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Derek Jeter will host Saturday Night Live on December 12.  In what appears to be a New York themed show, the musical guests will be Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.  $100 says they perform their hit song “Empire State of Mind,” a pretty good song about New York.

This will be the second time the Yankee Captain has hosted SNL.

UPDATE 12/7/09: Don’t know how this information was incorrect, but according to the SNL website, the host of this Saturday’s show will be Taylor Lautner with musical guest Bon Jovi.  I deeply apologize for the misinformation.

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The Los Angeles Angels, who lost to the Yankees in the ALCS, had their manager, Mike Scioscia named as the American League Manager of the Year Wednesday.  Jim Tracy, the manager for the Colorado Rockies was named the National League Manager of the Year.

Scioscia received 14 first place votes and 106 overall points to win the award for the second time in his career.  Ron Gardenhire was second in voting, and Joe Girardi was third.

If you look around the AL, Scioscia was the most deserving.  He took a team that lost pitcher Nick Adenhart to a tragic drunk driving accident.  Adenhart was killed the night he made a stellar debut for the team.  The Angels team pulled together and made it as far as the ALCS, before losing to the eventual World Series Champion NY Yankees.

Congrats to Scioiscia.  He’s always been a top-notch manager.

Going from last to first in two years ain’t bad.

From leading the majors with losses in 2005 to winning the Cy Young this year, it sure is a nice feeling for Zach Greinke.

Greinke went 16-8 with a major league-low 2.16 ERA this season and received 25 of 28 first-place votes and three seconds for 134 points in balloting by the BBWAA.

Felix Hernandez, 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA for the Seattle Mariners, drew two firsts, 23 seconds and one third for 80 points.

Detroit’s Justin Verlander was third with the remaining first-place vote and 14 points, followed by the Yankees’ CC Sabathia (13) and Toronto’s Roy Halladay (11).

Oakland Athletics rookie closer Andrew Bailey and Florida Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan both brought home the AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards yesterday.

Bailey had 26 saves and a 1.84 ERA for the Athletics, and Coghlan batted .321 with nine homers and 31 doubles in 128 games, scoring 84 runs and driving in 47. Coghlan was fueled by a strong second half.

Bailey had 88 total votes, 13 first place. He finished ahead of Elvis Andrus of the Rangers, who had 65 points.

Coghlan had 105 points, with 17 first places. J.A. Happ of the Phillies had 94 in second place.

the-first-fall-classic For the first ten years (one year was not played) it was played, the World Series was not the affair it is recognized for today. It was simply an event for the city it was playing in and a place for gambling. In his new book The First Fall Classic: The Red Sox, the Giants, and the Cast of Players, Pugs, and Politicos Who Reinvented the World Series in 1912, Mike Vaccaro claims that 1912 was the year that the Series captured the hearts of Americans and transcends into America’s Pastime.

Vaccaro paints a vivid and engrossing picture of the hostile conditions that surrounded the 1912 event, putting the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox. The Giants, led by legendary hurler Christy Mathewson and revered and hated manager John McGraw, against the Red Sox, known as “The Speed Boys” and featuring future Hall of Famer Tris Speaker and phenom Smoky Joe Wood.

Far from what we see today – pitch counts, pitching specialists, middle-relievers – baseball at the turn of the 20th century featured toughness that isn’t seen often today.

Smoky Joe Wood, worn out from the regular season, fought through nine indomitable innings in game one to give the Sox an early series lead. Giants hurler Jeff Tessreau’s fingernail would later be ripped off his middle finger. Speaker played through a severely sprained ankle. Players talked trash in newspapers about the opposing teams, and sometimes their own team.

Vaccaro presents baseball’s seedier side. The affairs that took place in 1912 predated the infamous Black Sox Scandal and are nearly as disturbing. With his team leading the Series 3-1, Sox owner James McAleer made it clear to manager Jake Stahl to bench a rested Wood in New York in order to force an additional home game and thus an extra day of gate sales. In fact, McAleer was quoted as saying he wouldn’t mind if the Series went 21-games.

Not only sports-oriented, The First Fall Classic also shares what happens in America during that time. Vaccaro shares courtroom scenes from the ongoing trial of the young century, Charles Becker, a corrupt NYPD lieutenant, was accused of arranging the murder of a bookmaker. On the campaign trail, three presidential hopefuls offered little hope of social or racial equality. Taft was seen as a sports fanatic and Roosevelt as a bull-moose while Wilson was seen as an overt racist.

Vaccaro claims that the 1912 Series elevates baseball to a national obsession, but outside of Beantown or Gotham, does not provide evidence as to how that was possible.

The Series itself was not even that spectacular in the first place. It was simply too many errors (28 in eight games, compared to 25 in the 1919 fixed-Series) the blunders by the players and coaching staff, an owner who messed with his own team, arrogant players on the Giants, and Red Sox players who fought on the team train, and loyal fans of the Red Sox who were denied their usual seats, all for the sense of profit. The Series ended with an anti-climactic sacrifice fly, to the delight of a half-empty Fenway Park.

The First Fall Classic, however, has touched upon the subject of how baseball has been a huge factor in American society. What Vaccaro does well is painting the Series of 1912 against the events happening in the second decade of the 20th century. The book is a page-turner sure to entertain sports junkies (especially this Red-Sox hater).

The First Fall Classic: The Red Sox, the Giants, and the Cast of Players, Pugs, and Politicos Who Reinvented the World Series in 1912
by Mike Vaccaro
Doubleday, 2009

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