Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Majestic Athletic

If you have been a Yankee fan or a Met fan for a while, chances are you have some cool clothing, hats and other gear in your closet. But you may be on the lookout for even more fun clothing. I was looking at Majestic Athletic’s website recently to see about getting a new Alex Rodriguez 

And I saw some other interesting Yankee-related items at the site. Here are some standouts:

Plenty of big and tall apparel

It is pretty uncomfortable – not to mention embarrassing – to wear a t-shirt or jersey or hoodie that is just too small or too short. I noticed that Majestic Athletic had a lot of clothing items designed for those of us who are bigger and /or taller than the typical Yankee fan. Looks like the sizes go up to size 60.

Jerseys and t-shirts for pretty much every player you can think of 

I remember a time when unless you wanted a jersey or shirt of the biggest stars on the team, you would be out of luck, like when you could only find a Don Mattingly baseball jersey or a Wade Boggs t-shirt instead of, say, a John Wetteland t-shirt or a Charlie Hayes jersey. Nowadays, you can find clothing, especially baseball jerseys, to support pretty much every Yankee you can think of, and Majestic Athletic offers all of it.

Think that Bird is the word? Get a Greg Bird shirt. Support Didi Gregorius? His jersey is available. Cult fan of Andrew Warren? Show your support here.

Of course, the big names are here as well. Mark Teixeira. CC Sabathia. Alex Rodriguez. Jacoby Ellsbury. Brian McCann. Even Joe Girardi!

Lots of women’s clothing items – and they aren’t just pink

It is good that baseball clothing manufacturers have finally started making items for women. But not everybody is a fan of wearing pink Yankee gear. Some of us want clothing that is tailored to our bodies, but is still in pinstripes or Yankee blue. Majestic Athletic has items for femaleYankee fans that look just as cool as what the big boys are wearing, but are sized to fit women. In addition, you can get personalized baseball jerseys and shirts.

In closing, I’m going to have to add Majestic Athletic to my shopping repertoire.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Toldja!: Jonathan Papelbon continues to be Cinco Dopo.

What can make me cackle and rub my hands together in glee? Why, it's seeing Jonathan Papelbon getting heat for doing something really stupid! And choking Washington Nationals teammate Bryce Harper, only the best player on the team and an MVP candidate, was mind-numbingly idiotic, even for Papelbon..

In yesterday's game, Cinco Dopo yelled at Harper for not running a ball out. There was already some bad blood between the two of them, after Papelbon threw at Baltimore Oriole Manny Machado's head -- twice -- the other night, pitches that got him a three-game suspension from MLB. Harper told the media then that he expected to be hit in retaliation, and made it clear he wasn't happy about what his teammate did.

As for yesterday's fight, here's how Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post described it:
On Sunday, Papelbon yelled at Harper, accusing him of not running out a ball even though Harper had reached first base and was actually playing in a day-after-elimination game — when many 150-game-plus regulars rest — for the sake of the fans. Papelbon followed Harper, yelling, essentially giving him little choice, until Harper said (according to lip readers), “Let’s [expletive] go.” So they went.
Click here to see clips from the fight.
I think running out every ball is overrated, anyway. Conserve your energy for the plays that matter, Given Harper's injury history, he doesn't need to get hurt on a meaningless play. But at any rate, Harper did get to first on the play. Just not as fast as Papelbon demanded.

Cinco Dopo was clearly out of line here. But Matt Williams, the team's manager, was out of line as well in keeping Papelbon in the game after his closer just choked his best player! Meanwhile, Harper was taken out of the game for the ninth inning, even though it was a tie game. At any rate, Papelbon blew the game and the Nationals lost.

Williams claimed he didn't know how bad the fight was at the time. If that is the case, he ought to be fired just for that (not to mention this team's historic collapse this season!) Here's why. I asked Chris, a Nationals fan who belongs to the same Facebook baseball group that I do, what he saw when he attended the game yesterday. Here's what he said:
I had moved toward the back to visit some friends, and saw it on the TV monitors they have in the back attached to the overhang. They must have played it 2 or 3 times & each time a whole new section saw it & let out an involuntary gasp. It really was that stunning.
So basically, many of the fans in the park saw what was going on via TV screens, but nobody around Williams could get word to him how bad the fight was? Not to mention all of the teammates and coaches who were right there when Papelbon choked Harper! And Williams didn't even bother to watch the clip before meeting with reporters after the game! Williams ought to lose his job just for being so ignorant.

You know, yesterday was Fan Appreciation Day for the Nationals, and they have a giveaway where lucky fans literally get the jerseys that each player wore in the game. Whoever got the Papelbon or Harper jerseys just hit the jackpot!

And Papelbon is just the worst. First, he dissed Red Sox fans in favor of Philly fans when he left town. Not exactly a classy move to insult those who paid your salary. Then there was his incessant crotch-grabbing as a Philly, capped by years of complaints about the Philadelphia fans, and the team itself. In fact, he basically whined his way out of town -- and then dissed the Phillies some more after leaving town.

So what happens? As Squawker Jon noted, the Nationals were in first place over his Mets by three games when they traded for Papelbon and displaced closer Drew Storen. If you remember at the time, a lot of fans thought this was a bad move, and would screw up Storen -- and team chemistry. And sure enough, that's exactly what happened. Storen busted up his thumb punching his locker in frustration. The Nationals, who were projected to win the World Series this year, blew their division lead, and the Mets ended up winning the division.

Now the Nationals have another year of Papelbon -- they picked up the option in his contract to pay him $11M next season in exchange for him agreeing to the trade. How's that going to go? Papelbon is a loose cannon, to say the least. Who's going to trade for him?

Wait a minute. Uh-oh. He's a former Red Sox, something that is catnip to Brian Cashman. Please oh please don't let Cashman trade for Papelbon! Good grief.

* * *

Congratulations to Squawker Jon and our many Met fan friends for their team winning the NL East division title and making it into the postseason. For whatever reason, I actually have more Met fan friends than Yankee fan friends. Especially in the blogging community. I hope a Subway Series is in the cards for this year!

Mets have champagne; Nationals have Papelbon

Sunday night was the first supermoon eclipse since 1982. It only felt like it was that long since the Mets had meaningful games in October. Finally, the Mets are back in the poststeason!

The Mets won their first World Series the year of the first moon landing. The Mets won their second World Series the last time Halley's Comet was in the vicinity of Earth. Could the stars align a third time in the year of the supermoon eclipse?

With the Mets' starting pitching, anything is possible, especially now that Matt Harvey appears to have rediscovered his willingness to put the team first, which is great news. As much as I enjoy seeing celestial events light up the evening sky, the event I really enjoyed seeing was 97 pitches of a Dark Knight. 

