Those exhilarating Winter Meetings

Remember all those big trade rumors that involved the Mets and Yankees attached to the Marlins over 24 hours ago?!?!?!?!?! Well, it’s come and passed as quickly as all the heated discussion over a BLOCKBUSTER between the crosstown rivals involving Noah Syndergaard, Miguel Andujar, J.T. Realmuto and top prospects.

So much for Syndergaard landing in the Bronx with Realmuto and Andujar going to Queens. It would’ve been juicy like a good steak that’s medium rare with all the trimmings. It would be like going from Emily Ratajkowski to Heather Locklear. You get the picture.

Instead, baseball fans in this town are left with the fantasy over reality. Syndergaard a Yankee with the Bronx Bombers pursuing him aggressively would be intriguing because it involves a favorite Mets starter that hasn’t quite delivered on his lofty potential. He’s an ace in name only. If he can stay healthy in 2019 and pitch to expectations, then Syndergaard becomes Synder- God in Citi Field.

As for Andujar and Realmuto, their names remain mentioned at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, which has been more fold than royal flush. The chips remain hot as GM’s work the phones and speak to teams and free agents at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Sin City.

The Marlins know they must trade Realmuto. The much coveted NL All-Star catcher who has so much value due to his defense behind the plate. Plus his bat is good for a batting average around .300 with double digits in home runs and between 70 to 80 runs batted in.

There aren’t many more complete backstops in the game. So, I understand why there are so many suitors. Derek Jeter drives a hard bargain. He was a lot of positive things as a Yankee in the Big Apple. But that was as a heady future Hall of Famer on the field. As a owner, Number 2 is ruthless. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Even if that means ruffling a few feathers with the potential threat of dealing Realmuto to a Mets rival inside the NL East, that’s who Jeter is now.

Call it heartless, but he won’t be doing anyone any favors after not getting enough in return for the All-Star outfield that now features two MVPs with Christian Yelich taking home the award in the NL by carrying the Brewers to the Central Division title and beyond. Giancarlo Stanton will enter Year Two with the Yankees knowing there will be more pressure from the fans following a disappointing October. It happens. See Rodriguez, Alex.

Marcell Ozuna was a little underwhelming in his first year with the Cardinals. Now, he’ll get help in the middle of the order with former Diamondback first base slugger Paul Goldschmidt joining St. Louis due to Arizona’s sell off. They also lost Patrick Corbin to the Nationals for a hefty price of $140 million over six years. They beat out Brian Cashman and the Phillies, who rolled the dice on Andrew McCutchen for three years and $50 million. Why? I would’ve gone only two on him. He’s on the other side of 30 and won’t get better.

So, is that the big move that MLB Network insiders Jon Heyman, Mark De Rosa, Ken Rosenthal and eternal kill joy Joel Sherman had on their phantom deck of cards? To say it’s been more like a bad day of craps than hitting it big at the slots would be putting it mildly.

Where will big fi$h Bryce Harper and Manny Machado land? It’s doubtful we’ll know until mid to late January. Both want to get paid. Plus Scott Boras is involved with Harper. They’re dreaming of the sucker who’ll give the former NL MVP $40 million per over 10 years. I say sucker because those type of long-term investments usually don’t end well. Especially for that length. Only Mike Trout is worth it with maybe Mookie Betts right behind. Max Scherzer is a rarity. Think Albert Pujols and newest Met Robinson Cano.

Harper is a enormous talent who can potentially hit 45-50 homers in the right situation. It’s amazing to think he’s only topped 40 once, doing so in his MVP year back in 2015 at age 22. He’s driven in 100 once and gone over .300 twice in his career. The soon to be former National will break the bank. Whether it’s in Philly, Los Angeles with the Dodgers or even a surprise franchise like the White Sox unless Cashman’s denial of interest was a smokescreen, there’ll be a lot more scrutiny at his next stop.

He is still only 26. There should be quite a few peak seasons ahead for the big lefty bat with the gigantic Vegas ego and personality to match. In some aspects, he reminds me of a former Yankee who played right field when I was too young to realize that the Bronx was Burning. Yes. I went there. But Reggie Jackson had a lot more credentials before he arrived in New York and stirred the drink to become Mr. October. He was big time for the Athletics dynasty in the early 1970’s.

