Wednesday, September 23, 2020

If Minnesota chases down the White Sox, the Yankees can confront their Great Mistakes of this new millennium.

Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to the center-placed graphic located just below this lede, in the main IT IS HIGH concourse: 


Thank you.

As you see, the Death Star remains comfortably pillowed into 2nd place in the AL East, four games above the Buffalo Devil Jays with five remaining in this, the tiniest of seasons, which will lead to the longest set of playoffs ever.

For weeks now, the Yankees have diligently chased Minnesota for the No. 4 seed and home field advantage in the dazzlingly truncated first round. If the season ended today, we'd fall short by one measly game. Next Tuesday, while the presidential candidates debate, they'd be flying to the cold city of Jesse Ventura, Vince Vaughn and George Floyd, preparing for a three-game set.

But last night, the Chicago White Sox said, "Not so fast." The Sox have spent September atop the AL Central, but the dingy is leaking with one oar is in the water. They have blown three straight, while the Twinkies have won three. Minnesota is now one game behind Chicago. The Twins have four remaining, one with the tanking Tigers and three with the .500 Reds. Meanwhile, the White Sox must play two against the streaking Indians (three wins in a row) and three against the crosstown Cubs, a brutal end to their love-boat season. 

For weeks, I've gone Chicken Little about the Yankees facing Minnesota, our traditional sex toy, in October. For years, we've owned the Twins in the post-season. As we learned the hard way in 2004, these dominatrix relationships don't last forever. You cannot continually beat a good team, and the 2020 Twins are just that. If we face Minnesota in the best-of-three, be afraid. Be very afraid. They might have figured out a safe word. Killebrew? 

But wait, what's this... an escape porthole? If the White Sox continue to stumble, they will fall into second, and - holy crap - they become our first round opponent. And here's another one: If we can run the table on these last five games, we could steal home field advantage - forcing the Sox to learn the nuances of a stadium they haven't seen all year. Have you ever played LF in Yankee Stadium during the sunsets of October? Neither have the White Sox. 

Playing Chicago also would bring the Yankees face-to-face with their original sin of this millennium: Yoan Moncada. Every historical timeline over the last decade pivots on our cheap-ass refusal to outbid Boston for Moncada, who came from Cuba as one of the game's top prospects. Back then, we didn't think of Hal Steinbrenner as "Food Stamps." We just assumed - as everybody in MLB did - that the Son of George would fork over the cash and get out of the way. Instead, he hid under the bed, clutching his purse, while the Redsocks rebuilt their organization. They eventually converted Moncada into Chris Sale, who won a World Series and helped kill our chances in recent years.

In a perfectly wicked world, I would now toss out MVP-level stats for Moncada, prosecuting Hal with the righteous vengeance of a Fox News host. But Moncada's numbers this year are crapola - .221 with 5 HRs. (Last year, .315 with 25 HRs.) For now, we're better off with Gio Urshela (.289 with 6 HRs). Also, let's face it: Chris Sale is out until next June. This could be our chance to finally put the disaster of Moncada behind us.

One other Great Past Mistake we might also face: Dallas Keuchel has returned from the IL in time for the playoffs. Last July, he was ours for the taking - a free agent with no draft-pick baggage - if Hal's fanny-pack was ready. Who knows how Keuchel would have fared in the post-season against his old team, the cheating Astros, who had cut him loose rather than pay the money? Had he been a Yankee, might Keuchel have warned us about Houston's love of CF cameras? Might he have thrown, say, a shutout? 

Well, we can put all this behind us. If we have a choice, the answer is clear: Bring on the White Sox.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

More Fun Facts About Buffalo!

 By HoraceClarke66

All right, I’m running out of things to say about the City of Light, Upstate New York version. 

 

What most interested me about Buffalo as a boy was how President McKinley got shot there. Anarchist Leon Czolgosz wrapped an extended bandage around the pistol he held in his hand, and simply waited in the reception line for all those who wanted to shake the president’s hand. 

 

As a kid, this struck me as pure genius. Little did I realize that McKinley must’ve had about the worst security team in history, with the possible exception of the detective who went off to have a beer while Lincoln was watching that play. 

 

Apparently, they even ushered Czolgosz toward McKinley, saying, “Mr. President, this man has an injured hand.” Why not just, “Mr. President, this man is holding a large, lit ‘Acme Anarchist Bomb’”?  And what about the people standing in line with him? Didn’t they get suspicious?

 

I can only assume that America was a more trusting nation back in 1901. Or maybe there were just a lot more people with injured hands, which could account for why Czolgosz was so peeved in the first place.

 

I shouldn’t be so flippant. McKinley was a stolid, machine politician who was nudged into pulling off what became a very brutal piece of American imperialism in the Philippines, but other than that he wasn’t a bad guy. 

 

He was devoted to his shy wife, who also suffered from epilepsy. When he was governor of Ohio, he used to go to the window of his office everyday and wave his handkerchief to her in their nearby home, and she would wave back.

 

When she had one of her fits at a public dinner, he would simply place a napkin over her face while the dinner continued, which was considered the height of Victorian decorum and consideration. 

 

And when he was shot, he told his incompetent Secret Service agents, while still clutching his bullet wound, “Be careful how you tell my wife.”  He also told them, “Go easy on him,” when they started beating Czolgosz with their pistol butts, in frustration over their own idiocy.

 

McKinley was the second assassinated president, after James Garfield, who would have lived had he encountered a doctor who was only the equivalent of a first-year veterinary student today.  But no could do.

 

Forget it, Mac. It’s Buffalo.

Virtual Baseball: Defiant Yankees Win Again, Cut Lead to 3 Games. Red Bear Market Continues to Run Amok!

By HoraceClarke66

Virtual Ma Boone defied a direct order from eagle-wary Yankees GM Brian Cashman that he start Cessa tonight “and stop all this contending for first nonsense.” Instead, Boone started Masahiro Tanaka, who gutted it out—because, that’s what he does—for seven big innings, allowing just two runs as the Yanks bested Houston’s beloved cheaters, 3-2.

Tanaka struck out seven, surrendered just five hits—and just as Gerrit Cole had done the night before—began the game by hitting Jose Altuve with his first pitch. 

