Surprise, Surprise! CC Sabathia To The Rescue!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 9/29/10

No surprise.  Another year, another playoff appearance for the Yankees.

Last night, the New York Yankees clinched a playoff berth for the fifteenth time in sixteen seasons, defeating Toronto 6-1.  A subdued, business-like on-field celebration was followed by a reserved, yet champagne-soaked party in the clubhouse at Rogers Centre.

Sabathia Hand Signed Photo

The low-key festivities came as no surprise; the Yankees always act like they’ve been there before…because, well, they have.

It also should come as no surprise when CC Sabathia is the man called upon to toe the rubber for Game 1 of the 2010 American League Division Series next week.  Sabathia has been a horse for the Yankees in 2010, posting a 21-7 record and a 3.18 ERA.  More importantly, he has won every big game he’s been asked to win this season.

“CC’s pretty much been doing that the whole year,” said Derek Jeter.  “When we need him to step up for a big game, he’s been coming through for us.  We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Well, perhaps there is one other thing they could ask of him.

Sabathia helped lead the Yankees to their 27th World Series Championship in 2009, his first season with the club.  Another October brings the same hefty expectations.  The Yankees will rely heavily on their ace to navigate them through a potentially turbulent post season, anchoring an otherwise shaky pitching staff along the way.

He played the part well on Tuesday night, going 8 2/3 and only surrendering 1 run on 3 hits.  He will be asked to give more of the same over the next four weeks, deep into October and early November.

If CC Sabathia can deliver, the Yankees have a shot to be the last team standing, celebrating their franchise’s 28th World Series Title, acting like they’ve been there before.

It’s a scenario that would surprise no one.

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“The Boss” Takes Final Bow His Way, In The Spotlight

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 7/13/10

“The Boss” did it again, one last time.

As the baseball world prepares for tonight’s 81st All-Star Game in Anaheim, George M. Steinbrenner III grabbed the headlines for the final time.  He passed away, early this morning, at his Tampa home.  He had just turned 80 years-old on the fourth of July.

George Steinbrenner

Bob Sheppard, the legendary Yankees Public Address Announcer, died this past Sunday.  “The Voice of God” never wanted to be the story, he just wanted to introduce it before it happened.

By contrast, Steinbrenner relished the spotlight.  He was bombastic, relentless, and focused.  He took great pleasure in owning the back pages.  After all, he often had the best product, in the biggest city, and wanted everyone to know it.

Reporters would wait for him and hang on his every word.  A colorful quote from George Steinbrenner was priceless, and he knew just what people wanted to hear.

His 37-year reign atop the Yankees organization saw his club win 11 American League Championships and 7 World Series, including the final one played during his remarkable life, this past season.  In 1973, he headed a group of investors who purchased the franchise for just $10 million.  He proceeded to build the team into a billion dollar operation over the next four decades.

It wasn’t always champagne and championship rings along the way for Steinbrenner.  His fickle personality created tremendous tension around his employees, including his managers who always seemed to be on notice.  He changed managers 20 times in his first 23 years as owner, including five separate stints for Billy Martin.  He also fired Yogi Berra just three weeks into the 1985 season, creating animosity that kept Berra away from the Bronx for 14 years.

He was suspended from baseball twice, once in 1974 for his involvement in a President Nixon campaign finance scandal, and again in 1990 when he paid a man named Howard Spira for “dirt” on his own player, Dave Winfield.

Upon his return to baseball in the mid-nineties, a calmer Steinbrenner helped stabilize the franchise.  He hired Joe Torre as manager, developed young, home-grown stars in Derek JeterMariano RiveraJorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, and won 4 World Series titles in 5 years from 1996-2000.

At all times, Steinbrenner’s passion for winning superseded everything.  He was once, famously quoted as saying, “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing.  Breathing first, winning next.”

“The Boss” had tremendous financial resources that teams in other markets didn’t enjoy, but he routinely pumped that money back into his team.  Many chastised Steinbrenner for his free spending, but ultimately, he operated within the rules of the sport and raised the competitive bar throughout baseball.

As his health declined in recent years, and the power shifted to his sons, Hal and Hank, the winning mantra remained strong.  Steinbrenner demanded perfection from his players, and considered anything short of a championship to be failure.  In 2009, for the final time on Steinbrenner’s watch, the Yankees captured the 27th World Series in franchise history.

It was one last Title for a man who devoted all his energy to winning.

He went out a winner.

“The Boss” did it again, one last time.

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Clear, Concise, Correct.

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 7/13/10

Bob Sheppard carved out his legendary career speaking softly.  It was the batters who carried the big stick.  Mr. Sheppard simply introduced them on their way to swing it.