Of course, what I enjoyed seeing most of all was the extensive coverage of the postgame celebration on SNY. A year and a half ago, Daniel Murphy received some foolish sniping over his taking three days of paternity leave. After the game, Murphy celebrated on the field with his young son. The Mets even came back on the field to celebrate with Met fans who had made the trip to Cincinnati.

Inside the clubhouse, some Mets smoked celebratory cigars. When SNY finally cut to a commercial, it was fortunately not one of those grisly anti-smoking spots.


The Mets trailed the Nationals by three games at the trade deadline just two months ago. Then the Mets capped off their midseason moves by trading for Yoenis Cespedes. The Nationals had recently completed their own move, supposedly bolstering their bullpen with the acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon. 

Five years ago, Mets' star closer Francisco Rodriguez allegedly assaulted his girlfriend's father at the ballpark. Sunday, Nationals' star closer Jonathan Papelbon tried to attack teammate Bryce Harper in the Nationals' dugout. Harper is only the front-runner for NL MVP. Maybe it's just a coincidence that the Nationals' collapse began when they acquired Papelbon, but considering that the move also sent demoted closer Drew Storen into a tailspin culminating with Storen breaking his thumb in frustration. At least Storen did so while slamming a locker door, not trying to slam a teammate.

Another parallel with the Mets and Nationals is that the Nationals had their own issue with innings limits for a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery who was represented by Scott Boras. In 2012, the 98-win Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in September, only to lose in the first round the following month. When the Mets face the Dodgers in the NLDS, they will continue to have Harvey's services.

But the Nationals figure to come back strong next year, especially if they have better luck with injuries and get a new manager and closer. So congratulations to the Mets for seizing their opportunity this year and capturing the NL East crown. Ya gotta believe! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Remembering Yogi Berra from a Met fan's perspective

In my formative years as a baseball fan, Yogi Berra was a Met. After the Yankees fired him as manager in 1964 after losing Game 7 of the World Series, Berra coached or managed the Mets from 1965-1975. Berra was the first base coach for the 1969 Miracle Mets. When beloved manager Gil Hodges died suddenly at the end of spring training in 1972, Yogi took over as manager. In 1973, Yogi led the "Ya Gotta Believe" Mets to the World Series.

One of the most famous Yogi-isms came during that 1973 season, The Mets were nine games under .500 as late as the end of August, but their manager proclaimed, "it ain't over till it's over." Yogi's Mets came back to win the NL East, upset the Reds in the NLCS, and take Oakland's early-1970s dynasty to Game 7 before their season finally was over.

Yogi's memorable quotes can also be applied to the current baseball scene:

"It's deja vu all over again."
Many Met fans were muttering this the last few days as the Mets appeared in danger of another late-season collapse. But after Thursday's Met win and Washington loss, the magic number is 3, and the deja vu is going to refer that champagne celebration from 2006 SNY has been rerunning.

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
Sandy Alderson traded Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler for Carlos Gomez, then took back the trade, acquiring instead some guy named Cespedes. Gomez, meanwhile, is hitting .234 for Houston and has not played since September 12 due to an injured back.

"Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."
Daniel Murphy running the bases.

"Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded."
Citi Field Shake Shack

"A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore."

What happens after you invest with Bernie Madoff.

"The future ain’t what it used to be."

2015 Yankees postseason prognosis

"It gets late early out here."
Matt Harvey's innings limits.

Remembering Yogi Berra from a Yankee fan's perspective

Yogi Berra was arguably the most beloved baseball player you can think of, as the great Mike Vaccaro writes in today's New York Post.. Put it this way -- not only are both Yankee fans and Met fans mourning his passing at the age of 90, but I have seen multiple Red Sox fan friends do their own tributes to the Yankee catcher. Think about it. How many Yankees would Boston fans ever have warm feelings for?

Berra was also a pop culture icon. From Yogi Bear to YooHoo ads to even the local Rizzuto-Berra Lanes, a bowling alley in Clifton, NJ, the town where I went to school, Yogi was everywhere. His playing days were done before I was born, yet I and everybody else of my generation knew who he was, thanks to him transcending pop culture. He also was a coach in the late 1970s Yankees teams, which put him in pinstripes for the Reggie/Billy wars -- and for those two titles.

Also, the fact that he was a local -- he lived in Upper Montclair, not far from my hometown of Passaic -- made him a big figure in northern New Jersey. Who else would get a museum in that area on his life, after all?

And don't forget all the things Yogi said, or was purported to say. (Although I think his childhood pal Joe Garigiola was actually the author of some of the Yogi-isms!)

Berra lived a life about as good as you can imagine. Ten World Series championships, three MVPs, a loving wife and great kids and grandkids. A hero in World War II. He was in good shape, physically and mentally, until the end, which is no small thing.

And for somebody known for goofy sayings, he kept his dignity in one very important way. Unlike other Yankee managers, like Billy Martin, who kept on putting up with George Steinbrenner's abusive ways when George was at his worst, Berra walked away from Yankeeland after The Boss fired him in 1985 just 16 games into the season, without having the courtesy to tell Yogi to his face. Berra stayed away until 1999, when he was opening his museum, and Suzyn Waldman brokered the peace. Then, when The Boss honored him with a special day at The Stadium, David Cone pitched a perfect game on that same day. Amazing.

I still don't understand how Berra did not make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first try. His numbers, especially his low strikeout rate, were just remarkable.

In recent years, the Broadway show "Bronx Bombers" helped portray his life. I was asked by somebody connected to the producers to give my opinion of the play. I felt that with them not showing his estrangement with Steinbrenner, they were leaving out a very important part of his story. For a man that some depicted as a clown, Berra had so much class in his refusal to put up with Steinbrenner's shenanigans. Yogi really was something else.

I will leave Squawker Jon to write about Berra's impact on his Mets. But suffice it to say that Berra will be missed by all baseball fans. He'll be reunited now in heaven with his beloved Carmen, though. And with his old Yankee teammates.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Subway Series Game 3: Imagine if Yoenis Cespedes wanted to come out after five innings

Matt Harvey has every right to prioritize his future health and earning potential. But he can't negotiate a departure after 77 pitches of one-hit ball and claim that all he wants to do is pitch.

From Newsday's Anthony Rieber:

"More than anything, I wanted to be out there," Harvey said. "The way things were going, the tight game, the last thing I wanted to do was come out."
It was The Dark Knight at his worst. Saying things that could not possibly be further from the truth:

It may seem unfair to hold Harvey responsible for last night's 11-2 loss when he was the only Met who did his job well. If the bullpen and the defense had done their jobs, today's headlines might proclaim that the Boras/Harvey part-time pitcher plan had passed its first test.

