Yankees Fans Are Comfortable With Being Confident. Learn from Us.

aid61482-v4-728px-Be-a-New-York-Yankees-Fan-Step-1-Version-4#RKOI is a popular hashtag on instagram. It stands for “rich kids of instagram.” Cars, homes, jewels, bags, etc. Through no fault of their own, these children were born on third base, unbeknownst a genuine struggle some strive their lives to achieve. The Super Sweet 16s, disproportionate equilibrium of normalcy, and your feeling that if you’re going to wear the cost of my college tuition on your pinky, it is humanly impossible to comprehend the distance of our versions of “hard work.”

And that is jealousy.

And I was that kid.

The sports version.

Yes in 1996 I was six years old and finally able to comprehend sports. A third-generation New Yorker the Yankees were my favorite team because they were my father’s and grandfather’s as well.

When you’re six the adults let you win, you get A+’s, and you always get a trophy.

And the Yankees win the World Series. And again, and again, and again.

So in 2000 when the Mets played the Yankees in the world series. I was the #RKOI. I knew the Mercedes would be mine once I turned 16 and I knew Daddy could get me out of any major trouble should the situation arise.

And I knew the Yankees would win.

To my fifth grade Mets fan contemporaries I’d say “Of course you’re not going to beat the Yankees, but that’s not fair why should you expect to?” It was undertones of confusion, not narcissism, sympathy, not superiority.”

Go to @RKOIofficial, their account says “we’re young, we’re beautiful, and dirty rich.” As a blue collar worker or someone else in the 99% it’s hard to see the (interior) “beautiful” of those fortunate enough to don the #.

But if you’re in the club, you can. This is why Selena Gomez and Biebs give it a shot and why in general the rich and fortunate marry each other. It’s a rich+confidence factor. And if you want to know what that feels like, get comfortable with it.

Because there are some really nice rich people, some really smart assholes, and some very human <insert race> people. And you should learn how to be friends with all three and its accompanying etc. You’ll learn a lot.

Their team is down 2-0 in a best of five series and it’s probably their manager’s fault. In the previous inning they finally got a leadoff runner on but was promptly erased by an Aaron Hicks double play. Now their one shot at keeping this game scoreless is Masahi-oooook that’s now a triple with 1 out.

What does your fanbase do?

Through a lifetime of disappointment and venom towards the successful, Mets fans, Utley just knocked a triple off the wall. Don’t the groans start immediately? Phillies fans, it’s the first inning and Chipper Jones just put the Braves up 3-0. Here…we gooooo….again….

I was at the Wild Card game when the Yanks went down 3-0. It got louder.

Don’t mistake arrogance for confidence.

Last night after Kipnis’ one-out triple, on a ball that could have been caught, the fans got louder. The collectively smart Yankees fan base knows success requires support. Because they’re comfortable with it.

The Yankees didn’t win last night because Tanaka ended up getting out of that inning. Tanaka didn’t get out of that inning because the crowd was positive. But maybe in the duration of time after Dozier’s triple and Tanaka’s next pitch, a mental ability to stay positive and focused was facilitated by a smart, confident, and professional fan base. The Yankees won 1-0 yesterday and are going into a series down 2-1 with more confidence than I’ve seen from a team in a similar situation.

Still, baseball’s inherent volatility based strongly in the randomness of the day-to-day starting pitcher, the Yankees have less than a 50% chance to advance. But over the course of a season, decade, and franchise, is a fan base going to have a tangible, yet unknown effect on their team. You’re damn right.

Embrace confidence. Mets fans, we root for you. Yes, we’re the #RKOI, and you’ll want your kids to be one, too.

Love him or hate him, Carlos Gomez is just what Milwaukee needs

Tell me the last time you watched part of a Milwaukee Brewers game. You can’t, unless it was this:

or this

There are the Yankees and Dodgers and Red Sox and Cardinals, then your Rangers/Braves/Tigers/Pirates, and then the Brewers, Royals, Rays, and Padres – teams you think of last when doing this trivia question.