Sheppard is honored in Monument Park

In an industry saturated with big, booming voices, Sheppard preferred to quietly stick to his timeless method of “Clear, Concise, Correct” while acting as Yankees Public Address Announcer for nearly 60 years.  Yelling, screaming, and over-embellishment were never part of Sheppard’s repertoire.  Instead, he took pride in his ability to speak the English language, and properly pronounce every word he so eloquently spoke.

On Sunday, July 11, the voice Reggie Jackson once dubbed as “the Voice of God,” was silenced.  Sheppard passed away, surrounded by family, at his home in Baldwin, NY.  He was 99 years-old, just a few months short of reaching the century mark.

Sheppard’s voice was mythical, giving players and fans goose bumps with every syllable.  Though he also spent time announcing other New York area sporting events, his voice was synonymous with the House That Ruth Built.

To honor the now late, but always great Sheppard, Yankees Captain, Derek Jeter will continue to be introduced by the “Voice of God” for as long as he plays.  Since Sheppard’s final game in the booth, back in 2007, a recording has been played prior to each Jeter at bat.

It’s a simple, classy move to pay tribute to a classy individual – in other words, the clear, concise, and correct thing to do.

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Steiner Sports Adds Spice to an Already Hot Rivalry

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 5/7/10

As if fans needed any more reason to watch the greatest rivalry in sports, Steiner Sports has one more!

Now through Saturday, May 8th at 3:05 PM EST, fans who purchase Steiner Sports Yankees or Red Sox player-specific memorabilia will receive their item free of charge should that particular player hit a home run during the game.  It’s that simple.

Fenway Park will host Saturday’s Steiner Sports HR Contest

“To celebrate this weekend’s Yankees-Red Sox Series, we wanted to offer fans this unique opportunity,” says Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports.  “This adds another level of excitement, for fans of both teams, to a game that would ordinarily be must-watch television anyway.”

Fans can log onto www.SteinerSports.com or call 1-800-909-9162 to purchase their player-specific item.  Should that particular player hit a home run on Saturday, the fan will not be charged for their ordered item, and will receive it free of charge (however, standard shipping rates will apply).  If that player fails to hit a home run, all orders will be treated as a normal order and will be subject to any impending charges.  Fans will be asked to provide a credit card upon purchase, but will only be charged if, and only if, their particular player fails to hit a home run on May 8th.

“It’s really simple,” says Steiner.  “For example, purchase a Derek Jeter hand signed baseball from Steiner Sports prior to the game, if Derek hits a home run, you won’t be charged for that baseball.  The same would apply for all players on both teams this Saturday.”

Fans are encouraged to place their orders under the following guidelines: Orders must be placed prior to first pitch on Saturday, May 8, 2010 (approximately 3:05 PM EST).  All sales are final, even if a particular player doesn’t appear in the game.  The standard 30-day return policy does not apply.  Game used or Yankee Stadium demolition items do not apply.  This promotion cannot be combined with any other offer and is only valid on new orders placed between Thursday, May 6 at 3:00 PM and Saturday May 8 at 3:05 PM.  Should multiple players appear on a single piece, all players must hit a home run to qualify.

“This sort of promotion really appeals to all fans, no matter how big of a collector they are,” says Brett Schissler, Director of Sales.  “There is a little bit of risk involved, but ultimately, whether a particular player hits a home run or not, fans will walk away with a great Steiner Sports collectible to add to their collection.  This is a great opportunity for anyone to get a special Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or even a birthday gift for free.”

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Field Trip Is Perfect Formula for Yankees Success…Again.

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 3/4/10

This past Tuesday, Yankees Manager, Joe Girardi, once again played the role of Pinstriped Scientist, looking to concoct team chemistry, like he successfully did last season.  In 2009, Girardi mixed all the right elements from baseball’s periodic table.  The result: an on-field explosion that carried the Yankees all the way to a World Series Title.

Rivera & Rodriguez at Arcade/Photo Credit: New York Yankees

Last season, Girardi conducted a bit of an experiment with his players during Spring Training.  The club traded their bats and pine tar for pool sticks and chalk, and spent the day at a local billiards joint.  The bonding session helped solidify the foundation of the team’s close-knit group, forming relationships that, many claim, set the tone for their Championship run.

If Girardi wants to end this upcoming season the same way he did last season, he figures, he should probably start it the same way too.  It’s a new tradition for the most traditional franchise in professional sports.  This year’s class trip found the Yankees at a Tampa-based arcade for a day filled with video gamesskee ball, and pop-a-shot – something that resonated very positively with the players.

