Tuesday, September 23, 2014

If Derek gets a hit and John doesn't call it, did it happen?

MLB.com notices the man who called every major-league pitch Derek Jeter ever saw.

On Monday morning, Steiner Sports will chop John Sterling into 1,000 pieces and sell him.

Seven-Step Plan: How we will win it all

It's quite simple.

1. We win our remaining six games.

2. Both KC and Seattle win only two of their final six games. Meanwhile, Cleveland (which beats KC twice) runs the table. That creates a four-way tie for the Wild Card Away-Field Single-Game Slot Playoff. (WCAFSGSP)

3. We win the two-game Wild Card Away-Field Single-Game Slot playoff. (WCAFSGSP)  In the first round, we beat either KC, Cleveland or Seattle. Then we beat the other first-round advancing team in the Wild Card Away-Field Single-Game Slot Championship Playoff. (WCAFSGSCP)

4. We beat Oakland, or whoever has won the Wild Card Home-Field Single Game Slot, (WCHFSGS) at their home park in the Wild Card Single-Game Playoff. (WCSGP).

5. We beat the Angels, who have the AL's best record, in the five-game American League Divisional Series. (ALDS)

6. We beat the winner of the five-game series between Baltimore and Detroit in the seven-game American League Championship Series. (ACLS)

7. We beat the National League champions in the seven-game World Series.

If Jeter keeps hitting, the ghost of Adam Wainwright will soon rise

It still bothers me that Derek Jeter's warm and fuzzy 2015 All-Star game farewell took an asterisk in the ribs from Adam Wainwright.

As you surely remember, the St. Louis pitcher and NL starter grooved Jeter a meatball, right down the fairway, which Derek whacked for a double. The problem? Wainwright later embarrassed himself and the game by telling everybody what he'd done. Good grief, if you're going to throw a guy a bone, keep your fat mouth shut about it. But Wainwright - angry that the American League scored - blabbed on TV.

What still nags at me, though, is one issue: Wainwright never said who put the meatball idea in his head. Was it his Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny? Or somebody higher up in the food chain? I doubt he came up with the notion himself. Somebody got to him. And later, he was willing to embarrass Jeter - but not to mention who hatched the plan.

So now we're watching Jeter - clueless for the last two weeks - go on a sudden hitting spree against Baltimore, which doesn't need to win these games. Though Buck Showalter hates the Yankees with the heat of a billion suns, he's always loved Jeter - (who doesn't?) - and, no matter how hard you want to believe, you also have to wonder if something is going on here?

For the record, considering all that's happened, it ABSOLUTELY SUCKS to be wondering if something is going on here.

And nobody would blame Jeter - he's the last guy to want leniency from the opposition. Still, if he keeps driving the ball off that left field wall - well, I'm sorry... We love Jeter and want him to do well - (points that, in this current environment, must always be stated in any posting that questions what's happening) - but there's been way too much orchestration of his farewell tour to NOT wonder if we're being played.

This is what happens when an organization - be it a government, corporation or sports team - decides to sell pageantry and myth-making instead of a winning product.

One of the best lines of the year, take a bow David Waldstein

"[I]t was Pirela who had a night he will not soon forget. He can one day tell his grandchildren that he was driven home by Jeter in his first game in the majors. Not in Jeter’s car. Pirela was standing on second base in the fifth inning when Jeter ripped a 3-2 pitch from Wei-Yin Chen into the left-field corner, the latest shot in his six-game hitting streak, and Pirela and Brett Gardner scored."

Dismissed as organizational fodder, ignored for a September 1 call-up, Jose Pirela makes his case

Throughout the 2014 season, Jose Pirela faced one unshakable problem: He wasn't a 30-something castoff from some penny-pinching National League team. If Pirela had been - say - a scrap heap meatball from San Diego or Washington, the Wizard of Waivers, Brian Cashman, would have snapped him up long ago, and Jose would have gotten a chance to play for the famous New York Yankees.

Unfortunately, Pirela spent the season hiding out in Scranton, where Cashman's scouts either never look - or when they do, they use the wrong end of the telescope. Pirela, who turns 25 next month, played a full year at Scranton - that's 130 games and 535 at bats - where he hit .305 with 10 HRs. (He also stole 15 bases.) He played every position but pitcher and catcher. You'd think it meant something when August ended.

Early on, the Yankee brain trust - yes, the same Brainiacs who put their eggs in Brian Roberts and Dean Anna - decided that Pirela was not a major league second baseman. So in June, when 2B prospect Rob Refsnyder literally smashed his way up from Trenton, Pirela was dispatched to left field. And when Sept. 1 came, Pirela didn't even get a coffee call to New York. It was only after injuries to Martin Prado and half the Atlantic Coast that the Yankees remembered Jose Pirela was alive. Last weekend, with the team facing a stretch with Francisco Cervelli at first base, Pirela arrived.

So last night, in his first-ever major league start, what does this No Name, who is studying to become a Nobody, do? Pirela gets two hits, including a triple. That's practically an entire week's output for Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, the Bobbsy Twins of Sloan Kettering.

