Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A hero tweets


Think All You Want, Men.....


I love this blog's winter " hot stove league." And I will provide my best thinking.

But something is nagging at me;  " none of it will matter."

There are many here who have brilliant ideas.  Some are simple and obvious.  Some are subtle.  But there is creative thinking and a high knowledge of the game.

All of this blog's output would help the Yankees.

But none of it will.

Our best years will no longer be championships.

 Hal will be too cheap to allow that.  And 2019 was the year which proved that.  We had chances to make huge upgrades ( at catcher, and at starting pitcher).  All were rejected, to the benefit of others and to the detriment of us.

Our best years will be just like 2019, where others celebrate and we look on with longing and despair.

We will get to see the space goggles used, and the cheap champagne sprayed, because our winning will end just after the 5 game series, following the play-in games.

It is like you throw a really cheap bachelor party for a friend, and then you don't get invited to the wedding.

The Yankees will not get number 28, next season no matter how hard we plan for it.

Not with Sanchez and Stanton as kingpins in our line-up.








Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! The Hot Stove League is officially open for business!

All right, let's do this in an orderly, logical fashion—the same way we do everything else.

Set yourselves down by the potbellied, country store stove, now that the harvest is in....Somebody move the cracker barrel inside, shut the door against the chill, cut a wedge of cheddar off the big wheel, bring out the hard cider, and let's get started.

First order of business:  Catcher.

Three individuals to consider:  Fuck, marry, or kill—as the kids say.

Gary Sanchez
Austin Romine
Kyle Higashioka

Last off-season, supposedly, our esteemed general manager had the chance to trade Sanchez, even up for J.T. Realmuto.  If he really did pass that up, it should be considered a war crime and prosecuted as such.

Sancho did have a better season than last year, that much is true.  But hell, the Kurds are having a better season than Sancho's 2018.  (Sorry—too soon?)  He still seems like a shell of his 2016-2017 self, the man who reminded me of a young Johnny Bench.

Sancho was a .232 hitter this year, with an .841 OPS.  He's down to throwing out only 23 percent of runners, from his career high of 41%, and the passed balls just returned with alarming frequency in the playoffs.  About all he can still do is frame pitches well, and hit the occasional rocket blast into the bleachers.

One play would be to sign free agent Yasmani Grandal, and trade Sancho for the considerable number  of players he might still bring.  The trouble with that is, statistically—much as I would enjoy writing and saying "Yasmani" all year—Grandal is pretty much Sancho, four years older.

Romine is coming off his best year ever, 8 HRs, .281, .748 OPS, and throwing out a higher percentage of baserunners than Sancho (30%).  But he's also a free agent, unfortunately, and the temptation will be strong to let him walk and replace him with...

Higgy.  Who is also coming off his best year ever, which is, sadly, only .214 with three homers.

What would I do?  Go hard to sign Yasmani and deal Sanchez.  No, it won't be an upgrade over this year.  But it likely WILL be an upgrade over what Sancho will likely degenerate to, very quickly, in New York, and the return he would bring right now would be considerable.

The risk, of course, is that elsewhere—with competent coaching—Sancho will bloom again and achieve the stardom he seemed to be headed for.  But that will surely not happen in the Bronx.

WWCCD? (What Will Cooperstown Cashman Do?):  Almost certainly marry Gary—that is, leave him where he is—and let Romine walk.  Higgy will then become the new back-up until, Coops will tell us, his two big catching prospects, on whom he squandered the Yanks' first and second draft picks in 2018, make the majors (spoiler alert:  they won't).

What Would YOU Do?







Watching that smug little Jose Altuve, awaiting the Cashman purges

Eight weeks from now, baseball's winter meetings will open in some wretched, Trumpian hell-scape of golf and cleavage. By then, the Death Star will have already begun clearing the gristle from 2019, with Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman dealing bodies like a slumlord flipping Section 8 high-rises. Cash has no choice. Without a culling of the herd, the Yankees will lose big in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, the weirdest realignment of personnel in all of professional sports.

In the Rule 5, each team gets to protect 40 players, leaving the rest of its farm system open to be poached. But there's a catch: The drafted player must remain all year on his new team's 25-man roster  In recent winters, the Yankees lost Mike Ford and Nestor (Octavio) Cortes Jr., only to have them returned in the final days of spring training. This year, both will surely be protected...

Unless they're traded first.  

Cashman's dilemma is simple: He has way too many MLB-ready players to protect. Thus, we should expect a whirlwind of minor trades designed to wrangle low-level talent for players they'd otherwise lose for a stack of Mallo Cup coupons.

Despite his considerable blind spots, Cashman has gotten good at this. For several years now, he's dealt Triple A meat for credible Rookie League arms, simultaneously culling and restocking the herd. Actually, he started in September, when Ryan McBroom went out the door for that venerable prospect from Kansas City, Jose Future Considerations. Yeah, it's a handful of magic beans, but beats the bar of Neutragena that comes from the draft. McBroom -- whom we once acquired for Brigadoon Refsnyder in a similar deal - had a solid year in Scranton. He looks like a Luke Voit type, and would surely have been drafted. So, maybe Future Considerations can pitch in Pulaski. 

In the meantime, to avoid having to think of that insufferable runt at 2B, let's look at the 40-man roster - the players we must soon protect.

Pitchers: (22) Paxton, Ottavino, Britton, Loaisiga, Kahnle, Heller, Green, Severino, Tanaka, German, Cessa, Garcia (Devie), Montgomery, Albert Abreu, Michael King, Cortes, Chance Adams, Happ, Tarpley, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina, Roansy Contreras.

Catchers (3): Sanchez, Romine, Higashioka.


Infielders (9): Bird, Voit, Ford, Andujar, LeMahieu, Urshela, Torres, Estrada, Wade.

Outfielders (7): Hicks, Judge, Frazier, Maybin, Tauchman, Stanton, Estevan Florial.

