Saturday, June 24, 2017

And The One Game Winning Streak Hits A ......

In the last two games, the Yankee offense has posted, on average, 1.5 runs per game.

Do we still have a hitting coach, by the way?

I see our new man, our first base savior ( though it is not his natural position ), Tyler Austin, only struck out 66% of his at bats.

But he is still hitting 200 points behind the guy we jettisoned.

Progress such as this can cause wars.

Now let's fast forward to the ninth inning.

Joe Girardi was at it again, eh?  He put on his thinking cap.

Our "favorite failure" is called upon to hold the Rangers in check, because there is still a remote chance of a Yankee rally ( the odds of coming back, down three runs in the ninth , is about 17% ).

Before any of us can re-fresh our mint julep, a giant 8 appears in the Texas run total.  Game over,  The odds of coming back from that deficit, with only three outs available, plummet to .007.

What does it take for the Yankees to catch on?

 Tyler Clippard is done.

Time for him to be traded for a ladyfinger, or put on the bus with Chris Carter.

These one game winning streaks are painful.  You start to get headaches.

Pithy Little Sayings...

So , believe it or not, when Bush came into the game for the Rangers, I said to myself :

 " Just a dang minute.  The Texas Rangers have a pitcher named Bush?"

Have another swig of that Crown Royal, boy.

Methinks;  " Bush can only leave them with a disaster, for someone else to try and clean up."

Then the announcer mentions, as part of this Bush's Curriculum Vitae, that he only made it to MLB at  age 30 , after extensive jail time.

" No problemo, I howl.  MLB is an equal opportunity employer."

But, just as I start to ponder the reason for his jail time, I keep thinking: GBH,  GBH.  You know, from a Dutch film.  Or maybe it was English.

It has to be English I think.  The Dutch use some form of hieroglyphics in their alphabet, don't they?  So there would not be any GBH's.  Although....Good Beer, Heineken  does work.

GBH in the UK is: Grievous Bodily Harm.  So, this could be some badass on the mound.

I have another Crown Royal.

Here is exactly what I wrote down when Gardy came up, with one out and no one on base, down a run:

" This guy ( Bush ) does not have the character to be successful in this moment."

Cue the re-run:  Gardner catches an inside fastball and cranks one into into the right field seats.  Tie Game.  Bush rages on the mound. Pulls out several imaginary weapons and slashes the resin bag.

 Later, one of his bullpen mates tears off a finger nail and breaks a bone near the tip of his finger in what is labeled, " a hotel room accident."

I had the pineapple ready.  Didn't need it.

Had another Crown Royal instead.

We have started a new winning streak.

Had another Crown Royal.

Chris Carter is no more

Let history show that the last time we saw Chris Carter in Yankee stirrups, he remained true to the Chris Carter Eternal Legacy: 

With the winning run on third, he struck out swinging on four pitches. It was Chris being Chris. Good grief, one more strikeout? That wasn't even a bug bite. That's a grain of sand in the Sahara, a dead wildebeest in the Serengeti, a strain of Chlamydia in Justin Bieber's - oh hell, you get the picture, it happens a lot. 

If you're into numbers - and who isn't! - it was Carter's 70th strikeout this year, tying him for second on the team. I looked it up. He fanned 6 out of every 10 at bats. He struck out 51 times against RH pitchers, hitting .219 - but was worse against lefties, batting only .170. On full counts, he walked 8 times and struck out 14. I looked it up.

Oh, here's a stat to make you pucker: With pitchers ahead in the count, Carter struck out 36 times, with no walks - not once did he outlast a pitcher and draw one of those soul-crushing bases on balls . Also, behind in the count, he hit .200.

But wait, there's more: With men on base, he struck out 36 times. And with runners in scoring position, he produced 22 strikeouts. I looked it up.

With two outs and a runner in scoring position - crunch time for veteran sluggers - he struck out 11 times and hit .130.

O!, here's one: In one-run game situations, when - you know, the Yankees figured he might hit that big homer - he struck out 37 times. Thirty. Seven. Times. 

I can't back this with stats, but I estimate that Carter hit 10 foul ball homers and at least 20 jeeeeeeeeeeeust misses - you know, like Jesse Barfield in his final incarnation - that became towering popups. If he wasn't striking out, Carter was belting Ruthian popups.  

Weird, but in this year of the strikeout, you could argue that Carter wasn't the worst 1B in baseball.  That distinction probably belongs to Mike Napoli, batting .200 with 74 strikeouts. Or Chris Davis of the Orioles, (.226 with 95 Ks.) But whenever Carter strode complacently back to his warm dugout cushion, I had to wonder, how did we get here? 

For the last three years, I'd been whining about why Mark Teixeira couldn't shorten his swing, go to the opposite field now and then, or simply learn to bunt? But he didn't. Or he couldn't. I'd wonder why these guys just don't choke up with two strikes and put the fucking bat on the ball? Yes, I know it's harder than it sounds, but none of them ever seemed to try. Carter's third strike swing was a carbon copy of his first - that long, looping swish. Was there no coach in the clubhouse, no voice in the organization, to take the guy aside and say, "Hey, buddy, this ain't working, you gotta adjust your swing, or you're gonna be gone..."