But this plan required four innings from a Mets bullpen that has trouble handling more than two innings, and that's when Tyler Clippard is not missing time with back problems. This is the time when the starting pitcher is supposed to figuratively put the team on his back.

And that's just what Harvey did for the first five innings. On national TV, against the hated Yankees, on a day when the Met bats continued their recent quiet. If the skies had opened up after the fifth inning, Harvey would not have been brought back after a long rain delay under normal circumstances. And his quotes might not have earned Rieber's response below:

"For me, I know where I want to be and that's on the mound and in a Mets uniform."

"The last thing I want to do is not play and not pitch, especially if we get into the postseason."

For not accepting responsibility, for putting his manager and teammates in the unenviable position of having to live within the limits that Harvey and Boras put in motion, and for saying he wants to be out there when he engineered the exact opposite situation, Harvey should be nominated for an Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.
Only no one in the Mets clubhouse is laughing.

Yoenis Cespedes offered to play centerfield when he came to the Mets, even though that was not his regular position. He's stopped hitting since he was hit by a pitch last Tuesday but refuses to use that as an excuse. Cespedes may end up getting some votes for National League MVP despite only joining the Mets in August. Harvey's been around all year and has had a pretty good year. But nobody is using "Harvey" and "MVP" in the same sentence.

Harvey showed last night that he can produce after a long layoff. Going forward, the Mets should just shut him down until the playoffs (or until the season-ending series with the Nats if the Mets have not yet cliinched), then only use him in games in which he announces beforehand that he wants to pitch as much as he can.

Superhero movies are box-office gold these days. But nobody wants to see "The Dark Knight Takes Himself Out of the Game."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Subway Series Game 2: Yankees resume their rightful dominance in the universe

We're getting the band back together --
Ethan, Lisa and Jon.
I am still peeved that Squawker Jon and I were unable to get Subway Series tickets this time around, but at least we got to watch most of Game 2 together.

We also made it a mini-Daily News reunion, as we met with our old web room friend and cohort Ethan Sacks at Henry's on the Upper West Side to watch the game. We have known each other for ages, but it has been a while since I had seen Ethan -- too long! So it was great to catch up with him yesterday.

Ethan is a fellow Yankee fan, but *not* an A-Rod fan! Fortunately, there were no fisticuffs at our reunion.

Daily News readers will recognize this shirt
-- it is an Ed Murawinski cartoon from the
2000 Subway Series. Murawinski was one
of the DN staffers laid off this week.

It took my express bus forever to get to Manhattan, though, so I missed seeing Carlos Beltran's 1st inning homer, although I did listen to it via the MLB At-Bat app. (Note: I listened to Mets broadcasters Howie Rose and Josh Lewin, as opposed to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. You know, because I actually wanted to know what was happening in the game!) We did see when Michael Pineda was taken out, and wonder why Joe Girardi was doing his usual overmanaging.

I read in today's New York Post the latest bloviating from Yankees GM Brian (Fredo) Cashman. Cash, who thinks he's a badass because he rides a bicycle without a helmet (I think that makes him a moron, but I digress), “If we are world champions, I don’t care how we got there," he tells George King, sounding like he is conceding the AL East. Um, Bri, maybe it's too much bike riding without a helmet, but you do understand that the Wild Card no longer automatically entitles teams to postseason ALDS series bids, and that the Yanks will have to win a one-game playoff in order to advance? So your cockiness is moronic.

Oh, and I posted a photo of myself on Facebook yesterday holding a mimosa and toasting the Yankees' victory in the Subway Series. Unfortunately, I made a typo and spelled "Series" as "Seties." Not good for the professional proofreader!

I blame my bad typing on my iPhone, but others are blaming it on the al-al-al-al-alcohol. Two of the members of my running club's fantasy football league mocked me for this typo. Josh had this to say -- make that, to snark!: "'Seties?!' Must we correct the Proofreader?! Just say no to drinking and posting."

My response? "Josh and Mark, you got me! How embarrassing! Speaking of embarrassing, Thor wasn't much of a superhero today, eh?" Heh. (Note that I didn't attempt to spell Noah Syndergaard then! Imagine how I could have butchered that name!)

* * *

Squawker Jon was getting on me today for being tardy in my writing. Dude is like Robert DeNiro in "Awakenings" -- after years of slumbering, he is all of a sudden Squawking up a storm. Today he made Matt Harvey babying jokes. And Jon was nagging me to finish my Squawk early this afternoon.

I saw this Tyvek suit on the side of the
road today during my run. Is Jesse Pinkman
back in business -- this time on
Staten Island?
Look, I ran 10 miles (!) this morning. I am in training for the Staten Island Half-Marathon, which is happening in three weeks. And this is the first time I have ever run past nine miles, other than in my previous half-marathon. So I was exhausted, and just wanted to relax when I got home. Jon's big journey today was going to Zabar's to get a bagel!

I did make a point of picking up the Sunday New York Daily News today. I was hoping that they would allow Bill Madden, Filip Bondy, David Hinckley, et al to say farewell to their readers. After all, each of them has been at the paper for at least three decades before being laid off.

And as much as Madden drove me nuts with his anti-A-Rod crusade, I still read his baseball column every Sunday. Unfortunately, after nearly forty years at the News, they didn't even give him the courtesy of letting him write a farewell column to his readers. The closest the News gave to a Madden tribute is letting Mike Lupica, who is still on the payroll, write about him today. My eyes rolled so hard over that, they're in the back of my head now! The newspaper business is a really cruel one.

Subway Series Game 2 and Game 3 Preview: Babying Matt Harvey

Sunday night will be the latest regular-season Mets-Yankee matchup ever, but Matt Harvey will be treated as if it's spring training. Various reports having him getting pulled after 70 pitches or six innings. Or perhaps he will be pulled if he and Scott Boras get colicky again.

Boras will doubtless want to monitor Harvey closely tonight, and it just so happens that Amazon's Deal of the Day is the iBaby Monitor M6 HD Wi-Fi Wireless Digital Baby Camera.

At $139.95 down from $199.95, the Mets could even spring for the device as a peace offering toward Harvey's helicopter agent. After all, the promotional copy promises: "no more endless phone calls from the office to check on your little bundle of joy."

