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Reflections On YED, The Upcoming World Series, and A Rave for the Met's "Tosca"

Shortly after midnight on Mon Oct 24, YED - Yankee Elimination Day - was celebrated for the thirteenth year in a row as the Houston Astros completed a sweep of the Yankees, winning a back-and-forth game, 6-5, at Yankee Stadium.  


The Yankees have not been in the World Series since they beat the Phillies in six games in 2009. It

was manager Joe Girardi's rookie year as skipper. He wore #27 to highlight the 27th world title he was confident would come to the Bronx.  


Starting in 2010, he tempted fate by switching to #28 but that title has never come.  

When Aaron Boone replaced Girardi before the 2018 season, he was more modest in his uni choice of #17, but the title drought continues.  


The Yankees did win the AL East in 2022 for the first time since 2017, but trust me - there will be no AL East banner raised at Yankee Stadium next year.  It is World Series Title or bust in Yankee land though

Hal Steinbrenner, George's younger son, seems committed to keeping Aaron Boone as manager.


If I read tea leaves correctly, though, he is yet to endorse re-hiring of Brian Cashman whose contract as general manager expired with the end of the Yankee season.  Most media people think Cashman will

return since he has been associated with the Steinbrenner family since they ran a horse business in



The big decision facing the team is the free agency of Aaron Judge that will happen less than a week after the end of the World Series. I would be surprised if the Yankees let Judge leave as a free agent.  


He's a rare home-grown star in the Cashman regime, and he should be an eternal member of the Yankee

pantheon. He is a rarity indeed, someone who draws praise from many YED celebrants, including yours truly. 


In one of the interesting twists that make baseball history so intriguing, Joe Girardi, after staying visible by doing the almost-obligatory baseball TV commentary, was hired by the Phillies in 2020. He was dismissed after Philadelphia started 2022 at 22-29.  


Rob Thomson, Girardi's longtime assistant with both the Yankees and Phillies, led the team to the playoffs with 65 victories of his own. They swept the Cardinals in two games in the wild card round and dispatched the defending world champion Braves and surprise-conqueror of Dodgers, San Diego Padres, in five games each.


Houston is undefeated in 2022 post-season play and is favored, but I think the Phillies will give them a tussle. With timely home runs and unbridled passion, Bryce Harper is seemingly on a mission to prove that he is worth his mega-contract. 


Unable to play the field because of an injured arm, he can still serve as the DH and Houston will have to

contain him.  I have never loved the DH, but baseball needs its stars on the field.    


If Philadelphia splits the first two games in Houston this weekend, look out for what the raucous Phillie

fans might do to will their local heroes to victory in the middle three games of the Series. Not unlike

what the Mets did to the Orioles in 1969. 


But I want Dusty Baker to win his first World Series as a manager - the Astros lost last year to the Braves in six games and in 2002 his Giants fell in seven games to the Angels. Astros ace Justin Verlander has a lot to prove, too, since he is 0-6 in previous Series games. 


On the music scene, on the same October 24 that YED was celebrated, I attended David McVicar's

production of Puccini's "Tosca" at the Metropolitan Opera. I have seen the opera many times, but never

has the love story between diva Floria Tosca and artist and freedom fighter Mario Cavaradossi 

been presented more convincingly.


Mario was sung beautifully by Montclair NJ  tenor Michael Fabiano, whose first appearance on stage was greeted with a lot of home town applause.  Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak in the title role was also in top form.


Singing the role of police chief Scarpia, one of opera's most loathsome villains, baritone George Gagnidze from Tbilisi, Georgia was in chillingly good voice.  Carlo Rizzi, from Rome, Italy, led the great Met Opera orchestra with customary aplomb.   


There are three more chances to see this production.

Th Oct 27 at 730p

M Oct 31 at 8p with veteran Roberto Alagna singing Mario

F Nov 4 at 730p, again with Alagna.


In the spring, a new cast and conductor will again perform "Tosca".

Th Mar 30 at 730p

Su Apr 2 at 3p

Wed Apr 5 at 730p

Sa Apr 8 1p - national radio broadcast

Wed Apr 12 730p

Sa Apr 15 at 8p


For more information including availablity of rush tickets, see www.metopera.org


That's all for now.  Always remember:  Take it easy but take it, and more than ever,

stay positive, test negative.

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On "Angels in the Outfield" + A Lament on Too Many Strikeouts In MLB Playoffs + More TCM Tips

This coming Monday October 17 at 930A EDT, the original "Angels in the Outfield" (1951) airs on the Turner movie channel TCM.  Rarely mentioned in the pantheon of baseball films, "Angels" has many fine performances starting with Paul Douglas as the profane manager of the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates who

is humanized by Janet Leigh, a manners reporter for a local newspaper.


