All posts by Stanzo

Currently banned from TopGolf. Rutgers student, avid Yankees fan, 2-time Intramural Basketball champion. I tell terrible jokes 95% of the time, the other 5% are probably above average

The Red Sox Have the Most Insufferable Fan Base

I know Yankee fans get a lot of hate and I will admit in some ways we suck. There are a ton of Yankee fans out there that probably never/rarely watched before Aaron Judge made the Bronx fun again in 2017, fans that will jump to the “27 rings!” argument faster than David Price jumping to find an excuse to not pitch against the Yankees, and fans that probably don’t even realize Joe Girardi was a World Series winning Yanks catcher before he gave us this legendary line as manager.Image result for joe girardi its not what you want

 

That being said, the most insufferable fan base on this planet is that of the Boston Red Sox. Yes, in my mind they’re worse than Warriors fans, Patriots fans, even Duke basketball fans. That’s a very biased opinion as I’m a Yankee fan myself, but I actually cannot stand Red Sox fans. My hatred began as an 8-year old at Fenway, being cursed at and told to go back to the Bronx while wearing my Gary Sheffield t-shirt. I’m all for heckling fans of the opposing team, but if I’m ever heckling an 8 year old punch me in the face because I’ve had about three too many.

I don’t even care about that now though. It’s a fond memory of mine, my first real taste of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. I even respect that about them. Too many fan bases are too nice in my opinion. I went to a game in Cleveland this summer, and I really anticipated getting more hate, especially after how we beat them in the Division Series last year. Nope, the people couldn’t have been nicer to us; an Indians fan even bought my friend and I beers at the bar before the game. You come into Fenway or Yankee Stadium, and you know the fans are gonna be going crazy. Red Sox fans are definitely dedicated and I respect them for that. But they are insufferable.

They’re insufferable because I’ve never met a fan base that loves to make excuses as much as they do. The Yankees have not played their best baseball in the second half. And yeah it hurt losing Judge, but he is far from the only reason we have been flat. Bottom line, a ton of our guys have underperformed, and that’s why we’re playing for home field advantage in the wild card right now and not battling the Sox for the AL East, as most assumed we would be. But if the Red Sox lose a game? Even to the Yankees, the team with the third-best winning percentage in baseball? Their fans can’t believe it. It’s like losing isn’t even a possibility in their minds. There has to be something wrong.

On Tuesday, the Yanks beat the Sox in the series opener 3-2 thanks to a huge three-run homer from Neil Walker and six strong innings from J.A. Happ. A great game, and one that the Yankees nearly gave away. They totaled only three hits in the ballgame, and botched two game-ending double play balls in the 9th before finally turning one the third time. What was Sox fans’ excuse for why they didn’t win this one?

JV lineup?! You sat Mookie and Benintendi (who later pinch hit), but otherwise EVERYONE else was in there. Obviously Mookie Betts is a game changer, and one of the best players in baseball. But am I supposed to feel bad that Alex Cora opted to give him an off-day against the Yankees? For sure not, especially when we’d been without our best player for almost two months prior to that game. If you wanna say the Red Sox outplayed the Yankees, I’d agree with you. But them not being able to cash in on two Yankee errors in the 9th has nothing to do with them sitting Mookie, get outta here with that bullshit.

Last night was a huge game for the Yankees. Again, I know the division is over, but at this point it’s all about getting our guys back on track and building momentum for the Wild Card game. They did just that last night with a 10-1 drubbing of the Red Sox. Most importantly, Luis Severino looked more like the Cy Young candidate we saw in the first half of the season. 10-1, that’s a huge margin of victory. What kind of excuse could Sox fans make this time? They jumped to their favorite, “Yankee Stadium is a Little League field.”

