Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What are the Chances for our Yankees?

I have a strong feeling that this could be the year - yes indeed, money talks nobody walks and the Steinbrenners' (sic) Yankees will prove the power of the purse in last winter's off-season with a commanding surge through October. Look at this:

(photo by Mike Segar/Reuters)
Here you see Mariano Rivera celebrating the Yankee's 100th victory of the season with catcher Jose Molina and first baseman Mark Teixeira, left. They completed a three game sweep of the notorious Boston Red Sox, and secured the home field advantage. And some home field it is this year!
This isn't a shot taken during a Yankees game, but during the ceremonies of the graduation of thousands of students from New York University - which is why there's so much purple! But those of you who remember the old Yankee Stadium - "the house that Ruth built" in 1923, which is just across 161st Street. How close is it? Well, just look:
The old stadium is on the left, and the new on the right - with the elevated portion of the IRT number 4 subway coursing right along beside them. There was, as many of you may remember, some controversy about why a new one had to be built, replacing a very popular Macombs Dam Park, but promises were made that other parks would be built to supplement the neighborhood. And, what to do with the old stadium?

According to the department of parks, demolition is begun, and should be completed some time in 2010. There will be community playgrounds and softball fields in its place.

But one thing was taken from it that may bring good luck to our Yankees:
This was the little sign that all Yankees would touch before going on to the ball field as a wish for good luck; with the permission of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter now has the sign. Let's hope it will bring them luck in the new stadium!

So, it's come down to the question: so, if they're now with the home field advantage in the play-offs, who - do you think? - will they eventually play in the World Series? After all, the old Yankee Stadium hosted 37 World Series, more than any other baseball stadium (they won 26, more than any other team). And the Yankees, with Babe Ruth, not only won their first game in their new stadium - against Ruth's old team, the Red Sox, but won the World Series that year in their new stadium.

But this year, of course, the Red Sox are out of it. Maybe. (That old wild-card thing, I'm afraid.) Yet perhaps a new rivalry will begin: what's happening with the Phillies!?

On August 22 I gave a special tour (special for me) for a bus load of Phillies Phans who came in from Reading Pennsylvania. Two hours, said the leader, Chris Huey, is all they want, because they're anxious to see their team, and their ace hitter Ryan Howard and the pitcher Pedro Martinez would do against the Mets. Quite an enthusiastic group!
Here they are down around Battery Park City, taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty - and looking quite pleased to be in the Big Apple if I do say so myself. So, I provided a good tour for my Phillies Phans, but I had to ask them just how confident they were in their team this year. I stopped one particularly enthusiastic gentleman to ask him that question.

He had no doubt the Phillies would prevail:
He feels he has plenty of room for more! We shall see, my friend, we shall see ..... if we have a Turnpike Series!

Friday, September 25, 2009

September Already?

I don't think I was prepared for this. School has begun - but I should have known! I saw the ad hoc conferences happening on Labor Day. They were so serious. I knew I should have paid more attention.

But, well, I was riding my bike too, and checking out the very last day of summer to see what was happening - in Tudor City, for example.
Pretty quiet there alright ... green, peaceful ... reposed even. But I did meet one interesting fellow at work there, Jeffrey, a driver for London Town Car, waiting for his client.

Oh, we talked seriously about what his job is like, but, really, it was a day for riding the bike!

Yes, Labor Day was quite a bright and pleasant day - and as you'll see Second Avenue was virtually empty - smooth sailing all the way downtown to -
- and East Village ice cream shop where mother and daughter are both having a sweet treat on such a lovely day. Oh, I'll be some of you out there are wondering what this blog is about! "Are you going to get serious, oh Street Teacher, and tell us some arcane historical fact?"

Nope! Not today! I was just going downtown of an afternoon to get a little - coffee from Mud.

Yup, that's the name of the place, just to the east of 2nd Avenue as I came across, so I locked my bike up, and walked right up to the counter and asked the barristas for a cup of - coffee! (Really? You thought I ask for a cup of mud? No, no, not me! It's really good there, you see.)

Yes, those are tattos on my friendly barrista - this is the East Village after all.

It is still an interesting neighborhood after all these years, since I last ran down to see my friends on St. Marks Place, one block down, between 1st and Avenue A, one block over toward Tompkins Square Park. Yes, perhaps there are some of those people still here.

But what's always remarkable about the Village, and especially the East Village, being so close to NYU and Cooper Union, is that the young people never seem to leave.

So, as I sat there sipping my strong coffee, I overheard one "young" person talking to her friend about all their friends in common; and I don't think I heard anything especially remarkably different from what I would hear anywhere else.

But then they left and a young man sat down to talk to another young man. I almost assumed they were both students. But the first one began to say something very intersting:
After taking a slurp of his smoothie he mentioned how relaxing it was to be away from the wife - "you know how much I love her, but it's great to just be able to go out and chill - you know?"

Well, I suppose things don't really change all that much! Which is one of the wonderful things about that part of the East Village - formerly known as just the northern part of the greater Lower East Side.

What we know now as the Lower East Side, however, namely that area East of The Bowery and below Canal Street, where Richard Price's book "Lush Life" is based, is changing quickly and soon will have progressed beyond what my friends of 30 years ago on St. Marks could have seen. Their old neighborhood is just a little busy, just as always, and now becoming a little cleaned up - but retains all the funkiness that I used to know.

I will create a blog soon more about what this neighborhood was when it was Kleine Deutschland, or Little Germany, but not yet. I'm still on my Labor Day bike ride.
And I see kayaks in the East River on the way up and back home! Now, those people know how to enjoy a holiday!