As for Game 2, not much good to say about the 5-0 Met loss. Yoenis Cespedes is 0 for his last 17, but his overall Met numbers remain sensational. What's more concerning, however, is that the Mets have been shut out twice and have scored only eight runs total in their last four games while Cespedes has gone cold.

The Mets now have enough good hitters that others should be able to pick up the slack when Cespedes inevitably cools off.  Lucas Duda hit nine homers in eight games in late July and early August, then failed to hit another one until Friday night. Yet it was when Duda stopped producing that the Mets' offense took off.  Can the Mets now similarly thrive without Cespedes' daily heroics, or is it that, as Cespedes goes, so goes the team? If it's the latter, Cespedes' free-agent price just got higher.

If Harvey does well tonight against the Yankees and shows he is in good form for the postseason, much will be forgiven.  It shouldn't be too much to ask, considering that he is going on ten days rest. As Squawker Lisa would say, sounds like my blogging schedule!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Subway Series Game 1: Mets' cakewalk September schedule continues

The Mets cut their magic number to eight with a 5-1 win over a team that had Met castoff Chris Young (.122 batting avg. in August) batting cleanup. Steven Matz, making his fifth career start, outpitched Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. No wonder Squawker Lisa called her blog entry "We'll always have Luis Castillo." These days, what you have is Stephen Drew.

Lisa and I agree on one thing - it's better for the blog when both teams do well. But now it's the Yankees who are failing to hold up their end of the bargain. Lisa writes: "The Subway Squawkers talking about an October Subway Series will get much more screen time than if only the Yankees make the postseason." Face it, Lisa: The only way there will be an October Subway Series is if the MTA manages to build a subway line to Toronto in the next month, and considering that it took 25 years for one new station to open (the Hudson Yards 7 stop), I wouldn't hold my breath.

While Met bats have been on fire since Yoenis Cespedes came to town, Yankee bats have gone cold. Here are some Yankee batting averages over the last 30 days:

Jacoby Ellsbury - .190
Brett Gardner - .194
Brian McCann - .208
Chris Young - .216
Chase Headley - .228
Alex Rodriguez - .234

Here are some September ERAs:

Ivan Nova - 10.57  
Luis Severino - 5.02
Michael Pineda 4.67 
Adam Warren 4.15

The Yankees remain likely to make the wild card game, where they should have a good shot with Tanaka on the mound. But unlike Squawker Lisa, these Yankees are not ready for their closeup.

Subway Series Game 1: We'll always have Luis Castillo

Be careful what you wish for.

For a while now, I have wanted the New York Mets to be a winning team again. "It's good for the Squawkers," I would implore, when fellow Yankee fans would roll their eyes at this idea. Alright, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my closeup, is what I say!

You see, I am ready to get this blog to the next level. If the Yankees and Mets are both playing in October, it can mean big exposure for us. I want us (or at least me, if introvert Max, um, I mean Squawker Jon, balks) to be on New York sports radio, and TV. I want fame and fortune.  Is that so wrong?

So of course I want the Mets to do well. The Subway Squawkers talking about an October Subway Series will get much more screen time than if only the Yankees make the postseason. And I'm in fighting trim to be on TV now, too, instead of avoiding cameras. So yes, you're darn tooting I want a Subway Series next month. (And for us to do a "Warriors" parody video. Jon, you'd better agree!)

Anyway, now we have a situation where the Mets have gotten good; maybe a little too good. They are going to win the NL East. No 2007-esque collapse is in sight. (The Nationals are the ones who choked away the division, not the Mets!)  Meanwhile, the Yankees have lost their hold on the AL East, and are, unless they go on a roll, destined to make the Wild Card. (It remains to be seen, though, who their opponent will be. although it looks like it will be Houston.) So Mets fans are starting to chirp in response to my squawking. The cacophony is alarming!

I really wanted to be at last night's game, but even standing room only tickets were over $50 each. So I sat down and watched the game at home. And Citi Field was rocking last night. Mike Vaccaro, the great New York Post columnist, calls Friday's game Opening Night for Citi Field, in that it was the first real game since opening in 2009 where the house was rocking the way Shea Stadium used to be. I agree.

Last night's game was good -- if you are a Mets fan. For a Yankee fan like me, we got treated to some truly boneheaded moves from Joe Girardi, from benching Brian McCann to not pinch-hitting for Brendan Ryan with A-Rod to Girardi's bullpen wackiness. He threw in the towel right from the beginning, and it was not fun to watch. Given that Tanaka was on the mound, Joe should have actually, you know, tried to win the game. He didn't. Oy.

I also am going to have to hear sass from the now-vocal Mets fans I know. Good grief. My friend Sully compares Mets fans these days to Robert De Niro in "Awakenings." Heh.

But at least we'll always have Luis Castillo to torture Mets fans with. "Dropped the ball! He dropped the ball! Here comes Teixeira. And the Yankees win! Oh, my goodness. He dropped the ball!"


Friday, September 18, 2015

Remembering the New York Daily News Sports Section

After Squawker Lisa and I lost our jobs at the New York Daily News website in 2008, I stopped reading the paper for awhile. But eventually resumed its place as an essential part of my websurfing day. And the main reason was the sports section.

When I joined the Daily News website just before its launch in 1996, one of the first projects I developed was to put a classic sports column from The News' archives on the site once a week. In the early days of the site, Ethan Sacks and I delighted in poring through old microfilm to see what columnists such as Jimmy Cannon and Dick Young had to say about the great sporting events of their day. (While I was no fan of Young for his role in hounding Tom Seaver out of town and for his politics, he could turn out a great column in his heyday.)

In 2000, Ethan created a massive web package celebrating the classic back (and sometimes front) pages of The News' sports coverage. I contributed two pieces. One was on the 1969 Mets winning the World Series.

The other, appropriately enough for this Subway Series weekend, was on the first time the Mets and Yankees ever played, an exhibition game that made both the front and back page on March 23, 1962. A sellout crowd in St. Petersburg, FL came out to see Casey Stengel, fired by the Yankees two years earlier despite winning 10 pennants and seven World Series in 12 years, lead the newborn Mets against the Yankees, who had just left St. Pete to train in Fort Lauderdale.

Here's how Young described the crowd:

They were heavily pro-Mets, these people who for years had rooted for the Yankees. They didn't boo the Yanks for their defection to Fort Lauderdale (except for Maris, who got a few razzes) but their hearts are with Ole Case. He could manage the Rinkeydinks and they'd be on his side. 

After the Mets beat the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth, Young described how jubilant former Giant and Dodger fans packed New York bars, including the legendary Toots Shor's, to celebrate.

"It's like New Year's Eve in this joint," Shor yelled to Stengel over the phone.