That's already 41, and it doesn't count the hangers-on, Tyler Lyons and Corey "Toe Tapper" Gearin, or the impending free agents Didi Greorius and Brett Gardner, two of the most beloved Yankees in the decade. Nor does it cover the possibility that Aroldis Chapman forgoes free agency to stay with the team. (It's hard to imagine Edwin Encarnacion returning, but you never know.) And then there is - gulp - Jacoby Ellsbury. (Note: There will always be Jacoby Ellsbury.) The Yankees are like that used car guy on TV: We're overstocked! Everything must go!

The Yankees' list of top prospects tilts heavy toward arms. In some rating systems, 8 of the top 10 are pitchers. That's exciting and depressing, when you ponder how many coveted elbows will go through the shredder. Sadly, it looks as though the franchise will rely on scouts - rather than my opinions - to determine who to protect.  

The 14-year-old in us wants Cashman to bundle five certifiable clods in exchange for Max Scherzer. If we're lucky, he will get someone who warrants protection in 2022. It's not a crap-shoot. It's a lottery. But soon, a bunch of Yankees will disappear, and only then will the true hot stove league begin. For now, we're stuck licking our wounds and watching Altuve. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How Giancarlo Stanton became that girl in your high school play

Remember her?  The one with the green eyes and the way she had of flipping her hair that, well, just made your heart flip, too?

She was the lead in all of the Drama Club's musical productions.  And after graduation, she announced that she was going to New York to become a real Broadway actress.

You tried to break it to her easy.  You told her, "Gee, I know you can sing and dance, Alyssa, but, wow, that New York is a pretty unforgiving town."

And she flipped her hair again, and gave you that enigmatic smile that she developed from being the prettiest person in the room all her life, and told you, "Oh, I think it will be all right."

And she said it with such confidence that you even began to doubt yourself, and thought, well, maybe you just didn't want her to leave town.

And then she went to New York, and found out that while she could sing and dance a little, there were plenty of people there who could sing and dance even better, and who knew how to act, and yeah, it was a really tough town.  Until after about ten years of waiting tables she went back to school in business communications, and at your 20th high school reunion she tried to sell you life insurance.

That's our Giancarlo.

The Marlins thought they had a deal done to trade him to St. Louis, if I recall correctly.

That's a nice town for a ballplayer, St. Loo.  Great front office, always a contender.  A nice, warm, welcoming Midwestern college atmosphere, where they all wear the team colors in the ballpark.  The kind of place somebody who had never played games that much counted could feel right at home.

But no.

Like the pretty, green-eyed girl in all our hometowns, Giancarlo knew he wanted the big time.  He knew he could play on the big stage, and walk in the footsteps of the gods, and be a matinee idol.

He knew all these things until he got here, and couldn't go when it counted.

His leg hurt, and maybe his side ached, and he just didn't feel right, not right enough to actually play, even though the houselights were down and the footlights were on, and the tickets were all sold and everybody was waiting for him to appear.

And he couldn't do it.

Of course it's not really the same with Giancarlo as with that green-eyed girl.  Mostly because Giancarlo has already made nearly $89 million playing baseball, and has another $234 million guaranteed, which will be enough to take care of him and all the little Giancarlos and their descendants unto the generations.

But now he's finding out that it's not so easy and not so much fun to play on the biggest stage of all—not unless Reggie or Derek Jeter, or the Babe, at least.  And sometimes not even for them.

It's hard, it's unforgiving, and unless he somehow redeems himself very fast—something Giancarlo Stanton does not seem in the least equipped to do, physically or mentally—his every footstep is going to be dogged by the Furies here in NYC.

Now we're hearing word that he would like very much to leave.  That he would rather go to L.A., or...St. Louis.

That's nice—but it's too late.  To trade Giancarlo Stanton now would be for Brian Cashman to admit he made a mistake, and that's not something that Brian Cashman does.  And even if he wanted to, nobody is going to lay out that sort of cash to pay Giancarlo Stanton's contract, least of all Mr. Halliburton Q. Steinbrenner.

So there we are.  The moral of our story is that it's not a small thing to know what you want, before you go after it.  Because he did not, Mr. Stanton is going to spend a lot of time making us and himself very, very miserable here in New York.






Soon, Nats or Astro fans will join us in the dark certainty that they wuz robbed

This is untimely to say, given the sad death of MLB umpire Eric Cooper, age 52, due to a blood clot. And let's wish for a speedy recovery for ump Jeff Nelson, who took a foul to the head in game three of the ALCS, and who won't return this month. These guys are blue collar heroes, troopers, salt of the earth, in every sense. But last week's Yankee-Astros series showcased on national TV an arbitrary, haphazard system of calling balls and strikes - a minefield of mistakes that altered the course of every game. It was awful. 

You cannot predict baseball, Suzyn. But here is a certainty: Next week, either the Astros or Nats will be sitting at home, kicking puppies, knowing they were were screwed by bad calls on balls and strikes.  

Time after time last week, the Yanks and Astros dealt with botched home plate calls - so often and so blatantly that the Fox announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz had to mention it - amazing revelations for employees who are paid handsomely to look the other way. But when the strike zone automation shows a pitch eight inches off the plate, and it's called a strike - well, you cannot un-see it. Last week, with supposedly the finest umps in the game, blown calls happened with regularity. 

And each one carried a huge impact. A count that should be 2-1 becomes 1-2, putting the batter at a huge disadvantage. (How often this year did Aaron Judge become victim to an imaginary strike zone worthy of Andre the Giant?) And here's the dirty little secret: They don't equal out. 

That's the crapola they feed us: That the occasional bad call gets balanced out by another bad call. When Gary Sanchez came up in the critical 11th inning of Game Two, his single at bat lasted 10 pitches and eight minutes. At one point, instant replay showed Sanchez striking out, though the ump declared it a foul tip. A few pitches later, the ump called out Sanchez on a pitch well off the plate. So, said the spin doctors, everything came out fine in the end, right? Justice was served, and Sanchez went down. But that's bullshit. 

Several times last week, close calls at first base were overturned - in this case, they regularly favored favor Houston. But who can grouse? The calls were done correctly, forensically, and the right decision was made. There were no arguments, no screaming matches. The players simply turned and yelled for a replay, and one was done. It worked quite smoothly. 

