Reflecting on Spring Training 2012

    Friday, March 9, 2012, 11:28 AM [General]

    It’s no secret. I’m not only a YES employee. I have been rooting for the Yankees my entire life. It’s like Sy Sperling. Not only is he the President of Hair Club for Men, he’s also a client. I guess I can be a client their as well, but bald is beautiful, sorry Sy. 

    I have never hidden the fact that I am a fan and I never will. Some will say that it isn’t professional because my subjectivity would be skewed because I am a fan. In my personal opinion, I think my views are honed in 100 percent more because I have been following this team since I was a zygote. It’s in my DNA. When they took an ultrasound they saw the interlocking NY. My passion for covering the team I grew up rooting for is unparalleled. 

    Back in 1996, I had just entered the work force. I was a production assistant for MSNBC. We were having our launch party on the same night as Game 6. Yes, that Game 6. The Joe-Girardi-shake-the-stadium-triple Game 6 against the Braves. It was a tough decision to make on my part. Do I go show my face as a new employee at the launch party of a brand new network, or do I head to the bar to watch the Yankees with all of my childhood friends with a chance for them to end an 18-year championship drought? The answer to that question is both. I showed my face for an hour at the party, and then took off. I hopped into my red Pontiac Sunfire (insert joke here) left the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City and pointed my car towards my hometown of South River.      

    I got to the light at the corner of the Old Bridge Turnpike and Prospect Street just as Mariano Rivera was striking out Javy Lopez to end the eighth with an emphatic Sterling, “STRUCK HIM OUT SWINGING” call. I got to the South River Pub for the beginning of the bottom of the eighth and about a half hour later, my closest friends and family and I were celebrating the first Yankees World Series win since 1978. 

    I told you all of that to tell you this. I just returned from Spring Training. It was another great trip. The weather was sparkling. The days were over 80 and sunny. We didn’t see one drop of rain and the nights cooled off to a fantastic 55-60 degrees. You had the best of both worlds. During the day you were in Florida and at night you had a bit of a chill to make you feel like you were still home.

    I watch how hard these guys work at their craft. They REALLY do. After a full day of rounds of BP, one of the newest Yankees, Raul Ibanez, went back into the netted cages under the stadium and took MORE BP. Hitting off a tee first and then went against a live arm some more. Mark Teixeira did the same thing. This is a guy who has hit 30 home runs and driven in more than 100 RBIs for the past eight years. By the way, wherever he went, it was on the hop. He was hustling from place to place. If you think it was just to get by autograph seekers you are wrong. He was still hustling in the player-friendly confines heading to the clubhouse. 

    Fans seeking signatures sometimes get the wind knocked out of them by these guys not stopping for a second to sign an autograph. You have to realize something, and remember, this is coming from a fan: These guys are at work. These guys are trying to squeeze as much as they can out of the sunlight. They are not purposely figuratively punching you in the jejunum. Let’s be honest. It wouldn’t be one autograph. There are hundreds of people lined up over at Field No. 2 when the BP groups come out. They cannot sign for 45 minutes. They are working. You can’t take this stuff to heart. If they have time during a break in BP before a game, they do sign. 

    Joe Girardi with Matt SmithThe first day I was there I saw it in Clearwater. Joe Girardi actually signed a poster of a young Yankees fan who passed away. You may remember him from Twitter. Steven E. Smith. His father, Matt, was holding the sign and Girardi scaled the dugout to sign it and then invited Matt onto the field to watch BP with the manager behind the cage. Most of the players came over to shake his hand. Girardi kept the poster and will send it back when the whole team has put their signature on it. 

    It does happen. Joe Girardi is a classy guy. You’ll learn more about him in Kevin Kernan’s book coming out shortly, Girardi: No Ordinary Joe. It comes out April 1 and you can order it now at Amazon.com.   

    There is a reason why you love this team. There is a reason why you go to games to see them do what they do so well. It’s because of the tireless work they put into their craft. So the next time you get bent out of shape because you didn’t get an autograph, think about that big hit one of these guys gets in a clutch spot to get a big win during the season. It’s because he was working on his game, and not on his signature.

    Follow Chris Shearn on Twitter: @ChrisShearnYES

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Remembering a friend

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 11:27 AM [General]

    September 11, 2001

    The mere thought, utterance, or in this case typing that day out floods every fiber of my being with the same range of emotions that coursed through my body on that catastrophic day. A lot of innocent people were lost. Including a friend from my hometown of South River, N.J., Christopher Dincuff. He was in the North Tower, the first building that was hit at 8:46 a.m. He was in that building for 102 minutes, above the impact zone, until it collapsed.

    I didn't find out he was missing until I finally finished my 14 hour shift at MSNBC, covering every second of the horror, at 8 p.m.

