Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Riff on the Rift

Here's the thing about that generational rift in Yankee fandom, Duque. 

There was this thing called the Great Depression. Pretty rough time, from what I've heard. So the government put in these safeguards, of sorts, to try and stop it from happening again. Glass-Steagall was one of those, kept banks from screwing with people's money by getting into the markets and being investment banks along with being a regular bank.

Then move ahead to many years later. Lots of people who were in government and banking and Wall Street...heck, even the common Joes from the Great Depression were all dead or really old and out of the money game entirely. And people in the financial industry and their goons in Congress started saying, hey, we don't need no stinking Glass-Steagall or any of that old crapula. It's holding us down. We could be making lots more money RIGHT NOW and ratcheting up the paper economy. So the younger types, who only knew the Depression as stories from their drooling family members and some statistics in a book, dismantled those safeguards because what happened before could never happen again...everybody involved was too damn smart and sophisticated now.

And then there was 2007 and 2008, and the housing derivatives collapse, and the Great Recession (which we've really never recovered from) and the ever-moving bubble machine in one market after another. A couple of guys in Congress even said maybe we should bring back that Glass-Steagall stuff, after all. Maybe those old farts actually knew something.

Duque, you and I and our already slightly shrinking pool of gray-haired types lived through the stupid. We know how it happens. It's always, "But this is our chance! We have to do it this year or we never will! Bet the farm, NOW...or better yet, ransack the farm and trade it away!" Win now, whatever it takes, the future is unknown, we have to make our move, yadda yadda yadda.

Bullshit. We've seen that movie. The millennials haven't. They think what we lived through can't happen again.

They're wrong.

For whatever his reasons, Cashman didn't scuttle Glass-Steagall. Good for him. At some point, there's more than today at stake. In a couple of years, we'll be free of some long-term contracts and have, it looks like, some interesting young players to start adding to the mix even before those older players are gone.

Jeter, Bernie, Jorge, Mo, Andy. We need the next group of them, it's been too long already. The kids we didn't trade today are our Social Security. Millennials can't foresee the day they might need it because...well, I couldn't either when I was their age. But life teaches you things. 

Hats off to Cash. Way to go on this one.

Has the Yankees' refusal to trade prospects exposed a rift in the fabric of the Yankiverse?

At River Ave, the prolific, thoughtful, and generally lucid Mike Axisa is not happy. He says Brian Cashman blew it.

I’m in the camp that thinks the Yankees have a wonderful opportunity in front of them — seriously, can you expect Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to hit like this again next year? — and they should have been willing to trade a top or prospect or two to bolster with an impact player, say Price or Ben Zobrist or whoever. I’m glad the Yankees were willing to make Jorge Mateo available for Craig Kimbrel for a few reasons, including the fact shortstop is a position of depth in the system...(Also, Mateo is sooo far away from MLB. He’s not going to have an impact anytime soon and lots can go wrong.) Every report indicated the Yankees wouldn’t move their upper level prospects and me, personally, I would have been more open to moving them.

Listen: I love Axisa, read him almost every day, even though technically, he sort of works for the Empire - (River Ave is owned by YES.) Yesterday's post got me to a-thinkin'... 

Every millennial I've spoken with says the Yankees should have traded prospects, while the old farts like me say we were right to hold our cards.

The easy conclusion - beyond chalking this off as anecdotal - is to picture us old farts as we are: Crotchety and creepy geezers who bluster and fume into our creamed corn about "the hard times," when Jay Buhner, Al Leiter, Willie McGee, Fred McGriff, et al, were traded for hula hoops. But here's the reality: Those deals are now nearly 30 years in the past. With the exception of Jesus Montero - who went for a comparable young player - Brian Cashman has never conducted the kind of prospect yard sales that Old George, in his Mel Hall deliriums, once fostered. (Yes, there is the Mike Lowell trade, and the Lance Berkman debacle - Jimmy Paredes and Mark Melancon - but for the most part, we haven't gone there.)

So consider this rift in the Yankiverse:

Old fans disagree with young fans about trading young Yanks for old ones.

Are the youngsters right is recognizing that Yankee pennant opportunities are fleeting, so we must  strike when we have the chance?