But at home plate, there are no challenges, no replay, and numerous at bats were corrupted by horrible calls, dramatically changing the outcomes. 

When Aroldis Chapman faced George Springer in the fateful bottom of the ninth of game six, it looked as though one of the pitches clipped the corner - but the ump called it outside. Thus changed the dynamics of the entire at-bat. Instead of striking out, Springer walked, pissing off El Chapo and setting up Jose Altuve for the final home run. Well, so be it. Good riddance. But in the course of that game, the calls did not even-out. I don't buy that. For my money, they favored Houston. (Yes, I'm biased, but I know what I saw.) 

As we speak, the NFL faces an existential crisis due to the stark inability of refs to police the game. On virtually every play, some penalty occurs. It's a crap shoot as to which one gets flagged. New replay reviews of pass interference - an almost impossible penalty to define - have only made the game more frustrating. I'm a lifelong Giants fan. In part because the horror show of the franchise, I've found games almost impossible to watch. But one huge problem is the number of flags that fly - canceling big plays with the knowledge that other transgressions were simply missed. Maybe football is too popular to fail, but with every 10-minute video replay delay, the game becomes harder to watch.

Comparatively speaking, baseball has no such problem. Instant replays can be amazingly easy. For decades, umps fought video reviews; now, they quickly go to the booth and make the right call. 

I have always believed the zeitgeist of umpires should have changed with the millennium. Long ago, umps were big, brawny cops - 300-pound linebackers who ruled the game with shouts and fierce stares - God bless 'em. For better or worse, they shepherded the pastime for 100 years. But today, the burly man thing doesn't work. For starters, umps shouldn't rotate: The first base ump should be a specialist, who always works there. He should be young, tech savvy and carry an iPad. Rather than make a call, he should quickly use his own camera and other video angles - with full transparency on the Jumbo-tron - to get it right the first time. (The fact than an ump on the field made the wrong call should not affect the video decision; this bit about "overturning the on-field call" is pure crapola. Often, that call is wrong.) The right call should take 30 seconds, not five minutes and a commercial break. We can wait for it. Once a call is challenged, we have to wait five minutes, anyway.

Likewise, it's time for automated home plate trials in the minor leagues. They should start in the low levels, so that prospects of every franchise are affected. By including it slowly, the full impact of automated balls and strikes can be tweaked, so eventually the network cams - which give every player the same strike zone - can be perfected. In three to five years, a change could be made at the Major League level.

Before you start screaming, listen: It's going to happen, eventually. 

Yes, I realize that such a change will rob the professional game of yet more of those homespun, cracker barrel vagaries of humanity. Well, that ship sailed long ago. Baseball's great bond with its fans comes in the high school and Little League levels, where there's always an insurance agent or firefighter behind the plate, earning $10 per game. That won't change. But at the corporate, billion dollar level of MLB, why are we still pretending the human element is sacred? It's been thrown overboard since we were young.

Sometime next week, we Yankee fans will be joined by our counterparts from either Washington or Houston. They will suffer from a form of PTSD. They will have watched their team - in crucial at bats - get certifiably robbed. The calls won't balance out. One team will simply get screwed. All condolences to Mr. Cooper and Mr. Nelson. But it's time to start the change.

Tyler Kepner Does a Victory Dance on the Yankees' Corpse

Yup, you knew it was coming.  Sure, the fogies at the Times can't stay up late enough to actually report the playoff games.  But they took their revenge by running Kepner's incoherent "analysis" today.

There's no other paper in any other town that would run such a piece, gloating over the loss of the only sports team left standing in the city.  But your New York Times—the paper that would rather cover women's ice hockey than baseball—couldn't resist a great big sneer and a snicker over the Yankees' loss.

Kepner used the occasion to point out that the Yankees have now NOT won the World Series in postseason play, more often than they HAVE won it.

Gee willikers.  Wonder how long he's been hanging on to that piece of statistical merriment?

OF COURSE, once MLB, in all its wisdom, started letting not just the two league winners in the postseason—but the two best teams in each league—and then the top one-third of ALL the teams—it was going to become easier and easier to LOSE in October.

Statistically, this is meaningless.  If they let EVERY team into the playoffs, then ALL of them would lose more often.

But Kepner then adds cowardice to stupidity by opining—correctly—that the Yanks won't win without acquiring better starting pitchers, especially in free agency.  He even quotes Zack(h) Britton to that effect.

Why is this cowardice?

Because in pretty much the same breath, he tells us:

It would be foolish to question the effort of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and his staff, or the commitment of the Steinbrenners, who have spent more than $1 billion on salaries in the last five seasons, roughly $400 million more than the Astros. But wealthy teams have the luxury of options, and it is fair to wonder if the Yankees have chosen the right ones.

Missing from that critique is that the raw numbers on spending mean diddly-squat.  The Yankees make a ton.  "$1 billion over five years" is $200 million a year.

For the Yanks, that's not a fortune.  In fact, the Yankees spend a smaller percentage of their revenue on payroll today than any other team.

But to write such a thing would be to draw the ire of HAL and Brian.  They might stop returning Kepner's phone calls to elicit their usual, anodyne quotes.

Look, there is only one way that your New York Yankees are ever going to win another world championship.  That is with top-flight starting pitching.

Since they have failed abjectly, over and over again, to develop such pitching, there is only one way they can acquire it, which is through free agency.

And since HAL will not spend on free agent pitchers, there is no way to acquire it.

That is the actual logic of the situation.

Not Tyler Kepner spitting in the eye of Yankees' fans, while cravenly kowtowing to Yankee ownership.












Monday, October 21, 2019

Now, what?

Nah, I can't do this. It just seems so wrong, so cheap, so brown-noserly, to be revving up the Yankee hot stove league... in mid-October. Nope, it feels demeaning, humiliating, as if we are trained circus mice, performing tricks for the billionaire heirs, who have already boarded the private jet for Fiji. Nope, it's just so insect-like: Hey, everybody! What should the Yankees do? Gee-willickers, Michael, let's go down the 40-man, and see what to look forward to in 2020! Get excited, folks! The winter meetings are just around the corner!
Weeeeeeeee!
 


