The Grand Tour

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With a mere 45 days left until opening day, my family and I spent last Sunday taking the Yankee Stadium tour. Of course, no trip to 161st St. and River Ave. is complete without a peek at the progress on the new stadium. Despite my feelings about their building a smaller stadium to house a team that consistently sells out games (and some other issues with the inside of the stadium), I do have to admit that it looks pretty sweet from the outside. They’re making an effort to make the new entrance look like the original one did pre-renovations, and I like the old-timey feel that it has. I also appreciate that they haven’t sold the naming rights, and that it will continue to be known as Yankee Stadium. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I will be very interested to see the inside of the finished product.

After wandering around in the cold for a while, it was time to gather for the tour. It starts at the stadium’s Press Gate, all the better to bring you straight up to the Press Box:
The view from the press box
You get to sit in the same chairs that the press corps do, and there’s a nice, up-close view of the broadcast booths. I wasn’t quick enough on the draw to get a photo of the press box concession stand, but the prices there are much lower than they are in the rest of the ballpark.

After getting a good feel for the press box, we went back inside and down to the bottom of the Stadium for one of the two main high points of the tour:
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We even got to see the Yankees’ locker room, which had gotten a coat of fresh paint. No photos were allowed inside there, unfortunately, though. We did get to see Johnny Damon’s shower shoes, and some of Hideki Matsui’s stuff that had been left behind from last season, and we learned some locker room fun facts, like how Derek Jeter is the only Yankee with two lockers (one for him and one for his fan mail. The Yankees get something along the lines of 75-100 pounds of mail a week, and up to 2/3 of that is for Jeter). We also found out that Thurman Munson’s locker will be moved to a museum that’s being set up across the street from the new stadium.

Next up was what was probably my favorite part of the tour. They brought us outside and let us sit in the Yankee dugout.

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I’ve never been that close to the field before, or even at field level. The dugout has heated benches, which must be nice during those frigid April and October games, and air conditioning vents are built into the dugout steps for the warmer months. The netting under the dugout rail is a rather new addition. It was put in around 2001 to protect the players and coaches (bench coach Don Zimmer was hit by a foul ball). There’s no shortage of rules posted in the dugout. Despite the wintry weather, I was nearly overcome with the urge to get Scott Proctor warming up, but I restrained myself, which was just as well, because he’s been reunited with Joe Torre on the Dodgers.

Our tour ended with a trip through Monument Park, which I’ve never seen so empty. Finally, we were presented with a little memento of our trip through Yankee Stadium.
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I couldn’t resist photographing it with my latest traveling project, a stockinette sock in Opal Rainforest Veronika die wilde.

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And to close, a picture of me with my favorite Yankee.  It was a fitting end to a very informative and entertaining tour.

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Winter Weather

We finally got some. Sort of.
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Sunday afternoon and evening saw some pretty heavy flurries. It wasn’t anything too substantial, even though it was pretty fast and furious at times, but it was enough for a little dusting to stick in the street tree wells.

Tuesday was a different story.  For a brief period in the afternoon, we got enough snow to start covering the grass in the park a bit.

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It wasn’t to last, though.  I’m glad that I took pictures on Tuesday afternoon, because it was all gone the following morning.

Of course, as it’s mid-February, that one day that truly warms a girl’s heart, that’s a shining beacon amidst all the snow and rain and darkness and drear of winter has come and gone this Thursday. A day that fills us with fond memories of the past and hope for the future. Really, it’s one of the more dreamy days of the year.

I’m talking, of course, of the day that pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. However cold and blustery it may be outside, it’s comforting to know that scenes like this:
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are just a few short weeks away. Opening day is March 31st.

My garter stitch project looks much as it did last week, only bigger. I’m very close to being completely finished, but I still have to work on making the bind-off look more like the cast-on edge. I’m using a decrease bind-off (scroll down), which is much closer to a cable cast on than anything I’ve tried, but isn’t perfect. I think a good blocking would help it, but then there’s little that can’t be helped by a good blocking. I’ve been looking ahead a bit, and trying to decide what to cast on next.  I’ve been thinking that some Jaggerspun Zephyr DK weight might make a very nice short-sleeved Wicked, but that I should finish the Racer Pullover before starting anything else that’s a larger-scale project.  Some simple socks are probably going to fit the bill, since they’ll be small enough to cart around in my purse, and easy enough to pick up and put down without having to worry about a lot of counting.

