Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Drinksgiving, everybody

Don't let anybody say "Merry Drinksgiving." If they say that, punch them. 

We will win the war on Drinksgiving. And then prepare for the war to come.

Get ready for the big war!

This year, hoist a drink to...

1. The Master

2. His Acolyte

3. The Sunoco Broadcast Booth

4. The great Yankee tradition

5. The Yankee ownership

6. Our next manager

7. The Opposition

8. Our incredible athletes

9. Aaron Judge

10. IT IS HIGH readers everywhere!
Give yourselves a hand!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bird Wins !

We shall all be eating this before the Yankees have a new manager, or co-managers, or Russian twin managers, or a woman manager.

Do the math.

Eat the Bird.

Praise the Bird.

Sing to the Bird.

Invite Greg to dinner.

MLB All-Thanksgiving Team

1B   Stuffy McInnis
2B   Damian Rolls
SS   Joe Bean
3B   Spud Johnson

OF   Lawrence Plenty
OF   Turkey Stearnes
OF   Cranbarry Bonds

C    Yam Yaryan

RHP  Paul Stuffel, Tom Butters
LHP  Bob Sprout, Beany Jacobson

Mgr.  Pie Traynor 

The cheapest bidding war in baseball history is about to begin

As the baseball world prepares for the Japanese Babe Ruth, let us now praise those great men - the wisest and most courageous among us - who own. 

O, they are a special breed of man. They are wondrous in their magnitude, enormous in their value to society. Every day, they do the impossible: They own. The sit atop magnificent shit piles of money, occasionally shifting weight on their powdered fanny cheeks, to keep everything upright. We can see them up their in the clouds, sometimes deigning to tell us their plans through the assembled sportswriters. Make no mistake: They always win. They own us.

And remember that war between the owners and players - aka: employees - well, it's over. They won. 

Somehow, these pillars of capitalism managed to finagle the international posting rules between USA and Japan so that Shohei Otani's team - aka: the owner - will receive a mountain of money - about $20 million - but Otani's income will be capped at around $3.5 million, roughly the compensation for a utility infielder with bad knees. In a few years, he'll be able to cash-in, as long as he hasn't thrown out his shoulder or broken an ankle. In the meantime, I hope he can afford insurance.

Because the Texas Rangers somehow have accumulated the most international pool money to spend - $3,535,000 - that's Otani's pie-in-the-sky limit. That's because those free market owners happen to love payroll and salary caps as much as they do public-supported tax breaks. And Texas can outspend the Yankees by $35,000, clam dip money. 

To succeed, the Yankees must recruit Otani through the luster and romance of New York City, but let's be honest: If the guy loves floods and mass shootings, we cannot compete with Texas.

Of course, all this is complicated. Get out your abacus. But remember that longstanding feud between the the owners and players is a thing of the last millennium. Yeah, there are always a few overpaid and insufferable players - the media-hating David Prices and that turncoat out in Seattle, the one who jogs out grounders - but we cannot complain about how much the owners bank, because we don't get to see their bottom lines. We can only see their bottoms, winking at us from atop the shit pile.

So let the bidding war begin. The Yankees hereby bid $3.5 million and all the Cuomos one can stomach. Can it beat the annual flood of the century and Rick Perry? 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The weirdness of trusting Cashman

Strange times. Yesterday, the Yankees made two certifiably crappy trades, dealing MLB-ready prospects for dirt league lottery picks - or as old Rumsfeld would put it, "known unknowns" for "unknown unknowns" - and here's the crazy part: I'm okay with it. No... I endorse it!

Yes, I'm happy. I say, "O, fiddle-dee-dee! Cue the sun! That's China Town, Jake!" 

No, I haven't chewed through my bindings. I haven't quit the meds, and this not me texting from a traffic circle, hurtling naked in my car at Judge Jeanine speeds. I'm pleased - yes, happy, happy, happy! - watching the goldfish bowl, while Mr. Cashman makes his deals. He's doing a wonderful job, Mr. Cashman is. Wait? Did I say that already? No? Well, he's doing a wonderful job, Mr. Cashman is. Oh, now I am being silly! It's just that - well - in this newly giddy Yankiverse, Mr. Cashman makes the deals, and I endorse them from my IT IS HIGH tuffet, eating my curds and whey. Everything is - as the kids say - "groovy." Why, the other day, we traded solid Nick Rumbelow for a teenager named "Then," and I didn't go Abbott & Costello and shout, "Then WHAT?" No, I said, "What a fine trade, and what a kind and wonderful fellow is this Brian Cashman; I wonder... will he not be inducted into Cooperstown someday?"

