Next week (the Baseball Winter Meetings) is my favorite
time of the off-season. Like the trading
deadline in July, each day of the meetings bring anticipation and the hope that
your team can improve themselves in some way.
For this year’s Yankees, it will hopefully bring pitcher Cliff Lee to
the Bronx and perhaps bring an end to the impasse between the team and star
shortstop Derek Jeter.
Today was an interesting day with reports that the Texas
Rangers had approached free agent pitcher Andy Pettitte. Subsequently, the Rangers were denying those
reports. However, I wonder if the “rumor”
had been strategically placed in the media by the Rangers or an alliance to
tweak the Yankees. Pettitte is already
on record saying that if he plays, it will be with the Yankees or no one. If his only attraction was to play in Texas
to be closer to home, then maybe I could be convinced that the Rangers rumor
has legs. However, at this stage of Andy’s
career, it is simply whether or not he wants to stay home with his family with
no baseball distractions or play one more year with the Yankees to build upon
his legacy. The three years in Houston
already cost him the status of the greatest lefthander in Yankees history. At this point, he is playing for the way he
wants to be remembered (if he decides to play).
There was also a report that the San Francisco Giants, on
a day that saw shortstop Juan Uribe sign with the division rival Los Angeles
Dodgers, had reached out to the agent of Derek Jeter. Financially-speaking, there is no way the
Giants can compete with the Yankees offer.
Yes, they have the money, thanks to the World Series championship, but
it would be foolish on their part to invest that kind of money in an aging
shortstop when the money could be better spent in other areas to improve the
team in its 2011 title defense.
For as loud as the Jeter negotiations have been, there
has hardly been a peep about the Yankees negotiation with closer Mariano
Rivera. Tonight, the Toronto Sun is
reporting the parties are close to an agreement that will pay Mo $17 million
next year. There is still a question
about whether it will be for one or two years.
Every time I hear those kind of dollars, it always makes me remember
when George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a
year. I think that was the year Ron
Guidry had to settle for $900,000.
One Yankees is gone.
The Florida Marlins signed former Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez. I saw one headline that said the Marlins
stole Vazquez from the Yankees, but of course, the team made no effort to
re-sign Javy after the very disappointing 2010 campaign. Early last season, one writer called Javy a
National League pitcher and I have to agree.
I wanted him to succeed in New York, but I am just not convinced that
would ever happen. It’s too bad. I like Javy and I wish him the best in the
National League East. He certainly knows
the division from his days with the Atlanta Braves. The competition is steep but you have to like
the Marlins starting rotation. I am not
going to anoint them as the next World Series champion and they still have to successfully
replace the production of former second baseman Dan Uggla, but the Giants
proved that as long as you have pitching, nothing else really matters. I say that in jest but there is a certain
degree of truth assuming that you have the players capable of scoring runs and
playing defense. The Yankees pick up a
supplementary draft pick due the free agent loss since they offered Vazquez
arbitration (which he had agreed to decline).
I liked the Texas Rangers signing of catcher Yorvit
Torrealba. The Yankees will be in the
market for a strong backup catcher in light of the decision to permanently move
Jorge Posada to DH and make minor leaguer Jesus Montero the starter. At some point, Austin Romine will be in the
Bronx and perhaps the starting catcher, but I don’t think the Yanks can afford
to go into the season with both Romine and Montero on the roster. I like Francisco Cervelli but I don’t think
he’s the answer either. The Yankees need
to find a solid, veteran backup for Montero.
John Buck, who has since signed with the Marlins, and Torrealba are
certainly guys who could have fit the bill.
Now, the team will need to look at guys like Bengie Molina if they
decide to go externally for a backup.
Congratulations to all the former Yankees on the Hall of
Fame ballot. Of course, I’ll always pull
for my favorite living former Yankee, Don Mattingly, but I agree that his back
problems robbed him of the additional years he really needed for
induction. The other former Yanks
include Tino Martinez, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Fred McGriff (why did we trade
him again?), Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Tim Raines, and Lee Smith. Of the group, Martinez was really the only
one who defined himself in pinstripes but I don’t see him making the Hall of
Fame. Sorry Tino, but I can assure you
that I was a huge fan every game you played for the Yankees.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
I was very saddened today to hear the news of the passing
of former Yankees infielder Gil McDougald.