Eye Candy Friday: The Fix is In

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I was taking pictures of the current progress on my Tangled Yoke Cardigan, all set to use the cable texture as my Eye Candy Friday, when I noticed something. Something bad. Sure, the front of the sweater looks fine, and I’m very happy with that, but when I turned it over to take a photo of the back, something stuck out at me like a sore thumb:

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I must have gotten distracted while knitting on the bus, and I had mis-crossed the cables at the center-back of the sweater. Instead of having a cable that was symmetrical, gracefully crossing and swooping to join with the motifs on either side (as on the bottom of the pattern), I had misread the chart and created an odd looking braid that connected with nothing in particular.

I was not looking forward to ripping out two rows of over 280 stitches each and reknitting, but fortunately, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee came to my rescue. By following her directions, I found that I could just drop the stitches involved with the cable, ladder down to the offending row, and re-cross the stitches in the correct direction (her explanation is much more detailed than that, with lots of pictures as well). So that’s what I did, laddering down and knitting back up, first for one side:

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And then the other. I got the crossing correct, and my cardigan was saved, all through the magic of the internet.
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I’m not sure how much of my readership read me for my rather infrequent recaps of Yankee games, or are baseball fans. I have saved a couple of games to go through during the (too long) offseason, but I have something else that might tide people over. A friend of mine is doing a study of pitch precision by logging where catchers set up to receive a pitch vs. where the pitch actually is caught. If you’re watching the baseball playoffs and you’d like to be a volunteer game logger, check out the site here: Catcher Spotting. Any innings would be much appreciated, and besides–“it’s for science!” is certainly one of the best excuses I can think of to watch a ballgame.

If you can’t stand (Joba) The Heat…

It was a nearly perfect day at the ballpark. I had a pair of tickets to Thursday afternoon’s Yankees-Sox game, so my cousin and I got to watch our Yankees shut out the Red Sox and complete the sweep.

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After shooing some interlopers out of our seats and brushing off the pile of peanut shells they’d left all over the place, we settled into Section 57, row Z. I’ve only been to a few weekday day games, and I had never been in the bleachers at one, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The crowd was very mixed. There seemed to be a large number of out-of-towners (a few too many in from Boston for my taste), people just taking a day off, and a few people who had decided to…”pre-party”. A pair of the latter sat near us for a couple of tense innings, but managed to move along to somewhere else before getting ill, or ejected, or both. After that, everyone immediately around us was quite nice, even the Sox fans–I can respect a guy who shows up wearing a Yastrzemski shirt.

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One of the first things we were greeted by when we arrived was fellow blogger Curt Schilling warming up in the Boston bullpen. It’s always interesting to watch another blogger at work. It was especially gratifying to watch him serve up a home run to Robinson Cano in the third inning:
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And then again in the fifth:
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Aside from those two home runs, and three singles to Derek Jeter and one to Melky Cabrera, Schilling pitched quite well. In fact, it was a real pitchers’ duel, as Chien-Ming Wang, who got the start for the Yankees carried a no-hitter through 6 innings.
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He did end up issuing four walks over 7 innings, but he also struck out 4 batters, including David Ortiz twice.

Things got kind of hairy in the seventh inning. Kevin Youkilis reached first on a throwing error by Derek Jeter, and then Mike Lowell singled, breaking up the no-hitter. The next batter, J.D. Drew grounded to third, and Alex Rodriguez attempted to tag Youkilis, and then threw to first to get Drew out. I say Alex attempted to tag Youkilis, because the Sox first baseman ran out onto the grass to attempt to avoid the tag, which should be an automatic out. At first the umpires didn’t call him out, but the Yankees appealed, and the correct call was made.
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Neither Youkilis nor Francona liked that reversal very much, and Francona argued the point until he was ejected from the game. Between this and the uniform check, Terry must have been having a bit of a day. It was just as well, then, that he didn’t have a front row seat for the 8th inning.