    Chris was a senior in high school, I was a freshman. In the DNA helix of high school hierarchy, seniors and freshman rarely talked or hung out together. It was, and probably still is an unwritten code. However, Chris and I shared a love of sports and we talked about our teams often while taking breathers at basketball practice.

    I remember one Saturday afternoon, Dinc (as he was known by all of his friends) was bummed because our coach scheduled an afternoon practice that was going to interfere with his beloved Villanova Wildcats schedule. Chris was an absolute fanatic when it came to his Wildcats. As luck would have it, he was beaming with happiness that day, because the basketball scheduling gods decided to air the Villanova-St. John's game on tape delay. He proclaimed the news like he had just won the lottery. That is no exaggeration either. His smile as all of his friends have said countless amounts of times, would light up a room. The gym was especially bright that day.

    The other day I remember quite vividly was running into him at a South River homecoming game after he graduated from Villanova. What, you thought he was going to Georgetown? He graduated a Wildcat and decided to chase after his dream in sports broadcasting. He was working in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., with a Minor League baseball team. I wanted to get into sports broadcasting as well. So when I found out Chris was getting his feet wet in the business, I had a viable fellow South River graduate who was out there doing it. It gave me hope, it really inspired me. I thought, if Chris is out there doing it, I can do this too.

    Now besides being a huge Villanova Wildcats fan, Dinc also had a love affair with our hometown, South River, and his many close friends. Being 3,000 miles away from everyone he loved and barely being able to make ends meet was not what he had in mind. So, after a year, Chris packed up from California and moved home and changed careers getting into the business world. Despite the fact he switched careers, Chris didn't know, in fact, he never found out, how big of an inspiration he was to me. I will never forget that homecoming concession stand conversation and what it meant to me. I don't think I would be sitting here writing this blog without having him as my glimmer of hope.

    So back to 8 p.m., September 11, 2001. I walked into the Meadowlands Hilton not knowing what to expect next. There was no going home. Routes 3, 17, 46, and the New Jersey Turnpike were all closed. I checked in at the front desk, walked towards the bar and that is when my cell phone rang. It was my mother and that is when I found out Chris was still missing. I was basically walking in a fog. I didn't know what to feel, or what to think. When I got up to my room, I looked out of my window and saw blue and red lights as far as my eyes could see, up and down the turnpike and Route 3. That image amongst many others is scarred into my memory banks for the rest of my life. The weight of the destruction of the day wouldn't really hit me until I was able to go home a couple of days later.

    I remember the memorial service that was held for Chris at St. Thomas Church in Old Bridge, N.J. I just remember the throngs of people. The church, which is gigantic, was at capacity, so the cafeteria behind the pews had to be opened to accommodate everyone. Garth Smalley, Chris' next door neighbor growing up, and best friend, did his best to keep it together as he eulogized the kid he used to talk to window to window at their houses growing up.

    Nothing can bring Chris back to this earth, but through our hearts and minds all of the people that were lost that day will continue to live on through us.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank him for inspiring me. I want to thank him for letting me know my dreams could come true.

    It has been said that time heals all wounds. There is some truth to that statement. However, the wounds from that day run deep. Nothing can erase the jagged emotional scars that were inflicted that day.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Jeter, he's got an Edge

    Thursday, July 7, 2011, 11:57 AM [General]

    Derek Jeter does have an edge. In every possible way. Including the one he got in Blazing Copper.

    The homegrown Yankee is inching closer and closer to a magical milestone.

    Think about it for a second. Just 27 players in the history of the game have 3,000 hits. By the way, none of them are named Ruth, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Mantle or any Yankee in the history of the organization. So yes, this isn't only 3,000, this is the first Yankee that will complete the quest of Holy Grail-esque proportions. He is already a first-ballot Hall of Famer. This just improves the resume even more.

    • 1996 Rookie of the Year
    • 12 All-Star Appearances (including this year)
    • 2000 All-Star MVP
    • 2000 World Series MVP
    • 5 Gold Gloves
    • 5 World Championships
    • Career Postseason .309 20 HR 57 RBI

    So why all the negativity? Why as Jeter approaches his storied milestone is he treated like a juror from the Casey Anthony trial?

    Because of his contract negotiations? Really? You want to go there? This is a guy who has done everything right his entire career. A guy that never found the front or back pages unless he was winning a game or a championship. A guy that your kids could actually look up to as a role model, as a hero.

    All of you who think Jeter handled his contract situation poorly, put yourself in his shoes for a second. He looks to his right while he is on the field and sees Alex Rodriguez. A guy who opted out of his contract, and the Yankees brought him back and he is going to be taken care of handsomely until he is 42 years of age. None of you could tell me that you would have sit back and just taken what the team was prepared to give you to be a "team player."