 

The umpires immediately warned the Yankees against retaliating, if the Astros retaliated.

 

The big blow for the Bombers was a two-run homer by Aaron Judge, but once Tanaka left the game it took shutout innings by Mike King and then Aroldis “Cool Hand” Chapman to clinch the win.  Chapman loaded the bases with three walk, but ultimately wriggled out of the jam by striking out Altuve to end the game.

 

Delighted as the crowd was by the win and Tampa Bay’s loss tonight, enthusiasm was dampened behind the Lonn Trost Memorial Moat, as the Dow dropped below 24,000, and charges of secret Russian interference proliferated. 

 

The White House offered no comment in response, save to say that the president and his family had enjoyed another fine day of snorkeling lessons.

The Mets Will Always Be In Contention

By HoraceClarke66 

 

 In 2019, your New York Mets played almost two whole months of passable baseball.

 

After starting August 4th at 54-56, they went 32-20 the rest of the way, a blistering—all right, mildly chafing—.577 pace that took them from fourth place in the National League East, 11 games out, all the way to third place in the National League East, 11 games out.

 

In other words, what used to be considered the very essence of a stress-free “money drive.” In today’s baseball, though, this kept the Mets in contention for a playoff spot until there were only five games left in the season.

 

This year, the Mets’ have been even more ineffectual, going 25-30 through tonight’s win against Tampa Bay. But with eight teams in each league reaching meaningful games in October, the Flushing Baymen are still in contention for a playoff spot!

 

All in all, it’s rather baffling how the Mets, the special favorite of the juju gods, can be really this bad. Their top starter has now turned in one of the best three-year stretches of pitching in postwar, major-league history and they are leading the NL in hits, batting average, and on-base percentage.

 

Jogginson, our Jogginson, is batting .324 with 9 homers in just 42 games. Dominic Smith is at .323, with 41 ribbies; Jeff McNeil is hitting .321, Michael Conforto is at .328 with 9 homers and is playing a dazzling all-around game. To have a losing record with such performances is just so, well, Mets.

 

But they’re still in contention! And more and more, this is the model MLB is turning to with its extended playoffs.

 

Don’t be surprised if the new, 8-playoff team format becomes permanent next year. Anything to accommodate all of MLB’ incompetent or skinflint ownership teams (Looking at you on both counts, Mets!)

 

Tampa Bay, baseball’s very own black hole of anonymity, looks ready to put the Metsies out of their misery for this season. But who know? A sudden win streak, and a team like NYM would be in the playoffs, where they are just the sort of mercurial crew who could get hot for a month and win it all.

 

Every time a new playoff slot gets its wing, the game we love is cheapened and degraded just a little bit more. But don’t worry: the Mets will always be in contention. 
 

Virtual Baseball: The Master Is Back! Cole Train Steamrolls the Cheatstros! Wall Street in Freefall!

In virtual baseball today, what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Toronto? 

 

“Why, I’m that rough beast, although really, it’s mostly bed hair,” the Voice of the Yankees, John Sterling acknowledged on his appearance in the Bombers’ clubhouse at the Margaret Trudeau Dome in Toronto. “And I’m here to say: There’s no predicting the flashes of genius on the part of radical mystic Irish poets.  Or the curative power of induced comas!”

 

Sterling was flown to Toronto in the private plane of substitute Yankees anchor Walt “Clyde” Frazier, who had also sent his private physician to examine Sterling, and bust him out of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.

 

“It’s a nice nest to steal a rest, but when you need a ring, time to call the king,” Clyde told reporters. 

 

The team seemed to respond immediately to The Master’s presence back in the Stadium’s Karz-for-Krazy-Kat Broadcast Booth, bulldozing the Houston Astros by 11-1. Gerrit Cole got the Yankees off to a feisty start by knocking down Houston leadoff cheat Jose Altuve with a neck-high fastball. 

 

After that, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, D.J. LeMahieu, and Miguel Andujar all launched rockets into the stands against a thoroughly cowed Houston team, while Cole pitched his mind-boggling fifth complete game of the season.

 

Afterwards, Yankees GM Brian Cashman was overheard reprimanding Virtual Manager Ma Boone for starting Cole.

 

“I told you: the division is lost. Rest Cole and the other leading humanoids until the Wild Card Play-In game!” Cashman instructed.

 

“You don’t run this team.  I do,” Boone responded, to which Cashman replied.  “I will end you!”

 

“Well, tempers run a little hot around playoff time, it’s always the same,” Boone told reporters about the contretemps.  “Why, my daddy used to tell me about how Dallas Green once tried to run him over in the parking lot after he’d called for a slider with the game on the line. These things happen between professionals who really care.”

 

Meanwhile, the Red Bear ran amok on Wall Street again, as the Dow dropped below 25,000 for the first time in months.  With investors crowding the street of downtown Manhattan in an obvious panic, analysts were surprised that President Donald J. Trump had no tweet to issue on the situation.

 

Instead, the president was seen rushing the entire first family to the basement pool in the White House.

 

“No time to talk.  Snorkeling lessons,” the usually loquacious chief executive said cryptically.

A bad week could send the Yankees to Minnesota, where HRs die at the track

One of humankind's great paradoxes is how "the biggest game of the season (TM)" constantly shifts. For example, tonight: Gerrit Cole will pitch the biggest game of the season (TM). Then, tomorrow, we'll play a bigger game. Then come three against the Mattingly's of Miami: Biggest games of the season, (TM), each.

Shout it loud: Last Games Matter!

But wait... arguably, these games don't. A week from now, the Yankees almost certainly will play their favorite cat toy, the Twins, in a best-of-three playoff - each game expanding in its supreme bigness.  

Still, tonight could foreshadow the juju gods' plans for 2020, an already cursed season. We hoped our recent 10-game winning streak reflected the Yankee Normal: a supercharged lineup with Judge, Stanton, Urshela, a newly retooled Sanchez and Gardner, and Second Coming of of Pedro. Now, if we lose three straight - including two blowouts - those wins look like a glitch in the Matrix, the blue pill... a weather pattern rather than climate change. 