The inning got off to a good start for us, because the man we’d all been hoping to see came in out of the bullpen:
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Joba Chamberlain had worked an inning on Tuesday, which meant that, according to the “Joba rules”, he needed to take Wednesay off from pitching. He wasn’t as sharp as he’d been in previous outings. His control wasn’t quite as good, and he gave up a two-out double to Dustin Pedroia. He did get out of the inning without allowing a run, but the Yankees did get Edwar Ramirez started warming up during the bottom of the eighth.

Edwar had plenty of time to get warmed up, too. Hideki Okajima started the inning for the Sox, and the Yankees proceeded to blow the game open. He got Johnny Damon to fly out, but gave up a single to Derek Jeter, who ended the day 4-4.
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Bobby Abreu then doubled Derek in all the way from first, leaving a base open.

The Red Sox then made the extremely questionable decision to intentionally walk Alex Rodriguez, setting up an epic battle of the Hidekis. The Sox lost that battle on a number of levels.
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First, Bobby and Alex successfully attempted a double steal, causing Jason Varitek, the Sox catcher, to throw the ball away into left field. His throwing error allowed both of them to score (Alex scored standing up, all the way from first). Matsui followed that up by legging out an infield single, further exposing the folly of pitching around Alex to get to him. That was the end of the scoring for the afternoon, as a combination of Okajima and Snyder got Jorge Posada and Andy Phillips to ground out.

The game took another turn for the bizarre in the top of the ninth inning. Joba came into the inning, which was in itself a surprise, since his rules dictate a day off for each inning pitched. The first batter he faced was David Ortiz…
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…who flied out to left in a most clutch-tacular manner.

Then Youkilis came up to bat, and the trouble started. I’m not sure exactly what happened here, both because my seats are about as far as you can get from the pitcher and home plate, and because I’m not a mindreader. What I do know, is that Chamberlain (who had been shaky in the 8th inning), with a 1-1 count, threw two consecutive pitches inside and way over the head of Kevin Youkilis. My cousin and I were actually worried that he might have been injured, to lose the plate so quickly, because there was no way that Torre would ever tell the 21 year-old future ace of the rotation to make a statement. But whether or not there was intent (and I actually personally doubt that there was), Angel Hernandez, the home plate umpire, ejected Chamberlain without a warning.
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Chamberlain was replaced by Edwar Ramirez, for the final two outs of the game.
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He nearly made things interesting by finishing walking Youkilis, and then allowing him to advance to third on two passed balls. He and Jorge did eventually get on the same page, though, in time to strike out Mike Lowell and get J.D. Drew to pop up, to end the game.

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And there was much rejoicing, both on the field and in the stands.

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This picture is in here as a bit of a photographic aside to another one of my fellow bloggers. Based on his attire alone, I would have pegged this man as a Sox fan. However, he cheered when the Yankees scored, and shook hands with the people around him after the game, which means that either looks are deceiving, or he’s such a good sport that he goes around congratulating the fans of the opposing team after they win. So it goes to show you that Yankee fans can be just as fond of vaguely unpalatable beverages as their Sox-loving counterparts.  Or that Moxie drinkers are incredibly polite.  One of the two.

Stitch ‘n’ Pitch

It’s a three-for-one this Friday: some (baseball) eye candy, a knitting event, and a baseball game. How did I manage this? I went to The National Needlearts Association’s Stitch ‘n’ Pitch at Shea Stadium!
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I procrastinated about registering, because I wasn’t sure until the night before if I’d be able to go, and somehow the order I placed didn’t go through. I was undeterred, and I decided to try my luck at getting a ticket at the box office before the game. Section 41 of the upper deck was all that was available, so I got one of those, and then employed the old trick of sitting in the section that I wanted, and being prepared to move if I had taken someone’s seat.

It turned out that I needn’t have worried about being in someone’s seat. I ended up sitting next to a very nice family of Met fans, surrounded by people who came in from central Jersey. I ended up having my pick of about 6 seats, and actually sitting in 2 different rows so as not to make the couple sitting next to me at the beginning have to get up to let me in after I got myself an ice cream cone as a snack. The only downsides to the way I went about attending were that I wasn’t counted for the Stitch ‘n’ Pitch attendance, and I didn’t get one of the cute swag bags. However, after the lengthy wait for a subway train I could fit onto, I was really just glad to be there at all.