Growing up as a kid, I’d read about the great Yankees of the 1950′s
dynasty and they always included mention of McDougald. He only played for 10 years but they were
perhaps the greatest 10 years of Yankees history as he teamed with Mickey
Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin to dominate the 50′s with 5
World Series championships. I remember
thinking as a kid how cool his name was.
I wish I could have seen those 50′s teams playing for Casey
Stengel. It would have been a great time
to be a Yankees fan.
Take this job and shove it…
Hopefully, negotiations between Derek Jeter and the New
York Yankees don’t take that turn. I am
a little amazed that the difficulties of the negotiation have become so
public. Hal Steinbrenner, unlike his
brother or his late father, is a quiet, private individual and it is tough to
get a read on his thoughts, generally speaking.
However, he set the stage with the Jeter negotiations stating upfront
that they could get messy.
I do feel that the Yankees have made a very fair offer to
Jeter (3 years at $45 million). $15
million per year for an aging shortstop coming off his worst season is very
generous. I realize what DJ means to the
Yankees organization. He is perhaps the
first true homegrown legend since Mickey Mantle. No disrespect to Don Mattingly, my personal
all-time favorite living Yankee, but Jeter has come to represent everything
that is good about the Yankees and baseball.
He’s won five World Series and he has basically been the “face” of the
franchise for over a decade. He has
never been associated with steroids and any scandals and he has produced year
in and year out. There was a time when
the top three shortstops in the game were DJ, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar
Garciaparra. Alex is no longer a
shortstop and Nomar is out of baseball, yet DJ is still producing. Granted, DJ is the reason that Alex is no
longer at short but his image has certainly be tarnished in recent years. It is my belief that the Yankees offer is
above market and recognizes DJ’s contributions and marketability to the
The latest comment by GM Brian Cashman that DJ should
test the market was outraged some but personally I have no problem with
it. I do not feel that any team is going
to be willing to pay DJ $15 million per year at this stage of his career. There is speculation that some team (the
Giants?) could sweep in with a one year, $18 million deal, but I really don’t
see that happening.
The sooner that the Yankees and DJ can come to the
inevitable agreement, the better both parties will be. My first reaction to hearing the negative
public comments was what impact would they have on the Cliff Lee
negotiations. But then again, if Cliff
gets 6 years from the Yankees, he’s probably done at the end so he likely won’t
face a re-negotiation with the team if he signs with them. Still, the Yankees need to accelerate the
speed of the negotiations and get this resolved.
Of course, they need to pay equal attention (if not more)
to closer Mariano Rivera. When I heard
that he wanted 2 years at $18 million per year, my reaction was ‘take it and pay him!’. Mo IS the reason the Yankees have enjoyed so
much post-season success over the past 15 years.
The latest rumors have Andy Pettitte leaning toward
returning in 2011. Seriously, that’s
what I have expected. I think he’ll
return for one more year and then hang up the glove for good. Players want to go out on their terms and I
feel that Andy needs stronger closure than the injury shortened 2010
season. His three years in Houston
robbed him of the legacy of being the greatest lefthander in Yankee history,
but he is still in the same room. A
rotation headed by CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee and ended with Andy Pettitte would
definitely make the Yanks one of the early favorites heading into 2011.
I saw that the Yankees had signed reliever Neal Cotts. I was pleasantly surprised to see the
acquisition. Although he was most
recently with the Chicago Cubs, it wasn’t that long ago that he was a key part
of the Chicago White Sox championship bullpen.
He underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2009 and should be ready for
spring training. He will only be 31 when
the season starts and he is certainly a great left-handed option with Boone
Logan. I really hope that he is able to
make a successful return from surgery and breaks camp with the Yanks. He is one of the players I admired as an
opposing player so it is certainly great to see him in pinstripes.
It was strange to see Willie Randolph named as the new
bench coach for the Baltimore Orioles.
Granted, we saw him leave the Yankees to join the Mets as their
manager. But now he is with an AL East
rival and that seems weirder than being with the cross-town Mets. I am not a Buck Showalter fan so I don’t have
the same feeling about Buck managing in the division but Willie has always been
one of the good guys. I also saw that
former Yankees pitching coach Mark Connor, who frequently drew the ire of
George Steinbrenner, is the new Orioles pitching coach. I wish Willie the best of luck and hope that
it propels him to another managing opportunity.
