Thursday, October 27, 2016

Five reasons to trade for... GAHHHHHHHHH!

Yesterday, New Jersey dot com - the online embodiment of onion rings, big hair and proposed gubernatorial candidate Joe Piscopo - phlegmed-up five "reasons" why the Yankees should trade their newly recharged farm system for 33-year-old Miguel Cabrera. Supposedly, Detroit will let him go for the right price and - hell - he'll only make $212 million over the next seven years. That's chickenfeed to folks who run click-bait websites. Why, Cabrera can play first, freeing us to trade Greg Bird for pitching and ARE YOU FUKKING KIDDING ME? TRADE FOR ANOTHER OLD GUY, FADING INTO HIS TWILIGHT? YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS! THIS IS A JOKE, RIGHT? MOE, LARRY, CHEESE! MOE, LARRY, CHEESE... GYAHHHHHHHAHAHAHA...


Okay, better now. I respectfully submit... I respectfully submit... that if we want an aging slugger who costs $28 to $32 million per season over the next seven years, Edwin Encarnacion would do. But listen: The Yankees are at the crossroads. They can stick with a wave of youth that eventually puts us into a position to win multiple titles, like the Cubs are now. Or they can trade the system, chase the Danny Tartabulls and Vernon Wellses and tread water at .500, perennially competing for wild card berths.

Can our front office stay disciplined and work for the future? Or will it go back to the liquor bottle and do exactly what got us into this mess? That is the question of this winter. Everything else is just click-bait.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gannett to Yankees: Drop Dead

Well, this sucks.

A great Yankee beat writer, Chad Jennings, is out of work today, due to cutbacks by Gannett's Journal/News of the Lower Hudson Valley - aka LOHUD.

So ends a great Yankiverse tradition - the LOHUD online community, launched by Peter Abraham (PeteAbe) - around 1999, back when the team always found a way to win, and fans always found a way to feel hope. Over the years, you could always count on at least two great Yankee websites - (not counting this one, of course) - River Ave and LOHUD. Now there is one. (Not counting this one, of course.)

It's part of a big round of cutbacks, which by now we have come to accept at newspapers everywhere. It's a perfect downward loop - so clean, so pure and so efficient you almost have to admire our own self-destruction.

The more that good journalists vanish, the worse our journalism gets, and so the more people hate journalists, and so the corporations cut them, and the cycle eventually gives us an election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump - and everybody wonders how such a thing could happen?

I doubt Jennings will stay jobless for long. Condolences to all who got the slip.

As the World Series turns, the painful questions unfurl

Watching Andrew Miller send the Cubs back into Hell last night, I burrowed beneath the couch and clutched my Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield juju icons, pondering the endless toppling dominoes of Fate. It is now universally understood that if Cleveland wins its first World Series in the TV age, it will have the Yankees to thank. It's cold under that couch, especially under the weight of essential questions:

When we traded Miller, did we sell our soul to Mephistopheles?

And if so, did we get enough? 

This we know: Nobody has an issue with trading Aroldis Chapman. On a team so riddled with holes, three all-star closers made absolutely no sense. Besides, El Chapo would going to walk this winter anyway, and Food Stamps Hal is still clutching every thin dime, because that's the metric by which he measures success. So, Chapman was always gone. But we had Miller for two more years, and he was the best of the trio, So this morning, writing this from under the couch, some big questions still loom.

If we hadn't traded Miller, could we have won the Wild Card?

And could we now trade him for more than what we got last July? 

Listen... what's done is done. I can't answer those questions. But I do know this: The Yankees were challenging until Hanley Ramirez hit that walk-off bomb, and if Miller were still a Yankee, he would have been out there instead of Dellin Betances, who was crumbling from overuse. The difference between Miller and - say - Blake Parker is the difference between life and death, heaven and hell, forever and never, and the record will forever show that there were games when we actually had Parker out there, chasing the final outs.

So... what's done is done. If the Yankees were now shopping Miller, would Cleveland still be in the hunt? Could we still score Frazier and Sheffield from them? And here's another question: Considering their play in August - (Frazier slumped, sorta) - would we still covet them so desperately?

Look... what's done is done. Me, I dunno. Nor do I know what Brian Cashman plans for 2017. But the Yankees are worried about last season's marked decline in attendance, and the fact that Comcast held the line in its dispute with YES. In their fourth year of nothingness, the Yankees have to be feeling kicks to the groin. That means something is coming - good or bad - this winter. A bomb is about to go off in the Yankee roster.

Right now, to send last year's team back out there would be a marketing disaster that not even breast pump stations and a kiddie playground can overcome. We still don't know Gary Sanchez's baseline production - the season ended before his average stopped dropping. We still don't know if Aaron Judge is a future star or a giant strikeout machine. We still don't know if Luis Severino is a starter or a finisher, or anything in between. And those are the hopeful question marks.