Our group got a lot of attention during the game. First the people a few rows down from me were some of the “fans of the game”:

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I’m actually visible in the background of the diamondvision screen on this one. I’m wearing my green sheep shirt, and holding my camera over my face.

We also got a lengthy visit from Mr. Met, because another lucky Stitch ‘n’ Pitch attendee got to answer the Mets trivia question.
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There were needlework celebrities on hand for the evening, too. I thought I recognized a couple of people from their blogs, but was too shy to introduce myself. Lily Chin was there, and she showed off her baseball-themed apparel.
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She was sporting a Mets jersey, a glove, and a “baseball cap”, and blended in pretty well with the sea of blue and orange:

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The event even got New York Times coverage (registration required). Turns out that Lily Chin is actually a Yankee fan, and just knitted and crocheted up all the Mets gear over the weekend. I always knew that I liked her.

There was also a definite “freak out the non-knitters” factor at play. I nearly had my Addis taken away because I went to the wrong gate, but once I was sent to the right place, a bemused-looking security guard took a look at my sweater-in-progress and sent me right through. I’m not sure what they made of all the people bringing pointy sticks to a ballgame. Several innings into the game, a guy who was sitting several rows above the Stitch ‘n’ Pitch crowd looked around, walked down the stairs, and wondered if we knew that almost everyone in the section was knitting. He seemed to think it was cool once he learned what was going on.

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I worked on my Wicked sweater, which was perfect ballgame knitting. Straight stockinette, around and around and around, and the Debbie Bliss Merino DK is smooth enough to knit by touch.

Oh, right, and there happened to be a game going on during all of this. Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez was the Mets starter, and he turned in a pretty good outing, giving up only three runs, all in the 6th (after striking out Escobar and John Smoltz, he walked Willie Harris, gave up a single to Kelly Johnson, then a double to Larry “Chipper” Jones and a single to new Brave Mark Texiera). To my surprise, he came out in the 7th, and worked a 1-2-3 inning.

Laaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrryyyyyyyy!

The Mets spread out their scoring a bit more. Jose Reyes singled in the first and reached second on a steal attempt that resulted in an error to Atlanta. Then Luis Castillo and David Wright sacrifice bunted him over to third, and hit a sacrifice fly, bringing him home, respectively.

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After that, John Smoltz settled down until the 7th inning. He gave up two singles and got a fly-out, and was pulled. Then the Atlanta bullpen proceeded to give up the lead, allowing the two inherited runners to score.
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Moises Alou ended up being the hero of the game, hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth.
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Although closer Billy Wagner tried to make things interesting by loading up the bases with no outs in the ninth, a force-out at home plate and a 4-6-3 double play bailed him out, and the Mets took the game.
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There was much rejoicing.

I got a pretty decent chunk of knitting done at the game, and on the way back (on the way out to Shea, there was barely room to stand, let alone do anything else).
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I’m pretty confident that I got the body of the sweater to be long enough, especially once I take into account the amount that it’ll stretch out in the wash, so I started working on the pocket last night. I think I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on this one: I have about half of the pocket to finish, and then the seed stitch border of the sweater and the sleeves. With about 5 balls of the yarn left, I should be sitting pretty on this one.

Hit Parade

My family and I took a trip out to Yankee Stadium back on July 31st in the hopes of seeing Alex Rodriguez become the youngest player to hit 500 home runs. We braved a couple of very packed #4 trains, and got into the stadium just as the lineup cards were being handed in.


It was an eventful first inning. After getting ejected from the game for arguing over whether or not Derek Jeter checked his swing, Ozzie Guillen lost his cool (and the contents of his pockets). He argued his point for several minutes, but the umpire remained firm. Jeter ended up with a hit, and then Chicago starter Jose Contreras started throwing batting practice:

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First, Bobby Abreu hit a 3-run home run. Then Alex hit one to the warning track for the first out. Hideki Matsui followed up with a solo home run (his first homerun of the night; he’d go on to hit a two-run shot in the 6th):

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And then Jorge Posada doubled before the inning was over.

