Review (x3): New Lay’s Air Pops (Original Potato, Sour Cream & Onion, Barbeque) (A So Good Exclusive) & Good Night, Mariano (Or, Why I Bawled Like a Baby Last Night)

Junk Food Nation, this is gonna be one of those “long sports posts – short junk food review” posts.  If you want to skip right to the review over on So Good Blog, click here.  Otherwise, get ready, because I’m about to blubber and give you another look into who I am:

This weekend is the end of the MLB Regular Season, and for me, as a Yankees fan, I’m very sad.  Sure, the Yanks aren’t in the postseason, but no one else cares about that. That sadness is about 4% for me. The remaining 96% is because Mariano Rivera is retiring, and it marks the end of a definite era for me.

There’s been a lot of articles about Mariano already, lauding him, tempering the lauding of him, remembering him. But for me, the start to Mariano’s career was basically the start of when I began watching the Yankees.  If you can endure it, read on.

Growing up in Upstate New York, I became a Yankees fan because (1) my dad was a Yankees fan having worked in the Bronx for a couple years after emigrating, and (2) this was back in the day where there were only 12-13 stations on the TV.  WPIX 11 in New York was one of those channels, so Yankees games were the only thing I could watch for the longest time.

As a child, I’d watch games with my dad, but I didn’t really follow the Yankees that closely…I just wanted to hang out with my dad.  I had the hat, the glove, and the baseball cards…but honestly, I was too busy obsessing about comic books, girls, and Seinfeld in the early 90’s to wonder what Danny Tartabull’s batting average was.

So in 1996, when the Yankees went to the World Series for the first time since 1981 and it was a HUGE DEAL to Yanks fans everywhere, I was personally still only KIND OF watching.  I was close to graduating high school at the time, and was worried about classes/college like the nerd I was/am.  1996 was Mariano’s second year up with the Yankees.  I remember watching him pitch in that World Series, not really knowing who he was, except a failed starter.  You have to remember, THIS WAS BEFORE THE INTERNET, sort of.  There was no Rotoworld or other website to see who “top prospects” were. I knew who the big players were.  And after that World Series, I knew who Jim Leyritz was; I certainly I knew who John Wetteland was.  But Mariano was still a little blip on the radar for me.  When the Yanks chose not to re-sign Wetteland in order to let Mo close games, I was like, “hoooooooooooooooooooo….kay.”

Of course, the rest is history. Hate me for how bandwagon it seems, but it’s the reality – the Yanks World Series win in ’96 (first since 1978!) turned on a lightbulb in my head, and from then my heart was firmly pinstriped.  Along with it was a dedicated love of the players who were on the Yanks at that time – Cone. Nelson. Pettitte. Stanton. Wells. Girardi. Curtis. O’Neill. Bernie. Jeter. TINO. And of course, Mariano.

I know that to many baseball fans, many of those names make them want to punch a cat in the face.  But whatever. For the next 17 years until present, I’ve watched every single storyline with the Yanks. Players who retired, who left for other teams. No hitters.  Perfect games. Subway Series.  The signing of free agents to bloated contracts. Jason Giambi’s shaved face. The Blue Ribbon Report. September 11. President Bush throwing out the first pitch. Mr. November. Aaron Boone’s home run. Arod and [Arroyo] (thanks Will!). I remember all of it – and through it all, Mariano was there, closing down the 9th inning.

I watched the 2009 Yanks win it all with more money on the field than anyone else, and since then watched them scotch tape together the popsicle structure known as the New York Yankees.  But still, Mariano was there, closing it down.  His longevity was simply impressive; for many who hated facing him, time changed the frustration into simple awe. It’s the same thing that happened to me and Chipper Jones.  I HATED CHIPPER for so long…but last year, when he retired, I had to give it to him.  19 years with one team in the free agency era?  Wow.  Big props.  And the same with Mo.

Last night, Mariano Rivera took the field for the last time at Yankee Stadium.  It was melancholy for me.  And when he left the game, openly crying, I’ll admit: I sort of lost it.

