Thursday, January 19, 2017

In the dead zone of Yankee news, the real immortals appear to be named Steinbrenner

Yesterday, the great gray Gammonites - exercising their final power in a news collapsing universe - elected to the Hall of Fame a Ranger, Astro and an Expo. Once again, the Yankees were ignored. Technically, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez once farted through pinstriped pants, but neither were of-the-cloth of Yankeehood, and both breathed NY air at the end of long careers. To get elected, Roger Clemens must die, and it's starting to look as though Mike Mussina and Jorge Posada were figments of our imagination, like all those world championships. Drug deliriums, that's what they were. Remember when Posada doubled down the line to save the Yankees in the Aaron Boone game? You dreamed it. All those rings, all those moments, you were tripping. That October, the sportswriters in Houston, Dallas and Montreal had already moved on to football.

We are in the Dead Zone of news. It still hurts to even think about the Giants and Jets. The Knicks remain a disgrace to humanity; I wish they would move to Aleppo. The Rangers? They're not even the most famous team named the Rangers. The Mets' winning curve is over, which leaves the Yankees to fill the void with crapola. We sign a 25-year-old Korean 1B for Scranton: It's like putting a man on the moon. YES is selling tickets on Gary Sanchez's month of August. He might be a solid catcher, but he's not I-Rod.

So, this morning, adrift on this vast sea of nothingness, I found this depressing tidbit in the NY Post. Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, daughter of the Demigorgon, told a reporter: "We’re all in. I hope we own the team for eternity.”

Listen: It's rare that we fans get to ponder eternity. The long term is a harsh concept in sports. A few seconds ago, I was all in on Ross Moschito as the next great Yankee. Wasn't it this morning that Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy were on the verge of stardom? Blink and 20 years go by. Where the hell is Sheriff Cowley? Think he'll ever pitch that no-hitter?

Yankees come and go. But the Steinbrenners plan to own me eternity.  

Listen: I don't hate the Steinbrenners. For all the negativity that pops out of this site, all Hal has to do is win. Everything will change. That's what the Yankees are supposed to do: Win, dammot, WIN. Right now, Boston is the Yankees, and if the Steinbrenners expect gratitude from Yankee fans, while we're looking up at the Redsocks, well, aint gonna happen.

So the Steinbrenners plan to own me forever? Well, at some point, they say the universe will cease to expand, the Big Bang will reverse itself, and time will flow backwards. Derek and Mariano will grow young. Jorge Posada's double in the ninth will come after Boone's home run. We will pace our circles in the carpets, and Ross Moschito will again patrol centerfield, the way he was supposed to. All that is dead will live again. But the Steinbrenners will still own eternity. We cannot kill what never lives. Four weeks until pitchers and catchers. It can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cutting through the ridiculous hype on Clint Frazier

I'm weary of the incessantly upbeat Yankeeganda about prospect Clint Frazier. It's creating an expectations game that is unfair to the kid. Nothing he does will ever be good enough. It's not right.

Therefore, to tamp things down, I'm using the standardized preliminary data-curve methodology - including game video, workout regime, psychological tests, stool sample analyses and aural-areola evaluations - to calculate career projections for Frazier. I do this not to show off my computing skills, or to place myself on some pedestal of technological wizardry - the last thing I want is to make this about me - but to help Yankee fans get a realistic handle on what to expect. (Scientific Note:  I am calculating the "traditional" measuring sticks - HR, RBI and batting average - rather than the WAR, BAPID, and FUBAR analyses, which I generally prefer. The margin of error here is 3.3 percent, plus or minus.)

(*denotes league leader)

2017 (23): 7 HR, 21 RBI, .252.
2018 (24): 23, 59, .268
2019 (25): 43, 109, .282
2020 (26): 49*, 139*, .301
2021 (27): 61*, 145*, .310
2022 (28): 22, 76, .312 (injury)
2023 (29): 57*, 129*, .306
2024 (30): 54*, 142*, .292
2025 (31): 43, 120, .283
2026 (32): 48*, 135*, .289
2027 (33): 45*, 142*, .267
2028 (34): 27, 101, .249
2029 (35): 43*, 145*, .299
2030 (36): 49*, 138*, .287
2031 (37): 40, 130, .283
2032 (38): 28, 101, .254
2033 (39): 16*, 43, .287 (Asteroid shortened season)
2034 (40): 28, 101, .256
2035 (41): 12, 78, .234
CAREER: 730, 2,200, .293

2040: First-ballot Hall of Fame
2041: Becomes blogger for IT IS HIGH
2052: Elected U.S. President
2060: Achieves Immortality
2525 (If man is still alive): Picks son, picks daughter too, from the bottom of long glass tube.