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Yankees starter Mike Mussina gave back three of the runs in the next inning, but after that, he settled down and held the White Sox scoreless while the Yankee offense went to town, knocking Contreras and a number of White Sox relievers out of the game.

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Robinson Cano’s 3-run home run was what sent Contreras to the showers, just when we were really beginning to like him…

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Naturally, Melky had to get in on the fun too that inning, bringing home Andy Phillips, who reached first on an error.

Then the catcher, Jorge Posada hit one into the stands in the fourth inning. He’s been so consistently good this year that I do hope Cashman gives him whatever he wants in the offseason.

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Jorge’s homer was by no means the last of the game, either. Matsui hit his second of the night in the 6th inning. Johnny Damon led off the 7th inning with a solo home run. Later in the inning, Shelly Duncan, the new kid on the team, who came in to pinch hit and play RF for Bobby Abreu. It was his 4th home run in only 21 at-bats.
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He has a reputation for being very exuberant in his celebrations–we were impressed that Larry Bowa remained standing after he ran by.

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We ended up seeing some history being made; just not the history we had hoped for at the beginning of the night (although I’ll take tying the most home runs hit at the Stadium any night).

Youthful exuberance
In the end, every Yankee who had an at bat, save for Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Andy Phillips hit a home run that night (and everyone save for Alex got on base, although Andy didn’t get a hit). Mike Mussina turned in a quality start, Kyle Farnsworth actually worked a 1-2-3 inning, and the Yankees took the game 16-3. So even though Alex wouldn’t hit #500 until Sunday afternoon, there was plenty to celebrate.

Eye Candy Friday: Hometown Tourist Edition

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There are tons of touristy things in New York that I’ve never done. When you grow up in the suburbs, you just sort of never get around to them, because they’re just…there (case in point: I never went up to the top of the Empire State Building until I was in my twenties, and my parents didn’t go until they were 25 years older than they were when they had me). As I’m getting closer to finishing up, I’m working on knocking a few more off my list, like taking the Staten Island Ferry, which is free, and provides a great view of the Statue of Liberty:
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and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge:
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Between ferry rides, my parents and I caught a Staten Island Yankees game. Their ballpark is a very short walk from the ferry, so that was quite convenient. We saw the Baby Bombers playing the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Nationals’ short-season A affiliate.

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Delin Betances, the 19-year old eighth round draft pick for the Yankees gave up two runs and came out early with elbow stiffness, the relief pitching had a rough day, and the SI Yankees never got into the game offensively. Despite the rather unconventional stances that some of the VerMonsters employed (he seriously stood like that until the pitch was thrown), they had a much better outing. But we still got to enjoy watching mascots
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, and I got a free compact fluorescent lightbulb from ConEd! Not bad for a day out.

Putting it together

Applique in progress, originally uploaded by limonene.

Even though I’m primarily a knitter these days, back when I was in middle and high school I also used to sew and quilt. I can’t remember exactly how long ago it was that I took sewing lessons, first at a local fabric store, and then at a local sewing machine shop, but way back then I purchased a refurbished, basic-model Bernina machine, and I’ve been using it on and off (mostly off–it was too heavy to go to college) for at least 10 years, and probably even longer. I recently brought the machine to New York with me, and although I haven’t gotten a ton of use out of it, it’s definitely been nice to have around, and I keep coming up with projects that I want to do, someday (like bedroom curtains).

For many reasons, Lou Gehrig is one of my favorite Yankees of all time, and definitely my favorite deceased Yankee, and I wanted to be able to express my fandom with a #4 jersey. Unfortunately for me, I don’t seem to be in the hall-of-fame jersey demographic. Even the “replica” jerseys with a name and number on them (the Yankees only wear numbers) were definitely targeted towards a crowd that was a bit more strapping and barrel-chested than I happen to be. The smallest available size seemed to be a 40″ chest, which was pretty discouraging. However, with a little help from my trusty old sewing machine, I got a Lou Gehrig jersey that would actually fit me, and saved a lot of money in the process.