Of course, you're shaking your head - (I am, too) - saying, "But Duque, it's one game, too small a sample size. You cannot draw conclusions from one night!" And you're right. But here's the rub, and from my perspective, it's maddening:

Pirela could go 10 for 20 this week. It won't matter. Next year, he'll find himself back at Scranton. And Refsnyder, who has crushed the ball at every level, could hit .330 next March in Tampa. It won't matter. Martin Prado - thanks to his performance over another small sample size - will play 2B for the Yankees. That's written in the stone tablet of a $22 million contract. Thus, both Pirela and Refsnyder - if they're not lucky enough to be traded - will be exiled back to the Electric City of the Poconos, disillusioned and depressed, to become the 2015 versions of Austin Romine and Zolio Almonte. They'll hit .150 in the month of April, then get injured, and then forgotten. How many times does it have to happen?

Meanwhile, Brian Cashman - in his next waiver tour d'force - will pluck another Chris Young, Jesse Outman, Antoan Richardson, Zelous Wheeler, et al, from other teams' out baskets. Scranton will be larded with cynical 30-something dead-enders, and in the owner's box, Hal Steinbrenner will scratch his manicured head, wondering why the Yankee farm system does not produce players?

Here's a thought - and yes, I recognize that it comes from far left field, from a washed up, psychological misfit with nothing better to do than think about the Yankees every morning after gargling with a pot of coffee - but dammit, DAMMIT... here goes:

Could it be that the Yankee farm system does produce players? The problem is that the top of the organization simply lacks the courage to give them a chance?

"Can any other modern-day athlete have his cake and eat it, too, as gracefully as Jeter? He has repeatedly indicated he doesn’t want to make a spectacle of his last lap. Then he has repeatedly participated in or not blocked spectacle-like actions. And forget about not getting hurt by such choices. He seems to benefit from them."

Gammonite awakens, discovers himself to be cog in giant matrix of hypocrisy.

On Monday, Jeter pushed it some more, appearing at a midtown Manhattan theater where fans paid a range of four-figure prices to pose for a photo (the higher end) or just witness a mildly entertaining, half-hour conversation between the Yankees’ retiring shortstop and notorious memorabilia schlockmeister Brandon Steiner (the lower end). “The Captain’s Farewell,” they called it. Again, he emerged unscathed. Then he headed to the Bronx and contributed a two-run double, a walk and an RBI groundout to the Yankees’ 5-0 blanking of the Orioles.

Monday, September 22, 2014

From Kelly's horse head to the grounds crew's blown tarp, from Jeter's gyrations to Ichiro's bull's eye... A treasure trove of Yankee oddities

You've got one game to save humanity, ONE GAME: What's your all-time lineup? (Hint: Mine has Jeter at SS)

My batting order in the Existential Baseball League ultimate wild card game. Beat this.

2b  Joe Morgan
cf  Willie Mays
rf  Babe Ruth
lf  Hank Aaron
1b  Lou Gehrig
c  Yogi Berra
3b  Brooks Robinson
ss  Derek Jeter
p  Bob Gibson

(If the existential gods allowed the designated hitter, I'd put Roberto Clemente in right and have Babe as DH.)

"[T]he organization’s long-established devotion to winning games has been superseded by its effort to cast Jeter in the best possible light, pretending, with his placement in the field and the lineup, that he gives the team the best possible chance to win... The enduring image of the NFL’s 2014 season thus far is a piece of Atlantic City security camera videotape, while Major League Baseball has been able to pause and honor Jeter for his glories and how he has served the sport so well. But somewhere along the way, the Yankees drifted off course and winning became secondary to the 2014 Derek Jeter fairy tale."

Buster Olney says what everybody knows.

"The Post once claimed that after sleeping with women, Jeter would leave a gift basket of signed memorabilia in the car taking the “conquest” home. He’s avoided commenting on the item for three years. But he’s still annoyed. “Like I’m giving them signed baseballs and pictures of myself on the way out! Who comes up with a story like that?” He laughs, incredulous. “It said the reason people found out was because I gave the same girl the same basket and I had forgotten I’d given her one—like there are so many people coming through I forgot!” Even if Jeter were cheesy enough to have handed out souvenirs, he’s far too careful to have made that kind of mistake."

Derek Jeter Opens the Door.

Breaking Jeter: The Matt Lauer Interview

I find him hard to crack. Maybe he won’t until he’s played that last game and really breaks open and shares his emotions.”
- Matt Lauer, on interviewing Derek Jeter -

First, Mr. Jeter, thanks for stopping by. We’re all huge fans here at NBC, and it’s an honor to have you. Can I call you Derek?

Thank you. You know, I was reading up about you - so much has been written and said - and I learned that you’ve never been thrown out of a major league baseball game. Not one. That speaks to how you respect the sport, and it’s one of the reasons why you’re such a great role model. Still, I was wondering, didn’t you ever feel a need to argue with the umpires?

Yes, I understand they won’t reverse a call. But I shouldn’t you, as the Yankee captain, protest a call, at least once? For twenty years, the umps were always right? You never saw fit to speak out? Were you scared of them? Or were you above it? I say this respectfully, but were you just too high and mighty to get thrown out of a game?

No need to be defensive. Whatever your reasons, that’s fine. So... when the umps blew a call, you just decided to sit back and take it? You figured, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll get paid, anyway. If I just keep my mouth shut, everybody will admire me, and when I retire, they’ll shower me with gifts.” Is that what you thought?

