Rasner, the Post and Baseball Templars

…and it just won’t stop! Parisian Yankee’s little fav, Melky, hit his 6th HR in last Sunday’s proper Yankee wallop of a third inning. And Cano follows up with a solo HR: someone must have given him that hug. It’s nice to be (slightly) above .500, and nice to see Rasner perform where Kennedy and Hughes seem to have a few difficulties. I say keep him in the majors, and let him develop there.

Regarding the stars, today’s NY Post reminds us that Jeter is set to become the all-time pinstriped hit leader by the end of the year, overtaking Mantle, Ruth, Gehrig, Berra, and DiMaggio. It is only fitting that this will happen in the “Cathedral”… a great way to end the era.

The Post also visits Joe Torre in LA; laid back in LA despite a 9-13 start… what a life. A far cry from the Bronx.

No games today, to to compensate, I had a look at what France has to offer in the field of baseball. Now I knew that baseball wasn’t that developed in France (American sports aren’t really apart from the NBA and live broadcast of the superbowl). The French may know the namesof DiMaggio and Babe Ruth, some have even heard of Barry Bonds (but not of BALCO), but baseball in general is rather under-developed. How surprising when baseball-almanac.com reminds us that the following major league ball players were born in France: Bruce Bochy, Steve Jeltz and Ed Gagnier. Yes, THAT Gagnier… who played for the Brooklyn Tip-Tops and the Buffalo Buffeds in 1914 and 1915. In other words, nothing to write home about.

France does have a Fédération Française de Baseball et de Softball. They even have MLB tryouts once a year; Joris Bert, the Dodger’s 19th-round selection in the June 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and the first Frenchman amateur to be drafted was first selected during such tryouts.

The best league in France is the Baseball Elite championship. 8 teams compete in 18 games. For the moment, the championship leaders are the Templiers de Senart, literally the Senart Templars. I’ll try to go and watch a game at some point… could be interesting and I will let you know…

For those of you curious enough to want to travel over here and give Gallic baseball a try, Baseball Adventures has baseball trips to Paris where you’ll get to compete against local teams and visit as well.

I guess getting a 50,000 seat stadium in France won’t be something I’ll be seeing in my lifetime…

…a little while later

It has been over a year since my last entry.

I guess getting married, the honeymoon, work, settling down, watching the Red Sox win, travelling, moving all take a lot of time… I’ve re-subscribed to MLB TV and am now enjoying “TV-quality (very) late nights watching Derek & Co. achieving .500, and doing my bit in spreading the realm of the “Evil Empire” to Europe. After 32 games, it could be worse than .500. It could be the Jays’ .452. Seems as if we’re getting warmed up. Let’s just hope that this Yankee-unworthy start won’t penalize the team too much at end of the season.

Looking at the pitchers, Hughes is starting to worry me. Yes, it is still early in the season, but still… Luckily, Wang seems to be doing his thing. (I remember attending his MLB debut vs. the Blue Jays in 2005. Very impressive, although Mo got the W). Also, Pettitte and Mussina still seem ok. And Mo’s still Mo. So let’s just wait and see.

Players: In 2005, a very young player named Melky appeared in the rosters. He only appeared in 6 games, but I liked his name and his enthusiasm, so I decided to root for him in particular. Three years later, I am pleased to see that not only was he not sold, but that he may be turning out to be a reliable hitter. First HR of the Yankees this season on opening day, he radiates enthusiasm, positivity and a “can-do” attitude. And for these reasons, I am proud to say: “Ich bin ein Melky-er” (Or perhaps “Je suis un Melky-ois” would be more appropriate).