Simmons/NY Daily News
Finally, I am glad that Joe Girardi is the Yankees
manager. However, last season, I had
openly pulled for Don Mattingly if Girardi left to take the Chicago Cubs
job. It never came close to becoming a
reality since the Cubs decided to stay with interim manager Mike Quade and the
Los Angeles Dodgers named Donnie Baseball as their manager replacing Joe
Torre. I think it was the Cubs snub of
Ryne Sandberg that made me realize it was probably best for Mattingly to manage
elsewhere. If he is unsuccessful and
ultimately fired, it would have adversely impacted his relationship with the
Yankees. I think about Lou Piniella, who
enjoyed his greatest managing success elsewhere, and Yogi Berra, who went years
not speaking to the Yankees before he finally reconciled with George
Steinbrenner. Donnie will always be a
Yankee but it is best for him to manage in Los Angeles. As for Girardi, there really is nobody that I’d
rather see in the position. As for
Sandberg, it is very sad that his relationship with the Cubs has been hurt but
long-term he is better off managing elsewhere.
He’ll be able to return to Chicago with no hard feelings at some future
point in time.
Simmons/NY Daily News
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! J
Okay, I realize that the regular season ended over a
month and a half ago, but I am finally getting around to pay my debt to Julia
of Julia’s Rants. As the wager for the
regular season’s final series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York
Yankees, the loser had to post photos holding pre-determined signs that were
pro-opponent. Therefore, since the Red Sox
won the series two games to one, I lost and had to create pro-Red Sox signs
using phrases determined by Julia.
So, here it goes…
Yes, the series loss cost the Yankees the chance to win
the AL East Division Championship and they went into the play-offs as the Wild
Card. The Yankees finished 6 games ahead
of the Red Sox but if Boston hadn’t encountered so many injuries, the finish would
have been much closer. As poorly as the
Yanks played in September, there was a real chance that Boston could have
passed them if they had been closer.
For as well as the Yankees played most of the season,
September and October were a disappointment.
They may have gotten past the Minnesota Twins, but the Yankee hitters
looked pathetic against Texas pitching.
I had started the season on a string of successive
victories in these wagers with Julia, but by season’s end, she was clearly on a
roll as I lost several Yankees-Red Sox wagers, plus the Minnesota Vikings got
hammered by the New England Patriots on Halloween. Well, hammered might be a strong word, but
the Vikings are clearly playing for a high draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
As part of the wager payment, Julia demanded vindication
for Wally the Green Monster who had gone the entire regular season wearing a
Yankees t-shirt. As you can see below,
Wally survived the ordeal and seems to be enjoying his new role.
Lou the Bear pulled me aside and asked me to stock him
for the winter so that he could forget the unpleasant experience with
Wally. Somehow, I think the signing of
free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, along with the returns of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera
and Andy Pettitte, would go a long way toward restoring Lou’s happiness.
Nevertheless, I look forward to future battles with Julia
and of course I trust the results will be different…much different!
Note to Julia:
Wager paid in full! J
There always seems to be a lull in baseball activity
following the conclusion of the World Series until the start of the baseball
winter meetings in early December. There
are generally a few free agent signings but generally not the top shelf talent
that is available. So, yesterday was a
fairly active day for the Yankees, all things considered.
The biggest news was the surprise announcement of the new
pitching coach. After continually
hearing the names of Mike Harkey, Scott Aldred, Gil Patterson and even Rick Petterson,
the Yankees named Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the
post. Rothschild’s name had not surfaced
in media reports and I was very pleased to see the hiring of a coach with his
experience and credentials. Rothschild
was the first manager for the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and has been with
the Cubs since 2002.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that A.J.
Burnett will be number one on Rothschild’s priority list. He has to figure out a way to restore Burnett’s
confidence and get him back to pitching like he did for the 2008 Toronto Blue
Jays and the 2009 Yankees. Joba
Chamberlain will also be on the priority list.
I have seen so many reports that Joba would be better served by a change
in scenery but I still think he can achieve success in New York. The continued progression of Phil Hughes is
another key for the 2011 season.