Nope. No can do. It's still too raw. It still hurts too much. For me, all of 2019 pivoted on Cashman's original winter sin: The decision to ignore Patrick Corbin - a North Syracuse guy who grew up wanting to pitch for the Yankees - in favor of J.A. Happ. They refused to offer Corbin a six-year deal, even though at the end of it, he'd still be younger than Happ. So, Happ flounders all year and never even warranted a post-season start. In the end, we had no ace, and the Astros had three. Had we won Saturday night, surely, today we'd be grieving over the loss to Geritt Cole. The reality of Yankee management in 2019 was starkly simple: We were brilliant in signing position players, but we never built a rotation. Unfortunately, baseball is 90 percent pitching, pitching, pitching. We didn't want to pay for it - not with Corbin, not with Dallas Keuchel, not with anyone. In the end, that fundamental goof - the cheapness of it all - it took us down. 

Nope, I can't start yahooing about 2020. It hurts too much. Of course, we have building blocks: LeMahieu, Gleyber, Judge, Urshela, Severino, and maybe Miguel Andujar. After that, I dunno anymore. We have no options with Giancarlo Stanton; he is a forever Yankee, just Bobby Bonilla will die a Met. Right or wrong, Aroldis Chapman will always be remembered for blowing big games, and Dellin Betances - due to the stupidity of his injury - is this generation's Q-Tips Henry Cotto. Gary Sanchez? Edwin Encarnacion? Even Sur Didi... no, it's too soon. The names just hurt too much. 

I believe the problem with the Yankees is their built-in echo chamber of sychophants. They own the primary media that covers them, and thus, they control access to everybody else. We get most of our news from YES, and it's a constant drumbeat of corporate talking points. Last year, we heard them gush over the Happ signing. Soon, they'll have something else for us. Right now, I don't want to think about it. Just hope for a volcano in Fiji. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Nice Work Hal, Brian.....


As the Yankees lay buried 'neath the loam of Houston, a decade of futility dies with them.

Hal has overseen...."I'm Not Cheap Hal".....the first decade since 1910 in which the Yankees made not a single visit to the World Series.

This is like one of those records for an Army General....who lost every war in which he led troops.  I won't say " fought" because troops fight, not generals.  Nothing to show but a lot of dead soldiers.

Hal is like them.. Only richer.  He inherited billions and hates his baseball responsibilities.  And he has failed at them with savagery.  Setting records for incompetence.

If he didn't own the Yankees, no matter what he did in his life, no one would notice.  He could have a vapid, 365 days and no one would care ( no one cares now, but they do notice ).

He is one of those people who succeed even when they fuck up, as the Yankees grow richer but worse.

I agree with Duque that this is no time to discuss the future.

I will simply say this;  with Giancarlo a Yankee ( Hal's major purchase ), there is no future.  See you in 2027, when the Yankees will renew his contract.

Brian must now be fired.  He has danced and strutted too no avail.

Autumn leaves.....the last good day of the year....family holidays and football..the first snow.

Dead again.  Far too early.

There will be a time to discuss the failure of 2019. Today, I got nothing.

So, how's the weather where you are? Someone told me there's a tropical storm making its way across Georgia. That should really be something. Tropical storms can do a lot of damage. If you're going out, don't forget to take an umbrella. I can't tell you the name of the storm... maybe, Aroldis? NO, NOT THAT! Something else...

Have you seen the new fall TV shows? I hear they're really something. Do any stand out? I've got time to kill. Have any of you seen Succession? It's about the billionaire kids of a super-rich family, jostling for control of a worldwide conglomerate. I think their names are Hal, Hank, Jenif - NOOOO.

Maybe I should get a cat. I could write about the funny things it does. You could comment about your cat, and the funny things they do Every now and then I could post cute pictures of our cats. That would be really something. We could name the blog cat... um... Gary? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

There are all sorts of things to do. Book club? Ballroom dance lessons? Have any of you tried goat yoga? I know a goat. His name is Giancarl-NOOOOOOOOO.

Excuse me. I'm going back to bed. Last night, I couldn't sleep. Nothing but bad dreams. I kept finding myself on a sinking boat. The captain didn't know what to do. I've had that dream many times. It's really something. Me? I got nothing.

The lost Yankee decade


Saturday, October 19, 2019

My Favorite Episode Of The Love Boat Was When Jennifer Steinbrenner Donated Money To Cover The Emergency Surgery For The Passenger Played By Vic Tayback

Image result for jennifer steinbrenner check

"Don't let us win one."

The cry of the Red Sox' chief "idiot" from 2004, Kevin Millar, which still sends a frisson of fear down my spine.

He said it while warming up before Game 4 of the Series That Will Live In Infamy, the 2004 ALCS, and at the time it seemed like just so much more insufferable Red Sox bravado.

Boston, after all, had just suffered a horrendous, 19-8 loss in a monsoon at Fenway, to go down 3-0 in games, a hole no baseball team had ever climbed out of before.  They looked to be out of pitchers, dispirited, dead.  A major housecleaning was certainly about to come, in the front office and on the field, and surely goodness and mercy would follow us all the days of our lives, and we would live in the House That Ruth Built forever.

Well, it didn't work out that way, and I won't raise the hackles on the back of your neck by recalling anymore of it.

Suffice it to say that the lesson here is you don't let teams hang around.

Give them a day, and a win, and all those hangdog memories of a miserable loss begin to fade away.

I'm fully aware that, in baseball, momentum is the next day's pitcher.  Tonight is "a bullpen game," idiotically enough, and Houston has the better bullpen, despite all the nonsense the Gammonites spew.  And after that, should they somehow win, all our boys have to do is defeat the best pitcher in baseball at the moment.

But...but...

If you were a Houston fan—heaven forbid—wouldn't last night have freaked you out a little?

Wouldn't you have sat back, a sack full of pork rinds on one side, the cup full of Colt .45 you've been forcing yourself to drink just for the playoffs on the other, and prepared yourself for an enjoyable evening of watching your boys beat the Yankees on their home field and silence the Great House?