Well, whatever you thought, it worked. This season, opposing teams lavished gifts upon you. The Angels gave you a paddleboard. The Astros gave you a pair of pinstriped cowboy boots. Do you ever wear them? When you’re sitting around the mansion, do you ever pretend that you’re a cowboy? Do you prance around, wearing chaps and pantaloons, and rope an imaginary steer? No? Of course, you don’t. What was I thinking? You couldn’t care less about their gifts. Just more crap for the yard sale, right? More trash for the bin! Did you throw your special boots into the dumpster, along with the paddleboard?

Yes, we will edit this interview. But, frankly, that’s not your business. Excuse me - EXCUSE ME FOR INTERRUPTING - but I guess we are quite pleased with ourselves, aren’t we? “Look at me, everybody! I’m Captain of the Yankees! I own a pair of special cowboy boots!” But you didn’t care enough to argue one single call, not one!

No, you just figured that if you respect the umps, avoid scandal and hustle out routine grounders, you’d never have to answer any questions. Nobody would care. Everyone knows how Derek Jeter always runs out routine grounders. Oh, he’s perfect! But maybe this isn’t about hustling out grounders, Derek. Have you thought of that? Maybe people don’t care if you hustle out routine grounders. When you hit a routine grounder, you’re out. Did you think of that before you hit it?

No, we’re not stopping the interview. This isn’t a game, where you can call time-out. I’m not Bryant Gumbel. The cameras are rolling. We’re wasting valuable electricity. Sit down.
You never grew a beard! You supported the Yankees’ ban on facial hair. You didn’t stand up for any teammate, not one, with a mustache. Oh, no, not you! Not the Captain. The Yankee ownership said, “SHAVE!” and you said, “HOW CLOSE, SIR!” Do you have a problem with self-expression? Do you hate freedom of choice? Oh, you’re clean-shaven, all right. No stubble on Derek Jeter’s chin. Everybody loves you. But who are you?

Stop sniveling, damn it! I don’t need another Ann Curry. OK… here, take this Kleenex. Now, I’m going to ask you one question, DEREK, and I want you to think very carefully before you give an answer. Take a deep breath. Ready?

Now... if you could be one "Star Wars" character, who would it be? And dammit, don’t say “Hans Solo,” because everybody does! What? You don't know? That’s it! CUT HIS MIKE, EDDIE. WE'RE DONE. JETER... YER OUT!

"As Jeter stood on second base during the ensuing pitching change, the Blue Jays’ outfielders — Anthony Gose, Dalton Pompey and Jose Bautista — ran in to shake his hand and congratulate him, knowing this would very likely be their last chance to see him on the field in person."

Remind me to put three more names on the Christmas card list later this year.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jose Bautista, Yankee in 2022

By then, they'll forgive.

Steal this: Commemorative, limited-edition, bases being used in Yankee Stadium today

(Stolen from Reddit) 

Any chance these will be up for sale somewhere?

Oh, no! The Yankees may have lost their two big hitters: Teixeira (.217) and Beltran (.233)

In comedy, they say timing is everything. Maybe the same holds true for farce.

This year, the Incompetent Empire has suffered from dreadful timing, especially with injuries. Yesterday, Mark Teixeira was pulled after wincing noticably in a swing. Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran is in the waiting room for surgery on his elbow, an issue he battled all summer. Both guys apparently have been playing hurt.

Sadly, the injuries come too late to get these two clogged arteries out of the Yankee lineup.

Listen: I love Tex. I hope he someday hosts Saturday Night Live. But this season, he's been terrible, several notches below Overbay Country, and there is no graceful way to put it. If he can't return something remotely resembling his former self, the Yankees should waive him. He's worse than nothing.

Don't believe me? Here are some stats. (Children should leave the room.) Over the last 28 days, Tex is hitting .157. One-fifty-seven. Over the second half of this season: he is hitting .179. One-seventy-nine. In July, he hit .203. In August, .193. In September, .179.  Oh, and these Lenn Sakataian averages were not the reverse leverage of a power splurge. Over the entire second half of the season, Tex has six HRs. And he did this in the middle of our batting order. BE GONE, DEMON.

This year, Beltran was his Bobbsy Twin. Over the last 28 games, Carlos has hit .200. In the month of September, he is hitting .156. Again, he's batting third, fourth or fifth.

Anybody want to know why the Yankees can't score more than two runs per game? It's because these two dead batteries have been gumming up the works.

Down in Scranton, the Yankees have a no name, studying to become a nobody, called Kyle Roller. He is 26, too old for Baseball America, and what the experts call "organizational fodder," whatever that means. Generally, the Yankees stash these guys at Scranton until they die. Roller had a great year. He hit .300 with 26 HRs, most in the organization.

A September call up? No way. Never got so much as a tip of the cap.

I don't know if Kyle Roller has a future in baseball - I doubt he does with the Yankees, but that more a reflection of them than him. But I cannot believe Kyle Roller - or anybody, for that matter - could have done worse than Mark Teixeira did over the last month.

So, at last, ding dong, the witch is dead! The Bobbsy Twins are going home. Let's hope a winter of rest gives them time to heal - and to think about things like bunts, hits to the opposite field, and fooling overshifts. Otherwise, let's hope they think about retirement.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

BREAKING: Steiner Collectibles is slashing the price of Jeter Commemorative 3,000th Hit Wrist Bands!

I know what you're thinking: 
How can they stay in business!!!!