Or are they simply doomed to repeat the past?

Honestly, I donfukkino.

We lost last night. I guess that means today, the "Trade 'Em" camp has the upper ground. Still, I applaud Cashman's guts by sticking with his cards.

Believe it or not, there are worse fates than losing a season. Flip a couple future stars, and you can lose a decade. I'm not trying to sound wise and all-knowing here. I just don't want to be sitting in a home at age 80, screaming at the nurses whenever Jorge Matos comes up.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Say it aint so: Did John blow Dustin Ackley's first at bat?

I'm told The Captain/Master last night called Ackley's first at bat - two pitches - as being Carlos Beltran. He corrected himself a few batters later. Oh well...

Yankees finish last in the coveted 2015 Trade Deadline Championships, ending their Trade Deadline Championships dynasty

Ah, how I love hyperbole! It's the only way to follow evil empires. On that note, let us now hail Day I of "The Age of Ackley," a sea change in Yankee history.

Stone tablets unearthed and deciphered by future insect beings will reveal that on July 31, 2015, A.D., a short and increasingly pudgy humanoid named "Brian Cashman" stood his ground and repelled an advancing chorus of barbarians known as the "Twitterverse." On that date, the Empire of Evil was no longer to be run by Billy Madden, Sir Rupert Murdoch, Vinnie from Bayside, a ghost named "old George," the dispirited soul of James Dolan, and the 14-year-old pimpled-chin army of the NY blogosphere.

Let the record show that the Yankees finished dead last - pathetic losers - in the 2015 Trade Deadline Championships... which was closely observed by every blogger in grades six through 12 across America. The 2015 Trade Deadline Champions were the Blue Jays, who beat out Houston and Kansas City for the honor. Congratulations went out to Toronto, which was entrusted to wear the 2015 Trade Deadline Championship belt with the pride and dignity that befit that franchise's winning tradition.

Sadly, the poor 2015 showing by the Yankee brass ended a skein of Trade Deadline Championships, whose invisible flags hung from the rafters of Yankee Stadium next to the bullpen statue of Sidney Ponson and the CF monument to Chris Capuano. (In 2014, the Yankees were victors in the Trade Deadline race, thanks to Capuano, whom they stole from the Rockies.)

Of course, it's sad to see the great Yankee Trade Deadline Championship dynasty crumble. This year's lackluster outing - one minor trade, and no bloated contracts - propels them into the despised category known as "prospect hugger!" There's no place in New York for that kind of incompetence, as any Knick fan with a Carmelo Anthony Bobble-head can attest.

Yesterday, Cashman tried to salve the heartbroken NY fan base by telling the NY Times: "I know maybe It's not the traditional way our franchise has operated, but I think it's a way that we've already communicated is our blahblahblahblah..." The hell with quoting him. He should have just said, "Things fucking changed, and goddammut, so did we."

Ahh, hyperbole...

Listen: If the Yankees wanted to "win" this year's trade deadline, they could have dealt Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez for Cole Hamels, and then sent Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder and Jorge Matos for David Price. Ka-boom. Slam dunk. Today, the Twitterverse would be slobbering over Cashman as if we dating Lady Gaga. And, well... maybe it would work! Maybe they'd win the World Series. Who knows? But with the expanded MLB playoffs, the winning team not only must be hot for three weeks... it has to be lucky. You can bring in Koufax and Drysdale, but one nub single can knock you out in the first round. Under the modern system, the best team does not always win. That's the reality of a three-tier, wildcard-based post-season.

But here's something you can always depend upon: The most desperate-to-win general manager always, always, ALWAYS takes the Trade Deadline Championship on July 31. All he has to do is dramatically overpay for a few big names. Then it's all about the victory lap. Of course, much depends on whether he plans to be around in three years. Cashman does. After all, the Age of Ackley is here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Deadline over: Cashman emerged from hole, saw his shadow, and we have eight more weeks of a race

All clear.

It's safe to breathe. Take off your helmet. The air has oxygen. 

The fires are out. The waters have receded. The earth has stopped moving, and those damned blaring trumpets in the sky have finally shut up. Nothing happened. We didn't steal Cole Hamels for a handful of magic Colter Beans. Nor did we did shoot ourselves in the Buhner.

