Last Friday’s Pinstripe Bowl, held at Yankee Stadium, drew over 38,000 spectators who witnessed Rutgers defeat Iowa State 27-13.
Three years ago, when the Yankees announced a new bowl game, one which would pit a top team in the Big East Conference against one in the Big 12 and the first to be held in New York since 1962, there were doubters, since the Big Apple is not known as a hotbed of college football.
But Yankees President Randy Levine said with a big smile prior to the start of last Friday’s game that the Pinstripe Bowl has been a profitable venture for the iconic baseball team.
The Yanks certainly have had a bit of luck on their side. Both Pinstripe Bowl games have been played on extremely mild late-December days. In addition, the Big East teams that have participated in the games, Syracuse and Rutgers, have large numbers of passionate alumni who live in the New York area.
What has to be disconcerting to Levine is the upheaval in the Big East Conference. Syracuse will be leaving next year. I can’t imagine that incoming teams such as Boise State and Texas Christian will be the draws that Rutgers and Syracuse are. The Yankees’ contract with the Big East Conference ends in 2013. Expect the team to seek a new partner then.
On Monday the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its Class of 2012. Barry Larkin, who played shortstop for the Reds for 19 seasons, should easily get the needed 75 percent of ballots cast by the once-important Baseball Writers Association of America, whose membership has declined as daily newspapers have either merged or shut down entirely. My guess is that pitcher Jack Morris should squeak in too. Moving up in the balloting for future Cooperstown immortality should be former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and dominant relief pitcher Lee Smith. They will be contending with the Mets’ own Mike Piazza, whose name will appear on a Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2013.
It’s surprising that Steve Garvey, one of the most popular ballplayers of the 1970s and ’80s, isn’t in the Hall. Garvey appeared in four World Series and 10 All-Star games, and was always in the Dodgers’ lineup — with a streak of 1,207 consecutive games played. Garvey was, and still is, one of the most accommodating athletes to fans and the media. Maybe too accommodating at times: He fathered several children out of wedlock with three different women when he retired, becoming a subject of national ridicule and costing himself much of his accumulated earnings.
1990s Chilean tennis star Marcelo Rios was Garvey’s polar opposite in terms of temperament as he was renowned for his nastiness to fans, the media, and even his fellow players. He abruptly quit the men’s pro tennis tour at age 27 in 2004 and has been reclusive ever since then. Mark Malinowski has just written “Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew” (Create Space Publishing), which is a definitive look at one of tennis’s great villains.