Through the years, you could always count on Daily News sports columnists for their unique voices and feel for the city. As with Young, I didn't always agree with what Bill Madden and Filip Bondy had to say, especially Bondy's Met-bashing. But when Bondy covered international events such as the Olympics or Wimbledon, I would often read his entertaining dispatches about his experiences on the road ahead of the actual event coverage.

When I was at the paper, the biggest regular-season Mets-Yankees Subway Series ever would have meant a special section with lots of extra content and a cover cartoon from Ed Murawinski. I still have my T-shirt with the cover Murawinski drew for the 2000 World Series.

It is impossible to imagine this weekend's Subway Series without Madden, Bondy and Murawinski. It is impossible to imagine the sports section without other longtime writers such as Wayne Coffey, Hank Gola and Roger Rubin. Just last week, Coffey broke the James Blake-NYPD story. Those of us who still care about the steroids issue could always count on Teri Thompson's I-Team to pursue the issue. Now Thompson, too, is gone.

Mike Lupica's heyday was well in the past, but his departure certainly marks the end of an era. (There are reports that Lupica may not be out after all, which would make the loss of all these fine journalists that much more of a travesty.)

For most of my time at The News, the web staff was largely separate from the print edition, so I hardly ever saw most of the people mentioned here, but I was fortunate to have the chance to work with Teri in getting I-Team exclusives up on the site. Teri saw the potential of the site to break news at a time when some on the print side sill saw the web as trying to scoop the paper, rather than as part of the same team.

On a personal note, that era's separation of web and print enabled the existence of Subway Squawkers. Lisa and I will always be grateful to our editor Kevin Hayes for giving us the space on the Daily News website to create this blog in 2006.

One of the smartest things I did at the News was to team up with a writer as talented as Lisa. It was Lisa's piece on the Daily News "Firemageddon" that inspired me to take a crack at writing my own.

During my almost 13 years at The News, I went through numerous redesigns of the website. In the early days, we fought with consultants who told us that it was too complicated to create columnist pages where each columnist could have their work archived. Later redesigns would attempt to make the columnists hard to find. It never made any sense to me that the powers that be would seek to minimize that value of the unique voices that make up the heart and soul of the New York Daily News.

It still doesn't make any sense.

On rewriting your life with a pursuit of happiness: It is never too late to be what you might have been

I have lots of inspirational magnets on my
refrigerator door. This saying is one of them.

Warning: Squawker Jon may call this "navel gazing," as he sometimes does when I write anything personal. I will also talk about 9/11, A-Rod, the New York Daily News, running and death. Be forewarned!

A few things over the past week reminded me how, in the words of the Grateful Dead's "Box of Rain," what a "short time to be there" we have, and how we really need to make the most of our time on earth to be happy, and be who we should have been in the first place.

The anniversary of 9/11 is one of those reminders. I used to whine about how old I was getting each year, until the Twin Towers were destroyed. What made me stop complaining about my age was looking at the names and birthdates of the people honored at Staten Island's 9/11 Postcards memorial. They never got the opportunity to grow old with their families. Growing older means that we're still alive, after all.

Another sobering thing is the news of the layoffs at the New York Daily News, my alma mater. It just goes to show how life can change in an instant. Those staffers gave their hearts and souls to the paper, and are being thrown out like yesterday's news (no pun intended.)

I was on my pal Paul Francis Sullivan's Sully Baseball show again recently, talking about the state of the Yankees. A-Rod's continued success this year, both professionally and reputationally, spurred me to wax philosophical. My point was that Alex has proven that as long as you're breathing, you have the chance to rewrite your life and come up with a better ending.

Sully and I also agreed, though, that there are exceptions to this rule, of course. Because they are predators, Bill Cosby and Subway spokesman Jared Fogle are not going to be able to rehabilitate themselves!

But in general, the point holds. If A-Rod had retired, the way Bill Madden wanted him to do, he never would have gotten the chance to rewrite his story. But Alex didn't, and now he has a much better reputation than he did a year ago.

Over the past two years, and especially over the past year, I have really tried to change my life in many ways. While I am still a work in progress, I have lost 55 pounds so far, and will be running my second half-marathon next month. Plus, I actually have a real writing career now!

Because of my being so candid about my struggles, others have talked to me about their own issues. If you look at Facebook posts, you'd think most people are happy, but they're not. There really is an epidemic of unhappiness in this country. And you can trace so many problems and addictions that people have to this. I know part of the reason I overate was because of being unhappy with my lot in life. And it was also easier to eat than to fix the things wrong with life then. However, we all need hope that things will be better in the future, even if that may be a long way away. And even if others around us want to continue to keep us down.

Whether you have faith in a higher power or not, we weren't put on this earth to be miserable, or to stay miserable. Especially given that we are privileged to live in the United States. This country was built on the principle of the pursuit of happiness; it's written in the Declaration of Independence, after all! Yet we sometimes think we don't deserve happiness, as if there is nobility in misery. There isn't.

Changing your life is extraordinarily hard, though. I know that from personal experience. It has taken a long time to lose those 55 pounds, and I still have a ways to go. But, as my running coach Mario says about me, I have the consistent persistence to keep on going. I think this comes from the desperation I felt in wanting to change my life, plus the success I have had with small victories has kept me going. I still wonder, though, how I had the courage to join a running club when I weighed 252 pounds!

Unfortunately, in many cases, some of our "loved ones" don't really want to see us make positive changes. They would prefer us to stay miserable. One of the things friends who had lost weight told me to watch out for was that I would see that some of my loved ones would not be supportive of my fitness journey, and would prefer for me to stay fat and unhappy. Sad but true.

If I could give one word of advice, though, it would be that there is no time like the present to change your life. Especially for people in my age range, where we start seeing our peers dying suddenly.

If I were to die tomorrow, I would want two things to be done at my funeral. First, I'd like to be eulogized as having tried to make my life better by getting off the couch. The second is to have "The Eyes of Texas," the school song for the University of Texas, played and sung at the service, and for everybody to do the Hook 'em Horns signs like at Lady Bird Johnson's funeral. But I digress.

I am a big believer these days in positive slogans and books, which would surprise my old Daily News colleagues who saw me as a cynical person in that cynical environment. I even have a slew of inspirational magnets on my refrigerator. One says that it is never too late to be what you might have been. I truly believe that. I also live by Eminem's lyrics in "Not Afraid," where he says: "I'm a be what I set out to be, without a doubt undoubtedly." Not the best grammar, but I agree with the sentiment!

