Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
The Start of the Ending
2008-03-31 05:56
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

This is the sixth Opening Day for Bronx Banter. Since 2003, I've often wondered what life would be for the Yankees without Joe Torre, and, more significantly, what'd be like without George Steinbrenner. In way, we are entering the new season, the last for the House that Ruth Built (and the good people of NYC rennovated in the mid-seventies), without either man. Torre has moved to the west coast to lead the L.A. Dodgers, and the Boss has been quietly removed from the public eye, replaced by his two sons, Hank and Hal. This is the end of an era in some regards, and all spring I've felt sad about the pending loss of Yankee Stadium, and the demise of the Boss (man, I never thought I'd say that). There is something really off about Opening Day in the Bronx when Bob Sheppard isn't in the house.

Of course, there is plenty to be excited about with the team--from Joe Girardi and his staff, to the young pitchers, to the returning stars like Rodriguez, Jeter, Posada and Rivera. Still, I've found myself avoiding reading too closely about the team over the past few weeks. Cliff has done a wonderful job of charting the progress of the team during spring training, and there is no lack of material available (with Pete Abe leading the way). There is so much to read, in fact, that I've almost shut-down in an effort to start fresh today. I want my impressions to be clear and sharp. In order to do that, I found it helpful to step away, ever-so slightly.

I'm also hesitant because on some level, I don't always like the person I become during baseball season: Neurotic. I get so wrapped up in the winning and losing of games that I have no control over that it impacts my sleep, my well-being, my relationship with my wife, you name it. I've enjoyed the winter break from the emotional rollercoaster. Who knows? Maybe I'm maturing...I know I'm far less knuts than I used to be (and maybe this is just wishful thinking). But I also know that the Yankees are the only team that stirs me up like I'm a kid. When I checked on-line last week and saw that the Red Sox had won their first game, I felt a twinge in my gut. Oh, man, here we go again. Then again, that is part of the reason why I love following the Yanks, because, rational or not, the games mean something to me.

Give me a couple of pitches today and I'll be hooked--watching how much Jeter enjoys himself, or seeing Robinson Cano stroking a line drive into the left-centerfield gap, or Johnny Damon poppin' one into the upper deck in right, or just admiring Rodriguez's seemingly effortless swing. These and many other small moments, give me so much pleasure over the course of the long season, that they overwhelm my petty insecurities as a fan obsessed with the results. The play on the field, the injuries, the hard work, all make coming back worthwhile.

Cliff and I will be holding down daily coverage this year, with weekly additions from Bruce, Emma and Will. Hope y'all will fall through and enjoy it with us. (For starters, check out Roger Angell's latest at the New Yorker.)

Let's Go Yan-Kees!

2008-03-31 06:13:31
1.   Sliced Bread
Great perspective from Angell. Rocket looks like a cross between Nixon and Nicholson ("You can't handle the truth!") in that sketch.

Bring on baseball! Bring on the Banter!

Thanks again to Alex and Cliff for making this one of the baseball places this side of Yankee Stadium.

2008-03-31 06:29:50
2.   Yankee Fan In Boston
here's a little something to get people in the mood (as if they need any help):

play ball!

2008-03-31 06:30:56
3.   pistolpete
>> I don't always like the person I become during baseball season: Neurotic. >>

Sums it up perfectly. Add "angry", "defensive" and "inconsolable" to my own personal range of emotions.

My wife calls herself a "baseball widow", but she's the first one to turn on the game at night.

2008-03-31 06:42:09
4.   Alex Belth
Yeah, I figured "neurotic" is a kind way to say "incorrigible, sulking a-hole." LOL.
2008-03-31 06:48:06
5.   Sliced Bread
2 Gets me everytime.

0 3 No question I'm the same way. I take Yanks wins and losses waaay too personally, especially losses. Since I became a husband, and a father, I try to keep my lack of perspective (skewed vision due to my baseball goggles) in check, but it's not easy, and I inevitably get caught up in the peaks and valleys of the season.

I talk a good game with my sons: hypocritically reminding them that winning isn't the only thing that matters, that Red Sox fans aren't necessarily bad people just because they root for the enemy and wish us, as Yankee fans, a lifetime of misery.

My wife keeps me in check, too. She lets me watch and listen to the games, but lets me know if I become neglectful of her, and our family.

Our kids are young, and go to bed early, so my Yankee habit doesn't interefere too much during the week. I remain attentive until we put them down around 8pm, and sometimes I let them stay up with me for the first couple innings.

On weekends, especially day games, I stick to the radio, and try not to plan activities around the game, but secretly I do.

It's a "condition" I live with, and try to manage. I'm sure at least one of my boys will be afflicted with it someday. Passed father to son.