Some will say we lost ground to Toronto. Big deal. It's Toronto. They're fighting to be above .500 Since when do we sit around, comparing ourselves to Toronto?

Here's why I'm breathing easier.

1. We didn't trade away the future.

2. Next month, or next year, if we want, we can still trade away the future. (But hey, that's in the future.)

3. We made a microscopic gain - improving our back-up 1B with a flier on Dustin Ackley. That's still more than Baltimore - our closest AL East competitor - accomplished.

4. If we don't get a wave of injuries, we should make the post-season. From there, anything can happen. And if we do get hit by injuries, screw you, juju gods. You were toying with us, and it doesn't matter what we did or didn't do at the deadline. We were always dead.

5. Nobody has really scrutinized the talent traded for the big names - Hamels, Cueto et al - but they didn't move cheaply. At one point, reportedly, we broke down and offered the shortstop, Mateo, to San Diego from Craig Kimbrell. Thank God they turned us down.

6. Someday, bloggers will cherry pick the prospects not traded and the deals not made, and make it sound like lost opportunities. So be it. Hindsight will always be 20-20. I'm still glad we stood pat. It's taken 20 years to rebuild the farm system. We're still not there. It's too early to start siphoning.


A big shoe drops today, and the mystery of Dustin Ackley will be explained

Today, something will happen. It must. I'm sort of dreading it. Today, we will learn why, why, why the Yankees sandbagged themselves into an unlit corner in their quest for somebody named Dustin Ackley.

I spent last night trying to figure it out. Never did. Ackley's nickname should be "The Sphinx." His presence as a Yankee - if he remains one - is a dark, murky mystery.

Listen: I'm not fuming about the prospects we dealt, though they might have nice careers. Flores looked like a keeper, and Ramirez - though ragged - has a high ceiling. Seattle got what they wanted. And for reasons yet unknown, Brian Cashman coveted Ackley. Is this the foreshadowing of an earthquake? Today, will we trade Rob Refsnyder, Gary Sanchez and the Trenton rotation? And if so, for whom? 

You cannot judge a partial score. The Yankees have until 4 p.m. to do something. 

When the news hit yesterday, my first reaction was simple: YIPPIE! We finally replaced Stephen Drew at 2B! Cashman wanted a RH bat, and he got one! Then I learned Ackley's hits LH. Then I learned his average is only 20 points higher than Drew, with half the HR power. Then I learned his on-base percentage is worse than Drew's - something that seems only possible through the realm of theoretical physics. And then Girardi said he sees Ackley as an OF. By then, I thought that waitress in the blue fishnets had spiked my gin with Purple Haze.

OK... we all heard 50 times yesterday that Ackley was the 2nd pick in the 2009 draft. Yippie on that. We've gone from getting ex-all stars of 2009 to getting ex-prospects from that year. If this 2009, we'd be building a dynasty. (Wait: Could Cashman have built a time machine, and he's going back to tinker? Hm-mm. That would explain things.)  

So where does Ackley fit? Last week, we ditched Refsnyder, presumably because of defensive shakiness. Now, we'll jettison Drew (and/or Brendan Ryan) for a guy who hasn't played 2B in two years... and who hits .212? Will he platoon with Chris Young in RF? That's Carlos Beltran's personal resting place. (Did you see Beltran back up Ellsbury last night on the inside-the-park-home run? If Billy Martin were managing, he would have pulled Beltran, then and there. You know how the Yankees honor their players with CF monuments? That's nothing. They erected a statue of Carlos Beltran in RF.)  

My guess: Ackley replaces Garrett Jones... a horrible fielder, the team's third DH. But is he a better hitter than Jones? (Or Ramon Flores?) Did we really trade two prospects for a questionable upgrade over Garrett Jones? 

Listen: Cashman is no fool. Today, something will explain this. Somebody else will go - even if it's a DFA situation. I'm terrified of a trade that will haunt us for a generation. Toronto can celebrate Tulo and Price, but deals with the devil always come back to you. It's the same with Houston, California and Texas: Trade your best prospects, and you get a brief time to celebrate and a long time to regret.

