MONROE TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- "How 'bout those Rangers?" Brian Cashman began.
The Yankees' general manager had to point out first that New York's team had a 1-0 lead on New Jersey's team in Round 3 of the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs, given this setting. Well, why not? Might as well mix in some hockey banter as long as everyone was here, where a single event already was combining Major League Baseball, college football and golf.
On a stormy Tuesday that finally relented for a delayed 2 p.m. ET shotgun start, Cashman was among many dignitaries invited to the second annual New York Yankees/New Era Pinstripe Bowl Charity Golf Tournament presented by UnitedHeathcare at Forsgate Country Club.
Net proceeds from the event benefit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Cancer Center; Tourette Syndrome Association of Central New Jersey; the Boomer Esiason Foundation Fighting Cystic Fibrosis; and UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation. And it promotes the December college bowl game at Yankee Stadium, won by Rutgers over Iowa State in 2011 and now halfway through its initial four-year contract pitting a Big East team vs. a Big 12 team.
"You combine football, which was The Boss's biggest love, behind the Yankees, and put that in the cathedral called Yankee Stadium, and there's a lot of great things that can happen in terms of exposure," Cashman said, referring to the late George Steinbrenner. "The games have been fantastic. It's brought a lot of people together. ... hopefully we can grow it and make it even bigger and better."
Cashman had one eye on this event and one on his phone, waiting for any medical updates on a couple of newly banged-up pitchers. He called starter Ivan Nova from his cell while driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, but said Nova was sleeping so he would wait until later in the day to see if there was any swelling on the pitcher's right ankle. And Cashman also was keeping tabs on David Robertson, who had an MRI at midday on his ribcage area.
Approaching the one-quarter mark in the season, Cashman made it clear to media that he is less than thrilled with how the Bombers have fared so far. They entered Tuesday's game at Baltimore 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles and Rays in the American League East. As an example, he noted that the Yankees managed to beat aces David Price and Felix Hernandez yet got manhandled by Kevin Millwood -- calling it a "crazy sport."
"It was, respectfully, impressive to watch what (Millwood) did, but frustrating at the same time," Cashman said. "We've had a little bit of everything. We've had injuries, we've been inconsistent. The starting pitching didn't pitch well early, it's been pitching better lately, and offense is been kind of what day are you looking at it -- tremendous or inconsistent, opportunities in scoring position have been an issue. The bullpen has been great despite the injuries.
"We're battling. We're battling. Things haven't gone as planned, but they never do. That's why baseball is such an incredible sport. You have that depth. And now we're going to be pushed to rely on that, and opportunities will be created because of injuries. A guy like David Phelps has done a great job in filling in. The guys have taken slow steps to get going, but hopefully we're going in the right direction. Phil Hughes hopefully is finding his stride. It's always unpredictable.
"We have a lot of talent, and that's what's keeping us where we're at in the hunt," Cashman added. "Which isn't unusual for any Major League team. You never bring out the team, for the most part, that you intend to bring out -- or play up to the level that you expected."
Select head football and basketball coaches from the Big East and Big 12 were in the scramble, and this time Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti brought along a new football head coach: Kyle Flood. After serving seven seasons on the Scarlet Knights' coaching staff, he assumed the position after Greg Schiano resigned to become head coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It was a real honor for our program and our players and our fan base to be part of the Pinstripe Bowl," Schiano said. "It was too long where the media capital of the world did not get to be a part of the great college bowl tradition in our country. And we were really excited to be there. Iowa State was a very worthy opponent and it was a great game."
Flood considers himself a diehard Yankee fan, owing it to mere sibling rivalry.
"In my house, I grew up in Queens, about 10 minutes from Shea Stadium," he said. "My older brother was a Mets fan, and that's how I became a Yankee fan.
"I was born in '71, so I had a little bit of fun in the '70s, I was still young. The '80s were a little tough, and we had a lot of fun in the '90s."
Meanwhile, Edward Stewart is a White Sox fan. He also is associate commissioner of the Big 12, and he was representing his conference in the charity event.
"The Big 12 is excited to be part of the Yankees New Era Pinstripe Bowl. It's giving back to the community and we wholeheartedly support that," he said. "This has been a tremendous success. Kansas State has been here, Iowa State has been here, and the response we've had from the fan base to the student-athletes has been overwhelming. A lot of kids made it to Manhattan for the first time ever. They've been to the big city. It's been great for them.
"Anything the Yankees do is going to be first class."
Former Giants tight end Mark Bavaro said of the outing: "Any time you can support these organizations, especially by playing golf, that's a nice day. I'm just happy to be a part of it."