Tarheeltalker

It’s Alive !!

Many sports fans in general and readers of Sports Illustrated in particular are familiar with a strange phenomenon. It is known as the cover jinx. Briefly it posits that an individual who appears on the magazine’s cover  will encounter difficulty in his/her sport by means  of an injury or just plain playing poorly. The jinx has been around for along time and while not infallible is rather accurate. I wouldn’t call it the Bermuda Triangle of sports but you get the picture.

The latest example involves  the New York Yankees and their “core four.”  These four teammates, three of whom have been together for an unprecedented 16 years, were on the magazine’s cover a couple of weeks ago. The  aforementioned three are Derek Jeter, Mariano Riviera and Jorge Posada. The fourth, Andy Petite, has been part of the group for a mere 13 years. It was a great cover and an even better article by Tom Verducci.

Now, for  the jinx. Since the article appeared, Riviera, Posada and Petite have suffered nagging injuries that either limited their playing time or reduced their effectiveness. As for Jeter, his batting average has only dropped  50+ points. And the team itself  has been scuffling somewhat.

So, as a Yankees fan and SI subscriber, I just have one request. Fellows, can you do an article on Tampa Bay and quickly? And be sure it’s a cover article!

Advertisements

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Their Tactics Be Successful?

The Senate race in Massachusetts is coming down the homestretch with the election just a couple of days away. Republican Scott Brown has an excellent chance to win over Democrat Martha ( Curt Schilling is a Yankees fan) Coakley. It seems that the Democrats are pulling out all the stops now.

Chuck Schumer has blasted Brown, the Dems have run an unauthorized commercial “borrowing” the UPS advertising slogan and have been told to stop. Bill Clinton is even  linking Coakley’s election and  aid to Haiti. He called them ” two sides of the same coin.” And these are just the politicians talking.

Members of the mainstream media are chiming in as well. Two of the most intriguing/outrageous  examples both work for MSNBC. Our old friend Chris Matthews longs for the day when one could just by enough votes. Shucks, that might still happen. An even better line comes from Ed Schultz who says he would vote 10 times if he lived in Massachusetts. “I’d cheat to keep these bastards out.” Finally, an honest cheater.

All this in a state, uh, commonwealth, where registered Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans. Almost forgot, the President has visited as well. Who knows if that helped or hurt. If Coakley loses, the Democrats can always blame her for running  a bad campaign or being a weak candidate. But they would not do that, would they?

Guess Tuesday will tell the tale.

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

From One Captain to Another

Or, 2,724 and counting. Yeah, I know, only tied for#52 all time. And, according to  Bob  Molinaro of The Virginian-Pilot, “In the greater scheme of baseball’s  record book, it means relatively little.” Personally, I prefer the comment of George Steinbrenner.

                                 “For those who say today’s game can’t produce legendary players, I have two words. Derek Jeter. Game in and game out, he just produces.”

The all time Yankee hit record was held for some 72 years, by   fellow with a familiar name, Lou Gehrig. He broke the record in 1937. It was  held at that time by another familiar name, guy named Babe Ruth. Rather good line of succession, I would say. Fortunately for Yankee fans, Jeter has not retired yet. Barring injury, he has a  more than reasonable  chance of achieving 3,000 career hits. Perhaps that is a bit more signficant. Anyway,for Jeter it has always been a team game. I feel certain that at the least, making it back to the World Series ranks pretty high on his to do list for this season, hit record aside. Earlier in the season, I posted about their postseason chances. My humble, non expert and seemingly erroneous opinion appears to be mistaken. Quite glad I am  to be proven wrong.

Just recently, one of  my coworkers emailed me some pictures   he took a couple of years ago at a game he attended at the old Yankee Stadium. Being a Red Sox fan, I am certain this was not easy for him. Thanks “Mongo.’ The picture was very much appreciated.

#2, Derek Jeter

#2, Derek Jeter

Full speed ahead to the playoffs and beyond!

September 12, 2009 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Collecting Memories

Don Mattingly, 1992 Topps

Don Mattingly, 1992 Topps

Sports Illustrated has a great article in this week’s issue which came today. It didn’t make the cover and for many may not even get much of a notice. It is entitled ” The  Last Iconic Baseball Card ” and is written by Luke Winn. What it is really about is the end of an era. The  past time of collecting baseball cards has been trending steadily downward for a number of years. For my money, the end began when the  makers went from Topps  alone  to  a plethora of other companies. You know, goose and golden egg and all that.