The stress-free environment allowed the players to forget the daily rigors of training, trying to earn a roster spot, or just fitting in.  While at the arcade, every player was on even ground.  Royce Ring could hang out with Mariano Rivera.  Ramiro Pena could socialize with Alex Rodriguez.  There were no superstars or bench players inside the arcade, a sense of equality off-the-field that should translate well into on-field team chemistry.

Wednesday afternoon, they started putting the theory to test.  It was back to business as usual at George M. Steinbrenner Field and the Yankees picked up right where they left off last November, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 in their first Spring Training game of the new season.  They even did it in walk-off fashion, as Colin Curtis hit a three-run home run in the 9th inning to secure the win…what, no pie?  It was a first small step towards defending their title, the 27th in franchise history.

Unlike previous camps, 2010 has been relatively smooth.  The drama and non-baseball related storylines have been non-existent.  The only real source of controversy has been over the 5th spot in the pitching rotation, a post to be filled by either Joba ChamberlainPhil Hughes, or a combination of Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, and Alfredo Aceves.

In addition, the Yankees enter the 2010 season with some familiar faces like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui gone, and some new additions like Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez onboard.  The “Core 4” of Derek JeterJorge PosadaAndy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera will again be at the heart of the Yankee Universe, as they pursue yet another Title.  It would be the sixth career ring for each franchise icon, and the 28th Championship in club history.

First thing’s first, the Yankees have to get through eight long months of baseball before they start planning another trip down the Canyon of Heroes.  Number twenty-eight is the goal this year – the target is once again, literally, on Girardi’s back – he changed uniform numbers.  It’s a responsibility he’s thoroughly prepared for.  He methodically laid the foundation this Tuesday at the arcade, shaking things up and formulating stronger team chemistry.

After last season, he’s got this down to a science.

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Prepare for Pre-Signings

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 2/12/09

Why Wait?

Looking for something unique to add to your sports memorabilia collection?  Perhaps something specific you’ve been patiently waiting for?  There’s no need to sit back and hope that exact item miraculously finds its way into the Steiner Sports inventory.  Instead, Steiner Sports offers collectors the opportunity to take a proactive approach to upcoming athlete signings.

Long before a player picks up a Sharpie, Steiner Sports allows customers the shot to pre-order something special from a signing.  Specific requests, including personalizations and inscriptions, are taken in advance and presented to the athlete on the day of the signing.

Derek Jeter Signing at Steiner Sports

Want Eli Manningto inscribe “happy birthday” on a photo?  Not a problem.  How about a ball personalized by Derek Jeter?  Done.

Customers are even encouraged to send in personal items to be included in upcoming signings.  Such an arrangement is orchestrated via a Steiner Sports Collectibles Sales Consultant in advance of the signing.

Worried a specific piece will sell out quickly once the signing is complete?  Customers can take advantage of a pre-sale by reserving a specific photo, jersey, helmet, etc., prior to the signing.  The Steiner Sports Signings Division will make a note of the pre-order and make sure a piece is included in the signing to fulfill all requests.

“Our goal in every signing is to make sure the customer is taken care of,” says Eric Levy, the official Steiner Sports Autograph Handler.  “If a customer pre-orders an item from a signing, it gets flagged on our priority list and is given special attention during the course of the signing.  There is definitely an advantage to pre-ordering.”

Collectors can gain insider access to the Steiner Sports signing schedule by reviewing the Upcoming Signings page on SteinerSports.com.  This autograph calendar is updated daily and serves as a guideline for those looking to pre-order items.  While most signings are held within the confines of the Steiner Sports Corporate Offices, located in New Rochelle, NY, others are open to the public and held at venues like the Steiner Sports Store in Garden City, or one of the many Last Licks Locations.

As the leader in sports collectables and memorabilia, Steiner Sports enjoys exclusive autograph agreements with some of the biggest names in sports.  Players like Derek JeterPeytonEli ManningMariano Rivera,Dustin PedroiaHank Aaron, and Martin Brodeur are just some of the exclusive athletes consistently signing for Steiner Sports.

Keep in mind, there are limitations on the number of items an athlete has time to sign at a given Steiner Sports autograph session.  So, collectors interested in reserving something special from an upcoming signing should give it some thought, contact a Steiner Sports Representative, and get in on a piece of the action early.

Don’t wait!

