“Marbury, ‘Melo And The Mecca Of Basketball”

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Everyone has a reason why they fall in love with their favorite team.  For me, I fell in love with the New York Knicks for a couple of good reasons. You’re going to have to thank my grandfather and dad for that. Like many kids growing up in the New York City area, heading to Madison Square Garden was a thrill. Hopping off the LIRR, walking through Penn Station and heading up those stairs into the lobby was like nothing else. You could fell the energy of the crowd the moment you get inside. It was easy to understand why they call it the Mecca of basketball.

From a very young age, there was one thing I loved more than anything else; the passion this city has for one team. When the Knicks play at home, the Knicks are the only basketball team that has “New York” across their chests. They don’t share the city with anyone. And even though the Nets recently moved to Brooklyn, the Big Apple belongs to Knicks. Anyone who knows anything about New York basketball knows that. Thats just the bottom line. There is something to be said when a team can unify the biggest of rivals. In a world that seems so divided at times, the Knicks have been known to bring New Yorkers together for years. Remember when Larry Johnson hit the famous “4 point play’?; you saw Mets and Yankees fans hugging it out. Rangers and Islanders fans couldn’t stop giving each other high fives when they saw John Starks dunk over “The G.O.A.T” Michael Jordan. And Giants and Jets fans were loving life when Jeremy Lin showed up at the Garden and “Linsanity” took over the city.

Madison Square Garden is such a special place. Whether the team is winning or losing, if there is excitement or frustration, its always sold out. Always. And thats why road teams and opposing players love to suit up and play there. The Garden is the biggest stage in the NBA, if not in all of sports. The games brightest talent gets to play in front of the brightest lights and the worlds biggest stars who are sitting in the front row. Win or lose, Knicks fans feel like they can be a part of something bigger than just being an average fan. Its easy to relate to this team. The hype, the high expectations, the disappointment, the heartache and most of all, the hustle. All of us know that being a Knicks fan is different. Its special. And for all the hard times we have faced, envisioning the day when “The City That Never Sleeps” will shut down to celebrate a NBA Championship parade makes being a loyal fan even easier. When that day comes, it will be like no other parade in sports. Its the Knicks, its New York and it will be so worth the wait.

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You may be wondering why I feel so strongly about the Knicks and what my reason is that I fell in love with this team? Like I said earlier, there are a couple of of good ones. Let me give you the first one. My grandfather went to Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, and was always a fan of their sports teams, especially basketball. He was super excited about this young kid on their team who was starting to get a lot of national attention. His name was Stephon Marbury. My grandfather took me to a game and I’ll never forget the crowd I saw when I walked into the gym. I was immediately hooked. Marbury quickly became “my guy” and I began following the young superstar from his days playing in Brooklyn to Georgia Tech to his debut in the NBA with Minnesota Timberwolves. My man Marbury eventually made his way to Jersey to play for the Nets, which made things a little difficult for me as you could probably imagine. He was my guy, and I ended up rockin’ Nets Marbury jerseys even though I bled blue and orange. This guy had me going to Meadowlands to watch him play as much as I was going to the Garden. But then it happened. My favorite player, Stephon Marbury was traded to my team, the New York Knicks. Its was meant to be. My guy, my team, my city. Marbury brought life and excitement back to the Garden which was missing since the days of Patrick Ewing and company. Marbury got us believing again. An although his time in New York didn’t end the way I had hoped, he was a major reason why my love for this team grew even stronger.

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My father graduated from Syracuse which gave me a good reason for them to become my favorite college basketball team. So you know where this going, right? Just like Marbury at Abraham Lincoln, Syracuse basketball introduced me to Carmelo Anthony. This kid shows up on campus and brings home a national title in his freshman year and I was hooked. I followed him as he made his debut into the NBA with the Denver Nuggets and quickly became one of the NBA’s brightest stars. And then just like that, another one of my favorite players found his way back home to New York and was traded to the Knicks. When ‘Melo arrived in the Big Apple, you could feel the excitement, the optimism and the hope that Knicks brightest days were ahead of us. For the first time in years, we had a legitimate superstar leading the way. And like so many other Knicks fans, I believed he would lead us to the promise land. He did his thing, there is no doubt about that. He led us to the playoffs, gave the fans a 54 win season and even played in the All-Star game in front of his home crowd.  And although the team showed glimpses of greatness, the came up short of bringing home a title. And we all know, it didn’t end well for “Melo in the Big Apple. After ? years in blue and orange, he was traded to Oklahoma City this off season.