Yesterday, the Yankees kept their future. I'm dreading what today will bring.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Did You Miss Me?

What have you all been thinking?

Yanks coming alive in July.  Best record in baseball.  Building a huge lead in the AL East.

No need to deal prospects or our number one pick.  Play our hand.  Save our future chips.

All good.  Except for one thing.

I didn't go away.  I am still watching and lingering about.  I have to do my work.

Just for now, I give you two names; Tanaka and Pineda.

They both end in "a."

I wonder who is the Yanks' starter tonight.

I just wonder.

Jays get David Price

In the last week, they've traded their Severino, their Judge and their Bird. (Oh, my.)

But they are eight behind us in the loss column.

Does Anyone else Have This Feeling?

Last night, as I watched Tanaka  try to find command, try to find velocity, and try to find anything that would work, I kept having a nagging thought.

When we amazingly won the previous evening, after starting out down 5 runs, I thought/hoped this could be a sweep for the Yankees.  Joe had played it so that our top two pitchers would cap games 3 and 4 against the Rangers.

We stole game 2 in spectacular fashion, no thanks to the departed Colter Capuano.  ( Chris will be fine. He is a phi beta kappa graduate of Duke ).  But Joe's strategy appeared to have worked.

Frankly, Tanaka looked more like Capuano than himself.  It was a hopeless outing.  Guys on base all the time.  Pitching from the stretch.  Walks and hits at every turn.  Quite amazing really that only 5 runs were charged to him ( or scored, for that matter ).

Back to my nagging thought;  Are we starting to see the effects of that lingering, and, "cured by rest," elbow injury?  Are we going to hear something about Tanaka's health, today or tomorrow?

Is this a dagger that I see before me, handle toward my hand.....?

The Mets make ruling NYC too easy for the Yankees

Thirty years ago, the Mets were actually worth booing. They were New York's main team, and the back pages - fueled by Dick Young's thirst for Tom Seaver's blood - covered whatever was happening in the Metiverse: Bobby Bonilla's contract... David Cone's warmup rituals... Keith Hernandez' mustache... whatever. The Amazin's always amazed.

I associate the Mets' success to George Steinbrenner's decision to finally build a team, rather than honor the Knicks-like tradition of splicing together Danny Tartabulls and Bob Shirleys. We laughed when the Mets collapsed into a low-light reel of distress-bag snapshots - most notably, Carlos Beltran watching strike three bisect the plate, his bat on his shoulder.

Maybe the joke was on us. This year, we've had our chances to watch Mr. Beltran's silent magic. (Though, hey! he's hitting lately.)

Last night, the Amazin's once again amazed the world. They announced a trade, and then took it back. They let a kid stand out there, undressed, in front of the world. Pathetic. I've railed about the cruelty inflicted by the Yankees on young players - Rob Refsnyder, for example, getting demoted a day after the team announced he would stay - but this is the new gold standard for institutional fuckupidness.

Sadly, the more the Mets lower the bar, the easier it is for the Yankees to be New York's team.

They are no longer worth booing or - more imporantly - comparing ourselves to.

They ridicule us as "prospect-huggers," but the price of any Yankee deal had better be right

There's an insult common to Yankee message boards: "Prospect-hugger." It stems from the 1980s phrase "tree-hugger," which was the coal industry's Limbaughian, bumper-sticker way to dismiss environmental causes. You don't like shorn-off mountains or rivers of arsenic? You're one a them tree-huggers. Get a job, hippie.

So we now have "prospect-huggers," according to the all-wise fans, who never get attached to the meat on the Yankee farm. They don't see Rob Refsnyder as a future 2B, whose work ethic eventually makes him into a good-hitting, solid fielding player. Nope. They see a "trade chip." They prefer some high-salaried, ex-all-star with a seasoned bat and glove.

I believe if you're not a prospect-hugger, it's because you a) Are too young to remember the 1980s, b) Were too drunk to remember the 1980s, or c) Are that rare fan whose basic knowledge of the game is that there is some guy named "A-Rod." You missed the wholesale savaging of the Yankees - the 14-year-barf - back in the days before there were prospect-huggers.

