Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Song for My Father
2007-09-08 07:42
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

"I'll never forget this day, Sept. 7, 2007," said Harlan Chamberlain. "I can't put my thoughts into words."

Maybe the reason I don't love baseball movies is because I've never fallen for male weepies like Field of Dreams or Bang the Drum Slowly. It's not that I don't get mushy in certain movies, it's just that baseball movies don't do it for me. My father, on the other hand, loved them and I could see myself, if not loving them myself as I get older, then at least appreciating what my old man saw in them and enjoying that.

My dad, who died earlier this year, was a great blubberer. Episdoes of Law and Order could get him going. He was just a natural crier, and it was easily one of his most endearing qualities. You gotta love a softy, especially old hard guys like my dad.

I couldn't help but think of the old man last night as Harlan Chamberlain watched his son Joba pitch in the big leagues for the first time. "I think he's more excited than I am," Joba said before the game. "I think he's more excited than I've ever been in my entire life."

Harlan bares a passing resemblance to my father--in the thickness of his face, in his glasses, mustache, and the couple of pens tucked into the breast pocket of his black dress shirt. My dad was a real Yankee-hater but he would have been touched by the scene captured by the YES cameras.

When Joba entered a 3-2 game in the bottom of the seventh, Harlan sat in his motorized wheelchair surrounded by family and friends. Harlan's mouth turned downward and tears began to run down the side of his face. Then his chin and bottom lip began to tremble. He couldn't stop it and it didn't look as if he wanted to. Various relatives reached in to rub his shoulder. A young girl threw her arms around his thick neck his face completely moist now.

The long fly ball that ended the seventh put a scare into everyone, and Harlan's reaction was priceless: His eyes bugged out as the rest of his face froze--no breathing. When the catch was made, Halan's mouth, still turned downward, opened and he let out a yell, as he pumped his fist. Everyone around him patted him and cheered as Harlan shook his head with relief. Finally, he rolled his eyes and sighed as if to say..."Whew." Really nice moment.

Joba pitched two scoreless innings. He wasn't great but he didn't give up a run. Then Mariano Rivera dominated the Royals in the ninth giving the Yankees a clutch, 3-2 win. Actually, it was a lucky win as much as anything else because the Yankees went 0-367 with runners on base. Check it out, it was ugly. But you can't argue about aesthetics or luck when you are in a pennant race:

"We went to the bank a lot to win that game," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We had so many guys on base. We used Farns, used Joba, used Mo. We spent a lot to get that win. It was an enormous win for us."
(Hartford Courant)

True. A couple of guys who can't play much better are Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, the two best everyday players on the team. Rodriguez drilled a solo homer in his first at-bat, his 49th of the year. Posada followed with a solo blast of his own two batters later. On the Rodriguez dinger, I thought there would be too much top-spin on the ball and that it would hit off the left field wall for a double. But it hit the top of the wall and skipped over for a homer. Rodriguez now has the record for dingers by a third baseman in a season (or he's at least tied the mark if you want to include Harmon Killebrew's 1969 season). He also had two singles. Bobby Abreu doubled home the winning run. The Yanks are three games ahead of the Tigers in the wildcard standings, four up on the Mariners.

Our pal Pete Abe says Harlan Chamberlain "is a piece of work":

He said he was prepared for Billy Butler's ball to go over the wall because he knows Joba is going to give up a run eventually. "Matter of time," he said.

After we got done speaking to him, Joe Torre came out of the clubhouse. Seeing Joba's dad, he walked over.

"How did my boy do for you, Joe?" the proud father asked as he shook the manager's hand.

"Pretty damn good," Torre said. "We're going to keep him."

Harlan is scheduled to travel to Yankee Stadium for the first time in his life in two weeks.

2007-09-08 08:51:19
1.   yankz
Great write up, Alex.

For more on Jorgie, everyone head over to nomaas quick.

2007-09-08 09:00:39
2.   BatgirlReneeNYC
I don't post frequently but I just had to commend Alex on a wonderful piece of writing.
I too, had a tear in my eye as the YES cameras focused on Harlan watching his son pitch, it was a beautiful moment indeed, not to mention a much needed Yankee win! Great night all around.
2007-09-08 09:01:39
3.   Zack
I still don't understand how only Cabrera got ejected in the Sox-O's game. Had that been the Yankees, the entire team would have been suspended for 4 games just on principle.

And then classy Dusty checks in:
"The guy is an idiot," Pedroia said regarding Cabrera. "I dropped my bat. It kind of freaked me out. I was upset they took him out of the game. He is good to hit. He's 9-15. The guy [stinks]."