It hasn’t always been easy being a Knicks fan. Lets get that straight. Everyone knows about the disaster that was the Phil Jackson project, the Charles Oakley ordeal and an owner who seems to rub his fans the wrong way at times. But thats life as a Knicks fan. Thats life as a New Yorker. Nothing comes easy for those that hustle.

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Even during the darkest of days; the fans continue to weather the storm and they keep coming out to support this team. They keep fighting, hustling and believing. Thats what Knicks fan do. Thats what New Yorkers do. Thats what I do. The day of Marbury and ‘Melo are long gone and I cant deny that. But my team has New York across the chest. They have some young talent now who are showing a ton of heart nowadays and have fans hyped. The future is bright. But isn’t that how it has to be when you root for the Knicks. I mean how bad can it be when your team plays in a garden right in the middle of the big apple. I’m not sure if there will ever be another Marbury to me, or who might stroll in with the expectations that came with ‘Melo, but I do know this….no matter who it is, they’re going to do it in the Mecca of basketball – Madison Square Garden.

– Evan Okon.

 

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Thanks Doc!

I’ve been a Philadelphia Phillies fan since I was a little kid. I blame my dad for that, haha. My dad grew up in Massapequa, Long Island, and at that time, he said that the house he lived in only got one channel that aired baseball games; and it only had Phillies games. He used to tell me that most of the seasons, the team really wasn’t that good, but there was something he liked about them. He said he always felt like the team gave it their all, and always respected the game and their fans. And just like that, the Phillies had its newest fan…Me.

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From the beginning, I fell in love with the team colors, the iconic Liberty Bell and the entire of city of Philadelphia. It is such a special place. So much history to take in. I was always excited to make trips from my home on Long Island down to “The City of Brotherly Love” to catch a ball game with my pops. The Phillies teams that I grew up with were similar to ones my father had cheered on. They weren’t the most competitive, but seemed to give their all for 9 innings. And they did have some exciting players to watch. They had “J-Roll” Jimmy Rollins who went on to win an MVP award. “Pat the Bat” Pat Burrell, and a hot-shot new infielder named Chase Utley. Before you knew it, these three along with some other quality players had the Phillies making moves and winning some ball games. So much in fact, that they shocked the baseball world in 2007 when they caught the New York Mets and won the National League East title. After all these years, my team had arrived.

This was the beginning of my finest run as a Philadelphia Phillies fan. The years 2007 to 2012 were incredible. My “Phils” ruled the NL East. So many exciting games and moments that kept adding up. One of my favorite baseball moments ever was being at the last home game for the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in 2008. Jamie Moyer pitched and Tom Gordon closed out the game. Distant names for this generation of fans, but not to me. Those were my guys. I was only 13 years old at the time, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

The Phillies went on to win the World Series that season, and I probably wore a Phillies shirt to school everyday of 8th grade. As you can guess, it’s not easy being a Philadelphia Phillies fan in the the New City York area. Everyone else is a Yankees or Mets fans, and they always seemed to want to fight me because I wore my teams colors so proudly. I was heckled quite a bit back then, but I would do my best to laugh it off. Sometimes, I would enjoy the attention and embrace it by blowing kisses at them to get them more riled up. Maybe not the smartest thing to do to a bunch of New Yorkers, but hey, it made it all more fun.

Being a Phillies fan has made me appreciate the good teams when they come around. And as any sports fan knows, the good teams don’t come around that often, and when they do, you need to enjoy every minute of the ride. The same can be said about certain players. There are thousands who play America’s pastime, but only a handful of them make an unforgettable impact on us. One of those special players just happened to play for the team I have loved my entire childhood. His name was Roy, but most of his friends called him “Doc”.

Just like the rest of the baseball world, I was shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of the former Major League star, Roy Halladay this past Tuesday. As a Phillies fan, it really hit home. One of my idols, a player who I cheered for and looked up to, was no longer with us. The first thing I did when I got home after hearing the tragic news was go into a box where I keep my old jerseys. There it was, my #34 Roy Halladay Philadelphia Phillies jersey. Those that know me well know that I don’t buy many jerseys. I only have a few of them. And the few that I have are of guys that I have a great deal of pride representing; guys like Pete Rose, Roberto Clemente, Bryce Harper, Chase Utley and of course, the late Roy Halladay. The other item I grabbed was a copy of the New York Post from the day after Halladay threw his post season no-hitter. Remember that? What a game!