    Think about it. You've done everything you've done for the organization and instead of just being taken care of, you are told test the market. Put yourself in Jeter's shoes. What would YOU have done? If any one of you sit there and say you would have just been a "team player" you are lying through your collective teeth.

    Another reason for the negativity is his decreasing production. I will say this. If after 3,000 he is still not producing, Jeter should ask to be moved down in the lineup. He is the captain of this team, he always says he wants to win, that would be the right thing to do.

    Jeter doesn't deserve the treatment he is getting from fans and the media. There is no such thing as patience here in New York. I grew up here. I'm impatient. I get it. That's why kids come up from the Minors, get hit around, or go hitless for a couple games, and they want them shipped out.

    You don't have patience for Derek Jeter? I know you don't. I saw all I needed to see on Twitter when I used to be a member. Six games into the season, people who supposedly know baseball were calling him Captain Double Play or Captain Ground Out. Awful. Two days ago I read this, "He did get six at-bats, just no more hits. But at least Jeter made his chase for 3,000 hits feel a little more like a parade than a funeral procession." Sickening. How could you even look at that after typing it and let that be printed? This is a record and a player that should be celebrated while he is still running out to shortstop. He is a Yankee legend. When he hustles out to short, or hustles a ground ball out, you should nudge your son or daughter and say, "That's how you play the game."

    You always hear it on the radio, Yankees fans are the most knowledgeable, right? They are supposed to be the best fans on the planet, right? I have news for you. If Derek Jeter was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, he would walk to the plate on a red carpet every night, not a line of hot coals.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    United as One

    Monday, May 2, 2011, 1:36 PM [General]

    Waking up to the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden today was the greatest juxtaposition of emotions for me. It was elation because our military’s hard work finally paid off, and it was sadness because hearing of the event just took me back to that awful day. It’s a day when so many innocent people lost their lives. I lost a high school friend, and he was also part of my inspiration to do what I am doing today.

    I experienced that entire day working for MSNBC. I got into work that morning around 5:55. The Giants played on Monday Night Football against the Broncos the night before and got destroyed. I wasn’t in the best of moods. I drove in from Hoboken, and as dawn was breaking I looked over my shoulder at the skyline of the city as I drove into Secaucus. I had seen it so many times before, but every time I looked it just kept getting better. It always gave me the feeling that I was home. I had no idea that would be the last time I was going to be able to drink in that awesome sight.

    MSNBC got rid of the Sports Department. I was the only one left. So my Senior Producer turned to me to put together a Michael Jordan comeback piece. I forget what comeback it was for him. He did it so much I lost track, but I was excited to be working on a topic that drove my passion to be involved in television.

    I was in the Imus in the Morning control room working on getting some internet grabs of other athletes who made comebacks when the first tower was hit. None of us knew what happened. Did a pilot have a heart attack? Did something malfunction on the plane? Needless to say we were all in shock. Everyone was told to stop what they were working on and concentrate on the developing situation. As the tape producer on duty, I felt like Paul Revere running down the halls telling everyone to drop what they were doing. In many ways I was getting this information to associate producers in their edit rooms for the first time.

    It was a short time later that I was positioned in our tape playback area. I had a tape rolling on Chopper 4’s feed which was circling the towers. Then it happened. The second plane hit. No one else saw it but me. Everyone was screaming a bomb went off in the building. I saw the plane on Chopper 4’s feed, come over the river and nail the second building. No one believed me until I showed them on video tape not too long after it hit.

    Then they came down. First it was the South Tower, then the North Tower. I was naïve. I thought the firefighters would just get up there and put everything out and we would move on from there. Those brave and courageous firefighters who were going up flights of stairs with their equipment, while frightened masses were on their way down, hopefully on their way to safety. 

    I can still see them crumbling to the ground. Live. I remember thinking about all those people who were probably lost. I remember thinking all they did that day was go to work. All they did was board flights hoping to get to a meeting, or to visit loved ones.

    The day ended for me around 9 o’clock. I couldn’t get home. Route 3, Route 17, the bridges, tunnels and the New Jersey Turnpike were all closed. I can remember looking out of my hotel room and seeing just a stretch of flashing red and blue lights as far as the eye could see. When I got to the hotel I talked to my parents. That’s when I learned about my friend Chris from high school and part of my inspiration to get into broadcasting. He was in the first tower and didn’t get out.

    He was a senior when I was a freshman. He took the time after being in the field after he graduated college to let me in on how the sports broadcasting industry was difficult, challenging, yet rewarding. I’ll never forget that day. It stuck with me and pushed me to get to where I am. It showed me if a kid from my hometown could do it, so can I.  

    After learning about Chris, and being in a state of shock, the President came on that night and addressed the nation. The hotel bar was packed. I remember people of all races, colors, and creeds huddling together as one. As Americans. I can’t begin to tell you, after all the pain and hurt that we all felt that day that was the best feeling in the world. We were truly united as one.

