Robinson Cano sure went from Rod Carew to Horace Clarke in a hurry.
And now he’s gone from the penthouse to the dog house, benched after failing to hustle on a fielding play.
Cano was given the Yankee second base job in 2005, and after a slow start wound up hitting .297. He hit .342 in 2006, just missing out on a batting title. Last year, Cano hit .306 with career highs in home runs (19) and RBIs (97).
His play reminded many students of the game of Rod Carew, the Hall of Famer who won seven American League batting titles and the 1977 MVP.
This year, it’s all gone wrong for Robby. Before he was benched, he was hitting a disappointing .260 with just 24 walks and a dismal .295 OBP. Even worse were his brain locks and uninspired attitude, both at bat and in the field.
Cano Can’t Do
The 25-year-old Cano has been a source of frustration for the Yankees this season, after he signed a six-year, $55 million deal in the off-season. His average has slumped, his run production has dwindled and his effort has been openly questioned.
“This is a game where you have to play hard every day,” Yankee manager Joe Girardi said. “There are people that are hungry that want your job, whether you’re at third base, second, short, wherever.”
“That’s embarrassing,” Cano said. “You’re playing and you’re taken out of the game. … It’s a situation that no player would like to be in.”
Instead of Carew, Cano is now conjuring up visions of Horace Clarke, the second baseman on some awful Yankees teams in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Clarke hit .256 lifetime and had trouble turning the double play.
Yankee fans have gotta hope that Cano’s lackadaisical play isn’t the precursor to another “Horace Clarke Era.”
NBC broadcaster and former NFLer Cris Collinsworth, above, and the late Fred Rogers, right. host of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.
Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed The World by David Maraniss is an excellent read that provides a rare glimpse into the 1960 Summer Olympics and the spy vs. spy mentality so prevalent in that era of cold-war diplomacy.
Set in Rome, just 15 years removed from World War II and the fascist regime of Mussolini, these Games really did represent a fulcrum point in so many ways — in civil rights, women’s athletics, doping scandals, and world politics. The rivalry between the United States and Russia was fevered, on and off the playing fields in Rome.
Cassius Clay, center, at the Gold Medal ceremony, 1960 Oylmpics, Rome.
The stars of those Olympics were Abebe Bikila, the bare-footed marathon runner from Ethiopia, and three Americans — decathlete and flag-bearer Rafer Johnson, sprinter Wilma Rudolph and an 18-year-old light-heavyweight boxer from Louisville known as Cassius Clay.
Clay, who was on his way to becoming Muhammad Ali, the greatest, the heavyweight champion of the world. But as a young black man from Kentucky he won Olympic gold by beating Poland’s Zbigniew Piertzykowski in three rounds.
On the flight back home from Rome, Ali wrote a simple rhyme, later to become a trademark of this boxing poet. It began:
To make America the greatest is my goal,
So I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole.
Ali was named the third greatest athlete of the 20th Century according to ESPN, behind only Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth. Many feel that Ali is the most recognized man, or at least the most recognizable athlete, of the 20th Century.
The Great Emancipationist
But who was the real Cassius Clay?
Cassius Marcellus Clay, nicknamed “The Lion of White Hall” 1810 –1903) was an emancipationist from Madison County, Kentucky, and a second cousin of famous politician Henry Clay.
The wealthy Southerner became a prominent anti-slavery crusader in the 1830s and 1840s. He worked toward emancipation, both as a Kentucky state representative and as an early member of the Republican Party.
In the late 1830s and early 1840s, Clay served three terms in the Kentucky General Assembly, but he lost support among Kentucky voters as his platform became more focused on ending slavery. In 1845, he began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper called the True American in Lexington, Kentucky.
Within a month he received death threats and was forced to barricade the doors of his newspaper office for protection. Shortly thereafter, a mob of about 60 broke into his office and seized his printing equipment. Clay later continued publication in Cincinnati.
His connections to the northern anti-slavery movement remained strong, and Clay was among the founders of the Republican party and a friend of Abraham Lincoln, whom he also supported for the Presidency.
In 1861, Lincoln named Clay Minister to Russia, where he witnessed the Czar’s emancipation edict. After being recalled to the United States to accept a commission as Union major general from Lincoln, he publicly refused to accept the commission unless Lincoln would sign an emancipation proclamation. Although it is unclear how significant Clay was in Lincoln’s decision, following Clay’s return Lincoln issued the proclamation.
In Clay’s later years he became burdened by debt, increasingly eccentric and paranoid. He died in 1903 at the age of 92.
Muhammad Ali’s father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr., was named for the emancipationist and passed the name along to his son.
And so it goes.
It finally hit me. Your problem. It’s a common malady, suffered by many New Englanders, especially members of the Commonwealth. It’s called New York envy.
