While I’ve Been Away

Had a delicious dinner on Sunday night with my grandmother at the Jackson Diner. It isn’t really a diner, however. Instead, what you get is delicious Indian food. The Murg Tikka Palakwala (chicken mixed with tomato, spinach, ginger, and cumin seeds) was spectacular, and the lamb rogan josh wasn’t bad either. Well worth the minor hassle we faced in trying to find a parking spot near by. Note to self: take mass transit next time you visit Jackson Heights.

Aside from that, and the usual gym/sports/etc. routine, I am doing some work for a company in lower Manhattan on weekday afternoons. So far so good, and we’ll see what happens from there.

I’ll clean out the notebook a little more tomorrow. I promise.


Busy Week

Pleased with the Yankees apparent turnaround in Atlanta and then against the Mets (or is it MASH Unit, or even David Wright and the seven dwarfs?). Congrats to Mariano Rivera on his 500th save. That’s a great achievement, but also hides what he will be remembered for- his postseason track record.

Also proud of what our national team did, despite Brazil’s second-half comeback. And of our soldiers, as they turned over control of Iraq’s cities to an Iraqi military.

Anyway, on to present matters. NBA and NHL free agents to chat about tomorrow, more so with hockey because basketball players can’t sign until next week. Ronaldo and Kaka to be officially introduced at Real Madrid… more big money signings to come?

I’ll have some thoughts on this stuff later… after dealing with my own business! Damn, the holiday weekend can’t get here soon enough. Should I go out to the beach or hit the city? Your thoughts welcome…

Monday Monday…

So the Red Wings and USA both get it turned around on Saturday night, and how! No newsworthy, funny, or otherwise photos this morning because the computer I’m typing from seems to have a problem uploading them right now…

Plus the Yankees record another come from behind win and finally beat the Rays at home, this time in front of Sarah Palin, there as a guest of uber-fan Rudy Giuliani during her visit to New York. Ken Davidoff adds that it was arguably a bit of a statement win for them. We’ll see. They’ve got another one tonight, followed by three with Boston in Fenway, but frankly, with about 100 games to go, the real statement games don’t come until after the All Star Game, to put it kindly. Off the field, the Yankees could become the first team to stream games online within their regional market, if you’re willing to pay for the privilege.

The Magic had Game 2 of the NBA Finals in their grasp twice, and couldn’t finish the job, writes Mitch Lawrence, who uses the “cursed” word by reminding us of Nick Anderson’s missed free throws in 1995. They paid for it in OT and are now in big trouble, especially since to win the series, they now must go back to LA for a potential Game 6 (unlike the earlier playoff rounds, the NBA uses a 2-3-2 for the Finals). You can ask if Pau Gasol got away with goaltending at the end of regulation, but I think the Magic shouldn’t be making any rationalizations for badly missing a very makeable shot.

Lots of other good sports action this weekend. I went to Belmont for the first time, which I’ll elaborate on later and hopefully be able to post a picture or two. Bottom line, I didn’t fare well but at least I didn’t wager much in the first place! Props to Kent Desormeaux for an outstanding ride, culminating in Summer Bird’s explosive final surge evocative of what Calvin Borel on Mine That Bird (they both have the same sire, Birdstone, but different dams) did to blow away the field in the Kentucky Derby.

More later…

For the Umptimillionth Time…

You get a review of the new Yankee Stadium on the blogosphere. I had a chance to check it out on Friday night. I bought tickets on the spur of the moment- and got a pretty good price on seats with a great view. All I can really say is beautiful. What an absolutely gorgeous ballpark. In the old stadium, the field was about the only pretty thing about it. The inside of the stadium was ugly, cramped, and on hot days, almost felt like it could suffocate you.

In the new ballpark, the open concourses mean you don’t have to miss much of the action when going to get food. Not surprisingly, many fans chose to watch bits and pieces of the game from the concourse walkways, just to see how close a view they could obtain. Most of the seats seem closer to the action; since the backstop is closer to home plate and the upper deck is much less steep, they probably are. The gigantic scoreboard actually didn’t look out of place upon viewing it in person. Oh, and I don’t think I had much of a wait in a bathroom at all. For a fan, this place is absolutely an upgrade, and the designers did a terrific job on it.

I would say that I looked over towards the obstructed view seats by the batter’s eye in centerfield. While they are pretty cheap at $5 or so, I probably wouldn’t buy those tickets myself and depend on a television screen to ensure that I saw everything. But there are some pretty good ticket values in the rest of the stadium too. I was in the Main Level between first base and the right field foul pole, which cost me $45 on Stubhub (about what season-ticket holders paid, so presumably someone was trying to dump his/her ticket); day-of-game is more but still seemed okay. From eyeballing the rest of the Main Level and the upper deck, you probably couldn’t go wrong with anything except seats right near the top, and none of them will cost you $1250; most not even $100.

Later in the summer, I hope to get there early enough to check out the new Monument Park and team museum, and maybe even try the Lobel’s steak sandwich. Despite costing $15, no concession stand had as long a line when I went to look at the food court. I stuck to some pulled pork from Brother Jimmy’s and an orange, which was okay but not special. Yes, you can actually buy fresh fruit if you want to! I just wish it was a bit more conspicuously placed and nicely presented, which this blogger seemed to agree with me about. Having little tables with views of the field to put food trays on is a nice touch in case you don’t want to carry things all the way back to your seat.

