Sunday, November 8, 2009

2009 World Series: A Game of Numbers

27: It’s the number of Chase Utley World Series swings that made all of Yankee Nation cringe at once. It’s the number of times every Yankee fan thought last week, ‘will you just put in Mo already?’ Twenty seven marks the amount of times Fox 5 candidly cut to Kate Hudson and Jay-Z cheering in the stands throughout the 2009 Yankee post season run and it’s also the average number of times every Yankee fan frantically clicked the refresh button after World Series tickets went on sale last month.
On Friday, however, as the Yankees made the glorious trek up the Canyon of Heroes to the tune of over one million screaming New Yorkers, 27 meant only one thing: sweet, sweet victory.
The Yankees won the World Series for an unprecedented 27th time last Wednesday, dethroning the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies with a 7-3 game-six victory at home. After falling behind early to a 1-0 series deficit, the Bombers battled back, overcoming a tenacious Philadelphia team, relentless Philly fans and unfavorable odds to bring the Commissioner’s Trophy back to New York for the first time since 2000.
The journey toward 27 wasn’t easy, but as players and fans alike will attest, it was a journey well worth the anguish. Prior to the start of the 2009 season, the stars appeared to be aligned for what we now know to be history. The big-money signings of free agent pitchers A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia, as well as slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira, had baseball fans everywhere predicting a parade up Broadway long before the season even started. Off-the-field issues and injuries involving Alex Rodriguez, however, quickly put a damper on what was expected to be inevitable. Untimely injuries to Xavier Nady and Brett Gardner, as well as the frustrations surrounding Ching Ming Wang’s unfathomably poor start and eventual trip to the disabled list further clouded New York’s pre-season oracle.
But 2009 was a war of Yankee attrition. 2009 was a war that saw the Yankees, who spent an unprecedented $384,500,000 on three players during one recession-infested summer, limp out to what was considered an unacceptable 12-10 start in the month of April. They went 0-8 to start the season against the rival Boston Red Sox and when the most expensive team in Major League Baseball history fell 22-4 in its own brand new ball park to the hapless Cleveland Indians, it seemed as though the Bombers were destined to be the priciest bust since Carl Pavano.
The Yankees, however, had other plans. Sixteen 2009 Yankee walk-of wins, consistent pitching from Sabathia, Burnett and Yankee mainstay Andy Pettitte and gutty performances from unlikely heroes like Melky Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, Phil Hughes and Damaso Marte all amounted to countless Burnett-trademark cream pies and ultimately, Yankee Championship number 27.
So what is it about the number 27 that sets the Yankees apart from all other Major League Baseball teams? What is it about the number 27 that further distinguishes the Yankees from all other professionally competitive organizations?
For starters, 27 has long been a numeric mark of legendary greatness. In music, Wolfgang Mozart completed 27 concerti for piano and orchestra. In baseball, ironically, 27 is considered to be the modal age of peak performance for Major League Baseball positional players, as based on a study put together by sabermetrician Bill James. 27, in its holy existence, is also argued to be one of the most divine of numbers, as there are 27 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and 27 books in the New Testament.
But 27 also accounts for more than 25 percent of the 104 World Series Championships ever played. New York, with its latest triumph, now boasts over one quarter of all the Commissioner’s trophies ever handed out. Together, the next three winningest teams in Major League Baseball history [Cardinals with 10 World Series Championships, Athletics with nine and Red Sox with seven] only account for 26 titles. No other Major League baseball team has even made 27 World Series appearances, while the Yankees have made 40.