I think the Yankees would have been fine with someone
like Gil Patterson or Rick Petterson, but they are definitely better with
Rothschild. Good move by GM Brian
Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi. I
thought it was funny when I read Rothschild’s comments about the unique
interview experience but I am glad that Cashman made the applicants prove they
were up for the challenge.
There were a few roster moves as the Yankees released
bullpen pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo so that he could sign with a Japanese
club. He had a great AAA season this
year, but he didn’t really get much of an opportunity at the big league
level. I wish him the best with the
Yomiuri Giants and hope that it propels him to another big league opportunity
down the road.
The Yankees also acquired Atlanta Braves minor league
outfielder Cody Johnson for cash considerations. A former top draft pick (24th
selection in the first round in 2006), Johnson has power but also has a
tendency to strike out…a lot. It looks
like the Braves have given up on him, but he is still young enough (22) for the
Yankees to try and correct the deficiencies in his game. This looks like one of those low cost, high
reward moves that Boston GM Theo Epstein is so good about.
Mark Almond/The Birmingham News
In the other roster moves made yesterday, the Yankees
placed three Rule 5 draft eligible prospects on the 40-man roster to protect
them. Included were top prospects (Dellin
Betances, perhaps the best pitching prospect in the organization, and third
baseman Brandon Laird). In a breakout
season, Laird, brother of Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird, had 25 home runs
and 102 RBI’s between AA and AAA this year.
The third prospect placed on the 40-man roster was reliever Ryan Pope.
There were also reports that the Yankees were making an
offer of three years at $45 million for Derek Jeter. I doubt DJ accepts the offer but I think it
is a very fair one. Signing elsewhere,
there is no way he would get more than $10 million per season, so overpaying by
$5 mil per year on a contract that will take DJ to nearly 40 years of age is
generous and cognizant of DJ’s contributions and value to the
organization. I keep hearing that he’ll
have to consider a position switch at some point, but where would you put him? I’d hate to lose an outfield position to a
player with declining skills. Would he
be better than Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher? That’s a tough question. Perhaps if you had a Justin Upton or Carl
Crawford in the outfield to go with Granderson, you could fill the other corner
outfield spot with Jeter.
In another transaction this week, the Yankees made their
first trade with former Yankees consultant and new Arizona Diamondbacks GM
Kevin Towers. They shipped first baseman
Juan Miranda, who was out of options, to the D-Backs for pitcher Scott
Allen. I saw one report that called him “Scottie”. I really hope that he doesn’t go by that
name. It sounds like a little black dog
to me, or at the very least, the chief engineer on the Starship
No movement on the Cliff Lee front, but I don’t think
anyone expects him to sign until the baseball winter meetings or later. Next week will probably be very quiet from a
baseball perspective, but hopefully, the Hot Stove League will start cranking
up by the first of December. I am very anxious
to see who makes the trip to Tampa for spring training in February. It would be nice to see a Yankees limo
waiting at the Tampa airport for an incoming flight from Little Rock, Arkansas…
I fully expect the Yankees to re-sign Derek Jeter…
There has been much speculation about DJ’s next deal and
if the Yankees would truly let #2 walk away or if they could afford to from a
historical perspective. It is not
outside of the realm of possibility for the Yankees to decide they’d be better
off putting the dollars in a younger talent.
However, I really do not expect that to happen.
I do think that it is important to see DJ record his
3,000th hit in pinstripes, although I agree if his play continues to
erode in 2011, it will be time to begin the search for his long-term
replacement. Frankly, I don’t think he
is done and I fully expect a few more strong seasons of play before the sunset
begins. Granted, they may not be
All-Star caliber but DJ can still man short on a championship squad. But obviously they’ll need a strong back-up
when training camp breaks next Spring.
Hopefully, Derek’s deal will include a role with the
organization when his playing days are over.
I do not know what he intends to do in his post-playing days but he is a
face of the organization and the continued association between the two parties
is mutually beneficial for all.
Here’s hoping the Yankees can come up with a creative
contract that entices DJ to finish his career with the Yankees while not
causing the Yankees to seek improvements in other areas due to financial
constraints. Life under Hal Steinbrenner
is different than life under George, and the Yankees won’t throw dollars at a
player simply because they can like they did in the old days.
