“Yankee Stadium is one of the few places in America that can feel alive on a Monday Night”
I walked out of the grand concourse subway station. I was not supposed to get off there. I was supposed to get off at Yankee Stadium, but because I drank two small nips of Southern Comfort on the subway ride uptown, I forgot I was supposed to get off at Grand Central and transfer from the 4 to the 5. Someone was apparently trying to close what seemed like a very large post office right outside the subway stairs. People were protesting. They were not happy. When 25% of The Bronx is underemployed, people do not take that walk from some work to no work lightly. And why should they? The financial district should have been arrested and forced into manual labor after the mess they created.
I got past the crowd and started walking down River avenue, which had the hills of a San Francisco slum. I couldn’t quite tell the burnt red factor buildings apart, but I was supposed to go in one and walk up to the 5th floor.
On the 5th floor I couldn’t quite tell the small grey cars apart but I finally approached one that looked friendly. The trunk had a cooler full of bud light. This would most definitely be a Monday night to forget.
The walk to the stadium was something unlike I had ever been a part of. You walk under the subway for a while, passing dump after dump until there it is, this gleaming tan colossus, lit up like Vegas on a Friday night. You get so caught up in staring at it that you forget you have two very busy streets to cross. Once across you see the entrance, and luckily, because we were doing our best impression of Miami Heat fans, we got to the stadium about 40 minutes after first pitch.
Perhaps here was the point that I should have had the good sense to stop drinking. There was no need to consume any more, especially because I was under the influence of a prescription medication for my rather weak night vision. But no, I was going to gleefully pay $12 for a beer, yes, in fact, give me two. I would be the king of the bleacher creatures, no price too high!
Now, I am of course a gentleman, so instead of waiting for a female acquaintance to buy her own beer, I decided to buy one for her. Except I soon found out that at $22 for two bud lights, chivalry can send you to the poor house rather quickly.
At a certain point, like all fans of baseball games, you are asked kindly to leave once the game is over. Apparently I did leave under my own power, smiling and tipping my cap to NYPD on our exit. I then proceeded to prance down the street until we reached the parking garage. Everything past that is fuzzy, right until 8:45 the next morning when I woke up and realized something was very much wrong.
What i was supposed to do, was get up at 6:45, wake my sister up, and get to the train station to take the 7:10 to Manhattan, which would get me into Penn about 8:30 with enough time to get to work by 9am. This did not go as planned. As soon as I turned my head, I felt everything sloshing around like someone hit me up side the head with a bat and poured vodka down my unconscious throat. Which may have happened. I have hired a private investigator to look into it.
I did in fact make it to work that day, and felt like dying at various points throughout the day. It was wonderful, that feeling like at any point you could throw up sausage, peppers, red bull, bud light, bud light, jolly ranchers?
Considering there are 81 home games to 8, you can understand the chance of seeing something at a football game that you have 9 more games to wait for in baseball. Which is why most people show up in the 3rd inning. To be honest, I have had a love/hate relationship with baseball my whole life. I played little league, but as I found the intricacies in sports like football and basketball, baseball seemed like a relic. It’s boxing and slow dances. Sunday drives and dinner with the family. We move faster now, we think faster, (for good or ill) and for all our advancement it remains the same as it’s always been. Chess for old men. But there is beautiful music made that people play chess to.
I sit in bed watching ESPN on my Ipad, which is amazing, first because I am lazy and like to spend my first waking hour contemplating what sort of insane trouble college football is in, and second because I am one of three people in America without HDTV. I am giddy, giddy at the fact that beat writers in LA are going to be freaking out over Andrew Bynum’s trust comments. And freak out they do. One writer actually threatened to go down to Staples Center and give the team an inspirational speech a la The King’s Speech…”We will overcome this hurdle, we will move forward, with grace..with determination and with the heart of a champion still beating inside us”
My advice to freakout beater? Get a drink. It is around cinco de mayo and you shouldn’t be dwelling on things like the Lakers getting knocked out of the playoffs, even though it is your job, a soon to be over job. Shoot out an article about the sunset in Los Angeles and let the chaos ensue. Dirk reigns, even though I called them the laughing stock of the NBA due to Mark Cuban but old Mark has finally shut it and I wear will wear leeches and flog myself while typing a formal letter of apology.
Beat writers. My advice to aspiring beat writers is that you should, for the most part, strike journalistically while the iron is hot. Imagine being a beat writer for the Cavaliers after Lebron? The Mets? The Panthers? Well, the Panthers will be interesting until Cam Newton finds his way out but for the most part, beat writing seems to be a slog after the first few years. Very few franchises are continually intriguing, or continually great. If you live long enough, you may see something great, or you may have a heart attack after a preseason game and drive off a bridge.
My generation has ADD, there will be no more beat writers by the time we are through. No one wants to get up everyday, look at the same millionaires or soon to be millionaires while you contemplate refinancing your three bedroom house, and write about them in a scowling, jealous rage or the stale praise of a book reviewer.
How can you gauge style if you don’t have variety? I’ve seen more than one beat writer drop dead at their desk because their wife accidentally texted them when they meant to text their boss about their after work rendezvous while a story comes over the AP wire about some new rookie just got signed for $5 million, the brain can’t handle such karmic madness.
