March 2010

Almost 30

The
May issue of Yankees Magazine will become
one of the great keepsakes of the 2010.

While
the complete edit lineup is not yet in place and much of the content will be
decided on in the upcoming weeks, this much is known — the issue will celebrate
Yankees Magazine’s 30th
Anniversary, and it will feature a comprehensive story on former catcher Rick
Cerone.

Cerone
will be featured in the May issue because he was on the first cover of Yankees Magazine, which came out on May
17, 1980. At that time, he was an up-and-coming backstop, who was putting up
career numbers in his first season in the Big Apple.

I
spent St. Patrick’s Day (yesterday) with Cerone in his hometown of Newark, New
Jersey. We visited his grammar school, the church he attended when he was a kid
and the apartment he grew up in. We also got an up-close look at the Newark
Bears Stadium, which he built from the ground up during the time he owned the
Independent League team.

Of
course, Cerone’s fondest baseball memories were created at Yankee Stadium.

“I
grew up in a neighborhood where everyone was a die-hard Yankees fan,” Cerone
said at Newark’s Luigi’s Restaurant. “When I think about the fact that I wore
the pinstripes for seven years, I have to pinch myself.”

There
will be plenty of other special features in this collectible magazine, and I
will preview them on this blog before the issue comes out. 

–Alfred
Santasiere III

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It’s Magic

One of the features that makes Yankees Magazine the most unique team publication in baseball is a
“5 Questions” segment.

In essence, it’s a question and answer piece with various
celebrities or dignitaries, in which they discuss their own lives and their passion
for baseball and — in most cases — the New York Yankees.

Last night, I was at the Orlando Magic game, where I
interviewed Magic assistant coach and New York icon Patrick Ewing.

The compete interview with Ewing will be published in the
April issue of Yankees Magazine. But
for now, I’ll share my favorite quote from the former Knicks center.

When I asked Ewing which current athlete epitomizes the competitive
spirit of New York City the way he once did, he didn’t hesitate.

“Derek Jeter,” Ewing said with an ear-to-ear smile. “Derek has
played for the Yankees forever. He has the best work ethic in the game. He just
puts on his hard hat every night and competes like it’s the seventh game of the
World Series. He’s doesn’t change with the weather. He’s always there.”

At halftime, I interviewed Arizona Cardinals wide receiver
Larry Fitzgerald for another “Five Questions” segment that will come out this summer.

I repeated the same question to Fitzgerald, and his answer
was just as emphatic as Ewing’s.

“That’s a no brainer, Fitzgerald said. “When you think of New York, and more importantly, the New York Yankees, you think of Derek Jeter. With
the championships he’s won and the way he represents himself in the community,
he’s baseball’s greatest ambassador.”

–Alfred Santasiere III

Patrick Ewing Blog Photo.jpg

Fitzgerald Blog Photo.jpg

It's Magic

One of the features that makes Yankees Magazine the most unique team publication in baseball is a
“5 Questions” segment.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Patrick Ewing Blog Photo.jpg

Fitzgerald Blog Photo.jpg

Arms Race

In yesterday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Sergio
Mitre pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while striking
out three batters.

That outing increased Mitre’s scoreless innings total to
five on the spring.

While Joe Girardi is a long way from deciding who the
Yankees fifth starter will be, Mitre’s impressive performance thus far gives
the skipper another legitimate candidate — in addition to Joba Chamberlain,
Phil Hughes and Chad Gaudin.

Mitre’s presence also underscores a fact that will prove to
be beneficial as the long season moves along: The Yankees pitching staff is as
deep as any in Major League Baseball.

Besides CC Sabathia, A.J Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Javier
Vazquez (who won a combined 61 games in 2009), the Yankees have four pitchers
competing for one remaining starting spot. The three pitchers that don’t earn
the fifth spot in the rotation are going to provide the Yankees with an
iron-clad bullpen — which they didn’t have last season until Hughes emerged as an
eighth inning dominator.

Speaking of Vazquez, he just tossed two innings of one hit
ball against the powerful Philadelphia Phillies lineup at George M.
Steinbrenner Field. The one hit was a first-inning home run off the bat of
Jimmy Rollins, but Vazquez came back to strike out four batters — in only two
innings.

While Vazquez was blowing the ball past Phillies hitters,
Afredeo Aceves pitched four perfect innings in a split-squad game against the
Pittsburgh Pirates. Aceves, who compiled a 10-1 record in 2009, is more likely
to end up in the bullpen than the aforementioned pitchers, but if he continues
to throw the ball the way he did today, you never know where he’ll end up.

For Girardi, it’s a great problem to have.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Ain’t Life Grand


When a team wins a World Series championship, it’s not
uncommon for the following spring training to be filled with optimism.

When the World Series champions add an All-Star
centerfielder and a starting pitcher who finished fourth in the Cy Young Award
voting the previous season, the excitement is heightened and thoughts of a
dynasty fill the crowded seats.

That’s what the atmosphere around George M. Steinbrenner
Field feels like these days, thanks to the Yanks acquisitions of Curtis
Granderson and Javier Vazquez … and because of the players who will be
returning from the 2009 championship team.