The New York Daily News' Firemageddon wrecks me to the core

For better or worse, the New York Daily News was a huge part of my life from an early age. I grew up reading the paper every day, starting from 1977, when I was 10 years old. Between the New York Yankees' "Bronx Zoo"-era coverage, and the Son of Sam stories, the paper was an enormous influence on my way of thinking.  Then, when I ended up working at the tabloid in 2000, being at the paper -- and the friends I made there -- helped turn me from a rube (my idea of fine dining then was Red Lobster!) into a real New Yorker.

Plus, I met Squawker Jon (he hired me and got me out of Texas) and other people who are friends to this day. Way back in 2006, Jon suggested that we start something called a "blog" together, where he would argue for the Mets, and I would for the Yankees. Without the Daily News, there would be no Subway Squawkers! 

I had always wanted to be a writer, but my only outlet then was writing about the Yankees on various local message boards. If it weren't for Jon suggesting that we create the blog, I would be nowhere in my writing career.

The News helped make me who I am today. I refer to it as my "alma mater" because of that reason. There were some really good times (Dina and Andy: remember the Whizzinator joke!), but some really terrible times as well, especially towards the end of our days there. (Jon and I got laid off on the same day during the Great Recession.)

I have such bittersweet emotions about the place. It was the most negative work environment I have ever been in; so much so that I think I had PTSD towards the end of my tenure there, I also learned a lot at the paper. I was (privately) bitter for a long time after losing my job, but I can now acknowledge now that there were many good times mixed in there, too, 

It has been almost seven years since I worked at the  Daily News, but I still have old friends and old colleagues there, and I still read at least parts of the paper fairly regularly. And while I expected that there would be layoffs after it was announced that owner Mort Zuckerman was unable to find a buyer for the paper, even I was stunned to see how many good people are now losing their jobs this week. 

With the news of the job losses, I also had flashbacks to when I got laid off, and how devastated (yet relieved) I felt at the time. My last few months at the paper (with a boss who despised me, and who I despised) were like being stuck in an abusive relationship (he even stole stuff from me!), and it reminded me how miserable I was then. Fortunately, my life is much better now, although it took a long time to get there.

I also can see now that losing my job there was ultimately a net positive, as it set me on a different career trajectory. Because I worked nights them, I really didn't know anybody in New York City. Losing my job forced me to meet new people and network and get out there, instead of thinking that life was all about West 33rd Street. 

A word to the wise -- if you know someone who has suffered a job loss, whether at the DN or elsewhere, please don't tell them nonsense like "everything happens for a reason" or "you'll be better off in no time." That is not realistic. And everything doesn't happen for a reason, unless you think there is some cosmic value to, say, children getting cancer. 

I can tell people from personal experience that I went through rough times after my Daily News job loss, ultimately became a stronger person through such a trial by fire, and am much happier now. But it certainly didn't happen overnight. As the Ringo Starr song said, "It Don't Come Easy." Nothing worth having does. 

And the single best thing you can do, other than listening to your friend's concerns after a job loss, is to give them a lead for a new job. I reached out to some contacts tonight on behalf of a few of my old friends. I hope this will help them get back on their feet soon.

I was a little sad to hear that lead A-Rod basher Bill Madden and sports editor and investigative team leader Teri Thompson lost their jobs, even though part of me finds it amusing that during this time, A-Rod is riding so high! I grew up reading Madden and still have several of his books on my shelves, before he went so wacky against A-Rod. Thompson may not have been nice to A-Rod, but she was always nice to me personally.

On the other hand, I have nothing but schadenfreude about Mike Lupica. Heaven help the web editor who didn't turn off the comments section on his articles. (He refused to allow anybody to comment on his work!)  Here's a comment: What a tool!

To see good people like Filip Bondy and Roger Rubin and Wayne Coffey and David Hinckley lose their jobs just floors me. Especially Hinckley. I wrote the following on Facebook after I heard about him being part of the layoffs:

I just heard that entertainment columnist David Hinckley was one of the casualties of the New York Daily News' Firemageddon. I am not ashamed to admit that this news literally made me have to leave my desk so I could go have a good cry. There have been a lot of bad losses to the paper over the past day, but this is the worst.

Nobody wrote as much as Hinckley did for the Daily News, or as well. He was able to write quickly and intelligently on any entertainment topic you could think of. Hinckley was my very favorite writer at the paper. And it wasn’t just due to his writing; it was due to what a generous, kind person he was. He was a true team player in a very cynical industry.

In my last 18 months at the paper as a web editor, I was tasked with getting original online-only entertainment content for the site. However, I had no budget. Instead, I was expected to use my powers of persuasion to get the paper’s already overworked entertainment writers to create content for the web for no additional compensation. 

Needless to say, this wasn’t an easy thing to get done. But not with Hinckley. He never turned down a request, even if it meant him writing at home for free on his own time. Sometimes, if there was a breaking entertainment story, like when Heath Ledger died, Hinckley would even offer on his own to do a web-only piece, like when he put Ledger’s death in context with other actors under 30. 

Squawker Jon and I used to joke that if a real Armageddon came, they could put out an entire paper just with Hinckley’s writing. He was that prolific – and that good. I guess the paper’s plan is to replace the older writers they fired with younger, cheaper people, the way they did with the web site. But in my opinion, they may as well just shut the paper down now. Without Hinckley, and the many sports layoff casualties, they have gotten rid of pretty much every single interesting voice at the Daily News. This makes me very sad.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cespedes! Cespedes! Cespedes!

When Yoenis Cespedes won the Home Run Derby at Citi Field in 2013, the player he defeated in the final round was Bryce Harper. Harper technically won yesterday's home run battle, 2-1, but Cespedes and the Mets won the game and the sweep over Washington. Now the Nationals look done, and deadline pickup Cespedes is being talked about as an MVP candidate over Harper.

Cespedes hit 32 homers in his Derby win, and yesterday's game-winner off of hapless Washington reliever Drew Storen was his 32nd homer of 2015.  He's hit 14 as a Met, along with 36 RBI and 33 runs in just 36 games.

So far, Cespedes has been far more valuable to the Mets on the road than at home. At Citi Field, he is hitting .241 with four homers and six RBI in 15 games.  But check out his road numbers: .354 BA, 10 homers and 30 RBI in 21 games.  So there's a bright side in the Mets probably not having home-field advantage in the playoffs.

I originally wrote the previous sentence as "if and when the Mets make the playoffs," but Squawker Lisa has complained about my newfound cockiness, so I removed the "if."  Deal with it, Lisa, the Mets are going to be playing in a real playoff series, while the Yankees look like they will be in a one-game elimination against Cole Hamels and the Texas Rangers. But at least Stephen Drew has gotten his average over the Mendoza line.