I can’t even wrap my mind around this one. Do both teams not get nine innings of at bats… in the same stadium? Do they push back the fences when the Red Sox hit? Of course Voit’s homers and Andujar’s solo shot would be fly outs in most stadiums, they barely got out to the short porch. But what was stopping the Red Sox from doing the same thing? A homer is a homer. If you wanna argue and tell me that over the course of a season a Yankee player’s stats are inflated because he plays half his games with the short porch in right, then fine. I agree with that. But to complain about the results of an individual game because of the dimensions of the stadium is blasphemous. Fenway is legendary, but how many times does the Green Monster turn what would be easy fly outs in any other park to doubles or home runs? Multiple times a game. You lost 10-1, just live with it.

The Red Sox have been the better team this year, no doubt about it. They completely derailed our division hopes with the four-game sweep at Fenway in early August. You didn’t hear us Yankee fans making any excuses back then (anyone who said Judge alone would’ve made that series much different is an idiot.) It’s pathetic that Sox fans need to try and come up with an excuse for every loss they have.

I need the Yanks to win tonight. Can’t let them beat Tanaka and win the division on our own turf. And I NEED a Yankees-Red Sox ALDS like I need air to breathe. I know that getting eliminated by them would be absolutely brutal. But this season has been so weird that it needs to end with one of these teams knocking out the other. It’s the only way.

Buck Foston go Yanks, Tanaka time tonight.

The 2001 World Series Was The Best One Ever Don’t @Me

Today is the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks which is pretty crazy to think about. Someone born on the day of the attacks would be taking their driver’s test today. For those of us from the New York/New Jersey area, the attacks hit particularly close to home because you surely knew those who lost loved ones that day. It was the greatest tragedy to ever happen on American soil. Our nation was hurting, and looking for any way to try and numb the pain, it turned to sports.

After a six-day hiatus, Major League Baseball finally resumed games after the attacks. Ultimately, the New York Yankees found themselves in their fourth straight World Series, and fifth in six seasons. Their opponent was the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team playing just their fourth season after joining MLB in 1998. The result was the best World Series ever played. I know there have been plenty of legendary Fall Classics. You have Pirates over Yankees in 7 in 1960, The ’86 Mets taking down the Red Sox, Kirby Puckett’s Twins beating the Braves in 1991, Cardinals over Rangers in 2011, and of course the Cubs ending their 108-year title drought over the Indians just two years ago. But this series had so much emotion behind it and late-game heroics that it’s the clear choice in my mind.

After losing the first two games in Arizona, the Yankees returned home to the Bronx for Game 3. They were greeted with a ceremonial first pitch from a pretty special guest.

That video still gives me the chills every time. This was a stadium full of people who had lost loved ones just a few weeks ago, turning to baseball as their way to escape the pain. After the Yankees won Game 3 behind Roger Clemens, they suddenly found themselves with their backs against the wall in Game 4, down 3-1 with two outs. They were at risk of a dreadful 3-1 series deficit. Tino Martinez, however, had other plans.

I can’t even imagine how much the old Stadium must’ve been shaking. I swear I want nothing more than the opportunity to experience what playoff baseball was like in the Bronx during the late-90’s/early-2000’s dynasty. The Yanks won Game 4 in extras thanks to a walk-off home run from none other than Derek Sanderson Jeter himself.

The season delay from the 9/11 attacks caused the series to start later than usual, making Game 4 the first ever November MLB game. Therefore, Jeter’s heroics earned him the nickname “Mr. November.”

Game 5 was, as the late great Yogi Berra would say, “deja vu all over again.” The Yankees once again found themselves down two runs with two outs in the ninth inning. This time, Scott Brosius provided the heroics.

Absolute madness. Once again, the Yanks won it in extras, thanks to Alfonso Soriano.

The rest of the blog is painful for me to write as a Yankee fan, but I would be remiss to not include the last two games in what I consider the “best World Series ever.” After the series returned to Arizona, the D-Backs drubbed the Yankees 15-2 in Game 6. There is nothing like a Game 7 in sports. To me, I don’t know how you could even begin to consider a series as the “best ever” without a Game 7. Fortunately, this Game 7 did not fail to live up to the hype.