As for the Cliff Lee chase, I am not sure what I
think. As much as I would like Cliff on
the Yankees, I definitely do not underestimate the Texas Rangers. When you read about Cliff Lee and his
Arkansas roots, it is clear that he is not a “me-first” kind of guy. On one hand, playing in Texas would be good
for him due to its close proximity to his home.
But conversely, if he signs a big deal with the Rangers, he will be THE
GUY in Texas. Success and failure will
be attributed to him. Whereas, signing
in New York, although he’d be on baseball’s biggest stage, he’d line up as the
#2 starter behind CC Sabathia. So, there
would actually be less pressure in New York, as hard as that is to
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Yankees clearly need to improve their starting
rotation if they intend to succeed next season.
I expect CC to come back strong, but after that, the rotation is a
question mark. Phil Hughes has to take
it to the next level so the new pitching coach, whenever he is announced, will
have two major projects in Hughes and A.J. Burnett. I read the comments made by Andy Pettitte
where he said that he hasn’t decided yet and is enjoying being home in Deer
Park, Texas right now. He went on to say
that if he does play, it will only be for one more season and only for the
Yankees. At this point, I do think he’ll
come back for that final season. But if
not, I am prepared to accept Ivan Nova as the #5 starter. So this winter, the key is clearly coming up
with an ace to team with Sabathia.
From the sounds of it, the next pitching coach is the
current highest priority. Bullpen coach
Mike Harkey, Triple A pitching instructor Scott Aldred and former Yankees
pitcher Gil Patterson have been mentioned.
I am probably leaning toward Patterson, who is currently a pitching
coordinator in the Oakland A’s organization.
Nevertheless, I certainly would not be displeased to see Harkey get the
job. I don’t know much about Aldred but
I am sure that GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi will make the right
choice. Maybe they consider hiring two…one
exclusively for A.J. Burnett!
At this point in his career, I’d probably prefer to see
the Yankees sign Mariano to a short-term deal.
He showed no effects of age last season, but the day will come when he
no longer has it. Ask Trevor
Hoffman. It would be sad seeing Mo
bounce around with a few teams at the end of his career. I’d prefer to see him step away on his own
terms when the time comes. Until then, I
do hope that it is in pinstripes.
I am completely in favor of the Yankees plan to move
Jorge Posada to full-time DH. I think he
still has a productive bat that can be enhanced by avoiding the rigors of
catching. Plus, it is time to see what
Jesus Montero and Austin Romine can do.
It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with
the bullpen. Now that Kerry Wood has
been cut loose and will most likely sign a deal to be a closer elsewhere, the
Yankees need to ensure that they have choices in training camp for the bridge
to Mo (beyond Joba Chamberlain and other in house options like David
Robertson). Both are certainly capable
pitchers and I’d like to see one of them step forward in training camp. But there definitely needs to be a safety
net, plus an option for a back-up closer given Mo’s age.
This will be a critical off-season for the Yankees. The moves they make with Jeter, Rivera and
Posada have to be made with the future in mind.
Plus, they need to give the team a starting rotation that can shut down
hot hitters in October (unlike this past season). But getting to October will be
challenging. A healthy Boston team has
to be viewed as the favorite. GM Theo
Epstein has already been active in picking up former Florida Marlins pitcher
Andrew Miller. A former top draft pick,
Miller hasn’t succeeded yet, but he is still young enough to achieve his
potential. The Tampa Bay Rays should be competitive
but they are a bit of a wild card until we have an idea of what their 2011 team
will look like. I fully expect improved
play from the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, both teams with quality
managers and strong young talent. I have
no doubt that Brian Cashman will continue racking up frequent flyer miles and
hotel award points as he looks to improve the 2011 squad…
But considering that he is the general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian knows the score. The moves he makes now must ensure success in October 2011. Nothing else matters.
Well, it’s time to pay off one of my two debts owed to Julia of Julia’s Rants for several wager losses. I should have been more responsive to my obligation but business travel and work have been very challenging lately.
The two losses were the final regular season series loss by the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox and the Halloween dismissal of the Minnesota Vikings by the New England Patriots. It goes without saying which teams Julia was pulling for. Sadly for me, the results were in her favor.
