Archives For yankees

Last Thursday night I was texting with my friend Quinn who was in town from Nashville for a work event. We scratched tentative plans to meet-up that evening, opting for the following day. After finding out what hotel she was staying in I offered to make Brunch reservations.

She liked the idea but also suggested that she was down to perhaps sightsee, something that I have done a terrible job of in my three-plus years in the city.

That’s when I got the idea that we should check out the observatory at One World Trade Center in the Financial District. Quinn enthusiastically co-signed.

We met Friday morning in FiDi and headed in to the Freedom Tower. Attendants scanned our pre-purchased tickets, we passed through security and waited in queue for the elevator. Once inside, it shot up 102 floors in seconds. Before we knew it, we were overlooking the greatest city in the world from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

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After the breathtaking views, Quinn and I walked to the Seaport and grabbed that brunch at The Paris Café, one of the oldest watering holes in the city that claims both Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt as past patrons. Afterwards, I sent her off to the hotel so she could catch an afternoon flight and I Uber-ed uptown so I could grab a quick 5.6 mile run in Central Park before my show.

On Saturday I added yet another new experience to my time in the city, and it is something I’ve wanted to do since I moved in to my apartment on the Upper West Side. According to Google, my place is 4.3 miles from Yankee Stadium. I always thought it would be cool to one day run to the Stadium and catch a 1 pm first pitch. So on Saturday morning I did just that, jogging up Manhattan, through Harlem and in to the Bronx, crossing the Macombs Dam Bridge before entering the ball park.

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Yankees lost to the Mariners and I hopped on the subway home. After an eventful past 48 hours, my plan was to settle in with a sandwich, a beer and my PlayStation 4.

And then my friend Shaina, who I first met covering red carpets here, shot me a text. She had a plus one for a TriBeCa Film Festival after-party. So instead of picking out a game to play on PS4 I picked out an outfit and headed downtown. The event was in celebration of “The Family Fang,” a movie that Jason Bateman both directed and starred in. His co-stars include Christopher Walken and Nicole Kidman.


I didn’t see the film but the party, sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin, was fantastic.

I’m pretty sure Sunday marked another first for me: the first time I spent an entire weekend at the Stadium. I rode the subway up and after the Yanks salvaged the final game of the series, I walked a mile across the bridge again before hopping on C, as to avoid the crowds at 161 and River.

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Before Sunday Funday ended I saw a few friends, racked up another 5.6 in the Park and caught the season finale of HBO’s “Vinyl.” We got another shout-out!

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All-in-all it was another weekend for the books. And to think, when I first made those plans on Friday I thought to myself, “Well, at least I’ll be leaving my neighborhood once this weekend.”

A week after John Oliver sent costumed fans to sit in the prestigious Legends Seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, the comedian noted that the Bronx Bombers are probably not too happy about the whole promotion.

“I think the Yankees are happy that we’re done,” the HBO host said after noting he did not have any more tickets to give away on his “Last Week Tonight” show. Oliver also stated that he didn’t receive any flack from the Yanks personally, “but yeah, I don’t think they were absolutely thrilled about it.”

This all started before the first pitch of the season. Speaking to a sports talk radio station in New York, Yankees COO Lonn Trost attempted to explain why the Yankees were no longer using “Print-At-Home” tickets. His main reason was to curb fraud; however the front office executive was also unhappy with the low ticket floors set by third-party websites such as StubHub. Eliminating these websites’ ability to buy and distribute tickets at a moment’s notice all-but-guarantees that fans will have to purchase tickets through the Yankees own resale outlet, which is run by Ticketmaster.

In the process of explaining the nuisance of expensive tickets selling well below face value, Trost induced a foot-in-mouth moment by saying that those who typically sit in said expensive seats would be frustrated by fans who don’t normally sit in a premium location.

Enter Oliver, who eviscerated the Yanks’ for the ticketing practice and comment before offering viewers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: tweet the hashtag “#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation” and you could score two Legends Seats for a quarter, the only condition bring that you had to wear something out-of-the-ordinary to the game.

The once-empty seats behind home were filled on Opening Day. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“Those seats are amazing. Those seats are precious,” Oliver told me on the red carpet ahead of the Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall. “And it frustrates the hell out of me to see them empty during every game. It’s embarrassing.”