Arizona’s Curt Schilling and the Yanks’ Roger Clemens were stuck in a pitcher’s duel, with the game tied at 1 in the eighth. Soriano came up big again, homering off of Schilling to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead. This was huge, as manager Joe Torre was able to turn the game over to the best reliever of all-time, his closer Mariano Rivera. Rivera was especially potent in the postseason, and after working a scoreless eighth, he lowered his career playoff ERA to 0.70. However, after a leadoff single, an errant throw by Rivera on a bunt, a double, and a hit by pitch, this happened.

It hurts to watch. But at the end of the day, the Yankees did their job; they helped heal a city in pain. This series had it all. A first pitch by the President in the same city where the largest terrorist attack in history happened weeks earlier. Back-to-back two-out ninth inning comebacks/extra inning walk-offs. A team that just joined the league winning it all in Game 7 off of the greatest reliever of all time. Not to mention Hall of Fame caliber players like Jeter, Rivera, Schilling, and Randy Johnson. Please try and explain to me how this wasn’t the best World Series of all-time, you can’t.

And to all first responders to the 9/11 attacks, thank you so much. To those who served our country following the attacks, thank you for your service. To anyone who lost loved ones in the attacks, our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless America and we will never forget.

Toys R Us Closing is Absolutely Heartbreaking

I woke up to this tweet today and was devastated. Yeah, I’ve known about Toys R Us closing, and obviously it’s no secret that toy stores/retail stores in general have been in trouble for years now thanks to online shopping, namely Amazon. But to see this picture just kind of puts it in perspective. My childhood may be over, but no kid is gonna get to experience Toys R Us ever again.

Honestly nothing compares to the feeling when your parents finally gave into your weeks of constant begging and brought you to the toy store to pick something out, or going through the catalogs ahead of Christmas or your birthday to pick out what you want. I’ll never get to watch my kids experience that and that really kinda sucks.

In general, technology has almost kind of ruined how kids entertain themselves anyway. Don’t get me wrong, video games/computer games were definitely a big part of my generation’s childhood. You could pretty much consider my PlayStation 2 my first girlfriend (don’t worry I didn’t try and have sex with it), but there were still plenty of other ways we entertained ourselves. Hot Wheels, Tonka Trucks, Slip n Slides, the whole nine yards. And do NOT even get me started on Playmobil, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you did your childhood all wrong.

Almost every day life gives you a “wow you’re getting kinda old” moment, but some of them hit harder than others. And this morning, Geoffrey the giraffe broke my heart. RIP in Peace to Toys R Us, the realest toy store to ever do it.

Elon Musk, if You’re Reading This, Please Send Chasen Shreve to the Sun

So you might have heard, but the Yankees got swept by the Rays this past weekend. Safe to say that’s not what you want, but I’m not gonna panic. The Yanks just swept the Mariners last week and took 2/3 from the Phillies this week and sit just a half game back of the Red Sox in the AL East. I could sit here and complain about Gary Sanchez’s sub .200 batting average, Greg Bird’s lack of production, or injuries to the starting rotation. But honestly I’m not too worried about any of those. To shortly summarize why:

  1. Austin Romine has been raking, and will hold down the fort while Gary rehabs. Also, Gary is too good of a hitter to play like this all year, and had already started breaking out of his slump before the injury.
  2. I’m a Greg Bird guy and think he’ll put it together, but if not one/a combination of Brandon Drury, Neil Walker, and Tyler Austin will produce. No Chris Carter for us this year.
  3. Tanaka will be back before we know it, and it’s a certainty that Brian Cashman will add another starter before the trade deadline.

Now, to the real problem that will not correct itself and the purpose of this blog: Chasen Fucking Shreve. The guy is easily the worst/least reliable reliever in the Yankees bullpen, and yet we always seem to see him in high leverage situations? How in the world does Chasen Shreve take the mound in any semi-meaningful situation when Aaron Boone has Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman at his disposal? It makes absolutely zero sense, but that’s baseball, Suzyn.