But Carlos Gomez has altered this. Whether you like him or not, Gomez’s short fuse and propensity to get under opponents’ skin has shed his vulnerability to indifference, a trait too easy to tag to anyone who plays in Wisconsin, no offense.

Bernie Mac didn’t play for the Red Sox or Phillies in Mr. 3000. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers; it was slightly more expensive than making up an MLB team #LikeMike.

Maybe you love Carlos Gomez. Maybe you don’t. But if you’re familiar with his work over the last ten months, it’s hard to not have an opinion on him. Indifference is a television program’s worst nightmare.

When was the last time you had a reason to watch the Milwaukee Brewers. Any Robin Yount fans reading this?

In TV, it’s all about the ratings, and Gomez has finally given the Brewers a semblance of attraction to the average fan. Brewers ratings will be a a tad higher this year than any since their playoff push in 2008. I’ll guarantee it.

Maybe the Mets should have held on to this guy…

Carmelo Anthony Will Never Win an NBA Title

Carmelo Anthony Frustrated

Carmelo Anthony is a victim of his own talent. He knows on any given play, he is the best shooter on the floor. Therefore, the more I shoot, the more points my team will score.

It doesn’t work like that. While the thought process is sound, that mindset breeds a byproduct of poisonous intangibles that sap his teammates of confidence and rhythm.

Anthony’s play does not make his teammates better. His game is one-on-one, post up, and find a shot inside 17 feet: which is something at which he is amazing. I want to take nothing away from his level of talent.

But when he’s scoring, no one else is engaged. So once Carmelo starts missing, his teammates look lost. They think, not react. The LeBron vs. Carmelo debate is long over, and LeBron wins due in part to their mindset once they touch the ball:

Carmelo: How can I score
LeBron: How can my team score

When Carmelo Anthony is one-on-one in the post, watch his whole focus shift to scoring. Watch his teammates stand around. They know they’re probably not touching the ball, creating a disconnect between his talent and (lack of) on-court leadership. LeBron/Kevin Durant/Paul George are always looking up, scouting the floor.

Carmelo Anthony’s style of play is conducive to winning regular season games. His only formula that ends with and NBA championship is a utopian postseason performance in which he shoots an impeccable percentage from the field. Against postseason-caliber defenses, it won’t happen.

The only way I can see him winning is if he finds it in his game to reserve himself into a #2 role, something I don’t think he’ll be willing to do until he’s well into his 30’s.

From a Knicks fan’s perspective (myself) the most frustrating part about his game is his schizophrenic defense. Watch his defense from his 62-point outburst against the Bobcats: Impeccable. He stays with his man and has that killer instinct in his eye. But when he’s missing, his defense slacks and he becomes visibly frustrated at first chance.

No offense = bad defense, a lethal cocktail if you’re trying to win an NBA championship. Seemingly, when their leader sags off, the Knicks follow suit which leads to a mess on the court and a 20-32 record off it.

Two days ago Carmelo missed yet another potential game-winning or game-tying jump shot late in the game: a shot literally everyone knew was coming. He never drives to the hoop in that situation. Never scans the court for an open teammate. He jab steps until he gets a little space, takes a fadeaway 18-footer and hopes it goes in.

Stephen A. Smith put it nicely: The Knicks are losing with him. They Knicks can lose without him.

I agree. I would rather see a group of scrappy, cohesive athletes. I want to see what these young kids can do – Tim Hardaway, Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Tyler. Their talent and growth is retarded via Anthony’s level of talent.

In maybe the most stacked NBA draft in years, the Knicks will be without a draft pick. Why not #LetMeloGo? I’m sorry, but this experiment failed. Package Carmelo and get a first round draft pick. Let’s get some teamwork. I’m sick of one-on-one basketball. It doesn’t work.