Potential episodes of A-Rod's new TV show

A-Rod may get a TV makeover show, where he schools ex-jocks how to stash their cash in off-shore accounts and bogus public housing projects, the way he does.

"With no more games to play or big paychecks to cash, the future can often look bleak to those athletes struggling to adjust and adapt. But help may be on the way. From executive producer Michael Strahan and hosted by Alex Rodriguez, "Back in the Game" (working title), pairs ex-athletes in serious financial distress with money-savvy mentors who can help them get back on their feet."

Episode One: "Called for Clipping." After Joe "Sheriff" Cowley learns about the incredible coupons in his Sunday newspaper, he and Alex go on a wild Dollar Store shopping spree!

Episode Two: "Mm-mm, Meat." Alex and his daughters stage an intervention for penniless Sidney Ponson, teaching him how to collect, dress and cook roadkill pigeons.

Episode Three: "Just Your Size." Alex hits the flea market to buy clothes for Roger Clemens' family. (With special guest Brian Cashman.)

Episode Four: "The Happiness Pyramid." Financial guru Lenny Dykstra outlines an investment strategy guaranteed to double Aaron Small's wealth.

Episode Five: "Controlling the Pulse." Alex shows Heathcliff Slocum how to cheat on a lie-detector test.

Episode Six: "The No-Show Job." Alex reveals the secrets of doing a television show while supposedly working as a full-time coach at $20 million per year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cashman hits the scrap heap

There's nobody happier in this world than Brian Cashman at a flea market. It's his nirvana, his Calgon Bath moment, his golden shower. He wanders through aisles of junk and finds an old lamp that says "Maximus Super Beer." He doesn't need it. He has no place for it. His girlfriend will leave him. But hell, it costs $2. How do you walk away from a Maximus Super Beer lamp for two dings? It'll haunt him. So he buys it. And then the lamp pitches 110 innings for us. How can a lamp pitch 110 innings? It's a metaphor, moron. Jeeze, do I have to explain everything?

So yesterday, Cashman signs a lamp, who also happens to be one of the great names in Obscure Yankee History: Ji-Man Choi. He's from Korea, you'll be surprised to know. He'll cost us $700,000 - the baseball equivalent of $2. He plays first base, hasn't hit a nickel in the majors, already was suspended for PEDs, and he's now with his fourth team... at 25. This is not his first flea market.

Last week, the Angels - one of MLB's worst teams - dropped him from their 40-man. They had taken him from Baltimore in last winter's Rule 5 draft. He hit .170 for the Angels and - get this - at one point waived him, offering him back to the Orioles, and Baltimore said, "Nah, you drafted him, you keep him, no touch backs." Are we getting a picture here?

But but BUT... the Angels are run by Billy Eppler, Cashman's old buddy. Maybe Epp pointed his old boss to that lamp in the pile and whispered "Maximus Super Beer," which is a great memory from my youth. Consider this: The Ji-Man last year hit .346 in 53 games at Triple A. If he had done that in Scranton, we'd be penciling him into Monument Park. Hey, when you play the NY Lotto, you never know. Besides, that Governor's Cup isn't going to defend itself down in Moosic.

I'm figuring Ji-Man - he bats LH by the way - is the ultimate fail safe in case Greg Bird and Tyler Austin fall apart. And frankly, we need fail safes, because neither of those is a sure thing. In fact, after Dellin and El Chapo, I don't see any sure things on the 2017 Yankees. So I'm going to have a Maximus Super... "Maximum Stupor," we used to call it. Mm-mm. Beer.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Deadline for Tanaka contract extension moved back to July 31

Somewhere in the microscopic print, Masahiro Tanaka's lawyer stuck a 2018 opt-out clause in his Yankees deal. Thus, next winter, he can tell the Yankees, "So long." (What? You thought I was going to say "Sayonara?" Racist.) And if next year he pitches the way he did last season - well - it'll probably be, "Adios." 

Therefore, I believe next winter:

1. He will invoke his freedom to hit the open market.

2. He will make this decision while wearing the uniform of another team.

3. He will do it with the possible notion of returning to the Yankees.

Yeah, this is a stretch. But consider this: While we hope the Yankees will shock the entire world and win the AL East, let's deal with reality: They face the unbeatable Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM), which is favored to win the World Series and Super Bowl. They are, after all, the Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM.) And Benintendi too!