Wouldn't you have been surreptitiously running your eyes over possible pitching match-ups with Washington, even as you loudly told your friends, 'Hey, it ain't over yet, anything can happen!'

Uh-huh.  And then that top of the first inning, with Sancho reverting to his old ways trying to track down balls, a gift run for Verlander.  Surely the Astros were on their way.  You stopped sipping the Colt .45, thinking of that bottle of champagne you'd stored away in the fridge...

And then—Hicks' ball bangs off the foul pole (Shouldn't a shot like that count for an extra run?  And shouldn't it be "the fair pole," as Warner Wolf would remind us?).

Only two guys have hit 3-run homers off Verlander all year, and they both go long on him in the first inning, The General and Hicks.

And that's it!  No more scoring the whole game, while you have to watch those terrible animals in the Stadium screech and preen and yell juvenile insults at your fine young ballplayers.

Sure, you think it's still in the bag.  Sure, you're telling yourself that there's no way they're taking two in Houston.

But a bullpen game.  Anything can happen.

And then there's Cole, who beat your New York Yankees even when he was far from his best, on a cold, miserable night at Yankee Stadium.  Cole, who's won, what now?  18 straight games?  Second best winning streak in all of major-league history?

Huh.  That's impressive.  But, you know, isn't it time for a glitch?  Isn't that what happens with the finest of streaks?  Something goes just a little bit wrong.  An error, a freak hit.  A ball hitting the fair pole...

I'm not saying we're going to win.  If you put a gun to my head and said 'Bet your life savings on who will win this ALCS,' I would put it all on the Houston Astronauts.

But still.

"Don't let us win one..."







The terrifying epiphany of Local Bargain Jerk...

From his comments in the earlier post, on attending last night's game...

"Giancarlo came to the plate with two runners on, and I turned to the 20-something kid next to me who was there with his dad. I said, "Hmmm, now what do you think Stanton's going to do?" He looked at me and knew what was on my mind and said, "I'm looking for a three-run bomb right here. That would be nice." Then he laughed hysterically, and so did I. I looked over to the WFAN booth to see if I could catch sight of John S. and Suzyn, when my eyes fell on the banner above the media booths. The banner said something about the Yankees being the proud winners of 27 World Series titles.

"I looked back to the plate and watched Stanton strike out. We were sitting along the 3rd base line in the infield, and I noticed that Stanton wears #27. And I had this horrifying insight:

     "We will be stuck at 27 WS victories for as long as #27's contract wears on..."

Two games left to determine Happ from Haplessness.

I watched last night's game in a Baltimore tavern that offered 32 ounce drafts of Natty Bo in plastic cups the size of recycling bins. It had TVs bracketed strategically along the walls; the big screens showing hockey, the rest tuned to the ALCS.

Quickly, the bar made its allegiance known. When Aaron Hicks homered in the first, the place exploded. (Thank you, Baltimore.) And the night's loudest cheer came in the sixth, when Aaron Boone chose to stick with James Paxton. For the first time all series, Boone showed faith in a starter, prompting a roar of approval. The next Astro nearly homered - Gardy snared it at the wall - and you could feel all those heart-of-hearts Orioles fans desperately pulling at their Natty Bo's. 

So, we won a night. Whoopie, you might say. We won a trip to Houston, a chance to be humiliated in their home park, like a cat playing with a half-dead mouse. Tonight's game should be a match of bullpens - a duel that would on paper favor the Yankees. After all, we are reputed to have the best bullpen in the post-season, if not in baseball. But I dunno. Seems to me, as weird as 2019 has been, everything tonight boils down to J.A. Happ. 

It won't matter who starts the game. At the most, Mean Chad Green would pitch two innings, and if we're lucky, keep the Astros from gaining a quick stranglehold. Soon after, the Yankees need three to four innings from somebody, and that's what Happ is for. (After him, it's Loiasiga, Cessa and Ben Heller, who was added to the roster after CC's painful self-immolation.) The only way Boone goes to any of them is if Happ melts down, as he did in the extra innings of game two. So, he will either be an official goat of the 2019 post-season - along with Gary, or the Parrot, or Gia-no-show, or Didi or.. you get the picture, right? 

Happ is 37. He has pitched for the Phillies, Mariners, Blue Jays, Pirates and - wouldn't you know? - the Astros. His break-out year was 2009 in Philadelphia, when he went 12-4 with an ERA under three. From there, he bounced around,  floundering at every stop - until 2016, in Toronto, where he figured out how to pitch. Two years later, we gave up Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney for him, in part because he was supposed to have a thing over Boston. But he never did. Last year, in the playoffs against the Redsocks, he lasted two innings and gave up five runs. Last winter, he offered the Yankees are bargain deal, and they signed him for two years at $10 million. So here we are.

J.A. Happ. Wouldn't you know? I'm not sure whether the juju gods have already made their decision on tonight. But one thing is for sure: they are enjoying themselves. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Might As Well

Here are my final baseball thoughts for this season;

We should start all the guys who got us here.

Romine at catcher
Luke at first
Maybin  and Tauchman ( is he healthy?) in outfield, along with Judge
Frazier if Tauchman is unable
Mike Ford at DH
Chad Green as designated starter.
Tyler Wade as pinch runner

There is an old saying.." you gotta dance with the one what brung ya.."

Think Boone has the guts?

Think he has any guts?


A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words...




After the third out in the bottom of the ninth today.  At yankee stadium.

It's deja-vu all over again.

I was going to write that last night’s performance was the worst one I’d ever seen from a Yankees team in October. Then I realized that I’d seen it all before.

Remember 2006? That was the year the Yanks had the lineup Jim Leyland described as “Murderers’ Row plus Cano.” The team scored 930 runs that season, and went into the ALDS a heavy favorite against Leyland’s sagging Tigers.

But after an impressive, overpowering win in the series opener, Mike Mussina painstakingly, agonizingly gave away a 3-1 lead in Game Two, at the Stadium. (A young pitcher named Justin Verlander got the start in that one for Detroit.)