This week, decibel levels have risen constantly from a shrieking brigade of writers and bloggers who say the Yankees ABSOLUTELY MUST do something to keep pace with KC, Toronto, California - whatever. And - hm-mm, how do I put this? Well... These people are fools.

The Yanks are in first by six. The closest team - the Orioles - did nothing this week. Last year, we cut deals of desperation. This year, other teams are desperate.

Which brings me to Mr. David Price, trade target of the day.

Yeah, I'd love to get him. He always had the feel of a future Yankee. Remember how gracious Price was after surrendering Jeter's 3,000th hit? He's a gamer. He's a moose. And next winter, he will be a free agent. He'll cost us a boatload of money and a first-round pick... if we want him.

But the Tigers don't need to deal. They can chase the last Bud Selig Memorial Wild Card Slot, which is open to all. If they expect to receive the world for David Price, the Yankees should simply hug their prospects and walk away.

Yankee trade chips? We have a few. I'm thinking of Jose Pirela, the second 2B after Rob Refsnyder. Poor guy can hit, but he's on somebody's secret shitlist. There's Austin Romine, the catcher, who deserves freedom. One of the three OF amigos - Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams or Ramon Flores - probably can go. And a couple of the Scranton 10 - the bullpen of Nick Goodys and Danny Burawas - can leave. And - yes - maybe even Ivan Nova, though if we trade him, don't be surprised if he doesn't outpitch whoever we get in return. 

This week, all the blather has been about the big names. Look close, and you find Toronto, Texas, etc. have given up some of their top prospects, and they were picked out by opposing scouts.

Listen: I don't want one Yankee championship every 10 years. I want five. I want an organization built up from within and supplemented through free agency. I don't want perpetual waves of old players, signed to boarish deals, trying to buttress a leaky barge.

This needs to be Cashman's last chance to build that organization. He hasn't done it in 15 years.

Over the next 48 hours, I hope Cashman never dials the phone. Let them call us. If nobody calls, we'll still be in first. Come August 1, something tells me James Shields - with his horrible contract - will pass through waivers. And he won't be alone. Because here's the dirty little secret of July 31: There is no trade deadline. It's a joke. It's just something created by the people we should most fear: The Headline-Huggers. Ugh. Get a job, yuppie.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The little "CC," that is.

Chris Capuano.

Guy gave up nine runs in his last 1 and 2/3rd innings. That'll do it.

Only reason they stuck with him this long was his $5 million salary. They wanted to get their nickel bottle deposits back.

One year deals: You win some (Chris Young, $2.5 million), and you lose some (Capuano.)

Last night, up by 10 runs, The Master was singing

Seasoned Yankee fans can instantly discern game situations by the tone of John Sterling's voice. In recent years, if the Yanks were down by two, he'd moan like a death row prisoner pondering a plate of cold garbanzo beans. Alcatraz had nothing on the Hertz 24-7 Broadcast Booth.

This year, though, the croaking caterpillar has become a music-fluttering butterfly.

Last night, in the fourth, with his team leading by 10, John resembled a songbird on the first dawn of spring. At one point, he launched into "Oh-Me-Oh-My-Oh," an obscure ditty about Ohio, and when Suzyn asked why he was singing, he had so answer. This was godforsaken Texas - 100-degree, bug-infested, gun-nut Texas. This had no connection to Ohio. He had just burst into song spontaneously, like Elvis with Ann-Margret.

If you're not listening to games, you're missing the happiest man alive, and - for now anyway - the most joyous aspect of this Yankee resurgence.

For years now, we've called John "The Master," a title befitting his loquaciousness, his ego and - most of all - his love for the Yankees. But yesterday, we learned that John had been captain of his WMCA Radio softball team during the 1970s. This puts a new perspective on the man.

From now on, considering the Yankee void, instead of "The Master," should we call him "The Captain?"

Was That Colter Bean Out There?

But Colter was right-handed, wasn't he?

We all knew that Joe was dressing last night's contest as, " just another game on a long road-trip," but, in truth, it was a "give-up" game, by strategy.  He was hoping to work some magic with long relievers, keep the game competitive, and then get lucky.

By the time the Rangers undressed our latest version of the Bean ( Chris Capuano ), it looked like a nightmare was at hand.  Less than one inning worked, 4 walks, 5 runs, and Rangers on the bases.

