At 2-outs in a scoreless tie at the bottom of the 15th — yes, you read that right — A-Rod swacked his bat to beat the Red Sox with a huge HR.
That same Friday night, but in Chicago, simultaneously screening on another cable station was one of those recently popularized Classic Games, full-length history from the vault. Guess which one competed with the Yanks hosting the Red Sox last night? You know you’ve got it! The Aaron Boone game! ALCS Game 7, 2003. (Do you remember where you were when you heard – or, like most of us, SAW it happen?) [Good news on Boone’s recovery from potentially career-ending open heart surgery, by the way. On schedule to rejoin the Astros on their expanded 40-man roster in September, he is set to play Monday with AA Corpus Christi and then move to AAA Round Rock for their homestand in the last week of August.]
Following Boone’s heroics, the Yanks unceremoniously moved him along, because, tyhe story goes, his off-the-field activities were interfering with his baseball readiness. Sound familiar? OK, so Boone hurt his knee in a pickup basketball game. A-Rod’s got some considerably more distracting extra-curricular routines!
So, now that he had his Aaron Boone Moment, might the Yankees move him along in the off-season?
As Mark Gremse would say, “That’s Baseball.”
PS It’s not that I don’t recognize the truth of what John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman point out almost every night: the huge improvement in the Yankee record and standings since he returned from the DL. Then again, one could easily counter, why was he ON the DL? What caused that injury? What’s my problem with him? I just don’t think he plays clean. And I’m not even talking about steroids. Remember the “Toronto ‘HA’“? (See A-Rod’s explanation on video) He plays as if his Captain were Jason Varitek, not Derek Jeter. It may play at Fenway, but not in Peoria, and certainly not right down Broadway to 161st and River Avenue.
I’m home. Well, that’s not technically true because I never lived here, in my mother’s place outside Chicago.
I’m here because she died. I can’t understand that. We never got to finish watching Kevin Costner’s movie about Shoeless Joe, though she did take the El with me down to see the White Sox in 2005, when the Yankees’ Shawn Chacon beat former and soon-to-be-again Yankee El Duque. She actually said aloud that she wished Mariano Rivera, her favorite player, had gotten to pitch. She knew about him because she loved me and baseball was the only thing besides fear of not going to work that could get me to stop sleeping back then when I was sick. So she watched Yankee games so that we could talk about them, and that’s how she learned about him. So I’m going to use this blog to steal away for a minute and talk about baseball. And the Dodgers, whom she and my dad took me to see so many times in LA, where she helped me dress up as Ron Cey for Halloween one year, and where I grew up until my Dad was transfered to the Chicago area just before Postseason of 1981, setting off 15 years of avoiding baseball, except a few games at Wrigley. And Brooklyn, where I work now, in the high school where Sandy Koufax played (Lafayette). And Jackie Robinson, who made that team what it is, and whose number is worn only by my mom’s favorite baseball player. Because, as Mark Gremse said so often “That’s baseball.”
But, on the surface, these are really just a few trivial lines about movie: WYIN – public television out of NW Indiana – is showing The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), which, as I just discovered, can be viewed on Google Video here.
Regular readers know I’m a softie for great lines from broadcasters. Here’s one from the movie, spoken right before Jackie steps to the plate in the 9th, with the Dodgers down by 1 and hoping to clinch the Pennant: “Brooklyn hearts have skipped more beats than an absent-minded policeman.”
RARE VIDEO OF EXTENDED STEVE TRACHSEL INTERVIEW before Game 3 of the 2006 NLDS, against his and my own hometown childhood team, the late 70s and early 80s Los Angeles Dodgers, when he rooted against his manager Willie Randolph, who was then 2nd baseman for those foes the New York Yankees.
Trachsel Workout Day Interview If this doesn’t work, try the link below:
Trachsel Workout Day Interview Look under OCTOBER 6 and click.