So, if we're lucky, 2017 is a Wild Card year. And if we're not lucky, come July 30, Hal, Brian and Skip might hold another incredible, mid-summer, everything-must-go sell-off. They would auction off Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, the last call for CC Sabathia and the crown jewel - one half-season of Tanaka. If he's pitching well, Tanaka could bring a haul of prospects similar to what we received for Aroldis Chapman. 

Yes, we are entering Year II of the rebuild, um... the system-wide gonad tweak.

So, it's time for the Yankees to be lavish. We have to think like Trump. Our players deserve the best of everything. I'm talking about clubhouse massages, lobster buffets, heated swoosh bidets and ultra-fast internet porn - the amenities that separate the Yankees from the Milwaukee Brewers. If we do that, we could pull another El Chapo - and lure Tanaka back in 2018. Best of all worlds, right?

You're right. It won't happen. Once traded, most players don't return. But I believe this is why the Yankees are not renegotiating Tanaka's contract, while they have an exclusive shot at him: They don't know where we'll be on July 30. 

Oh, and if somehow, on that day, we find ourselves ahead of the Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM)... well... holy shit, forget everything. And Benintendi too!

" For decades, he was not invited to Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium, supposedly for having written about Mickey Mantle’s drinking habits. In 1994, after Bouton sent a sympathy note following the death of Mantle’s son, he got a surprise voice mail from Mantle, telling him he was never hurt by the book and had never asked the Yankees to exclude him. That tape is included in the auction."

Jim Bouton - 77 and hampered by a stroke - is selling his Yankee memorabilia, and the star, of course, is Mickey. And you can see why The Mick's plaque in Yankee Stadium says he was a great teammate.

It' was buried in yesterday's Gray Lady between NFL crapola and NBA box scores.  Why do they even bother with NBA box scores?

Note: In a photo caption, my newsprint version wrongly described Bouton as a "mediocre" pitcher for the Yankees. No way. NO FUCKING WAY. As a rookie, Bulldog Bouton had his issues, most notably in the first inning. So he problem-solved it: He pitched an imaginary first inning in pre-game warmups, and it worked. And you know how Mel Allen could tell if Bouton had his stuff today? He would count the number of times Bouton knocked his own cap off, throwing to the plate. Ahck, memories. What good do they do?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday breakfast links

We're half-passed January, which in upstate NY is like being midway through a keg of Genny Cream Ale: Your head's spinning, but the serious shit is still to come. Nothing - absolutely zilch - is happening in the Yankiverse, or for that matter, anywhere. The NFL playoffs are a dead zone, not one game worth watching. Yesterday, I saw LaLa Land, winner of the prestigious (think Pia Zadora) Golden Globes. If that's the best movie of 2016, Nick Rumbelow was our Cy Young starter. Wednesday, the Hall of Fame will announce a new class of non-Yankees, fueling our rage against the cosmos. In the meantime, the cosmos is winning, and here are links to the existential nothingness that haunts each waking moment...

Matt Holliday talks with NY Post, blames hia crapola 2016 on hips, ground balls, price of tomatoes, etc. “It was weird I didn’t walk as much. I think it could’ve been some slight mechanical flaws that were not allowing me to not recognize pitches as well. That would be my first inclination as to what the problem was. But could it have been a year where they just threw me more strikes? I don’t know.” Huh. Who's running the Post these days, Jerry Hall?

A Fox Sports fan ranter calls Joe Girardi "Master Juggler." "Will he be remembered as the bridge that enabled the past to meet the present, with ease and solidarity? Or will this season descend into chaos with veterans crying about reduced playing time, with the younger guys saying the same because they’re not being given a chance to prove their value to the team?" Jeeze, those are good questions. It will soon up to the Master Juggler to provide answers.

Daily News ranks its "Top 10 Most Intriguing Mets, Yankees." Noah Sydergaard is No. 1. Well, when there's nothing else to write, do a list! How about the Top 10 Most Earnest Mets, Yankees? (Brett Gardner, No. 1) The Top 10 Most Unearthly... (Aaron Judge?) The Top 10 Wacky... (Matt Harvey?) Jeezus H. Montero. The Top 10 Lists about Mets, Yankees. 

After 146 years, the Greatest Show on Earth is closing. Wow. Now this is news. It looks like I won't run away and join the circus after all. Barnum & Bailey, gone? I blame all those clowns across America who spent last Halloween trying to lure kids into the woods. You can't be doing that, and still make families happy with balloon animals. 

Well, back to the Genny Cream. Up here, we call it "the Green Death." I think I'm gonna need another keg.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Yankees best player will be paid $5.1 million next year

Yesterday, Didi Gregorius agreed to a settlement, avoiding arbitration.