I was inconsolable.  Look, I know all you Yankee haters and eye rollers might judge, but listen: who in your life, besides family, have you known for 17 years?  And I’m not talking that you met 17 years ago, and only sort of keep in touch with through Facebook – I’m talking 17 years, that person has been there, as part of your life, day in day out. Reliable. Doesn’t have to be your best friend – just someone who was THERE.  Maybe a long time mailman? Maybe a newscaster on a local station.  And then one day – POOF. GONE.  It hurts because there’s just this gap. This void. They didn’t REALLY affect your life – but they did. Just by being there. And then you get melancholy, and start sounding old, because you start reminiscing how life was like when he was around…sigh.

That’s how Mariano was for me.  In essence, for the entire time I’ve rooted for this team, he’s been there.  He was never my favorite player – he was just ALWAYS THERE.  And he was ALWAYS THERE for MILLIONS of people every single baseball season for the past 17 years, Yankees fans or not.  Only in baseball can something like this happen. Jordan didn’t play this long. Football? Forget it.  How Baltimore fans felt when Cal Ripken retired is the closest thing I can compare.  I mean, Mo has been part of my and my dad’s lives for the past SEVENTEEN YEARS, and now I’m supposed to watch the Yankees without him??  This guy on Deadspin summed it up nicely: with Mariano gone, it’s like my childhood is firmly in the past now.  Time to grow up. 🙁

I’m embarrassed to admit that there was a time after the Yanks lost in the 2010 Postseason when I wanted to get rid EVERYONE old in the Yankee clubhouse, Mo included.  He was a free agent at the time, after all.  Would doing so have helped the past three seasons for the Yanks?  Yeah, maybe.  But whatever I thought at that time, I’m glad they re-signed Mo.  Wouldn’t have been right otherwise.

Look, I know Mariano’s not DEAD (duh) so I apologize for sounding like it.  But when the heck am I going to see him again? It’s not like he lives in my building.  It’s not like I’m in a fantasy football league with him.

So, heading into 2013, the Yankees will be different. No Pettitte, Hughes, Chamberlain, Youkilis, Boesch, Hafner, Kuroda, the list goes on and on. Jeter’s towards the end of his career, Cano and Granderson are free agents.  And No Mo.  It’s a good thing – as the Yanks try to sort out their cash cow mess and restart (still spending more money than anyone, good lord), I believe it’s better to have Mo’s career not be part of a major rebuilding process.  Still, it just won’t be the same.  Watching next year’s team will make me feel super old – and I wasn’t ever PLAYING the game.  Mo was.  The last person to wear 42 in baseball. Guaranteed first ballot HOF-er.  And the only person I will think of when I hear “Enter Sandman.”

Thank you, Mariano…just…for being around.


Today’s junk food is a review I did over on So Good: New Lay’s Air Pops! Here’s a preview…


So Good Readers, it’s Monday and I’m back!  Who? Me, your friendly neighborhood Junk Food Guy, silly.  With September fast approaching, it’s only a matter of time before stores have Christmas stuff on display.  No, seriously – I swear I saw some stockings already poking out at the ends of aisles.  You gotta be kidding me, Walgreens.

As I was grocery shopping yesterday, I saw these:

New Lay’s Air Pops (Original Potato, Sour Cream & Onion, Barbeque): The Money Shot

New Lay’s Air Pops (Original Potato, Sour Cream & Onion, Barbeque): The Money Shot

New Lay’s Original Potato Air Pops are Frito-Lay’s attempt at getting in on the air popped chip craze…I guess.  I mean, Pop Chips, Pop Corners, and Popcorn Indiana Chip’ins have been around for a while now…like a LONG while now. Still, it’s always interesting to see a big company recognize that smaller companies are dominating a niche, and then try to go in and dominate it themselves.  Will Frito-Lay succeed here? find out, I bought each of Frito-Lay’s Air Pop line: Original Potato, Sour Cream & Onion, and Barbeque.


There you go. So Good has the rest of the review.  Go read it!

And for those who read through it all – thanks for enduring my blubbering self.

Thoughts? Please comment below or hit me up on Twitter @junkfoodguy or LIKE my Facebook Page and message me there. Let’s hang out.