He has not been to a postseason game at Dodger Stadium since he was 10 or 11, and now he’s working for a recent Yankee on a team that was built in 1962 to fill the hole left in the souls of Brooklyn Dodger Fans, New York Giants Fans too. The team of orange and blue. That’s Baseball. (I miss Mark Gremse. No question where he would stand on this match-up, though, even if I was his favorite LA Dodger fan. Oddly, there might be a healing circularity in pulling for Trachsel, who, as a Cub in 1998, knocked out his beloved Giants in that one-game playoff to get to the NLDS. Two stories go with that, and they are here and here.)
|Paul Byrd, RHP (7-6, 4.71)
|@||David Wells, LHP (0-1, 8.64)
Red Sox (62-40)
Indians 8 Red Sox 9
David Wells typically gave up an early solo homerun — I never worry about those with him — and then had some trouble with his signature curveball, but his team was hitting behind him, and his delivery improved through the 4th, when he looked so good that he came out for the 5th despite his high pitch count. Unfortunately, the optimism cost him a 3-run homerun and the win, which predictably came about by hand of a homerun by David Ortiz at the bottom of the 9th, went to the reliever Kyle Snyder, who completed the remaining 4.1 innings and did not allow the runner he inheirited from Wells to score, nor his own baserunners, for that matter. All 8 runs, sadly, Wells earned, perhaps out of ego, pitching an inning longer than he had simulated in advance (Boston decided to skip a rehab start). For Cleveland, starting the 5th after Paul Byrd was pulled, Jason Davis held Boston scoreless allowing just 2 baserunners over his 2.2 innings. Rafael Betancourt kept them from scoring when he closed out the 7th, and he allowed no runs or hits during the and he pitched a clean 8th. The rookie closer is a converted starter who could probably use another year in the minors to learn the role. I think he may have gotten spooked by the frenzy of the crowd, because he blew the save and lost the game to the now cliched bottom 9th game winning homerun by He’s Not My Papi.
White Sox (61-42)
White Sox 8 Royals 4
Poor Runelvys. He got 2 balk calls in the first inning. It was that kind of night. It’s been that kind of year for him, ever since he started out ill. I hope this year finishes out with promise, and that next year will be a fine one. Contreras, thank goodness he is not a Yankee, and I am glad he helped the White Sox win again.
Much as I like Chris Capuano, I am becoming a Rockies’ fan. Listening to their KOA radio broadcasters and the way they describe the crowd, the way players describe improvements they discern and are encouraged by even in loss, I am heartened. And, I remember that this is where Shawn Chacon came from.
Nationals 10 Giants 7
Go Pedro!! ASTACIO, that is. A renaissance he is having, and it is a good thing for us to witness, especially the skeptics among us. I agree with Fkay (see comment below) about Lowry being under the radar and better than his numbers. Strange it was to root for Stanton against the Nationals yet not for his team and overall be rooting for the Nationals, whom I saw with Marc Marc last season at Shea and celebrated all the former Yankees on both sides, no matter what the crowd said. Loaiza was pitching. You’ve read about that. That opened up some dialogue that in some ways helped October 28 and New Years Day happen the way they did. That’s baseball, right Mark? (Gremse, that is. Gremse whom I met when Marc took me to his baseball shrine of an apartment on East 4th Street to watch a Yankee game.) Now Stanton is playing for Gremse, once the greatest living New York Giants fan, now the platonic form of New York Giants fan. God, I hope he really did see the World Series before he died. Marc, you said you talked with him about it?
It was hard to know whom to root for in this afternoon’s Game 2 of the second Subway Series of 2006. On the one hand, the Yankees needed the win, and I am a Yankee fan. Should be cut and dried, right? The Mets did not need the win. Even simpler. But Steve Trachsel was pitching for the Mets against Randy Johnson and the Empire.
Forget the typical pleas for the so-called underdog. Please. The Yankees represent, among many things, my willing concession to the intertwining of power, money, and success. (I was recently gratified to find a similar sentiment expressed on the webpage of a politician I liked. I’ll have to look up his name.)