Obnoxious Tropicana Dome sound system advances to Final Four of John & Suzyn sh-tlist

It edged out "experts" who criticize Jeter's fielding.

Next up, the other semi-final bracket.

Yank hitters who cannot handle overshifts.
Sunday night getaway games.
The freezing Fenway Park booth.
Missed Yank scoring opportunities.

Good luck to all.

Another year!

Barring a change of heart or health, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, both of whom have been around the team since before Derek Jeter was drafted, appear likely to return for at least one more season, their 11th together.
John is 76, Suzyn is 68. I figure each has 10 to 15 years left - assuming the bullpen doesn't blow many more games like last week in Baltimore.
Only problem here - not sure how much to weigh upon this non-comment.
[T]he man primarily responsible for deciding whether Sterling stays in his current job is WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, and though he would not say so definitively, he gave no indication the radio duo's immediate future is in doubt.
"I don't really discuss contracts other than to say they are under contract to us for some length of time," he said.

Hello, Media? We need to talk about the 2014 Yankees...

Ahh, hello, dear media! Welcome, and thanks for stopping by! Your hair looks great. You're working out! Have you lost weight? Please, sit! Relax. We just want to talk...

Now... I want you to imagine yourself far off in the future. We're on a beautiful space ship - the star ship "Enterprise!" where bigotry no longer exists, and we're extending the seed of humanity across the universe, with dignity and grace, and weird sideburns. Now... I want you to imagine that the 2014 Yankees are a member of the crew... that's right, a beloved member, like Scotty... and now, I want you to think of this message being conveyed.

"He's dead, Jim."

That's right, media. Scotty is dead. So are the 2014 Yankees. 

They have been dead for a week, maybe two. Everybody knows this. Everybody has known this for a while. Derek Jeter has known it. Joe Girardi has known it. John and Suzyn have known it - good grief, you heard it in their voices during every at bat. It's over. It's been over now for such a long time, that some of us have blissfully moved on, thinking about next year and starting to appreciate the likes of Hiroki Kuroda and Dellin Betances, the rare glimmers of starlight in an otherwise barren night sky. But really.... it's over. 

You do not need to be doing things like this...

OK, I can appreciate the "Never say die!" spirit, which is supposed to be so heroic in sports. It's "Rudy." It's "Rocky." It's "Remember the Titans." It's Derek Jeter, fighting to the final out. Unfortunately, the 2014 Yankees have not been a fighting, ninth inning comeback team. Nor have they been a very good team, at all. They are basically a .500 team. And media, I want you to take a good look at the Yankee "wild card race," because "slim" isn't exactly the adjective Strunk and White would use.

I would say "ridiculous" is a better descriptor. The Yankees are five losses down, with three teams to pass, and nine to play. If they run the table - 9 and 0 - Oakland or Kansas City must still lose five, and Seattle four. Cleveland? Well - OK, we can probably take Chief Wahoo and his pals. 

OK, media - yes, I know - you gotta go. Taylor Swift just tweeted. One thing, though: I don't want you to feel defensive about this. We understand that you're just doing your job - promoting baseball, selling tickets and distracting us from turning against our lizard people overlords. But the Yankees should not get a free pass on hope, because they don't give their fans a free pass on much of anything. (See Steiner Collectibles; See Stadium Seat Prices; See Stubhub Lawsuit; See NY State Tax Breaks; See Greed.) 

You see, media... as fans, we really don't have any choice here: We have followed the Yankees all our lives. We loved them through Hoss Clarke. We loved them through Lenn Sakata. We will love this team, no matter what. So be straight with us, that's all. 

Now... hey! WTF? Taylor is pissed at Katy? GO-GO-GO! God speed!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Somewhere out there, the next great Yankee hero has already been born

This I believe:

Somewhere out there, in some Midwestern pasture, or on a Tampa practice field, or on a far-flung Dominican hillside, the next great Yankee just picked up a stone and whacked it with a baseball bat, calling out Derek Jeter's name on an imaginary play-by-play, and wondering what it must be like.

He might be 18. He might be 11. It doesn't matter. He is exactly where he needs to be.

It may take five years. It may take ten. You do not get to watch many great Yankees in your lifetime. They cannot be bought on the free agent market. They can only evolve over long periods of time. Now and then, one just happens.

But he is out there. This I do believe.

Lead-off walks advance to next round of John & Suzyn Super S--tlist championships; one-day Wild Card looms for Trop vs. Jeter raggers

Amazingly, the ridiculous Tropicana Dome Sound System and fools who criticize the Captain's glovework tied in the regular bracket. That means it's time for a showdown.

Vote early. Vote today. THERE IS NO TOMORROW.


Report from Washington (the state): "So here is Cano's stat line over those last 15 days: .294 BA but with only 5 runs scored; 6 RBI's; 2 HR's - 0 SB's - 2 GIDP (one rally killer last night that gagged me) and 4 freaking errors. He has made only 8 all year - so that is telling. So is he choking? Am I choking? Am I publicly calling him out? I think - yes, yes and yes."

From correspondent Rose City Wobblies:

Thought you and the folks at IIH,IIF,IIc might want to know that while Robbie has been a great contributor and has helped put the M's on the doorstep to a WC spot ... he is spinning somewhat foolishly in the batter's box and on the field.