Last year, he hit .270. 20 HR, 70 RBI and played a flawless shortstop.

You could argue that Gary Sanchez is the Yankees' best player, but I'd prefer to see him for a full year. Gardy? Ellsbury? Nah. Maybe El Chapo or Tanaka, or Delin... but pitchers are a different beast. The fact is, it's been a long time since the Yankees found a player as fiscally valuable as Didi.

So... trade him?

Architect of "repealing and replacing" Yankee Stadium tapped to guard America's Interweb thingy

High-tech wiz will clean up Interweb
Sixteen years ago, Rudy Giuliani became a national fixture, sitting in the first base box seats, yelling at baseball's last great team, the New York fucking Yankees. This happened in a ballpark that Rudy was working to raze. More than any other political oil can, he brought us the new Yankee Stadium, with its magnificent disco and $3,000 seats.

Sixteen years. Hard to believe, eh? Throughout that period, Rudy constantly ran for President. At one point, his own top cop, Bernie Kerik, was tapped to be U.S. Director of Homeland Security, though he ended up in prison for felony tax fraud. Rudy - "America's Mayor" - never left the national Fox News stage, and his undying loyalty remains a defining part of Yankee Conservative Republican lore. Fun fact: Randy Levine once worked for him.

Now, at 72, Rudy faces his final marquee role: He'll do what Trump calls "cyber." He'll keep America from being hacked. It's perfect: To fight hacking, get a hack! I can picture Rudy on the job: "Okay now, where is the mouse? Is this the cookie? Why isn't this opening my hotmail? Uh-oh. Did I do something? The thing isn't blinking. CompuServe never did this, not once. I hate these things!" 

Of course, it's patronage. Trump threw him a bone. And yeah, the Dems are no better. Still, this has a brilliantly devilish component, a form of creative chaos. After all, Trump made Ben Carson - an obvious Surgeon General candidate - the head of HUD, of which he knows nothing. And het's giving Rudy - who surely knows a thing or two about urban administration - a job in computer security. I guess NASA had no openings?

I get it that this is politics, as usual. I just thought they'd find something less nakedly craven. My bad.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Arbitration dispute: Betances filed for $5 million, Yankees countered with $3 million... hm-mm... just thinking out loud now, and I know this is crazy, but what if they settled for - oh, I don't know - let's pick a number... how about... um...


People are already wondering if the 2014 Agua Teen Hero Super Class is a bust

One of the best long-term acts the Yankees have done in recent years - along with last summer's garage sale - was signing the 2014 Agua Teen Hero Super Class. Hal Steinbrenner spent an ungodly chunk on about 20 top international children, most of them 16. It was the Yankees' Cancer Moon Shot and frankly, we must credit Hal for opening his iron-hinged wallet. Unfortunately, this happened a few months before Yoan Moncada arrived from Cuba, when our owner suddenly developed alligator arms, earning the name "Food Stamps." If the Redsocks launch a dynasty based on Chris Sale - who the acquired for Moncada - historians may pinpoint the 2014 signing class as the fulcrum point of disaster. Or... if we eventually find from that class a Miguel and a Melky Cabrera, it could be the smartest thing we ever did.

Two years later, well, it's hard to say if we're geniuses or dullards. Yesterday, Robert M. Pimpsner - a writer for the Yes-affiliated Pinstriped Prospects - looked at the Super Class in a post titled, "It's still too early to give up on the 2014 IFA class." He's right. It is too early. But the mere suggestion that this is up for debate is - well - the first possibly potential omen of perhaps a maybe future possibly potential troubling sign. Says Pimpster:

When it comes to judging international free agents, it is important to remember that scouting is never an exact science.  Especially when it comes to scouting players that are 16-years-old.  That is why there are always surprises out of each class, and of course the inevitable let down.

What he doesn't say comes through. Thus far, it's a let-down. No Melky. No Miguel. Not even an Estevan or a Florence. Again: It IS too early to judge these kids. Nobody should be waived, traded or lose his parking lanyard... but after two years, it looks like a bunch of Jackson Melians (who, BTW, is still playing in Venezuela.)

Last season, nobody - not one of them - batted higher than .270. Most hit below .220. The three most touted prospects - Dermis Garcia ($3 million bonus), Nelson Gomez ($2.25 million) and Juan De Leon ($2 million) - hit a combined .200. (De Leon had the highest average .212.) They showed power, hit a few intercontinental missiles, and they were only 18 - young for their leagues. Three years from now, they'll be the age when most college grads start their pro careers. It's too early... but...

