Tagged: New York City

New York Knicks on www.theknickswall.com

 

I am now writing about all things relating to the Knicks on http://www.theknickswall.com! This is what I have written so far –  http://theknickswall.com/author/nweiser87/ Check that website out. Led by Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler they have a chance of getting to the NBA Finals, but they will need a productive Baron Davis and improved defense.  Right now the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls are ahead of them in the Eastern Conference.

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Run for Your Life – A truly inspirational documentary

Fred Lebow - the man, the myth, the legend, with his trademark beard and hat. Here he is even sporting yellow pants and for all I know he is celebrating another successful race.

On a Thursday night, I watched a well done documentary called Run for Your Life, at the Brooklyn Museum.  There were about 30 people in attendance to watch a movie that describes Fred Lebow’s mission of growing the NYC Marathon into what it is today and how running was transformed.

I missed about the first 15 minutes but that part basically goes over the early part of Fred Lebow’s life.  He spoke Hungarian and English, since he is from a border town between Hungary and Romania, and looked like an “old school” runner.  He always had his trademark beard and hat, but knew how to get things down the right way.

During the scenes before the first marathon, which took place in 1970, only in Central Park, I was reminded that my dad told that when he used to run in Central Park back then people used to give him strange looks.  People did not really run for fitness back then, they mainly played other sports.  Lebow used his never surrender attitude to convince city officials, including Mayor Ed Koch, to expand the marathon outside of the the park into the five-boroughs of NYC.

This took some time because city officials and normal citizens thought he was crazy at first.  However, Lebow thought it was his mission to get as many people to have the benefit of running as possible, and his rationale for having the marathon in all five boroughs of the city, starting in Staten Island, would allow everybody watching to catch on.

This task by Lebow, who would be the President of the New York Road Runners Club, would not be easy as that first marathon in Central Park was in 1970 but the first five-borough marathon was in 1976.  Clips would also show that the amount of runners in the marathons in 1974 and 1975 would prove to almost necessitate a different venue for this event.

1976 would bring a picture perfect day to revolutionize what we now know as the best marathon in the world.  Lebow was at the start in Fort Wadsorth, Staten Island, trying to make sure everything went according to his plan.  He had a loud speaker trying to make sure the approximately 1,000 runners had a professional race experience.  Lebow was able to make sure everybody thought he knew what he was doing because he obviously had not orchestrated a race like this before.  People truly were running for their lives in those beginning stages because some poeple thought they were crazy running in a race through the streets of NYC, but many people did indeed come out and watch and this would start to inspire New Yorkers to get out and run.  The documentary pointed out that many “Baby Boomers”, who were otherwise out of shape, would take up running.

Also, the documentary points out that there were about one-quarter the amount of women as men in the first five- borough marathon but that number would start to increase exponentially.  One woman, who reflected on Lebow’s life in the documentary, is named Grete Waitz.  She is Norwegian, so she represented the beginning of the international phenomenon of the marathon.  She would set the women’s world record with a time of 2:32:30.  In addition, Waitz would win the NYC Marathon an eye opening nine times and would be instrumental in increasing women to participate in running, as well as marathon events.

To try and increase participation overall the movie showed fascinating clips of all kinds of different races that the visionary, Mr. Lebow, would stage to increase the popularity of the sport. Scenes were shown of a bagel and coffee race, the Empire State Building race, a New Year’s day race as well as many others.  This would help make Fred Lebow into a celebrity and he would think to himself that he needed to be famous for the New York Road Runners Club and the NYC Marathon to be famous.

The next major event was pulled by Cuban American Rosie Ruiz who, according to Lebow, would make a mockery of the sport in its early stages.  She tried valiantly to persuade the race organizers that she did not cheat but she in fact did take the subway helping her finish with a time of 2:56:29.  Lebow insisted that the cameras did not see her for the duration of the course, so he successfully got to the bottom of the stunt and she had become the most notorious cheater in marathon history.  This stunt had Lebow furious but it likely did increase the awareness of the marathon itself.

Another individual that proved the international phenomenon of the NYC Marathon was none other than the Cuban born, Wayland, Mass. raised, Alberto Salazar.  He is shown in the movie as one of the first truly elite male marathon participants.  He finished with a time of 2:08:13, in 1981.  Right about this time the documentary shows Lebow networking with as many companies as he could to try and get sponsors in order to attract even more truly elite runners from around the world.  He thought that prize money was the only way to truly pull this off.  This would take off in earnest in the mid 1980’s.  In 1987, Ibrahim Hussein from Kenya, would be the first African to win the NYC Marathon.  This would foreshadow what was to come as 11 times from 1997 to 2010 the winner would be from Africa.