Today, Chris is gone. Today, we unwrap Tyler Austin - (as you know, we can never have too many Austins, Tylers and Aarons.) Last night, Carter received his walking papers and bus fare to Omaha. Austin is getting called up from Scranton, where he was 6 for 15 with three HRs in his last four games. Supposedly, the Yankees are concerned that Austin strikes out too frequently. For the record, I have no such worries. I hearken back to Trump's stump speech: Seriously, folks, whaddaya got to lose? 

I wish Carter well. He seems like a nice man, almost a gentle soul. But we've just been spared another 100 heart-bursting strikeouts. And last night, we won! The next batter, Ronald Torreyes, singled, driving in the winning run. That final strikeout, Carter's last preserved-in-amber memory, cost us nothing. We don't have to live with it seared into our consciousness.

Okay, now... Chase Headley?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Let's All Stand Up And....

Sing Happy Birthday to El Duque.

Raise a glass to El Duque.

Buy a gift for El Duque,

Give a gift to El Duque.

Cook a paella for El Duque.

Raise another glass to El Duque.

Buy a book ( Ju-Ju Rules!) for El Duque.

Fine a third baseman for el Duque.

Find a first baseman for El Duque.

Find three capable starters for El Duque.

Find three capable relievers for El Duque.

Get a new manager for El Duque.

Get a new GM for el Duque.

Raise another glass to El Duque.

Cheer El Duque for being about the same age as Chris Carter.

Buy the team for El Duque.

Close a bar for El Duque.

Make this day of his ordination on earth a happy one.

Steak and Sirloin, baby!

A bad week becomes a bad month and starts to suggest - gulp - a bad team?

Today, I believe the Gray Lady said it best..

Over the course of a baseball season, about a half-dozen games will vie for the dubious honor of being a team’s worst setback of the year.
Mark down Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels as the early leader in the Yankees’ clubhouse — a game that was so bad on so many levels that it would be difficult to list them all.

How doth we lose? Let me counteth th ways: Castro buckner's a DP ball, Severino butchers a four-run lead, Betances flings balls straight to the backstop, Sanchez sails them into the outfield, and everything goes blooey before Binders Joe can even think of bringing in baseball's current version of Red Klotz, Mr. Tyler "No Lead Is Safe" Clippard. 

Okay... we dropped a stinker. Everybody has them, right? We remain tied for first in the AL East, actually one game up in the loss column. So... why do I feel the ground squirming beneath me?

Sorry, folks, but I cannot escape the notion that this is no longer just a crapola road trip in a turd-pie week. It is now a rotten month on the verge of becoming another clunker season. Two weeks ago, such thoughts seemed impossible - the idea we could add to our lineup the game's top slugger and yet remain a mediocrity - but now, I dunno.  

Of course, the answer is simple: As always, it's pitching, pitching pitching...

Last winter, the consensus was that we didn't have it. Today, nothing has changed. 

Tonight, for example, we can count on - nobody. Tanaka has been awful. CC is hot-tubbing until late July. Severino and Montgomery are morphing back into pumpkins. Pineda is, well, Pineda. Our bullpen looks shot, with or without El Chapo, who has yet to be tested since has return. Today, the famous unnamed Yankee scouts are even questioning whether Chance Adams - our best pitching prospect, who threw six shutout innings for Scranton last night - will be doomed in the majors because he doesn't throw enough grounders. Et tu, Chance?

In May, we viewed our bullpen one of the best in baseball. Today, we are tied for 2nd in blown saves, with 13. In save percentage - that is, the likelihood of succeeding in save situations - we rank 25th... at 53.57 percent. That's right: When the 9th inning arrives, we are only slightly more likely to preserve the lead. No team wins anything meaningful with a 54 percent chance of holding saves. 

One other thing, and yes, I'm a broken record here: I never imagined the Yankees could win and yet become boring. But it's starting to happen. There's debate over whether Aaron Judge should compete in the Home Run Derby. I don't see why it would affect him: Isn't that what Yankee games have devolved into? We are tied (with Tampa) for second - behind Houston - with 115 home runs. Yet we have 120 more strikeouts than the Astros. Our poster boy is the well-mannered Chris Carter, whom I can no longer watch. When he marches to bat, I leave the room. Now and then, he runs into one. But how much longer do we watch this guy swing and miss, swing and miss, swing and miss? 

Okay, we had a bad night. Now... what? 

I say, prepare yourselves, everybody. Because we are about to learn the truth about the 2017 Yanklees, and it might not be pleasant.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Zen Fails. Is replaced by Clown College.

Misplayed ground balls.

Throws from the catcher into centerfield ( albeit, from his knees ).

A dropped ( lame ) pick-off attempt ( no damage ).

A wild pitch that looked to clear the mezzanine ( with runners advancing).

An avalanche of clutch hits by them.

Our hitters slumping to their knees to flail at third strikes, in the dirt, a yard wide of the plate.

Girardi's press conference after this one has to top them all.

I stopped watching after the national anthem ( " Trump on Parade").

Send me a message by pony express if we come back to win this one.

Where are my duck feet?

The Zen Win

Last night, a voice emerged for "calm."

To watch the game without JU-JU, false idols, or rage.

Simply take what comes and enjoy it.

Nothing else was working, so a number of us signed up.

I give you below some of my in -game texts to Duque and Mustang ;

" Thrill to the moment;  the colors, the spirit of the crowd."

"Ebbing and flowing.  Energy.  Mother earth.  Balletic movements."

" Failing with dignity.  Watching the ball. Trying not to hurt it."

" The ball in flight, arcing its way north, passes through the yellow light of early evening."

" Balance again.  Fairness."