George Steinbrenner admitted his biggest mistake was letting Reggie leave around the time Dave Winfield arrived following the crushing World Series loss to the Dodgers in ’81. Speaking of The Boss, it’s ashame he’ll never make Cooperstown while a biased Veteran’s Committee elects Harold Baines. A good professional hitter that never reached 30 home runs or won a batting crown. He didn’t even get 3,000 hits like Craig Biggio, who could play five different positions as a jack of all trades.

Nothing against Baines or the more deserving Lee (Arthur) Smith. But if they’re gonna put good players in over very good to great ones who dominated for a period like Don Mattingly, then it’s time to put the Hitman in along with Keith Hernandez and the disrespected Albert (Joey) Belle.

As for the big meet up in Vegas, it’s been more glow than show. Unless a big name signs or a Corey Kluber gets moved, then it is a big letdown.

Look. This isn’t the old days where the Yankees and Mets gambled on Danny Tartabull and Bobby Bonilla. I’ll never forget it because of that ultracool cover on Sportscard Trader when I was getting into collecting baseball cards as a teenager. Only back then, $25 million over five years was a lot.

Neither player ever lived up to the hype. Bobby Bo showed ’em da Bronx at Shea while Tartabull was dealt for Ruben Sierra around the time the Yankees were becoming good. Only Bonilla still collects deferred payments of $1.19 million until July 1, 2035. Yikes.

That was back in 1992. Not even three full decades later, it’s insanity. That’s the cost of doing business these days in sports. There will always be someone that overpays. Will it be worth it in the end? Whether it’s Corbin, Craig Kimbrel, Harper or Machado, it’s up to them to earn the 💰.

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A weepy sleepy Friday

It’s a cold sunny Friday here in Staten Island. Temperatures are in the 30’s on December 7. It’s the 77th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. A day that’ll live in infamy. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor killing 2,403 Americans and wounding 1,178 at the Naval Base in Hawaii.

We remember those important people today who served our country. The United States entered World War II, helping the Allies defeat Germany and Japan. What if our country never got involved in Europe? Thankfully, we’ll never know the answer to that.

Today, take a moment to pay respect to those soldiers who sacrificed for the cause. A day removed from the funeral service of the 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush, it’s an emotional time for Americans. Don’t forget it.

On this cold winter day (not officially), my birthday is tomorrow. I don’t have much planned. It’s true that the older you get, the less you celebrate birthdays and holidays. I guess that needs to change in the future. Hopefully, it will. I turn 42 on Saturday. Eh.

I don’t have much going on at the moment. I’ve been listening to and watching random videos on YouTube. Normally, it’s a trip in the time machine to the prestigious 80’s. A good era that was more laid back with better music, TV shows and feel good movies. Cue John Hughes. For those of us who experienced that time, we have our favorites. For me, it doesn’t get any better than The Breakfast Club and Planes, Trains, Automobiles. Two unbelievable classic movies dealing with important issues.

What does the holiday season mean to you? Is it really about receiving gifts or giving to those less fortunate? Some don’t have homes or food on the table. Not everyone has good families who support us no matter what. I don’t really celebrate anymore. I’m Jewish and supposed to enjoy Chanukah. I think it’s the sixth day. It’s kinda sad that our family isn’t together anymore. I know how it sounds. I’m a sucker for Christmas. Everyone should have one. I also love the city like any New Yorker. Rockefeller Center and Times Square remain New York treasures.

So, what am I doing? Out of work for now, writing this blog and watching cool videos like this one. It makes me happier :).

I guess I can relate to the dog in the Marshmello video featuring Miranda Cosgrove. The former i-Carly star who is talented enough to use her facial expressions to draw on our emotions with her dog. I too had a dog when I was growing up. He was a cocker Springer spaniel named Trapper. My favorite memory is when he woke me up for school as a kid. I still remember when we had to say goodbye to him. It was every bit as sad as Miranda’s character crying and saying goodbye to her dog in the video of a good song.

We all strive to be happier. I can remember waving to Trapper and then riding in the back seat looking back at the place we left him. That moment sticks with me. Some do. We can go back in time and still feel the emotions of those moments.

That’s what makes life special. Appreciate what you have. You never know when it might be gone. Enjoy your Friday.