For the loss by the Yankees, I owe Julia a couple of signs on my blog. I promise that I’ll have them up by Thanksgiving. With the loss by the Vikings, I have to write a blog about Julia’s favorite football team. I know this is very off-topic for a baseball blog but keep in mind this is for Julia…
THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
When I was a kid, I remember reading about the old American Football League (AFL) and its original members. The Boston Patriots were one of those teams. In fact, when they were awarded their franchise in 1959, they were the eighth and final team.
Mike Holovak is the guy who stands out to me as the head coach of the Patriots in the 1960′s, however, it was long-time Buffalo Bills head coach Lou Saban who was the team’s first head coach.
My first real meaningful recollection of the Patriots was after they moved to Foxboro and became the New England Patriots. By that time, the head coach was Chuck Fairbanks. The year that stands out for me is 1974. The Patriots started season 5-0 behind QB Jim Plunkett, RB Sam “Bam” Cunningham, and WR Randy Vataha. They would only win two more games that season to finish 7-7, but one of the wins came at the expense of my Vikings.
Dick Raphael/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
I know, Julia‘s favorite was actually this guy (Steve Grogan)…
Before the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, the Patriots did play in one championship game, the 1963 AFL Championship. They lost 51-10 to the San Diego Chargers, and would not advance to post-season play again until 1976. They won their first AFC East division championship in 1978, but like in 1976, they were eliminated in the first round of the play-offs.
My next significant memory of the Patriots happened in 1985. The Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but it coincided with the great Super Bowl Shuffle by the legendary Walter Payton and the Chicago Bears as the Patriots lost 46-10.
Sorry Julia, but it’s hard to pass by Walter Payton’s name without giving him some sort of tribute. He was one of the greatest players to set foot on the gridiron…
As the organization moved into the 1990′s, their long history of futility began to change. In 1993, Bill Parcells was named the head coach and the following year, the team was acquired by owner Robert Kraft. Parcells would get the Pats to the Super Bowl in 1996 but they’d lose to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, 35-21. Hmmm, no wonder Julia dislikes #4!…
Brian Bahr/Allsport/Getty Images
After Parcells left, Pete Carroll was brought in for a few seasons. Despite making the play-offs two of his three seasons, the results were unimpressive and he was discharged. Still, a decade of some success had transformed the organization into one with a winning tradition despite the absence of Super Bowl success.
The arrival of the 21st Century also brought championship success for the Patriots as they won the Super Bowl in three of four years (2001, 2003, and 2004). If memory serves correctly, the new century also had a positive impact for another Boston area team that shall go nameless! With head coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady, the Patriots emerged as the team to beat in the 2000′s.
The Patriots did miss out on football immortality in 2007 when the team went undefeated during the regular season but lost to what I felt was an inferior New York Giants team in the Super Bowl. How many teams can say that a 18-1 record was a failure? None, except the New England Patriots. I am sure that there were a few former Miami Dolphins celebrating that day…
The Patriots remain a championship quality organization and they have been able to successfully replace aging stars and over-priced free agents through the years. They are currently tied for the division lead in the AFC East with a 6-2 mark and seem well positioned for much success in the second half of the season. With Tom Brady at the controls, it is a certainty that they’ll have a say in who represents the AFC in the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011.
P.S. They won’t miss Randy Moss but I think I will… L*
*Brought to you by the Fire Brad Childress Immediately Committee.
Last week, I had the good fortune to travel to New
York on business. I delayed my return
home until Sunday so that I’d have a day to spend in the city…
There were really only two things that I really
wanted to do. One was to attend the New
York City Marathon Expo that was being held at the Jacob Javits Center on
Saturday, November 6th. The
other was to have dinner in Greenwich Village.
So, with some thought the night before, I embarked
on my journey when Saturday arrived.
First, I started the day by running on the hotel treadmill. 8 miles on a treadmill can be a long, long
experience, but it gave me some time to think about what I wanted to do. After my run, I got ready and headed out the
The first destination was to find H&H Bagels on
46th Street and 12th Avenue. I’ve been to other H&H Bagels locations
but I had not found this one before.
H&H Bagels has been featured on several TV shows, like Sex in the
City and Seinfeld, but, seriously, their bagels are tremendous. They’ve always been very fresh and
delicious. I have even gone as far as to
order two dozen bagels from H&H for shipment to California.