 

Book Review: Colin Cowherd, You Herd Me

DVR may be the best addition to the television viewing experience since the remote. You don’t have to be in front of the TV at precisely 9:00 to catch the new episode of Homeland. Missed that play? Rewind live TV. Usually I start watching an hour-long program at 20 past the hour so I can skip commercials.

That’s a big reason why I like the ESPN Radio app. You to scrub up to an hour behind the live schedule. I don’t have to tune in at exactly 10:00am to hear Colin Cowherd’s opening rant.

There’s something about the way this guy argues. With an arrogant yet appropriate confidence, he spends the first 10-12 minutes of his show going off on something. Usually sports, but not always.

And for me, it seems every rant evokes a protruding bottom lip, a head nod, and a, “hmm…yeah.”

This rant from April 2012 summarizes what Cowherd is about – he talks about what the listeners want, “and (the listeners) love porn, fast food, and reality television.”

Cowherd book

Cowherd’s new book You Herd Me, I’ll Say it if Nobody Else Will is a collection of rants that mimic his opening ones on radio.

I believe Cowherd’s high popularity stems from his lack of bias toward anything. It’s the reason I make an effort to tune in to his show. He doesn’t persuade you. He lays out both sides of an argument, tells you how he feels, then lets you decide for yourself.

Through Cowherd’s direct, informal voice, I sensed passion in every chapter. Even if you disagree with his stance, he makes it easy to dissect.

And similar to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Cowherd tells you know when he’s wrong. The final chapter of his book lists some of his major mistakes and miscalculations. In my opinion it boosts his credibility.

The chapters range from 4-10 pages so it’s a great jigsaw puzzle read: some now, some later. I was entertained, but also learned a lot about the sports world from a professional with the access to back up his unique standpoints, ones that include:

– Tiger Woods isn’t really a sex addict, he just has great PR
– Peyton Manning is too talented for the NFL
– Andrew Luck should have been the clear-cut favorite to win Rookie of the Year

For fun he’ll throw in his take on why Tampa is the worst place in the country to live or why parents with babies have no right to board planes first.

Other chapters that caught my ear include:

– Major League Baseball and the Republican Party face eerily similar problems
– Without a strong father, you cannot be a successful quarterback or point guard
– Nike is responsible for Michael Jordan’s impenetrable image

Cowherd’s strong demeanor may be confused with a sense of invincibility and a superego. It has gotten him in trouble before, like in 2005 when WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero died suddenly of hardened and constricted arteries, Cowherd said “he passed away doing steroids.”

Once I got past Cowherd’s matter-of-fact tone, I came to find the humor in it.  

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any sports fan. Cowherd’s knowledge touches all sports (not hockey), but also ranges into his passion for politics. The MLB/GOP comparison from earlier is a good example. The chapters are put together in no particular order, so if you strongly disagree with a topic it’s easy to skip to the next one. If you’re familiar with Cowherd’s style, you’ll get a few laughs.

I’m finishing my Christmas shopping Saturday. Any other procrastinators out there? This might be a good bail out with Christmas around the corner.

A Blizzard in Super Bowl XLVIII Would Be a Big Win for Football

What were you doing when you were seven years old? Video games? Cartoons? Playing outside with your neighborhood contemporaries?

I loved video games, probably a little too much. But every year, New Jersey treated us to its seemingly annual blizzard. Homework got pushed back a day or two, and everyone knew how they would substitute their school day.

Football.

Football was a run-of-the-mill option on regular days. Throw it in the rotation with basketball, tennis racket baseball, skateboarding, man hunt.

But when it snowed, everyone reported to the Common Ground.

It’s like playing football on a Tempurpedic Mattress. Every catch was a diving attempt, the trusty double-reverse hail mary was out of the arsenal because no one could hold onto the ball, and you actually considered punting.