I just wish Cano could radiate the same enthusiasm. .150 after 32 games is… well… again, we’ll see. He seems a little discouraged. After his last at-bat in the bottom of the 7th (SO) yesterdat agains the Mariners, returning to the dugout, he just seemed so helpless . Somebody please give him a hug…

Talking about the dugout, I visited Yankee Stadium for the first, only and last time (although I’m hoping to attend a couple more games this season… tickets can be quite expensive: Average Yankee ticket $45, Average ticket to NY: $600, Watching the Yankees: Priceless… or $645…)Quite an experience: I would encourage everybody to visit the House that Ruth Built before it is torn down. According to the guide, the new stadium will be larger, but with less seats. It will also feature standing room only areas. I bet you that within a couple years, they’ll add seats and charge more… just the Yankees being the Yankees)

Anyway, the Parisian Yankee is back, and now he’s settled, the next post should come sooner than in a year.

Fantasy Yankee

For the first time, I have joined a fantasy league. It’s free, seems fun, and will create (hopefully) another bridge between the Eiffel Tower and the Bronx. I took part in a live draft in the MLB 2007 Fantasy Open. I think I’m suffering from a heavy bias, but is it really that bad when you support the Yankees? Anyway, this is who I ended up with:

P: Yankees
C: J. Posada
1B: J. Giambi
2B: T. Iguchi
3B: A. Beltre
SS: D. Jeter
OF: M. Ramirez
OF: H. Matsui
OF: J. Damon

BN: A. Pierzynski, N. Garciaparra, K. Youkilis, S. Rolen, E. Encarnacion, M. Cuddver.

I’m sure I could think of worse teams. Okay, the Yankees as Pitchers may not be optimal, but who knows? If the old Rocket does come back and Pavano manages to keep away from injuries… (…nothing much would change, but it’s nice to day-dream.)

A brief literature review

I enjoy reading. And reading does fill in the time nicely between seasons.

The price of books in

Paris

isn’t prohibitive—it’s daylight robbery (and, in my mind, a leading contributor to the rise of illiteracy) due in large part to a trade union policy of a minimum retail price. Price of a book? An arm and a leg. Price of an English-language book? An arm and a leg. And English-language books on baseball? Matzusaka’s right arm and the legs of the ’86 Mets’ “Fast Bench” (See Bill James’ Baseball Dynasties). So every now and then, when I travel back to

New York

or visit

London

, I have to purchase a whole lot of books in one go, baseball-related and non baseball-related. And some baseball-related that aren’t really baseball-related.

Visiting the Barnes & Noble’s sales section is always fun (and am guilty of adding clutter to my flat by purchasing B&N’s Classic Ballparks box featuring six replica miniatures of stadia, to my fiancée’s horror). The last time I visited it, I purchased a few of W. P. Kinsella’s books. I enjoy reading Kinsella, or rather enjoyed it. From a European’s point of view, it encompasses the way I grew up learning about and loving "

America"

(and Canada, of course) through books and movies. You can taste the watermelon, feel the summer Sun and hear the crack of the little league bat. But it does get tiring after a while. I’ve recently read The Thrill of the Grass, The Dixon Cornbelt League and Other Baseball Stories, and The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt. But that’s it. I’m Disney-does-This American Life-does-Baseball-ed out. So to pop the cotton candy clouds, I went on to read Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. Wow. Talk about popping those clouds. I had followed the Balco scandal, but the book really drives in the nail. But I do feel a little sorry for Bonds. He seems to be the victim of a widespread system—an international and cross-sports system. Look at the Tour de France/cyclists scandal. And now the (European, i.e. soccer) football scandal. If each successful sportsman had a book written about him and steroids, the Library of Congress would have to add a new wing. Could it be that most recent champions in sports (athletics, football, baseball, cycling…) were “juiced”(I haven’t found the courage to start reading Jose Canseco’s Juiced)? Studies are now revealing that many of the ‘50s Olympic champions also took enhancement performance drugs? Where do we start? Where do we end? Right now, I believe that it is not a question of who takes drugs; I think it is a question of who manages to find new not-yet-illegal products. Of course, this is a huge generalisation, but still…

And now, I’ve started reading John Irving’s Prayer for Owen Meany. This is more of the baseball-related that isn’t really baseball-related. Religion meets baseball, and vice-versa. I’m enjoying it immensely.

