Archive for September, 2013

Yankee Class—and Lack Thereof

Posted on September 27th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

I have watched very little Yankee baseball this season, because I’ve been busier than usual and because I try not to watch television in front of my son, who is 19 months now and, in those rare moments when he sees a turned-on television, is instantly hypnotized, and because the Yankees just weren’t very good.

But of course I had to watch last night as Mariano Rivera pitched in his final game at Yankee Stadium. I’m so glad I did; I saw one of the most memorable and moving moments in baseball history, as, with two outs in the ninth, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came to the mound to take Mariano out of the game for the last time in the Bronx.

Did you see it? You could see the respect and the camaraderie on the faces of Pettitte and Jeter as they walked toward the mound. And once they got there, Pettitte and Rivera hugged, and you could plainly see from the body language that the emotion of it all had overwhelmed Rivera.

Having a thing like that happen in front of 50, 000 people who all respected the power of the moment—that was quite something.

And after the game ended, the Yankee dugout cleared out—except for Rivera, who sat at the end of the dugout bench. You could see it on his face: He didn’t want to leave.

Rivera has been a gentleman and a master for two decades, and it’s quite possible that baseball will never see that combination of endurance, dominance and elegance.

By contrast, Robinson Cano—a very gifted player who often chooses not to run out ground balls, and by no one’s definition has ever been a team leader—chose yesterday to let it be known that he would like a ten-year contract paying him $310 million.

That would be baseball’s first $300 million contract, and the odds are overwhelming that it won’t happen. But still: It’s almost insulting to the Yankees even to ask for it when the team is still saddled with Alex Rodriguez’s $275 million contract, which still has several years remaining. That contract has hamstrung the team for the past several years and contributed to its decline. Hey, the Yankees did it voluntarily, no one’s going to cry for them, but to come out and say, “I want an equally long-term contract at more money than A-Rod,” given what a fiasco A-Rod has been….

Robinson Cano has every right to try to get paid as much as he can, of course, and maybe this is just a bargaining ploy.

But I hope the Yankees don’t even negotiate. Let Cano go. They may not be a better team without him, but they’ll certainly be a more likable one.

I think I’ll just watch this again:

Friday Morning Music

Posted on September 27th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Another new song from Zero 7.

Sounds a little Sade-esque, but funkier….

Chrystia Freeland’s Reuters Adventure

Posted on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Buzzfeed has a pretty interesting piece about the demise of Reuters Next, the digital Reuters initiative spearheaded by Harvard alum Chrystia Freeland, written about here as the woman who has faux-interviewed Larry Summers more than anyone else.

According to sources close to the project, Freeland had never seen Reuters Next as an advertising play — one Reuters source said that she “made very little effort to ensure ads would work on the site” — and when it became clear ads had to be worked into the project, there were difficulties.
“I don’t understand what they were thinking, ‘Let’s not run any ads, let’s spend millions and see what happens.’ The idea that it had to be monetized caught them by surprise,” the Reuters employee said

Freeland didn’t talk for the story, so her side of things is not so well represented. But she doesn’t come out looking well: Freeland announced her departure from Reuters in a newspaper column in which she declared that she was running for a Canadian parliamentary seat.

This was news to the people who worked for her—especially because it wasn’t actually a Reuters column in which Freeland made her announcement.

Perhaps all that interviewing of Larry Summers has rubbed off on her?

Quotes of the Day

Posted on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

“Sign up for anything that appeals to you and quit when you get bored.”

—Duke English professor Cathy N. Davidson on MOOCs, which she “teaches.”

“It’s frustrating. We were close, but we didn’t make the playoffs. At the same time we have to be, not satisfied, but at least we got this far because we didn’t have most of the [injured] guys this season. It was close, but there’s nothing else you can do.”

Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano on the team’s failure to make the playoffs—showing the same passion and drive with which he runs to first base.

(Both quotes are printed in today’s NYT.)

We Are What We Are

Posted on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Jim Mickle, director of the little-known but classic film Stakeland, has a new movie coming out, We Are What We Are.

It’s going to be great….

It’s Hard Not to Like George H.W. Bush

Posted on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

The Washington Post reports that he served as a witness at a gay wedding in Maine; the happy couple was two women who co-owned a general store in Maine.

It’s things like this that give you hope.

Also: those socks!

Buddy Fletcher: Still Going Broke

Posted on September 25th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

The law firm that used to represent Harvard alum and donor Buddy Fletcher in his frivolous lawsuit against the Dakota is now suing him for non-payment of legal fees. Which is ironic, but not surprising.

Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP wants $2.3 million in legal fees from Fletcher. (It’s already charged him $998, 000.)