I was totally Zen, as you can read, until Girardi brings in Tyler Clippard to close out the game in the ninth, with an 8-2 lead.

When he gave up a double and a home run, I bowed my way out of the incense ridden TV room, grabbed my 20 gauge shot-gun, went outside, and blasted two rounds into the cornfield.

Thanks, anyway, LBJ, you got me through 8 innings.

The secret key to the everlasting Yankiverse is named Austin Romine

Austin Romine grew up within the sacred orbit of the Baby Jesus. Obviously, I mean Montero - the former future Yankee superstar, to whom Romine always played homely backup singer. This was the case, even though a few Yankee scouts secretly recognized that Jeez was more comfortable with a fork and spoon than a catcher's mitt.

Drafted in the 2007 second round, Romine actually could catch. Ten years later - now nearly 29 - I can't help but think he could start for several MLB teams, yet we need him too much to let him go. 

Earlier this season, when Gary Sanchez pooched his wrist, Romine stepped up. In April, he hit .314 with 2 HRs and 10 RBIs, and I swear each one mattered. Last night, with the team facing a possible 8th straight loss, Romine delivered a critical double, driving in two runs. He went 3 for 4, lifting his average to .237. (It dropped in May, after Sanchez returned, and Romine semi-disappeared.)
Barring injuries to Sanchez, Romine will always be a Yankee backup. Thus, he gets overlooked. In many respects, he mirrors the evolution of Francisco Cervelli, a popular Pirate catcher with a .276 average over three seasons. Four years ago, we traded Cervelli for LH reliever Justin Wilson, who was later converted into Luis Cessa and Chad Green - last night's bullpen savior. It's a small world, the MLB.
I mention Romine because soon - within the next month - the Yankees must decide whether to be trade deadline buyers or flea market sellers. Should we trade for a starting pitcher or 1B... or stick with what we've got? I have argued for the latter, but let's face it: Not all youngsters succeed. One or two will become stars, one or two will be duds, and if we're lucky, we'll score a few Austin Romines.

Sherman, set the Wayback to 2012. Let's look at the Top 20 ranked Yankee prospects according to John Sickels, the self-appointed minor league guru. Five years ago, here's what Yoda Sickels had to say:
1. Gary Sanchez.  "Excellent power production in full-season ball at age 18; that is rare. His glove needs work and he needs to take his career more seriously, but he has time to outgrow emotional immaturity." Well, he got that one right, and so did we, by keeping him. MY SCORE: PLUS TWO.
2) Manny Banuelos, LHP: Now 26 in the Angels system and getting whacked (5.24 ERA) at Triple A. We traded him for Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter, (whom we traded for Tony Renda, who was then part of the deal for Aroldis Chapman. Like I say, small world, eh?) So, I'd say we won on Manny. PLUS ONE. 

3) Dellin Betances. "Ceiling is a tad higher than Banuelos, but I'm less confident that he'll reach it. Depending on what happens with his command, he could develop into anything from a number two starter to a disappointing mop-up man." Sickels got him right and wrong, eh? But we did well by keeping him. PLUS TWO.
4) Mason Williams, OF.  Stuck at Scranton. Not much hope, because of Ellsbury and Gardner. This would have been a guy to trade. MINUS ONE. 

5) Dante Bichette, Jr. 3b. Mired in Double A, not looking good. Still only 24. Long bypassed by a herd. We got nothing. MINUS ONE.
6) Juan Campos, RHP: Now Vincente Campos, 24, in the Angels system. Came to us in the Montero/Pineda deal. We traded him to Arizona for - gulp - Tyler Clippard, the current bogeyman. If we discard the last week, this was a successful conversion. PLUS ONE HALF.
7) David Phelps, RHP. Now 30, we traded him with Martin Prado for future injury Nathan Eovaldi, nothingburger Garret Jones and Domingo German - our newest bullpen flavor of the day. We did all right, I guess. PLUS ONE HALF. 
8) Ravel Santana, OF. Hurt ankle, lost speed, vanished. Nothing. MINUS ONE HALF. 

9) Tyler Austin, 3B-1B. Homered last night in Scranton. Recovering from broken foot. I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, "GET THIS GUY TO THE BRONX." PLUS ONE HALF.

10) Adam Warren, RHP. A true lug nut, who went to the Cubs (with Brendan Ryan) in the deal for Starlin Castro. A solid, positive return. PLUS ONE.

11) Austin Romine, C. "I don't like Romine as much as a lot of other people do. His bat is stagnating and his performance doesn't match his reputation behind the plate, at least in terms of throwing out runners. Still, he should have a long career and at age 23 he can improve much further." PLUS ONE.

12) J.R. Murphy, C. We traded him for Aaron Hicks. Big return. PLUS TWO.

13) Cito Culver, SS. At Scranton, poster boy for first round draft over-reach. MINUS ONE.

14) Brett Marshall, RHP. Nope. MINUS ONE HALF.
15) Slade Heathcott, OF. Another lost first round pick. Now hitting .268 with 11 HR in Triple A for the Giants. Was whispered to be head-case. I still root for him. He's 26. MINUS ONE.

16) Angelo Gumbs, 2B. Nope. Was high draft pick. MINUS ONE HALF.

17) Nik Turley, LHP.
 Finally made it, recently, with Twins. Pitched in two games, was rocked both times. MINUS ONE HALF.