Hey, Dusty, I know you feel entitled to do whatever you want in this league b/c you "play the game the right way" and all (as evidenced by calling out A-Rod earlier) but maybe you'll want to wait another year before calling people out so much and declaring who is good and who isn't? Just a thought. And the Sox wonder why people throw at them, even if it is 1/2 the time that they throw at people.

2007-09-08 09:11:06
4.   Zack
I had to miss most of the game and thus Joba's pitching, but the write ups seem to be doing it justice. Nice work Alex. Good to see Joba get two innings in in front of his home crowd...

1 If Jorge can put up one more good season, I think he'll get the hall call. He's been consistently equal to or better than any other catcher in the league on offense, but has never gotten the love because 1) he has played on offensive powerhouses and 2) isn't the top defensive catcher in the league. 1) has never hurt Varitek from being MASSIVELY overrated (he is, after all, basically a league average hitter, but he "calls a good game.") Jorge doesn't get credit for catching a good game because its always those "veteran" pitchers, but gets blamed for the bad things that happen.

2007-09-08 09:18:43
5.   yankz
3 Wow. What a tool. I hope Cabrera K's him every time they face each other. Beckett, Pedroia, and Schilling- what great guys they have over there.
2007-09-08 09:18:54
6.   e double trouble
Thanks Albert
You're the greatest
Go Yanks
2007-09-08 09:22:51
7.   Zack
6 Who's Albert?
2007-09-08 09:26:17
8.   Dark Knight
alex, really nice write-up. well done.
2007-09-08 09:52:20
9.   e double trouble
Hey Zack

Albert is Brooklyn-slang for Alex.

Back to the Bronx.

2007-09-08 09:58:15
10.   Mattpat11
Why wouldn't we count Killebrew's year?
2007-09-08 10:05:59
11.   rsmith51
10 He had 17 hrs as a 1b. 32 as a 3b.

ARod has 2 as a DH ad 47 as a 3b.

2007-09-08 10:08:54
12.   rsmith51
11 FWIW, Schmidt had 48 as a 3b in 1980, so actually Alex needs 1 more HR to tie.
2007-09-08 10:14:35
13.   fansince77
For what it is worth - that was as dominantly perfect as I have seen Mariano look in a while. Striking out Grudzelinakdjfjjfsfklsf the way he did was awesome. He literally didn't miss a spot.
2007-09-08 10:18:00
14.   rsmith51
13 Considering that the ball he threw before the final strike was better than strike 3 to Cano when the bases were loaded.
2007-09-08 10:20:14
15.   Mattpat11
12 Beltre's were all as a 3B as well.
2007-09-08 10:48:26
16.   Zack
9 Gotcha. Further proof of the pure obsession with velocity. Pete Abe writes:
"To see Harlan Chamberlain crying as he watched his son pitch, then to see Joba hitting 101 mph on the mound … well, as a writer it doesn't get much better."

I am actually starting to get sick of all of the "Joba throws 100mph" stuff. I dig the back story and all, but every time Joba throws a pitch we have to hear about how hard it was. I think it actually takes away from how good a pitcher Joba is. As Farns proves, just throwing 100 mph doesn't cut it, Joba's control and slider are more impressive by far to me than his velocity...

Also, anyone else having problems with google today?

2007-09-08 11:04:08
17.   Chyll Will
16 Harlan's gonna be a rock star when he hits the Stadium. We gotta keep an eye on Joba, he might try to burn it straight through Jorge's mitt with the added adrenaline from pitching at the joint in front of Dad.

Great write-up, Alex, you definitely have a knack for touching on the human element. The looks at Harlan were special. I hope I can get my uncle down to the stadium at some point; the last time he'd been there was well before I was born. He contracted polio when he was a kid, so getting around is definitely a mission, but when you stop and think about it, it's amazing what people can overcome to when they have to.