In addition to Mark Teixeira, who swatted 39 home runs and
Alex Rodriguez who hit 30 home runs (despite starting the season late due to
injury), and Nick Swisher who blasted 29 home runs and Derek Jeter and Robinson
Cano who batted .334 and .320, respectively, the Yankees lineup will now
feature Curtis Granderson. Granderson hit 30 home runs last season.

In the cover story of the Spring Issue of Yankees Magazine, which came out on
Friday (March 5), I discussed the likelihood that Granderson’s numbers will be
even better this season. He’ll be playing 81 home games in Yankee Stadium,
where the right-field wall is 15 feet closer to home plate and the centerfield
wall is 12 feet closer to the dish than at his old ballpark, Comerica Park.

And more importantly, all of those great hitters that
Granderson is now surrounded by will make it difficult for opposing pitchers to
avoid throwing strikes to the 28-year-old.

“Curtis is going to see a lot more pitches that he can drive
this year,” A-Rod said in January. “I wouldn’t be surprised if his numbers
don’t jump this year.”

I couldn’t agree more.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Ain't Life Grand

When a team wins a World Series championship, it’s not
uncommon for the following spring training to be filled with optimism.

20100224_CURTIS_GRANDERSON_JIM_37C1168.jpg

Presidential Recognition

Amidst a snow blizzard on Feb. 26 (and after nearly not
making it back to New York from Tampa the night before), I attended the Long
Island Association’s annual luncheon, where the guest speakers were George H.W.
Bush and George W. Bush.

I had previously interviewed the younger President Bush in
November 2008 for my second book, The
Final Season: The Official Retrospective
. And I received a letter from the
older President Bush, in which he provided me with a lengthy quote about his
son’s 2001 first pitch for my first book, Yankee
Stadium: The Official Retrospective
.

When I approached the two presidents last Friday, I
introduced myself to George W. Bush the same way I did in 2008. “Good morning
Mr. President. Al Santasiere, New York Yankees.”

The President said through a laugh, “What position do you
play?”

I quickly informed Bush that I had written two books about
Yankee Stadium, and that he and his father contributed their words to the
respective publications. Bush’s response provided me with a tremendous thrill.

“I know your book,” he said. “You sent it to me.”

The former President then reminded his father that Yankee Stadium: The Official Retrospective
features a photo of him throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3
of the 2001 World Series.

The younger President Bush’s acknowledgement of my work
meant the world to me. It served as a final validation for projects that I
worked on for nearly three years.

When I spoke with the older President Bush, he asked me to
pass his regards on to George Steinbrenner.

“Please let him know that I am thinking about him,” the 41st
President said.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Gubernatorial

On Feb. 19, Yankees Senior Vice President of
Marketing Debbie Tymon, who is a third-generation resident of Stanford,
Connecticut, escorted the World Series to the Connecticut State House, located
in Hartford.


Upon arriving at the State House, our group was greeted by Connecticut Gov.
Jodi Rell in the governor’s office.


Gov. Rell invited members of her staff and their families into her spacious
confines to pose for photographs with the trophy, while also showing the
hardware off to her grandson in Colorado via a web-cam.


During the time we spent in the Governor’s office, I spoke with Rell about the
vast number of Yankees fans in a state that is geographically located between
Boston and New York.

“Connecticut is a state that has a dividing line,”
Rell said. “We’ve pinpointed the area along I-84, which splits Yankees fans to
the south and Boston fans to the north. But regardless of that, we are thrilled
that the championship trophy is here, and we are excited to celebrate with our
neighbors to the south.


I guess Rell knew what she was talking about.

“This trophy is absolutely beautiful,” Gov. Rell
said. “This is a memorable moment for me and for everyone who will get to see
it.”

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Tradition Meets Tradition

There are few — if any — traditions in sports that match that of the New York
Yankees. But among all of the institutions in the American landscape, it would
be difficult to find any that have a more storied tradition than the United
States Military Academy at West Point.


On Feb. 9, those two traditions met, when Yankees brass brought the 2009 World
Series Trophy to the world’s premier leader development institution, which
began during the Revolutionary War and continues to stand as one of the
America’s most competitive academic programs and one of the military’s most
rigorous training facilities.

When we arrived on the 15,974-acre academy, we
were greeted by Lt. General Franklin L. Hagenbeck in his office.

“We have a lot of Yankees fans here, so this
means a lot to the core cadets, who will see the trophy for the first time at
lunch today and of course our baseball team” said Hagenbeck, who serves as West
Point’s superintendent. “This really connects us with the Yankees, and we are
proud of that.”


Following the private visit with Hagenbeck, General Brigadier General William
E. Rapp, escorted us to the Mess Hall, where approximately 4,500 cadets were
served lunch within a five-minute period at 12:00 noon.


When the cadets assembled in the dining room, West Point personnel announced
that the trophy was there, and I held the hardware high above my head, while
standing on the “Poop Deck,” a platform that sits 12 feet high and is centrally
located in the dining hall.


That announcement was greeted with a thunderous ovation.


After lunch, our posse traveled across campus to the baseball stadium, where
the West Point baseball team posed for photographs with the trophy.


Before the group traveled back to Yankee Stadium, the Yankees made the trophy
available for cadets, military personnel and faculty to get an up-close look at
it in the West Point library.

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