Well, this was my brief literature review while I wait for the season to start…

Allez Yankees!

PS: Thanks to the lovely Coral Rae and Some Ballyard’s Michael Norton for their welcome!

Allez Yankees!

I’m a Parisian Yankee. I’m not American, I’m not French, I don’t have a history with one team or another, or one player or another, I’m just a random European who got into baseball when he moved to

New York

. And now I’m in

Paris

, with many souvenirs and memories from

New York

. But a little part of me stayed there, somewhere in the

Bronx

, a few hundred yards from the 4 train.

I’ve been a Yankee fan ever since I moved to

New York

in 2001. Until then, I had never really watched baseball. I’d played some in school, but was unaware of many of its rules. But being in

New York

on 9/11 and witnessing the magic of the solidarity and unity in the Big Apple after the attacks, then watching the Yankees’ memorable World Series against the Diamondbacks got me hooked for good. I had learnt that the Yankees were the greatest and most successful franchise in sports (and not only in the US, but in Europe and the rest of the world as well… no other professional team, whether in football—European—rugby, cricket, handball, volleyball, or basketball has ever one 26 national championships) but that they were also the heart and soul of New York. Like the city they play in, they are at the top of the world. They have the competitiveness of New Yorkers: losing is will not do. They have the arrogance of New Yorkers: nowhere else can even compare. And they have the origins of New Yorkers: “Giambi” and “Torre”, “Jeter” and “Williams”, “Rivera” and “Rodriguez”. As I discovered the

New York

, I discovered the Yankees.

And so it started. I learnt the meaning of those numerous acronyms, ERA, HBP, SB, RBI, so many initials that, for the initiated, separate the quick and the dead. And I got my cap, my jersey, and learnt about the best seats that Yankee stadium has to offer, and the worst. I learnt about the hated Red Sox, witnessed the end of the Curse. My mornings used to start with coffee and CNN. They now started with coffee and the New York Post back page.

I didn’t get into football, or hockey, or even basketball. I did catch a few Knicks and Jets games, but the Yankees were my pastime. I lived along the 4 train route, and maybe that helped. But the Yankees became part of me; seasons ended when the Yankees lost the play-offs.

During the brief span of my stay in

New York

, I witnessed the 2001 World Series, the hope the Randy Johnson brought, then lost, laughed at the Red Sox losing Damon to the Yankees, silently watched the Red Sox reverse the curse, sitting in an Irish pub near Penn Station. I witnessed Jeter’s regularity, Torre’s leadership, Arod’s lack of lustre, O’Neill’s retirement, Clemens’ aging,

Sheffield

’s aging, Bernie’s aging, the Yankees’ aging.

I haven’t been a Yankee fan for long, less than a decade. But learning about their history, meeting old time fans, learning to love the Bronx and the real

New York

had a deep impact on my life. I have become a New Yorker for life.

And now, for professional reasons, I’m in

Paris

.

What does this entail? Being a Yankee fan in

Paris

entails praying that your cable/internet provider is reliable–when the season starts on mlb.tv, it had better be reliable and fast. There is no alternative here, no nationally broadcast games, no YES TV, just the plain old internet, so the faster and more reliable the internet connection, the better it is.

It also means constantly having dark and dreary eyes. An 8 pm ET starting time means 2 AM here. Sleeping a few hours then waking up to watch a few innings is hard to do—but what else can I do? The season hasn’t even started, and I am already tired.

So here I am, a Parisian Yankee, patiently waiting for the season to start. Joining fantasy baseball leagues fills the day while I wait for the season to begin. Sportswise, there is football, but PSG, the local football team, is second to last. But there are many other things going on. The French presidential elections are in full roll, and the Parisian Yankee will be getting hitched in a couple months, while the Yankees play the Angels. Luckily, it won’t be while the Red Sox are playing… that might have caused some premarital tension.

As you can see, my plate’s full. In the next few months, I’ll be juggling my work, marriage, politics, travel and the Red Sox. And I’m only starting here. There is much to look forward to…

Allez Yankees!