Yes, I'm declawed. I'm without bile or bite. This Thanksgiving, we will gather around the turkey and give thanks to Mr. Cashman for his bountiful harvest of Yankee optimism. Every week is Hope Week. All is going as planned. Everybody knows that the Yankees' farm system is such a deep wellspring of talent that Mr. Cashman must deal off players - like a nuke plant releasing steam - to save us from losing them in the Rule 5 draft. It's smart, it's sassy, it's Mr. Cashman! once again, outsmarting those Mariners and Marlins. I have entered a Yankycodone delirium, where everybody trusts Mr. Cashman and it is... um... have I said that Mr. Cashman is doing a wonderful job?

Comrades, this is strange territory - trusting the Yankee front office. It's like strapping on the new jet pack to fly over the volcano. Everything is fine. We came within a game - hell, within a pitch here and there - of the World Series, and frankly, we gave the Astros a tougher row than the Dodgers did. We have three of the game's rising sluggers - Judge, Sanchez, Bird - plus a Cy Young candidate named Severino, and forget the Core 4; once Glyber and Clint arrive, we could have the Big Six or Magnificent Seven. Yesterday, Mr. Cashman made the necessary deals to protect six roster slots, a great job he is doing, Mr. Cashman is.

Strange times, all around. Every day, some male icon of morality turns out to be a masturbatory creep, and while some crumble from the public humiliation, others redefine hypocrisy with their rage-filled sanctimonious denials. The skies are filled with jet trail penises, Lil Peep is dead, and I sit here, drunken in my newly found trust of Mister Cashman. Have I told you that he is doing a wonderful job?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Godzilla to recruit Japanese Babe Ruth, and other meaningless hearsay

Big day in the Yankiverse, as the base readies for turkey.

1. At a baseball clinic, Hideki Matsui tells reporters he will help the Yankees try to sign Shohei Otani. To me, that means one thing: The Benihana Steakhouse! As The Master once insisted: It's not just a meal, it's an experience! If the Yankees can get Godzila and Babe together over sushi... well... it's an upper-decky from Hideki. (No word on whether Kei Igawa will join the Bomber recruitment team.)

2. Theoretically, MLB today learns whether Otani will become a free agent for 2018. Not sure I believe this timeline. Lawyers involved. Seems like we've been hearing for weeks that it was on, then off, then on. Wouldn't it be nice to know he was in the fold?

3. Today, MLB teams must finalize rosters to protect players before the December Rule 5 draft, which will likely be a huge Yankee bloodletting. We could lose two or three prospects, as teams follow Houston Astros tanking strategy: Piss all over your fans, finish last, draft high and eventually you're a genius. Last year, the San Diego Padres took Luis Torrens and sat him on the bench all season, effectively playing a 24-man roster. Teams will pick over our farm system like a wave of ants. Thus, a prediction: Before the day is done, the Yankees will trade Scranton OF Jake Cave for a handful of magic beans. They need roster space more than another fleet-footed LH outfielder, and while it's sad, it beats losing Cave for nothing. 

4. Get this: Peter Gammons says the Yankees are among the front-runners to sign starter Alex Cobb, a claim that seemingly runs contrary to everything Hal Steinbrenner and Coop Cashman have said recently. Cobb will demand a big, lengthy contract, almost certainly vaulting the Yankees back over the luxury tax threshold that ruins Food Stamps Hal's morning coffee. Not saying Gammons is wrong; he once turned me on to Susan Tedeschi. But maybe he thinks this is 1997? 

5. Keep looking up! Maybe the Navy is drawing a penis in the sky.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why the South hates the North

"Then there is this pocket of TV viewers in Mississippi, who will be shown Kansas City at the Giants. The Giants are a very bad team, and the Chiefs are not exactly Mississippi’s team."