“The Darkness before the Holiday lights”

“The Darkness before the Holiday lights”

by Derek Felix AKA D Flex

 

I sit here very quietly in my room

Pondering the brighter days of June

When it’s cold and chilly in December

Daydreaming of special days past to remember

 

Reminded of fun get togethers full of joy

When our family was close knit as a boy

I miss those days with grandma and grandpa

In the land of Coney we always saw

 

Time passes and things begin to change

You grow up and learn the hard way

Adulting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

There’s not as much fun or free time

 

It’s constant work and paying bills

No wonder it feels so dark outside

A metaphor for the winter around the corner

When temperatures drop, snow falls and ice freezes up

 

As I start up my car, I get chills up and down my spine

Reminded of ghosts past when there was a sense of normalcy

Not the bitterness that surrounds this place

Or the impatience and rude behavior of miscreants

 

It isn’t Chanukah or Christmas around this town

At least not for me when I have no peace

That went out the window long ago

Santa bring your presents and help me see the light

 

I’m tired a lot these days from everything

My birthday came and went without much fanfare

It’s harder when your friends don’t have time for you

And the ones you really care about don’t exist

 

My wish would be to go back to a easier time

When cold Decembers mattered and warmed my heart

Presents were exchanged along with laughter and the spirit of the tree in Rockefeller Center lit up for all to see

A memorable time prior to darkness before the Holiday lights

 

The Lost Soul

“The Lost Soul”

by Derek Felix AKA DFlex

 

It’s old, dark and gray outside

With a hint of rain drops falling from the sky

In a poetic way, there’s something to hide

Making the darkness make me question why

The morning drive is a cool dreary one

As if the other cars don’t matter

It’s not a day that will see the sun

I’m just awaiting the pitter patter

When it’s over and done

Rain will follow as the day goes on

Turning windy and cooler without fun

A violent howl of wind indicates better days are gone

Followed by a heavier rainfall into the night

That will make you stop and think

With a hidden message that nothing’s gone right

Don’t fall asleep, you might miss it if you blink

As colder air moves into this place

Reminding that winter’s coming and the end of fall

Feel the late autumn breeze hit your face

As our warm spirit ends into the lost soul

A cold day in December

Inspired by all those who have loved ones who make it hard to feel good.

“A Cold Day In December”

by Derek Felix AKA DFlex

The day starts off slowly

Nothing can be seen or heard except darkness

The sun has taken a vacation

Patches of fog lie ahead

And all I want is my bed

Instead, I get up and drive to work

With a numb feeling that won’t go away

Emotions are dead as I get into school

I prepare the best I can for today

With no appetite to speak of

By lunch after three classes, maybe I’m sick

My mood has gotten worse

Along with a upset stomach

It started at the end of Friday

When my anxiety finally kicked in

I’ve been down about something

Which has me stressed out

My birthday is Friday and I don’t care

If only someone changed, maybe I’d feel differently

And have a sunny disposition instead of a ice cold one

It doesn’t seem to matter that the weather warmed up

Or that the sun escaped the dreary clouds

That struck at the crack of dawn

As if symbolic of my inner struggle

I don’t eat because I’ve lost my desire

I’m not starving myself due to sadness

But the loss of taste and the boredom of food

I could disappear and no one would care

I miss my friends and if only they were close by

That would improve my attitude

And bring hope to a dire situation

Work shouldn’t be the most exciting part

No wonder I’ve become lonesome

Almost as if suffering from a broken heart

I miss the carefree days when it was easy

No one critiqued my every move

And they were much different

Even when I do the right thing

It seems they’re disappointed

Only pushing more negativity which makes me crash

I smile and laugh on the outside

Hiding my true feelings

I’m professional and enjoy the kids I teach

They make it easier on a cold day in December

Where it can be fifty and I still shiver

That’s my dilemma as I get ready for two more classes

I’ll put on a show for the students because it’s what they deserve

But the somber feeling will return when I get to my car

I’ll drive home and listen to the radio

Music is a good distraction to drown my sorrows

That will help me on the way home

And maybe a ride to the park and walk

All to escape my reality

In the brightest city in the world

Fun 80’s Metal Wacky MTV Videos and Cubs banner raising 108 years in the making

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The Cubs line up during player intros on banner night before defeating the Dodgers 3-2 in an NLCS rematch at Wrigley Field. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Cubs.

