Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baseball, Moose and Changeups

I remember it so well. My family (my parents and my siblings along with and my aunts and uncles) were watching the 2000 World Series from my Tito Vlady's house in Elmhurst, Queens. Never mind that there was a game that was a subway ride nearby. The family was split in half -- some for the Mets and some for the Yankees. And there was me, the loudest Yankees and baseball nut in the brood. Well, everyone in the Empire and tri-state must have been glued to their tubes then if they weren't changing trains from the Bronx to Queens. My mum isn't a sports fan by any chance but she had no choice but so stay up late cause everyone was watching the games. When the Yanks finally won there was relief and anguish everywhere. I... was bleeping ecstatic!

The Bronx Bombers won their fourth title in five years and they didn't look to stop. They added Mike Mussina from the Baltimore Orioles that spring and I thought to myself, "Hey, they've now got Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Ramiro Mendoza, Ted Lilly, and Moose. That's a good staff! They could win the next one too."

I'm not going to forget that following year for so so many reasons. That was 2001 and I figure ya'll know what happenned. 9-11 changed the world forever because it changed the way we look at air travel, at people of different faiths, politics, and it begat a couple of wars. For me it meant personal struggle and baseball was that shining light that distracted people from their worries.

The Yankees didn't win that year as they lost in a memorable seven-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. I figure I wasn't alone with an empty feeling after Game 7. I don't think I read any newspapers or checked stuff on the internet for a good several days.

I thought that (perhaps like those who joined the Chicago Bulls for one year hitches and the San Antonio Spurs later) that Mike Mussina would finally get his World Series championship ring when the Yanks went up 3-2 after five games. Nevermind if he was shellacked 9-1 in Game 1.

But it didn't happen. It didn't happen either in 2003 when they were back in the title game but lost to the Florida Marlins. Then things fell apart in 2004 after that monumental collapse to the Boston Red Sox.

Moose's consolation is his 270-153 over-all pitching record. He won 123 of those games with New York and in last season, won 20 games for the first time in a year. Are they Hall-of-Fame numbers?

Honestly, putting my biasness aside, I'm not sure. The others he passed had World Series titles to their resume. Some say that if he'd play again and try to go for 300 wins then he'd be a lock. But that is a selfish gesture that would put team goals aside. And as Moose said, he's not sure if he can get to 300 in 2 years. Maybe three.

So Mike Mussina retired. And now there's no one in that fabled pitching staff left save for closer Mariano Rivera who is porbbaly good for two more years before he hangs up his pinstripes.

If football was my dad's gift to me, baseball was my grandfather's. Last night while at the Sports Nation class, a good friend Eddie Ching said that he doesn't know too many people with an infatuation for the Grand Old Game and I'm one of those passionate fans.

Well, yes. I played baseball in the summer with my classmates from AHS and friends from IS and Xavier in the diamond behind the Ateneo high school covered courts. I played first base and pitched until my classmate Jun Sabijon knocked me off. Damn high kick! Think Louisiana Lightning! Hahahaha. We talked baseball and tried throwing a change up which was then the pitching rage back then. Hey, anyone remember Mario Soto of the Cincinnati Reds who started this pitch? Man, we were trying it out and didn't do to well with that off-speed pitch.

When you take a look at that picture above of Mike Mussina throwing the ball. My pitching form was somewhat like that save for his effectiveness and success. Hahahaha. So it was first base for me when I got demoted off the mound.

But thanks for the memories, Moose! It was great having you pitch at Yankee Stadium. I enjoyed chanting, "Mooooooooooossseee!" along with the stadium faithful when you took to the mound. And I still have those commemorative medallions from the New York Post. They're in my treasure chest along with all those other stuff a junkman like me saves.

A Bronx cheer for the Moose!

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