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Roy Halladay only spent 4 seasons with my favorite team but instantly became an idol and hero of mine. When my friends and I would play pick-up baseball down at the park, my nick-name would always be “Doc Hils” in honor of my admiration for “Doc Halladay”. Many of my friends reached out to me this week to send their condolences knowing just how much Roy meant to me.

Roy Halladay was the definition of a professional. One of my other favorite players, Chase Utley, who doesn’t say much to the media, put out a statement earlier this week about “Doc”. Chase explained how he arrived at spring training early one day and saw Roy, who dripping in sweat and eating breakfast. Chase asked him if it had rained outside and Roy told him no, that he just got done with his workout before grabbing a bite. That was Roy. An unmatched work ethic respected by his teammates and opponents alike.

I was honored to root for Roy during his final 4 seasons of his career pitching in Philadelphia. During his career, Halladay won 203 games and along with 67 complete games. Thats right, 67 complete games. In an era where we are lucky to see the starting pitcher get through 5 innings, this guy was committed to finishing his job. He was a player who honed his craft day in and day out. Someone who many of his colleagues looked up to. I know I did.

Roy Halladay got his nickname from “Doc” Holliday, the famous wild west gunslinger. The nick name seemed appropriate as Halladay would stand on the rubber, take in his sign, draw his weapon (his arm) and fire strikes across the plate. Some could say that “Doc” was appropriate because of his precision of his pitches, similar to that of doctors diagnosis. Accurate and to the point. That was my idol “Doc” Halladay. Whether fans were thinking of the gunslinger or the doctor, Halladay was admired by all. When he took the mound, all eyes were on Roy. A current Major League player was quoted this week saying “Roy Halladay was your favorite player’s favorite player”.

Roy Halladay had that blue collar mentality of lets go to work and not leave until the job was done. He was a rarity. An exception to the rule. A player who was loved and respected by fans and foes. A player who may one day be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  But beyond his talents on the mound, Roy was a great man, husband and father. He was the kind of man that fans like me could look up to.

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I never did get a chance to meet Roy. I sure would’ve loved that. I’ve asked myself a few times what exactly I might have said to him if I did get that chance. Would I say something about his no-hitter in the playoffs? Would I tell him that I proudly wear his jersey? Or maybe that he was one of my heroes? I’m not really sure. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, if I did get that chance, I would only have one thing to say…

“Thanks Doc…for everything!”

 

– Walt Hilsenbeck

Digmi Contributing Author

More about the author: Walt Hilsenbeck is die hard baseball fan who attends more than 75 professional games each season. Walt is the founder of HilsFilms, a YouTube channel that features candid player interviews and game content. Walt’s material has been featured on media platforms such as MLB Network and Univision.

 

Tip Your Cap – The Official Blog Site of “The Guy In The Tie”

I’ve been wanting to add some cool content from team contributors and introduce guest authors to our growing base of Digmi fans and customers for quite a while now. Every time I was ready to start to work on this concept, another project or opportunity presented itself, pulling our team in a different direction, and leaving this on the back burner. I guess you can say thats a good thing, right? Busy is good. And I can tell you that we have been crazy busy this past year. I’m sure many of you have heard about of our debuts at Bloomindale’s, Tilly’s and Lids. Crazy to think that our story and brand have gone from selling tee shirts in minor league clubhouses to landing on the shelves of some of our favorite retailers, isn’t it?

Well, we still are crazy busy. I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon, or at least I hope not. We have a lot of great things to design, products to offer, and a story to keep telling. But with all of that, I think it’s time that we just start writing and sharing cool, creative content from some incredibly talented people. People that are part of our team, people that have inspired and motivated us along our journey, and people that continue to influence so many with their positive messages.

Welcome to Tip Your Cap, the official blog site of “The Guy In The Tie”, a platform offering articles & video content focusing on fashion, sports and pop-culture.