Here's where things stand, if the season ended today:

#1 Rays host Toronto.
#2 White Sox host Cleveland.
#3 A's host Houston.
#4 Twins host Yankees. 

With five to play, we trail Minnesota by one in the loss column. (Forget the Rays, we're four behind.) If we run the table - win all five - we can overtake the Twins. (In their last 10, they are 6-4, winning two in a row.) Anything less, and they probably take home field advantage. (If we end up tying them in losses, the Twins will have the advantage, because - remember those COVID cancellations? - they will have played one more game.

While we're in italics, a thought: If the Yankees take their next two, and pull ahead of 'Sota in winning percentage, have someone - thinking of you, crazy Eric Kratz! - FAKE a Covid test, forcing the team into quarantine for the final two games. We rest our starters while the Twins must play. Diabolical, eh? Come on, Cashman, you need me in the front office!) 

So... where was I? Oh, shit, the italics are off... um... humina-humina-humina... big game tonight, eh?

Maybe not. Without screaming fans, how important is home field advantage? Yeah, it's nice to sleep in your own bed, crap on your own throne, and eat your game-day bagel at Sal's Kosher-Rama. And those fake fans will surely be loud. Aside from that, certain Yankees might find another concern about playing in Minnesota: Target Field.

I'm referring to DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Clint Frazier, who have adapted their swings to the short Yankee Stadium right field porch. (Note: In no way am I suggesting they hit cheap HRs. On the contrary, kudos to them for showing the ability to change!)

Statistically, Yankee Stadium is the third most homer-happy park in MLB (behind Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and the Rogers Center in Toronto.) Target Field, on the other hand, ranks 23rd out of 31. (This year, Sahlen Field in Buffalo ranks 25th.)

The difference is hard to ignore: Target's right field line measures 331 feet - 17 feet farther than Yankee Stadium. Our HRs that reach the first five rows in NY... next week, they're fly ball outs. And we're a team that wins by the HR.

Of course, the grass cuts both ways. J.A. Happ - king of the gopher ball - might throw a few less goners. Same with Masahiro Tanaka. Each might have a big game in him. In a three-game set, that's all you need. 

Either way, tonight, it's the biggest game of the season (TM). And from now on, they just get bigger.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Are we being too hard on "The Office Boy," "Coops," "Brain," Brian Cashman?

FROM THE MAGICAL KEYBOARD OF HORACECLARKE66...

Words that I never thought I would find myself writing. But with Saturday night’s win, your New York Yankees clinched their 28th consecutive winning season. 

 Even with this year’s sad, mangled cat of a season, that’s not a record to sneer at. As far as I can tell after a quick survey, the only team that’s ever topped that mark was…your New York Yankees, with 39 consecutive winning seasons from 1926-1964.

 

(Take away Babe Ruth’s “Bellyache Heard Round the World” in 1925, and it probably would have been 46 straight. But into every Yankee fan’s life a little rain must fall.)

 

Our main problem with Coops has been his teams’ continual flops in the postseason. The Yankees have been eliminated in their last 7 straight playoff appearances, not even managing to make the World Series in the 2010s.

 

That record of falling short of the ring is tied for the worst streak in franchise history…with Cashman’s 2001-2007 Yankees teams. 

 

But even so, is that really such a reflection on our sad-eyed little office Machiavellian? After all, the last 4 straight eliminations have come at the hands of confessed cheaters, the Houston Wirewearers and the Boston Beansuckers.

 

A number of those earlier October face-splats can also be plausibly laid at the feet of Joe Torre, much as we love him, such as the time he apparently suffered petite-mal seizures on the bench and refused to give the steal sign when Boston’s catcher literally could not catch the ball in 2004, or when our pitcher was attacked by ravenous Cleveland insects in 2007.

 

For that matter, doesn’t this also reflect MLB’s cheapening of its product by continually adding rounds of playoffs?  More than in any other major sport, a short playoff series distorts true quality in baseball. It’s as if the Super Bowl or the NBA championship games consisted of a single quarter—at most.

 

During these 28 regular seasons, the Yankees have not only had a winning record every single year. They have also finished first 15 times, made the postseason 23 times (assuming they clinch a spot in the next day or two), compiled the best record in the American League 10 times, and the best record in major-league baseball 5 times.

 

The Yankees also had the most wins in each of the first two decades of this century—even if many of those teams were powered primarily by players first developed or acquired by the holy trinity of Stick, Buck, and Bob.

 

In other words, for all our dismay at the ultimate failures come October—14 of 15 and counting—hasn’t Cashman given us what we really want most of all, which is, day after day, year after year, to beat in other teams’ heads with a rock until what’s inside spills out like so much guava jelly?

 

Well, maybe.

 

But here is where I think we have a legitimate beef. In perusing Tom Verducci’s book with Joe Torre on Joe’s time in the Bronx, The Yankee Years, we find this passage in reference to Torre being fired after the 2007 season:

 

“The Yankees, meanwhile, were abysmal when it came to age and injuries. They flushed away $22.22 million on players who couldn’t play, or almost 12 percent of their bloated payroll. They lost 1,081 player days to the disabled list, more than three times as many down days as had the Indians [who eliminated our guys that year, with an assist from the midges]. Over the previous three seasons, the Yankees ranked 23rd in baseball in days lost to the disabled list, a trend that would continue in 2008.”

 

Not to mention all the way to 2020.  Then there’s this, from the same source:

 

“In Torre’s final 17 postseason games, his starters were 2-8 with a 6.36 ERA while averaging only 4 2/3 innings and three strikeouts per start.”

 

In other words, it’s always the same, going back over much of the past two decades. The constant overrating of over-aged ballplayers, the inability to keep stars on the field, the frittering away of the team’s monetary advantage, and the failure to have a good enough starting staff to bull the Yanks through the postseason, when starting pitching matters the most. 

 

Throw in a constant failure to provide his managers with enough role players on the bench or effective relievers in the pen for October, and that pretty much covers why the Brain has been unable to even get to the Series since 2009—and NEVER with a team he built himself.

 

Would even the best general managers whatever was lose fluke playoff rounds today? Sure. Would any decent GM lose them so consistently?    

