Something’s Cooking

I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for some time now, especially the last two weeks, with my own research and writing, family, two jobs, some union work, and more.  I like being this busy in some ways–working up to and maintaining a heavy workload–but in other ways, there have been negative ramifications to sleeping four hours a night for a couple weeks straight.  One is overlooking some obvious things in recent posts, but the other is not getting back to a few comments until a few days afterward.  My apologies to all for any recent oversights.  They were not intentional.

I’ve tried to carve out some time for modest pleasures, including making a homemade spaghetti sauce yesterday that my wife, no pushover as a critic, deemed “excellent,” between meetings, work, and grabbing the kids from school.  It is a meat sauce with 1 1/2 pounds of ground sirloin, 1 1/2 pounds of ground pork sausage, a big can of diced tomatoes, a big can of tomato sauce, and a small can of tomato paste with the requisite garlic, oregano, and basil.  I eschewed onions and peppers for two reasons–my son cannot stand them, and I had little time for prepping when the process was already perilously close–sans drug deals and bust–to the extended scene in “Goodfellas,” when Henry Hill negotiated making sauce with various drug deals and dodging police copters.  After just over two hours on the stove (including browning the meat and simmering), that chunky coating of tomato goodness went extremely well with a heap of thin spaghetti and a loaf of garlic bread.  There is a lot of leftover sauce, and it has thickened up very nicely.  Since I’ll have time between the gym and a writing group tomorrow, I plan to lay waste to some of it with pasta for lunch.  Good times, just like writing this with a Goose Island Honkers Ale in the trusty ol’ Yankees pint glass, and a small bowl of the aforementioned sauce with a big piece of garlic bread.

Sometimes it’s the little things that grab and hold our attention.

One such thing for me recently has been observing the speech and demeanor of Derek Jeter in interviews.  Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter has a good, edited video clip of The Captain speaking forcefully about and against steroids, objecting to the recent epoch being dubbed “The Steroids Era,” and asserting that steroid use is cheating oneself.  I won’t recount or transcribe his various comments, and the link is sufficient.  I also disagree with Jeter’s somewhat simplistic characterization that 104 players testing positive for banned substances in 2003 meant that the rest weren’t using.  It also means that many didn’t get caught.

What I appreciate about Jeter’s comments are the unusual forcefulness with which he delivered them, the brisk cadence in which he spoke, and the refreshing candor.  Readers here know how much I respect, appreciate, and revere Jeter, his talent, and his many contributions.  The guy ate a seat handle July 1, 2004 after catching a ball on the dead run against Boston, covering extra ground because he was shading toward second.  With his clutch hitting in the playoffs and World Series, Jeter is The Man–in spite of the fact that he typically gives safe, downright banal answers in interviews.  This entails far more than his straightforward, always positive assessments of baseball games and situations that I think are genuine enough, but includes a pattern of safe public speaking that too often equals spewing platitudes.

This interview is markedly different from so many others he’s given.  Yes, he could have done and said more.  Yes, he gave the requisite replies of standing by A-Rod, which he and others should.  Yes, some things such as his assessment of implications of the 2003 drug test results I don’t buy.  But Jeter was frank enough overall, including about not revealing the other 103 players who tested positive in 2003. Jeter and I see eye-to-eye on that, as I’ve discussed more than once at The Heartland.  To a degree, Jeter was actually venting.  But I think there’s more.

I think Jeter’s interview put a certain, if subtle, stamp from him on this team.  One could almost hear Jeter sending along the message that the Yankees during this period, his Yankees, bear far more than the scarlet “S,” that Jeter can and does speak for the team when he so chooses, that Jeter can speak with some vim, that he can express more than his disappointment with but his disdain for steroid use. It was as if he said, “I’ll be damned if steroids are the first thing people associate with the Yankees.”  I also think that Jeter’s response and that of other Yankees has shown enough support for and reaching out to A-Rod.  At the same time, there has been a consistent undercurrent to the comments of Jeter, Cashman, Damon, and others–that A-Rod needs to do more than own up to this self-made mess but grow up from it.  For all his scripted superficiality, A-Rod doesn’t seem to have ever pulled any little thing over on his teammates, especially on the Yankees.  They’re no dummies in The Bronx.  They’ve seen genuine articles throughout the championship years, and they know that for all his abilities (innate or enhanced), A-Rod has been lots of show for lots of dough for long stretches, but not enough go when the chips were down–all with lots of baggage for which others need to answer.  I sense a certain attitude of “grow up,” of “time to make a man out of you” from Yankees players and brass–including Girardi–in recent days.  I sense that A-Rod will get some tough love treatment for a change, and that it’s started already.  Cashman practically dehumanized A-Rod by repeatedly referring to him as “an asset.” Rarely has Cashman ever sounded so clinical.  Then again, rarely has he ever had to deal with and answer for someone, for all his athleticism and coordination, so painfully stilted and stunted as A-Rod unfailingly appears.  So much from the Yankees screams, “We’ve tried things your way, A-Rod.  Now we’re doing something different.”

I know I’m reading into these things by necessity, but I think there’s something to all that.  It’s not a bad thing to see this side of Jeter, either.  I think, as much as ever, Jeter wants winning to characterize the Yankees again.

Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 11:20 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree with your assessment of Jeter today. But what I really must discuss is your spaghetti sauce. No mushrooms?????

  2. Jane, I would have loved to mince and add three big Portabello mushrooms, but mushrooms are also high on my son’s don’t-do textures list.

  3. Jeter has always been the quiet leader of the Yankees. It was Cone in the late 1990s and Posada in the 2000s as the fiery leaders, but Jeter has always been the one who the Yankees look to for inspiration. That’s one thing A-Rod envied when he came to the Yankees. So, it both inspires me and pains me to see Jeter saying this. He’s tired of all of this, but at the same time, he’s taking a stand for all of the players who never took PEDs.

  4. Jeter’s got my respect…

  5. Jeter is indeed the man.
    I don’t know how he does it, but it never ceases to amaze me how the guy always seems to say the right thing.. while still not seeming as if he’s just giving the answers people want to here. He’s just so real. I’ve always respected him and I’m very glad the game has guys like him.. just wish there were more.

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