2008-03-31 06:56:33
6.   Just fair
I have enjoyed going to bed the last 6 months without muttering to myself over a bad loss, but that's no fun.
Being a neurotic, inconsolable a-hole is a perfectly healthy way to go through life. Right? Right? Play ball. How's the weather looking in NYC this morn?
2008-03-31 07:02:31
7.   Alex Belth
gray and overcast. 30% chance of rain.
2008-03-31 07:15:35
8.   Matt J
My father is a life-long Tigers fan, but a guy who really appreciates the classics. I talked to him last night about the opening of the season, and after a few noncommittal noises (my father being some sort of laconic zen master) he simply laughed and said "gets yer blood up, doesn't it."

Oh yes.

2008-03-31 07:25:41
9.   Dimelo
0 Wow...can't believe it's baseball season again. Decided to "work" from home today.

Let's go Yanks!!!!!!

Yanks in '08!!!

2008-03-31 07:28:55
10.   bp1
5 Word. You described my baseball life at home almost perfectly.

My wife once packed a portable radio for our annual family vacation to the shore.

"What's that for?", I ask, wondering if she plans on packing some cassettes (it's an old radio w/ tape player) along.

"In case you want to listen to a ballgame at the beach."

She's too good to me, but is not afraid to give me the evil eye when things get out of hand. The kids - girls - are tolerant during baseball season but would clearly rather watch some kid show. The oldest does have a Bernie, Jeter, Pettitte poster on her wall, though. :-)

Man, how excited am I? OPENING DAY!!!!!!!!!

2008-03-31 07:30:12
11.   Knuckles
Great post. I definitely eased up on the Banter over the winter, and also thought I was maturing a little bit. This feeling kept on even through Spring Training, but I see it now for what it really was, exhaustion from last year followed by an instinctive knowledge that come March 31, I will be right back into all-Yankees, all-the-time mode.

I watched the Nats game last night and am fired up about the new ballpark we have down here, as well as their corner IF (my boy Nick J, and Zimmerman.) I'm fired up about going to my last couple games at the Stadium, visiting Wrigley, and Philly. Having hooked my Slingbox up to my phone(!) it will now be possible to tune in any time any place. (Real mature!) I'm fired up about the young hurlers, about Robbie making the leap, and Mo closing out the old ballpark in the Bronx with a save and a fist pump, some night in late October.

1,000 runs, 100 wins.

2008-03-31 07:32:28
12.   Max
I've tried to step away from the madness and calm down a little more the last couple of seasons -- stay away from other Yankee forums, limit my following of the games in the early part of the regular season to checking the boxscores and wire reports. Avoid Lupica and Sherman and the like.

The cottage industry that has exploded around Yankee hate, and the day to day histrionics around the latest bad managerial move or pitching meltdown has been especially wearying lately. Not to mention living in enemy territory, at a time when fans of a rival have become gratingly trendy and especially insufferable -- plus their team has won more recently.

But the reality is that the Banter is my refuge, and even at work, I'll pull out my phone and check the Banter and the game threads along with the score -- it's my way of living the drama, day after day, even when I'm not able to watch games.

Alex's eloquence and Cliff's exhaustive previews and reviews (not to mention the very fine contributions of all the other writers and posters) are especially refreshing and essential from April to October, nurturing the Yankee fan in me that will never go away, no matter how much hate or Red Sox bandwagoning engulfs me.

I suspect it won't be long before I'm breaking down and tracking MLB Gamecast regularly on one of my monitors, while insisting to my family that I'm "working" in the late evenings (even though they stopped being fooled a long time ago).

2008-03-31 07:32:42
13.   horace-clarke-era
Enjoyed Alex's confessional and the echoes here. This could even be a self-help group, except we are aiding and abetting each other, not alleviating symptoms!

Of course the season alters all of us to a degree, we wouldn't be here otherwise, right? I'm interested in the intensity issue, and we touched on it with a discussion a little while ago about how fans 'hate' the Bosox more than the players do.

Especially in zpring, even though a win or loss in April matters as much as one in September, it feels right to remember (as Alex said) that Jeter enjoying the game and showing it might be a signpost for us to ... enjoy the game? Or try? (Remind me of this, please, when I go ballistic over some baserunning error that loses a game. I almost did over Emil Brown last week!)

The best book title I know, in some ways, is Thomas Boswell's, 'Why Time Begins on Opening Day'. It DOES begin on opening day, try explaining it to a non-fan.

2008-03-31 07:37:09
14.   Alex Belth
Why do you think I am addicted to blogging in the first place? For me, it's the best therapy money can buy.
2008-03-31 07:37:24
15.   horace-clarke-era
By the way, The all-time great, the immortal, the legendary Horace Clarke actually has a walk-on role in a kids' book called "The Wednesday Wars"! (My son just read it.) He shows to appropriately good effect, though I have to say The Mick does not.