As a lifelong and diehard Yankees fan, I concur and brought up another point: with the empty seats in the lower bowl due to both ticket sales and the various luxury suites and lounges in to the venue, the entire ballpark is much quieter than “The House That Ruth Built.”

“You’re basically eschewing home field advantage by having just empty seats,” he accurately added. “It must be weird batting with no one shouting for you… so we provided some shouting dinosaurs, sharks and Ninja Turtles. You’re welcome, Yankees.”

And hey, maybe the 27-time World Champions were appreciative. On the last game of the team’s first homestand, the message “Thanks, John Oliver. Everyone is welcome at Yankee Stadium” appeared on the scoreboard.

“(Sitting in Legends Seats) is an amazing experience,” Oliver commented before concluding, “and the f—ing Yankees should open it up to more people!”

#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation

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I met Paul O’Neill in May of 2009 at the now-closed Crowne Plaza in Secaucus. He was one of a number of former Yankees participating in an autograph signing held by memorabilia company MAB Celebrity.

If you have never been, basically you show up and purchase a ticket which allows you to obtain an autograph on an item of your choosing (you can provide said item or buy one there) from an athlete.
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Of course, being 30, I remember the ‘96 team and made some of my first trips to both Manhattan and Yankee Stadium during the championship run from 1998 to 2000. Growing up in Niagara Falls, I would also frequently drive up to Toronto so I could watch the Yankees play the Blue Jays in the then-SkyDome.

Anyone who followed those teams loved Paul O’Neill. He was as George Steinbrenner so notoriously dubbed him, “The Warrior.” He always left it all on the field and certainly racked up his fair share of clutch hits and memorable moments in route to helping the Bombers secure four World Series championships.

On the field, he was as intense as they come (just ask the water coolers in the dugouts that felt his wrath following a strike out or missed opportunity). But off the field, O’Neill is now known as a pretty fun-loving guy, mostly due to the personality he showcases as a color commentator in-game on the YES Network.

So when I met him, I asked him why Michael Kay and the other guys in the booth rib on him so much for always talking about collecting free swag, like clothes and equipment. He got a kick out of that and we had a good laugh before he signed my 8×10.
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If I ran in to O’Neill tomorrow, I’d ask him something similar: perhaps jokingly inquiring how he puts up with Kay and David Cone for a full season of broadcasts. Maybe I would want to discuss what the team’s chances of a playoff run are this year. I might even see if he has any favorite spots in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side.

You know what I wouldn’t ask him? His views on politics. Want to know why? I don’t care, and quite frankly it’s none of my business.

As a fan that buys tickets and merchandise and invests time in to following the team, the only thing O’Neill “owed” me and anyone else in Yankees Universe was effort and integrity. I wasn’t supporting him because I thought he was going to lower taxes and feed the homeless, I cheered for him because I wanted the Yankees to win. That’s something we received from “The Warrior” ten-fold. He helped bring us four rings and never compromised the Yankee tradition us fans adore.

But the overriding issue here is the lack of perspective we have in regards to the opinions we value. The guy we’re talking about is a retired baseball player. He is not an elected official, nor does he work in the public sector. He’s an American citizen who talks about sports on TV. I love Paul O’Neill, but like the Starbucks red cups had zero effect on my celebration of Christmas, number 21’s pick for President will have no impact on my own political views.


If O’Neill ever cheated or abused drugs or committed an act of domestic violence, then I’d certainly revisit his canonization in the Bronx. I’d lead the way on the “Appall O’Neill” headlines. But until then, I’m not holding O’Neill’s political preferences against him the same way I’m not judging Mayor de Blasio based on his baseball allegiances or for that matter, judging “The Boss” over who he liked to hang around with in his day.

Because you know Trump and Steinbrenner were good friends, right?

The summer of travel took me down south again last weekend, as I visited Atlanta for my first time ever. Thursday night I left the studio, pulled an all-nighter, and made my non-stop 6 a.m. flight to the ATL. Instead of taking the airport shuttle upon landing, I thought it’d be a good idea to walk from my terminal to ground transportation at Hartsfield. That airport is MASSIVE and my idea was not one of the good variety. Regardless, I eventually made it on to MARTA, Atlanta’s public transit. That’s where I snapped this selfie.