The story took me way back to my childhood in the 50’s and 60’s when for a time, baseball card collecting was  at the virtual top of  my to-do list. I never collected to buy or sell and  never really had that many, although I thought 500+ was  a lot. But I dearly enjoyed it. There were 2 places for me to but in small town Leaksville, NC in those days. There was Williams Store on the  way home fromschool( yes, I walked home) where cards were  purchased individually accompanied by a stick of bubble gum, one penny per card. There was  a small department store across town on the Boulevard whose name I forget. Their cards came in wrapped packs of ten with new arrivals usually on Tuesday’s, I think.  The joy at getting a new pack or a new handful could hardly be surpassed.

Alas. when I became  a  bit older and ” more mature”, I decided those childish cards were unnecessary and committed  the now recognized cardinal sin of throwing them away. Aargh!! Periodically, I tried to recapture the magic, even convincing my son to collect for  a little while. But both he and I soon  lost  interest and just  a handful remain. Thanks to this article, hope may flicker once again. According to Baseball Reference.com, the Yankees have had a total of  1,499 different players in their storied history. Wonder how long it wuld take to collect them all? I  have  about 30 right now with the one  shown

my best, good ole Donnie Baseball. However, I will need to find a  new  source and that may be a challenge.

August 20, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

July 4, 1939

Seventy years ago today  there was a brief but heartfelt speech made in Yankee Stadium. It was made by a guy who generally avoided the limelight and played in the shadow of perhaps baseball’s most famous player ever. Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, who played 2,130 consecutive games, a record that would last for almost 60 years, was done  as a baseball player.

Gehrig was only 35 years old at the time  and would be dead in less than  2 years

Lou Gehrig's Farewell

Lou Gehrig's Farewell

of the disease that now bears  his name . Its proper name is amyotropic lateral sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system. It  also claimed another well known Yankees player, known in this area as Jimmy Hunter, who died at age 53. ( My son was privileged to meet him when he was much younger and Mr Hunter was quite gracious. Other relatives knew him and his family quite well.)

Gehrig made a famous , albeit, short speech on that day. It is often known as the “luckiest man ” speech since that was how he referred to himself. He didn’t claim to be a victim or show anger or remorse, but was rather stoic. Watching the video, one is struck both  by his youthfulness and his discomfort at having to speak in such a public setting. His official website has the complete text  of the speech and youtube has some good video selections.

I  read a good  bio of Gehrig by author Jonathan Eig  and have read a number of articles about him as well. I remember reading one as a kid  that described him as  an invaluable player. I was unfamiliar with the word in that context and couldn’t understand how he could be described that way. Now, I understand that he was invaluable and one of the greatest Yankees and greatest players ever. His #4 was retired shortly after the famous speech, the first time in professional sports a player was  so honored.

He always  played in the shadow of Babe Ruth, but in his last months until his death on June 2, 1941 he became a legend  that we can still remember. ( He and the Babe reconciled  at the time  of his farewell speech, having been estranged for 5 years.)

As the Yankees PA announcer said on May 2, 1939, ” Ladies and gentlemen, Lou Gehrig’s consecutive streak of 2,130 games played has ended.”

July 4, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Hasn’t Gone As They Planned

Planning is a good thing in most cases. After all, it has been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. I suppose this is a  generally accepted statement. But in the world of sports, perhaps as nowhere else, plans oftentimes do not go  according to plan.

Latest case in point concerns the opening games at the new Yankee Stadium, built right across 161st street from its 86 year old predecessor. Brief history lesson. The Yankees won the first game in the old Stadium  with a fellow named Ruth hitting a home run. For a variety of reasons, the old ballpark became universally known as the house that Ruth Built.

On Thursday, April 16, the Yankees opened their new home with much pomp and circumstance and Yankee heroes from the past, including Yogi Berra. They then proceeded to lose 10-2, awful, terrible, right. They followed this up  with a  win before Black Saturday arrived.

Yes ,it was bad, 22-4 bad with negative records being set for really negative things. Yankees.com did not shut down or fade to black and all of the comments were not negative- amazing, is it not?

The good things about baseball is that there is another game and one loss is only one loss. For Chien-Ming- Wang and rookie Anthony Claggett  it will alas, be a  day to remember for all the wrong reasons. I am certainly glad I don’t get as  vexed as I used to, otherwise the vex meter would have blown a gasket.

Cheer up, all is not bleak in the world. I hear that Obama is making nice with Hugo Chavez, really? Did he plan that?