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Quick Year is a Memorable One at Steiner Sports

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 12/24/09

“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Those words, once spoken by Matthew Broderick in the 1986 hit “Ferris Bueller,” couldn’t be more apropos when thinking back on 2009 at Steiner Sports.  It was a year that had Steiner Sports employees’ heads spinning with activity and customers’ heads turning with curiosity and intrigue.  Though it flew by, it was a challenging, yet rewarding campaign, filled with moments and achievements that revolutionized the sports collectibles industry…again.

The final year of the “double zeros,” the “oughts,” or however one chooses to refer back to this decade, saw Steiner Sports prosper through three defining moments in company history, events that changed the way the company functions, and further developed the way sports fans collect memorabilia.

The Move

In recent years, Steiner Sports has developed relationships, and partnerships with some of the most successful organizations in professional and collegiate sports.  The company currently provides exclusive access to game used collectibles from the New York YankeesBoston Red SoxDallas Cowboys, and Notre DameAlabamaNorth Carolina, and Syracuse Universities.  The growing roster of partners, presented a growing inventory for a growing company occupying, what seemed like, a shrinking warehouse.

In an effort to satisfy the company’s need for more space, Steiner Sports moved into new digs in March.  Just like their pinstriped partners in the Bronx, the company shifted across the street into a new venue, better equipped to handle their needs in an ever-changing marketplace.  The move has been a positive one for all parties involved.  The state-of-the-art facility has allowed the company to function more efficiently, better serving loyal customers – many of whom made the pilgrimage over the last nine months to check out the new place.

The Seats

In 2009, Steiner Sports urged all Yankees fans and baseball historians to “Take a Seat in History.”  In May of 2009, the company announced plans to offer authentic seats, and other stadium artifacts including sod,monument park bricks, and foul pole pieces, from the original Yankee Stadium.  A flurry of activity ensued.  Eager fans were able to gobble up pieces of the historic stadium, scooping up whatever relics became available.  Owning an actual piece of Baseball’s Cathedral was an opportunity that few fans passed up on.

In addition, Original Yankee Stadium memorabilia was on display throughout the Inaugural Season inside the Great Hall, courtesy of Steiner Sports.  The Yankees-Steiner Collectibles Store flourished inside the Stadium too, giving fans insider access on game days.  Throughout the season, Steiner Sports employees were on hand to meet fans, and explain the unique line of items pulled from the “House That Ruth Built.”

What an unbelievable season it was too!  The Yankees broke in their new quarters in grand fashion!  The Greatest Closer of All-Time, Mariano Rivera, converted his 500th career save in June, and The Captain, Derek Jeter, passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time Yankees hits list in September.  Both historic moments served as appetizers for October’s (and November’s) main course…

The Title

The instant Mark Teixeira squeezed the final out of the 2009 World Series, the Yankees hard work towards a 27th Championship was over.  However, the work within the Steiner Sports office was just beginning.  Commemorative collagesplaques and crystals had already been prepared weeks in advance, but the quest towards a team signed project was quickly underway.

Over the course of about three weeks in November, twenty-nine members of the World Champions made their way through the Steiner Sports office, signing everything from team signed baseballs and photos, to game usedproduct from the 2009 season.  Once again, Steiner Sports had the most complete and intriguing collection of commemorative memorabilia to offer customers, featuring an unprecedented collection of superstars – perfect timing for the upcoming holiday season.

The Future

While 2009 was a legendary year in the history of Steiner Sports, the future is bright for the innovative leader in sports collectibles and gifts.  There are many exciting announcements on the table for 2010, events that will fire up customers, and further transform the collectibles industry.  2009 was fast.  2010 will move just as quick.  Just be sure to stop and look around.  Big things are coming so pay attention!  Bueller?

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#2 is #1 Sportsman in 2009

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For “Yankee Legacy Magazine” – 11/30/11

Destined for Yankee greatness from day #1, a young Derek Jeter was assigned to wear #2.  All the pinstriped greats wore single digits.  By thetime the scrawny kid from Kalamazoo, MI arrived in the Bronx, there was only one such number left to choose from – all others had been retired, and his manager, Joe Torre, was doing his best to take #6 off the board.  So, with expectations high, Jeter was given #2 – everything else had to be earned.

#2 Waives to the Yankee Stadium Faithful

The kid didn’t disappoint.

For fourteen seasons, Jeter has done nothing but validate his numerical assignment.  The 1996 American League Rookie of the Year has appeared in 10 All-Star games, won 4Gold Glove awards, and won 5 World Series titles.  In 2000, he was named MVP of both the All-Star Game and World Series.  In 2003 he was named team captain.  He has led his team to the Post Season in 13 of his 14 seasons, including 7 World Series appearances.