2007-09-08 11:07:32
18.   yankz
16 Working fine for me.
2007-09-08 11:25:17
19.   Sarasota
Dustbin Pedroia annoys me.
2007-09-08 11:33:46
20.   thelarmis
alex - not only is it a great write-up (per usual), but a perfect title! "Song For My Father," is one of the most important and famous Bossa Nova's in American Latin-Jazz. not only do i perform it pretty regularly, but i teach it to my high school and some middle school students, when learning Bossa's on the drums.

from "Horace" to "Harlan," is also a nice touch. Horace Silver is one of the greatest American composers ever, period. Besides the album of the same title, "The Cape Verdean Blues" on Blue Note Records is the bomb!

sure would be nice to take today and tomorrow from KC whilst the M's do the same from the tiggers. that would give us a 4 & 5 game lead in the WC... hopefully there's some karmic realignment set up for the tools up in beantown. an early, ugly, embarrassing exit from October would be welcomed! : )

2007-09-08 11:54:07
21.   SF Yanks
19 He really gets to me for some reason, even before those comments. I wonder if it's just because he's on the Red Sox. I also can't stand Coco Crisp with his stupid hand wiggle and his "I can't quite get my chin far enough over my shoulder" routine. I hate Becket more than anyone else on the the team. Not of fan of CabbagePatch. Really, really dislike Pukeilis. Schilling...Ughh...Nancy Drew...need I go on? I guess it's the whole mentality that's just clouding my mind. Maybe it's only me who dislike so many RedSox.

On the other hand, I respect Ortiz as he doesn't quite bother me. Lester, Bucholz (spelling?), Lowell (sorta). Their announcers are great, and I even like their manager so it's not everyone affiliated with the Sox... just.... most of them I guess.

Sorry for the Sox rant, but I'm in the process of figuring out my dislike for so many of them.

2007-09-08 12:19:34
22.   yankz
ric, that's your cue.
2007-09-08 12:21:37
23.   yankz
I don't mind Francona at all. I feel bad for him for having to deal with that ridiculous front office ("Francoma"), though I guess Joe probably goes through some of the same stuff.
2007-09-08 12:28:10
24.   Sarasota
21 Becket is incredibly smug...... anticipating his imminent meltdown....hopefully on national TV in the first round of the playoffs....

Dustbin (and Crisp) hot dog every chance they get. Why does Dustbin role on every play through the middle??...

2007-09-08 12:34:02
25.   Chyll Will
21 Ortiz (and the others on that list) are not annoying because they do their jobs (well, I might add) and don't need to make an effort to identify themselves. The only thing to expect from them is that they play ball as hard as they can, which as a baseball fan I respect.

Now, I'm willing to bet someone will come along to dig out a negative context and in turn respond negatively to that, but that will only prove your own point even more >;)

2007-09-08 12:43:39
26.   Mattpat11
I like Tom Wakefield
2007-09-08 12:43:45
27.   Mattpat11
2007-09-08 12:50:53
28.   mehmattski
26 Yeah, Julian Tavarez is pretty cool.
2007-09-08 13:03:58
29.   SF Yanks
28 Oh good lord, you can add him to my "despise" list. I wonder if (and I'm sure) there are Sox fans who despise so many Yankees. How can you hate guys like Jete, ARod (who works harder than anyone else, from what I hear), Mo, Posada, Cano, Hughes, and on and on. I guess I could understand Clemens, Frans, Pavano, but really the list seems short. I'm jaded I tell ya.
2007-09-08 13:25:46
30.   rsmith51
29 I am a Yankee fan and don't like Rocket. I don't mind any of the other Yankees except for Doug Out.
2007-09-08 13:30:02
31.   rbj
4 And Jorge doesn't need a "C" on his uniform to remind him what position he plays.
2007-09-08 13:30:15
32.   Will Weiss
Alex, great stuff. For a young guy like Joba to pitch near his hometown and have his dad see him play is definitely something special. Reading the Al Stump Cobb bio and seeing how the death of Cobb's father played such a pivotal role in the way Ty played the game (there's plenty of evidence to show that he was an SOB all his life, despite his dad's murder), an event like what occurred last night in K.C. is all part of why we love the game of baseball, and why it's been mythologized so much. I thought it was awesome.
2007-09-08 13:58:32
33.   Mattpat11
30 I don't like Clemens. He's the best pitcher of all time and I like having him pitch on the team.

But Roger has problems telling the truth, to put it mildly.

2007-09-08 14:11:41
34.   yankz
26 I like Brandon Arroyo
2007-09-08 14:28:53
35.   rufuswashere
I got on a plane when it was 2-2, and frankly the Yankees were lucky not to be down 5-2 at the time. I was shocked to get off the flight and see they were ahead 3-2 with Rivera pitching for the save. Kennedy seemed AWFUL the first two innings. What happened?
2007-09-08 14:32:25
36.   OldYanksFan
FYI from SI:
Former World Series MVP and four-time All-Star Troy Glaus, currently a third baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, received multiple shipments of performance-enhancing steroids through an allegedly illegal internet distribution network, according to information obtained by SI.