Then, the nightmare became theirs.

We have rarely seen an offensive display like we witnessed last night.  I went to bed with the Yankees pushing up against the 20 run limit, with that 28 year old, just off the bus from Scranton, pitching the best long relief we have seen this year.  There were so many heros last night, many of them named Gregorious, Headley and Young.  Even John Ryan got hot.

But I wish to focus on Colter Capuano.  I have rarely seen a major league pitcher look so frazzled, lost and hopeless.  A rookie's first appearance can't get that bad ( even Mark Melancon's debut where he walked 5 straight batters ), but Chris looked as though he was playing the wrong game.

Mr. Capuano may never recover.  He visage was like the deer in the headlights on the NYS thruway at rush hour. Eighteen wheelers rumbling right at him, everywhere, at 80 miles per hour. He may never even think of himself as a deer again., mush less a ballplayer.

 Did you look at his face?  A face of  pure anguish and helplessness. He must have felt as though his arm was not connected to his body.

Colter Bean, if you are out there, please send Chris Capuano an inspiring letter.  Tell him there is life after baseball.

That's why we have fast food franchises in America.

Holy Jeternut Juice! That newly found Dr. Seuss book is about the Yankees!

What vet should I get?
Who doesn't put me into debt.
A pitcher like A.J. Burnett...
What vet should I get?

A Price would be nice!
I wouldn't think twice!
I'd certainly bite
If the Price is right.

I could get a Cole Hamels,
For my best Scranton mammals,
Who might be Allan Trammels!
(Plus a carton of Camels.)

I could get a Martin Prado,
For a year's supply of Play-Doh.
If I got a new Craig Kimbrel,
My bullpen would be downright crim'nal!

I could get Aroldis Chapman,
What would Boston think of THAT, man?
Or I'd settle for Mike Leake,
Though that name has me feeling bleak.

What vet should I get?
And trade a guy we'll soon forget.
Who won't become the next George Brett.
What vet should I get?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015



Days of Note

Day this year I've been most embarrased to be a Yankees fan:

1) Today, bottom of the first.

Day this year I've been most ecstatic to be a Yankee fan:

1) Today, top of the second.

It's a J-Bomb from Sterl-Rod: Amazing photos of young John Sterling, before The Master learned to THUUUUUUUH

As a dedicated John Sterling blogger, I cannot estimate how many hours, days, years... I have burned in search of The Lost Polaroid - that is, a photograph of a young, raw-boned Sterling. I might as well have looked for Amelia Earhart's left boob. Nevertheless, this weekend, a message from Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside flashed upon my inbox, changing forever the Yankiverse, as driven by Jeep. It held a series of pictures... portraits of The Master as a young man.


Yes, the time is the 1970s. The place is WMCA Radio in New York. The shirt is - well - I'd say a Saturday night, bong water special. The eyes... let's just say he is high, he is far out, he is - gone!

This are screen grabs from a recent episode of L'Chayim, a talk show hosted by Rabbi Mark S. Golub, of which I am privileged to have been the 125th viewer on YouTube. Golub met The Master in the 1970s, when John was - get this - CAPTAIN OF THE WMCA BASEBALL NO-STARS. And John pitched and... batted third.

Check out this incredible form:

There it goes. It's a silver moment. Oh, John... you're Sterling!

Many years before John appeared in this iconic Yankee team photo at the White House...

He appeared with the WMCA All-Star team...

But John always planned to someday become THE MASTER.

Later, John took up the hair code and played for a team managed by the Rabbi. Again, he pitched and batted third.

I know what you're thinking: These pictures cannot be authenticated. In this age of Photoshop, anybody can fix images to produce anything. In fact, that leads to another theory, advanced by Pickett Burnside himself:

These are new shots: Yes, The 2015 Yankees have restored John Sterling's youth. Says Pickett Burnside.

"John's been like a kid again with the juice A-rod gave him.  In Saturday's  game (A-Rod's three homer game), at the top of the ninth, John said that Rodriguez, Teixeira, Beltran, Headley, and  Murphy were coming to bat.  I thought that sounded odd, considering there were only three outs left in the game. Then he added that if Gardner came up, it would be because the Yankees had rallied. The craziest thing: It all came true... 