Anyone know where the Horse is now? Just askin'...

2008-03-31 07:42:03
16.   pistolpete
14 And we thank you for providing the big couch known as Bronx Banter for us all to vent. ;-)
2008-03-31 07:47:46
17.   e double trouble
This will be the second season that I'm beginning the season with the thought that I'm not going to get sucked in to baseball again, even though Bronx Banter is my start-up page.

Baseball clouds my vision of the world around me and I don't mean my wife. I mean, the world especially our country and our atrocities, injustices and inhumanity.

How can I get excited again over a ninth inning home run? Is it my innate hope?

Maybe the Yanks show me time and again that no matter how bad it looks there can always be a rally that wins the game.

Let's go America. Maybe this is the year we fight back for peace and justice.

Thanks for being there Bronx Banter.

2008-03-31 07:59:17
18.   Ben
E Dubs,

I once left baseball for about five years. I got sucked into real things, politics, education, love-life. Then when I least suspected it, and most needed it, I watched the Knicks lose in the playoffs, switched the channel with my childhood playmate, AB himself, there on the couch and watch Doc Good pitch a no-hitter for the Yanks.

Baseball magic springs eternal, whether you want it or not.

2008-03-31 08:08:09
19.   tommyl
I get sucked in, and I don't see anything wrong with it. I love spending weekday evenings with the game on, maybe strumming my guitar in the early innings, sipping a beer. With DVR it doesn't keep me from doing much since I can always go out with friends and watch it later, I suppose I'll have to cut down on my American Idol viewing though ;).
2008-03-31 08:20:12
20.   Schteeve
I uh, hi there, I uh, My name is Schteeve, and I'm a yankeeholic.

sits down and looks around apologetically

2008-03-31 08:22:28
21.   Knuckles
"Hi, Schteeve."
2008-03-31 08:22:42
22.   Matt J

Coffee and donuts on the table by the door.

I just realized my new work machine doesn't have MLB Gameday or whatever it is bookmarked. Oh boy, have I been lax.

2008-03-31 08:26:37
23.   tommyl
22 Hey, my Unix box can't run gameday at work. Think how traumatized I am.

Schteeve, please wait till after the session to eat the refreshments.

2008-03-31 08:39:48
24.   Alex Belth
Not for nothing but is anyone else finding it just a little bit hard to believe that 1998 was ten freakin years ago? Dag.
2008-03-31 08:45:46
25.   Alex Belth
It's raining in NYC right now, shortly before noon. Yanks start the season against the Jays and home? Yeah, that makes tons of sense. Man, is scheduling that hard?
2008-03-31 08:50:58
26.   Max
24 I was moving a bunch of CDs from my basement upstairs to put into iTunes, now that I'm finally digitizing all my music. I was thinking of you Alex, as I was classifying Steinski and some other old school hip hop joints, then I realized this stuff was released 25 freaking years ago.

Even the late 80s/early 90s music is 18 to 20 years, am I old. Nineties feels like yesterday.

2008-03-31 08:51:52
27.   SF Yanks
I don't think it gets any worse then a rain delay right now. Too may people out of their minds waiting for this game to start, including myself.
2008-03-31 08:55:57
28.   monkeypants
Curses! I am still debating whether to get this season (I was really, really disappointed with the performance quality last year, and my service provider has just added a monthly download limit). Anyway, I HAD to go to meetings today, so no watching the game from home. Thus, I decided to get only to remember that (living in Canada) I am in the blackout zone for today's game.

No matter how you slice it, not watching the game for me. Looks like the radio in the office...

2008-03-31 08:56:11
29.   Yankee Fan In Boston
i hope it clears up though. i am still hoping for reggie's first pitch to be interrupted by bob shepherd parachuting into the stadium.
2008-03-31 09:03:11
30.   Matt J
23 That stinks. I know I can at least do ESPN's Gamecast thing on my RHEL workstation.
2008-03-31 09:07:30
31.   Alex Belth
...they'll get the game in...
2008-03-31 09:14:58
32.   Max
30 Isn't the ESPN Gamecast pretty dreadful, though? I remember trying to use it a couple of times last season, and it always lagged the game action, and would just freeze for a half inning at a time. They did have these trippy animations for pop flies, though, like an old Nintendo 8 bit game.
2008-03-31 09:27:38
33.   SF Yanks
Games delayed, but no time until when though.
2008-03-31 09:42:21
34.   weeping for brunnhilde
Happy opening day, Team!!

At long last!!!!

2008-03-31 09:51:12
35.   Matt J
32 Really, that was half the fun for me. Auditory hallucinations of the sound effects from RBI Baseball.

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