For this day, I purchased a blueberry bagel and a
bottle of orange juice. I walked over to
a nearby bench in close proximity to the USS Intrepid and enjoyed the bounty
from H&H Bagels. It was well worth
Next, I walked down to the Jacob Javits Center for
the ING New York City Marathon Expo. I
am a runner and although I’ve only run one marathon (2008 NYC Marathon), I do
have the ambition to run more. I had
intended to run in the 2009 NYC Marathon but a stress fracture in my leg forced
a hiatus from running that cost me to withdraw from both the San Francisco and
New York Marathons. 2010 has been about
trying to get back into running and I decided that I’d avoid trying a marathon
this year, however, 2011 is a different story.
I’ve already registered for the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon which will be
held on March 20, 2011. Still, the NYC
Marathon was such an incredible experience, it is something that I do want to
LA has a good route for their marathon. It starts with a run around Dodger Stadium,
heads through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and makes it way to Santa Monica and
the Pacific Ocean. I love that area, so
it will be a fun experience. But nothing
compares to New York. The marathon
starts in Staten Island and eventually makes its way through all five boroughs
before finishing in Central Park. To run
for 26.2 miles with New York crowds cheering you on for every step of the way
is phenomenal. Coming off the Queensboro
Bridge into Manhattan was probably one of my favorite spots. Well, the finish line was a welcome sight
Well, back to the Expo. I wanted to experience the marathon through
the Expo and did find a good running t-shirt and a back pack. However, I found that I was so envious of the
runners who had their entry packets in hand.
I definitely was wishing that I had been able to run this year’s
marathon. I walked the Expo for several
hours and then bought a sandwich for lunch.
Next, I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a
very long time. For all my trips to New
York, I’ve never gone to visit the grave of my idol, Lou Gehrig. Finally, I decided that today was the
day. So with just having the name of the
cemetery and name of the town, I hopped on the subway to Grand Central Station
and caught the Metro North Railroad Harlem Line to Valhalla, NY. From there, I walked a little under a mile to
the Kensico Cemetery. After walked the
cemetery and getting directions from other visitors, I found the grave. I was a bit surprised at how modest the
headstone was and for all I know about Lou, I didn’t know about the “typo” on
his headstone. The year of his birth is
erroneously shown as 1905 (he was born in 1903). But for as modest as the headstone was, the
location was so serene. I thought it was
the perfect place for burial and given its close proximity to Manhattan, I was
overtaken by the charm of the quaint, quiet town of Valhalla. Lou and Eleanor truly could not have picked a
better place to spend eternity. I sat at
the grave for awhile and just thought about the images of Lou that I’ve seen
and thought about what it must have been like to have watched him play
After leaving the cemetery, I had an hour to kill
before the train to Manhattan arrived.
By the train stop, there is a great restaurant/bar called The Valhalla
Crossing. It is inside an old train
station, and the ambiance of the establishment was first class, The service was probably one of the best I’ve
ever experienced. I could have stayed
there all night.
Heading back to Manhattan, there was just one more
thing on my to-do list. Dinner in
Greenwich Village. I took the train back
to Grand Central and then caught the Subway down to Greenwich Village. I did not have a particular restaurant in
mind (well, I had a couple but for this trip, I wanted to be open-minded). As I worked my way through Greenwich Village,
I stopped at my favorite coffee spot, the Porto Rico Importing Company at 201
Bleecker Street. It is the best way to
find coffee beans by the pound. When I
lived in Delaware, I would make a trip for no other reason than to go to Porto
Rico. Highly recommended.
As I continued my walk down Bleecker Street, I came
to Cornelia Street and remembered a Greenwich Village tour I had taken several
years ago. One of the stops was the
Cornelia Street Café. I remember
thinking at the time that it was someplace I’d like to have dinner. On this night, I thought my plan would be
rebuffed when the waiter asked me if I had reservations. Fortunately, there was a seat at the bar, so
I gladly accepted my option and had a great meal. It was fun listening to the couple next to me
talking about how their son would be running the New York City Marathon the
next day. It kind of brought the day
It was an incredibly enjoyable day in the city of
New York. The only thing better would
have been a 28th World Championship by the Yankees. Oh well, throw mega millions at Cliff Lee and
let’s crank up this machine for 2011!
By the way, I registered for the lottery for entry to the 2011 ING New York City Marathon! Wish me luck!