"Last season, all John ever said was that they have no pop, they have no pop.  They would leave men on base, and you could hear his arms fall to the counter-top, plunk-plunk, in frustration. This year he's been optimistic. Stop watching the game on TV!"

Sir, you are so absolutely right.

Listen: Last winter, John lost practically everything he owned in a fire. That night, while tankers were pouring water onto the blaze, he was returning calls to newspaper reporters who had gone out of their way to savage him. Every year, the Yankees make him sweat out a new contract. He's long past retirement age, and a battalion of haters - some of whom simply hate everything about the Yankees - do whatever they can to mock him (from the safe distance of Seattle.) The guy hasn't missed a Yankee pitch in more than 25 years. He called every at bat throughout Derek Jeter's entire career.

Yep. Something has happened, all right. It's not Viagra or whatever John was smoking in 1973. It's Brett Gardner, it's A-Rod, it's Tex... It's the first team in four years to show a pulse in the ninth inning of a two-run game.

Enjoy the pictures. From now on, they shall occupy center stage in our Yankiverse. John Sterling is young again. And I bet he still owns that shirt.

Tulo to Toronto: The latest sign that Hal was adopted

There's a saying in the Yankiverse, whispered whenever a big free agent signs with Washington or California. It goes this way:

"This wouldn't have happened if Ol' George were still alive..."

Yep. If Ol' George were still kicking, the Yankees would have signed Max Scherzer, James Shield, Nelson Cruz, Robbie Whazhisname, the original cast of Glee and - absolutely, obviously, without a doubt, that international man of mystery... Yoan Moncada. Every December, Yankee fans unwrapped a holiday gift from Ol' George: Look, it's a shiny new Rusney Castillo! Wow, the latest sporty import from Japan, Hideki Irabu!

Unfortunately, because Ol' George was kicking at various times, we ended up with Ol' Randy Johnson, Ol' Gary Sheffield, Ol' Crabby Raul Mondesi, young Kai Igawa, and the cast of Life on Mars (the U.S. version, not the British.) Ol' George had his faves, and for better or worse - they always swam upstream to spawn and die in Pinstripes.

Which brings us to Troy Tulowitzki, latest proof that Ol' George is not secretly living on a lung machine off Guam.

Everybody knows Tulo was supposed to be a Yankee. Ever since Derek Jeter retired, countless blogs have devoted entire Sunday morning breakfasts to calculating the package of Yankee talent that would bring Tulo's surgically repaired hips to Gotham. (By the way, considering A-Rod's resurgence, the phrase "surgically repaired hips" doesn't carry the impact it once did.) Now, we know that Tuno will not metastisize into New York. Tulo has gone to Toronto - a happy home for hitters, because they can swing away, knowing it won't matter - the pitchers will surrender more runs anyway.

This weekend, Hal Steinbrenner - son of George - didn't bite. And let me state a phrase that increasingly should be uttered in the Yankiverse: "Thank frickin' God."

Let's face it: Colorado probably phoned Brian Cashman 50 times, trying to cut a deal. (Something tells me the last player the Rockies wanted was Jose Reyes, who still carries that Metlike stink.) They must have said to themselves, "If ol' George were alive, he'd make a deal!" And, frankly, who knows what might have happened if the Redsocks two weeks ago swept us at Fenway? Right now, the Yankees are blistering hot, killing thirst for an impulse deal. If we were ice cold, would the ghost of Ol' George rise to inhabit his offspring? At least this summer, we don't have to worry about the Babadook. Ol' George is not alive. Rest in peace.

Does the trade make sense? Depends on the details. Does Toronto improve? Yep, but not as much as they would if Tulo could pitch. The Canadians will love him, but something tells me the team will miss Reyes, who made a convenient scapegoat. Now, somebody else will take the flack. Hello, Mr. Bautista? Ready to try on some horns?

Some are already saying the AL East is a battle between the Yankees and Blue Jays. If the Blue Jays sell what's left of their soul for Cole Hamels, maybe we should worry - short team, anyway. Deadline trades are always Faustian bargains. We still have our soul... because Ol' George is in the ground.