I started following Trachsel when he became a Met in 2001, as soon as Floraine Kay suggested that I keep an eye on him. She has a good eye. (Check out her Saddleshoe blog, linked to the right on my Blogroll.) Year after year, he threw pretty good games only to lose them either because the Mets’ line-up was on strike, or because the fielding behind him was anemic. Factoring in The Great Unravelling that followed the 2000 World Series, Trachsel — who already felt betrayed by the Cubs for letting him go to begin with (he split 2000 between Tampa Bay and Toronto) — walked into a clubhouse that was infected from top to bottom with mindgames, machinations, and backroom deals. What I remember is that the callers to the Joe Benigno WFAN show, which was on late nights back then, could say nothing good about this man. Sell him, get rid of him, he stinks, and much more colorful, less creative suggestions were made, and he wasn’t even bad. Good? No. But neither were the Mets as a whole. I’m not sure what they hit behind him that year, but he was 3rd in winning percentage among the 4 pitchers who earned decisions in 20 or more games (also Leiter, Appier, Rusch). From last in ERA in his first year with the Mets, he went to first in 2002, with 3.37, beating even Leiter who had 3.48. He and Leiter both posted .500 seasons, not bad in a season when the Mets won less than 47% of the time and had the worst fielding percentage as well as the highest number of errors commited in baseball.
Circling back to yesterday’s post, 2002 was when I first grew suspicious of some of those who call themselves "diehard Met fans" because they truly sound as if they hate the Mets. I may boo less than the average fan, but I can identify a [self] hater when I hear one. They are still calling-in to WFAN with the most insulting commentary on one of their steadiest pitchers, who never let himself get embroiled in the soap operas, even during the most turbulent years.
So, am I glad Trachsel won, holding the Yankees to 2 in front of Brian Cashman and George Steinbrenner for over 6 innings? YES. Did I hope the Mets’ bullpen would give up the game? YES. (In light of a post earlier this week, I must confess that I share in some guilt: As soon as A-Rod hit his 25th home run off Aaron Heilman in the 8th, I knew any hope of a comeback was futile. Is that backward logic, or what!)
I am, by the way, worried about Trachsel’s health. Willie Randolph saw something and pulled him immediately in the 7th. It turns out that his groin tightened after a fielding play, having aggravated an injury that has nagged at him for a couple weeks now, according to Marty Noble, the MLB.com Mets correspondent (Another article, with more detail about the injury, is here.)
Pitchers and catchers report February 16!
First workout is Feb. 17.
Position players report Feb. 21.
First full workout is Feb. 22.
Other team’ reporting dates: http://springtrainingonline.com/features/reporting_dates.htm
I release a sigh of recognition. It’s almost that time, again. But this time, Mark Gremse isn’t here to celebrate with. Last year this time, he was hopeful that LaTroy Hawkins would be able to help out the Giants, where he’d landed after a rough time with the Cubs. I bit my lip, didn’t say a word, just smiled and nodded, with my almost invisible eyebrows sneaking into a mild grimace.
If you’d like to share a memory about MARK GREMSE, please leave a comment below. MLB.com will ask you to make a user ID (fast & easy), & will bring you right back to this page.
The windows of Sophie’s were covered with photographs. It was almost impossible to push open the door. One after another, friends of Mark Gremse stepped up onto the window seat and spoke their minds and hearts.
So many people from so many different parts of Mark’s life came — people who might have heard of each other, but just as likely had not. There were the people from Sophie’s, of course. And from the building on East 4th Street. Monie, who flew in from Germany. The East River Ratz. A huge bunch from the Law Office came — I’d like to dedicate a special thanks to them — you "guys" really came through, posting on this site, talking about him in person, wow, no wonder he made it to work. And so many others, who have their own unique connection to this Giant of a Man. And I’ll bet that for everyone who was able to make it, there were 10 more who would have come if they could. Let’s not leave out all those of you who have written your memories on this page, and those of you who are about to.
Freddy, you really pulled things together and made Mark’s memorial gathering possible. Thank you so much.
I wish I could be more eloquent. I just want to post this in time for some of you to see it and realize how grateful I am to all of you. Meeting you and reading your feelings for Mark made me feel deceptively warm — almost, almost, as if Mark were still here.
Please stay in touch. I am not too good with email, but I will respond. Keep posting here, too.
With love and appreciation,
Mark’s All-time Favorite Dodger Fan
The memorial gathering for Mark Gremse has been postponed to the AFTERNOON of Nov. 19, 3-5pm, so that travellers can attend. Sophie’s Bar, 507 E. 5th St., NYC, between Avenues A and B.