First stop: Cumulus Media headquarters. Our Senior Vice President of Programming and Content, Mike McVay, was kind enough to score me Yankees/Braves tickets for that night in Turner Field AND give me a tour of our facilities. The corporate HQ is located in the Buckhead section of town, an upscale area with a lot of great hotels (and subsequently, hotel bars), high-end shops, and steakhouses. It was great to see familiar faces and meet some new ones, all in their element instead of on the road in New York or Los Angeles.

Next up: CNN World Headquarters downtown! I had no idea that the massive property is connected to both an Omni Hotel and the Phillips Arena.

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I joined the panel on HLN’s “The Daily Share” to chat about everything from Donald Trump to Justin Bieber.


Again, it was great meeting people who I have corresponded with for years in real life and seeing a few familiar faces. I said my goodbyes and took the Marta back to Midtown, where my hotel was. I needed to tape and edit two radio segments for affiliates, and it left me with just enough time to grab a Caribou Coffee and egg sandwich (again!), change in to my away Derek Jeter jersey and meet colleagues at this spot called The Nook. From there, it was off to the 755 Club at Turner Field for the Yankees game.


We at some point made it to our seats and yes, I ate that full hot dog. I know, real sexy.\
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ANYWAYS, Yankees won, and my coworkers were kind enough to treat me to a steak dinner afterwards because they’re great.

Saturday was awesome. Slept in, day drank, thrift shopped, bar hopped, went to an outdoor wine festival.

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And at the suggestion of many, tried the Coronary Burger from The Vortex. It lived up to the hype.

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Special thanks to Aaron Roberts for playing the role of “tour guide” for most of the trip. Happy to be back home, and next weekend it’s back to home-home – Niagara Falls!

All I remember reading in the email I received from Amy Freeze was that we were running through Citi Field and it was for charity. I’m a huge baseball fan (diehard member of Yankees Universe) and so I was in. The event – a Spartan Sprint – was a week before the Billboard Music Awards. As with most award shows, I usually switch up both my workout regime and my diet a few weeks prior to the event, so that I’m in good shape come time to be in front of the camera for a few days straight. So this was perfect – a combination of working out, raising money and awareness for a charity and doing so in Citi Field, all while wearing Yankees gear from head-to-toe.

If you’re familiar with what a Spartan Sprint is, then you know that those two words should have immediately caught my attention. They didn’t. Freeze asked me to bring gloves, and also told me we were doing the 3 mile route. I run 4 miles on the regular. I got this! Gloves? Well that’s a little strange but sure, I’ll pack them before I take the 7 out to Flushing.

I did not fully realize what I signed up for until we were approaching the starting line. Before the start, we had to scale over a wall erected in one of the corridors that leads up an upper level of the stadium. And this wasn’t even a part of the course that was timed!

Thankfully, I was surrounded by a great team. Freeze is a meteorologist for Channel 7, and she recruited fellow forecasters Audrey Puente from Fox 5 and Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel. Rounding out the group was Gabe Boyar, Amanda Marasco and fitness guru Tom Holland. We had a fun group and when we needed help climbing a wall, thankfully Tom was there to lend a hand.
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The course was equally excruciating and exhilarating. Bear climbs up ramps and stairs, carrying jugs of water and sand bags around sections of Citi Field’s upper level, push-ups in the visiting team’s clubhouse, climbing up a net that extended from one side of the center field wall to the other… when I wasn’t praying that I wouldn’t be too sore the next day, I was taking in the views and counting my blessings. Thank goodness I’m in good health, and I get to experience something like this.

Sore the next day? I was sore for the next week.

But it was all worth it. I made some new friends, had a great time and most importantly, helped out The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. After we completed the course and I partook in a celebratory beverage, Freeze told us about the great things that The MMRF does. The research and efforts of the foundation have led to the FDA approval of seven drugs for multiple myeloma in the time it would normally take for just one drug to pass.

Another great attribute of The MMRF, especially as the son of a two-time breast cancer survivor: They use their research to help other cancer studies as well.

Corporate donors cover overhead costs, so every dollar I donated to The MMRF went right to the cause. And the volunteers couldn’t have been more helpful, especially in encouraging the members of “Team Freeze” to keep fighting.

I’m sure glad we did, but I’m more thankful for the work they do… and the fact that for once, I “blindly” walking in to something was actually a positive.

We caught up with former all-stars and celebrities who participated in Sunday’s Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game at Citi Field. The game will be televised Monday night on ESPN.