Either Hal buys a free agent or two, or we must rebuild through trades. Nobody wants to give up good young players for over-the-hill veterans with bloated contracts. If we were now shopping Andrew Miller, would we get more than we did... or less? I dunno. What's done is done. But I'm telling you, it's dark under that couch.

(Final note: I just did something I almost never do: I read through this a second time. Before pressing "Publish," I feel compelled to add that I favored the trade of Miller last July. It's easy to look back and wonder. But I supported it all the way. What's done is done.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The New Yankee Stadium: Tastes Filling, Less Great.

Even when they were busy losing, the 1980s-era Yankees were still larger than life. Here's a Lite Beer ad that illustrates the point:

Can you imagine Prince Hal and Joe Binderardi doing a commercial like this today?

I can't either.

If they didgiven these guys' personalities, it would be a snooze-fest.  In fact, I think it would go like this:
Hal: Joe, we've listened to our fans and ticketholders and their top requests are for more family-friendly and socially-oriented spaces at Yankee Stadium. Which do you think is the best new social gathering space we're adding? Would you say it's the Sunrun Kids Clubhouse kiddie playground or the Breast Pumping Station? 
Joe: All the studies show we're likely to raise more kiddies who need the playground if we make sure that the Breast Pumping Stations are well used. And it should always be in that order. There is not one possible situation where I would use these facilities in another order. Let me show you what it says in my binder....
Hal: Do you think there's any way we can monetize the Breast Pumping Stations without appearing as shameless money grubbers who try to, you know, squeeze revenue out of everything in our stadium?
Joe: One time I saw Pete Rose watching a woman at a Breast Pumping Station. He was taking bets on whether 'Lefty' or 'Righty' was going to fill more bottles faster. Maybe we can make book like he did?
Hal: These types of contests could be an important source of fan engagement and, heh-heh, we would appreciate the enhanced revenue flow, but I'm concerned what Commissioner Manfred might think if we took any kind of bets.
Joe: Maybe you should ask him about it as soon as he finishes his revenue-sharing meetings with and
Hal: Getting back to my question, I'm a little surprised you didn't choose our Sunrun Kids Clubhouse. As you know, Joe, we want our youngest fans to feel as if Yankee Stadium is an extension of their local park or backyard. We want to nurture their love for experiencing games in person, while providing parents the resources they need to keep their children entertained prior to and during the game.
Joe: During the game? Isn't that what the game is for?
Hal: Well, no, that's what the "MasterCard Batter's Eye Deck", located on the 200 level in center field and "Bullpen Landings" on the 100 level in left and right field are for.
Joe: Hmmm.  Some of the guys are asking where the Breast Pumping Stations would be located and if cell phone cameras will be allowed.
Hal: We were originally going to put them behind the soccer goals we keep in the basement when they're not playing soccer games here in the stadium.  But then, one of our junior interns suggested that the Breast Pumping Stations are themselves a type of gourmet food court, so we went with it.  It was genius, I tell ya.
Oh, and I know you can be set in your ways, Joe, so you'll be happy to hear that fans will only be allowed to use the Breast Pump Stations for the gender they were assigned at birth.
Joe: That reminds me, Hal. Page 133(A)(i) of my binder indicates that, if we start a successful promotion with, in later years we'll actually get more customers for the Breast Pumping Stations, but only if we do the promotion in that specific order and no other.  We need to a shoot for a B.P.S. Usage Ratio of 100 or better.  
Fans: (voiceover): Where the hell do we go for a beer and a hot dog in this place?

LBJ Bonus Commentary: It's only a matter of time before naming rights are sold and these things are rechristened as the Calgon Breast Pumping Stations.

With cell phone chargers and breast pump stations, the Yankees plan to offer an exciting new experience!!!

Great news for non-fans! Your prayers have been heard. The Tankees are spending bigly to improve the "ol' ballpark." The team will add seven (7) new "social gathering spaces," including bars, food stands, restaurants, a kiddie playground, cell phone chargers, breast pump stations and an in-game liposuction clinic! (Actually, no tummy tucks - but why not?) Yes, friends, you read it right: The Yankees are getting breast enhancements, the mothers' milk of pure pinstriped pride and passion!

(Side Note: On the matter of breasts, let's remember that the Yankees are always playing catch-up with their silicon-basted rivals, the bosomy, bra-bursting Bosocks. As you can see, when the traditional Redsock icon at the right is turned on its side, it becomes a giant pair of red boobs filled with three pair of white boobs. Dear God, it's practically a blow-up sex toy.)

The stadium enhancements offer new opportunities for fans to drink, spend money, count steps on their Fitbit bracelets and fidget on their phones, in case the game is dull. A huge open sports lounge means the party will be going the distance - you can carouse and mingle and - who knows? - maybe hookup for a quick pop. A trip to Yankee Stadium will be like visiting your favorite mall: You can do Starbucks, eat a steak, disco dance and pump your breasts as dry as the oilfields outside Houston. And it's just the start. Someday, we can envision a monorail whisking us to the Yankee World of Tomorrow, where animated automations of Jeet and Mo describe great moments in team history. Our brand is getting a service-friendly makeover, just in case the franchise is down for a while. We're boosting our W.A.E. - Wins Above Enhancement.