    It’s a shame thought that it takes an event such as that day or last night to bring us together as a country. When it comes down to it we are all we have. We shouldn’t be bickering amongst ourselves, when there is so much hatred in the world toward us and our way of life.

    We like to celebrate our individual heritages all the time. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but we have to take into consideration that no matter where our families came from we are not separate. We are all one under one flag, and we are all chasing the American dream.

    We have Italian Americans, African Americans, Polish Americans, Hungarian Americans, Mexican Americans, Indian Americans and every other ethnic group that has come to our great country to form this great melting pot of success. The one common denominator in all of this is that we are all Americans. It’s my hope that some day we all just look at ourselves as one nation, one people, under one flag and that common denomination of Americans. Our differences are what divide us, but it’s our common ground, being Americans, that brings us together.   

    September 11th 2001, just saying that date out loud, almost 10 years later, still feels like someone wound up and hit me as hard as they could in the solar plexus. It’s a day we’ll never forget. Those images are forever burned into my memory banks. The pain from that day will never subside. Those tears that continue to shed year after year will never dry. 

    Now we have May 1st, 2011. It’s a day we will always remember as well. It’s a day that will echo justification for generations to come for the nearly 10 years of bravery, courage and sacrifice of our Armed Forces. Their blood, sweat, and the tears for those who we have lost have not been in vain. This is only another battle we have won. We have not won the war. Also, this has been a concerted effort of not just one president, but three. This hiding under a rock -- at sometimes literally -- coward, has been at this since Bill Clinton was in office. President Obama first placed calls to his two predecessors before spreading the news elsewhere. It had to be a relief for all three men. This is not about being a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. This is about being an American.

    God Bless our troops who continue to fight. If you see someone wearing the uniform go shake their hand. They are putting not only their own life, but the lives of their families on the line every single day.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Integrity of the game

    Monday, April 18, 2011, 2:14 PM [General]

    This is the definition of integrity on Dictionary.com: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

    This is how cheat is defined courtesy of Dictionary.com: a person who acts dishonestly, deceives, or defrauds.

    Okay now put your thinking caps on and re-read those two definitions. What is the common denominator in both? Honesty.

    So riddle me this. If Pete Rose is being left out of the Hall of Fame because he damaged the 'integrity' of the game, (which I agree with by the way) how in the world can we put anyone who took performance enhancing drugs into the Hall of Fame?

    Isn't that cheating? Isn't that a form of damaging the integrity of the game?

    Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote a very thought provoking column on why he thinks Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. You should check it out it's a great read. In fact, here is the link.

    In the article Sherman states that he is going to vote for Bonds when the ballot comes out in the Winter of 2012. It's his right, he has a Hall of Fame vote. Joel isn't good at what he does, he is excellent at what he does, but I am going to step in and politely disagree with him. He writes that he is basing his vote on everything Bonds did up until the 1998 season. That's when he said he told a circle of friends that he was going to start juicing because inferior players were using PED's and gaining more fame and making more money than him.

    I'm not going to regurgitate the entire article. It is definitely worth your time though.

    Well with that logic, can we end Pete Rose's career when he started betting on baseball? Well we don't really know if we can do that, because we don't really know when Pete started his problem. And how could we be so sure that we know when these players who have admitted it started doing them as well? Want proof? How about Manny Ramirez retiring for being on the block for another illegal substance suspension.

    Sherman makes a very credible and interesting argument, but these players who took PED's 'cheated' the game of baseball and pelted the 'integrity' of the game with rotten eggs with the same verocity of Rose's gambling problems.

    Remember, the common denominator in both of these cases. We go back to the root of the definitions of integrity and cheat. They go hand in hand like pork and beans, cereal and milk, peanut butter and jelly, Kool-Aid and sugar. You get the point.

    Think about this for a second. Can you put Bonds' plaque next to Hank Aaron? Is the all-time home run record on his plaque? Is there any mention of performance-enhancing drugs on it? It's a slippery slope.

    If Rose is banned for life for being dishonest with us, so should all of these guys who duped us into thinking they were larger than life, taking away from past heroes who were clean.

    Follow Chris Shearn on Twitter: @ChrisShearnYES

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Page 1 of 8  •  1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 8 Next
  • It’s no secret. I’m not only a YES employee. I have been rooting for the Yankees my entire life. It’s like Sy ... more
  • September 11, 2001The mere thought, utterance, or in this case typing that day out floods every fiber of my being with the same range of ... more
  • Derek Jeter does have an edge. In every possible way. Including the one he got in Blazing Copper. The homegrown Yankee is inching ... more
  • Waking up to the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden today was the greatest juxtaposition of emotions for me. It was elation because ... more

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