After that, they were down to starting a very old Randy Johnson (17-11, 5.00), and Jaret Wright (11-7, 4.49). Guys like Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Villone, and a pitched-out Scott Procter were in the bullpen.

Things quickly went from bad to worse. In Detroit, they were shutout by Kenny Rogers (!), and then all the wheels came off in Game 4, as they made two errors and could score only two runs off Jeremy Bonderman.

A-Rod hit .071 on the series, and was dropped to 8th in the order by the last game. Sheffield hit .083, Cano, .133. 

Sound familiar?

It’s pretty much the same thing every year, with the shining exception of 2009. And even that season, the Yanks ended up having to pitch Andy Pettitte on short rest.

Nearly every year since Brian Cashman let 700 wins walk off the team with Pettitte, Clemens, and Wells after the 2003 season—and got nothing in return—the Yanks have gone into the playoffs with a team full of muscle-bound sluggers but short on starting pitching, and usually thin in the bullpen and on the bench as well.

Throw in poor fundamentals, some atrocious fielding and inexplicable managerial decisions, and voila! You have the recipe for one dreary slog after another through the postseason.

2004: superior Red Sox pitching eventually shuts down the Yanks’ bats, there’s no one to replace Olerud when he gets hurt, and NYY tries to win Game 7 with Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez.

2005, a crucial error by A-Rod, another awful start by Randy Johnson, and, go no, Aaron Small comes out small. 2007, Joba is eaten alive by midges as his manager looks on, and the Yanks hit a rousing .228 on the Series. 

2010, shut down by Cliff Lee, the big starter the Yanks couldn’t get (hey, they would’ve had to give up Jesus Montero!), and 2011-2012, Verlander again, and Keuchel in 2015, and the Astros in 2017, and Stanton flailing last year…

I would write that this happens again and again and again. But that’s not really accurate. Eleven times out of their last 12 postseasons, your New York Yankees have been eliminated in almost exactly the same manner.

It’s more like: again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

And, oh yeah, once it worked.

If you had an old car that wouldn’t start 11 days out of 12, you’d junk it. If you had a truck stop lighter that wouldn’t light 11 times out of 12, you’d throw it away.


And if your team loses in the exact same way 11 times out of 12…well, you tune in again next year.

"Defeat is one thing..."

"...disgrace is another."

—Winston Churchill

I believe I will pass on Five Times Pettitte's dismal 3 2/3 this evening—the man with the perfect, sepulchral face for what will surely be tonight's sepulchral Stadium, round about the midnight hour.

In the four-and-a-half hours this funeral procession will take, I could read one of the world's great books.  Or, you know, drink a lot of bourbon, watch "Hell or High Water" again, and fall asleep on the couch.

Both alternatives seem like very heaven, compared to trying to watch yet another Yankees team stagger through the postseason game.

It will be, I believe, the first time EVER that a Yankees team has lost three straight postseason games at home.

Indeed, my only remaining regret for this version of your New York Yankees is that tonight's game is not being played in Houston.

I truly wish they could be forced to fly down to Houston, endure their next, miserable loss there, and then have to fly all the way back.  Then they would have some small clue of what it felt like to watch that game last night.


" It's Time Now to Go, for everything must end......


Last night, as soon as Tanka gave up the three run blast, I checked out. No more Yankee baseball.

It was obvious to me that this was not our year.  We really have no means of beating Houston.

We don't have the pitching and we don't have enough clutch hitting.

I could not stand the joy, energy and relentless grit of the Houston players.  I couldn't watch their great defensive plays and gloating.

More to the point, I couldn't watch the listless, flailing, lost Yankees.

 This series represents bullying, at its highest level.

Of course, there are one or two Yankee players to applaud, but this is a  luxury bus that got stuck in the mud with several blown out tires.  And it was raining hard.

There will be fans who show up today and many will sincerely believe this team is not dead.  I hope they are right.

But they are dead to me.  Gary's strikeout in the first inning with the bases loaded was classic.  It was predictable and it was pathetic.  I read that he later homered.  He hit a pitch out "that no one else could have hit out. " So what?  The game was over.

So now we turn the page and begin to paste together another contender.  Lose a bunch of people we should lose, but retain a larger bunch of people no one will take, and with whom
 we are forever " stuck."

Question marks abound, but one thing is clear;  we don't have the pitching, and have no way to get it. Hal ( " I'm not cheap") will see to it that he saves money to pay for Giancarlo.

Can someone please remember to turn out the lights?

......we'll meet again I know, knowing (hoping) time is my friend."


A wipe-out, worse than last year, casts its shadow over 2019

Soon - tonight, probably - everything will end. 

The sense that 2019 was a year of destiny? It will slink away in an avalanche of boos and catcalls. That "Next Man Up" slogan, which became our rallying cry? We'll never hear it again without wincing. That fantasy belief that the Yankees are baseball's gold standard in October? It will become a punch line. Next spring, the Yankees will be New York's second team, a notch below the Mets.

A sea change is occurring, and the Yankees - bloated by nepotism and front office hubris - are about to sink within their own, high-priced quicksand. 

The fan base has been loyal soldiers for an entire generation, and our elders recall an era when the Yankees were the bankable commodity of every post-season - the team that played its best on the national stage.

Well, the Astros are about to burn us down in our house, as Boston did last fall, and as other teams have done with regularity, if not ease, for the entire decade. The twenty-teens are about to end with nothing to show but watered-down plaques in Monument Park, remnants of better times, long ago.

Last night, the Yankees bade adieu to CC Sabathia, who limped off the mound and into retirement, if not a wheelchair. Tonight, I believe we will see the last Yankee moments of Didi Gregorius, a beloved player who simply didn't turn out to be the hitter we needed. It could be the end of the warhorse, Brett Gardner, whose game - despite the HRs, (which, frankly, everybody in baseball hit this year) - continues to slide. 

Nobody will miss Edwin Encarnacion, who didn't last long enough to build a legacy, and whose failures when it mattered will stick to his career like gum to a shoe. And if Aroldis Chapman declares free agency, as he might, he will be gone as well. 