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If you’re like me and you follow YES Network analyst Jack Curry on Twitter, you know that the seasoned reporter is well-versed in more than just baseball. Curry is an avid music fan who tweets about Gaslight Anthem and Mumford and Sons in between updating his 40,000-plus followers on Derek Jeter’s rehab progress.

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With his new YES Network web series, “JCTV,” Curry hopes to combine his loves for sports and tunes with his profession of telling great stories and interviewing newsmakers. When I asked the reporter who he’d most like to chat with from the music-sphere, one person he responded with was Jay-Z.

“He was a part owner for the Nets and now he’s one of Robinson Cano’s agents,” said Curry via telephone. “There’s a nice baseball-sports connection there, so I would love to interview somebody like that as well.”

Curry tapped former Yankees catcher and current YES co-worker John Flaherty as his first guest. The 11-minute long episode premiered Wednesday, and the former New York Times writer aims to release a new show weekly. “JCTV” is currently shot in black and white, with two handheld cameras, and in a more casual setting – all variables that Curry doesn’t see changing as the show moves forward.

“We want people to have a destination, we want people to care about it,” Curry explained. “I want to trend on Twitter like you did in New York last night!”

Yes, “#RalphieShow” did trend in to the wee hours of the morning, due to dedicated fans of the groups Emblem 3 and Little Mix. Curry joked that he could call in a favor with Jeter, and that isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound: the reporter and Yankee captain co-wrote a book together in 2000.

Baseball season is right around the corner. For players, choosing what music you’re going to step up to the plate to can be difficult. Just ask Yankees Center Fielder Curts Granderson.

Hopefully he doesn’t chose Rebecca Black’s “Friday” – but if he does – I’m FOR this version…

Web Bonus: If you STILL haven’t seen the original…

I met Derek Jeter in the summer of 1998. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement: it was my first day of my first trip to New York City ever – my family hadn’t been in Manhattan all of five hours. Mom overheard two workers at Niketown chatting about how tall the Yankees shortstop was. Within minutes, I saw for myself, standing literally right next to him.

Most of my five minute chat with Jeter consisted of me nervously rambling: he scored the game-winning run the night before, I had tickets to the next three Yankees games, I traveled from Niagara Falls, NY just to see him play, this was my first visit to Yankee Stadium… yada, yada, yada. The Yankee stood there and listened as if I was his little cousin – nodding and thanking me for my support while a customer service rep prepared his merchandise.

Jeter didn’t have to give me 10 seconds of his day for me to think of him as my favorite baseball player. But he did, and for what it’s worth, he’s enshrined with that title the same way he will be enshrined in Cooperstown once he retires – unequivocally and forever.

As I’ve grown older – I’ve only come to appreciate the captain more. But I’m no more grateful for his hits, runs, off-the-back-leg throws, or championship rings as I am for the class and grace he exhibits while doing so.

The bottom line: he always says the right thing and never does the wrong one. Jeter has found a way to the top of baseball without taking a path through steroids and/or tabloids.

At the time I met Jeter, he was 24. Now he’s 36, and still playing (for now) the most youth-oriented position on the field: shortstop. Despite his success and the way which he achieved it, the Yankees felt the need to negotiate Jeter’s contract this past offseason through the media, as if the five-time World Champion was an ungrateful, undeserving athlete. You think New York’s front office would have dealt with enough of those types to distinguish them from the rest, but apparently not. Regardless, Jeter kept his silence and signed a new deal – and only said of the process that he wished it wasn’t as public as it had become.

Yet now, despite coming off a Gold Glove season, partly because of his age, and mostly because of the Yankees brass, Jeter will be faced with a plethora of carefully-worded questions about not only his future in pinstripes, but his future position while in them. Those inquiries kicked off with his arrival to Spring Training, and in typical Jeter fashion, he responded.

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“I don’t think you prepare yourself for a negative,” Jeter responded to a question about a decline in the lineup order or playing time – plus possibly changing positions. “If you get in to a situation where you have to address that, then you address it. Right now, my mindset isn’t on, ‘Well, what’s going to happen if I’m not doing my job?’ I think that’s pretty difficult to do.”

I’m sure some feel it’s still easier for Jeter to stay positive than most given his job, bank account, and relationship status. But if doing the right thing, all the time, with relative ease was so easy – then why don’t more professional athletes do it?

Perhaps those other athletes are all too busy preparing for the negative.


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