27 trumps the 17 National Basketball Association titles won by the Boston Celtics, the six Super Bowl victories earned by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 23 NHL titles won by the Montreal Canadians.
So on Friday, as Yankee fans took to the ticker tape-infested streets in celebration of the arduous journey that was the 2009 Major League Baseball season, they were in fact celebrating more than just another title; they were there in honor of 27, the number that pays homage to the many years of pinstripe tradition and achievement.
9: 27 divided by three equals nine, the number of innings in a Major League baseball game. Cats are said to have nine lives, and expecting mothers wait impatiently for nine months before giving birth. New Yorkers, however, will argue that the nine years they spent impatiently waiting for another World Series ring were more trying than any mother could ever understand. The nine years, marked perpetually by Luis Gonzalez walk-off bloop singles (see 2001 World Series vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, game seven), a series loss of historic proportions (see 2004 American League Championship Series vs. Boston Red Sox) and Joba Chamberlain- infesting mayflies (2007 American League Divisional Series vs. Cleveland Indians, game two), have been the cause of countless broken televisions, doorframes and hearts.
How the Earth has changed in the nine years that Yankee fans have been waiting for restoration to glory. Since the last Yankee World Series (prior to last Wednesday), there have been three presidential campaigns, one resulting in the nation’s first ever African-American President. Since the Yankees’ 2000 World Series victory over the New York Mets, the world has seen unprecedented economic downturn and unparalleled political unrest. The world’s biggest banks have gone under and so too, have some of America’s once proud cities. New Yorkers saw two airliners fly directly into their very emblem of civic pride, forever revolutionizing the world as we once knew it. The United States has gone to war with two different nations and the entire planet has become one giant revolutionary melting pot.
To a Red Sox fan, maybe nine years doesn’t seem like that long of a wait, but nine years were all it took for New York, and the Earth alike, to spin on its axis, and nine years was all that was necessary to remind New Yorkers how important, and how interrelated the New York Yankees are to the very pulse of the city.
So on Friday, when the Yankees hit the Canyon of Heroes for the first time in nearly a decade, the celebration was about more than World Series number 27. It was a tribute to the nine years that the city has waited, and all the tribulations that it has undergone, in the process.
3: nine divided by three equals three, the amount of hours Yankee fans spent daily watching the Bombers take to the field in search of retribution. Three marks the number of hours we will now have to fill with some arbitrary hobby until Feb. 13, 2010, when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Perhaps “So You Think You Can Dance,” or “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader” can provide New Yorkers with some temporary solution. Some may even hit the gym or the books to fill the void left behind. But three hours is a lot of time and perhaps it is not unusual for a Yankee fan to go through a period of baseball withdrawal or an unusual sense of postpartum depression. Three is the amount of months that fans will have to wait for Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera to return to the diamond.
1: and that leaves us with one. Three divided by three equals one. After seven months of baseball, there is only one team left standing: 2009 World Series Champions, the New York Yankees.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's in a name? Just ask the Sox!

