I just finished watching MLB Network’s broadcast of the famous Game 7 of the 1960 Yankees-Pirates World Series. What fun it was, despite the fact that the Yankees lost on Bill Mazeroski’s homer and Mickey Mantle was said to shed tears in the clubhouse after the game.
The Mick cried because he thought the Yankees were the better team and should have won. Maybe so, but the Pirates were the ones that got it done and were hailed as a “team of destiny.”
Which got me wondering….are some teams destined to win, no matter how much offensive power or quality pitching they do or don’t have? Nobody predicted the Giants would win it all this year, for example, and yet they did. Were they a “team of destiny,” like the ’60 Pirates? I was a New York kid in 1960 and one of my sisters, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, was dating a Pittsburgh boy. Needless to say, he was ecstatic when his Pirates won and all I heard from him was Maz this and Maz that. We know what happened to the Pirates in recent years and it isn’t pretty. But back then, they had a magical season. As we move through this winter and continue to debate trades and free agent signings and which team looks the best on paper, it occurred to me that we don’t know anything about the 2011 season. We really don’t. Lurking out there among all the teams in all the divisions is a team of destiny – a team that will overcome injuries, stage thrilling comebacks, beat the odds. Which team will it be?
Who knows. That’s why we watch the games.
It’s not fun to lose ever, but it’s really not fun to lose when:
* Their guys made three errors and your guys still couldn’t get the job done.
* Your guys were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
* Your hot-hitting first baseman was on maternity leave.
* Your hot-hitting second baseman should have been in bed with Nyquil.
* Your manager was stuck with a makeshift lineup.
* Your starting pitcher held the other guys to a respectable three runs over seven innings.
* Your cleanup hitter knocked in a game-tying homer for naught.
* Your guys pushed the game into extras, only to go quickly in the 10th.
* Your god of closers decided to be human and give up a walkoff single.
* Your guys were at the other guys’ ballpark and you had to watch their fans celebrating.
* You were forced to listen to the MLB Network’s commenters say, like 16 times, that this game was a preview of the playoffs.
* You looked in your freezer and realized you were out of the best thing you’ve ever tasted.
After I saw Harold Reynolds’ sit down with The Captain via LoHud, there was no question what tonight’s post would be. If you haven’t seen the MLB interview, it’s worth a look. Does Jeter seem relaxed or what? During the season he answers questions with his standard cliches, but – except for repeating the “Bottom line, we just have to win” mantra – he had some interesting things to say. His remarks about Matsui were very heartfelt and made me wish the Yankees hadn’t let Hideki go. Waaah. And it was gratifying to hear him talk about the need to “stay hungry” after winning a championship. Of course, my favorite part was when Reynolds said Jeter was in good shape for his age and Derek’s retort was, “You’re in good shape for your age too.” (I’m paraphrasing.) All in all, a very pleasurable way to spend a few minutes.
I’m keeping this short because I’m teaching my Muse Madams writing workshop tonight. I’ll try to go easy while critiquing the aspiring writers in our group. I am not Simon Cowell after all!
I was just reading Mark Newman’s article on MLB.com about the upcoming ALDS and the announcers who’ll be covering it. I found myself saying out loud, “Why do these games have to be on TBS?”
Never mind that I dread having to sit through promos for comedy shows I wouldn’t watch in a million years. What bothers me is that the playoffs are baseball’s premier sporting events and TBS hasn’t exactly established itself as a premier sports network. Their cameras are rarely in the right place at the right time and their announcers always sound as if they’ve parachuted in from another galaxy. Having them cover a game is like letting the Food Network do it.
Handling the play-by-play for the Yankees’ series will be Chip Caray.
He seems like a nice enough guy, and he certainly comes from an impressive lineage of broadcasters. But when Derek Jeter steps to the plate, do I really want to hear the story of the scouts who spotted him as a skinny kid and said, “He’s gonna be a star someday?” Or how Mark Teixeira signed with the Yanks because he idolized Mattingly as a boy? How Mo is a future HOF-er despite only throwing one pitch during his entire career? Oh, and how the Yankees have the highest payroll in the history of life? Don’t Yankee fans already know all of that?