A source in Florida with knowledge of the client list of Signature Pharmacy, an Orlando-based compound pharmacy, alleges that between September 2003 and May 2004, multiple shipments of nandrolone and testosterone were sent to Glaus at a Corona, Calif., address that traces to the player. Though the information only pertains to receipt and not actual use of steroids, both nandrolone and testosterone were on Major League Baseball's banned list at the time.

2007-09-08 14:35:31
37.   thelarmis
34 ha, i always refer to him as "brandon"!

man, i dislike most of the shit sox. i'm surprised there hasn't been more dislike thrown vagitek's way. i'm not a big ortiz fan though, either. he might be engaging, but something about him irks me. i really hate the spitting and slapping of his hands and his violent swing is as ugly as his Florida Evans mug. i didn't care for his whining about Jeter and the MVP race last season.

pedroia, pukeilis, fuckett, scurt, coco chanel, etc. are all easy to not like, as stated above. no mass had an interesting piece about bucholz stealing 29 laptops from his high school and selling them not too very long ago. quite classy!

i kinda like tito and wake. manny doesn't bother me as much as he should. i guess Lowell is a good guy all the way around, but he rubs me in a garrett anderson way, and that's not a good thing. i'm not a paplebon fan, either.

i have an awful lot of strong detestation toward the enitre Boston organization, but when it comes down to it - all i want is for the Yankees to win!!! thazzit. i'm not really looking forward to next weekends' series and in the end, i really don't care what goes on w/ the bosux as long as the Yanks win. period, end of.

2007-09-08 14:38:14
38.   OldYanksFan
He must be traded!
If Alex hits 50 homers this year, he'll become the first right-handed batter in A.L. history to have three 50+ homer seasons. Considering the unique nature of that mark, it's nice that A-Rod is sharing it with so many different pitchers this season.

Who did it in the NL? Anyone know?

2007-09-08 14:39:17
39.   Sliced Bread
Nice write up, Alex. That was a sweet moment watching Harlan last night. Brought a big smile to my mug.

I thought about my pops, trying to track his knuckle curve as a kid. He had a nasty floater. Southpaw, too.

I don't have any junk for my own kids. But I can still zip one in there. I love the lack of conversation playing catch with my boys, or my old friends when we have the chance. Just the ball making impact in the glove, and the occasional spontaneous smile. No need for words.

2007-09-08 14:39:39
40.   yankz
Now that Sheff's gone, which Yankee would be fucking stupid enough to say what Pedroia did? Farns maybe, but beyond that, I'm drawing blanks.
2007-09-08 15:03:27
41.   thelarmis
38 sosa has had 4 seasons with 50+, big mac had 5 seasons of at least of 50+.
2007-09-08 15:06:54
42.   thelarmis
41 one of big mac's seasons, was split between the AL/NL...
2007-09-08 15:10:28
43.   thelarmis
38 my bad. so big mac reached 50+ four times, with 2.5 seasons in the NL. so, i guess Sammy Sosa would be the only right-handed hitter in the NL to reach 50+ at least 3 times...

(of course, with my track record, i could be wrong!)

2007-09-08 15:10:56
44.   SF Yanks
Isn't it kind of whack that those 2 homers ARod hit as a DH don't count toward his all-time record as a 3rd baseman? He plays 3rd base fer cryin out loud. I can understand if he sat half the season at DH or something. The rule should be if roughly 95% of your games are at one position, then statistics should count towards that position. Just seems weird to me.
2007-09-08 20:30:37
45.   pkay225
20 Can't mention Horace Silver w/o bringing up Steely Dan's appropriation of the opening of Song For My Father for Rikki Don't Lose That Number.

Glad you're passing this on to HS kids. Roy Brooks was quite the drummer...

2007-09-08 20:49:38
46.   Andre
It's easier to name the Sux that I actually like (or at least don't mind) -- Tim Wakefield. That's it. Maybe Mike Lowell too.

I hate everyone else on that team. Period.

Ortiz would be fine if he didn't do the pimpin drop the bat move when he hits a home run. ARod is one of the best players of all time and he doesn't do that shit. Act like ya been there before, ya know?

It's even more unbearable dealing with the Sux since I live in MA. All of my coworkers drone on and on about the "dirt dog" mentality. . .I love how they used to crow about how much better Nomar was than Jeter. Until the Sux dumped his ass & got RentaWreck instead. Then Nomar was the worst SS ever, a juicer, a miserable person, etc. It's too funny.

I do like Jerry Remy & Don Orsillo on NESN if that counts for anything.

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