The looming Yankee super mutant

We hear a lot these days about the well-stocked Yankee farm system, and often, you have to wonder if it's not just the usual NYC crapola. The fact is, when the Gammonites start unfurling their superlatives, the New York Giants can enter a season as Super Bowl faves. Besides, prospects are a hard thing to rank or quantify. For example, since Glyber Torres last season went down with an elbow injury, he has actually risen in some rankings, now to the top in baseball. You'd think missing time, plus an elbow injury, would cause a decline in his rating. But not in New York, eh?

Yesterday, another sign emerged of the popping system, when the Yankees traded Nick Rumbelow to Seattle for two younger no-names. They did this to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, because they weren't going to protect Rumbelow, and he was almost certainly going to be picked in next month's Rule 5 draft. But still... does that really mean the system is a deep as some are claiming?

Let's consider a prospect you've probably heard little about: First baseman Isiah Gilliam. To my knowledge, he's made no Top 25 Yankee prospect lists. I'm not even sure he's in the top 40.  

At low A Charleston last year, the 20-year-old Gilliam hit 15 HRs and batted .275. Not exactly Elvis, but not bad either. He's a switch-hitter and, at 6'3" and 220 pounds, certainly looks good coming off the bus. 

The Yankees took him in the 20th round of the 2015 draft, and each season, he's risen one rank. Nothing spectacular, just a steady climb. 

He'll probably start the season in High A Tampa and, if he hits, end it in Trenton. In 2019, he could be knocking on the door from Scranton... if he hits, that is. And there are no guarantees.

But here's the deal: Check out the DNA bloodlines. 

Isiah Gilliam. Write it down.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Boone, Bam Bam, Wedgie, Thomson... will it ever end?

This was the original Vegas odds sheet, shortly after Girardi's firing.
Good thing you didn't lay down your money, eh?
At the rate we're going, the Yankees will name their new manager on June 1, when we're eight games out under the interim House of Larry Rothschild. I mean, this is crazy! Who expected this talent search to still be chugging along after Thanksgiving? It's already outlasted Kevin Spacey, Robert Mugabe and the 2017 Jersey Giants. And look! Look what's happening: This rudderless world is going mad. People are seeing penises in the sky! An Italian doctor is ready to transplant human heads. (Alphonso? Are you ready?) It was bad enough to have Roy Moore and Al Franken accused of womanizing - (in Moore's case, "girl-izing") - but now... Ryan Seacrest? Say it aint so! This is what happens when the Yankees go skipperless. Rifts open with the Yankee Matrix. Every day, thousands of lifelong Yank fans collapse in nursing homes, hospitals and Lazy-Boy recliners, never even learning who will be 2018 Yankee Manager. Their ghosts shall walk the earth, shaking eternity fists in the direction of Tampa and demanding to know the hell who is fucking things up now? 

The Vegas odds chart upstairs ran shortly after Joe Girardi's firing. If it didn't look like bullshit then, it sure does now. No sign of Eric Wedge, Hensley Meulens or Aaron Boone - three of the four candidates who thus far have publicly French-kissed Brian Cashman's ring. (The Dodgers Chris Woodward is said to be on the list of future interviews.) It's possible that Rob Thomson - then considered the front-runner - has been the secret pick all-along, and everything else is just auditions for The Voice. Thomson was first to visit the Inner Sanctum. But really... at this point, who knows anything?

What we do know is that Joe Espada, one of the original leaders, has taken a job with the Houston Astros. Probably, somebody whispered that his number would not be called. A few others - Tim Naering, Jason Giambi and A-Rod - have taken their names out of consideration. John Flaherty and David Cone tossed their hats into the ring at a charity function, but that was press fodder, and I'm not sure if either ever made the real list. Supposedly, more names are coming. It's hard to believe the front office wouldn't even interview Al Pedrique, acclaimed manager at Scranton for the last two years. He's still holding out hope. But if they don't even bring him in, what does it say about his future in the organization?

