Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Minute By Minute
2008-09-01 05:46
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Space is generally the most precious, sacred thing in the world for a New Yorker. You often don't get much of it, but even a couple of feet can feel generous when you are on a crowded subway car. Stand on any busy avenue and wait for the light to change. The traffic shoots by and then suddenly, for a break of fifteen to twenty seconds, the avenue is clear, almost deserted and you've got space to breath, space to move.

All of which goes to explain why Labor Day is one of my favorite holidays in the city. The town is dead (and, as Emma mentioned yesterday, it makes you pine for a car just so you can park it). But it's only dead for another day, for a handful of hours. It's the calm before the storm because starting tomorrow morning the city will be buzzing again--families back from vacation, kids back to school. It will be congested again and summer will be over.

In the early nineties, I remember going to the Museum of Broadcasting with a friend to watch Dennis Potter's final TV interview. He was dying and was drinking liquid morphine to numb the pain; there was no telling if he'd be able to remain lucid for the entire interview. But he did and he was brilliant:

We all, we're the one animal that knows that we're going to die, and yet we carry on paying our mortgages, doing our jobs, moving about, behaving as though there's eternity in a sense. And we forget or tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense; it is is, and it is now only. I mean, as much as we would like to call back yesterday and indeed yearn to, and ache to sometimes, we can't. It's in us, but we can't actually; it's not there in front of us. However predictable tomorrow is, and unfortunately for most people, most of the time, it's too predictable, they're locked into whatever situation they're locked into ... Even so, no matter how predictable it is, there's the element of the unpredictable, of the you don't know. The only thing you know for sure is the present tense, and that nowness becomes so vivid that, almost in a perverse sort of way, I'm almost serene. You know, I can celebrate life.

Below my window in Ross, when I'm working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It's a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it's white, and looking at it, instead of saying "Oh that's nice blossom" ... last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance ... not that I'm interested in reassuring people - bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.

Sometimes it takes an existential crisis to stop us in our tracks and notice the world around us. The friend I saw the interview with died several years later of cancer.

Last week, Emily upgraded our phone service. We now both have blackberries. I've noticed people walking around the streets these days with their heads buried in their palms, looking into their phones or their i-pods. I've caught myself doing the same thing. (Mel Brooks once said, "We make fun, 'look at the old guy bent over and spitting,' pretty soon we're bent over and spitting.'" Few weeks ago I called a friend on my cell phone and said, "You know those Herbs that talk on their phone as they are walking down the street? Well, now I'm that Herb too.") Another thing to keep us plugged in and tuned out. It is the rare occasion when I am at home with nothing turned on--usually, I've got the TV and the computer going.

It's more of a struggle than ever to keep our minds clear. But a day like today always drives home the little things for me. Soaking up the final lonely hours of summer before the bustle of autumn returns.

2008-09-01 06:35:38
1.   OldYanksFan
As the future seems to be more worth talking about then the present.

I'm not sure these things can be discussed without looking at the FA class of 2010. Is there a 1Bman there that makes us hold Jason for 1 more year? A Catcher that has us let IRod go? A #2 starter so we pass on CC? A 2Bman that has a trade Cano? a CFer?

As tempting as both CC and Tex are, they will both get absolute top dollar. When we got Giambi at 31, he was a monster with a 1.000ish OPS... much more of an impact then Tex. Isn't 6 years of Tex at OVER $20m/per Deja Vu all over again? Aside from Moose (amd some think that was a bad contract), what long term pitching contract has worked out?

Paulie was not a star. Nor was Tino. Mo, Po, Jetes and ARod make around $75m. Add a CC or Tex, and we have almost $100m into 5 players.
Po and Jetes may be losing proposition in 2009 or 2010. ARod somewhere down the live. How careful do we need to be with expensive long term contracts?

Lastly, Posada cannot run and does not field that well. His asset is as a Catcher. As a career .857 OPS guy going downhill, do we really want to take the DH spot or have a terrible fielding 1Bman in Po. If he can't catch..... might we just eat his salary???

Is 2009 a Post Season year or truly a rebuilding year for the next dynasty?

This will be a humbling experience for this team. So many questions for this winter:
Big mnoney and contracts for CC and/or Tex?
Giambi for one more?
Moose for one more?
Andy for one more?
Bobby is probably gone. I can't see 2/3 more years.
Melky tradebait or another chance?
IPK tradebait or another chance?
Is Phil still our hope for the future?
Will we keep Cano?
Will Po catch next year? He ain't that great as a DH.
Do we hold onto IRod as Po insurance?
Is Jeter in decline, or does he have an attitude problem?
Is Matsui or JD traded?
Will Cashman, a 'True Yankee', leave NY?
Will ARod be blamed for every Yankee loss for the next 9 years?

Has this team had this many questions since 1995?