"Paging Doctor Schimmel to the third-floor men's room. There seems to be a bit of a situation by the do-it-yourself Depends bastille."
Those of you who know me well can say what you want, but whoever coined the term, "what's in a name?" never met me-- or my unborn children. Say what you want about my tactics, cheap and unfulfilling as they may be, but I believe that instant gratification is the only kind worth seeking.
Let's break this down:
"Paging Doctor Schimmel to the third-floor men's room. There seems to be a bit of a situation by the do-it-yourself Depends bastille."
To the unsuspecting listener, one might assume that there was some sort of medical issue of the geriatric nature on the top floor of the Queens Bridge Bed, Bath and Beyond.
"Wow, lucky this fine retail tycoon happens to have its own in-house doctor on hand," the surprised, yet unquestioning shopper would think as he continued to sift through an endless pile of "Tropical Twist Blast," Pomegranate Potpourri," and "Harvest Peach Infusion" hand sanitizers. "It's not weird at all that this particular retail establishment felt the need to hire a licensed physician."
And if I were on hand, I would be proud to see my oldest son, rightful aire to my throne of nonsensical achievement, swoop to that bathroom like David Hasselhoff on Santa Monica Beach. Or Michael Jackson, the ball pit of a temporarily unsupervised Chucky Cheese-- too soon?
So what if the white coat he wears every day is just part of his personal ensemble? And so what if the key ring on his belt opens up a circuit of closets, rest rooms and "employee only" storage rooms, rather than a motorcade of Corvettes and Bentleys?
My son, Doctor Schimmel, will be the first janitor in history to give hastily respected medical advice on the morning bus to work. AND THAT'S SOMETHING.
"Hey doc, I noticed the name tag. Mind if I ask you a question about this rash?
"Hey doc, can you take a look at this inner-ear infection?
"With pleasure."
My son, the janitor, will attend to each of his unsuspecting patients carefully and completely. That just comes with the territory of being a doctor.
So why wouldn't I name my first son Doctor P. Schimmel? And why stop there?
Moving forward would come President Schimmel, Professor Schimmel and Coolest Guy Alive Schimmel.
Why put my children through the troubles of medical school-- or peer pressure in Coolest Guy Alive's case-- when I can spring on them an unearned sense of instant gratification at birth?
"IT'S A BOY-- I shall call him... KING SCHIMMEL THE MERCIFUL."
A six-pack of Natty Ice and time to bro' out beats six years of grad school, right?
NOTE TO ALL READERS OUT THERE EAGER TO SWAGGER JACK MY PLAN: Should you decide to bestow upon your children any of the above mentioned names, I will have a team-- Officer Schimmel, Esquire Schimmel and my friend, Snake-- ready to cease and assist.
And while in no way, shape or form do I, with pride, liken my plans to anything that is "RED SOX NATION", it comes with great ease that I do so.
Following yet another volatile first-half-of-the-Major-League-season in which we watched the Boston Red Sox (55-38), New York Yankees (56-37), and Tampa Bay Rays (52-42) duke it out for top billing in the American League East, it comes with great pleasure that immediately following the MLB All-Star break, BAWW-STIN has already relinquished what many fans and writers alike considered to be a stronghold on the division. A four-game losing skid was all it took to knock the SAUX back into second place (one game back of the Yanks), and with Boston's 24-year-old Clay Buchholz on the hill tonight-- against Vicente Padilla and the Texas Rangers-- the Sox will be hard-pressed to keep their streak from dropping to five.
What's my point? What happened to all the bombastic Boston banter and the thoughtless medi-at-ric verbal regurgitation that stormed the airways not more than one week ago?
ESPN "First Take's" Skip Bayless referred to a 2009 Boston American League Title as imminent-- and he was not alone-- less than two weeks ago. And now what?
Of course, ushering the Red Sox to the realm of all together insignificance as a result of their recent struggles would be just as frivolous in its own right. Perhaps like the claim that Bayless made when he said the Yanks didn't have the grit to hang with the Sox for the second half of the season, based entirely on a first-half performance put together by a second-half team filled with second-half players like CC Sabathia (9-6) and Mark Teixeira (.277 batting average with 23 home runs) and a still rehabilitating core that includes Alex Rodriguez (.252 batting average, 19 home runs), Xavier Nady (Disabled List) and Chien-Ming Wang (9.64 ERA)?
So yes, the Red Sox won the American League's first half of the season. But now what? Does winning 55 games get you to the playoffs? If so, than maybe I should just name my son Baseball Player Schimmel.
Led by an offensive unit of left fielding Jason Bay (.254 batting average, 20 home runs), first baseman Kevin Youkilis (.303 batting average, 17 home runs) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia (.301 batting average, 40 runs batted in), there is no denying that Boston has talent. But are we to believe that a line-up that gives journeyman infielder Nick Green (249 batting average, 30 runs batted in) regular playing time at shortstop is destined for a World Series? Right fielding J.D. Drew (.236 batting average), third baseman Mike Lowell (.289 batting average) and center fielding Jacoby Ellsbury (.290 batting average) are all dangerous in their own right, but I have a hard time regarding them as threats to the Yankees' bid for the American League. When comparing the Yankees' MLB-leading 512 runs scored to Boston's sixth-place 477, it's easy to see that the Red Sox don't have the fire power to keep up. Any injury to the Josh Beckett-led Boston pitching staff, which is arguably the strongest in the league, will prove much more detrimental than an injury to the Yanks' pitching staff-- New York is in first place with Wang sitting atop of a gruesome 1-6 record because of its ability to put runs on the board.
Ultimately, New York is built to last and the Red Sox, while formidable in their own right, are at all times, one injury away from mediocrity.
So to all the Red and White fans naming their 2009 baby as Championship after just 93 games, please take heed to my advice.
WHILE NAMING YOUR SON DOCTOR MIGHT HELP HIM GET HITS ON E-HARMONY, WITHOUT THE PROPER SCHOOLING, HE IS NOT ACTUALLY DR. DOCTOR SCHIMMEL; JUST ANOTHER HIGH-POWERED CUSTODIAN.
And one more note: Please don't steal my idea!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lebron vs. Moses