He is perhaps the most clutch performer to ever don the pinstripes, consistently coming up big in big spots.  At age 35, and showing no signs of slowing down, Jeter continues to produce at a staggering clip, breaking club records on a nightly basis, and passing single-digit-wearing legends in the process.

On November 30, 2009, just weeks after leading the Yankees to their 27thWorld Series title, Jeter was named the 2009 Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year.”  He becomes the first Yankee to ever earn the title, and does it during a year that saw many great accomplishments for the Captain of the Yankees.

This season, he batted a stellar .334, won a Gold Glove for his defense, a Silver Slugger for his offense, and a 5th ring for his thumb.  In addition, on September 11, 2009, Jeter etched his name deeper into Yankees lore when he collected his 2,722nd career hit.

Playing within the confines of his new home – he is the all-time hits leader at the original Yankee Stadium – Jeter singled to right field in the third inning of a game with the Baltimore Orioles.  The base hit moved him past Lou Gehrig and into first place all-time on the Yankees career hits list.

Teammates poured out of the dugout to surround the newly-crowned hits king, congratulating him on his accomplishment.  The always stoic Jeter showed true emotion as the packed house in the Bronx chanted his name over and over, as if to thank him for his years of service.

Within hours of collecting the monumental hit, fans swarmed SteinerSports.com looking to grab one of many commemorative items released to honor Jeter’s accomplishment.  Since that historic night in the Bronx, Jeter has hand signed images of the moment, jerseys embroidered with the date and hits total, and inscribed baseballs detailing the moment.  Along with commemorative 2009 World Series items, they remain among the hottest Yankees collectibles on the market today.

By passing Gehrig, the next hits milestone for Jeter will be #3,000.  No Yankee has ever reached the benchmark number – like being named “Sportsman of the Year,” Jeter seems destined to be the first.  It also appears certain that one day, #2 will find its way into Monument Park, joining the other single digits enshrined in Yankees lore.

There was really never any doubt from day #1 that Jeter deserved to wear #2.  But, following a season that saw Jeter pass Lou Gehrig, lead his team to another World Series Title, and earn “Sportsman of the Year” honors, it would be tough not to argue that #2 is really #1.

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Yankees Formula for Success is Easy as Pie

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 10/14/09

The swagger is back in the Bronx.

As the New York Yankees prepare for their American League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Angels, it’s clear, there’s something different about this team.  In the eight seasons immediately following their Subway Series victory in 2000, the New York Yankees morphed into a collection of highly-paid, corporate superstars.  Team chemistry was weak.  Anxiety levels were high.  These days, the Yankees are wearing their ties a little looser and having a little more fun at the ball park.

So what changed?  That’s easy…easy as pie.

Nick Swisher Enjoys a Little Pie

In 2009, the most traditional team in all of sports established a new ritual – a good, old fashioned, pie to the face – courtesy of AJ’s Bakery, Co. All pies were hand delivered by Pitcher, AJ Burnett, on cue, to any player to notch a walk-off hit in the Bronx.

Early on, critics scoffed at the amateurish celebration tactic adopted by the business-like Yankees.  Many argued that such a childish act seemed out of place among these men in pinstriped suits, claiming it was not “Yankee-like.”  As irony would have it, a little silliness was exactly what this team needed.

Unlike so many other Yankees teams that have come before them, the 2009 club seems more relaxed, and free from all the stress that comes along with the yearly “World Series victory or bust” mentality.  The additions of free-spirits like Burnett and Nick Swisher have served as the perfect compliment to the older, more business-like core of Derek JeterMariano RiveraAndy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.

Initially, there was some question as to how a member of that “old guard” would react when greeted with a face full of whipped cream.  That was answered on July 4, 2009 when Posada stole the game from the Blue Jays with a walk off single in the 12th inning.  Like clockwork, the catcher’s postgame interview turned into a pie eating contest, much to the delight of on looking fans.

Each walk-off pie – there have been 16 of them so far, including Mark Teixeira’s ALDS Game 2 pastry punch – has served as much more than a show of celebration.  It has developed camaraderie, calmed nerves, and tasted much sweeter than the humble pie they’ve been forced to eat in recent years.

Timely hitting, lights out pitching, and the addition of team-first players like Teixeira and CC Sabathia have all been major reasons this club has succeeded.  Most importantly, this team has been reminded that winning can be fun.  A little whipped cream is all it took to ease the tension of the daily New York baseball rigors.

The 2009 Yankees are all having a blast.  It seems as though this baseball machine is destined to return to glory.  The roster is a perfect blend of experienceyouth, and journeymen – all hungry for the same thing: a World Series title, and perhaps some pie for dessert.

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