Check back for updates.
If you would like to share a memory about Mark on this page, please leave a comment below by clicking HERE, or just scroll down.
If you’d like to share a memory about MARK GREMSE, please leave a comment below.
MLB.com will ask you to make a user ID (fast & easy), & will bring you right back to this page.
Mark Gremse died this week.
He was someone you’d want at a memorial service — a service for someone that everyone knew, someone you happened to love. I keep thinking I should call him about Saturday.
Mark didn’t just speak. He inscribed. Sometimes he engraved, with flourishes. You could count on him for a eulogy that would make you understand why you were crying so hard. He’d put all the words together for you and breathe feeling into them. He’d conjure the grandeur and the meaning of the life that had passed, and then make you remember a private moment that only you could keep alive now. You might imagine what he might say about you at your own funeral, and suddenly see how you, too are a part of history, a part of him, and, yes, a part of baseball.
You would never imagine him dead, silent.
If God were a Giants fan, Cooperstown would be on East 4th Street on the Lower East Side, between Avenues A and B. Closer to B. You can tell He’s not, because Mark would be alive and curating. And the Giants would have won more than that pennant in the 50 years Mark shared with us.
You may have read the beginning of a story about him that I finally posted August 9. I hope he did. The rest has been coming out slowly, forever. But now, without Mark in that apartment, forever feels different. It’s not an ongoing thing anymore. It’s not like Pitchers and Catchers, or Next Year, which always rolls around if you wait long enough. It’s not even like a baseball game, pure in its unclocked timelessness. I counted on Mark to connect next season to last year’s, and all the seasons before that. To take me into history, with him. Is baseball really timeless, after all?
Credit for the title of this post belongs to Marc Marc. One late morning, Marc made me coffee and a proposition. "Let’s go to Gremse’s. For the game. We can make it." I thought he was talking about a bar, and went, willingly. But he took me to the apartment of one of his closest living friends, a friend who then grew deep into me, like that tree on 4th Street grew into to Gremse, the sapling he tried to save after it got hit by a car that was trying to squeeze into a parking spot. He used his belt to tie it together for the moment and convinced someone to watch over it while he ran to the hardware store, for wood glue. Can you imagine, being the passer-by whose aid he enlisted on behalf of that tree? I asked him about that tree a year or two ago. He looked away. "It died."
A memorial gathering for Mark Gremse is planned for Saturday AFTERNOON Nov. 19 (note change), 3-5pm, at Sophie’s Bar, 507 East 5th St., between Avenues A and B. Closer to A.
That’s what Mark Gremse says at the end of a great story. If you tell one yourself, he’ll append it to yours, too — if it’s about baseball, that is, or if it could be. That’s the kind of generous he is. Right now, the most important thing you need to know about Gremse is that he is a lifetime New York Giants fan. A Polo Grounds Giants fan. Here’s a little more about him…
I’m his all-time favorite Dodger fan.
If you don’t pick up any nuance there, you probably don’t know Gremse (He’s called by his first name, Mark, outside Sophie’s, where the chances someone’s name is Mark, Joe, or Dave run about 4 to 1). You’ve already figured out that he has no business having a favorite Dodger fan, especially one born in LA after 1958. Maybe you think you hear some sarcasm — favorite, yeah, sure, whatever.
But I knew what I was hearing the first time Mark called me that. It was Love, with Irony — those twin Furies who step-in for the Muses in matters of the art and history of baseball. Mark is a historian, and his memory is iconographic. It’s not that he worships idols, though visitors to his apartment on East 4th Street would be forgiven for thinking so. (Think Cooperstown as treehouse fort.) It’s that he operates on a level of orthodoxy that most of us will never achieve, with a superior spiritual understanding approaching a that of a Zen Master. He can see the higher truth in apparent contradiction. That’s why he was open to the possibility that something good can come out of an act that on the surface is so grotesquely wrong: the befriending a girl with eyes of Dodger Blue. Gremse can always see the spin on the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. There’s a spin on this one — and a story goes with it….
…more to come