His team has gone 7-7 over the last 15 days and lost ground to the two front runners ... (pulling out a 3-1 win last night with a heroic 3-run shot in the 9th from journeyman Logan Morrison). It truly has been a blessed season for our regional team .. with no help from Jesus Montero and just a little bit of help from newly acquired Austin Jackson in CF (former Yankee too, BTW).

So here is Cano's stat line over those last 15 days: .294 BA but with only 5 runs scored; 6 RBI's; 2 HR's - 0 SB's - 2 GIDP (one rally killer last night that gagged me) and 4 freaking errors. He has made only 8 all year - so that is telling.

So is he choking? Am I choking? Am I publicly calling him out? I think - yes, yes and yes. Both my Giants and these M's are smelling Selig bowl games ... so I have to be happy. But Robbie needs to step up his game if his team is gonna get over on the A's or Royals. He always looks like the zillion dollar guy that he is being paid and is surely helpful on our mostly Latino bench and locker room - but watch these next ten games ... he could explode or keep circling the drain - and the M's with him.

You can watch the heartwarming new Jeter farewell ad, but on some sites, before it plays, you have to first watch another ad

Yesterday, a bunch of folks sent me emails flagging the new warm-and-fuzzy Gatorade commercial, which follows Derek Jeter on a neighborhood good will tour to the stadium - amid adoring, bootless throngs, filmed in art school black-and-white, while Frank Sinatra croons the epic final bars of "My Way."

By now, I suspect you've seen it. We're late to the party. It pushes a lot of buttons to sell a product known mostly these days for being poured over players and coaches on victorious sidelines. In the toxic wake of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and the National Thug League, PepsiCo prefers to align itself with a fellow who doesn't punch out his wife or use small children to recreate scenes from "!2 Years a Slave." Derek Jeter is great. I certainly agree with that.

I was going to link to the commercial. But on three sites where it was airing, you have to watch another 30 second commercial in order to see the Jeter commercial. 

Imagine that. We finally reached the next realm. We moved beyond wearing product logos on T-shirts or shouting the catch phrases of TV vampires. We've entered a new universe, a trendier one, where the corporations can think, vote and copulate - and the commercials have their own commercials.

In this world, one thing matters. Public Image. That's all. A guy beats his wife? He doesn't need counseling. He needs P.R. The polar caps are melting? No sweat. Fight global warming with P.R! Hunger... poverty... war... blah-blah-blah. With the right P.R., everything is fine.

OK... don't get me wrong. (I'm sour over the outcome of this season.) It's truly a great commercial, a tug at the old heartstrings. Drink a keg of Gatorade! Derek Jeter deserves whatever cheers the corporations can rouse on his behalf. And I'm sure he received a nice paycheck for his efforts.

Two questions, though, and I ask it with nothing but respect for Jeter:

To appreciate Jeter's legacy, do Yankee fans need a commercial?

And when corporations latch onto our hearts, what exactly are they selling?

Last night's walk-off win would have been exciting, had it mattered

I'm sorry, folks. Somewhere out there - or deep within our DNA - lurks the 9-year-old who is now just discovering Lawrence Peter Berra. But that was a half-century ago, and too many Lance McCullers and Ross Moschittos have floated down the Yankee river. They say that a win is a win is a win. That is not true. Last night, I wanted the Yankees to lose. I'm sorry.

But losing is honest. Losing highlights the reality of another failed Yankee season. Losing means having to make another excuse - having to erase another annoyance, though they are mere scratches on the skin to the owners, for whom entire lost seasons barely register financially as mosquito bites. Through the mere act of existing, the Steinbrenners have accumulated more wealth than most middle class communities, and why wouldn't they believe that any problem can be solved with a checkbook? Isn't that exactly how Hal Steinbrenner viewed the 2014 season? Time to grab the wallet and buy a team?

Losing is honest. Losing means your $20 million cleanup hitter doesn't go on a 10-game hitting streak against Triple A starters and finish the season with a statistical bump that implies he did something, when in fact, he was a pulsing black hole, sucking entire rallies into his maw. Do you want Mark Teixeira to hit five HRs next week, so he can tell his critics that - no, he doesn't need to hit to all fields; he can just swing harder and try to the drive every ball into outer space, Ron Kittle-style. Do you want the Yankees to sign Chase Headley and Chris Young to three-year deals, based on the final two weeks of a nothing season? Should we get excited about "carrying momentum into next spring?"

Losing is honest. Losing is performing the entire play, in perfect character, all the way to the final death scene. Losing is what the 2014 Yankees did best. Losing was their genius. Last week, the game when Young homered against Baltimore, and then Adam Warren filled the bases without a hit - dear God, that was brilliant, a veritable masterpiece of pathos. No. This team needs to keep the losses going. No momentum for 2015. No padding of stats. I want every statistic frozen, so nobody can someday claim this team was anything but a giant stink bomb unleashed in the center of New York City.