We'll soon know if Deivi Garcia is our October surprise

Yesterday, a site called Last Word on Sports posted this remarkably ill-timed, pre-game thought.

Nerves, anxiety, and adrenaline are a few of many emotions that flood the mind and body of an athlete before, or even during, a big game. None of these, it appears, are present within New York Yankees right-handed pitcher Deivi Garcia as he prepares to take the mound Sunday for his fifth MLB start.

Turns out, Garcia not only showed none of the emotions that flood the mind and body of an athlete, he showed no command. He gave up six runs over three innings to a lineup that boasted five batters hitting below their weights - .220 - inspiring a blowout loss to baseball's third worst team. The game devolved into a Trumpian chaos with our backup catcher Eric Kratz on the mound, yelling "Watch out!" to a batter, and a renegade Bostonian fan threatening to leap from the Green Monster. For the first time in 2020, we lost to the self-tanking Redsocks. 

But, hey, as Jimmy Kimmel could have said at the Emmys last night: Schitt happens, right? 

Today, some follow-up questions: 

What can we expect from Deivi Garcia in the post-season? 

Were we wrong to assign him such an accelerated pace of development, and to basically slot him into a playoffs rotation after just three starts?

Yesterday afternoon, as the YES experts mused, J.A. Happ became our probable third playoffs starter, if one is needed. Garcia should get one last shot at redemption against the Marlins this weekend. If he pitches well, the Yankees will have a decision to make. If he gets whacked, our fourth starter will probably be Chad Green and the cast of Knot's Landing. 

Today is a fine time to ponder the future of Garcia: a fiery 21-year-old who does not seem haunted by the nerves, anxiety and blah-blah-blah. In a real season, he would have thrown 100 innings at Scranton and only now be cracking the expanded September roster. He's had a great year, made vast inroads. And who knows: Maybe those news clippings that compared the kid to Pedro messed him up more than we think. Maybe yesterday, he did feel the nerves, the anxiety and the adrenaline. Maybe the internet is just full of bullshit. (Aside from this site and its commentators, of course.) 

Today, we are tied in the loss column with Minnesota for home field advantage in the first round.


Our last "critical" series of the season begins tonight. Toronto. Gerrit Cole pitches. This is why we signed him. This is no rookie. This is why we hope.

Virtual Baseball: Yanks Lose Another One Just Like the Other One. Is This the End???

By HoraceClarke66

The virtual Toronto Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees today at the Margaret Trudeau Dome this afternoon, dropping the Bombers four-games behind the first-place Tampa ay Rays. 

 

The Yanks looked listless throughout the game. Kyle Higashioka’s two-run homer gave the New Yorkers an early lead, but starter Jordan Montgomery gave it right back, on a long, three-run shot by Bo “The Real” Bichette. Vlad, Jr., and Lourdes, Jr. added epic shots of their own, en route to an 8-3 victory.

 

Yankees GM Brian Cashman made a visit to his team’s clubhouse after the game, and told manager Ma Boone and his players straight out that the division race was over, and they should now start planning for the one-game wild card play-in playoff play-through game.

 

“Forget about Tampa Bay.  They’re gone!  The end of this season is all too predictable,” Cashman told the Yanks.

 

Just as he did, though, a familiar, rather bizarrely coiffed figure appeared in the clubhouse door.

 

“I think you’re forgetting one thing, Mr. Cashman,” came the voice from the doorway.  “There’s no predicting baseball.”

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Are we being too hard on (The Office Boy) (Coops) (Brain) Brian Cashman?

By HoraceClarke66

Words that I never thought I would find myself writing. But with Saturday night’s win, your New York Yankees clinched their 28th consecutive winning season. 

 

Even with this year’s sad, mangled cat of a season, that’s not a record to sneer at. As far as I can tell after a quick survey, the only team that’s ever topped that mark was…your New York Yankees, with 39 consecutive winning seasons from 1926-1964.

 

(Take away Babe Ruth’s “Bellyache Heard Round the World” in 1925, and it probably would have been 46 straight. But into every Yankee fan’s life a little rain must fall.)

 

Our main problem with Coops has been his teams’ continual flops in the postseason. The Yankees have been eliminated in their last 7 straight playoff appearances, not even managing to make the World Series in the 2010s.

 

That record of falling short of the ring is tied for the worst streak in franchise history…with Cashman’s 2001-2007 Yankees teams. 

 

But even so, is that really such a reflection on our sad-eyed little office Machiavellian? After all, the last 4 straight eliminations have come at the hands of confessed cheaters, the Houston Wirewearers and the Boston Beansuckers.

 

A number of those earlier October face-splats can also be plausibly laid at the feet of Joe Torre, much as we love him, such as the time he apparently suffered petite-mal seizures on the bench and refused to give the steal sign when Boston’s catcher literally could not catch the ball in 2004, or when our pitcher was attacked by ravenous Cleveland insects in 2007.

 

For that matter, doesn’t this also reflect MLB’s cheapening of its product by continually adding rounds of playoffs?  More than in any other major sport, a short playoff series distorts true quality in baseball. It’s as if the Super Bowl or the NBA championship games consisted of a single quarter—at most.

 

During these 28 regular seasons, the Yankees have not only had a winning record every single year. They have also finished first 15 times, made the postseason 23 times (assuming they clinch a spot in the next day or two), compiled the best record in the American League 10 times, and the best record in major-league baseball 5 times.

 

The Yankees also had the most wins in each of the first two decades of this century—even if many of those teams were powered primarily by players first developed or acquired by the holy trinity of Stick, Buck, and Bob.

 

In other words, for all our dismay at the ultimate failures come October—14 of 15 and counting—hasn’t Cashman given us what we really want most of all, which is, day after day, year after year, to beat in other teams’ heads with a rock until what’s inside spills out like so much guava jelly?

 

Well, maybe.