So, I was sitting downstairs in the entertainment room with the TV on. A flat screen like so many other spoiled people. But we’re a family. So, we take turns watching and share.

I was mostly locked in on the Cubs epic banner raising ceremony 108 years in the making. Rain delayed the game about an hour at Wrigley Field. Once it got going, boy was it something to behold. I’m not a Cubs fan. I’m not from Chicago and have never been there. But watching the festivities along with the nice scenery at one of the oldest ballparks, I concluded I need to get to Wrigley. Bookmark that.

My favorite part was following the awesome player introductions for both the Dodgers and Cubs in an NLCS rematch, seeing all-time Cubs greats Fergie Jenkins, Billy Dee Williams and Ryne Sandberg help raise not one banner but two. They first did a banner for 1908. The last one before they came back to defeat the Indians from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series in 2016. Then as every great sports movie soundtrack played including favorite themes from Rudy and The Natural, up went the 2016 World Championship banner by the ivy on ESPN. Wow.

Maybe it’s the historian in me. When it comes down to it, I appreciate the history of sports. Seeing the Cubs finally get to do a banner raising was one of the coolest moments. I can only put it on par with the Rangers finally raising the Stanley Cup banner honoring ’93-94 after waiting 54 years for their fourth championship. Think about this. That is half as long as Cubs fans waited. That defines crazy and explains the fandom. They have a great team capable of repeating. We’ll get into that another time.

What’s great is that you had Anthony Rizzo marching out the World Championship trophy as the Cubs all came down the stairs following the ceremony in from the outfield. It was really well done. Even more appropriately, Wayne Messmer performed an unreal edition of the star spangled banner. He used to be a regular at Blackhawks games along with the White Sox and Bears. To hear Dad tell it, there was no one better than Messmer when it came to our national anthem. I had never seen him perform live. But watched classic videos on You Tube. My favorite current anthem singers are John Amirante and Jim Cornelison. Amirante used to do O Canada and the Star Spangled Banner frequently at MSG before being phased out. He’s 82. Cornelison replaced Messmer at Hawks games. He is terrific.

If there is one more thing I loved, it was the organ playing during the intros. It really gave it an old school feel. The organ is something that isn’t used enough at games. I have always enjoyed it. Now, arenas and stadiums blast music through the sound system as if it’s some deejay event or concert. It’s a game. The organ has a nice touch. It’s soothing and whispers to you that a good event is coming, building anticipation.

As for the game, eventually it was played. The Cubs won 3-2 over the Dodgers on Rizzo’s walk off single in the home half of the ninth plating Jon Jay. His first run batted in of the season was a clutch two out game-winner. What you’d expect from one of the National League’s best players. He finished in the top four for MVP last year. An award won by teammate Kris Bryant, whose double plated the game’s first run off Alex Wood.

The Cubs scratched out an unearned run too due to an E9 from Yasiel Puig. Chicago ace Jon Lester’s RBI fielder’s choice put them ahead 2-0. But the Dodgers were able to come back late. Corey Seager’s RBI double scored Joc Pederson in the sixth. They would tie it in the eighth with an unearned run due to an E6 from Addison Russell. Two of the game’s best teams combined for five errors.

Seager is an emerging star who won NL Rookie Of The Year and finished third for MVP. He’s a unique talent at short with great bat speed and terrific instincts. He’s everything Pederson isn’t. I would know. I drafted Joc in the first year of my Franchise League in the minors before trading him and then getting him back and keeping him. I keep thinking he’ll figure it out. But he still can’t hit lefties batting way down in the lineup when he starts. He also had a key at bat with the bases loaded and nobody out against Justin Grimm. Pederson let Grimm off the hook missing his pitch on a 3-2 count with a weak pop up to short right which prevented a run from scoring. He should’ve crushed it. Instead, Grimm escaped a bases loaded no out jam getting Carl Edwards, Jr. off the hook when he induced an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.

