Rooting For History, Not The Red Sox.

By Jason Klein

I love watching the Yankees win.

I also love watching sports history made.

This puts me in an uncomfortably conflicted position for tonight’s Game 6 in Boston.

Fenway Park will host Game 6 of the World Series Tonight.

Fenway Park will host Game 6 of the World Series Tonight.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a “Wow” moment in sports.  I crave those “stop whatever you’re doing and watch this” type of events.

Tonight, we potentially get one of them at Fenway Park.  With a win, the Red Sox would knock off the St. Louis Cardinals to clinch their first World Series Championship at home since 1918.

Wow.

In 2004, the Curse-breaking barrage of  “Idiots” (their term, not mine) capped off their title on the road, in St. Louis.  Three years later, they stormed the field as champions again, this time in Denver.  The last time they turned the trick at home, Babe Ruth, no doubt, enjoyed a few celebratory cold ones.

Needless to say, it’s been a while since Red Sox fans witnessed history made in their own backyard.

Root, root, root for the Red Sox tonight?

I don’t know if I’ll go that far.

But, there’s a chance to witness something that hasn’t happened in 95 years!

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

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Boone Sends Yankees To The World Series, Fans Into A Frenzy

By Jason Klein

(Today is the 10 Year Anniversary of Aaron Boone’s miraculous ALCS Game 7 HR.  The 11th inning walk-off blast sent the Yankees to the World Series, and preserved the Bambino’s Curse for at least one more season.  The Following Post Can Be Read, In Its Original Form, As I wrote on 10/17/03)

Babe, Bucky, Buckner…Boone.

At 16 minutes past midnight on Friday morning, Aaron Boone added his name to the list.  Aaron “Bleepin’” Boone.  Tied at 5 in the bottom of the 11th inning of game 7 of the ALCS, Boone sent Tim Wakefield’s first pitch through the Bronx sky, and safely into the hands of George Herman Ruth sitting out in the left field stands.

“Like Derek [Jeter] told me, the ghosts will show up eventually,” Boone said.

Images From Game 7, 10/16/03.

Images From Game 7, 10/16/03.

With an early 4-0 deficit, and Roger Clemens out of the game, the 56,297 in attendance were wondering just when the Great Bambino planed on showing up.  He probably just got caught up in traffic following the water main break on the Deagon.  He showed up 8 innings late to the party, but the Babe arrived in time to see the Yanks capture their 39th American League pennant in dramatic fashion, coming from 3 down in the 8th inning, to win the game 6-5 in 11 innings.  Boone’s walk off, series ending blast punctuated the evening.

“I knew it was out, I finally put a good swing on it,” he said.

It’s a swing that will long be remembered, perhaps one of the most dramatic of all time.   One swing of the bat from Boone ended the most compelling, evenly matched series in Major League Baseball history, sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy and the Red Sox home for the winter.

“This was our chance to get the World Series,” Boston’s Johnny Damon said. “And we were so close.”

Cowboy Down.

“This is the best, said Yankees manager Joe Torre.  “To come here and play against the Red Sox, and play them 26 times and beat our rival like we did, it couldn’t be more satisfying.  This has to be the sweetest taste of all for me.

However, early on things were rather sour in the Bronx.   The Sox got to Clemens early, tagging the Rocket for 6 hits and 4 runs through only 3 innings.  Clemens’ ineffectiveness, coupled with Pedro Martinez’s brilliance was a sure sign of a pinstriped apocalypse.  Many wondered if this would be the night the curse was broken.

Jason Giambi, batting out of the 7 hole, delivered 2 solo shots and Mike Mussina’s 3 scoreless innings of relief kept the Bombers in the game, but it wasn’t until that fateful 8th inning when the Empire finally struck back.

The Captain, Derek Jeter got it all started with a double to right, and Bernie Williams knocked him in with a single to make it 5-3.  After a Hideki Matsui double, Red Sox Manager Grady Little went out to meet with Martinez.  After some convincing, Pedro stayed in the game and gave up a game tying double to Jorge Posada.  Red Sox 5, Yankees 5.

That’s the way it would stay until the 11th, thanks to a flawless 3 innings of relief from the incomparable Mariano Rivera.  It was the first time Rivera had thrown 3 innings in a game since 1996.

“Words can’t describe him, he is a cartoon character,” Jason Giambi said of Rivera.

After Boone hit, what former Mayor Rudolph Guliani deemed “the best home run since Chris Chambliss in ’76,” the Yankees were World Series bound for the first time since 2001.  They will be fishing for Marlin starting Saturday night in the Bronx.

