

Then again, maybe it’s just because we all couldn’t wait to lose our homes and our jobs and give more than a trillion dollars to a bunch of crooked bankers.

If this country spent more time listing to Nader and less time taking shots at him we all would have seen this coming. He has talked for years about the damage done by deregulation and corporate crime.

“For a society dedicated to equal justice under the law, you cannot have equal justice between human beings and corporations who can aggregate capital, technology, power, privileges and immunities unreachable by individuals. Corporations are not human beings. They do not vote. They do not have children. They are artificial entities. They must be our servants, not our masters.”

Well, they continue to be our masters and this week they picked our pockets, too. And in case you hadn’t heard, Ralph Nader is running for president, again. The Washington Post recently said that it wouldn’t cover his campaign because he has no chance of winning.

“Then why did they cover the Nationals?” Nader asked.

Nader was finally able to deliver a shot of his own, but I’m sure no one was listening.

The bankers and the corporate executives like it that way. They stole our lunch money this week and we didn’t put up much of a fight.

They’ll be back for more.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Gerald read the newspaper at the back of the 2 train this morning.

“There’s not much here,” he said. “I stick mostly to the baseball news and nothing is coming out of the Bronx these days.”

“What about the teams that are still playing?” someone asked.

“I’m interested in the playoffs,” Gerald admitted. “I watch the games, but it’s different when your team is out of it.

“There’s nothing to get emotional about,” Gerald continued. “And baseball without emotion really isn’t baseball.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Days Ahead

October swirled around the Bronx this morning.

It came down Jerome Avenue and cut across East 164th Street past the construction of the new Yankee Stadium and then moved down River Avenue to the old Yankee Stadium.

The guys gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart wrapped their hands around steaming cups and talked about the days ahead.

“This is the first taste,” someone said. “It’s gonna get colder and the wind is gonna blow harder before we get back to baseball.”

“We should have lots of news to keep us warm,” someone else shot. “It’ll be a busy winter.”

“I’m sure there will be plenty of news,” someone said. “A lot of the news will probably be good, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are a bunch of dark days between us and a ballgame.”

“Yeah,” they all said.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Building Trust

People in the Bronx trust Brian Cashman.

“I once saw him eating lunch at El Nuevo Caridad in Washington Heights,” said a man on the 2 train this afternoon. “I want over and told him some things I thought about the team. He was nice and nodded a lot, but about halfway into the conversation I remember saying to myself ‘Why are you bothering this guy? He knows what he’s doing so just go sit down and shut up.’

“I’m sure he hears from fans all the time,” the man continued. “But he won’t hear from me again. I trust him to do his job because he’s done well with it.”

The Yankees have entrusted Cashman with a new three-year contract.

“I think he’ll have a good plan to rework the team this winter,” the man said. “I won’t speculate on any moves or trades and I won’t even offer an opinion if I see him out at lunch.”

The man smiled and said:

“I’m confident I’ll have lots to cheer about on Opening Day.”