ESPN will become a socialist enterprise. No one wants to hear about fast break points from a 300 pound fat guy, like that guy on the couch who predicts football games for ESPN, you will be first chubs. They will allow only the physically fit to report on sports and beautiful girl next door types like Michelle Beadle, who could tell me I have terminal cancer and I would still look for a way to ask her out for a drink. Has anyone noticed the sort of serfdom most radio hosts at that network are subject to? Working 20 hours straight, 1pm radio show, 11pm sportscenter, 6am radio show, 6 PM Sportscenter…
Athletes are strange creatures. Study them like you would a fetal pig. At a safe distance. Remember that if they are forced to write an open letter about the state of their team going forward, most people would be embarrassed to read it. You are the writer. You are the one who writes the story. Get a little crazy. Own history. And stop reading other beat writers and copy and paste from the Surrealist Manifesto at any chance you get, give construction workers a little arts and culture at 5am on the Long Island Rail Road. They might just look out the window and wonder if they are dreaming…
Highlights of a few players the Jets could end up with at number 30 in the NFL Draft…Also, listen in at 8:30 tonight to hear TOJ talk Jets draft strategy on Backfield Radio.
Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
1. Hanging Chad – What a shame to hear about Chad Pennington tearing his ACL while playing basketball this off-season. I really thought he might find a chance to start somewhere as a bridge to a younger quarterback. It might be hard for some to remember but Pennington was considered the second coming of Joe Montana by everyone in this area during the 2002 season and the franchise quarterback who would finally take the Jets to a Super Bowl. He never quite made it, mostly because of injuries and partly because of Doug Brien. However, Pennington did provide some great moments, including two improbable playoff runs in 2002 and 2006, and two playoff wins. Can we sign this guy up to be our quarterback coach? Sorry Matt Cavanaugh and Mark Brunell…oh wait, Brunell is actually our backup.
2. Draft Thoughts – The draft is less than a month away and if I had to guess I would say one of the following will be the Jets selection at #30 – Phil Taylor, Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston, or Cameron Heyward. I’d be stunned if they don’t draft a defensive lineman or outside linebacker and also anticipate a better chance of them trading down, than trading up.
3. No More Jenks – It sounds like Kris Jenkins days with the Jets are truly over, as he stated in an interview this week that the playing surface in the New Meadowlands would likely prevent him from signing a new deal with the team. Overall, the Jets got one dominant season out of Jenkins in 2008 and then not much else. Regardless, TOJ wishes the big fella the best of luck wherever he ends up next year. This development is only more incentive for the Jets to spend an early draft pick on a defensive lineman.
4. New York Knicks Thought – Despite all the appropriate pessimism around the team now, they are going to make the playoffs, and they are likely going to play either Boston or Miami. Personally, I think they can take Miami in a 7 game series because of how they match-up and because I think the Heat will be tight because of all the pressure on them. Boston would take care of business, probably in 6 games, against the Knicks but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an entertaining, physical series.
5. Random Jets Offensive Predictions – Wayne Hunter will beat out Vladimir Ducasse for the starting right tackle job…Joe McKnight will have at least 25 receptions next year…Dustin Keller will have 10-15 more receptions, 200-250 more receiving yards, and 2 more touchdowns (if Braylon Edwards doesn’t return).
6. The Terminator – I am anxious to see John Conner in the starting fullback role next season. You would think after spending a season learning behind an accomplished veteran like Tony Richardson, he will be ready to have a productive year considering his physical ability. There isn’t a team in the league who won’t have a tough time stopping Shonn Greene running downhill behind Conner, especially with the Jets talent on the offensive line.
7. Doubt It – Despite some talk about a potential return, I have a very tough time seeing Jason Taylor in a Jets uniform next year. The guy looked completely washed up by the time the playoffs started last year and never really brought the punch to the Jets pass rush that the team was hoping for. They badly need to get younger at linebacker.
8. AFC East Thoughts – Even though we have Darrelle Revis, I am a little concerned about New England packaging all those picks they have and moving up to grab one of the elite receivers in the draft…There is no way Cam Newton gets past Buffalo if he is on the board at #3, sorry Ryan Fitzpatrick…I don’t think anybody in the Jets organization is worried about Miami potentially making a trade for Carson Palmer this off-season, let them go from a young mediocre quarterback to an old mediocre quarterback.
9. April 6th – Circle your calendars and open your law books…big day in the ongoing lockout.
10. Big Money Veterans – You have to think the Jets are looking for more production out of their big money, veteran linebackers: Calvin Pace and Bart Scott. The two of them simply didn’t make enough game changing plays last year, considering how much they are being paid.
11. Sanchez – What are fair statistical expectations for Mark Sanchez in year three? The most important thing is for his completion percentage to get substantially closer to 60. You would also think he should be able to get right at 4,000 yards and crack 20 touchdowns. If he can throw over 20 touchdowns and complete near 60 percent of his passes, you can deal with 12-14 interceptions.
12. Weekend Video Clips – Pennington Edition