Their color analyst will be Ron Darling, the voice of the Mets on SNY.
He’s a smart guy, having gone to Yale, and knows his baseball, having been an elite pitcher. He also knows New York, so we won’t be subjected to: “Golly, this is a big city.” I can live with him, as opposed to Buck Martinez.
If there’s a more irritating voice on television or radio, I haven’t heard it.
(Warning: Do not listen to the entire video or your ears will explode.)
Buck sounds like he’s wearing one of these, doesn’t he?
I realize that no broadcaster alive has the magic of Vin Scully. I also understand that TBS is reaching out to a national audience. Would I have preferred that the MLB Network take over the games and put Bob Costas behind the mic? Sure. But since it’ll be TBS or nothing, I’m hoping that they’ll do their homework this year, give us truly in-depth coverage that tells us stuff we didn’t know before, and avoid the following:
1) “Very Funny” promos that aren’t.
2) A zillion close-ups of Dr. and Mrs. Jeter, any Steinbrenner and Kate Hudson.
3) A discussion of whether or not Joe Girardi will be fired if the Yankees don’t win the World Series.
4) The Joba Rules.
5) The sentence: “Sabathia is a horse.”
I can’t ask for more than that.
Watching Team USA play the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field was enjoyable but weird. It felt as if we had loaned Jeter and his Captain-ness out for an All Star game.
And what to make of Brett Gardner and his relentlessly hot bat? He has worked his way into my subconscious and is even starting to show up in my dreams.
Then there was the news that A-Rod bolted from the Dominican team after their exhibition game and flew to Vail, Colorado. The reason? No, not a quick ski trip. The problem, apparently, is this.
I know. The photo looks a lot like a porterhouse, all marbled and fatty, but it’s actually an X-ray of a hip with a cyst. See the cyst right there in the middle? That’s what A-Rod has. So he’s off to consult a doctor named Marc Phillipon.
Yes, you’d be smiling too if you were “one of the world’s leading orthopedic surgeons,” which is how Dr. Phillipon is described on his web site – or, should I say, the web site of the facility where he’s a partner. It’s called the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic. And, no, it’s not named for this man.
The clinic promotes a product line of nutrients and vitamins called “Liquissentials.”
One can only hope that whatever is in them is not banned by Major League Baseball.
Speaking of which, I was settling into my chair tonight to catch the MLB Network’s roundup of the day’s news. Harold Reynolds and the guys were about to discuss the latest in the Dodgers-Manny soap opera when suddenly my TV screen went blank.
And then I heard a man’s voice yell, “Fernando Vina? What the f**k!”
The man was not my husband, either.
Obviously, there was a malfunction in the studio, and somebody F-bombed on national television. Uh-oh. Will there be a fine? A suspension? A public reprimand followed by a tearful apology?
If so, I’ll probably miss it. I’ll be on a plane to Florida, en route to spring training in Tampa and my signing at Barnes & Noble. I don’t like to fly, as anyone who’s read my book already knows, so please send happy thoughts for a flight with no mechanical problems, no flock of geese anywhere near the engines, and no bad plane wine.
There was baseball on my television at precisely 3 p.m. PCT here in California. No glitches with my cable company. No power outages caused by 49 million other homes watching at the same time. No problems whatsoever. The MLB Network appeared just as promised, and I settled in happily for the next, oh, six hours.
Here, in no particular order, are my first impressions.
1) Bud Selig’s welcome address.
Bud is serious, even grim, which is appropriate when you’re dealing with pushy owners and PED-using players. But on this occasion, which was not the same as testifying before Congress, I wish he’d smiled a little, acted like we were about to have fun. Instead, his welcome was about as warm as this guy’s would have been.
2) The sets.