Snow adds that extra dimension – to any sport. It has given us some of the best games of all time:

Snowplow game, Dolphins/Patriots, December 12, 1982 (wiki)

Conditions were so poor for this game, work release inmates were asked to plow the 10, 20, etc. yard markers for officials. Inmate and Patriots fan Mark Henderson decides to clear the spot from where the Patriots kicked the eventual game-winning field goal. The fourth-quarter score accounted for the only points of the sloppy contest.

2008 Winter Classic, Penguins/Sabres, January 1st, 2008 (wiki)

During blizzard-like conditions, the puck wouldn’t slide and players looked like they were first learning how to skate. The Penguins won in a shootout.

Yankees 1996 Home Opener, Royals/Yankees, April 9, 1996 (box score)
A mundane 7-3 Yankees win became a Yankees Classic when snow fell for much of the mid-April day. The Royals committed four errors in Derek Jeter’s first Home Opener.

Snow adds an extra dimension. The playing field becomes level. That’s why I enjoy watching the pro-bowl. I don’t care it’s not “real football.” It’s entertaining. It’s different.

The main premise of this post is the excitement of the potentially unexpected and never seen is desirable enough to push aside the potential damage of the weather’s byproduct implications.

The opposition argument is certainly sound – how can you let an unpredictable force play a crucial role in perhaps sports’ biggest annual game? If you’re a fan of an elite team, I understand. But for the other 93% of fans who won’t be represented, I think a blizzard would be fun to see.

As a 2013 Giants fan, I won’t have to worry about that 7%.

The 2001 Yankees is Sports’ Greatest Tragedy Story

On November 4th 2001, I was lying in bed listening to game 7 of the 2001 World Series on radio. My father wouldn’t let me watch past a certain time because I had school the next day. I forget when, but at some point he came into my room and invited me into his to watch. I’ll never forget that.

My team was coming off three consecutive World Series wins and on the verge of number four. As an 11 year old, I  had only seen success. Four World Series championships watered down by my spoiled subconscious telling me, “Of course the Yankees will win.” I had never seen anything different.

And then this happened.

In that moment, shock, confusion, and disbelief showed me sports are never scripted. It’s the ultimate reality television. My team is mortal.

But wasn’t it supposed to be the perfect storm?

The Capital of the World, ravaged by arguably the worst terrorist attack in recordable history, overcomes all odds to win the championship of America’s Pastime, odds that included:

– A month earlier: Derek Jeter’s game-saving flip to Jorge Posada against the Athletics helped the Yankees rally from two games down to win the ALDS
– Four days prior: A ninth-inning, two-run, game-tying home run preceded an extra-inning walk-off win at Yankee Stadium
– Three days prior: The same thing, off the same pitcher

(According to baseball reference, entering the ninth inning, the Yankees had a 10% chance to win those games. One in 100 to win both)

It’s tough to paint the Yankees as the victim in sports’ greatest tragedy, but that’s what gives this story the added dimension – everyone hates the Yankees. September 11th temporarily changed that, and never again will the Evil Empire have more likeability than they did that postseason.

My thesis statement here is the headline of this article. The pieces were in place for a perfect story.

Until the last chapter, it was.

The goat of that last chapter, Mariano Rivera will retire at the end of the 2013 season. The greatest closer of all time will no longer throw his golden pitch. The number 42 will never again make the red carpet jog from the Yankee Stadium bullpen to its mound. Enter Sandman will be retired.

Yes, players of all sports post tangible numbers, but different fans assign different weight to different stats, thus rarely is one player unanimously rendered “The Greatest”.

Can you make the argument why Mariano Rivera isn’t the greatest closer of all time?

*Arguing a “closer” needs to throw more than an inning, ala Goose Gossage or Dennis Eckersley, is the sole sound argument I’ve heard against Rivera, but I think that argument is lame when stacked up against Rivera’s consistent numbers.*

His career’s only beauty mark  came November 4th, 2001.

On baseball’s biggest stage, in the world’s biggest city, facing the world’s worst terroist attack in recent memory, a country came together as the tattered American flag from the North Tower waved bravely above Yankee Stadium, where 13 miles away the fire still burned. Instead, a small market team from Arizona celebrated.