This may also be the end for Gary Sanchez, whose lengthy, pants-dropping swings seem to ensure that good pitchers will always get him out. For the Yankees, catcher has always been the most mystical position, even more so than the glamour positions of CF or SS. From Dickey to Yogi to Elston to Thurman... and even to Joe Girardi... the Yankee catcher was always a firebrand, the player who led his team in the clutch. That's simply not Gary, and it never will be. He'll hit 30 HRs, and a few will win games in July, but in the pennant race, he's not the spark plug that we need. He's just a guy who, in the course of a season, hits 30 mistakes out the park. I doubt the Yankees will get much for him in the off-season. But I think a new catcher will be on Cooperstown Cashman's Christmas wish list.

Ahh... Cooperstown Cashman. I wonder how many more years he'll get to chase a ring? The Gammonites charitably credit him for the great Joe Torre teams of 1996-2000, but the truth is, they were built by Gene Michael and Bob Watson. Only 2009 - the year the Yankees bought CC, Tex and AJ Burnett - brought a ring that Cashman can legitimately claim all to himself. This season was going to cement his legacy as a Yankee GM. Now, he falls into a different category - of front office lugs whose teams always finished second.

Tonight, everything will probably end. And the reason is starkly simple: The Astros just have a better team.  


Thursday, October 17, 2019

UNLEASH THE JUJU... NOW!

OKAY, EVERYBODY... 

WE WAITED ALL YEAR FOR THIS... 


GET IN FRONT OF YOUR TV 

AND LET'S BRING IT ON!

T-MINUS FIVE MINUTES AND COUNTING...

THE GLOBAL EMERGENCY JUJU INTERVENTION IS ALMOST HERE.



Here is a Question....or two



If Houston had to bench Verlander or Cole for the entire post season, how might it impact them?

What is Domingo Herman doing tonight, and where is he?

If Domingo's offense was so horrid, why is there no police involvement?

Why has this event been sent to the underworld of silence?

Why am I bereft of hope?

UNION OF CONCERNED YANKEE SCIENTISTS INCHES YANKEE DOOMSDAY CLOCK CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT

AWAITING THE EMERGENCY JUJU INTERVENTION TONGHT... 8:31 P.M. E.D.T.


"And yet, he persisted."

Great moments in Yankees history:

Babe Ruth:  I just spent the night in a brothel, drinking all the beer and bootleg whiskey my gut could hold.  Let's play two!

Lou Gehrig:  I will stay in the lineup until I am literally dying.

Joe DiMaggio:  I hadn't played in months, and my heel felt like it was full of burning hot needles every time I took a step.  Then one day it felt better, so I went out and took batting practice until my hands were bloody.  The next day, I went up to Boston on the afternoon flight and chalked up 4 homers and 9 ribbies in 3 games, turning around the whole season.  While a plane flew overhead with a banner reading, "The Great DiMaggio."

Yogi Berra:  After DiMag criticized my work ethic, I caught 140-150 games in 5 seasons out of six.

Mickey Mantle:  Sometimes I would amuse my teammates by showing them how many ways I could turn my knee around.  Another time, I let them look down into my leg while it was being taped and they swore they could see the bone, and then there was that torn ACL they never did repair.  But hey, I'd have them wrap both legs from ankle to thigh then go out and hit another tape-measure home run or something.

Whitey Ford:  My last couple full seasons, I couldn't always feel my fingers.  Or occasionally my pitching arm.  But I still went 17-6 and 16-13.

Reggie Jackson:  My psycho manager benched me, humiliated me, and turned the whole city against me.  My teammates shunned me and fans harassed me.  But when I got my turn, I handed in a couple of the greatest postseasons ever.

Derek Jeter:  In one World Series game, I stayed in even though I thought my ankle was broken.  In a later playoff game, I stayed in until it was broken.

Alex Rodriguez:  Everybody hated me, and blamed me for everything.  But I hung in to win two MVPs and lead us to our last World Series title.  Ten years ago.

Mariano Rivera:  In the last game of that 2009 World Series, I had such a bad oblique pull that it even hurt to laugh, and I was sneaking a heating pad under my shirt in the bullpen.  I was sure that if the game went any longer, I couldn't go on.  So I got the last out.

Giancarlo Stanton:  I have a strain.

James Paxton:  My bottom hurts.





TONIGHT... MAYDAY... TONIGHT... WE ARE DECLARING A GLOBAL EMERGENCY YANKEE JUJU INTERVENTION

URGENT - URGENT - URGENT YANKEE MESSAGE
National Juju Service Syracuse NY
709 AM EDT Thurs Oct 24 2019


CAZ179>189-281915-
/O.CON.KHNX.EH.W.0002.190728T2000Z-190729T0300Z/
/O.CON.KHNX.HT.Y.0005.190729T2000Z-190730T0300Z/
Including the counties of Bronx, Queens, Albany, Broome, Onondaga, Chenango,
the cities of New York, Boston, New York, Providence, Hartford,
Elmira, Yonkers, Massena, Salem, Worcester, Cambridge, Utica, Goshen,
Jersey City, Ashtabula OH, Bakersfield, CA, Washington DC, and Houston, TX.
409 AM EDT Thursday Oct 24 2019

...THE NATIONAL YANKEE JUJU SERVICE HAS DECLARED
A GLOBAL EMERGENCY JUJU INTERVENTION ADVISORY,
BEGINNING AT 8:31 EDT THIS EVENING AND LASTING 
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE...

* OPPONENT BATTING AVERAGES of up to .450 are forecast for Thursday, 
with possible Yankee ERAs soaring above 9.00.

* THIS MAY BE ACCOMPANIED BY HEAVY WINDS AND RUN TOTALS
that break existing records. 



* IMPACTS...The runs and extreme immensity of these nine-inning beatings 
may cause stress, especially during extended exposure.

PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A GLOBAL EMERGENCY JUJU INTERVENTION requires all fans to take extra
precautions during prolonged Yankee exposure. When the game begins, fans
should avoid outside locations and/or reschedule strenuous activities 
to early morning, but plan to hover in front of their television, radio or 
juju porthole/ listening device for the next 72 to 250 hours. 