 

But here is where I think we have a legitimate beef. In perusing Tom Verducci’s book with Joe Torre on Joe’s time in the Bronx, The Yankee Years, we find this passage in reference to Torre being fired after the 2007 season:

 

“The Yankees, meanwhile, were abysmal when it came to age and injuries. They flushed away $22.22 million on players who couldn’t play, or almost 12 percent of their bloated payroll. They lost 1,081 player days to the disabled list, more than three times as many down days as had the Indians [who eliminated our guys that year, with an assist from the midges]. Over the previous three seasons, the Yankees ranked 23rd in baseball in days lost to the disabled list, a trend that would continue in 2008.”

 

Not to mention all the way to 2020.  Then there’s this, from the same source:

 

“In Torre’s final 17 postseason games, his starters were 2-8 with a 6.36 ERA while averaging only 4 2/3 innings and three strikeouts per start.”

 

In other words, it’s always the same, going back over much of the past two decades. The constant overrating of over-aged ballplayers, the inability to keep stars on the field, the frittering away of the team’s monetary advantage, and the failure to have a good enough starting staff to bull the Yanks through the postseason, when starting pitching matters the most. 

 

Throw in a constant failure to provide his managers with enough role players on the bench or effective relievers in the pen for October, and that pretty much covers why the Brain has been unable to even get to the Series since 2009—and NEVER with a team he built himself.

 

Would even the best general managers whatever was lose fluke playoff rounds today? Sure. Would any decent GM lose them so consistently?

Virtual Baseball: Azure Fowl Down Superman and Clarke! Yanks 4 Back With 8 to Play— Cashman Concedes.

By HoraceClarke66, whose computer is a bad boy.

The virtual New York Yankees' division title hopes took a giant step backwards tonight, as the 

team lost another close one to Canada's pride and joy.

The virtual Yanks took an early lead on a three-run homer by Mike Ford, filling in for a visibly
limping Luke Voit.  But the Yanks' rookie superman, Deivi Garcia, gave up a two-run shot
to Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., and struggled to get through five innings.  

Mild-mannered Clarke Schmidt, who has also impressed, took over for Garcia in the sixth,
but surrendered his own two-run shot to Randal Grichuk, which accounted for the 4-3 final.

"How could you chuck that chuck against a hitter like Grichuk?"  Schmidt was asked after the
game, but replied, "I'd like to see you chuck some some chuck against that Grichuk!"

Schmidt then rushed away to make "a very important phone call" in a public booth, but
manager came to his defense when it came to chucking at Grichuk.

"How high would Grichuk hit, if a Girchuk could hit chuck like that?  I guess if Grichuk could
hit chuck, he would chuck it all.  But that's not the issue," Boone said.

Boone himself came in for his share of criticism, as he continued to hold back the team's top 
starters for the last two series of the year, against Houston and first-place Tampa Bay.

"Now it doesn't matter, it's over, it's done," a sniffling Brian Cashman told reporters.  "I wanted
Boonie to start Cole tonight, but he decided that for once he could think on his own.  Well, it 
just doesn't matter anymore—does it?"  

As things stand now, it looks as though the Yanks would host either Minnesota or Cleveland, 
now engaged in a torrid fight for the other wild card spot.  But Commissioner Rob ManfredvonRichtofen announced that if the Yankees were indeed to play the Twins yet again in the first round of the playoffs, there would likely be a congressional investigation.

Make no mistake: Without Clint Frazier, the Yankees would be in trouble

Behold, the Yankee beautistics:

I direct your attention to RBIs, the $$$ number, where Cool Hand Luke Voit stands atop the pile by a George Bayer tee-shot. Luke has had a magnificent year, a breakout, and he deserves the next standing O that ever happens in Yankee Stadium, assuming we all live to see one. And after Luke, you expect the usual marquee names: Judge, Stanton, LeMahieu, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Ruth, Bader, Ginsberg...

But, lo, next in RBIs is Mr. Clint Frazier, who has spent 2020 either hidden behind a mask or in the Scranton/Gitmo refugee/re-education camp. The other day, the Yankee brain trust batted Frazier ninth - ninth - seemingly unaware that he has saved the team's collective ass this year. Clint ranks second in team batting average, third in walks, third in SB, fourth on both runs and hits - and 10th in games played. 

Without "Red Thunder" - a cruel nickname that threatened ridiculous expectations - it's hard to imaging the Death Star rolling comfortably into the playoffs. They'd be fighting the Houston Cheatstros for the wild card. And it's still a miracle that he's here. For months, sixth-grader Gammonites - eyeing the Yankee OF scrum - proposed trading Frazier to Tunisia or Timbuktu  for new versions of Sidney Ponson, whose elbows would burst upon arrival. 

Somehow - and, frankly, Cooperstown Cashman deserves credit here - the Yankees did not bite. As a result, if we want to list the long-term reasons for Yankee hope, Clint Frazier in LF looks pretty sweet.

Due to the craziness of 2020, it's easy to look at Voit, at Deivi Garcia, at everything and wonder if it's just a mirage, a short season sample size. Even now, we wonder: Is Voit really an MVP, or would his numbers tank in a true second-half? We won't know until 2021, after he's received a few curtain calls But this we do know: Frazier is here, and after all the hype, all the wait, he is for real. Our LF for the next five years? I say, write him in.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

A short remembrance

Thursday morning, my cousin's husband died. He was funny, abrupt in a funny way, and took care of his wife in a loving and fun-loving way.

We liked him a lot. Always had a good time when we got together, and without drinking. Kind of rare.

He was a rabid Red Sox fan and loved the city of Boston. He hated the "Yank-me's", as he called them. And yet, we got along great.

Through him, I discovered that Sox fans constantly complain about the same things we do. The moronic front office, the boneheaded managerial moves, the knowledge that the next fuckup is right around the corner. We would sit and bitch together about our teams, sometimes surprised by a positive assessment from the other side about something we thought stupid.

He was a great guy. A Red Sox fan I will truly miss.

RIP.


What is a Yankee worth?


Cameo, the service that lets you buy a short video greeting from someone richer, more famous, and better than you, has built an impressive roster of Yankees, former Yankees, and the Yankee-adjacent. As entertaining as it might be to watch Kyle Farnsworth struggle through a birthday greeting, a greater fascination comes from comparing the prices the stars ask (and they do pick their own rates, according to a current New Yorker piece). Here, then, is an accounting of what the pinstripe VIPs think of themselves.

