Mariano Rivera: Pride of the Yankees

I can’t believe it. Mariano Rivera won’t be coming in to save the Yankees anymore. And I missed his last game at Yankee Stadium (which sucks, by the way).

Here’s his last appearance on the mound in New York on Sept. 26 (If this video link works correctly, there are multiple clips here):

Pretty cool letting Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter take the ball from him. Pretty sad that Pettitte is retiring from the game as well. His last pitch was thrown Saturday in Texas. And really, Jeter doesn’t have that much longer to play.

One other note of historic significance: Rivera will be the last player in Major League Baseball to wear the number 42. That number has been retired in honor of Jackie Robinson, whose family was in Yankee Stadium for a tribute to Mariano.

This is one of those instances when you think, “Why wait. Just put him in the Hall of Fame now.”

Toronto cop busted Blue Jays

The Toronto police department has a cop who’s a disgruntled Blue Jays fan. Here’s an arrest report after a spectator ran on the field during a game back in May:

arrestreport

I looked at the MLB standings. The Jays are currently in last place in the American League East with a 62-74 record, 18 games back. But at least they aren’t as bad as the Houston Astros.

 

Baseball season begins with “42”

Major League Baseball’s 2013 season begins March 31 in Texas, with the Rangers taking on the Astros in Houston. Just one game that day, then everybody else hits the field on April 1.

But I’m looking forward to this bit of baseball memorabilia:

That’s Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey. Robinson died in 1972 at the age of 53. (Really? When he was my age, he had been dead for four years?) He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1956. And you can tell from the trailer that he put up with a lot of crap as the first African American in the Major Leagues.

I have to see this movie. Jackie Robinson is one of the transitional figure in American sports. And as far as I’m concerned, he marks the beginning of the modern baseball era. No MLB record counts if it happened before No. 42 went on the field for the Dodgers. Especially not the iconic baseball records: Babe Ruth’s 60 home run season and his 714 career home runs and Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

The reason: Some of the best baseball players in America weren’t allowed to play when those records were set. Ruth, DiMaggio and every other player who set a record in the sport were competing against top athletes in most cases, but they were also on the field with guys who would have been in the minor leagues if baseball had been integrated.

I watched the “42” trailer and thought how edgy things felt. But then I remember the first Jackie Robinson movie.

That’s “The Jackie Robinson Story” from 1950 with Jackie Robinson and Ruby Dee. It explores his career up to his rookie year with the Dodgers, and it’s a pretty sanitized version of the times.

Yes there’s racism, but notice how there are no Southern accents in the movie. There’s rarely any indication of where the opposing teams are from, so as not to insult the 1950’s movie audiences from those regions. Branch Rickey refers to Robinson as “boy” an awful lot, which at the time wasn’t considered offensive, but today, really grates on you. Branch Rickey does an awful lot of the “baseball symbolizes the greatness of America” routine, but it would have been nice to note that he was a businessman, and his bottom line wasn’t racial equality, to win the pennant and get people into Ebbets Field.

And notice that there aren’t many shots of black people in the ballparks, which really is unusual because Jackie Robinson was an idol for black America at the time. There’s Ruby Dee being frightened off by a bunch of good old boys in the stands, and later in the movie, Jackie’s family shows up when the Dodgers win the pennant. In the latter scene, if you look close enough, there are two black people in the front row when the game is won. But black people lining up to get into the ballpark … it’s like it didn’t happen.

Robinson did put up with a lot of crap as a ballplayer, and the “turn the other cheek” limits Branch Rickey put on him must have pissed him off to no end. But he is a historic figure, and hopefully “42” will get the story right.

 

Little League World Series: Pennsylvania pandemonium

The Pennsylvania team is putting up some awesome numbers in the Little League World Series. They won tonight’s game 7-5 against Georgia, their third consecutive win since their first game loss against Kentucky.

But Pennsylvania’s huge numbers don’t involve runs or games won. Look at the attendance. The Kentucky game drew 41,848 fans … for a Little League game. (Kentucky has since been knocked out of the tournament.) Last night’s game drew a measly 32,000 fans. Still better than what Major League baseball’s Washington Nationals draw on a work night. (Washington lost to the the Arizona Diamondbacks last night in front of 17,000 fans.)

Pennsylvania plays again Thursday night, and it’s been estimated that when that game is over, Pennsylvania will have drawn 160,000 fans, almost half of the total attendance for the entire World Series thus far. Chances are most of the fans at the other games had come early to see Pennsylvania play. And we’re not even at the championship game.

That’s a home field advantage.

If you want to see the game, watch it on the Web on ESPN3.

UPDATE: Pennsylvania’s run is over. They lost to California 2-0 Thursday night. California faces Montana for the U.S. title Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Japan faces Mexico at noon. The final is Sunday at 3 p.m.

The attendance at Thursday’s Pennsylvania-California game was more than 31,000, bringing the attendance at Pennsylvania’s games in this series to more than 167,000.

Yankee’s Jeter joins 3,000 club

It’s pretty hard to believe that with all its World Series wins and all the players it has in baseball’s Hall of Fame, the New York Yankees never had a player who got 3,000 hits. Until yesterday.

Derek Jeter’s 3,000 career hit was a home run, which was pretty impressive when you consider that he’s not a home run hitter.

The guy’s been with one club his whole career. That’s unusual, too. The Yankees won tge World Series in 1996, the year Jeter was named Rookie of the Year.

He’s been a lock for the Hall of Fame for a while. Cooperstown might as well get the bust ready and make space for another Yankee (as long as he doesn’t pull a Pete Rose, a Barry Bonds or more recently a Roger Clemens).