Tag Archives: Yankees

So Long, Boss

George Steinbrenner, a/k/a The Boss, dead at 80.

With all due respect to Mr. Springsteen, even the biggest Bruce fan in New Jersey knows who owns that nickname. Larger than life, a master at nabbing the back page of the New York City tabloids, George Steinbrenner was in your face 24/7. He led a fascinating life and was a great businessman, but the story really took off on the day he took over majority ownership of the most famous sports franchise on Earth.

Even in death he drew attention; passing away on the morning of baseball’s All Star Game. I guess he was just waiting for Bob Sheppard to go first. This way he could be sure to get the proper introduction at the next destination.

Best comment of the day (not my words) from one of many message boards buzzing about the news: “Isn’t it ironic that one of the biggest blowhards in sports will have his memory celebrated on national television with a moment of silence?”

You’ll read a million stories about this sports legend, about how he meddled in the most minute business affairs and drove his employees crazy, how he dumped managers and general managers like used tissues, and how even the best players wilted under his constant myopia over the years. Google his name along with that of Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Dave Winfield and especially Billy Martin and you’ll be entertained for weeks.

But the man wanted to win above all else. And win he did.

I knew another side of the man. Years ago I worked for a celebrity who had a relationship with the Yankee organization, and of course, the two of them got along famously. But that warmth and kindness extended past the famous person right down through everyone in our organization, and as we got to know many in the Yankee family we found out how quietly magnanimous the man was. He bragged long and hard about baseball, but he did a lot of charitable work behind the scenes in relative anonymity.

And what truly egotistical man would let himself be parodied long and hard like he did on Seinfeld? Or mock his own persona (and with some acting chops) on Saturday Night Live?

R.I.P., George – you were truly one of a kind.

George Steinbrenner wiki.

New York Yankees official website

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R.I.P. Bob Sheppard

I was born in New York City and spent my wonder years there, and if you were a boy in New York at that time, you were a Yankee fan by birthright. I have many fond memories of my Dad taking me to games. After walking through the gray and grimy Bronx, going through the tunnel into the stands and seeing all that green grass was like the door opening after Dorothy’s house landed in The Wizard of Oz.

I’m no longer a Yankee fan – haven’t been for a long time – but the passing of Bob Sheppard deserves mention. Like the classic announcers that are slowly dwindling away, Sheppard’s introductions were memorable and classy and timeless. He started announcing Yankee games in 1951 and continued until late in 2007, and his reverential tone was used to introduce every Yankee great from Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle to the present day. Reggie Jackson referred to him as “the voice of God“; more than one superstar player admitted that his introduction gave them goosebumps.

One of the many reasons that Derek Jeter will go down as one of the greatest Yankees ever is his respect for the game and tradition. After Sheppard retired, Jeter asked that Bob’s taped introduction continue to be used every time he came up to the plate.

Ninety-nine years is a long life, and Sheppard’s loss will undoubtedly be felt by many, many friends and associates. But you can smile knowing that when you die and move on to whatever state of consciousness you believe in, Bob Sheppard will be there to announce your entrance in that rich, deep voice.

Bob Sheppard wiki page.

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Blast From The Past: The Montgomery Cliffs

 

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

“If I were in a band and had to follow these guys onstage, I’d demand to have the room hosed out and a fresh audience brought in. Nuff said.”

 

First of all, that name…The Montgomery Cliffs. How cool is that? When I reviewed Andiamo, the Cliffs’ debut album – my #1 Record of 1997, by the way – I proclaimed it “a low-budget, high voltage masterpiece” and I wouldn’t take back a syllable of that today. If anything, my opinion has been validated by the passage of time.  Produced by the great Andy Bopp (Myracle Brah) and released on the small RPM label, this three piece NYC band understood that The Who were both power and pop, and having a a sense of humor didn’t hurt either. Joey’s voice is occasionally reminiscent of Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens) or Elvis Costello (Ol’ Declan would be smart to cover “If I Were You”), and the songs on Andiamo aren’t far off from the early records by either.

But more importantly, the band and album were pure unadulterated impact. We’ve all been knocked sideways by a great band when we weren’t expecting it…meeting someone at a bar, arriving early for a concert and not knowing the opener, and then… POW…floored! When recapping 1997’s best later that year I added “The Cliffs  parlay the guitar-bass-drum formula into something much greater. Great songs, whip-crack musicianship and a sense of humor that rocks your world and still makes you think. And the best part? They’re better live. This disc kept getting back in the player all year long, and how better to measure your favorite?”

They were better live. They were amazing live. When I saw them at Fletcher’s in Baltimore later that year, I was absolutely gobsmacked and wrote this. (And yes, I know Patsy Cline didn’t write “Crazy”…) It wasn’t just Salvia’s charisma, although the guy had buckets of it; Wayne Thomas Kurz was the only guitar player but sounded like two, and Dennis Carollo mastered the art of propulsion without ego. Truly a power trio.

Joey Salvia might now be better known to some NYC area fans from his work on The Michael Kay Show (along with various appearances on FOX Sports and ESPN).  Salvia engineers and helps produce the show as well as singing songs for guests, wreaking sonic havoc and bantering with the host. He also wrote the theme song and the other original/parody tunes you hear each day. Salvia continues to record under his own name; his latest album Long Lost Weekend features a song that Bostonians will surely hate…”Derek Jeter“. (And to Dennis and Wayne, wherever you are…isn’t it about time for a reunion??)

Maybe this video was recorded for ten dollars, who knows…but I think you’ll get the point.

The Montgomery Cliff’s MySpace page. “Wednesday Girl”  rules.

CD Baby features several Cliffs and Salvia titles here… I also highly recommend the self-titled Cliffs record.

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