Yes, there is one last game to win - Jeter's final home game. Let's win that one. But throughout his career, Jeter played an honest game of baseball. So let's be honest now. The truth about this team is that Lawrence Peter Berra wouldn't recognize it under a spotlight. The truth is simple and painful. This team needs to lose.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In honor of today's Scottish Independence vote, the all-time Top 10 McYankees

The McTop McTen McYankees

1. Joe McCarthy
2. Gil McDougald
3. Jack McDowell
4. Lindy McDaniel
5. Sam McDowell
6. Brian McCann
7. Brendan McCarthy
8. Lance McCullers
9. Rich McKinney
10. Casey McGehee

Boston unveiled its Cuban "Brett Gardner with power" last night

Say what you wish about Martin Prado - a fine, scrappy player, when not lying on a hospital gurney - but if not for the $22 million that Hal spent on Prado, we might have out-gunned the Redsocks to sign 27-year-old Rusney "Brett Gardner with Power" Castillo.

Last night, the Redsocks played their new Cuban plug-in. He went one for four. Brace yourselves, because we'll hear all about him next week. Boston fans are stoned over the Yankee collapse, thinking they'll rebound, while we spin our wheels through the final four years of Brian McCann.

There is one hope, though. Next week, the Yankees will attend an MLB stool sample and mouth check session for 23-year-old Yasmani Tomas, the next big cigar to come out of Havana. Tomas is built like an NFL domestic abuser, plays RF and has prison tower power. He could cost $100 million, and keep in mind that Boston has gobs of cash lying around, collecting dust. Also, they have an actual farm system, with three young impact players on the way for 2015. Add a HR-hitting OF, and they could catapult past us.

Tomas' auction will be the first sign of how Marshmallow Hal reacts to the money-burning funeral train known as the 2014 Yankees.

"He's had a significant influence in the clubhouse. There is no statistical documentation, no advanced metric, no WAR number to document that impact, but it exists. Players can have positive (and negative) effects on teammates, the same way co-workers can make other employees more productive or leave them grumbling, miserable and staring at the clock. People on and around the Mariners have noticed the Cano effect."

As Seattle chases that magical, mythical, mirthful, away-field, one-game Wild Card, the beloved superhero known as Robbie Cano has enraptured the glistening-haired Gammonites of Bristol. 

Mike Trout almost certainly will win the American League MVP award -- and deservedly so... But there is another player in the AL who might mean more to his team than Trout does to the Angels. 

Beltran and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Two days ago, Carlos Beltran left the team because his wife suffered a miscarriage - a real life tragedy - and if there is one upside to the bleak 2014 season, it is that Beltran needn't rush back to the Yankees.

Why bother? The team is divoting through the back nine holes of Derek Jeter's farewell tour, a sad and surprisingly tiresome period, when Beltran could play no meaningful role other than to remind the Yankiverse of its disillusionment with the current regime.

Seriously, folks, if we had the chance, wouldn't we rather follow Extreme Frisbee?

Or Ramon Flores! Wait a minute. Who TF is Ramon Flores? Well, he just happens to be a 22-year-old OF who hit .247 at Scranton this year. His numbers (7 HR) won't inscribe him into Jesus Montero Cooperstown Club, but Ramon was the official Yankee emissary to youth at Triple A - our youngest player. He healed from an injury and came on at the end of the season. Not a future CF monument, maybe. But Ramon was one of four - yep, just four - at Scranton under the age of 25 (2B Rob Refsnyder, P Nick Rumbelow and P Manny Banuelos), the rest of the team being a scrap-heap assortment of Steinbrenner Collectibles. You know - the Yangervises, the Zelouses, the Antoans, the Adonises, the Ronniers... the list goes on.

But wait, this is about Beltran, who last year at this time was leading St. Louis into the post-season. Last year, he looked like an actual lithe National League outfielder. This year, from Day One, he resembled another slow-footed, pulled-pork, AL designated hitter.

Last year, he played the outfield with grace and experience. This year, he bull-charged a right field foul line, did a full flip, landed on his ample butt, and never was quite the same. He didn't hit for power. He didn't hit for average. Then one day, he announced that he couldn't throw, due to a bone spur. He could have had an operation, but he would miss six to eight weeks.

Looking back, he should have had the operation. Instead, he stayed, and did a four month impersonation of a large stone going through a long snake. He and Mark Teixeira became the Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells of 2014 - and the last thing you wanted to see was those two coming up with a runner on base. The LOB Machine. That's what they should call the 2014 Yankees.

So... it's over for Beltran. If you check his last four years, he's been up and down, up and down. That means he could rebound in 2015. Of course, he'll be 38 - and he never had such a terrible, horrible, no good very bad year as this. Even if he comes back, what are we talking about? A .270 average and 20 HRs? Is that what we want from a DH? And then there is 2016, when his biorhythms would call for - dear God - he'll make Hafner look like Babe Ruth.

Surely, everyone wishes the best for Beltran's family. But we're stuck with him. And because of him, Ramon Flores might spend the next two years at Scranton. Hey, what's happening in Extreme Frisbee?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The dean of baseball writers pulls the plug on Brian Cashman: "I don’t think I have advocated anyone’s dismissal since a college football coach many years ago when I was a college junior, and I felt bad about it afterward. I don’t feel bad about advocating Cashman’s dismissal because he has had his chances and has made millions while squandering many more."

Murray Chass has been writing about baseball since Abner Doubleday painted the base paths. And like much -  if not most - of the Yankiverse, he has seen enough of Mr. Brian Cashman. 

[S]how me a productive farm system that Cashman has built. The Yankees haven’t had a productive farm system since the one that produced Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada, and Cashman was a baby in the system at that time.