THE BLEACHERS
Slade Heathcott $10
Justin Wilson $15
Nick Goody $15
Wil Nieves $15
Bald Vinny $25
Kyle Farnsworth $30
Steve Trout $30
Meredith Marakovits $35
Ron Blomberg $35
Suzyn Waldman $45
Clarke Schmidt $50
Jon Lieber $50
Marcus Thames $50

BUDWEISER PARTY DECK
Steve Sax $59
Chuck Knoblauch $65
Jose Rijo $69
Doc Gooden $70
Jim Leyritz $75
Kenny Lofton $75
Lee Mazzilli $75
Mike Ford $75
Todd Frazier $75
David Justice $99

NYY STEAK
Adam Ottavino $100
Johnny Damon $100
Luis Severino $125
Boomer Wells $150
Brian Cashman $150
Luke Voit $159

THE LEGENDS SUITE
Aaron Boone $240
Reggie Jackson $240
Tino Martinez $250

MONUMENT PARK
Roger Clemens $500
Mariano Rivera $750 

Virtual Domeball: Yanks' Slide into Hell Continues! Cessa What a Messa! Bombers Lose Sixth Straight, Drop Three Back. Is There No God???

From HoraceClarke66's troubled computer connection...

In a silly and sloppy game, the virtual New York Yankees, playing in their second dome and their second country this week were edged by the Blue Jays again, falling 12-11.

A poor start by Domingo German left the Yankees in an early hole, trailing 8-3 after four, thanks to long home runs
by Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette.  Behind the strong relief pitching of Johnny Lasagna, the Yanks rallied to trail
by only 10-9—only to see Luis Cessa give up a two-run shot to Vlad Guerrerro, Jr., that put the stake in the 
heart.

Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela, and Clint Frazier all homered for the Bombers.  But the fact remained that the Yanks are 
now three games behind Tampa Bay with just nine left to play.

"It might not be the worst thing for us to take a wild card slot," breathed Yankees GM Brian Cashman.  "Let's face it:
 we don't want to have to play the Angels!"

When a reporter pointed out that the Angels had been eliminated from playoff competition back in August, Cashman
replied, "You know what I meant," and broke the man's neck with a single twist of his new, motorized hand.

There were no further questions.

It's great to be peaking, but the Yankee streak probably came too late to overtake Tampa

Yesterday, I gushed a hissy about the need to avoid our pet Putin poodles, the Twins, in the playoffs, so let's not go there again. Right now, the city of Al Franken and George Floyd remains our post-season destination. The playoff picture, as of today:

Jays at White Sox
Indians at Rays
Astros at A's
Death Star at Twinkies

To avoid Minnesota, we have two basic options: Run the table and catch the Rays - make up three games in seven days (four, if you consider the tie-breaker) - or strategically stumble and drop a spot, drawing the A's.

Obviously, we'd rather win out. We play:

Two with Boston (who are terrible but venomous)

Four in Buffalo v the Jays (whom we just embarrassed)

Two at home v the Marlins (
vastly improved, Mattingly's homecoming; we probably won't face their stud pitcher, Sixto Sanchez, because he'll start the playoffs - but maybe not, because he's been whacked lately, so there's that.)

Our chances: Maybe seven of eight? 

Then there are the Rays. They play:

Two in Baltimore (can the out-of-it O's steal just one?)

Three in NY against the Mets: (De Grom? Hometown spirit?)

Three at home v the Phillies (who are fighting for the NL final seed; could Joe and Didi snag a couple?) 

That would be 4-4. We'd be tied, but they killed us in the regular season, so we'd still finish second.

The Twins play the Cubs (two), Tigers (two) and Reds (three.) 

Doesn't look good.  



Friday, September 18, 2020

Virtual Off-Day: Better to Run to Toronto, Than to Run to a Girl You Don't Want to! Or something like that. Yanks Slouch Toward Canada, Two Games Down.

By HoraceClarke66

The Yankees emerged from their virtual, three-game showdown with Tampa Bay two games out of first 
with just ten to play.  The team staggered on to Canada by bus again, plane travel in the Eastern
United States once again downed, this time by the clouds of smoke drifting from the ten 
different Western states all but consumed by runaway forest fires.

President Trump dismissed the billowing, choking clouds as they rolled toward the Atlantic.

"Hey, it smells like an intimate ski lodge, where I have been very, very intimate," the president
told the national press.  "Besides, the stock market is up."

The Dow Jones index had indeed rallied, rising to 30,000 again after a week of steady losses.
While the leading investment firms acknowledged that the market was now largely a 
fraudulent Russian trap, the country's physical environment was rapidly burning away, and 
the current administration seemed unable to cope with any of America's problems, they
maintained that they still felt optimistic about the future.

"Hey, c'mon.  It's not like there's a plague out there or anything," one trader who wished to 
remain anonymous said.

If the season ended today... the Yankees should be very afraid

Ten games left and, realistically, with almost no chance of catching mighty Tampa, the Death Star appears fated to take silver in the AL East. 

Here's the latest of those meaningless "If the season ended today..." (INSET) projections, which hold as much weight as a presidential poll.

ITSET... AL:

No. 1 White Sox vs. No. 8 Blue Jays
No. 2 Rays vs. No. 7 Indians
No. 3 Athletics vs. No. 6 Astros
No. 4 Twins vs. No. 5 Yankees