Junk Food Guy

Discuss - 18 Comments

  1. SFChin says:

    You only really started following the Yankees since ’96? I figured you were lifer. The Phillies are ingrained into my childhood memories. Definitely me earliest foggy memories are of the 1980 Phillies (Steve Carlton! His name is Steve also!). The Phillies were with me throughout their decades of futility in the 80s and 90s (1993 the strange aberration). I admit, it’s been fun but strange being a Phillies fan during their recent run of success, but it looks like things are going to start going back to the norm (losingest franchise in professional sports!). It will be interesting to see how you fare as the Yankees progress into a period of (relative) darkness for them.

    Also, I don’t think any true baseball fan holds anything against the ’96 Yankees. Bernie, Tino, rookie Jeter? Those guys are awesome. Paulie practicing his swing while he stands in the outfield? Classic. It’s all the assholes they brought in over the next 10 years that everyone hates. Clemens, Giambi, frickin A-Scrod.

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Chin: Yeah, 96, I know – I missed the previous era of futility… Looking ahead is sort of murky – I’m ready to endure some down years, I just want to see some good decision making. And I love you comment, “It’s all the assholes they brought in over the next 10 years that everyone hates. Clemens, Giambi, frickin A-Scrod.” LOL

  2. Kahnfucius says:

    Ugh…if this is how long your Rivera farewell blog post is I can only wait with fear and trembling for the Jeter one. And all you’d really have to say is “Remember when he made that play where that guy was called out even when he was obviously safe but they gave it to him because, you know, he’s Derek Jeter.”

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Kahn: Strangely, I don’t have the same feelings towards Jeter. I’m sure it’ll be weird, but Mo affected me much more.

    • Kahnfucius says:

      Because he’s not a True Yankee?

    • SFChin says:

      The problem with Jeter is that he’s not quite as good as most Yankee fans think he is. And with that permanent smug expression you just kind of want to punch him in the face every time you see him.

      Rivera really is as good as Yankee fans think he is. Plus he’s a genuine class act.

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @SFChin: LOL.

      In another note, I really like Cody Asche.

  3. John C. says:

    @junkfoodguy: Good God, I’m right there with ya’. Not gonna lie…I cried. I still get a little teary every time I re-watch it- which I may have done far too many times at this point. Good thing we don’t use actual tape anymore, or it’d be worn out already.

    Anyway, I can definitely relate- Mariano Rivera has been my childhood. Only I was younger- both when I started following the Yankees, and when Mariano started pitching…so it’s even stranger and more emotional for me. I got in just before those ’96 years. Right around the time I became old enough to actually kinda start paying attention to things (aside from school, of course haha).

    I still vividly remember those dynasty years, all the arguments at the lunchtable with friends, going with my Dad to scalp tickets to the games, staying up way past my bedtime watching on TV, finally retreating to a radio under the pillow when Mom caught on….

    Looking at Rivera now from an older perspective, I’m brought right back to all those great memories, and am finally able to appreciate just how truly inspirational the man himself is. He’s not just the Yankees closer. He was one of their leaders. A silent leader. Hell, even a Saint. (Are you allowed to call somebody a Saint and say Hell in the same sentence…?). Now, without him, the Yankees, the sport, is losing somebody great that won’t ever come again.

    As for the people already chiming in on the Hall of Fame, and saying he’s undeserving cause relievers throw so few innings, absolute bullshit. That’s like saying Hank Aaron doesn’t belong in the football hall of fame. No shit- can’t compare the dude to something he’s not (a football player). You base his candidacy on those he shared the game/position with. Same goes for relievers- you don’t try to compare ’em to starters. Oh, and by the way, Mariano blows all of them out of the water too. He IS the Hall of Fame.

    Have you seen any of the lists circulating on who the next great athlete to get a retirement gala is gonna be?

    Oh, and as for who to root for when your team is out: this year I’m pullin’ for the Pirates and the Dodgers bigtime. I picked the Dodgers as my “NL Team to follow” while at school in Cali, and the Pirates are just such a great story. I’ve always been a Burnett fan, and love the whole Shark bullpen thing they have going on. Right there with you on who to pull for in the AL though. Who do you want to win the Wild Card- Rays, Indians, or Rangers?