While Pederson remains an unfinished product, leave it to me to not insert Michael Pineda on the one day he pitched up to his talent. On Yankees Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in the home opener, Pineda was the story taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. Yankee killer Evan Longoria broke it up with a double down the left field line. Pineda was brilliant pitching into the eighth inning allowing only one earned run on a solo shot from Logan Morrison while fanning 11. That is the kind of quality outing that can get Yankee fans on his side. It’s about finding consistent. The talent is there. Let’s hope this gives him the confidence boost he needs.

The Yankees had plenty of offense. Aaron Judge went yard for the second straight day for home run number two, driving a hanging curve into left field 10 rows back. With Gary Sanchez officially sidelined a month, the Bronx Bombers need Judge to produce along with Greg Bird, who should be good to go in a couple of days. For now, quality backup catcher Austin Romine is starting with prospect Kyle Higashioka up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Down two starters on the infield with shortstop Didi Gregorius also missing April, the Yanks have gotten nice contributions from 24-year old utility man Ronald Torreyes. He’s filled in admirably at short while hitting a home run and driving in eight to lead the team.

For now, skipper Joe Girardi has gone back to the 1-2 of Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order. They’re both off to good starts with Gardner swiping two more bases to hike his total to five while scoring two runs. Ellsbury is hitting .348 with a homer and two RBI’s. Matt Holliday, who recently became a member of the 2,000 hit club, had a pair of hits and his fifth RBI. So far, so good for the proven veteran. Starlin Castro went yard for the first time parking one to right center. One of three long balls the Yanks hit. Chase Headley got the other for number two. With two straight wins, the Yanks are 3-5 and at least can cool off some of the panic from the April Mattahs crowd.

The Mets won in Philadelphia 4-3. Jay Bruce continues to swing a hot bat going deep twice. That included the go-ahead game-winning two-run bomb for his fourth dinger. Remember all that talk about them dumping him in the off-season. Sometimes, the best moves are the ones you don’t make. Even though Terry Collins must fit Michael Conforto into the lineup when he can. Jacob de Grom got a no decision despite grinding out six innings while allowing two earned with two walks and three strikeouts. Addison Reed earned his second save in two nights pitching around a solo home run from Brock Stassi in the Phils’ ninth.

Among the notables, Bryce Harper went 4-for-4 with with two runs and three RBI’s along with six total bases in a Nationals’ 14-6 win over the Cardinals. Stephen Drew had three hits and four RBI’s. Seriously. Khris Davis is up to four homers already as Oakland shutout Kansas City 2-0. Wil Myers became just the second Padre to hit for the cycle highlighting a 5-3 win over the Rockies. He hit his third home run and is up to seven RBI’s.

As the Cubs and Dodgers moved at a snails pace, I flipped on MTV Classic between breaks to catch Metal Mayhem. Just your classic hour of cheesy and classy metal videos full of electric guitar shredding, drum beats and edgy lyrics. I still can’t believe they mixed in Suicidal Tendencies in a weird video where the lead singer talked in gibberish like a pre-Henry Rollins. It had its moments. A throwback Guns N’ Roses live concert from 1988 with the original band performing a stirring rendition of “Welcome To The Jungle.”

There also was the underrated “Fallen Angel” from Poison along with “Youth Gone Wild” from Skid Row in their debut album with Sebastian Bach screaming his lungs out. I had never seen this one from Twisted Sister before. It was released as a single in 1987. It’s called “Hot Love” featuring Dee Snider’s hot wife Suzette:

What would a Metal Mayhem be without an appearance from Diamond Dave? You betcha! David Lee Roth when he went solo after a bad break up with Van Halen. It’s Yankee Rose. A hilarious satirical look at immigration in the intro along with stereotypes. Imagine if this video aired now. The ridiculous overreaction it would get. Music shouldn’t be censored. That whole thing with Tipper Gore and Snider testifying in court was crap.

Anyway, you get all these crazy characters in a convenience store with an immigrant behind the register. Then David Lee Roth recites the classic line:

“I’ll take a bottle of anything and a glazed donut to go!”

Of course, the scene shifts to Diamond Dave on stage shouting, “Whoa!!!!! She’s beautiful!” What a comedian he was. Great presence. He had fun. Eddie Van Halen didn’t. Remember that reunion disaster as presenters at the VMA’s? Here is the song from Mr. Roth:

Yeah. 80’s metal was epic. 😀