He was a true visionary because NYC would be the model for  every urban marathon.  At the time, this would especially include London and Chicago.  He would get into somewhat of a friendly battle with the organizer of the Chicago Marathon to see who could have the number one marathon.  Chicago tried to buy stars and Lebow had a very fitting response to that.  “New York doesn’t buy stars, New York creates them.”  It makes sense that the Windy City and NYC were competing in the 80’s because they are two of the best cities in the United States and both take place in the fall, but New York will always be the best marathon.  (The Marine Corps Marathon, in D.C., which was just staged for the 35th time, is an awesome one as well but doesn’t pay the winners like NYC and Chicago.)

Another memorable quote that Lebow said during this time that applies to every marathon participant is, “We can’t all be actors, we can’t all be singers, but those 26.2 miles, that is our stage”.  That couldn’t be more true because by the end of the 80’s the marathon had become a day where the city came together as one, to celebrate, party and cheer on strangers and friends at the top of their lungs.  Lebow still had not run the race, that he was instrumental in creating and making a monumental success after achieving the “American Dream”, but he would run it a few years later under somewhat sad but hopeful circumstances.

Lebow had never run the marathon partly because he was so busy making sure it went according to plan but would enter himself in the 1992 event two years after falling victim to brain cancer.  He, along with everybody else who runs a marathon after going through cancer is very inspiring.  Unfortunately, two years later he would die only four weeks before the marathon in 1994.

He proves that if somebody has a vision and the will to make something happen then greatness can be achieved.  I take it as a lesson to not give up while trying to think positively because in the beginning people thought he was out of his mind but he was steadfast in the face of adversity.

I am not sure he could have predicted that 45,103 people would finish in 2010, but his ability to grow the event from an only Central Park one in 1970, to what it was in 1994, was remarkable.  This documentary that took 15 months to finish, did an excellent job talking about his life, love for running, as well as picking the right people to interview.  I give it a 9.5/10.  The only way it could have reached the 10/10 status is if it showed some of the progression after 1994.

I also like the title “Run for Your Life” since it reminds of the phrase run for the gold and the line, “You have to set a goal, and keep your eyes on the prize”.

Behind A.J. Burnett’s magical pitching performance and Granderson’s defense the series is going back to the Bronx

A.J. Burnett was magically able to live up to his potential, only allowing one run in 5.2 innings, helping the Yankees win 10-1 and force a deciding game five, in the Bronx, on Thursday.

After being one of the most least likely and counted on pitchers to start a potential series deciding game Burnett was able to come out and pitch like he did in 2009. In his first season with the Yankees, after signing a $82.5 million contract, he had 13 wins, with a 4.04 ERA and 195 strikeouts.

During the American League Division Series that season, against the Twins, he allowed one run, in six innings, while striking out six.  This start was very similar as he struck out three, while walking four, in his 5.2 innings.  Joe Girardi could have even left him in to finish the sixth, but with Burnett it is better to be safe than sorry.

Hopefully, if the Yankees go onto win the game on Thursday as they should, Burnett will pitch well in the ensuing rounds unlike the 2009 ALCS and World Series.  It did not come back to hurt the teams since the won the championship in 09, as a result of their superior pitching staff, but this year they will need a another solid start out of him.

The Yankees played a dominating all around game as the defense, bullpen and offense all did their part.

In the third inning, shortly after Curtis Granderson’s remarkable defensive display began, Derek Jeter would continue to excel in the postseason like normal, as he gave the Yankees all the runs they would need with his double to center that scored Jorge Posada and Russell Martin.

MVP candidate, Curtis Granderson, was by far the star on defense as he made two catches in center-field that could both be number one on the Sportscenter Top 10 plays list.

His first gold glove worthy catch was when the bases were loaded in the first inning and Don Kelly hit a deep fly ball near the warning track with two outs.  Granderson timed his jump perfectly to prevent any runs from scoring.  This completely changed the game because the Tigers could have easily scored three runs on that play.

Granderson did his part at the plate, as well, since in the fifth inning he smacked a double to right that scored Brett Gardner.  Gardner, after struggling a little in September, has been a major bright spot for the Yankees in the playoffs with his .385 average.

His second stellar catch was not as important to the outcome of the game but was almost more impressive.  Johnny Paralta was Rafael Soriano’s first batter and it appeared that Soriano would be on his way to blowing the 4-1 lead. This time there was only one runner on base but Granderson went all out in order to fully extend himself on his head first dive to just barely catch the ball.

It was somewhat surprising that Soriano came into the game, after he gave up the homer that won the game for the Tigers in game 3, so he definitely owes Granderson after that catch.

The outcome of the game was still in doubt after that catch because the Yankees were only winning by three, after six innings where Morristown, New Jersey’s, Rick Porcello, allowed four runs, but the eighth inning would be where the Yankees would live up to their Bronx Bombers nickname.