NL

No. 1 Dodgers vs. No. 8 Phillies
No. 2 Cubs vs. No. 7 Giants
No. 3 Braves vs. No. 6 Reds
No. 4 Padres vs. No. 5 Marlins
Why the Yanks should worry:
1. We face the Twins, our small market sex slaves, our Putin poodles, the team we always beat... until we don't.
What could go wrong? In the post-season, the Yankees are 13-2 against Minnesota. We've won 10 straight. We should celebrate, right? Two and out, right? But here's the thing: 
You cannot beat a good team forever. 
Remember the 1980s Royals? They were our crash test dummies, until the straps broke. Or the Redsocks of 2004? (Please, please, please, let's not go there.) This we have learned from 2020: Mother Nature is a maniac, humankind is stupider than we thought, and all it takes is one breakthrough screw-up for the Yankees to fall apart. One El Chapo meltdown, one night leaving 20 runners on base, one night of the Homer Happy Happ - one reversal of fortune - and we are the New York Knicks.  
2. Minnesota is better than we think. They have four hitters, each with more than 10 HRs. Nelson Cruz is quite possibly the AL MVP. Kenta Maeda would start game one. He is 5-1 with an ERA of 2.52 - numbers that beat our best starter (FYI: Cole is at 3.00.) Their bullpen is exactly the collection of young no-names that has shut us down all season.  
3. There will be no fans, which negates home field advantage. (They would have it, unless we overtake them.) FWIW: I cannot believe the crazy NYC fan base had nothing to do with our 10 straight wins. These playoffs will be entirely different. By now, teams have learned to filter out the fake crowd noise. 
4. It's two out of three. As Robin Trower would say, "Boom-boom, out go the lights." There is no chance for the deeper team to slowly exert dominance. Okay, when I say Boom-Boom, you all know what to say... Boom-boom... 
5. There's the cheesy media narrative - patsy team facing Goliath, the city stricken by protests over George Floyd, the Midwesterners facing Blue State coastal elites... dear God, it's just going to suck. Can you imagine the esteemed social psychologist and cultural historian John Smoltz analyzing this? Shoot me now.  
The Yankees would be better off facing any of the top three seeds. We need to see a divisional winner in a three-game set. 
Ten games left to stick this landing. Somehow, I dunno know how, it would be nice to avoid Minnesota.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Virtual Baseball: Disaster in the Dome! Yarbrough Unfair, as Yanks are Swept, Fall Two Back!

(From HoraceClarke66, whose computer is pissing him off.)

The Tampa Bay Virtual Rays completed a stunning, three-game sweep of the Yankees at the
St. Petersburg Chernobyl Dome tonight, dropping the Yanks two games back as they reeled
out of Florida.  

After polishing off the Yanks' two best pitchers the Rays were licking their chops—or more 
accurately, as Rays, gnashing their gill plates—to face J.A. Happ in the series finale.  But Happ
actually looked more like the unflustered veteran Happ of the first half of the season, and he
got some early support from back-up catcher Kyle Higashioka, who blasted a long, two-run
homer off Tampa Bay starter Ryan Yarbrough.

Yarbrough responded by hitting the next two Yankees batters, D.J. LeMahieu and
Clint Frazier, putting them out of the game.  Neither player proved to be seriously hurt, but
home plate ump Joe West promptly warned that any pitcher on the Yanks who dared to
retaliate would be ejected from the game.  

The Yanks protested the decision, but West added that not only would they be ejected,
but also swallowed and slowly digested in West's enormous, pelican-like throat pouch.

When Happ then plunked Ji-Man Choi anyway, West carried out his threat and tossed him—
though Happ was at least nimble enough to avoid a painfully slow ingestion.

Taking Happ's place was Adam "The Man Without a Move to First" Ottavino, who seemed
rattled when Choi then stole second, third, and home against him.  Two batters later, he 
surrendered the game-winning home run to Mike "Marcel Marceau" Brosseau, who after
completing his ten-minute home run trot stood in front of the Yankees' dugout and waved
his genitals at them for another ten minutes.

A Yankee protest to MLB Imperator Rob Manfredmannandthefamilyofman proved unavailing.

"Well, that's baseball," New York manager Ma Boone said after TB reliever Aaron "Garou"
Loup closed out the Yanks for a 3-2 win, then howled in the direction of where the moon 
was for the next half-hour.  "Or more accurately, that's getting really fucked in baseball."

A very personal take on our peculiar catching "star"

When I was in Catholic grade school, the nuns were fond of saying how well I was doing academically, but still not living up to my potential. 

As I advanced through high school, I realized that if I didn't get a subject easily, it probably wasn't worth much more effort. I graduated in the top 15% of my class, around 50th out of 300 or so. Fine.

In college, my GPA went up with the number of classes I missed and drugs I indulged in. Fewer classes, more drugs, higher GPA. Every semester for four years. I graduated cum laude, but the nun in the back of my brain (there's a scary image) knew that if I had made a bit more of an effort, it could've been magna cum laude. Or so I flattered myself to think.

Then I got into advertising. My first Creative Director said I was the greatest natural talent he'd ever seen. It became difficult to fit my head through doorways. I found that my initial take on most assignments was the best, and there was a point where it wasn't worth trying too hard. If it happened, it happened. It came from the subconscious, so forcing it wasn't going to do much good. With a little experience, I was able to churn out something acceptable, or better, on demand.

I did pretty well for about 40 years. Not great, but pretty well. And I never fulfilled my potential.

I'm probably wrong, but I think I understand Gary Sanchez. I was him in a parallel universe, minus the sports ability and Hispanic heritage. Sometimes I really buckled down and work very hard, but those times were relatively few. Mostly, it just came to me, and I was ultimately content to be good enough and not great. I could be better than a lot of people without trying too hard, or so it seemed, and never got fired or demoted. Never. 

If that doesn't make sense out of what we see with Sanchez, I don't now what does.

The impossible may have happened: Gary Sanchez might be looking over his shoulder

For much of this season, catcher Gary Sanchez had an insurance policy for any cold streak that fate might serve. Its name was Eric Kratz.

Kratz is the 40-year old lug nut who occasionally spelled Sanchez for four weeks, performing admirably: 8 for 27, a .296 average. Also, he shepherded Deivi Garcia through his MLB debut, supplying a book-jacket worthy quote about "going out to play catch with my son." It's revealing that the Yanks kept Kratz as a third catcher, a rarity for them. I think they see Kratz as a clubhouse chemistry guy, maybe a future manager. 

But not as Sanchez's replacement.

No way. Kratz might outhit Gary - as has everybody in baseball - and offered solid defense, but our starting catcher was Sanchez, no matter what. And maybe - just maybe - that was the problem. 