The story could have been completely different-- I can see it now...

Moses (what's his last name again?) leads the Jewish people through the Red Sea, miraculously escaping an unruly band of ancient Egyptian slave runners, enduring 39 years of biblical heat, crushing winds, cold nights and beerless weekends. Bubbling blisters mount up beneath his camel skin moccasins as he tries to ignore the endless complaints of broken air conditioners and unleavened bread.
"Moses, my feet heart."
"Moses, you're always working late."
"Moses, you need to take on a second job. We just can't afford Zeek's retainer."
39 years of endless, inescapable badgering and the poor guy just can't take it anymore.
So after nearly four decades, finally standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, Moses decides to throw in the towel, change his name to Thomas and renounce his Judaism.
Sound preposterous? It should...
So why do we fail to notice the similarities between this year's run to the NBA Finals and a possible restoration to the glory days of New York City basketball?
I do not want to compare Lebron James to Moses because he's better at basketball. As far as I know, Moses couldn't dunk from the foul line or dribble a basketball between his legs.
But think about it: Moses vs. Lebron-- neither of them need a last name, neither earned a college degree and both have led their people (the Jews/ the Cavaliers) to better lives.
So why, after seven years of successful yet ultimately fruitless seasons in Cleveland, would Lebron leave his home state of Ohio and move to New York? Why, standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, would Lebron, who has already stared through the window to the promised land (like a virgin standing behind the velvet rope outside Hugh Hefner's mansion), leave without a ring?
Lebron's Cavs earned a trip to the 2007 NBA Finals (courtesy of Lebron's legendary game 7 performance, scoring 29 of his team's last 30 points, against the Detroit Positions in the Eastern Conference Finals) but lost to the San Antonio Spurs in four.
With newly acquired point guard Mo Williams by his side, James looks poised to make another run to NBA glory, this time with success, and all New York fans should be chomping at the bit.
The New York Knicks, who have been more obvious in their shameless anticipation than me on prom night, await Lebron's free agency during the summer of 2010, hoping for a holy pilgrimage to the Big Apple.
But why would Lebron reach the foot of Mount Sinai and throw in the towel? Why would he earn another trip to the brink of professional glory and decide to move zip codes? Lebron entered the NBA as one of the most heralded rookies of all time and took the league-worst Cleveland Cavaliers from worst to first. And it didn't happen over night.
Knick fans claim that the only shot that New York has of catching him in 2010 is if he doesn't win a title. He'll get so fed up with the Cavs and desperate for a real shot at a ring, he'll come to the.... Knicks????? To play along side of.... Eddy Curry?
I think these New Yorkers have been drinking too much of Moses' Manishevitz.
If Lebron got fed up enough to leave the Cavs because of lacking championship success, you can bet your favorite camel that he wouldn't wind up in New York.
But what would cement Lebron's place amongst basketball gods? Taking a league-worst Cavs team to an NBA title in seven years, moving to New York, starting over with the Knicks and getting one with the greatest city in the world as well?
It's no secret that Lebron relishes Michael Jordan's top spot amongst the list of basketball greats, but he knows that he won't get there without a ring to his name. Even two or three won't do it. But getting there Cavs there, moving to New York and then taking the Blue and Orange there as well? That might just do it. But Knick fans can rest assured, if after seven years in Cleveland the King still doesn't have a banner in the rafters, he will NOT be taking the subways to Madison Square Garden for practice with Mike D'antoni-- he will probably still be in Cleveland, looking to finish what he started with the town that he grew up in.
Knicks fans have a lot more on the line than the realize in the 2008-09 playoffs and as far as I'm concerned...
GO LEBRON!!! If not for the Cavs, do it for the Knicks!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Damned if they do, damned if they don't Yankees