That challenge can wait until then.  For now, New York revels in its latest dance with destiny.  They came from behind to beat Pedro, Wakefield, and an entire Red Sox nation that holds little regard for the aura and mystique found season after season in the Bronx.

“I believe in ghosts,” Derek Jeter said when asked if there was something to the Curse. “And we have a lot of ghosts in this Stadium.”

Those Cowboys from New England may not agree with Jeter, but they surely have heard of the killer “B’s” that continue to haunt them every year.

Babe, Bucky, Buckner…and now Boone.

“Go back to Boston boys. Goodbye,” said George Steinbrenner following game 7. “They didn’t treat us very well in Boston, but you know, we get the last laugh.”

Bye Bye, Boston.

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MVP Voters Get it Right This Year, Despite Past Mistakes

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball – 11/22/11

It can be argued that Justin Verlander deserved to win the 2011 American League MVP Award.  Technically, that argument begins – and ends – with the fact that he did, indeed win the award.  He’s the first starting pitcher to do so since Roger Clemens in 1986.

Verlander was sensational this past season.  His historic campaign included a 24-5 record, a 2.40 ERA, a 0.920 WHIP, a no-hitter, and a Cy Young Award.  Without Verlander, the Detroit Tigers don’t win the Central Division and are not a playoff contender.  He was an invaluable cog in the 2011 Tigers wheel.

3 MVP Candidates, Only 1 Winner

No debate.

Did Verlander deserve to win the MVP Award?  Yes.

Should he have actually won the MVP Award?  Disputable.

Many will contend that a pitcher shouldn’t qualify for the award.  Position players can’t win a Cy Young Award, why should a pitcher be allowed to win an MVP?  After all, starting pitchers directly impact only about 35 games a season.  This discussion has some validity to it, but one might also reason that a pitcher responsible for a quarter of their team’s entire win total is more valuable than an everyday position player who steps to the plate 600 times.

Historically, the word “valuable” can be difficult to define – especially by MVP voters.

Once upon a time, Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry and Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez put together two of the most dominant pitching seasons of all-time.  Their efforts were comparable, if not better, than what Verlander accomplished this past year.  While both won the American League Cy Young Awards in their respective seasons, neither one walked away with the MVP award – both finished second in the voting.

Check this out: in 1978, Guidry went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.946 WHIP.   He struck out 18 Angels on June 17, and was the winning pitcher during the famous one-game playoff at Fenway Park, propelling the Yankees towards an American League Pennant and an eventual World Series Title.  Guidry lost the MVP race to Red Sox Outfielder, Jim Rice.

Equally as dominant, Pedro Martinez manhandled the American League in 1999, going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP.  Martinez started that season’s All-Star Game, struck out 5 of the 6 batters he faced, and won game MVP honors. Martinez lost to Rangers Catcher, Ivan Rodriguez in the league MVP voting that season.

Verlander was no more valuable to his Tigers in 2011 than Guidry was to the Yankees in 1978 or Martinez to the Red Sox in 1999.  But, perhaps in 2011, voters have a better grasp on the meaning of the word “valuable.”

It might also have been circumstantial.

Verlander benefitted from a flawed group of position player candidates, including Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), Curtis Granderson (Yankees), Jose Batista (Blue Jays) and Tigers teammate Miguel Cabrera.  None were clear-cut winners, and each received first place votes, potentially paving the way for Verlander to sneak out on top.

Pitchers have been snubbed by MVP voters for years, yet Verlander shouldn’t have to pay the price for past mistakes.  Perhaps this year’s voting is a sign of progress or forward thinking.  Maybe it was just circumstantial.

Regardless, voters finally got it right in 2011, despite getting it wrong with guys like Guidry and Martinez in the past.

No debate.

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“5 Questions” With Bucky Dent

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 12/15/10

His home run propelled the New York Yankees into the post season and helped preserve “The Curse of the Bambino.”  It also changed his life.

Bucky Dent During Answering My “5 Questions”

There’s no telling how Bucky Dent’s life would be different in 2010 had he never hit that mythical home run at Fenway Park in 1978.  During his recent visit to the Steiner Sports Corporate Offices in New Rochelle, NY, Dent addressed this topic, among others, after signing some great new collectibles for the Steiner Sports inventory.

Jason Klein: Obviously, your HR in 78 brings back a lot of good memories for Yankees fans…what goes through your head when you think about that day at Fenway?

Bucky Dent: Oh, just how important the game was, and it was just a classic game, and something that you’ll never forget because of the importance of it.  What we did in 78, as a team, coming back, to get to that situation, just the impact of the game.

JK: How many times a day does someone ask you about that home run?