2008-09-01 08:27:38
2.   Chyll Will
1 If you want to hold down first base with someone that is neither a natural third basement or put there to mask his defensive liabilities, just keep doing what the Yanks have been doing for the last several years. If you figure Tex is in decline or about to go into decline, pass him up altogether the same way the Yanks passed up Vlad Guerrero on the basis that his back was questionable. I think it boils down to whether he'd be willing to accept a 4+ options $$$ contract. That money will be mainly for anchoring a declining defense all around. Don't see anyone else worth signing that offers what he does, and nobody stupid enough to trade either a can't miss-league ready prospect to us for anything. If Cash couldn't get someone of that ilk out of Arizona, chances are good that no one else would give the Yanks anything of real import either.

Now, as to your itinerary:

1.) CC is prime Wellsian lights out. He's our number one, even with Wang. You go for him because you can afford to, and not be afraid to lose him to injury. We've lost so many pitchers to injury regardless. That money you give him will not affect the Yanks' development strategy. Tex, see above. Who else can you get that has what they have?

2.) If you can't get Tex, you have to hold onto Giambi for one year, not because of his glove but because of his OPS and OBP. Yanks better find out what Juan Miranda's all about while they work on Montero's 1B skills. They did this to themselves, especially after not giving Carlos Pena a look.

3.) If he wants to come back and you can't get CC. I'm afraid we'll go after Burnett, if for nothing else than to keep him out of Boston. We'll see how stupid we really are in a minute.

4.) Nope. Andy should ride into the sunset with the Stadium, unless he's interested in coaching. Even then, don't know what much he has to offer there.

5.) Agreed. Bobby's a tease, and a clumsy one at that.

6.) I think this comes down to how he responds overall to what's happened with him. If he commits to off-season work immediately, I say give him a chance. If he sulks and hangs out, and especially if he doesn't show a commitment during his demotion, ax him for whatever and bring back Juan Rivera.

7.) Don't know about IPK. Is it his head or a mechanical flaw that is unmasked in the bigs? I think the same display of commitment is warranted here; we give up entirely too fast on young pitchers. He may be no better than Ted Lilly as a starter in his own prime, but Ted Lilly has been a service to a few teams. Stop making him out to be something he's not and we might get something from him. A full year of long man service might help.

8.) Yes, but I still believe he was rushed. A year out of the pen might help him too.

9.) Posada's only real value to the team is as catcher, and he knows it. 1B and DH basically confirms that you made a big mistake caving into his contract demands. The man doesn't want to do anything but catch, and he's shown that with his stints at 1B.

10.) Does I-Rod want to be here? He has to know he'd be backing up Jorge in any regard. If he doesn't, let him go with no questions asked.

11.) Attitude problem? Are you serious? I wish the rest of the team carried themselves the way he does. Not to say that they should deny their individual realities, but that they should approach the game on field with a sense of professionalism, determination and focus. Matsui's got it, Damon needs more of it, Cano badly needs it. It's hard being where he is in this stage of his career; I bet half the team respects his accomplishments rather of his demeanor. That's a significant factor in how a team determines who it's leader is. Long story short, yes he's in decline, but he has the ability and focus to rebound. If anything, he needs to reach out and repair the relationship with A-Rod^, cuz HE has an "attitude" problem.

12.) Likely, but not for much on either end. Their value is as high as it's ever gonna be, and if you can get some great positional prospects for them before signing Tex, good luck.

13.) Now's the time to leave if he doesn't want to get fired. If he makes any significant trades hereon out, he'll probably stay at the Steinbrenner Bros.' request just so they can see how the prospects turn out next spring. If none of them make it on the roster by the ASB, Cash is a goner. (and for extra banter, if either or both are gone, Manny is probably on Cash's mind.)

If by chance he's still here regardless, He's the real face of the organization from thereon. Blame him.

14.) That's the fact, Jack!
^ That's what effective leaders do, period.

2008-09-01 08:28:00
3.   Josh Wilker
Great post, Alex.
2008-09-01 08:29:58
4.   Chyll Will
1 15.) Yes, but they were generally different questions, and half of them involved Torre.
2008-09-01 09:27:00
5.   tsengsational
I think I find your posts about living in NY more interesting than your baseball posts sometimes.
2008-09-01 09:45:09
6.   Chyll Will
5 Ha! >;)
2008-09-01 18:41:01
7.   Dockside Courtesies
west coast peep, minus morphine, at some non-frothy blossoms.

'the tragedy of the leaves'

I awakened to dryness and the ferns were dead,
the potted plants yellow as corn;
my woman was gone
and the empty bottles like bled corpses
surrounded me with their uselessness;
the sun was still good, though,
and my landlady's note cracked in fine and
undemanding yellowness; what was needed now
was a good comedian, ancient style, a jester
with jokes upon absurd pain; pain is absurd
because it exists, nothing more;
I shaved carefully with an old razor
the man who had once been young and
said to have genius; but
that's the tragedy of the leaves,
the dead ferns, the dead plants;
and I walked into a dark hall
where the landlady stood
execrating and final,
sending me to hell,
waving her fat, sweaty arms
and screaming
screaming for rent
because the world had failed us

- C. Bukowski

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