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's just one of those
things. We all know that Orenthal James "O. J." Simpson didn't
brutally murder Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in a heated crime of
passion inside Brown's Los Angeles, California home by way of countless
knife slashes through the neck and vertebrae to the point of near
decapitation between the hours of 10:15 and 10:40 p.m. Pacific Time on June
12, 1994 because he loved her so much that he couldn't stand the thought of
her being with anyone else and if he couldn't have her, no one could. NOOOOOO. We all know that didn't happen,obviously.
But what many people don't realize about the O.J. case is that
following the trial, his relationship with gloves forever changed.
If he continued to wear them, well, that's it, case closed, O.J. did it.
It'd be like rubbing salt in a knife wound. But if after 48 years of incessant Italian leather glove wearing, he suddenly stopped, well wouldn't that be a bit suspicious as well?
So when O.J. prepared to head out that first morning after the October 2, 1995 not-guilty verdict, Simpson had a choice to make: "should I wear them, or not?
On one hand, it's a bit cold and the occasion calls for gloves. But if I
wear them, well, that would look a little strange.
"On the other hand,everyone knows that I LOVE gloves. They're kind of my thing. In high school,people used to call me the gloved killer just because I always wore gloves and I killed opposing defenses on the football field. It'd be a little
strange for me to not wear gloves on a brisk day like this.
"On second thought, I think I'll just stay in today."
And so it went: for the remainder of his free life (before a totally
unrelated crime landed him in prison last December), Simpson only left his
house for confessional. Damn those gloves.
And what about former NASDAQ chairman and America's favorite new
money laundering sweet heart, Bernard Madoff? OK, we all know that Madoff
robbed countless investors of a crap-load of pennies (or $65 billion for the
mathematically ordinary) through a Ponzi scheme. Is that really a big deal?
It's just money, right?
But what many people don't know about Madoff is that he was planning
a surprise birthday party for his long-time wife, Ruth (what a handsome woman).
From what I hear,there was supposed to be cake, punch, a ball pit, pizza, live music and even an open arcade. How AWESOME does that sound?
Following the uncovering of his Ponzi scheme and the ensuing legal
troubles, however, Madoff was forced to do away with the ball pit and the
live music. What's an open arcade without live Jock Jams?
I know what you're thinking: it's not like Madoff doesn't already
have ALL of Kevin Bacon's money, anyway. So he should spend it, right?
WRONG. If he still throws Ruth that rockin' party, he looks selfish, greedy
and reckless. But doesn't he already have billions of dollars? If he goes
half ass on this thing, it's going to reflect poorly on his image. He'll
look stingy and tightfisted. UGHH. What to do, what to do. Damned if you do,
and damned if you don't.
That brings me to my next victim: the New York Yankees. Those poor
bastards don't stand a chance. After a summer in which the Steinbrenners dropped an unprecedented $384,500,000(during a recession) on four players (pitcher Andy Pettitte: $5.5 million, pitcher C.C. Sabathia: $135.5 million, pitcher A.J. Burnett: $82.5 million and slugger Mark Teixeira: $180 million), it's hard to imagine any scenario where the Yankees lose a single game.
I'm putting my money on the Yankees becoming the first team in Major League Baseball history to win every single game (162-0).Seriously. If God wanted to put together a first-team All-Divine baseball squad, my guess is that the Bronx Bombers would be an exact replica. With Captain Derek Jeter, who Head Coach Joe Girardi is thinking of moving to the top of the batting order, back in full swing, catcher Jorge Posada back from the shoulder injury that side-lined him for most of last year, the clutch-hitting Teixeira and a revamped bullpen, does it really matter that Alex Rodriguez will be out for 6-9 weeks after getting surgery on his right hip? I almost feel bad for opposing teams, like I should broadcast a commercial with little baby David Otiz (Boston Red Sox) wrapped in a tickle-me-pink blanket.
"You can't imagine the pain that little David has gone through, but he can imagine the beating heart that exists inside of you. And for just 10 cents a day, you can feed, clothe and care for David. Won't you please call and donate now?"
But at the end of the season, when push comes to shove, the Bombers are damned if they win and damned if they lose. Think about it...
Let's say the Yanks do finish the regular season at 162-0 and they do go on to sweep the playoffs, winning their first World Series since beating the New York Mets 4-1 in the 2000 Fall Classic. Well isn't that what they're supposed to do? Didn't they spend $384,500,000 on four players this off-season. Compare that to the $21,836,500 that the Florida Marlins spent on their entire team all of last year. Or the $43,820,598 that the defending American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays spent on their entire team. Pinning the Yankees against the Marlins is like pinning America against Vietnam (oh, wait). The fact is, if payroll has anything to do with success (which Yanks fans know all too well hasn't lately), the Yankees are SUPPOSED to win the World Series this year.
So when they do win, writers, fans and critics will all be letting go a collective, "big deal, they spent enough to bail the country out of debt."
BUT, BUT, BUT, what happens if the Yankees lose?
"You mean to tell me that the Yankees spent enough to feed millions of David Ortiz-es for all of eternity and they still couldn't pull out a win?"
Think about it... The Yankees vs. the MLB?
"UNITED STATES FINDS MILITARY SUCCESS IN IRAQI LEGO AIR BASE"
Well.....Duhhhhhhhhhhh