They scored six runs in the eighth inning off of a combination of former Yankee, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque and Daniel Schlereth.  They would load the bases off of Coke and a key to this inning was that after struggling earlier in the series, Mark Teixiera and Alex Rodriguez were finally productive.  They amazingly scored all of their runs in this inning off of a wild pitch, a balk, and singles by Jesus Montero (in his first postseason at-bat), Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano.

In total, the Yankees batted around that inning and Rodriguez and Teixiera batted twice.  Rodriguez was 2-4 with that RBI and he will need to continue his productive play in game 5.  Teixiera and Rodriguez are supposed to be two of the anchors of the offense but the Yankees were able to win with only one RBI from those two because of an all around team effort.

The bullpen, including Soriano, got the job done like they have so many time this season.  Soriano, combined with Phil Hughes and Boone Logan, pitched 3.1 innings while not allowing a hit or a walk.  That is all you can ask for and it was an added bonus to keep Mariano Rivera and David Robertson rested for game 5 on Thursday.

It will be rematch of the continued game 2 as Ivan Nova will match-up against Doug Fister on Thursday.  Nova, who should be the Rookie of the Year will be up to the task since he has pitched well in every big game he has started this year.  He is confident but not cocky so he should be able to handle the pressure that he will find himself in when he makes the start at Yankee Stadium.

A.J. Burnett has definitely earned himself another start, so hopefully Nova and the offense will be able to lead the team to the ALCS against the Texas Rangers.

Preview of the series against Boston, Yankees need to win the first game

The Yankees play the first of three games against the Red Sox in Boston tonight.  It will be crucial that the Yankees improve upon their dreadful 2-10 record against their rivals to the north, especially since they trail them by 1.5 games in the standings.

Boston comes into this series having won four out in their past two series against the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were out of the lineup last night with minor injuries, but tonight against the Red Sox only Jeter will make his return.  Somewhat surprisingly, with Jeter and Rodriguez out of the lineup, the Yankees are 7-0 this season.  When Rodriguez is out of the lineup and Jeter is playing, a bigger sample size because of AROD’s surgery, the team has a 24-17 record.

This proves how deep their lineup is and that their role players are able to step up like Nick Swisher, who has been on a home run binge recently with six out of his last eight hits being sent out of the park.

In order for the Yankees to continue their modest two-game winning streak, CC Sebathia, will have to pitch like he has against everybody else in the contest tonight.  He has not performed anything like the CY Young candidate that he is against the Red Sox this season.

Sebathia has 199 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA on the season, but in his last start against the Red Sox he gave up seven runs in six innings.  In his four starts against the Yankees’ bitter rivals during this campaign he has a 7.20 ERA, having allowed 33 hits in 25 innings.  This will need to improve as he is the ace and will be relied upon to defeat the Red Sox in the playoffs as well.

John Lackey will be taking the hill for the Red Sox as his execution has been severely lacking this season compared to when he pitched for the Angels.  Lackey has a 12-9 record, which is not that bad, but he sports an ERA of 5.98.  The Yankees bats should be happy to see that number coming into the game.

Two more factors going against Lackey in this game are that in his career versus the Bronx Bombers, 21 starts, he has a 4.67 ERA, and he pitches worse at home (6.16 ERA) than he does on the road (5.75 ERA) even though neither are numbers to write home about.

On Wednesday, Phil Hughes (4-4, 6.46 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees while Red Sox ace Josh Beckett (11-5, 2.43 ERA) will take the hill.  Hughes’ numbers are not nearly as underwhelming since coming off the disabled list as he has allowed two runs or less in five of his seven starts.  However, in those other two games he allowed an alarming 13 runs combined.  If Hughes can allow three runs the Yankees will be competitive against Beckett.

In the series finale, on Thursday, the enigma that is A.J. Burnett (9-11, 5.31 ERA) will take on Boston’s second best pitcher, left Jon Lester (14-6, 3.09 ERA).  Burnett has allowed an alarming 16 runs in his last two starts and deserves to be demoted.  We will have to see as a decision should be coming soon.

It will be crucial that the three starters for the Yankees slow down Adrian Gonzalez (.345 and 103 RBI) and Jacoby Ellsbury (23 homers, 95 runs and 35 steals) who are both having unbelievable seasons.

MVP candidate Curtis Granderson is not hitting well this season against the Red Sox but he does have a solid .318 average against Lackey, for his career.  Cano is hitting .289 during his career against Lackey but is also struggling against the Red Sox this season.  Brett Gardner continues the same pattern as Cano and Granderson.

They Yankees need to at least win this game since most of the team has impressive numbers against Lackey.  Hopefully they can steal one of the others against Beckett or Lester.  They will also need future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, to not blow a save during this series like he has had somewhat of a propensity of doing in the past.