18) Daniel Lopez, OF. No idea where he is. Might be drummer for Mudvane. MINUS ONE HALF.
19) David Adams, 2B: Lost two seasons to broken ankle. At one point was said to be key cog in possible trade for Cliff Lee, then went south.  MINUS ONE HALF.

20) Ramon Flores, OF. Another Angel (what's with it with all these Angels?) we traded him for Dustin Ackley. In the minors somewhere. Not looking good. MINUS ONE HALF.

Final arbitrary score: PLUS 3. Not bad. Actually, much more successful than I figured it would be.

Today, we have a stronger farm system than in 2012. We could have three or four stars. But here's the rub: Some probably will have to go. The key will be separating the John Ryan Murphys from the Austin Romines. And, of course, getting what we can for the next former future Yankee superstars.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Idea of the day: "Give every kid in high school that throws harder than 90 mandatory surgery. I mean we give them glasses or braces right? Why not a nice surgery. The male equivalent of breast implants."

This from the artist Urban Farmer, formerly known as DutchFan, filed in the comments section, (which should be required reading, but I suspect some may miss.)

"By now it is safe to say that a pitcher is a person that is waiting for TJ-surgery.
Sometimes i grab hold of a baseball I have lying around and try some grips. Confessing I have smallish, soft and tender hands, the grip in itself is an effort and a strain on your muscles. 

(Note: Trump hand-size mockery is prohibited on this site. As a matter of public decency, we do not ridicule anyone for the size of their unfortunate, tiny fingers.)

Secondly, all kids throw 95+ these days and on top of that rotate the wrist and elbow and shoulder (independently in the most successful cases) exerting huge forces on the ligaments and joints. An average person cannot keep this up for a very long time before getting injured and ultimately having an appointment in the operating theatre.

(Note spelling of "theatre," in case you doubted that he's really filing from overseas. With that level of detail, it's clear that we would never be able to pull off such a hoax.)

So why are young pitchers not brought up much quicker than is the case now. Especially in relief, where you need 2 different pitches to get 6 outs.

Or, give every kid in high school that throws harder than 90 mandatory surgery. I mean we give them glasses or braces right? Why not a nice surgery. The male equivalent of breast implants. Of course, mainly the rich will gain from this, because they can afford it for their sons.

(I believe this this should become a banner component of the exciting new Republican health care initiative: 

All teens who can throw 86-to-90 mph - I tweaked the radar numbers slightly, but the Congressional Budget Office review should decide this - would be considered to have a "pre-existing condition," that is, a future blown out elbow. The government should cover TJ surgery, automatically, without these poor kids having to wait for the ligaments to fry. 

This move, of course, will not cover illegal aliens, who slip through our borders and purposely throw 95 mph, just to blow out their arms and make the U.S. taxpayers foot the bill. They will be sent to Venezuela, regardless of where they originally come from.

Newly reconstructed elbows will be a win-win for American youth, and even if they fail to make it as major leaguers, it will help youngsters hold up better while working in the coal mines!) 

How We Turn This Around: Zen Juju

The past few weeks have been interesting.

We were playing over our heads and setting the world on fire.  We were racking up All Star ballot votes like nobody's business.  Then, a vile and contemptible and seemingly avoidable storm blew in from the west coast.  It pierced our spinnaker, snapped our mast, and is ripping apart our bow, board by board.  At this point, the best we can hope for is to drift back to port and begin repairing our broken pieces.

While we drift, we're also bracing for the very real possibility that our season is going to sink like a rock.

During this sorry period, we, the crew of the S.S. Yankee, have tried any number of different approaches to turning things around.  We have:

  • Insisted we have no chance of winning.
  • Displayed pictures of comely women partying.
  • Displayed pictures of not-so-comely women partying.
  • Taken a fruity drink with each loss.
  • Tried clamming up and saying nothing.
  • Staged an International Juju Intervention.
  • Derided the hubristic Red Sox.
  • Investigated using farm animals to predict Yankee failures.

Nothing has worked.  The hubristic Red Sox are a half game ahead of us.

The S.S. Yankee is broken.  We're drifting and we deckhands are sitting on our barrels and nets furiously working on scrimshaw hoping that one of us comes up with an answer.  We're hoping with our carving and our art to devise some new talisman that will help us.  A talisman of such potent force that it will allow us to avoid that overloaded cargo ship  yes, that one right there off our starboard  which we didn't see coming and which now seems to be heading straight for us.

Since nothing seems to be working, it occurred to me that maybe we should just try ... (drum roll) ... nothing.  Tonight, let's just watch the game.  We don't need to think about 2016, or 2018, or comely women, or fruity drinks, or Hal, or sheep, or our dismaying propensity for stranding runners.  Let's turn our minds down to a Chance the Gardener level of mush and "just watch".

In other words, maybe we're trying too many things instead of just watching.  We need to be like those Zen masters who achieve a state of mind where the spirit does not seek to obtain anything. We need to arrive at an attitude in which we're not burdened by mundane earthly concerns such as seven fucking losses in a row.  We need to eschew any attempt at seeking personal profit.  (For the purposes of this discussion, we can define "personal profit" as "one fucking victory, please".)

To achieve true insight, we need to rid ourselves of our earthly concerns.  Without a clear state of mind, we Yankee fans cannot hope to achieve universal wisdom.  We need to transcend the dualities and limitations created by our egos and our faltering rotation. We need to understand that even when we lose we are always free, always happy because we can just watch a baseball game.