If there is a dark horse, my guess would be Jay Bell, who until a few days ago was busy managing a handful of Yankee prospects in the Arizona Fall League. That would have delayed any interview he could have arranged. But jeez, I dunno. Having missed the penis in the sky, I'm just hoping to live long enough to know the answers, rather than to spend my eternity whining about Girardi, when he's not even there. Howl, howl, howl...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Theoretically, nothing happened last week in the Yankiverse... but don't you believe it

A mysterious week...

The GM meetings flashed by like quarks in the Matrix, spawning one deal: Seattle & Oakland traded Bill McSoandso for Ernie McSuchandsuch. Lawyers piled billable hours onto delays over the Japanese Babe Ruth, and the Empire continued its ongoing Mr. Yankiverse managerial pageant. You'd think nothing happened, and yet...

1. Aaron Judge did NOT win the MVP. This is good. Had he won, besides the outcry over Li'l Jose Altuve being robbed, Judge's career would forever be compared to his rookie MVP season. Nobody needs that. Like they say in the video game ads: "Greatness awaits!" Maybe next year...

2. The Yankees kicked the tires on Jurickson Profar, the Rangers' thus-far-failed super-prospect. This is weird. We already have a gaggle of young and old players competing for 2B and 3B, and it doesn't immediately make sense to add Profar, a SS by trade. But Cooperstown Cashman loves former top prospects: Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, et al. Mixed results, you could say, but when one explodes into stardom, it obscures the duds. 

3. Apparently, Cashman talked with the Marlins about trading for Giancarlo Stanton. This is crazy, unless you are 14. Sure, it would be thrilling to have the two greatest sluggers of 2018 in our lineup - (I mean, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird, badabadoom!) - but Stanton would quickly become the new A-Rod, and the lineup would become more homer-happy than ever. One other thing: Those big numbers he piled up last year? They came on a team that was done on Sept. 1, which finished 8 games below .500. No race. No pressure. Just numbers. Oh, to be 14 again! I can already feel the erection! But... no. Just, no.

One takeaway from the trade talks: They foreshadow a few inevitable dinky trades Cashman will make between now and the Rule 5 draft in early December. Because our farm system is popping, Cashman must deal two or three young players that we will almost surely lose in the draft. In recent years, Cashman has traded Triple A prospects (Jose Pirela, Ben Gamel) for 19-year-old arms. Could be, he's trying to bundle a bunch for one solid player. It'd be nice, but we should not get our hopes up. 

4. Hal Steinbrenner inexplicably - and somewhat ridiculously - said the Yankees would have fired Joe Girardi even if we had won the World Series. This is beyond crazy. Fire a guy after he wins a ring? In NYC, after the ticker tape parade? After the talk show tears and the made-for-TV movie? Nah. Ainta gonna hoppen. Worse, it almost intimates something sinister, something personal that we don't know about Joe. I believe this was just Hal trying to take pressure off Cashman over a move that is still being debated within the Yankiverse - and to exonerate Joe from people second-guessing moves in the ALCS. Still, it was a weird and - I believe - foolish thing to say.

5. The Yankees interviewed Bam Bam Meulens for manager. This is great, I think. The reason I equivocate: I hope this is not simply the franchise covering its tail by interviewing one black/Hispanic candidate before handing over the reins to another stock-issue white guy. There's no way to know, of course. But for the record, I think Bam Bam would make a great manager, and he would be immensely popular in NYC. I hope the Yankees take a chance on a guy, and somebody who speaks five languages certainly brings much to the table. Bam Bam has my vote - after, of course, The Master.

6. Cashman reflected on the potential 2018 line up. It has Headley at third, Castro at second, and Ellsbury on the bench. This was tantamount to debate on the GOP tax bill before its final mark-up. Changes are coming. I cannot believe Ellsbury will be with this team on March 1, and my suspicions are that Cashman would love to find a taker for Castro, as the Cubs were two winters ago. Clint Frazier, Glyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, Tyler Wade, Chance Adams and Miguel Andujar are either the Yankee future... or quarks in the Matrix. Right now, I don't think even Cashman knows. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Game over for the NFL

If this holds, and medical science has finally discovered a way to detect chronic traumatic encephalopathy—or CTE—in living patients, then I hereby wish NFL owners and administrators a fond farewell to their global ATM. 