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Breaking Old Habits

Like a newly-transgendered female who forgets to sit down in the ladies' room or a longtime-stripper suddenly turned fire chief; old habits die hard, sometimes too hard. Anyone who watched the Knicks get blown out by the Devin Harris-less New Jersey Nets last night in what was to date, arguably the most important game of the season, was quickly reminded of the new-millennium Knick fan's daily reality: utter disgust, inevitable disappointment and
unequivocal anguish are more unavoidable than sexual advances at the Neverland Ranch (Michael, for the 100th time, your bed is monster-free).

Last night, old habits thought to have been long-abolished by new Head Coach Mike D'Antoni resurrected like the stench of cigarette smoke and cheap whiskey clinging to your hoodie until the next wash cycle. An ugly relapse to past transgressions was reminiscent of VH1's Celebrity Sober House-- it was truly hard to watch (the only difference is that while no one expects Andy Dick to live a life of moderate respectability, Knick fans, perhaps imprudently, still cling to a glimmer of Nate Robinson-induced hope).

Watching the Knicks go 2-27 from beyond the arc, 11-19 from the foul line, give up 15 turnovers and 115 points (29 for Vice Carter) to a team missing its top player (point guard Devin Harris) was tough to do. Still, however, their biggest failure was one that did not show up in the box score. Their biggest failure was one that we have not seen the knicks commit since Stephon Marbury's exile.
The biggest disappointment was that the Knicks showed a complete lack of effort, the likes of which we hadn't yet seen this season. The Nets, on their first game back on the east coast after a brief trip west figured to be lackadaisical, especially without Harris, their top gun.
The Knicks pounced on the Nets in the first quarter and headed into the first intermission with a 30-27 lead. It was all downhill from there.
Knick fans can handle losses-- we're used to them. It's the way New York lost last night, however, that was most unsettling. Showing a lack of defensive pride and overall effort in a game that had huge playoff implications is inexcusable.
Old habits die hard and last night, the Knicks of old crept back into our collective memory.



Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stephon Marbury: the face of workmanship

I still remember my first day of work like it was eight months ago-- a wet behind the ears, fresh-face college kid on the threshold of journalistic success. I was more than on my way.