Chass is the second veteran NYC Gammonite this week to hone in on the sad record of Mark Newman, the Yankees (soon to retire) director of minor league operations. Sunday, Bill Madden ripped Newman in the Daily News, though he didn't directly attack Cashman, other than to ask why Cashman let Newman fail for so long.

Chass doesn't let Cashman off the hook.

Under Newman, the Yankees have squandered high-round draft choices and have developed no position players who have been major league worthy. For years the organization suffered from internal civil strife between the New York and Tampa offices, each fighting for its position of strength. When Cashman was negotiating a new contract in 2005, he threatened to leave if he wasn’t given complete authority over the baseball operation.

Steinbrenner gave it to him, but he never really used it, allowing Newman to continue doing what he had always done, hiring old friends to staff the scouting and minor league systems and making draft decisions.

Moreover, Chass says one MLB executive told him the Yankees were trying to trade Dellin Betances last year - an absolutely devastating move, considering that Betances is the lone jewel from their system. What does it say about the "baseball minds" of the front office that they almost gave away Betances?

I don't know if Cashman has been the problem. But he clearly is not the solution. The Yankees need someone from the outside to run the farm system and direct operations. It has to be someone who demands full control - mostly from the meddling hands of Hal. Maybe there is a place in the Yankee system for Cashman. Maybe not.

But this year's team has been an all-out disgrace, and we are likely to be worse next year.

Bravo, Mr. Chass, for speaking out!

Calling Mr. Lupica... Mr. Sherman... Mr. Feinsand... guys, are you there?

Last night, watching Hiroki Kuroda lead the charge across the diamond toward the Rays, it occurred to me that we may be seeing the last of another great Yankee

When benches clear, an unwritten rule says that the no-names must protect the stars. You don't want to lose your starting centerfielder in a rugby scrum on pitchers mound.

Along those lines, heros sometimes are made. I shall always remember Shelley Duncan with fondness, because years ago - after a miserable Tampa Ray flattened Francisco Cervelli with a cheap shot, nearly ending his career, during an exhibition game - Shelley kicked a guy in the nuts and launched a payback brawl. If Duncan ever comes to Syracuse for a baseball card convention, he's got my $10 for an autographed glossy. That's a lifetime promise.

Last night, when the benches cleared, three Yankees led the march across the infield, into the no-man's land of a brawl: Esmil Rogers, Antoan Richardson and Hiroki Kuroda.

That's right... Hiroki Kuroda. Age 39. The guy who still can't speak the language. Hiroki Kuroda, who could have every reason in the world to sit this one out. Hiroki Kuroda, the lone Yankee starting pitcher to last the entire year, while younger men crumbled and fell. Hiroki Kuroda, who the Yankees were supposed to go easy on this year, so he wouldn't be overused - but they sure threw that plan out the window - AND HE STILL SURVIVED. Hiroki Kuroda, a great Yankee, a guy on the front lines last night when a teammate had been plunked.

We may be seeing the last outings of Kuroda's great Yankee career. They say he intends to retire in Japan, not the U.S. He'll decide his future this winter. But make no mistake, we may be watching the end of a great pitcher's time in New York.

Over the next week, a lot of people will cry and go crazy over Derek Jeter's goodbyes. At some point, Kuroda will walk off the mound, perhaps for the finale, as a Yankee.

Dammit, we better notice. We better let him know we appreciated him. He led the charge last night. He led the charge all season. Hiroki Kuroda goes down as a great Yankee. Save your money for the baseball card conventions, Yankiverse. We will always want his 8x11 glossy.

Celebrate Good Times, Come On

The 2014 New York Yankees may suck, they may miss the playoffs for two straight years for the first time since the early 90s, Jeter may have his worst-ever year on his worst-ever team on his farewell tour, Girardi may still be a pinheaded black binder lover (except when he goes with old-timey baseball crap like righty/lefty...or worse, his gut, which is often wrong), but we are on the verge, baby!! 

We are ready to party because we may be the only team in MLB this year to eke out a (barely) winning record while scoring fewer runs than opponents!!

The negative run differential is at -35, and while there are a couple of crap teams like ours who may give us a run for the un-money, we can do it if we try!!!

Come on, Yankees, show this league what you're made of!!!

Open Letter to Joe Girardi: It's payback time in Tampa; don't play Jeter tonight

Dear Joe,

First off, one suggestion: A daily cocktail application of Zyprexa and Lamictal can ensure an effective "happy blanket" through rough periods. Feel free to experiment!

Secondly, it's time for a little Florida sinkhole pushback.

For months now, the wretched, mostly invisible fans of Tampa have hoarded and scalped tickets to tonight's Yankee game, believing it will be their last chance to see Derek Jeter play.

Screw them.

Let the Captain sit.

Let him take the night off, see a movie, hang with his girlfriend or gather with buddies to burn that stupid kayak the Rays gave him last night. He shouldn't even show up. Play Zelous Wheeler at shortstop. Or don't even play a shortstop at all. Just have a huge over-shift.

Why would the Yankees subject their captain to another Tampa beanball? Good grief, he's got important home games this week! If a Ray pitcher were to break Jeter's his wrist with an inside fastball, he'd miss games in front of fans that matter.