All in all, despite a 7-3 loss to the Phillies, it was a good night out (made even better by meeting up with some friends in midtown afterward, as well as by seeing LeBron’s unbelievable shot, video of which is posted below). If you have a chance to attend a game, do it!

After this weekend, Yankee Stadium has yielded 87 homers in 23 games, a new MLB record. I got to see seven of them on Friday night, most of which were no-doubt dingers on contact. Hey, if pitchers make mistakes at the big league level, hitters will make them pay in almost any ballpark. Jimmy Rollins homered on the first pitch; it was a case of blink and you just saw it landing several rows deep in the bleachers, 1-0 Phillies just like that. Anyway, I do think the Yankees can win a championship in their new home at some point. The Phillies proved last year that you can win playing most of your games in a hitter-friendly yard; your pitchers just have to hit their spots.

I saw a lot of servicemen and women at the ballpark and around New York for the annual Fleet Week festivities, which once again leads into Memorial Day. So I would be remiss if I didn’t wish everyone a great holiday, especially to those who have and continue to selflessly volunteer for our nation. Today is for all of you.

Watch This Space

More coming later today or tomorrow. Been pretty busy this week with day job-related stuff, not to mention all the baseball, playoff b-ball and hockey, etc… But with Colgate’s Spring Party Weekend coming up- no I can’t really make it up there- I’ll probably reminisce a little bit. Trust me, most of the memories are pretty tame! Also, with the terrific weather expected for this weekend, you might see me out and about some in Manhattan. So keep posted for updates and thanks for your continued support for Danimal’s Den!

Just a Typical NY Weekend

Yankee Stadium opens up and plays like a bandbox every day. Is it the weather, bad pitching, an actual product of the design? We’ll find out soon enough, but it’s definitely not something anyone saw coming. Listen, it looks really nice, but home-run havens can be tough to win a lot of games in. Took the Astros and Phillies a few seasons before they were in the playoffs after moving into their bandboxes, while Colorado got there in 1995 but not again until after they added a humidor to Coors Field.

On the field, a four-game split between the Indians and Yankees isn’t bad either way- although both teams will hate the manner in which their losses occurred- because they each definitely have talent (as I noted in the preseason predictions), and I won’t be completely shocked if they meet in October, although let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Especially when the Yankees have to figure out Chien-Ming Wang and their middle relief first- and fast– while Cleveland has to make sure Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona are really up to the job. Luckily for them, nobody’s running off with the AL East or Central so far (I haven’t really seen enough from Toronto yet, though if Ricky Romero pitches anywhere close to as well as he did on Sunday, it would sure help them win games not started by Roy Halladay). I saw the Posada home run as it happened and then the numerous replays and just couldn’t tell what the right call should be, so the umpires probably got it right simply by leaving it as made on the field.

Oh, and about that weather. We could not have asked for a nicer Saturday and Sunday around here. Everything the meterologists hyped it up to be. Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of a hypocrite here, because I hate big snow storms as I’ve said here before, but I do enjoy a day turning out even warmer and sunnier than expected! Plus, great to see some friends from school on Friday night in the city- some of whom I hadn’t in several months.

Rangers are 2-0 after they blanked the Caps on Saturday (see above). Lundqvist stood tall again. Yes, he’s good. No, I didn’t expect him or them to win two games in Washington and play as strong a defensive game as they did in the second one. Mark Herrmann was a little surprised too. Still have to finish the job, and to that end, Game 3 at MSG will be huge on Monday night. Elsewhere, looks like Boston, Detroit, and Vancouver each have a foot in the next round. Didn’t think Anaheim would match the Rangers and win two on the road though. They’re arguably a better team, but were playing San Jose, who racked up the most points of anyone during the regular season and lost five times in regulation at home. I still expect that San Jose and Calgary, who is down 2-0 to Chicago but going back home for Games 3 and 4, will not go quietly into the night.

Don’t worry, at least a few more posts over the next several days.

Urban Heat Island? What Urban Heat Island?

It looked like a nice day outside, and I knew I had plenty of time to make a train home at the desired time, so I decided to walk down Central Park West and then Broadway for a little while this afternoon until I finally boarded the subway at Columbus Circle.

Well, according to the giant CNN sign atop 3 Columbus Circle- don’t let the images in this post fool you, it stands out from well up Central Park West as you look to the south- it was 64 degrees around 5:30 in the afternoon. Seemed reasonable given today’s predicted forecast. But man, I could feel the wind most of the way down. Not many sunny spots to walk towards either. It wasn’t winter, but not exactly as pleasant as a day in the mid-60s should be. And this was still about two hours from sunset.

I guess 70-75 on Friday and Saturday would be hard to ruin, though! At least, so long as I can get outside for a little while…

Before I go, a quick farewell to John Madden. Watching the NFL won’t quite be the same without him (even if the quality of his insights have probably declined over the past few year), but at least the video game’s going nowhere fast!

Photo sources: NY Times and John Lumea