Somebody pinch me. Writing for the Verona-Cedar Grove Times seemed like an impossible reality. I grew up in New Jersey, so to be back in my home state after a brief stint in Ithaca, NY writing for all of my fans was a dream come true.

After showing up on day-one, I wasted no time in alienating my co-workers.

"I am the best writer in this office," I boldly announced. "By the way, my name is Steve," I said as I pulled my Ninja Turtles lunch box out of my black Italian leather Simpsons brief case.

After only a few days in the office, however, it was clear for one reason or another that my co-workers were not particularly fond of me. A public feud with my senior editor further divided the break room and it wasn't long before trade rumors began to surface (the Verona-Cedar Grove Times reportedly tried to send me to the Montclair Times in return for cold cuts and office supplies--the Montclair Times rejected).

So I finished out the high school football season and waited to field offers from other newspapers-- none came. I subsequently fired my agent and deleted my account on Monster.com.

An aura of hope surrounded my return to the office as I headed into the basketball season.

That's before I sexually harassed my editorial assistant.

"I thought you said you wanted to be a star," I said to her, caressing her knee in the back of my Hyundai.

A media circus ensued and my reputation as a sports writer was quickly deteriorating.

On December 24, 2008, the North Jersey Media Group signed a new senior editor to take the place of my former editor. It didn't take long for my new boss to make his intentions clear-- the Times was heading in a new direction.

"It's not fair to ask a writer of Steve's caliber to do spot writing," my boss told reporters. I was thus relegated to the bench.

"We want Schim" chants from my fans had no impact on my boss, and the bench is where I remained for the rest of the season before being released with the opportunity to sign with other newspapers.

Oops. I always get myself confused with former New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury. Terrible habit, I know. If nothing else, however, my confusion does provide enlightenment for the few remaining Steph fans out there-- and believe me, there are plenty.

First, let me ask you Starbury fans, did you eat glue as a kid? I just need to gather some background information on your past before I can properly diagnose the various mental disorders hindering your ability to view things as a fully functional human being. Also, are your parents related in any way (is your mom also your aunt)?

As we've done in the past, let's look at Starbury's track record in New York. After several LOSING seasons, he told reporters that he was the best point guard in the league (remember when my co-workers got pissed off at me for saying I was the best writer in the office). After Marbury's bold statement, the Knicks went on a losing streak of titanic proportions.

Marbury publicly feuded with Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkins, Tim Thomas, Quentin Richardson, Kurt Thomas, and every other leader thrown into the Knick locker room.

Oh, and remember when Steph sexually harassed New York Knicks intern Kathleen Decker?

Truth is, aside from the fact that Steph has always been a loser (the one playoff appearance throughout his entire NBA tenure came in 2004 during his first season as a Knick), he is a bad worker. Is it acceptable for a reporter to sexually violate his assistant, alienate his co-workers and fight with his bosses? Why then, amongst you Steph fans anyway, is it OK for him to commit such unprofessional acts (all while losing games I might add)?

Not that winning games would make Marbury's behavior any more appropriate, but he never did. So to those of you who have said Head Coach Mike D'Antoni is at fault for not even trying to use his star point guard, let me ask you this: why would he? Marbury has been here since 2004 and he has never experienced a winning season. OK, he's talented, but clearly, talent is not getting the Knicks wins. D'Antoni made it clear that this was a new era for the orange and blue when he sat Steph. Throwing him into the mix would only result in more of the same.