But forget about the Yankees, at least until the Subway Series in a week. Forget about the Matt Harvey circus. All that matters is Cespedes, Cespedes, Cespedes!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Miracle Mets turn Nationals into Walking Dead

On July 30, the Mets were ahead, 7-1, in the seventh inning, but went on to blow the game. The next day, they acquired Yoenis Cespedes. Last night, they trailed, 7-1, in the seventh inning, and went on to beat the Nationals and seriously damage Washington's chances of catching the Mets. Ya gotta believe!

My friend David and I were admittedly not believing when we left the bar where we were watching the game after the Nationals went up by six runs.Matt Harvey had gone from being the Dark Knight to giving his disgruntled fans a dark night. As I walked home, I pondered over which trade destination would be most unpleasant for him. Texas? Milwaukee? What about Colorado? Perhaps a Met ace from an earlier time could fill him in on the school system. But at least Mike Hampton helped the Mets get to a World Series. Of course, to do that, you need to pitch in October. Not that I'm bitter.

By the time I got home, the Mets were starting to rally, but it was still only 7-2. The bases were loaded, but there were two outs. Then Curtis Granderson walked to force in a run, and it was 7-3.

And Cespedes was coming up with the bases loaded.

Never mind that Cespedes' error in the previous inning turned a single into a Little League grand slam. Never mind that he is a lot closer than Harvey is to likely be leaving the Mets for a huge free-agent deal elsewhere.  Right now, he's a Met, and his OPS since joining the team is 1.014.  Sure enough, a bases-clearing double. Now the Mets are within 7-6, and now the Mets are going to win.

Yes it's nice that the Nationals bullpen turned into the Walking Dead, walking three more batters to force in the tying run, giving them six walks for the inning. But what makes this a magical year is that the game-winning homer was hit by a guy who wasn't even supposed to be on the team, just like Wilmer Flores. Kirk Nieuwenhuis was DFA'd, joined the Angels, released, rejoined the Mets, and hit the game-winning homer off of Jonathan Papelbon, acquired by the then first-place Nationals at the trade deadline to help them get to the World Series. Instead, with their postseason in jeopardy, the desperate Nats used Papelbon in the eighth inning, and he blew the game.

Met fans know all too well that a six-game lead is not necessarily safe, but this Mets team is special and the Nationals are a mess. Ya gotta believe!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Boras client Scherzer fails vs. Mets

Last winter, Scott Boras client Max Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million contract with Washington. But now the most expensive free-agent pitcher ever is a key reason why the Nationals are five games behind the Mets.

In yesterday's game, with Washington's playoff hopes on the line, Scherzer gave up five earned runs, just as many as Mets starter Jon Niese.  Scherzer now has a 5.12 ERA and 1.38 WHIP after the All-Star break, with a 1-4 record in 10 starts.

If Scherzer had been pitching anywhere close to his great first half - 2.11 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 150 strikeouts in 132 innings, and a 10-7 record - Washington would be closer in the standings. Even with all their injuries, the Nationals ended the first half two games up on the Mets when Scherzer was on his game.

As good as he has been, Scherzer is not in the same league as superstar pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez.  Kershaw has three Cy Youngs and was runnerup another year. King Felix has a Cy Young, two second-place finishes, a fourth place and and eighth place. Scherzer has one Cy Young but only one other year in which he received votes, finishing fifth.

Scherzer does not appear to be injured and presumably has many good years of pitching ahead of him. But he is also 31 years old  and will be making $30 million per year until he is 38. 

In three years, Boras client Matt Harvey is eligible for free agency. If Harvey leads the Mets to a World Series victory, I won't care how much money Boras's binders say Harvey is worth.

But it's hard to lead your team to a championship when you're shut down in October.


In other news, Squawker Lisa is now New York City Bureau Chief for Subway Squawkers.  As New York Metropolitan Area Bureau Chief for Subway Squawkers,  I am pleased to have Lisa as a valuable member of my team.

Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Me rooting for the Red Sox? Mass(achusetts) hysteria!

This is what a Yankees-Blue Jays pennant race means -- we Yankee fans have to root for Boston to win some games. Specifically, the six games they have against Toronto this month, including the three this week. Isn't that a stomach-churning notion? How am I supposed to deal with that?

It reminds me of that famous "Ghostbusters" scene (YouTube video below) about dogs and cats living together. Talk about Mass(achusetts) hysteria!

Does this mean I have to start talking about how to "Pahk the cah on Hahvahd Yahd"? Think that Denis Leary is funny? Listen to Aerosmith and New Kids on the Block? Oh, the humanity!

Monday, September 7, 2015

My thoughts on Matt Harvey, who is not just a writer but New York City Bureau Chief!

Kudos to my old friends at the
Daily News for another great cover!
Happy Labor Day! We do have something to celebrate that wasn't in existence last year. And that would be The Players' Tribune, Derek Jeter's sports website. As my friend Dean points out, "Players Tribune has been a boon to ghost writers and PR flacks alike. On Labor Day we should celebrate this new entity that creates work for background scribes." How true!

And you know, I still don't understand the business model for this site. How does it make money, since there is no advertising on it? Do the players pay for the access to it? Is Matt Harvey paying $$$ to get his "New York City Bureau Chief" title at The Players' Tribune?

As I have said before in this space, I never say "we" when I talk about the Yankees, as I ain't playing. But pretending to be a "bureau chief" for this publication when all Harvey does has been to have all of three ghostwritten stories published on the website is ridiculous. That would be like me calling myself a "right fielder" because I got stuck in that position in fifth grade gym class!

Is Harvey assigning stories, managing journalists, and taking out a red pencil to copy edit pieces? No? Then how is he a bureau chief? Maybe I should start calling myself the New York City Bureau Chief for Subway Squawkers! (Sorry, Jon -- I am stealing this title for me!) And speaking of Jon, he wrote a very funny column today about Matt Harvey -- click here to read it.

Anyhow, after a very controversial weekend, in which Harvey said that "This limit was 180 [innings] -- that is what Scott has, err, Dr. Andrews had said," Harvey "wrote" at The Players' Tribune that he actually would be pitching in the playoffs. (An aside: as somebody who has worked as a ghostwriter for athletes myself, there is an art to doing so. But whoever is doing this for Harvey doesn't even try to sound like him!)

Harvey only has Harvey to blame for this debacle. Maybe they ought to trade him to, oh I don't know, the Yankees or something. Seems fair to me!

The Matt Harvey Rules: Innings limits for everybody!