We need to move toward a Zen form of Juju in which we act without wanting to achieve a result.  Tonight, perhaps, we need to sit cross-legged on the floor, fold our hands, clear our minds, and just watch.

It couldn't hurt.

And By The Way.......

Someone threw a rock and one of my siblings.

That is why we have gotten aggressive.

That is why your DL's are filling up ( minor and major leagues ).

Show some respect.

Let me just float this thought, then ( sorry for the stupid pun was accidental )......

"Don't simply assume that because Chappo had a nice long rest, that he will be the same pitcher."

Make some contingency plans.

The 2016 Yankees have returned

Last night - in the middle-inning blur before Tyler Clippard started tossing moonshots - I watched the next four months play out in a dream sequence. We were down by just one run, though that familiar sense of hopelessness was already creeping from my TV screen, like the watery girl ghoul from the 2002 horror classic, The Ring. Batting was Brett Gardner, for many years now, my favorite Yankee. Gardy turned on an inside pitch and nailed it, bam, a carbon copy of the HR swing that earlier this season stunned the Cubs. But this one went foul. Then, on the next pitch, Gardy tapped an infield bouncer. He hustled to first, almost beat the throw. Out by a step. And I felt the water creeping at my toes. 

I looked it up. Across his career, we have known two Brett Gardners. Over nearly 4,000 at bats, in the first half of the season, Gardner hits.278. He made an all-star team, notched six out of every 10 stolen bases and two-thirds of his homers. Then, poof. Over the second half, his average plummets by 32 points, to .242, and virtually every aspect of his game diminishes. (In Augusts, he hits .232; in September-October, .235. And these are not small sample sizes, folks. This is career-defining reality.) 

I looked it up. Over the 30 days, Gardy is hitting .245. He has already reached his second-half malaise, aka "normalcy." And maybe, so have we.

In the month of June, we are 8-10. Since May 8, the mighty "Baby Bombers" have gone 17-20. What obscured our mediocrity was a bunch of lopsided wins: We are an astounding 19-2 in games classified as "blowouts." But in one-run games, we are 7-9. In simple terms, we are padding our stat lines in meaningless situations, but failing to deliver in the clutch. 

And it's in those critical situations that we were supposed to be led by veterans such as - gulp - Gardy and Clippy. Rookies are undependable, right? That's why we kept Gardner, and why last July, in the midst of the youth boomlet, we traded a 23-year-old prospect, Vincente Campos, for the 31-year-old Cliptard. Those are the guys who are supposed to come through in big moments, right? 

Insert sigh here. Clutch at-bats used to be Gardy's thing. With a game on the line, he was a grinder, a tough out. Now, he taps to the middle infielders and always arrives a foot behind the throw. This entire franchise - which spent the month of May celebrating the Cooperstown credibility of Brain Cashman - now lists in the water like that Navy destroyer off the coast of Japan. 

In the way that we recall other recent Yankee collapses by the likes of Sidney Ponson, Vernon Wells and "Wallflower" Bobby Abreu, I fear this 2017 team will be remembered for Clippard and the beached whale known as Chris Carter. Last night, under media fire after the game, Joe Girardi shrugged and said something to the effect of, "They're all we've got," and you know what? Joe was right. The same can be said of Pineda, Tanaka, Headley and Gardy, the entire veteran brigade: They're all we've got. 

Nevertheless... I am not quitting on this team. Coming into this season, we knew the Yankees were two years away from dominance, and that Boston was going for broke. We never suspected Aaron Judge would become such a monster, or that Aaron Hicks could so elevate his game. In many respects, we've already over-achieved. Boston still has to beat us (though Chris Sale looms.) But soon, it will be time to cut ties with some old friends. It will mean sending Tanaka to the DL, maybe waiving Clippard, benching Gardy and Headley, and maybe even trading CC Sabathia and Pineda - in favor of no names from Scranton. It happened last season with Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, two upstanding citizens of the game. It'll be time to shed skin. Watching your team collapse is never fun. But watching a wave of youngsters can be quite refreshing. In that regard, I am looking forward to the second half, because frankly, games can't get more dreary than last night.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Have A Bookie In Las Vegas........

To some, that will not register as a surprise.

I have been talking with him ( on a " burner" of course ) since we started our west coast collapse.

I gave him a prediction ( he sees everything as a wager ) that  caused him to blow his
evening, " four fingers of Four Roses,"   straight out his nostrils, and onto his date's filet mignon.

What, you ask, had I posited?

I told him that, "The Yankees might not win another game all season."

Those were my exact words.

He did a quick calculation and said he would try to have " odds up by morning."

He warned, however, that the starting point of the bet was, " now," and that the odds would change daily.

He also established a minimum bet of $10,000 because he needs to make a buck before this idiotic idea dies on TV.

The other side to the wager is:  if you put up  $10,000 and win:  you are set for life.

You get the equivalent of what remains on the contracts of Ellsbury, A-Rod and Albert Pujols.

And a Playboy Bunny.

Top Ten List of Current Yankee Open Sores

Two weeks ago, the feel-good, Cinderella '17 Yankees had one eency-weency problem, the temporary kale-and-turd-burger at 1B, at least until our official spring sensation, Greg Bird, returned from his Scranton rehab. Nobody worried. All was groovy. If Chris "Swing and Miss" Carter didn't start producing, Brain Cashman would simply comb the MLB gene pool for a replacement, and our four-game lead in the AL East would surely continue to grow. The world seemed so safe, so secure. We were shitting Bitcoins. 