It’s been going on for more than 200 years, this jealousy. Ever since New York became the center of the universe, the heart of fashion, the capital of the financial world. Boston? Well it’s still the capital of Massachusetts. And home to some great American history.
Look I know you were born in Arkansas and grew up in Arizona, but admit it, you’ve always fancied yourself a Yankee killer.
So Big Mouth, guess you felt the need to lash out, to say the Yankees “suck” this year and call out Yankee fans. And even worse, New York fans.
Curt, maybe it’s time for a history lesson. Granted, it’s been a bad year for the Yankees, we’ll give you that. Nobody makes the playoffs every year.
You claim to have been there at the end of the Yankee dynasty. Which one? After all they Yankees have won 26 World Series. They have had many dynasties. More than any other team in any other sport as a matter of fact
Oh, I suppose you were there in 2001 when Arizona beat the Yankees in seven.I remember now, you were the guy who gave up the tie-breaking home run to Alfonso Soriano in the eighth inning, and would have been the losing pitcher if not for a Luis Gonzalez single in the ninth that still hasn’t reached the outfield grass,
Yeah, you pitched heroically in the “Bloody Sock” game in 2004, when the Red Sox rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant from the Yanks and go on to their first championship in 86 years. Of course, part of the reason your team was in a 3-0 hole to begin with was your rather lame effort in Game One of that ALCS. In case you forgot, your line that night was six runs in three innings, loser in a 10-7 Yankee win..
For a self-proclaimed dynasty slayer and Yankee killer, your all-time record against the Bombers ain’t that good either. How does 7-8, 4.71 ERA and just two wins in Yankee Stadium sound? Not very impressive.
Hall of Fame? Not
And not exactly Hall of Fame creds either, Mr. Blowhard. Outside of Sandy Koufax and Dizzy Dean, very few starting pitchers have ever gone into the Hall with 216 wins. Nice try though.
Finally Curt, who anointed you a football expert. I haven’t met a single fan — Jets, New York or otherwise — who was happy to see Tom Brady go down. So no, New York is not rejoicing over Brady’s injury.
After all, the Patriots couldn’t have gone 18-1 and the lost the Super Bowl to the Giants without him.
You know the Giants, Curt. They’re a New York team.
Your friend in blogging,
PS: Curt Schilling’s s blog can be found at 38 Pitches.
Historically, what’s the best division in the NFL? If you use Super Bowl titles as the ultimate criteria, then it’s the NFC East, hands down.
NFC East teams have won 11 of the 42 Super Bowl championships; no other division in the NFL has won more than six.
Here are the standings by division:
NFC East — 11 (Cowboys 5, Giants 3, Redskins 3)
NFC West — 6 (49ers 5, Rams)
AFC East — 6 (Patriots 3, Dolphins 2, Jets)
AFC North — 6 (Steelers 5, Ravens)
AFC West — 6 (Raiders 3, Broncos 2, Chiefs)
NFC North — 4 (Packers 3, Bears)
AFC South– 2 (Colts 2)
NFC South — 1 (Bucs)
Three teams — Cowboys, Steelers and 49ers — have won five Super Bowls apiece.
Surprisingly, in a world of parity, 15 teams, nearly half of the NFL’s 32, have yet to win a Super Bowl.
In fact six teams — Texans, Jaguars, Browns, Saints, Lions and Cardinals — have never even made it to Super Sunday.
9/11/01: Eight Years Ago
(This is a piece I wrote on the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is just as relevant today.)
The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once wrote, “grief returns with the revolving year.” That simple premise holds true this day, now more than ever…for New Yorkers, for Americans and most especially for the families and friends of the innocent victims killed in the ghastly terrorist attacks last September 11.
The emotions are truly overwhelming. Foremost is sadness, for those who lost their lives that day at the World Trade Center and for the families who are trying to cope with that loss. For the rescuers. For those who died at the Pentagon. For the heroes who fought back and altered the course of United Flight 93. That remorse is mixed with anger and the question why anybody would do this to fellow human beings. And of course there is a strong sentiment of American patriotism.
It was a day that changed our lives forever.
As I reflect back on the events of September 11, 2001… and not a day goes by that I don’t think about that fateful, clear-blue day…I realize again and again and again how lucky I am. So many lives that day were changed forever by a quick decision, a twist of fate, the luck of the draw.
Several of my IBM colleagues and I originally had a 9 am meeting scheduled on 9/11 with a Wall Street Journal reporter at the World Trade Center Marriott hotel. Purely by chance, I called the Journal several days before and discussed moving the meeting to 590 Madison (corner of Madison and 57th) in midtown Manhattan. The request was made purely for selfish reasons…so that we could accommodate additional briefings that morning…and also so we didn’t have to lug a bunch of desktops, notebooks and monitors to lower Manhattan.