Very snazzy. Lots of eye-popping stuff to look at in beautiful high-def. Good job.
I’ve read the comments from people who weren’t enamored of this trio, but I thought they worked together smoothly, especially considering this was Opening Night, and I look forward to more from them. My one complaint was their wardrobe.
What’s with the dark suits? Every guy in that studio looked like an undertaker. Lighten up, boys.
4) Jimmy Rollins-Josh Hamilton.
Loved Rollins’ mischievous response to his teammate, Cole Hamels, calling the Mets “choke artists.” He could have given the usual non-answer. But he stood by his pitcher.
Quite an admission by Hamilton that he cleaned toilets, did other menial jobs and slept on an air mattress in a room above the ballpark – anything to get back into professional baseball.
5) Larsen’s perfect game.
Sheer heaven being able to watch this game for the first time and have Larsen and Yogi there to provide interesting asides. I was amazed how fast games moved along in the good old days with no instant replays, no endless meetings on the mound, no stepping in and out of the batter’s box to adjust gloves, helmets, etc. And how could I not love those Gillette commercials – or Bob Costas comparing Sal Maglie’s five o’clock shadow to Richard Nixon’s?
6) Speaking of Costas, he had the line of the night.
After Larsen admitted that he came off the field after the celebration, not realizing he had pitched a perfect game, Costas said disbelievingly, “So you just thought it was an extra good no-hitter?” LOL.
6) The Mick.
I grew up worshipping Mantle. To see him hit a homer and make that fantastic running catch in left center made my night.
Bottom line on the debut of the MLB Network? There was plenty to enjoy. Congrats to everyone involved.
At 3 o’clock Pacific Time I won’t be taking a walk on the beach…won’t be on the phone wishing my friends a happy new year….won’t even be cooking a new year’s day meal. I will be tuning in to the debut of what I’m calling “The Baseball Channel.”
Yes, I know it’s got the “M” and the “L” in the name, plus the word “Network.” But let’s face it. It’s The Baseball Channel and it’s going to be all baseball all the time and I can’t wait.
It has the feel of other great launches and historic events, doesn’t it?
Like Henry Ford’s first car.
Or Steve Jobs’ first Apple computer.
Or the world’s first test tube baby.
(Yeah. She’s all grown up now, with a baby of her own.)
It has the excitement of the Space Shuttle lift off….
and the festive atmosphere of New Year’s Eve in Times Square…
and the thrill I’ll feel when the Beatles finally make their music available on iTunes. (What’s the holdup, boys? I’m getting mightily impatient.)
It’ll be one of the great moments in life, on a par with this.
O.K., no it won’t.
But still. I’m stoked. Only three hours to go.
After I read the most recent article by our own Mark Newman about the January 1st launch of the MLB Network, I started counting the hours. Blogging day and night about baseball is fun, but watching baseball 24/7 is huge. Seriously. It’s frightening how excited I am.
For starters, I’m in love with two of their on-air analysts.
Sorry. I exaggerate. I like Harold Reynolds. He’s fair and balanced, as they say on another network.
And I like Al Leiter. He’s good at explaining the difference between a circle change and a knuckle curve. Or whatever.
And how about the Opening Night of programming on the MLB Network? They’re showing this for the first time in 52 years.
Yep, Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Yankee fan or no Yankee fan, I’m not about to miss that.
And now for the bad news.
It’s clear that MLB will ruin my life with this cable channel of theirs, because I’ll get hooked on it and lose the capacity to function responsibly in society.
I’ll turn into one of these.
I’ll never get any work done.
I’ll become a complete slacker around the house.
I won’t even bother to make the bed
or clean the windows
or water the lawn.
My husband will divorce me.
My friends will forget about me.
I’ll gain an incredible amount of weight.
And my mean next-door neighbor will pound on my door and yell this at me.
Will I still tune in for the debut of the MLB Network on January 1st, knowing the consequences?
Yes. I. Will.