Then came the road trip to Hell. 

I won't list all the bad things that happened. It's like an Oscar acceptance speech; there are just too many names, and I'd be afraid of leaving someone out. But suddenly, Yankees' problems run up and down our spine, like shingles, and unless Hal orders Cashman to jettison the farm system - and our future - there is no July 31 trade solution. As old Rummy himself once said, "You go to war with the army you have..." Folks, we are deep in big muddy, and the cavalry isn't anywhere in sight.

Nevertheless, there is a bright spot from this six-game losing streak: It gives us a reason to make a new list! Come on, who on the Internet doesn't love lists! It's fun, ranking prospects, players, vegetables, Taylor Swift fuckboys, characters on M*A*S*H, whatever. Thus, I'm going to list and rank the Top 10 Yankee Open Sores. Of course, some of you will surely disagree - that's the fun! - and I apologize in advance if your fave Yankee Open Sore is getting a short-shrift. Life is unfair. If your unsung Yankee Open Sore isn't getting enough recognition, let's be honest: Maybe the Open Sore isn't bleeding enough. So here goes... 

Top 10 List of Current Yankee Open Sores

1. Masahiro Tanaka. This is a swollen, ugly red gash - smack in the middle of our forehead. We must keep pitching him - he's technically our ace - yet he's getting torched. No band-aid can cover this. We need one of those Mexican pro wrestler masks. It's that bad.

2. CC Sabathia. A pulsing, festering thingy... and it hurts to pee. He's out for at least another five weeks, and then what? He was a roller coaster ride before the injury. Must we relive the months of April and May? (Probably.)

3. First base. We need to consider an amputation. Simply stated, Chris Carter is the anti-Christ. And Bird is not the word. Wither goest Lyleth Overbay?

4. Bullpen. This is a rash spreading everywhere. Did we really give El Chapo five years at $86 million? (Did I miss something? Weren't we going to stop doing those deals?) Tyler Clippard is a fever blister. Adam Warren is out. Suddenly, our belly is rumbling with Rumbelows. Everybody but Betances is collapsing. What happens when he slumps? (And everybody slumps.)

5. Third base. Chase Headley's career continues to swirl the drain in excruciatingly slow YES-mo replays. We were going to replace him with Glyber Torres. Oh, well...

6. Pineda. No explanation or description here. You all know what I mean.

6. Aaron Hicks' and Gary Sanchez's nagging injuries. Especially, Sanchez. It seems like just when he gets hot, something barks.

7. Aaron Judge's Ruthian, too-good-to-be-true, first-half run. What happens to this team if (or when) he hits a slump? Seriously, he's having a wonderful year. But do we really think he'll win the Triple Crown? Right now, we are starting to look like the team that cannot score five runs. If Judge falters, we would become the team that cannot score three. That's scary.

8. Castro returning to earth? Well, he's 27; it's possible that this is his career year. But will he continue to hit .324? Doubtful. 

9. Gardner and Ellsbury's murky futures. Last year, Gardy had a terrible second half. He simply seemed worn out. Why do we think this year will be different?Class? Anybody? Meanwhile, Ellsbury's concussion headaches must be starting to worry people. Head injuries = no laughing matter. Last spring, one of them seemed destined to be traded. Now, what do we have, and how long do they freeze Clint Frazier and Dustin Fowler down in Scranton?

10. I leave this open for today's bad news, whatever it is. Shoulder tightness for another pitcher? A base-running hammy? I dunno. But it's out there. Right now, the Yankee boat is made of Swiss cheese. The road trip is over. We're back home. Somebody better step up soon, because if we fall behind Boston, the wild card chase is going to look extremely lame. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

It is Now Becoming An Ignorance Problem....

With no game on tap today, it seemed a good time to clear up some paperwork.

I have, for a long time now, been berating the Yankees for not recognizing Tanaka's "problem."  My guess is he has the same Doctor as Greg Bird.  Mis-diagnose and then under- report.

Only in Tanka's case, it is further complicated by the language barrier.  His translator will only say what is either, neutral, banal and " baseball speak," or he will take orders from his boss ( Tanaka), and say nothing of value about important subjects.

Everyone knows that Tanaka has lost pace on his pitches, has lost depth, and has lost the sharpness of movement required for his breaking balls to be effective.  And that is not because he turned 28 years old.  If he had just turned 38, I would attribute it to age.

By turning down the obviously needed  surgery on his elbow, he has destroyed the Yankees this season.  An ace who is, at best, the nine of clubs.  He leads the league in home runs given up, for Pete's sake.

Tanka has been pitching with a partially torn UCL since September of '14.

If you want to make the case that such an injury has not created weakness, go ahead and make it.  We are all eager to hear your argument "it is all due to mistakes."  Of course it is all due to mistakes, dip-shit.  Jesus, Joe, can't you at least find a new line of bullshit to fluff it up with?

Also I am compelled to ask, "what causes these mistakes,  Dr. Know nothing?"

Why the Fu*k do you think Tanaka has, " a splitter that doesn't do what it was supposed to do?  A slider that didn't slide? " ( Joe's words).   Sure, he struck out 10 guys.  And that is because every batter saw, " meat on the table," and wanted to take a bite.  Everyone was swinging for the fences.

At the end of the day, Tanaka gave up 5 runs in four innings.  Someone do the math and tell me the ERA. Is that an acceptable number for a start in mlb?  That is a, " send him to Scranton," level outing for any pitcher.