In today’s day and age, it’s common to come across interesting statistics on Twitter. There are interesting statistics, and then there are how in the name of Chuck Knoblauch is this a real thing that exists statistics. This one definitely falls in the latter category:

That’s just unreal. You literally should have to try to be that bad. The Yankees lead the majors in wins in one-run games, with the bullpen being a huge part of that. I know I’m saying that it’s only June 28, we’re only a half game out of first place, and there’s no reason to panic. That being said, we can’t be running guys like Chasen Shreve out there and just throwing away winnable games. Every game counts, especially with the Red Sox in our division. The reality is that one of these two teams is going to end up in a one-game elimination come October, even after likely winning 100 games, or at least close to there. Every game counts, and when I say that, I don’t mean you need to use Dellin Betances in 85 games this year. Bullpen workload management is a huge part of a team’s prolonged success throughout a season, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees should be throwing a pitcher as downright incompetent as Shreve out there night after night. Do something, anything, to replace him, whether it’s calling someone up from the minors or buying low on a reliever who has had struggles elsewhere via trade and hoping the Yanks can help him figure it out.

Things are still great in the Bronx right now. However, if Elon Musk would be so kind as to help us send our good pal Chasen to the sun that would just be swell.

Anyone Else Nervous for the Giants’ Pick Tomorrow Night?

The day us Giants fans have been anticipating basically since the Week 4 loss to the Bucs that dropped them to 0-4 is almost upon us. The NFL Draft’s first round is tomorrow night, and the G-Men hold the #2 overall pick. This is the first time since 1981 that the Giants have picked second, when they took legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor. They haven’t even picked in the top five since 2004 when they took Philip Rivers, who they ultimately traded to the Chargers for a quarterback by the name of Eli Manning. Now, after a 3-13 season in which we saw the Giants fire their coach, bench Manning for a game, and lose star receiver Odell Beckham for the season to a fractured ankle, this draft pick determines the direction of their franchise. Do they take one of the draft’s top quarterbacks and begin to prepare for life after Eli? Or do they take an offensive weapon like Saquon Barkley and give it one last shot with Eli? Let’s weigh the options.

Draft a Quarterback

The four top QB names that are being thrown around in mock drafts are Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Three of these four will be on the board when the Giants pick, but it is unclear which three, as the Browns have been linked to all of them besides Rosen. Darnold is considered the most polished of the four, though he had an underwhelming final season at USC. Allen is more of a project, but his 6’5 frame and rocket arm are the physical skill set teams dream about. Rosen had an impressive college career, but is considered by many (including myself) to be a bit too outspoken to play in New York. Give me an Eli Manning type, a guy who will do his job in silence. A quiet competitor, a real warrior that will get up from the hardest hits. Rosen’s Cali kid vibe won’t fly in New York, especially if he struggles. Despite what I just said about wanting an Eli Manning type, I also love Mayfield. Sure, he’s quite outspoken too, but in a more fiery, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to bury my opponent” kind of way. If you didn’t enjoy watching Mayfield play, you don’t like fun. He gets a lot of Johnny Manziel comparisons, which can obviously be taken the wrong way. But I think his height and his past mistakes are played up too much, and he has real NFL potential. Realistically, I think the Giants take Rosen or Darnold, if he’s available. But man, I would love to see Baker in blue.

Draft Saquon Barkley

My brain tells me to take a quarterback, or trade down and get a huge package of picks. My heart tells me take Saquon Barkley. I’ve been posting #SuckForSaquon for months now. This guy is absolutely electric to watch play, and with the recent success of rookie running backs like Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette, it’s not inconceivable that he can be an instant boost for the entire offense. Yes, the Giants offensive line is still weak, but they’ve already started to make improvements with the signing of Nate Solder. The Barkley connection can’t be denied, with many mock drafts linking him to the G-Men. It would be a risky pick, but I would love to keep the Jersey kid at home.