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Parade of Wealth

One of my favorite things in the newspaper is the annual issue of Parade magazine that gives examples of what people earn. This intrigues me on several levels. It is of course very interesting to see what certain celebrities earned last year. But, equally interesting for me is to note what just regular folks make. This years issue gave us the earnings of 21 celebrities and 120 “non” – celebrities. I am always intrigued by how people get on the list and why  they would choose to display their annual earnings for all to see,along with their job and their place of residence.( Several on the list are from North Carolina.)

So, let us take a glance, inside the numbers, so to speak. Of course, we begin with the  notables. The highest earner on the list was media mogul, Tyler Perry. who makes successful movies and television shows( Tyler Perry’s House of Payne) to the tune of a cool $125 million last year. He was followed by Eldridge Woods with a paltry $110 million. You may have heard of  him as Tiger. He plays a little golf, makes some good commercials,etc. Skipping a spot to #3 to make it fair to the ladies is Beyonce Knowles, singer, actress and model. Alas, she only made $80 million in 2008.

Now, it is always intriguing to discuss. Are these folks worth what they earn when the President only makes around $400,000? They probably are not,  but relating it to the President or school teachers or law enforcement to illustrate flaws in our society’s value system is not valid either.

For example, candidates running for President don’t do it for the money, since they know the salary in advance. For them, it is more about power or serving their country,etc. Similar arguments could be made for those in public education or many of the service professions. They don’t enter these field s to amass wealth. Should they be adequately compensated? Of course, but that is not an easy question to answer.

In today’s economy, teachers and nurses and the like   are subject to layoffs just as are  blue collar workers. Our entertainers, which includes those in professional sports are somewhat more immune. Teams may lay off ticket takers or office personnel but the big ticket folks sail along, largely unscathed. Example, the New York Yankees reduced their player payroll by about $8 million from last year but there are still a number of players making over$10 million annually.

Since most of us are far removed from mega or semi-mega wealth, this primarily serves as an an interesting topic for  discussion. But perhaps it can help  us a bit with how to  value things and occupations and those who perform them.

Oh, the highest paid individual on the list was someone  I did not recognize, at $1.2 billion(billion with a  “b”) 0 while the lowest was New York mayor Michael Bloomberg at a salary of $1.00. Figure that one out.

April 13, 2009 Posted by | Culture, economy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Should We Think About A-Rod?

There has  been an enormous amount of news  swirling around Alex Rodriguez of late.Imagine getting a divorce, a huge new contract and being linked romantically to Madonna. And then, all that is upstaged at once by that ugly little revelation of steroid use(after having previously denied it) from 2001-2003. Those nasty Sports Illustrated writers. Just cant leave things alone can they.

I will admit to some mixed feelings about all of this. Being a lifelong Yankees fan,I should immediately have leaped to his defense and strongly condemned the release of his name from a  list  of 104 players who were guilty. And, to a degree, I did that. Release all the names or none, I thought. But, here is baseball’s highest paid player on the most visible team in the sport and he plays in New York. All of those factors made it a viable news story. To  quote my old friend Super Chicken, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

Today, he arrived at spring training  and held a press conference at which he said he obtained  a substance  over the counter in the Dominican Republic with the assistance of his cousin. Sound good, no anger, no blame.Reactions, predictably,  are mixed.

I checked 2 ESPN reporters reactions. Jayson Stark thinks got a bit better but there are still more questions and  issues that need addressing and the issue is not closed. Buster Onley said and this interesting since he repeated this phrase several times. If this is all there is and there  are no revelations out there, then he did pretty well. Yankee GM Brian Cashman likened the situation, in a sense, to putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. As a Yankee fan and a baseball fan, I hope that the rehab for Rodriguez goes better than it did in the nursery rhyme.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Postseason, Forgetaboutit

As distressing as it is , I believe the above title sums up the New York Yankees chances to continue playing after the regular season ends . Much will be made about their high payroll and you cant buy success , blah, blah blah . Probably some truth there, I guess . As a lifelong Yankees fan , albeit at times more of a fan than at others, ( I rarely yell at the tv or computer anymore when  things go poorly ) I hope that I am not the reason for  their lack of success since I made my first ever trip th New York this year for a last season pilgrimage to the Stadium . Didnt make it to Monument  Park but the Stadium was  even cooler than I had imagined .  Hope to make a visit to the new Stadium maybe next year . As a side note , in the midst of a lousy season , Derek Jeter’s next hit will pass Babe Ruth on the Yankees leader board and second all time to Lou Gehrig . It is quite amazing that Jeter is on pace, barring injury, to become the first Yankee with 3,000 career hits . Future Hall of Famer, ya think ?

September 7, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , | Leave a comment