The Yankees keep saying, " we've just got to keep working to get him working, or  maybe this is just a bad stretch."  How about, " we've just got to keep him lying about his arm to get his arm better? "
In effect, that has been the Yankee's approach here.

Wake up, ladies.  This isn't a bad stretch.  This is a guy who is not what he once was because for almost three years now, he has been over-stressing a partially torn UCL.   If you keep stretching a rubber band with a nick in it, what eventually happens?

I have to ask;  did any of the Yankee doctors actually go to medical school?  I know the surgeons did, but that is the step after diagnosis.  The " doctors" assessing the problems;  do any really have degrees?  All from the Cayman islands?

News flash:  Tanaka is not going to wake up and get better.  He is feeding his translator the same boatload of lies that Greg Bird fed to his. Tanaka gets respect because he has actually accomplished something in the big leagues, and is believed because no one wants to know the truth.  He relies on the language barrier a lot, and his translator won't say anything about this matter or he will be soon be busing tables at a sushi restaurant.

The deterioration of this pitcher is egregious and obvious.  How long until someone is willing to see the truth?  Why does this blog know the truth, while no one on the Yankees does?

I you take Tanaka to Dr. Andrews now, there is a chance he can be useful again one day.  But he will not be any better this year, if nothing is done.  And he is ruining his option year.  And our season.

End of story.

Yankee Road Trip

There are no words.

Ninth inning, tying run on second, and we have Headley and Carter...

Why blog? Why bother? It doesn't matter. There's no juju. No juju gods. If there are supernatural entities, obviously, they are powerless, untesticled, low-rent deities with coffee-spotted ties and barber-school haircuts, who have nothing better to do for eternity than fix crummy ballgames. What a bunch of losers! Real gods summon hurricanes, earthquakes, wars. Real gods inspire statues, monuments, legends that last forever. Juju gods - should we call them "gods?" they're more like disposable office temps - can't even redirect a 3-2 curve ball. Sad. These bozo dorks don't deserve tributes. They deserve sympathy. 

Frankly, we shouldn't believe in them. That's how pathetic they have become. I'd hope they are reading this post, but clearly, they don't have internet access, or if they do, it's dial-up. They probably can't afford cell phones. I bet they earn minimum wage, work at cramped cubicles, and their cheap shoes squeak along the halls when they walk to the cafeteria to eat vending machine food, those orange peanut butter sandwich crackers, and breathe fumes from microwave popcorn. I bet there's one urinal duct-taped and broken, and the toilet paper dispenser is wound so tightly that it only releases one lousy tissue at a time. I bet the walls have graffiti scratched deeply into the paint, and while they pee, they see messages such as, "Why are you looking up here? The failed juju is in your hand."

What were we thinking, hoping to lobby these minor league, fake-entity clods and cloddesses? They can't even beat the A's. I bet they can't win us a game at Yankee Stadium tomorrow. If I were an eternal juju god, I would hang myself.

And now, the Yanks and Redsocks are tied in the AL East. Tied. All it took was a six-game wipe-out - one trip to the West Coast - to leave us undressed, sunburned and stranded on the side of the road. We knew this team had issues. We knew the rotation wouldn't hold, that certain middling players were not suddenly going to become all-stars and that 2017 was a rebuilding year - that a true championship run might not happen until 2019. Technically, we're not watching a collapse. We're watching a correction. We're watching reality. And now comes the question we have always dreaded: 

Will the front office do something desperate and stupid?

Will we abandon the future and, like mutts unchained for the first time, chase the milk truck, barking, down the street? 

Today, we have four, maybe five, MLB-ready players in Scranton. Each seemingly has a bright future, and each could probably bring a trade for some Lyle Overbay-type creature, if we decide to pull the death trigger.

Tyler Wade, the SS-IF, is hitting .324. He will probably be the 2017 IL Player of the Year, if it matters. He has 19 stolen bases, too. Could he be worse than Headley? Hard to imagine. Will we get a shot at 3B? Equally doubtful.

Outfielder Clint Frazier has 12 HRs, hitting .256. He's on a course to hit 20 in a park that heavily favors pitchers. He's been hot lately, especially since starting the year in a slump. Will he replace Brett Gardner? Barring injury, no chance. 

Dustin Fowler, the CF, has 10 HRs and it batting .293; he has 11 SB and has improved dramatically, establishing himself as a true prospect. Will he play CF for the Yankees this season? Maybe in September, as a cup of coffee.

Glyber Torres, the all-everything super SS prospect, is 25 for 81 (.309) in Triple A. He hurt his elbow sliding two days ago and is headed for tests. If he's out for a week or two, it almost surely eliminates his chance to play for the Yankees this season. (Unless we're talking September coffee.)

Greg Bird is, well, Greg Bird - two words that are beginning to haunt us. He's 3 for 21 on his rehab, perhaps with a sore knee, and we are losing more hope with each passing day. It could be a lost season.  

Tyler Austin, the OF-1B, is 24 for 79, (.304) but the Yankees have inexplicably decided he's worse than Chris Carter, the strikeout king. I thought Austin was a pleasant surprise last summer, when he hit 5 HRs in 83 at bats - (he hit .241)- including some ninth-inning heroics. Apparently, the Yankees saw something else. They signed Carter to ensure Austin would return to Scranton, and they have never looked back, regardless of the strikeouts. 