What sports tragedy compares? For argument’s sake, I don’t count stories like the Marshall University tragedy or similar others that transcend sports. If you can think of others, I want to hear. I don’t want my bias as a Yankees fan to influence my opinion. I simply couldn’t think of another sports tragedy equal.

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A Horrific Season is What the Yankees Need to Return to Greatness

Hiroki Kuroda I was talking to my friend a few days ago about the Yankees Red Sox opener. We started joking how the the rivals are fighting for fourth place in the AL East this year.

Isn’t it incredible how you can make that comment only half-kidding?

For the first time in about 16 years, Boston and New York fans must succumb to the three “other” teams in the AL East. As a Yankees fan, Toronto, Tampa, and Baltimore have been just thorns in our sides, would-be tacklers failing perennially to prevent my Bombers from reaching the endzone.

Not this year.

And I’m okay with it.

I’m a little excited in an abstract way. Injuries and payroll dump may result in a Yankees team of homegrown talent, not multi-million-dollar synthetic puzzle pieces. Maybe my team can relax and bond over watered down expectations instead of folding under the postseason pressure to quench a near-insatiable thirst of “World Series or bust”.

Perpetual greatness allows for occasional mediocrity.

Look at the 2011 Indianapolis Colts. Just like the Yankees, Peyton Manning & Co. were a perennial powerhouse, spoon fed VIP entrance to the playoffs from week one. Eventually, age settled in and the Colts needed to start fresh. Incredibly they only needed one year and a #1 pick to bounce right back to Super Bowl contention, but they played their cards right and inquired from within, just like the Yankees dynasty from the late 90s.

Here’s the payroll (money…rank in league) of the last ten World Series Champions:

San Francisco Giants: $118M……8
St. Louis Cardinals: $105M………11
San Francisco Giants: $98……….10
New York Yankees: $201………….1
Philadelphia Phillies: $98………..12
Boston Red Sox $143……………….2
St. Louis Cardinals $89……………11
Chicago White Sox $75…………….13
Boston Red Sox $125……………….2
Florida Marlins $49…………………25

The theory is sound: better players = higher chance of winning, better players = more money, more money = higher chance of winning. Ya spend more, ya win more.

It just doesn’t work like that.

If you told me the Yankees will go 72-90 but will give their home-grown talent reps and experience, I’d take it. *On second thought, I’d rather that season come next year. I want to see Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte get one last chance at a title.*

Unfortunately, for a team that has lead the league in payroll every single year since 2001 (numbers here), they have but one World Series to boast during that time.

Yankees “big” free agent contracts since 2004:
Disaster deal, Okay deal, Good deal, Great deal (in my opinion)

Alex Rodriguez – 10/252, 10/275
Carl Pavano – 4/40
Johnny Damon – 4/52
Kei Igawa – 5/20
A.J. Burnett – 5/82.5

CC Sabathia – 7/161
Mark Teixeria – 8/180

Maybe I’m a little harsh, but has any contract since Mike Mussina’s 6/88.5 deal  been a great sign?

Dr EvilMaybe these large contracts in a big market are disguises for failure. A-Rod said it himself. He used steroids with Texas to help reach near unrealistic expectations. When presented with a salary many fans will never see in their lifetime, it’s a lot of pressure.

Chemistry wins championships. Not paychecks.

The $200M mindset is a great, aggressive strategy, but it’s not how you win World Series. Plus, there’s more excitement rooting for Brett Gardner or a young Robinson Cano as opposed to a free agent filling the Yankees laundry.

So what if Hiroki Kuroda is injured. So what if we throw a minor league team out there until late May. But I want to see what we have in our farm system. I just don’t feel like Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner, and Ben Francisco are more than temporary patch jobs. Let’s go Yankees. It’s been 13 years. We’re due for a dynasty.