Twice now - TWICE IN THE LAST WEEK! - he's been nailed by Rays pitchers. Chase Headley took one in the kisser. Overall, the Yankees have been hit five times! FIVE! You know what Auric Goldfinger would have said about that? "Once, Mr. Bond, is happenstance; twice, coincidence; three times is enemy action; four times, jeeze, did you say four? Well, that's a hot stick poked up your butt by Rosa Klebb; and five times - dammit, Mr. Bond, five? After five times, you gotta get Richard "Jaws" Kiel and go 'Deliverance' on those SMERSH bastards. You gotta go Moonraker on Pussy Galore."

Yes sir, it's time to go Moonraker on Pussy Galore, or declare 'World War Jete' on Tampa, or something like that. It's time to show that miserable franchise the Yankees don't need Tampa, don't care about Tampa, and if the people of Tampa are pissed tonight because they came to see the great Number 2, just tell them he's healing from the ball he took on the hand last night, when some Double A bum was throwing at him with a five-run lead. 

Sit the Captain.

Screw the Rays and their stupid city. Five times? That's nuclear war. Tonight, let them boo the Rays and cheer Zelous.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NFL: National Fatherhood League?

Maybe they should rename the Metrodome "the Whipping Room."

Updated schedule for Final Jeter Gifting Ceremonies

Oct. 1, 11 a.m.: Official Jeter Final Yankee Pre-Retirement Coffee, Starbucks, Boston.
Join Derek, manager Joe Girardi and Yankee President Randy Levine for a special, emotional send-off before the Captain's final game. In brief ceremonies, Derek will receive a special, 48 ounce Starbucks mug, with lifetime refills, which will be also offered by Steiner Collectibles as a limited edition Jeter keepsake for only $59.95. (No refills.) This is a memory you won't want to miss.

Oct. 1, 2 p.m.: Official Final Captain's Crap, Men's Restroom, Fenway Park. 
Join Derek, announcer Michael Kay and Yankee President Randy Levine in stall No. 2 for the Captain's final No. 2, while dropping his famed pinstriped pants. During a brief but satisfying ceremony, Jeter will receive a roll of special commemorative toilet paper, which will also be made available by Steiner Collectibles as limited edition keepsakes for only $29.95. (Package of four.) This is an excrement you won't want to miss!

Oct. 1, 9:30 p.m.: Official Final Jeter Hookup, Hampton Inn Hotel, Boston.
Join Derek, general manager Brian Cashman, Yankee President Randy Levine and a Victoria's Secret supermodel for the Yankee superstar's final sexual romp, while shedding his famed Yankee jersey. In special ceremonies, which could last several hours, Jeter will receive a commemorative blowjob, which also will be made available by Steiner Collectibles, as limited edition keepsakes for only $199.99. This is an orgasm you won't want to miss!

Martin Prado lost for playoffs

Prado's appendix burst - the rare sign of a Yankee batter with guts.

If we win all remaining games and take the final, away-team-advantage, one-game wild-card picnic basket, Zelous Wheeler might play 2B.

Yankeetorial: Let us ponder the unspoken rage inside the Yankee psyche.

Another night. Another shutout. Another walkoff loss. Another miserable effort.

Right now, the Yankees are the home team of Hell. They are were in a pennant race, playing clubs who have been dead for a month, and losing to them.

Has a Yankee team ever played with less vigor? They resemble the beer-in-the-clubhouse Boston Redsocks of four years ago, famous for ordering fried chicken during games. It's as if they want these games to go quickly, so they can escape this rotting stench and go home.

Imagine the unspoken frustration in the clubhouse. Once again, a hit here or there, and they would have won the game. But they didn't. Once again, anybody who last spring learned to bunt against the over-shift could have turned around this game. But they didn't. Once again, the game became secondary to the all-important Derek Jeter Farewell Tour.

My guess is this entire goddamm team - including Jeter - resents - absolutely hates - the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour, which months ago became ridiculous. Listen: Jeter is a great player, but since when is every team supposed to lavish gifts upon a retiring player? He is not Hank Aaron. He is not Babe Ruth. He is not the greatest shortstop that ever lived. He is a rarity, because he never got involved in scandal - (mostly because he never married any of his women, thus he isn't five-time divorced) - and meanwhile, in case nobody noticed, Jeter's game fell off a ledge. It's the elephant in the room that nobody discusses. Joe Girardi's first priority this season was to sanctify the Jeter Tour, and everybody at home is still supposed to stand up and salute their TVs when he marches to the plate. Last year's Mariano Tour was farcical enough, considering how the Yankees ended their playoff hopes on the day Rivera was honored. This year was supposed to be a pageant. The Yankees were put together by Steiner Collectibles - no, call them the Steinbrenner Collectibles.

Why did we sign Brian McCann for five years? We had Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine, JR Murphy and Gary Sanchez, the top prospect in the system. None could catch? Why did we make a three-year investment in Carlos Beltran, when two years ago we passed on him? What made us think he would improve?

I'm glad we lost last night. I hope we lose them all. Right now, with 73 losses, we would draft 15th next season. (Actually, we're tied with Cleveland, so we might draft 16th.) If we can run the table, we could bypass Atlanta (75 losses), Miami (76), Tampa (78) and maybe the Mets (79). Of course, drafting higher won't matter if all we intend to do is sign another Beltran. We'll lose the pick, anyway. Tonight, let's hope for another loss. Another shutout. Another walk-off. It's time to blow this thing up.