This, by the way, is money that Buddy Fletcher can’t afford and can’t pay, which makes you wonder even more why he filed the lawsuit against his former building, which denied him the right to buy his fourth apartment in the building after it reviewed his financials and deemed them shaky. (Fletcher alleged racial discrimination.) In the time since, Fletcher has done nothing other than validate that assessment.

Fletcher has been represented by several law firms so far; one wonders when the next lawsuit for non-payment will be filed.

In other Buddy Fletcher-related news, one recipient of his former largesse, Skip Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, has now moved on to another deep-pocketed donor, financier Glenn Hutchins—and is apparently being criticized by some for doing so.

The website reports that some African-American scholars are upset about Gates’ relationship with the white donor—and, in particular, the fact that the new African-American studies center for which Gates just procured $15 million will have a white man’s name on the door.

“I refer to Skip Gates as the Booker T. Washington of Black studies,” said Dr. Raymond A. Winbush, who directs the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. “He commands most of his respect from White benefactors.”

Another scholar points out that, while Tuskegee University received most of its original funding from Andrew Carnegie, it’s not called Andrew Carnegie University.

This seems like a bit of professional envy to me, but there are times when I can appreciate the frustration Gates inspires in some. The article also reports that…

At the launch of the Hutchins Center next week, Valarie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, will receive the Du Bois Medal along with playwright Tony Kushner, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, director Steven Spielberg and David Stern, commissioner of the National Basketball Association….

I suppose you can make an argument about building bridges and contributions to African-American life coming in many forms and from many sources. But on another level, isn’t this just celebrity networking? It feels like a night at the Aspen Institute or something.

The Red Sox Clinch…

Posted on September 20th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

…while the Yankees stink. Boy, do they stink. They’re thisclose to a wild card slot that they don’t really deserve, and they go out and lose 3 of 4 to the last place team in their division.

This is a depressing season for Yankees fan. And I’m not sure how much we can look forward to next year, because some of the fundamental dysfunction of the team will still be there. A-Rod may be suspended, but his contract doesn’t expire till 2017, I believe. Derek Jeter will still be on the team, but…a 40-year-old shortstop? Or a 10-homer D.H.?

Then there’s the pitching. Which is to say, there is no pitching. Phil Hughes will be gone. Hiroki Kuroda seems to have established that he’s too old to pitch a full season. C.C. Sabathia has just had a disastrous season. Andy Pettitte will probably retire. And you never know which Ivan Nova is going to show up on game day—the good one or the lousy one.

So—not one reliable starting pitcher returning.

Things aren’t a lot better with the position players. Mark Texeira will be returning from an injury that’s tough to return from, and he’ll be 34. There’s no sure-thing catcher. Brett Gardner in the outfield is a solid player, but Ichiro will probably retire, and Curtis Granderson isn’t getting any younger.

Then there’s the Robinson Cano question. The second baseman will be a free agent after the season, and there’s a lot of pressure on the Yankees to sign him. He posts great statistics. I hope they don’t—for all his gifts, Cano just isn’t a player to build a team around. He’s never been a leader, and he’s notorious for his lack of effort running to first base. On Wednesday night, with the Yankees playing a must-win game and losing, Cano hit a ground ball down the first base line and didn’t even run—apparently he thought it would go foul. It didn’t, and the first baseman stepped on the bag while Cano stood at home plate. Pathetic. (The comparison to Derek Jeter in terms of hustle is embarrassing to Cano, or should be.) I’d rather take that $100 million or more that he’ll want and spread it around to some younger players.

The larger question has to to with team identity. WIth Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Pettitte, et al, what kind of team will the Yankees be? Who will fans adopt as a favorite? Absolutely no one comes to mind right now.

It’s going to be an interesting off-season. Will it really be wait for next year—or wait till 2015?

Blogging Makes You a Better Writer

Posted on September 20th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

That’s not my argument, it’s Andrew Sullivan’s.

When I started blogging – writing as clearly, briefly and colloquially as possible – I worried that my ability to write longer essays or books would suffer. The brain muscles associated with longer compositions, structured essays, or book-length arguments like Virtually Normal might atrophy. …But I was wrong. What it did was help me unclog some of my longer pieces and books…and make them clearer and more succinct.

I agree with Andrew on some counts; there’s no question that regular blogging creates a fluency and ease to writing that transfers to longer work.

Where I disagree with him, though, is its impact on one’s ability to write longer projects. To me, it’s just a question of time. Since I don’t blog for a living, and my time to write is limited to early in the morning (it’s 6:09 AM now), late at night, and occasional squibs during the day, I worry that blogging keeps me from tackling larger challenges.

At the same time, it’s addictive. And it clearly addresses an itch; blogging is like letting a little kid go play in the back yard to burn off some energy. It’s something that you just have to get out of your system.

More Thursday Morning Music

Posted on September 19th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

A remix of Zero 7‘s new song, “On My Own.” Very cool.