R.I.P., sir. Your son did the right thing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Cashnado Week in the Yankiverse, but while we imagine who the Yankees might get, let's also ponder what we might have to give up

Sunday, the all-star mega-superteam Royals banished three sprites to Ohio for the great and mighty Johnny Cueto - the Koufaxian Hall of Famer, now 7-6 on the season. This prompted a loud chorus from the Yankee Blogger Rapid Response Teams, demanding that Brian Cashman pull off a counter-deal. Shriekers gonna shriek, dealers gonna deal. The official scream line is that we need somebody to outduel the great and mighty Cueto - 7-6 this year - in Game 7 of the ALCS, and it can't be Pineda or Tanaka, because they've been flat in their recent starts. Nope. We need Cole Hamels or that traveling Willbury from Chicago, Jeff Somethingorother, whose name I won't bother to spell until he is a Yankee... which, depending on the price tag, I hope is never.

Something's up. Girardi has named Tuesday's starter as "Mr. TBA." Hint hint: He expects Lord Cashman to empty the incubator for somebody. Mr. TBA. To Be Acquired.

Across the Yankiverse, there is a growing antagonism for anyone who remembers the late 1980s, when the Syd Thrifts, Murray Cooks and Woody Woodwards of the world dealt away a possible Yankee dynasty... only to watch bad teams get worse. These days, nobody wants to hear the idea of standing pat and building a team slowly, from within. Those who cry for deadline deals own the call-in shows, and as soon as a kid is traded, the YES Network mirror machine gins up the Manny Banuelos treatment: "Nope, he was never all that good, was never gonna amount to anything. All that previous hype you heard from us, it was just to build him up for a deal."

In fact, lingering fan rage from the 1980s was a reason why Watson and Stick resisted the urge to trade Bernie, Andy, Jorge, Mariano, et al. (Jeter, the high-pick golden boy, was never going to be dealt.) But the Lost Boys period from 1986 through 1994 seems to have vanished from the fossil record. Come July 31, Yankee web sites yowl like 17-year-olders with exploding erections (which actually, a few of them are) - thinking about who the Yankees will get... not who they'll give up.

I don't claim to know more about prospects than Cashman, but I do know this:

Great Yankee teams don't win one World Series. They win three.

I'd love to repeat 2009... but spare me 2010-14, if winning one year means that we give away the next four.

We won't get Cole Hamels for a handful of magic beans. (It's gotten worse, because he threw a no-hitter Saturday.) Philly will demand at least one of our best prospects, plus a package of young players. Do we want to give up the next generation for 15 starts?

Hell. I'd rather take my chances with Adam Warren going against Cueto.

Last year, the Yankees were riddled with holes, which Cashman could fill via cheap solutions. Brandon McCarthy. Chase Headley, etc. We gave up Vidal Nuno and Yangervis Solarte. (Better players than the "experts" claimed, but not dynasty killers.) This year, to keep with the KC Kardashians, Cashman will have to hydrofrack our farm system. We won't get something for nothing.

Cashman hasn't yet dealt away too many greats. I think he's terrified of the one horror deal that will be inscribed onto his tombstone. Still, the more you stare into the abyss - as Freddie Nietzsche said - the more the abyss stares back.

This sudden public push to trade Gary Sanchez - a 22-year-old power hitting catcher at Triple A - is based on the ridiculous assumption that, "Oh, we have McCann and Murphy, so we don't need Sanchez." WTF? In 2017, McCann will be 33, and Sanchez will be pushing 25. Do we really want to give him up for maybe 15 starts?

Something's up. Mr. TBA is coming. Let's face it: Shriekers gonna shriek, dealers gonna deal. But for a moment, imagine the 2016 Yankees as defending World Champions! We can see them next July in fourth place, floundering with 41-year-old Arod and an injured Teixeira... or as a team of emerging youngsters - Judge and Severino, Sanchez and Refsnyder - just maybe the next Bernies and Marianos.

Damn, let's not get hung up about the next 15 starts. Let's think BIG.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sneak peek: Pedro Martinez Baseball Hall of Fame plaque unveiled ...

Put down the phone, Cashman

I've got nothing to say but it's okay, good morning, good morning, good.