Nobody broke out. Nobody stood shoulders above the opposition. Thus far, nada.

I'm not faulting the strategy. I'm just noting that, already, prospect-huggers feel compelled to defend this group. Surely, one or two Super Teens will step forward. They can't all fail, can they? Somebody has to develop into a star. We can't go 0-for-30, right?

Well, until somebody jumps out, a lot of money got spent on X-Boxes and Playstations, and Hal will have a quick excuse not to try it again.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A tough revelation from all this Trump "conflict of interest" business

Yesterday, we learned that the President doesn't have to sell off all his business holdings, if he doesn't want to.

Thus, if Hal Steinbrenner is ever elected President, he won't have to sell the Yankees.

So much for that plan. I hoped to hatch, as our signature 2017 IT IS HIGH campaign, a grassroots "HAL FOR PRESIDENT" movement, based on the idea that the U.S. government would take him off our hands. Now, it's back to stems and seeds. (Shhh, they're gone. You're not hearing this from me, but within the IT IS HIGH intelligentsia, we've had double-secret talks about how to sabotage the anti-Yankee baseball world order. Last year brought LBJ's brilliant "MOON BIG PAPI" campaign - already part of Yankee lore. This year? I can't say much, because it's classified. Eallyray,ecretsay, uffstay, nderstanday? But if you have ideas... Hold it, somebody's coming!) And how about that Aaron Judge! He's a big one, eh? Hope he hits.

Mr. Donald, if you need a whipping mule, how about the NFL?

It's a shell game run by billionaires.

The San Diego Chargers plan to move to LA next year.

The Oakland Raiders may move to Las Vegas.

Buffalo? Detroit? Cleveland? Cinncinati? Better shell out, cities. The owners aren't making enough.

Summarizing Cashman's current list of Yankee "won'ts"

According to the GM-for-Life, we won't...

1. Sign another pitcher.

2. Deal Brett Gardner.

3. Extend Masahiro Tanaka's contract.

4. Trade for Jose Quintana.

5. Abandon the rebuilding plan.

6. Get fooled again.

7. Stop 'till we get enough.

8. Back down.

9. Let go of the one we love.

10. Hold a "Golden Shower Day" fan promotion in 2017.

If Jorge gets passed over again, we riot

I can't think of Cinncinati's Big Red Machine without reliving how they raped and pillaged my Yankees - and by extension, me. They won six division titles, four pennants and two World Series. Today, they have three members of the Hall of Fame - Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez - and one who will get in as soon as he dies: Pete Rose. Four players. Great team. No argument here.

So let's compare that magnificent dynasty to the Yankees of 1996-2004 - Torre's Yankees: Nine division titles, six pennants, four World Series - and all with an extra round of playoffs, making their achievements even greater. Do simple math. They should send at least four, maybe five or six players to Cooperstown.

They will have Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. (OK, Roger Clemens after he dies, but his career spanned Boston and Toronto.) Greatest team in modern history, by far... and only two in the Hall.

Fifty years from now, our great-grandchildren will see those four World Championships and conclude they must have won themselves, because behind the pillars of hypocrisy known as Baseball's Hall of Fame, there will be no plaques for Bernie, Paulie, Tino, Knobby, Andy, El Duque, Coney, David Wells and - apparently - now we're told, Georgie. Jorge Posada is on the verge of being bypassed for the final time and dropped from the ballot.

Well, we shouldn't be surprised. We know the deal. It's why Roger Maris isn't in, why Clete Boyer isn't in, why Mel Stottlemyre isn't in, why Ron Guidry isn't in, why Sparky Lyle isn't in, why Thurman Munson isn't in... why the Yankees were right to open their own de facto Cooperstown in deep center field: Yankee greats get screwed at the end because they played in a "media capital" where fame is given too freely, and thus, when lifetime awards are divvied out, the voters anoint themselves arbiters of justice, rather than mere observers of the game. Everybody knows the Yankees get too much attention. Therefore, Minnesota sportswriters fought tooth and nail for Kirby Puckett. Their New York counterparts never lifted a latte for Bernie.

So deal with it, folks: Jorge won't make Cooperstown.

Here's another comparison. Surely, the Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM) will win this year's World Series, giving Boston two rings in five years. (Also, three fifth places.) Like Torre's Yankees, they'll also have two Hall of Famers: Dustin Pedroia and Big Papi. (Wait... three, counting Andrew Benintendi!) 

One of these days, we just won't care. That time cannot come soon enough.