Yankees, Poker & Lance
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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And this is The Score.
First on the agenda this week, I need to settle The Score. I made an error in last week's edition and I am here to offer you my most sincere and heartfelt apology. In intimating that Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez spent his formidable years on the mound in a Red Sox uniform, I misspoke and said he spent his entire pre-Mets career with the BoSox. Well, he was with the Dodgers and then the Expos before going to Boston. Again, I was trying to make the point that Pedro's star rose while with the Red Sox. And I'm now asking you to forgive me for the mistake.
And speaking of Pedro Martinez, he was in town last week-end and the Mets won behind his arm on Saturday out at Dodger Stadium. That night I went, for the first time, to Angel Stadium, or Edison Field, to catch the Angels/Yankees game and that was a highly enjoyable evening. Sold-out crowd, of course mostly in red Angels caps, but multitudes of us New Yorkers have gravitated out to the California sunshine and there were large pockets of blue jerseys and caps all over the stadium, too. As the first Yankee run came across home plate, a guy in front of me turned around to give me a double high 5 and he yelled "That's what I'm talking about, baby". It was like old home week. I was sandwiched in my row between two sets of die-hard Angels fans, season ticket holders, and even given their obvious vocal allegiance-and the fact that the Angels are very good this year, right now in first place in the American League West-they conceded that it's always exciting to get a chance to see the legendary Yankees take the field.
The Angels crowd is treated to one thing you won't find back in the Bronx, either--a massive cook-out. Huge stainless steel barbeque grills are set up under the palm trees just outside the infield gates and you can actually sit for a minute during the 7th inning stretch and enjoy a grilled chicken dinner, as opposed to the suspicious hot dog you'll have at the top of the subway steps out at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees lost to the Angels Saturday night and I'd like to say the evening's pleasures made up for that but then I'd be creating another fiction, like Pedro Martinez playing his entire career in Boston.
A couple of other thoughts for today. The World Series of Poker, was won by an Australian named Joseph Hachem and it made for a good story. Hachem, a former chiropractor, played for 14 hours-that was 232 hands of Texas Hold 'Em, after ponying up $10 thousand, along with 5,619 other people who had started the tournament. In the end, it was Hachem who sat in front of piles of $100 bills, his first place prize of $7.5 million.
Poker is red hot right now. Home games are hugely popular. even Texas Hold 'Em television tournaments have become a big draw. Nonetheless, the World Series of Poker does not belong on the front of our sports pages. The New York Times, no less, during the Tour de France...during NFL training camps....as the serious stretch of the baseball season gets under way...as tennis players prep for the U.S. Open...The New York Times put the World Series of Poker on the front of their sports page. Poker is not a sport. Let's not even entertain the notion. Poker is a fine game and should be reported in the Arts section with the other fine games of bridge and chess. No further comment.
But one more comment about Lance Armstrong, if I may. In one interview after his 7th consecutive Tour de France victory, regarding his retirement, Lance was asked what he will miss most. He took a long moment, indicating there will be much he will miss. He finally said he has loved riding over the Alps as if they're little bumps and he will miss that feeling because he will never be this fit again. This was an athlete who pursued his own highest standard every time he put his cycling shoes on. You're going to miss riding the Alps, Lance, and we're going to miss watching you.
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And that's The Score.
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