Because once a player is presented with a diagnosis that suggests permanent brain damage, I sincerely believe he will seek other lines of work... or be forced by the league to do so.

This will also effect baseball. Remember how Jacoby Ellsbury's season turned on a dime this year, after he ran into a wall and suffered a concussion. When he returned, he was terrible for six weeks - something the Yankees now say is a normal phenomenon. Could it have lasting damage? Do we want to know?

Obviously, baseball offers nothing like the constant brutality of football. I don't even think boxing compares to the NFL. But if a scan shows a player faces the risk early dementia - a future I would not wish upon anyone, even Redsocks - would it be worth the money? 

If it's true, NFL owners are about to suffer a concussion.

Scott Boras on the Yankees: “The fact that their payroll is going to be under what it was 10 or 15 years ago is something that everyone in the game has to look at... What are their goals? What’s their principle?.. When you have a choice, what do you do with your success? What do you do with the greatness of your business operation? And how do you reward the fans that allowed that to happen?”

First, let's take a shower. Let's rinse off the cooties of craven self-interest. Let's recognize that Scott Boras is not exactly Abe Lincoln under a facial hair ban. He's a few gold chains removed from Tony Soprano, in that he long ago helped turn the sports agents' profession into a protection racket, greased with the kind of hype that Hulk Hogan and Randy Roddy would admire. The mere notion of a star player signing with Scott Boras sent shivers through an MLB front office, which had traditionally held all the cards in contract negotiations. For more than two decades now, Boras has been depicted as the supervillain in contract disputes, the barbarian who ruined a perfectly delightful gentleman's game, and always, always, always the reason why a beloved player just bolted from the town that raised him. He became baseball's Babadook, the demon that turns youngsters against their parent club. If not for that damned Boras, Alex woulda stayed in Seattle...

But listen: That quote upstairs? He's fucking right, and I can't let it wash over us, unnoticed. Yesterday, Boras touched upon one of the critical questions within the Yankiverse, one that we too often ignore. We bemoan the huge pots of money being wasted on a Jacoby Ellsbury or an A-Rod, and we think, If not for those damn contracts... as if our front office had been hypnotized by Boras' shiny watch.

As the Yankees head into 2018, once again Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner is vowing to shrink payroll below the luxury tax threshold. That will mean - the Gammonites constantly assure us - the Yankees can bid next year on the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and/or Clayton Kershaw. This is the carrot cake being dangled in front of us: If we cut payroll now, we can spend big next year. But it begs the question: If Hal balks now, why won't he balk then? Harper may demand $40 million a year. Do any of us expect Hal to bite? Cheap is cheap, and the Yankee owner is not acting like a Yankee owner.

According to Forbes, the Yankees are worth $3.4 billion. That's more than three times what the Florida Marlins recently sold for, and it's not counting the Steinbrenners' minority ownership of the YES Network, which has been valued at more than the Yankees. Prince Hal has too much money to count. Whatever he saves this year in luxury taxes will be pocket change. In playing an austerity card, he is merely enjoying a parlor game: Let's have fun, Bootsie, and see how cheaply we can win the world series! 

Yesterday, shortly after Boras erupted, reporters approached Hal and recited the above quote. Hal's response was to smile and say, "I can see Scott saying that." And - yes - he's right. We must all consider the source and then take a shower. But here's the deal, folks:


This season, the Yankees will be chasing the World Series. We're not fantasizing another one-game Wild Card. And it will probably require Food Stamps Hal to reach deeper into his platinum purse than he wants. Right now, it means eating Ellsbury's contract until he becomes a trade chip commodity. It means shelling out for CC Sabathia on a one or two-year deal. It means finding and buying a lights-out bullpen lefty and, for God's sake, it means springing whatever it takes for the Japanese Babe Ruth. And if Babe-San is not available, it means going after a solid starting pitcher - and, yes, overpaying in almost every case.

Of course, the parlor game here is Hal trying to finagle all this while staying below his self-imposed fun payroll. That's where the Yankee fan-base needs to start asking questions. Boras is right: The team's payroll is shaping up to be less than it was a decade ago. That begs an honest question: What exactly are the goals of this team?