On advice of my agent, er, my doctor, I am instituting an innings limit. As any Met fan knows, watching this team can be very stressful, so I can't make any commitment beyond Tuesday's game.

Squawker Lisa, I know what you're thinking: I blog so little, what's the difference? And shouldn't I be excited about the chance to watch meaningful games in September for the first time since 2008, not to mention the good chance of playoff baseball?

But my agent, er, my doctor, reminds me of what happened when the Mets last had division leads in September - in 2007 and 2008.  Tom Glavine, a future Hall of Famer, gives up seven runs in 1/3 of an inning in the final game of 2007 to eliminate the Mets. It took months of grueling rehab for me to overcome that debacle. What if future Hall of Famer (just ask him) Matt Harvey spits the bit in a similar situation this year?

Then there's 2006, the last time the Mets made the playoffs. Future Yankee Carlos Beltran with the bat on his shoulder. Do I really need to see probable future Yankee Harvey merely an observer as another Mets October dream dies?

As great as the 2006 Mets team was, their starting pitching was decimated by the time they reached the NLCS, forcing them to turn to lefty Oliver Perez in the pivotal Game 7. Perez actually did pretty well that game, but with team as stacked with starters as the 2015 Mets, it would be a shame not to have one of the studs not on the mound should the Mets get to the postseason and face another Game 7.

I told my agent, er, my doctor, my nightmare - that all of the Mets' young pitching stars would be capped by innings limits, forcing them to turn to another fringe lefty for Game 7 - Eric O'Flaherty.

As a compromise, the Mets have suggested that I skip any innings that feature O'Flaherty. But my agent, er, my doctor, points out that innings featuring or anyone in the bullpen not named Familia or Clippard (and Clippard didn't do so well yesterday) usually result in unhealthy agita.

One day, science will find a cure for unreliable setup men. But until then, an innings limit for me is the prudent course.


Update: In a post for The Bloggers' Tribune, Squawker Jon announced that if and when the Mets make the playoffs, of course he will be watching. His fear of being traded to a small-market fanbase has nothing to do with his decision.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Yeah, I know nobody cares about my fantasy team (or fantasy league!) but I'm still going to Squawk about it!

The first annual SIAC Fantasy Football League.

Me wearing my commissioner's hat. I'd like to think
I look like an old-school rapper with the hat!
There are three kinds of fantasy football players -- the hardcore, the moderate, and the neophytes. Kind of like the people in my running club. And sometimes, these worlds collide. This is a Squawk about what happens when they do.

I am at the back of the pack when it comes to running (although I do enjoy the heck out of it, and have lost 52.5 pounds so far doing so!) But I am pretty good at fantasy sports.And I wanted to do something with my running club, the Staten Island Athletic Club, that showed I was actually semi-competent at something! (Squawker Jon read this blog entry before it was published and said that his neck was hurting from reading all of this navel-gazing. So sue me!)

Anyhow, I somehow was able to form the first-ever fantasy football league with our running club members.

So we had our fantasy football draft Monday night at the Pepperjack Grill on Staten Island, the same place that hosts our monthly meetings. (Incidentally, my team's name is "My Balls Are Perfect," as per that legendary Daily News back page about Tom Brady.)

As commissioner, I wanted to make sure we got to 10 people, so I talked my compadre and fellow blogger Josh into joining our league. This, even though he knew nothing about fantasy football. Since he was only doing it because we needed 10 teams, his team name is "The 10th Guy." I promised to help make this as easy as possible for him, and explained beforehand how fantasy football worked.

Josh was new to the world of fantasy football,
but he proved to be a quick study -- especially
when it came to trash talking!
One of my selling points in getting people to join the league was that we would have lots of trash talk at the draft. That started right from the beginning, with Rob, who had the first pick in the draft, bringing it, making me want to give him the "most insufferable" award right away!. He may have failed in his first pick (Aaron Rodgers, really?) but he did bring it when it came to throwing shade, as the kids say! He also bought shots for the group (with ulterior motives, perhaps?) so I have to give him credit for that.

There were lots of characters in the draft room. Chris was very entertaining and animated during the draft. Margaret and Jazmine quietly made some good picks. Corey and Stephanie did as well. Josh picked up the game -- and how to trash talk! Mark, our club president, was a real hoot, as usual. (Although going for Gronk for the second pick wouldn't have been my choice! I think Mark is now obligated to name his team something with Gronk's name in it, like Honky Tonk Badonka Gronk or something!)

Charlotte complained that I kept on stealing the players she wanted to choose! Frank had a friend drafting for him remotely, which made us crack jokes about a robot making the picks.

Everybody seemed to have a good time!
As for myself, I brought a fedora to wear to the evening whenever I needed to put my commissioner's hat on. (Get it?) I also wore my burnt orange University of Texas Vince Young #10 football jersey.

It didn't take long before I got in trouble with the crew. Josh had to go out to his car to get his phone charger cord, and he was going to miss his second pick -- 12th overall in the draft, after picking Jamaal Charles with the 9th pick. So I went to his phone and picked Dez Bryant for him, causing the room to erupt in "I call shenanigans" cries. Oh, well!

I had a pretty good draft going -- Adrian Peterson fell into my lap, even though I was the No. 5 team --- with Demaryius Thomas in the second round, Randall Cobb in the third, and Russell Wilson in the fourth -- when my computer froze. I blame Windows 10. I didn't exactly handle it well; I think I screamed "Nooooo!" more than once and cursed a whole lot. So much for that semi-competent thing!

My reaction to my computer freezing up.
In the meantime, the autodraft picked me Latavius Murray, Joique Bell, and Dwayne Allen. What a nightmare! I was beside myself over this debacle! It took several rounds for me to get back on track and I ended up having to conduct the rest of the draft from my iPhone app. I also got mocked for this as well, of course!

But I, of course, did some trash talk as well, sassing the Mets fans in the room and saying that at least this fantasy football team would give them something to do when the Mets collapsed again in September. Oh, snap!

At the end of the evening, we posed for a group photo, and everybody thanked me and said they had a great time. So the night was a big success! Now it's on to the season!

And this afternoon, I was bored, so I came up with funny team names, based on the players on the respective teams. Here they are:

Charlotte: Luck Be a Lacy Tonight

Chris: Cruz Control

Corey/Stephanie:  Don't Luck With Me

Frank: Bad, Bad, Antonio Brown

Jazmine: Saved by Le'Veon Bell

Josh: The Walking Dez 

Lisa: Eat, Drink and Demaryius

Margaret: My Favorite Marshawn

Mark: The Big Gronkowski

Rob: Golden Tate Bridge

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