Soon, the front office will decide the destiny of these 2017 Yankees. Will they package prospects for a quick-hit pitcher or first-baseman? Or would they do what they did last July - bring up the youngsters, regardless of hurt feelings? The fans want Wade or Torres getting a shot at 3B. But the contract says we play Headley. The fans want Austin or Bird at 1B, but we continue to stick with Carter, who has not just been bad; he's been tormentingly bad. I doubt there's a real god in the heavens who can fix Carter's swing. 

Yesterday, with out in the ninth, Oakland's shortstop threw a ball into the stands, putting the tying run on second. A team of destiny would have made the A's pay. This was the moment we had been waiting for, the chance to end the West Coast swing on a positive note, to return to NYC in sole possession of first place.

Up came Headley. He struck out on a 2-2 count. Then it was Carter, who popped up on the first pitch. Game over. First place, over. Dream, over? Soon, will the Yankee youth movement be over? If so, we can't blame the juju gods. The problem, folks, will be us.

A Little Bit of Both

The following is an apt quote from Joe Girardi's keynote speech yesterday to the  International Global World Tautology Foundation Institute Association:

"Sometimes you worry a little bit more [when you get blown out],” Girardi said. “But when you lose tight games, it probably upsets you even more. It’s kind of a little bit of both."
Right there with ya, Joe.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Reasons For Optimism

Go ahead. List them.

Take that, old man: Yanks prove to be disappointments to their dads

Not even a juju intervention helped. (Although there have been incidences of delayed reactions.) 

Are we a good team, or were we just overachieving for a while?

Intervention just in...

Cessa good for 3+ innings, three runs.

Not a bad start.

We May Need A New Early Warning System

In Italy, scientists are studying the idea that certain classes of animals can forecast impending disasters.

The specific focus of the day is the rash of earthquakes Italy has been experiencing in its interior. A recent focus is based around the idea that animal behavior changes before such events, and
that a " warning" ( in the form of altered behavior ) might be able to provide time for thousands of people to avert calamity.

Goats and sheep, for example, living near Mt. Etna have been observed migrating to land areas of high growth vegetation, several hours before serious rumblings or minor eruptions come into evidence.  The goat/sheep theory is that these animals know that the areas of this high and lush vegetation have not been scorched and decimated by previous spewings from the volcano, and, therefore, might represent a " safer place to be."  For a while, at least.

I'm not clear which modified behavioral pattern amounts these farm animals is suggestive of imminent earthquake conditions, but my point holds true:

The Yankees have now experienced their own disaster, and we fans have not been spared a single moment of agony due to forewarning.

Perhaps baseball needs to develop a method of observing change in domestic animal behavior, as a pre-cursor to favorite team losses and losing streaks.  Any lead time, so provided, could help us employ self-deluding and diversionary tactics.

With appropriate warning, for example, we might remove ourselves from access to TV's, radio's and internet during game time situations.  We might create a notebook of activities so personally fulfilling for a 3+ hour period that all our sensory focus is localized and " elsewhere focused'", and baseball easily ignored.

Does any one out there have goats and sheep? And are you willing to watch them often and record their behavior?

More importantly, are you willing to be our sentry, and  provide warnings of abnormal behavior?

I'm thinking the Dutch guy must live near a farm.

It isn't enough simply to pray for rain.

You Will Hear No More From Me.

My use of Ju-Ju worked for a while this season.

I was bitching at everything, and we were winning.

The Dutch girls added to the fun.

This latest experiment, however, has been a catastrophe.

Mixing ugly concoctions, consuming them, and suffering the after-effects.

For what?

Continued, humiliations on the field.

I will silently be part of the international JU-JU intervention, but offer no formulas of my own.

I am sick and tired of forecasting " two run ceiling " games.

I declared the game over, yesterday, at 2-2 in the second inning.

And I was right.

It made me sick.  It was like reliving 2016, and 2015.

I am offering nothing more that will be visible.

Like our bullpen, I have nothing left.

Good luck.


Mrs. Peel, we're needed.

People of Earth: At exactly 5:02 p.m. - (the "02" signifying Derek Jeter's jersey) - all card-carrying members the worldwide Yankee Juju Stream Intelligentsia are hereby instructed to approach your TVs, computers, radios or dental implant listening devices - aka your conduits for receiving Yankee telepathic transmissions - and project your most powerful Rizzutoplasmic ejaculations and ejections in the estimated direction of Oakland, California.

This may require you to occupy a certain juju chair (aka a sitting device, such as Lazy-Boy recliner, bean bag or milk carton), or stand in a certain strategic corner or closet or - if it works for you - "CHARGE THE MOUND." (Make no mistake: I shall be charging my own personal mound, and if that sounds sexual, it's on you.) The key is to find and use your signature move. Consider "The Lookaway." Whatever your situation, apply your strategy.

Keep in mind that past juju interventions have not always brought instant miracles. In fact, one might have doomed Yangervis Solarte. Still, they generally bring delayed effects. 



TODAY: 5:02 P.M., 

Soldiers, I'm not going to sugarcoat this. Any time you make a direct appeal to the Juju Gods, you are heading into uncharted territory. Take a look at the fan to your left and then at the fan to your right. By the end of this day, one of them might not be watching the Yankees any more. 

But desperate times call for desperate juju. We simply cannot sit around and watch the 2017 Yankees fold their tents like be-nippled girl scouts. It is time to take action. It is time to make a difference.