So to you Knick fans upset with the way D'Antoni handled the Marbury situation and angry with his exile to Bean Town--why don't you just move to Boston, throw on a Kevin Youkilis jersey and root for the Celtics? WAKE UP!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

*My Name is...*

It was like finding out that Santa Claus is fake—and so is Pam Anderson—on the same day. Bruce lip-synced his Super Bowl performance (I know, it wasn’t his choice, but still…) and Elvis was never really a king.
On February 9, Major League Baseball’s supposed savior, Alex Rodriguez, confirmed in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons that Saturday’s Sports Illustrated report of him testing positive for two illegal performance enhancing drugs in 2003 was true. Say it ain’t so Alex.
Baseball’s golden boy isn’t looking so golden anymore (aside from the frosted tips adorning his hairline) and suddenly, neither is baseball. The steroid crucible that has plagued the MLB since the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force raided Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative’s (BALCO) facilities to find a potluck of performance enhancing drugs—steroids and growth hormones—has nearly destroyed the game’s credibility. Professional baseball players, formerly known as the key holders of “America’s great past time,” are nothing but cheaters and liars. How are Mark McGwire’s fabricated biceps any different than National Basketball Association referee Tim Donaghy’s propensity to gamble on games that he officiated? And why is it that while the NBA has made every possible attempt to rid its reputation of such corruption, Bud Selig and the MLB are content on “cleaning up baseball” with an asterisk? Did that make steroids disappear? Can we see some retribution, please?
In response to the MLB’s response, I have decided to use the asterisk in my own everyday encounters.
“Hey Schim, that chick you went home with last night had more facial hair than my truck driving uncle and we call him sideburns at family get-togethers.”
“That’s ok. I put an Asterisk on it this morning.”
“Mr. Schimmel, you’re fired. You can’t buy Jack Daniels for the CEO’s seventeen-year-old daughter.
“Can I get a pass on this one? I’ll use the asterisk.”
“Stephen! What are you doing? Take off my dress!”
“Mom, it’s not what it looks like. See- asterisk.”
How can anyone respect a league sustained entirely by the asterisk? Why even play the game if everything is a fake? It’s like watching the WWF. Personally, I’d just as soon open a Playboy.
I’m taking a stand here. I know I’m getting off topic, but if baseball can do it, so can I. But back to A-rod.
Yes, A-rod, the man whose power had formerly been justified by a picture perfect swing. The anti-asterisk, the Mr. Clean of baseball, is nothing more than a tiny star next to a name. The saddest thing is, he was one of the sports few remaining hopes. Now that his use of steroids is out in the open, they might as well change the name of the league to the *MLB.
I suppose, however, that keeping the asterisk next to every name does create jobs, and in this job market, we can’t take anything for granted—somebody’s gotta implement all those tiny dots into the system.
Still, making it the *MLB would help to avoid misunderstandings.
“Hi, my name is *Steve Schimmel. I touch kids.”
“You can’t say I didn’t warn you,” I’d add with a smile. “If I were you, I’d consider moving.”
At least then you wouldn’t have to go through the charade of deciding whether or not to trust me—or hire me as a sitter for the weekend.
All I’m saying is that the game of baseball, as we knew it for the past 20 years, was built entirely on false pretenses. How can anyone have any respect for the record book, baseball’s bible, when it’s filled with lies, cheaters and prostitution? Would anyone go to church on Sundays if it were suddenly discovered that Jesus had invisible water skis?
As much as I enjoyed the seemingly annual Yankee World Series appearances that I grew up with, I wish that we could somehow erase the last two decades of Major League Baseball. But we can’t. We have to live with it, the way Selig has. I’m not a conspiracy–theory kind of guy, but what was the one thing that saved baseball after the 1994 players strike? It was the long ball. McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s race for Roger Maris’ previous record of 61 home runs in1998 suddenly “juiced” the league, resurrecting it from the doldrums. Is it possible that Selig knowingly overlooked a few things for the sake of the sport? Who knows? Jose Canseco (not exactly the picture of integrity) has attested to that fact though.
The point of all this, in some roundabout way, is that with Rodriguez’s departure from cleanliness, so too comes the league’s dying hope. Basically, *-rod proved that even the game’s “purest” stars are not always what they seem. Derek Jeter, we need you. Please don’t follow suit.
Oh, by the way. You can’t really believe a thing that I have said here because I took steroids in 2001. Or perhaps more appropriately—every dictionary that I have ever read was stolen.
Love,
*Steve Schimmel
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