Wear body armor when possible and drink plenty of fluids, 
preferably including spiritual stimulants. 

Channel all existing bile into the television screen or radio wavelength 
indicator, and dispatch juju waves accordingly to the team on the field.



This event will begin in the BOTTOM OF THE FIRST INNING 
OF TONIGHT'S GAME, at approximately 8:31 p.m. EDT. 


At said moment, Yankee juju operatives across the nation will 
direct all personal and public juju waves toward the Yankees.



THIS IS NOT A TEST. THIS IS NOT AN OPTION. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING
TO TAKE LIGHTLY OR PRETEND YOU DID NOT SEE.

FOLLOWING THE LAST EMERGENCY JUJU INTERVENTION - JULY 28, 2019 - 
THE YANKEES WON 10 OUT OF THEIR NEXT 11 GAMES.  YOU CAN LOOK 
THIS UP. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. IN FACT, THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN
ANYTHING YOU HAVE EVER DONE IN YOUR SAD, MEASLY LIFE.



DO NOT BLOW IT.

THE GLOBAL JUJU INTERVENTION MAY INCLUDE VERBAL AND/OR NON-VERBAL TRANSMISSIONS, AND THEIR IMPACTS MAY BE DELAYED FOR SEVERAL MINUTES, AS THE RIZZUTONIC ENERGY FORCES COAGULATE
INTO A DIRECT IMPACT. WEAR LOOSE-FITTING UNDERWEAR.


To reduce risk during this juju event, the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent refreshment 
breaks. If a Yankee meltdown becomes imminent, call the Yankee 
Hotline - (911) and ask for "Food Stamps." 


A National Emergency Juju Intervention means that a potentially
season ending event is on the verge of happening. 
The combination of hot Houston pitchers and ice cold Yankee batters 
may combine to create a CATASTROPHIC DANGEROUS SITUATION 
in which Yankee fan disgust and disillusionment is likely. 

Repeat: Drink plenty of fluids, stay indoors, avoid
public exchanges with Houston (or Redsock) fans, and check on 
aging relatives, who may be unaware of the impending disaster.

Young children and pets should never be left unattended in 
front of a televised game. This is especially true during the top 
of each inning, when Astros scoring can reach lethal totals 
in a matter of minutes.

STAY ALERT. A GLOBAL EMERGENCY JUJU INTERVENTION means that
Yankee fans everywhere will be channeling their psyche toward 
New York City, in an attempt to avert a home field sweep and
regain control of the ALCS. Yes, this may appear to be pathetic and 
too late to do any good... but THIS IS NOT A TEST.

Stay tuned to this site for further instructions.

TONIGHT... TONIGHT... TONIGHT... 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Your Evening's Entertainment...

...in view of the rainout.  Adler, Ross, and I have already gotten to work on the musical version.  Here's a sample:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P0SplN4DTU

Whenever I’m
From time to time
Depressed
And the trauma wells
And swells
Within my breast
I find some pride
Deep inside 
Of me
As I proudly walk
The lane of memory…

I see Martin, a mean one,
If ever I seen one,
Turning Brooklyn’s dreams into a lovely blaze!
And what about our Reggie
Giving LaSorda a wedgie?
Yeah-heh-heh, those were the good old days!
I see Bucky a-homerin’
And the Sox goin’ home an’
Yaz popping up like he was in a daze!
And that glorious morn
Harry Frazee was born!
Yeah-heh-heh, those were the good old days!
I sit in my rocking chair
Peacefully rocking there,
Counting my blessings by the score!
Beating Braves was in fashion,
Kicking Cubs was our passion,
Each year held a new joy in store!
Was anybody happy? 
(Outside of the Bronx?)
I see Whitey a munchin’
On a Whiz Kids luncheon.
The years may have flown but the memory stays!
How Ichiro’s hopes were dashed,
When the Mariners crashed!
Yeah-heh-heh, those were the good old days!
I’d watch a million ads or more
Just for some of the gore
Of the good

Old

Days!!!

Spahn & Sain....And Pray For Rain

I don't think the Yankees are getting the break here, but the rain can't hurt.  Houston is just too hot right now.

We are going to face Verlander and Cole again anyway....unless we lose all games at the stadium.

Even so, their third starter is better than our first one. 

And even another great outing by Tanaka won't matter if we trot out the same dullards to kill rallies. 

Boone needs to do something useful and dramatic:

1.  Sit Sanchez down  - his time " to get hot" has run its course.

2.  Put Stanton on the injured list...his time as an active player has run its course.

3.  If Gio is injured ( I stopped watching the  embarassment yesterday, and then read some ominous line about Gio ) - bring up Ford and move the machine to third.

4.  Either sit Encarnacion or move him to 8th in the order.

4-A. Let Voit DH

5.  Cut some loser pitcher ( Ottavio?) and bring on Tyler wade.

If Boone can do nothing..or chooses not to....we can start packing for the long winter.

Rain out poetry jam

From Doug K

Training Room Heaven (To Rock and Roll Heaven)

If you believe in forever
and life is more than a home stand.
If there’s a training room heaven…
Well you know that their line up is grand, grand, grand.

Pavano gave us butt jokes,
Giancarlo breaks, each time, that he farts,
And Jacoby, well he stubs something, brand new each day-ay-ay.
and don’t forget our pal Luke Voit
the only thing not hurt is his heart.
They've all found a special place, where they don’t have to play.

If you believe in forever
and life is more than a home stand.
If there’s a training room heaven…
Well you know that is where they all land, land, land.

Remember Miguel AnDUjar,
He was once compared to Joe D.
We lost him, when he dove, back to the bag.
And Jordan Montgomery got the knife
I heard that he’s now back in town.
They're all sitting in a whirlpool
Instead of being in the show.

If you believe in forever
and life is more than a home stand.
If there’s a training room heaven…
Well you know that is where their comeback is planned, planned, planned.

There's no spotlight waiting
Just another seat at the bar
'cuz you ain’t helping get a ring
just a cumulative negative WAR.

If you believe in forever
and life is more than a home stand.
If there’s a training room heaven…
Then I hope it's run by Gene Monahan han han.