Sanchez's woes this year are famous across the Yankiverse. He's been terrible in nearly every aspect, except for something called "exit velo." (Basically, he hits long HRs rather than multiple HRs.) Without competition, Sanchez even received reps as DH, reflecting the team's mounting desperation, as articulated by breathless YES announcers, who somehow foresee a "big breakout" looming in his every long fly or base on balls. 

Well, here's a thought: 

Last night, Gary Sanchez didn't sleep well. 

The reason: Thirty-year-old Kyle Higashioka belted three HRs in a rollover of the suddenly collapsing Blue Jays. Unlike Kratz, Higashioka has an actual future, and an interesting recent track record. Twice in the last four years, Higgy hit 20 HRs in the upper minors. Last year, he hit 20 at Scranton (plus three for the Yankees) and batted .278. Over the next three to five years, he is positioned for a lucrative MLB career. 

Throughout his minor league career, Sanchez never hit more than 20 HRs for one team. The reason: He was a golden boy, a millionaire at 16, a super-prospect perpetually rising through the ranks. He erupted on the Yankee scene in 2016, hitting 20 in a half-season and batting .299 - far higher than anything he'd done in the minors. Since then, his starting credentials have never been challenged, even as Austin Romine evolved into a fine MLB catcher. 

Until maybe now. 

This wretched half-season has conjured the perfect opportunity to ponder a Yankee future without Sanchez behind the plate. For the first time in his baseball career, Sanchez ought to be looking over his shoulder. The playoffs loom, and considering Higashioka's show last night, he could easily become Gerrit Cole's personal catcher. But wouldn't Deivi Garcia also benefit from his defense? Or Masahiro Tanaka? Another homer or two, a few more lightning throws to second, and we could see a changing of the guard. 

No chance, you say? They'll play Gary, no matter what? You could be right, but Joe Torre used to say, "The playoffs are no time to make friends." When he makes out his lineup card next month, Aaron Boone better take those words to heart. And Gary better stop striking out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A night of pure pleasure: Celebrating the joyous 20-run game

I used to joke that the Yanks could lead by 15, but if Jorge Posada bounced into a bases-loaded DP, the entire night was ruined. 

Still, nothing beats a laugher. It comes in that glorious moment: The opposing pitcher, stunned by what's happening, looks to the dugout, and his manager looks away. The infielders slouch. The outfielders kick at the grass. The Yankees lead by 10, still pouring it on, and - as I march circles in the living room - I tell the TV, "This is the greatest night, ever." 

Fun Fact: Gio Urshela went to work last night hitting .272. He left at .290. 

DJ LeMahieu entered at .350, went to bed at .363. Between them, that's 31 points. It's money in their future bank accounts. But wait... there's more: Clint Frazier gained 12 points; Luke Voit, up 10. Tyler Wade jumped by six; Gary Sanchez up four; Brett Gardner up two, and Aaron Hicks, just one. But Hicksy hit a homer. Hicks hits one to the Sticks.

That's an overall gain of 71 batting points, though it was nearly halved by Giancarlo Stanton's 0-4, which dropped him by 30 points - (his height is not measured by sample size) - to .263. But Stanton needn't worry; he's paid for life. All the other Yankees, by what happened last night, enriched themselves and their families. 

Trouble is, the day after a laugher, we face the realization that:

a) it was just one game 
b) we must play again tonight
c) by tacking on those four late runs, we might have kicked a hornets' nest in the Jays clubhouse. 

Still, a blowout... a feast, a gusher, a wipe-out, a yawner, a snoozer - help me, Mr. Roget - a whupping, a thrashing, a shellacking, a drubbing, a thumping, a throttling... yes, a luxurious four-hour trip to the Orgasmatorium, for emotional and physical self-enlightenment.  

Today, the Yankees stand a half-game ahead of Toronto/Buffalo, and - for now, anyway - the fifth seeded team in the AL. A week ago, we stood three games behind the Jays and looked ready for the glue factory.

Tonight, Aaron Judge could join the team. Gerrit Cole will pitch. The bullpen is rested. The beer should be cold, the hot tub at 103. There is no excuse, unless we are simply weak-kneed from all our self-pleasurement. Don't expect a laugher. But now is the time to beat them by one, to steal a thriller. Because if anything beats a blowout, it's a walk-off. 

Is this the face of the man who will make the Yankees great again?

 By HoraceClarke66


Well, we can dream, can't we?  That all the ill-gotten loot this Wall Street rapscallion has
made over the years will be pumped into his late-life dream project, your New York Mets.
Thereby forcing Hal and Family into meeting the challenge, lest the Yankees be 
overshadowed and profits drop so low so as to threaten the wealth of every Steinbrenner
in the 25th millennium...

Some of us had similar hopes for this couple a crazy kids when they first pried the Flushing 
Folderols from the dead hands of Joan Payson:


Little did we know that Nelson Doubleday was only about as interested in baseball as his
illustrious ancestor, or that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were just another pair of Long Island
real estate grifters, off to wreck the world.  

If any remaining proof of that was still needed, it was provided in today's Times, which noted 
that Wilpon was still claiming he had lost a fortune to Bernie Madoff and that the Mets were 
losing millions over the last few years.  

Neither of those claims are true.  Wilpon and Katz leveraged Bernie's pyramid scheme to
take over the Mets and build fortunes for themselves, and it is mathematically impossible
to lose money in baseball today.

But I digress.

For those of us who dreamed that Mad George would finally be forced to get a grip, and hire
and keep real baseball men to run his team, now that the Mets finally offered some serious 
competition...well it didn't quite work out that way.  What looked like a Mets dynasty for the 
ages dropped behind a distance outfield fence along with Mike Scioscia's 1988 home run in the
playoffs off Doc Gooden.

When Jeff "Fredo" Wilpon, the Jimmy Dolan of baseball, was then placed in charge of, well, 
anything, it was the last straw.  And now, after winning all of one (1) World Series ring over the course 
of thirty years, the Wilpon family is bowing out, having failed to force George and ilk to up their
game by one iota.

Oh, well.  Maybe Cohen will fare better, and force the Yanks to really compete.  You never can
tell, as Andy Williams once lip-synced for Lauren Bacall.  But somehow, I doubt if it will 
work out.  These are, after all, the Mets.