Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bobby Valentine headlines fourth annual Sports Angels Inspiration Awards Dinner

Bobby Valentine with Emcee Len Berman

Sports Angels honored a true New York hero, former Mets player and manager Bobby Valentine with their 4th annual Inspiration Award last week at the University Club in Manhattan. Valentine is fondly remembered for his efforts as Mets manager in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, assisting in the community and helping to provide morale to the entire city. Valentine sparkled on the stage, mixing some of his baseball wit and humor with his genuine passion for helping others as he addressed the few hundred supporters in attendance.
    Also honored for his philanthropic efforts was Global Excess Partners CEO Diarmuid Hogan. He is also the director of Boys Hope Girls Hope, an organization that provides assistance to promising youth living in at-risk family and community situations.
   Sports Angels is a grassroots organization committed to helping youth benefit from the life lessons available through sports participation. They have raised over $250,000 since their inception in 2005. To find out more about Sports Angels and contribute to their cause, visit their website http://www.sportsangels.org

Vice Chairman Ralph Branca
Diarmuid Hogan receiving his Inspiration Award

NY1's Jessica Abo

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recent MLB passings (Bob Shaw, Ray Coleman, Al Pilarcik)

This past week was a sad week for old-time baseball fans as a few more legends have passed on. It is said that celebrity deaths happen in triplicate and three baseball greats passed on this week, each with their link to baseball's history.

Ray Coleman
Former outfielder for the St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox, Ray Coleman passed away September 19th at the age of 88. Coleman served valiantly in World War II from 1943-45 traveling all over the Pacific in the Navy. He would make his debut with the Browns in 1947 and would be witness to both Willard Brown and Hank Thompson joining the team that year, making them only the second and third African-Americans to play in the majors. I had the opportunity to speak with Coleman a few years ago and he spoke proudly of his World War II service.

Al Pilarcik

  Al Pilarcik was an outfielder for the Kansas City Athletic, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox from 1956-1961. He passed away Monday September 20th at the age of 80. 50 years prior to his passing, on September 28, 1960, he caught the last out Ted Williams made in his career. Pilarcik later gladly handed it over to the Hall of Fame. After his playing career was finished, he had tremendous success as a high school teacher and baseball coach at Lake Central High School, earning an induction into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.

Bob Shaw

Bob Shaw, a famed member of the 1959 "Go-Go" White Sox, who led the league that year with an astounding .750 win percentage passed away Thursday September 23, 2010 at the age of 77. Shaw pitched a legendary battle in Game 5 of the 1959 World Series where he triumphed over Sandy Koufax in front of 92,000 fans. He would go on to pitch for seven teams during his 11-year major league career, including being traded for the aforementioned Al Pilarcik to the Kansas City Athletics in 1961. He would find success after his baseball career as a real estate investor and an American Legion baseball coach.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bobby Valentine to recieve the 4th annual Sports Angels Inspiration Award September 20th

Bobby Valentine
On September 20th Sports Angels will honor Bobby Valentine with the fourth annual Inspiration Award and also recognize corporate honoree Diarmuid Hogan of Global Excess Partners in a gala celebration at the University Club, 1 West 54th Street in New York City. This year's event is hosted by Emmy Award Winning sportscaster Len Berman and NY1's Jessica Abo. Other confirmed guests include former Brooklyn Dodgers Ralph Branca, Joe Pignatano, Yankee great Jeff Nelson and boxer Gerry Cooney. For more information on ordering tickets, visit the Sports Angels website or call the Sports Angels Event office at 212-243-3265.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant

The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron
Howard Bryant
Pantheon, 2010
600 pp.

In baseball literature, 2010 will be marked as the year of the epic baseball biography. A good deal of my summer reading has been devoted to the life stories of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, both of which weigh in at over 500 pages. After completing Mays' "The Life, The Legend", it was only right that I moved on to Howard Bryant's "The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron". Click here to read the rest of the review for "The Last Hero".

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fat Beats closing ceremonies: The end of an era

Outside Fat Beats during the closing ceremonies
This website is normally dedicated to baseball, but I feel as many of you have seen card shops close across the country that you would feel this one.