Fortunately for all of us as it turned out, the Journal agreed to the meeting shift.
That morning, as I met the reporter in the 590 lobby a little before 9 (he had stayed at the WTC Marriott the night before and checked out around 8:15 that morning), he asked if there was an airport nearby, and whether planes took off over Manhattan. I replied that LaGuardia was probably just 5-7 miles away, but that takeoff and landing patterns generally wouldn’t take planes over Manhattan. Then I asked why. He responded that as he got out of the cab, he happened to look up to see a large plane flying down 5th Avenue. He thought it was going to hit one of the midtown skyscrapers.
Anyway, we proceeded to the 6th floor and our windowless conference room. The briefing began right on time, right around 9. Within minutes, my cell phone started ringing. Calls from my family, the office, even the Journal.
You know, it was so strange. We were probably only 2-3 miles from the World Trade Towers, but we may as well have been a million miles away. We didn’t hear anything, see anything, feel anything. We finished our briefing around 10, then opened the conference room door.
There were only a few people on the floor, and they were huddled around listening to radios. The gravity of the situation, the extent of the attacks, was readily apparent to us. Reports kept filtering in, the fires were spreading, people were falling from the towers, another plane had hit the Pentagon.
Soon after, we received word via radio reports of the collapse of the Twin Towers, first the South Tower then the North Tower. At that point, I wanted to get out of Manhattan and back to my home, approx. 80 miles north of the city. Ironically, I had driven my car into the city the day before — normally I take the train to Grand Central. People were being urged not to drive, since tunnels and bridges leading into and out of Manhattan were closed. But I reasoned that people would be allowed to drive out of the city eventually, especially to the north, where the bridges are small.
The WSJ reporter was eager to leave with me, since one of his sons attends college near my home. The IBM team decided to remain in New York.
So the reporter and I left, not knowing what would happen, or whether we’d even be allowed to drive. There was lots of pedestrian traffic, similar to St. Patrick’s Day in some respects without the festive atmosphere. But vehicular traffic was fairly light, and we made good time up Third Avenue, all the way to Harlem. We hit gridlock between 122nd and 123rd St.
After 20 minutes or so, people began getting out of their cars. It was eerie — to the north all you could see was beautiful blue sky, to the south smoke and dust.
Finally, after what seemed like an hour, a truck driver next to us said he heard that they had opened the Willis Avenue Bridge, where First Avenue crosses over into the Bronx. We pushed through, and were soon on our way northward. I got the reporter to a hotel, then made my way home.
In the weeks and months since September 11, I’ve read with avid interest the accounts of what happened to the World Trade Center Marriott. How debris rained down from the North Tower, cracking the pool, with water cascading down, causing the hotel elevators to fail. How the hotel was cleaved in two by the collapse of the South Tower, then destroyed when the North Tower gave way. How the brave firefighters of Brooklyn Ladder 118 — and other FDNY brothers — were able to evacuate hundreds of hotel guests. How more than 50 people, including hotel guests, employees and firefighters, died in the WTC Marriott.
I thank God I’m alive. God Bless America.
The season got off to a bad start when the Yankee Stadium opener was rained out.
The off-season has already begun for the New York Yankees.
Oh sure, they still have 20 some odd games to play, and they’re not mathematically eliminated….yet.
But the numbers don’t lie, When it’s over, it’s over. When you dodge the ultimate futility of having a pitcher nearly throw a no-hitter against you in his first major league start, it’s over
Yeah, and you know it’s over when A-Rod goes on a tear. Now that the pressure is off, he’s gonna have a blockbuster September.
Where did it all go wrong? When did the Yankees begin the death spiral towards the team’s worst finish in more than 15 years?
Start with the pitching. Somewhere along the line, the Yankee brain misplaced the knack for finding good pitchers.
So instead of bringing in guys like Jimmy Key, David Cone, David Wells, El Duque, Mike Mussina and yes, even Roger Clemens, Yankee fans were subjected to the likes of Jeff Weaver, Javier Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa. And now they have Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson and Carl Pavano in their rotation.
A familiar sight: Joe Girardi makes another pitching change.
The Yankees had the opportunity to right some of those wrongs this past off-season, the chance to get Johan Santana, one of the premier pitchers in the game. They didn’t want to give up Melky Cabrera, who lost his center-field job and was banished to the minors, or two young pitchers, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, who have combined to win zero games for the Yankees this year.
They passed on Santana. With him, they might still be alive in the American League chase. Instead, he’s cross-town trying to lead the Mets to the World Series.