It was quite simple. Modell’s was having a sale on team jerseys last month, so I went in and tried several on and figured out that a child’s large was big enough to button up, but not so big that I was swimming in it, or that it came down almost to my knees. Then on a tip from a friend, I found a seller on eBay who had player “number kits”, which were basically twill numbers with an iron-backing. I purchased a Carl Pavano (45) kit, and marveled on how much less than the sum of his number’s parts (Gehrig’s #4 and DiMaggio’s #5) he ended up being for the Yankees. Then I set to ironing on my number. I may have been too timid with the heat and pressure for fear of burning the polyester doubleknit, but the iron-on backing was definitely not going to hold up to wearing, let alone washing. Reinforcing it with zig-zag stitching was a little harrowing, because my work was, by nature, so visible, but with the exception of a few rough patches–one when I was getting started and a second when I started sewing crooked, I think I did an OK job.

The finished product:
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It’s ready to go for the game tonight, if the weather cooperates.

Sight for Sore Eye Candy Friday

Sight for sore eyes
This is a little bit of a departure for me on Eye Candy Friday. I know I’ve highlighted Yankees before, but they’re generally a good bit younger than Bobby Murcer, who was on the team in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. I don’t really even remember him as a player, because I’m too young; I became familiar with him when he started calling the games for the YES network. But Bobby Murcer hitting what would turn out to be a hard lineout was one of the nicest things that I got to see at the Yankees’ Old Timers’ Day on July 7th. Bobby was diagnosed with brain cancer around Christmastime last year, so it’s pretty outstanding that after the rounds of surgery, chemo and radiation, he was able to join in the festivities.

There were plenty of delights that afternoon. When we arrived, the retired players were taking their batting practice and chatting on the field:

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After they moved the screens out of the way, we got to watch Reggie Jackson talking to his public for a good long time:
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Then John Sterling and Michael Kay came out to the field for the player introductions. The World Series champion team of 1977 was being honored (we got commemorative pins), so there were a good number of veterans of that team present: Nettles, Guidry, Dent, Blair, Rivers, etc., as well as the widows and family members of Elston Howard (first base coach), Catfish Hunter, Thurman Munson and Billy Martin (manager).

There were some first-timers there too. They included Ken Griffey Sr., and a few more recent retirees:
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Paul O’Neill and Scot Brosius (on Paul’s right).

And of course, there were the old fan favorites: Don Larsen, Whitey Ford, and one Mr. Lawrence Peter Berra:
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(It’s very hard to take a decent picture while simultaneously cheering one’s brains out)

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Once the introductions had concluded, we observed a moment of silence for members of the baseball and Yankee families who had passed away, sang along with Robert Merrill’s rendition of the National anthem, and then sat back to watch the Clippers and the Bombers play some baseball.

Bob Wolff and Keith Olbermann announced the game and interviewed the players between innings.

They played kind of fast and loose with the pitching–there were a lot of changes, and pitchers returned to the game every few batters. Ron Guidry got the game started, and to be perfectly honest, looked a lot better than a scary number of the guys the Yankees have been running out on the mound every five days (or for one excruciating inning every other day, Kyle Farnsworth):
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Paulie didn’t look half-bad out in the batter’s box, either. The Bombers sort of overmatched the Clippers, but then a team that includes the likes of Paul O’Neill, Don Mattingly, and Reggie Jackson has Ron Guidry for a starter is pretty formidable.

Of course, when you have a bunch of guys from many different baseball eras, there’s always a bit of rust that needs to be shaken off. It wasn’t always the prettiest, but there are no errors in the Old Timers’ Day Game!
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Straw actually escaped that.

In the end, the Bombers defeated the Clippers 4 to 0, and it was time to prepare the field for the afternoon’s official game, between the Yankees and the Angels.
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Of all the teams in baseball, the Yankees are the only one who still have an Old Timers’ Day and game. I really wish that more teams still did it–it’s great to see many generations of a team “family” get together for one day. I think that it’s a lovely tradition and I was really thrilled that I got to see one of them before the true Yankee Stadium is taken down.