Draft Bradley Chubb

Another option is to draft on the defensive side of the ball. After trading Jason Pierre-Paul this offseason, the G-Men could opt to take the draft’s best pass-rusher. Chubb broke Mario Williams’ sack record at NC State, and his draft stock has been rising steadily over the past few weeks. It wouldn’t be nearly as flashy of a move as taking Barkley or a quarterback, but an elite pass rusher is one of the NFL’s most coveted assets.

Trade Down

If the Giants decide to trade down, there will surely be a large number of suitors. This is a quarterback-heavy draft, and many teams such as the Bills or Cardinals could be looking to trade up and grab either Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, or Allen. Preferably, the Giants trade to a spot they can take Notre Dame OL Quenton Nelson, but that may be a long shot. Although trading down is easily the least sexy option of the bunch, it needs to at least be considered given the package it would command.

 

Last season was not fun for Giants fans. This pick could very well determine the direction of the franchise for the next five years. In Gettleman we trust.

Yankees Baseball is FINALLY Back

After a long winer, the day we’ve all been waiting for is almost here. Tomorrow, Luis Severino and the Yankees will take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre with a 3:37 first pitch. Us Yankee fans have been anxiously anticipating Opening Day ever since a heartbreaking ALCS Game 7 loss to the eventual World Champion Astros ended our season in October. Between last year’s postseason success and the addition of  NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year. While 2017 was supposed to be a “transition” year for the Bombers, the goal for 2018 is clear: World Series or bust. Opening Day marks the start of the journey towards that goal, and aside from the recent injury to Greg Bird (shocker), the Yanks are headed into the season at full strength. I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve right now, and nothing short of my life physically being in danger could stop me from sitting on my couch and watching this team get back to business tomorrow. Every Yankee fan is hoping that this will be our year. Let’s play some goddamn baseball!

Three Reasons Why it’s Time the NCAA Pays These Kids

I wrote a research paper on this topic for class last year, but I’m gonna try and keep this blog as short as possible because no one wants to voluntarily read a research paper. I got a B+ on the paper by the way, but it got bumped down to a B because the department head told my professor it was “barely even good enough for a B.” Clearly she wasn’t a basketball fan. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard the argument a million times before: Should college athletes get paid? In my mind, the clear answer is yes- at least for NCAA basketball players. I’m not arguing for the payment of Division 2 croquet players (is that a thing? Someone fact check that for me.) Here are three reasons why NCAA basketball players aren’t currently being fairly compensated.

They Generate a LOT of Revenue

For them not to see a dime of the huge amount of revenue they bring in is a crime. How much revenue? Well, CBS pays about $1.1 billion for the TV rights to the NCAA Tournament alone. That’s just the TV deal for postseason play. This doesn’t even include other revenue streams, such as ticket sales, merchandise, or teams’ regular season TV deals. Big-time programs can bring in upwards of $5 million of profit (not revenue, profit) on their own each year. Louisville brought in a league-high $24 million of profit in 2015. Now, I’m not saying college players should earn millions per year. Maybe they could each earn a standard salary in the $20-$50,000 range, or the NCAA could set a $5 million or so salary cap as Mr. Walker suggested. At the very least, compensate these players for their time. They spend countless hours practicing, in the weight room, and watching film. At Rutgers, minimum wage just got raised to $11 for on-campus jobs (some kids are trying to get it raised to $15 but I don’t think they understand why that would be a horrible idea, but that’s another topic.) Why doesn’t Corey Sanders receive anything when he puts four hours in at the gym, but I’m compensated at $11 an hour to supervise students playing intramural basketball at the campus gym? I know what some of you are thinking. “They aren’t paid in cash, they get compensated with an education.” That brings me to my next point.