Bruce Bennett - born Herman Brix, a silver medalist in the shotput at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, and briefly a movie Tarzan - plays a key supporting role as a gritty starting pitcher. Some of the film was shot on location at Forbes Field during Branch Rickey's first of five unsuccessful years trying to turn around the undermanned Pittsburgh franchise.


The film was originally entitled "Angels and The Pirates" but the producers decided it would be false advertising if overseas viewers thought they were getting a swashbuckling adventure movie.

Uncredited, James Whitmore plays the voice of the angel who does his part in taming Douglas's

explosive temper.


I won't spoil the film any more if you haven't seen it. I'm not saying you might find it too hokey and

corny. I must admit that Keenan Wynn's sportswriter is over-the-top and the orphaned Donna Corcoran might be a little too cute.


But I do want to mention that director Clarence Brown was a major Hollywood player, dating back to his role in guiding Greta Garbo to her first stardom.  You also don't want to miss cameo appearances by Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb, and the baseball-obsessed songwriter Harry Ruby.  


Am interested in your opinions on the film.  So please post comments on the blog page.


While watching the endless parade of pitchers in the MLB playoff games, I thought a lot about Bruce Bennett's Saul Hellman, the starting pitcher in "Angels" who yearns to complete his games. In

today's baseball, it is a minor victory for baseball traditionalists when a starting pitcher goes into the 6th inning let alone completes it.


I'm not against new information on pitching and hitting, but there is definitely such a thing as Too Much

Information (TMI) and PBA (Paralysis By Analysis).  Maybe it is inevitable given the power arms that every team seemingly posseses these days, but I am saddened if not downright angered by the number of strikeouts that are accepted as the norm in today's game. 


I'm posting this blog with the Cleveland AL team (aka the Guardians, formerly Indians) having knotted the best-of-five series with the Yankees.  They could advance to the ALCS by the end of the weekend but they'll have to score more runs than usual.  


They do strike out the least of all the playoff teams and play good defense with solid pitching so they have a chance. They wil have to contain Aaron Judge who is ready to break out after striking out a lot in

Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS before the impatient if not downright boorish home Yankee fans.  


I am drawn by nature to underdog teams with the most hunger and the most to prove. Take a player like Phillies second baseman (once shortstop) Jean Segura, the position player who had appeared in the most MLB games without appearing in the post-season.  


The Phillies can dethrone the Braves later today but that is hardly a gimme.  Even if they lose today, I predict they won't go down easily in a game 5 at Atlanta.  


The Mariners hadn't been in a playoff since 2001 when winners of 116 games, Seattle bowed to the

Yankees in the ALCS.  They lost two close games in Houston and before a packed house at home today,

I think the can handle the battle-tested Astros.  I kinda doubt they can do it twice, but that's why they

play the games, to find out who's best.


I still want Houston's Dusty Baker to earn his first World Series win as a manager, but I don't want underdogs ever to be embarrassed. The Padres have a chance tonight to exorcise the dominance of their haughty big brothers of the North, the LA Dodgers.


Behind proud local boy Joe Musgrove, they may have the pitcher to lead the way. Whatever happens,

like the upstart Phillies, the Padres should make a winner-takes-all Game 5 very competitive. 


Before I close, here are a couple of more TCM tips for the next week or so.


Tues Oct 18 back-to-back early 1940s Hollywood anti-Nazi films.  

4p "The Mortal Storm" with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.  My most vivid memory of this one is

watching CBS TV's "The Early Show" before dinner and Dan Dailey - years before he played Dizzy Dean

in the utterly forgettable "Pride of St. Louis" appears as a Nazi bookburner sitting afire Heinrich Heine.


6p "So Ends The Night" written by Erich Maria Remarque who shot to fame with the book

and later movie "All Quiet on the Western Front". The haunting Ms. Sullavan appears in this one, too.

This is Hollywood after all, but on my first viewing I thought two Gentiles, Sullavan and Glenn Ford, gave creditable performances as aspiring Jews escaping from eastern Europe. Also with Fredric March.


BTW I highly recommend Scott Eyman's, "Hank and Jim" (Simon and Schuster, 2017).  Subtitled

accurately "The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart."  Fonda was briefly married

to Sullavan and  Stewart held life-long affection for her (as seen in the original "Shop Around The Corner").  In an adversarial age like ours, their friendship despite political disagreements is good

to know about and learn from.


Tues Oct 20 630p documentary on film director Val Lewton

8p "Salt of the Earth" 1954, about an union organizing effort in Mexico directed by Herbert Biberman            

10p "A King in New York" Charlie Chaplin's 1957 return to the screen in USA


Fri Oct 21 930A "College Coach" (1933) In a rarity, pre-Noir Dick Powell morphs into fiery football coach

         6p "Knute Rockne" (1940) Pat O'Brien in title role, Ronald Reagan as the Gipper 


That's all for now - always remember:  Take it easy but take it, and especially these days:

Stay positive, test negative. 

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