Of course, pitching isn’t the only reason the Yankees are fast-fading out of the playoff picture. The starting lineup, supposedly the strength of the team, has been inconsistent at best, and pathetically inept with runners in scoring position.
Showing Their Age
The Yankees began to show their age in certain spots, and the younger players did not develop as expected. Injuries have hurt, particularly the losses of Chien-Ming Wang and Jorge Posada for most of the year.
And then, the Yankees are facing the odds — nobody makes the playoffs every year. Heck, there are college kids today who weren’t old enough to remember the last time that happened.
“It’s certainly something that is hard to watch,” said general manage Brian Cashman, the team’s chief architect. “We’re losing right now and we’re better than this. At some point, you are what your record is until you prove otherwise.”
The Cash-man, with unlimited resources at his disposal, may take the fall for these underachieving 2008 Yankees.
Whoever is in charge will face the task of rebuilding this team quickly. Next year, the Yankees move into the new Yankee Stadium, and Hank Steinbrenner, above, and company will be hell-bent to bring a winner to the Bronx. The pitching needs to be improved, the team needs to become more athletic.
The off-season has already begun for the Yankees, and it promises to be a busy one.
Sometimes, fantasy football can overshadow reality.
Last year, my fantasy team, the Dutchess Dawgs, advanced to the league championship game, led by New England quarterback Tom Brady. That day, the Patriots played the Jets in a cold monsoon at Foxboro. Due to the windy conditions, the Patriots were forced to taper down their offense and turn to the ground game almost exclusively. The result was a workmanlike 20-10 win to extended New England’s record to 14-0.
Of course it meant sense to jettison the passing game, considering the weather conditions. Yet I couldn’t help screaming at Bill Belichick to open up and let Brady air it out.
That December drenching cost the Dawgs a fantasy championship.
Well, the Dawgs are back at it this year, with a completely new lineup, outside of tight end Tony Gonzalez. Gone are Brady, Braylon Edwards, Plaxico Burress, and the Vikings and Chargers defense/special teams. And Frank “What is he good for” Gore.
The new Puppies feature the likes of Drew Brees at quarterback, Clinton Portis and Ronnie Brown at running back, Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson at the wideouts, and the Giants defense/special teams.
In the NFL opener, the Giants defense registered just one sack and no turnovers despite a dominant performance. That’s not much in the world of fantasy football, just one point.
But in reality, the defending Super Bowl champions beat Washington, 16-7.
And in reality, the Dutchess Dawgs face Tom Brady on Sunday.
Or is that fantasy?
This is the second of a three-part retrospective on the moments that shaped Yankee Stadium, New York and the world of sports.
Overall, there will be three categories — anything but baseball, baseball regular season, and baseball post-season.
This is the regular season baseball category….we’ll follow up soon with a top 10 devoted to World Series and post-season play at the Stadium.
Remember you read it first in the SportsLifer.
Top 10 regular season baseball moments at Yankee Stadium (chronological order)
Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, April 18, 1923
1. The Stadium opens with pomp and circumstance and Babe Ruth’s home run beats Boston, 4-1. 1923
2. Babe Ruth hits one over the right-field fence and becomes the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season, 1927
3. Dying Yankee captain Lou Gehrig, at left, being hugged by Babe Ruth, tells a crowd of more than 60,000 “Today I consider myself the “luckiest man on the face of the earth,” 1939
4. Joe DiMaggio begins his immortal 56-game hitting streak by going 1-for-4 against the White Sox, 1941
5. The Yankees edge the Red Sox in the final two games of the season to win the pennant by a game, 1949
6. Roger Maris breaks Babe Ruth’s record with his 61st home run on the final day of the season, 1961
7. Mickey Mantle just misses hitting a ball out of the Stadium when he homers off the right field facade, 1963
8. Ron Guidry strikes out 18 batters to silence the Angels in a team record-setting performance, 1978
9. On the day they buried their captain, Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer’s 5 RBIs give the Yankees a dramatic win, 1979
10. Double Perfect: David Wells, right, and David Cone pitch perfect games a year apart, 1998 and 1999
Other Yankee No-Hitters: Monte Pearson (1938), Allie Reynolds (1951), Dave Righetti (1983), Jim Abbott (1993) and Doc Gooden (1996).
Opposing No-Hitters: Bob Feller (1946), Virgil Trucks (1952) and an army Houston Astros pitchers (2003).
Babe Ruth’s final appearance in The House That Ruth Built, 1948
Umps over-rule George Brett’s homer in the “Pine Tar” game, 1983
Tom Seaver gets 300th win as White Sox beat Yankees on Phil Rizzuto Day, 1985
Roger Clemens wins 300th game; reaches 4,000 K’s, 2003
Derek Jeter dives into the stands against the Red Sox, 2004