The “Educations” Many of These Players Receive Are Bogus

Of all NCAA basketball players, only 1.1% will go on to play professionally. So for every Marvin Bagley, there are 99 kids who will have to figure something else out after college. Luckily for them, they’ll graduate with a college degree, right? Well, some of them. The NCAA reported that the average graduation rate for NCAA men’s basketball teams was 78% in 2017. Not bad, right? There’s two problems with that. First, many of these schools don’t care how players pass their classes, they just want to make sure they stay eligible. Take North Carolina, for example. Perennial basketball powerhouse, last year’s NCAA Champion, and my favorite college team. From 1989-2012, they enrolled athletes in “paper classes,” which “had no instruction, never met, and only required a final paper, which often included significant amounts of unoriginal or plagiarized material.” Basically they had their athletes taking fake classes to boost their GPAs and keep them game eligible. Clearly they value these players’ educations. Let’s say that a school really does care about an athlete’s education, and makes him attend classes and complete assignments on his own. Are they gonna let their top basketball recruit major in engineering or business? No, they’re gonna have him take some BS major (not gonna name one so I don’t offend anyone) so that his focus is on basketball, not school. In a 2007 survey of NCAA athletes, 11% stated that their sport prevented them from pursuing the major they wanted to, 69% said it prevented them from taking classes they desired, and 53% said they were not able to spend as much time on academics as they would like. This survey included athletes of all sports from Divisions 1 through 3, so these numbers likely would’ve been even higher within a sport as demanding as Division 1 basketball. So my question is this: how is it fair that players are being “compensated” with an education when these schools clearly make basketball their top priority?

There’s one more reason the current compensation system is broken. This one is the most mind-boggling to me, as it doesn’t even require any kind of investment from the NCAA or its schools.

Get Rid of “Amateurism” Laws

In case you didn’t know, every NCAA athlete has to be an “amateur,” or not a professional. That makes sense to me. If Markelle Fultz stinks in his first year in the NBA, he shouldn’t be able to come back and play at Washington. But the NCAA’s definition of an “amateur” extends far beyond whether or not you’ve played professionally before. Here are some violations of amateur status as the NCAA lists on their website.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 6.03.52 PM

So what are a few examples of what athletes can’t do in order to maintain eligible with the NCAA? They can’t sell their own autograph or memorabilia, get paid to make public appearances, or sign any endorsement deals. How are you going to tell a player they can’t make money off of being themselves? And don’t tell me they can “wait until they get to the NBA,” because like I said before, only 1% of these players are making it there. What if a starter at Nebraska with no real NBA potential gets offered $1,000 to appear in a local car dealership commercial? Or a restaurant offers him money to appear there and greet some fans? You’re telling me he shouldn’t be NCAA eligible anymore because he chooses to do these things? Some of these players grow up poor, and basketball is their only hope. Why not let them make some money while continuing their education and college careers? Joel Berry can’t sell his jersey that he plays in, but I’m sure the UNC bookstore is selling jerseys with #2 on the back for $40 a pop. Does it have his name on the back? No, but everyone buying one knows damn well that it’s a Joel Berry jersey. For him not to see any of that money is blasphemous.

 

So here are the problems with compensation of college basketball players. Here’s my simple solution in three steps.

  1. Revise the rules of amateurism to allow players to profit off of themselves. If a guy wants to sell his autograph or make a paid appearance, let him. As long as he’s not playing professionally somewhere, let him do whatever he wants.
  2. Have schools pay players a small yearly amount to compensate for their time. Whether it’s paying every player a yearly stipend of a few thousand dollars or a salary cap that allows top recruits to earn more, the players should see at least some of these billions of revenue.
  3. Tailor curriculum to the individual needs of every athlete. Marvin Bagley is declaring for the draft this year. Why pretend he isn’t? Have him take classes in financial literacy, and other aspects of life he’ll need to know for when he goes pro. But a guy who probably isn’t going to the NBA? Get him a more valuable major. Schools should sit down with these kids before their freshman year and figure out a path that makes sense for them. Should a player who had a 2.3 GPA in high school come to Michigan to play basketball and major in electrical engineering? Probably not, but there’s gotta be a way to have him graduate with a useful degree while he simultaneously keeps his grades high enough to play.