BD: Probably once or twice a day someone comes up to me to talk about it.  I like to talk about it.  I think it’s fun.  It just shows you, the game itself, the impact it has.  People remembering it, that it was a one-game playoff between Boston and New York, it doesn’t happen very often.  I love to hear the stories. Confidence

JK: If you had never hit that HR, how would your life be different today?

BD: I probably wouldn’t be talking about the 78 Playoff game.  Maybe in a different way.  It’s something, as a kid, you always dream of doing, you know, hitting the big home run, and doing it in the World Series or in a big game, and you know, it all happened for me, it all came true.  I got a chance to hit a big home run and also win MVP of the World Series.  It’s just special.

JK: Which of the following, in your opinion, is the biggest home run in Yankees history?  Dent?  Chambliss?  Boone?

BD: That’s hard to say.  I always tease Chambliss about his home run.  I tell him, “I was a kid, driving down the highway, listening on the radio when you hit yours,” and he tells me, “oh, get out of here!”  I don’t know which one was the biggest.  They were all very important and they all impacted different years and different situations.

JK: How special is it to re-unite with all of your old teammates at an event like this?

BD: It’s a lot of fun, a lot of fun.  You don’t get to see these guys all the time.  When you can gather with them and be around them, and kind of, just look back at the memories.  You get flashbacks of the games that you play in and all the special moments.

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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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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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Another Dark Day for Baseball – Ortiz Linked to PED’s

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 7/30/09

Cowboy Down.

David Ortiz, the face of the 2004 and 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox, is the latest name connected to the, once anonymous, 2003 performance enhancing drug test, according to a New York Times Report.  Ortiz joins Alex RodriguezBarry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa as the most prominent names to come out from that list of 104 names.  Former Red Sox teammate, Manny Ramirez, who already served a 50 game suspensionthis year for his use of PED’s, was also on the 2003 list, according to today’s report

Maybe they were a bunch of “Idiots” after all.

Confirmation of Ortiz’s link to steroids comes as a mild surprise to those who follow the game.  One of the most likable players in the game, prior to 2003, Ortiz’s highest home run total came in 2002 with Minnesota when he finished with just 20 home runs.  The following season, the year he reportedly tested positive, he jumped to 31 home runs.  From 2004-2007, Ortiz blasted 41, 47, 54, & 35 respectively.  Evidence of a hitter “coming into his own,” or did Ortiz have some artificial assistance?

In the two seasons following the release of the Mitchell Report in December 2007, Ortiz’s power numbers have suffered dramatically.  With today’s announcement, his lack of production in recent years appears to be no coincidence, especially to steroid guru, and former Major Leaguer, Jose Canseco.

When asked his thoughts on today’s announcements, Canseco scoffed: “When you tell me something I didn’t already know, I’ll be surprised.”

Though fans have always been suspicious of Ortiz, many who know him personally were blown away by the news.

“This hurts, this really hurts,” former Twins teammate Tori Hunter told ESPN.  “I don’t know what to think about this. I guess you just never know what people do in the dark.”

When confronted by members of the media on Thursday, Ortiz refused to comment on the situation.  What could he say?  With each revelation, fans are numbed to the fact that the entire era is tainted.  It is impossible to decipher who did it and who didn’t simply based on those who have been outed.  Instead, all players are guilty by association.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality.

To paraphrase from the great Jerry Seinfeld, today we learned that back in 2003, Papi was a little sloppy.  There are many responsible for this Major League-sized mess, though.  Ortiz is just the latest superstar caught.

It’s another dark day for baseball.  Another Cowboy down.

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Get Connected

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 4/23/09

Connect.  That’s what I do every day I’m in the Steiner Sports offices.  I connect sports fans with their heroes…customers with memorabilia…legendary sports moments with new product ideas.  I help passionate people realize their sports fantasies by getting them closer to the game than they thought possible.

One might say I’m a glorified middleman.  That’s one way to put it.  One thing’s certain, I’m always in the middle of something exciting, thanks to the relationships Steiner Sports has with some of the most elite athletes and franchises in professional and collegiate sports.

For years, I’ve enjoyed connecting with many of you over the phone, via e-mail, and in many instances, meeting face-to-face at some of our unforgettable meet-and-greet events.  This blog is an opportunity for me to further advance that relationship, giving you exclusive insight into happenings within the Steiner Sports community, and providing my take on sports news as it breaks.

Many of you have asked me what it’s like working directly with athletes like Derek JeterDustin Pedroia, and Eli Manning or partnering with teams like the Yankees,Red Sox, and Cowboys.   I’m constantly asked: What innovative new items are coming out?  Who’s signing next?  Or, simply, what did you think of the game last night?  At Steiner Sports, there is always something going on…I look forward to sharing some of it with you along the way.  Get connected.

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