We are new to this. We are not seasoned writers or experienced journalists. We will never claim to be. We are just a bunch of passionate people who believe that hard work pays off and if you keep pushing forward, you’re bound to find your way. So here goes nothing. Get ready to Tip Your Cap to honesty, creativity, and passionate personality.

Thanks for stopping by!

– Ray Digmi

Founder/Editor In Chief

 

 

From Jeter To Judge…Why I’ll Always Wear Pinstripes

Yeah, I know. Today is Game 7 of the World Series between the Dodgers and Astros. Arguably the greatest fall classic of all time. The cities of Houston and Los Angeles have been electric and their fans have shown such passion for their teams. Reminds me of the love and passion I have for my team…

Growing up in Central Jersey, I loved nothing more than the New York Yankees and their rich history. When it was playoff time I was glued to the TV, next to my Mom and Dad, pulling for Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Tino Martinez to get that big hit. And guys like Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and El Duque to come through with that big strikeout. And how about the unsung heroes like Scott Brosious or Aaron Boone? These guys gave me unforgettable memories and made me fall in love with the game of baseball.

 To the rest of the world, these guys were better known as the Bronx Bombers.

 As a kid, I remember those World Series in the 90’s and early 2000’s like they were yesterday. They were always special to me because I’d always wake up to my dad either cheering loud on a big play or booing even louder on a bad play (we are Yankee fans, you know how it is). The next morning, my mom or dad would go to tell me the Yanks won or lost. Before they could even get it out, I’d yell “Do not to tell me anything!” I wanted to watch the highlights on SportsCenter , before school, and see them for myself.

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 The only “magic” I knew as a kid was “Yankee Magic”. The magic that made Derek Jeter, “Mr. November”, with his game winning home run at the stroke of midnight; The magic that made Aaron Boone that unsung hero, with his game winning home run off Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of 2003 ALCS. I mean, that is what every little kid dreams of, right? All of these magical moments made me and the rest of the world believe they had what it took to be a ball player too.

 I always would hear “Oh you guys buy championships”, from my bitter friends that were either Red Sox or Mets fans, but to me all I saw were a group of guys that never gave up. They had a lot to do with who I became as a baseball player myself, but I’ll get back to that.  I fell so in love with the Yankees I would try to replicate their exact mannerisms, from the “Jeter Jump Throw” all the way to listening to Mariano’s, “Enter Sandman” (yes its Mariano’s, not Metallica’s haha), as he ran in from the bullpen to close another one of his record breaking saves.

 A day that stuck with me throughout my career was the day the Yankees called me on February 9, 2015, and invited me to come throw at their Spring Training facility in Tampa, Florida, with the opportunity to earn a spot on a roster in their minor league system. Unfortunately, I did not earn that spot, but to have the opportunity to toe the rubber on the same field that many Yankee legends once practiced on and earned their spot, will be something I will treasure for my entire life.

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 After having the privilege to play the game I love for 20 years, all the way from t-ball to Professional Baseball, I hung up my spikes and started to really appreciate the beauty of the game from the outside looking in. On the field, I considered myself one of the most passionate players, and always wore my heart on my sleeve, just like those Yankee greats I got to watch growing up.

 Following playing all those years, I decided to take in my first Yankee playoff game this season. I’ve never been to the Bronx in October before. I went to Game 5 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros. The atmosphere was like no other; absolutely electric every single pitch. Fans from all over meeting at “The House that Jeter Built” to see the Yanks try to even up the ALCS at two games apiece.  Watching every pitch on TV is amazing, but to be at the stadium, watching role call and standing up clapping for every strikeout opportunity cannot be matched. The Yanks came out early and did not disappoint the home crowd, as they forced Dallas Keuchel to an early exit; their toughest rival over the past few years.  After the game all the fans flooded the streets, giving the now famous “thumbs down” sign, while making the transition from Sinatra’s “New York, New York” inside the stadium to Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing inside Stan’s Sports across the street.

 After all these years, I found that the magic is still there. You see, the “Yankee Magic” actually never left. With guys like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, Luis Severino and Greg Bird, the Yanks are back in business, making their presence known and knocking on the door of another championship.

What unforgettable memories will be made in the Bronx over the next few years? Who will be our next big hero? I’m not sure. But I am sure about this…from Jeter to Judge, I’ll always wear pinstripes! And no matter what, I’ll always believe in magic!

– Carlos Ruiz

Digmi Contributing Author