Labeled "The Last Stop for Hip Hop", Fat Beats served as the mecca for hip hop fans, DJ's and collectors. A legendary fixture in New York City on 6th Avenue, right near the famous West 4th Street basketball courts, hip hop "heads" would often gather to purchase the latest hip hop record and discuss who was next to blow up on the scene.

The inner walls of the store covered with autographed photos and posters of the many artists who graced the store during their record release celebrations. The names on the wall are too many to mention, but it reads like a "Who's Who" of hip hop. On any given day, you could run into a significant artist, DJ or producer who would stop by while they were in New York to see what was new in the "underground". If you wanted a hip hop 12" or CD by an artist large or small, chances are they had it. Customers would often come in with playlists from radio shows such as the Stretch and Bobbito Show or the Halftime Radio show and purchase every single record that was played on the airwaves. The fans demand it and they kept the fiends coming back every week for more. You better have acted quickly though because any record worth its salt didn't stay on the racks too long.

A look at the ceiling of Fat Beats
As digital forms of music began to dominate the market, trends saw a shift away from consumers, especially DJ's buying vinyl records. They now opted for MP3's which worked in their Serato programs that much more neatly held all of their music on a hard drive instead of bulky crates of records. CD sales tanked just as quickly as vinyl and Fat Beats felt the impact of a declining consumer base. Even though it managed to outlast such megastores as Tower Records, it couldn't continue to provide the services of a physical store with the decline in revenue.

This past week had an All-Star lineup of DJ's, MC's and producers performing to celebrate the institution that Fat Beats had become. I attended the closing ceremonies on Saturday September 4, 2010 that included performances by DJ Scratch of EPMD, DJ Spinna, Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul and DJ Premier of Gangstarr. It was fitting that Premier closed out the week-long celebration, as he epitomized the essence of hip hop and vinyl. DJ's across the country immersed themselves in vinyl due to his work and have their crates full of his productions.

DJ Premier rocks the final set at Fat Beats
Its closing represented an end of an era. I had been shopping there since 1999 and I quickly relived the last 11 years of my involvement in radio, DJ'ing and the industry. No longer will there be a central place for "heads" to gather and discuss the culture, find out about local events and take a chance on spending $5 on that artist whose vinyl still remains a go-to record in your crates over a decade later. The chances of another place opening that represented the purity of a culture that roped in my generation to hip-hop is unlikely and it is for that I dedicate this post to Fat Beats. Fat Beats will still remain open online and continue to provide those who thirst for the music an opportunity to get their fix. I don't know how much the current generation will care about its closing, or pine for a hub to replace it, but for many who went through our era of experiencing hip hop emerge, this serves as a reminder that as much as we want to hold on to seasons of the past, the forces of nature will leave us behind as it writes its next chapter. Consider this one closed. RIP Fat Beats.

Caron Wheeler Performing Keep On Movin' At Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.

Caron Wheeler Singing Back To Life at Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reggie Jackson versus cocaine

Photo by Rubenstein
A quick trip down memory lane discovers Reggie Jackson's anti-cocaine message. Something to think about over the weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Was Nyjer Morgan really wrong for stealing two bases after being hit?

In an act of retaliation for Washington Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan separating the shoulder of Florida Marlins catcher Brett Hayes on Tuesday and then stealing two bases while down eleven runs last night, pitcher Chris Volstad threw behind Morgan which ignited a brawl that almost saw Morgan get his head taken off by Gaby Sanchez.

During the commentary, the announcers remarked that Morgan was wrong for stealing two bases while his team was down 11 runs in the 4th inning. I disagree with the commentators in this case. If Morgan can himself into scoring position after being purposely hit by the opposing pitcher, why not do it? There was plenty of baseball to be played in that game and if he could help creep the Nationals towards closing the gap by getting into scoring position, then he should do it. Morgan later scored on a sacrifice fly. The game ended with the Marlins winning 16-10, but how many of us have seen games that appeared to be a blowout and were decided by one run?

Leave a comment if you think Morgan was right or wrong for stealing those two bases after getting hit.