    Hmm….or we could just root for a suspension, now that A-Rod stories have started popping back up, haha. As for next year…will certainly be interesting. Hopefully Gardner continues to grow, no pun intended, and I’d love it if we re-sign Brendan Ryan as a defensive replacement/ insurance policy for Jeter.

    Talk to you later! Hope to hear back soon.

    -John C.

    (1) Root for the team that knocked you out. That way if they win it all, you can eventually say, “Hey, at least we lost to the eventual champions.” For me, that would be teams from the AL East – Tampa Bay and Boston, and the Braves on the NL side.

    (2) Root against the team that knocked you out. Hell hath no fury like a baseball fan scorned.

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @John C. – Do you live in New York now? Your point about him being a silent leader is so spot on – that’s what made him different than Jeter – not that I don’t root for Jeter – but Mariano was different. He didn’t have to be in front of the cameras as much as the every day players, was able to keep to himself more.

      I’m definitely pulling for the Pirates, but I guess we’ll see what happens during the WildCard game. STL looks pretty friggin unstoppable right now. On the AL side, I’m betting that Texas wins the tiebreaker tonight (and I have no love for Tampa Bay), and then in the Wildcard game between Texas and Cleveland, I could see Texas taking it again. Who am I rooting for in that three-way? ……probably Cleveland.

      Aside from dealing with Arod, figuring out CC, resigning Cano, wondering what the hell happened to Pineda, and hoping Robertson can step in Mo’s shoes, for now…I just want them to figure out one more young pitcher. SOMEONE. With Kuroda and Pettitte gone, you’re left with CC, Nova…..MAYBE Pineda as the 5, but who is 3-4? I’m sure Huff or someone can be a patchwork 4, so who’s the 3? That’s my main thing I’ll be looking for in free agency, and my rallying cry in the offseason. WHO IS THE 3??

  4. Will says:

    I think u meant to say Bronson Arroyo and arod. Arod slapped the ball out of his hands. As a Red Sox fan, Mariano is 1 of the Yankees I really respect. He is the best closer in major league history and a true class act. That’s how I will feel when Brady retires.

  5. John C. says:

    @junkfoodguy: Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to ya’. It’s been a busy few days. Anyway, yea…I live in New York- lite (CT, right near NY border, so not New England-y; more tri-state-y if that makes any sense). Makes it difficult cause half the state is Sox fans…but I manage.

    As for the postseason baseball- Let’s go PIRATES!! I’m really hoping they pull this out. My problem is (like I told you earlier, I believe) the Yankees are my primary team, but I also picked a secondary NL team to follow while I was out at school in California, so I went with the Dodgers. They had Torre at the time, so it worked out quite well. So the two teams I’m pulling for are both National League…. could become a problem in the CS if they make it that far.

    In the AL, I’m bummed the Tribe didn’t make it. Would’ve been cool to see Francona back in Boston. I’m all for the A’s with the Indians not in it. They’re always a fun story, albeit at this point insanely repetitive.

    Oof- the Yankees! Well, I think it’ll take a few more weeks to figure out what needs to be figured out, if that makes any sense. They need the A-Rod case to resolve itself, see if Cano is just bluffing or if he’s really all about the Benjamins, and see how Jeter feels.

    As for pitching, who says Kuroda’s gone?? He’s a FA, but not definitely leaving (yet at least). And you totally forgot about Phillips. He was pretty good until he got injured this year.

    Enjoy the Bills game tonight. Spiller better start, or else my fantasy team is screwed….. how’s yours holding up?

    -John C.

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @John C: Quick response here – my fantasy football team is 4-2!

      current roster

      QB: Kaep, Terrell Pryor, Nick Foles
      RB: Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Brandon Jacobs, Joseph Randle (I know, ouch)
      WR: Demaryius Thomas, James Jones, Danny Amendola, Hakeen Nicks, Reuben Randle
      TE: Vernon Davis, Julius Thomas
      K: PRater
      DEF: KC

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