Insert sigh here.

I've never been to the new stadium. Seven years, and I'm still angry. It's my fault. I just thought it was a bad idea, ripping down a perfectly good ballpark, especially one that folks commonly described as a cathedral. Back when Rudy Giuliani was greasing the skids for the new park, I still didn't think we would do it. I figured somebody would stand up and say, "Are you nuts? You can't tear down the original Yankee Stadium! It's a piece of American culture. It's our Westminster Abbey. It's our Colosseum. It's the House That Ruth Built! You can fix it, you can improve it, but you CAN'T replace it." But nobody came forward, and tear it down we did.

And then - even to this day - when Yankee old-timers return, the YES announcers will say they are back at the old stadium - which is something right out of Orwell's vision about changing the past, because none of them ever played here. Nope, the Yankees tore it down, built a new one and still pretend nothing changed... and - aww, hell - I guess I'm a lousy fan, not willing to shell out to support poor Hal, whose billion dollar gift from the taxpayers will soon offer a new party lounge.

I wonder if there will be money left over for a closer? Breast pumps aren't cheap.

Monday, October 24, 2016

It's time we talked about Chase

In the comments sections, one of you guys recently nailed the essence of Chase Jordan Headley: It's how he shakes his head, grimacing, as he trots back to the dugout after a popup. He's not faking it. He really wanted to deliver a hit. It didn't work. So sad. So... sad... sad... sad...

In May, he'll turn 33. We have him for two more seasons at $13 million per. He's not getting better. After a near MVP year in San Diego, way back in 2011, Chase has settled into a comfortable orbit somewhere out there between Saturn and your anus: Over the last four seasons, he's never hit more than 14 HRs or .259. Among MLB third basemen, he ranks 19th in BA, 15th in OBP and 22nd in HRs - tied with Adonis Garcia, (whom we jettisoned as an OF,) and behind Yangervis Solarte - (15 HR, 71 RBI, whom we originally traded for Headley), and Eduardo Nunez, (whom we traded to Minnesota for the great single A pitcher Miguel Sulbaran.) That's not to mention the most intriguing 3B of the bunch - Ronald Torreyes - whose plucky at bats all season only gave more cause for Chase to shake his head and grimace. So... sad.


(Where have you gone George Steinbrenner, our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.)

Of course, we got Headley - in part - for his smooth glove. Among third basemen, he ranks 6th in fielding percentage with only 10 errors. (Garcia made 17 - which means he's not really an alternative, and Solarte and Nunez both played multiple positions.) On a great Yankee team, he'd be Scott Brosius, and all would be forgiven. On a team that struggles to score three runs - well - it's not okay.

The Yankee 3B malaise has gone on since Greg Nettles arrived from Cleveland, and at this point, I wonder if I'll see a remedy in my lifetime. I mean, it's been a horror show; we even tried Kevin Youkilis.

Still, two more years of Headley? Dear God. Shoot me now. I've seen enough. They can move Starlin Castro - he certainly has the arm - but what about 2B? They've clearly decided Rob Refsnyder is no infielder, which sort of kills his career. We have a 3B dude in Double A: 21-year-old Miguel Andujar, whose $750,000 bonus topped our 2011-12 international signings. In nearly 290 at bats at Trenton, Andujar hit .266 with 2 HRs. Not exactly Manny Machado - but hey, he's young for the league. Andujar supposedly has a gun: They claim he can throw a 95-mph fastball, so if he doesn't start hitting... oh, fukkit... but that's what they say.

What to do about Headley? Jeez, I dunno. I like the guy, but would love to see him gone. I just can't take any more sad faces. And the legacy of rented Yankees - guys like Headley, McCann, and Ellsbury - could be Hal's future reluctance to sign even middling free agents - he's already sworn off the big name auctions. Now, he has reason to avoid everybody. And I almost don't blame him.

So here's the best deal I can imagine: We play Headley another year - another nerdy season - and hope Andujar shows a sign of life, moves up to Scranton. If he doesn't, well - we'll think of something. Maybe we can move Castro and wait for Gleyber Torres and/or Jorge Mateo to play 2B. It's a grim thought - another year of Headley. But realistically, what else can we expect? So sad.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Now Pitching for The Whites

New York's Gabriel Sherman reports
On Monday, Breitbart plans to announce former Red Sox pitcher and Trump supporter Curt Schilling will begin hosting a daily online radio show featuring political commentary and calls from listeners. The broadcast will eventually include a video livestream. 
If you haven't actually read, do it sometime. You'll learn about all of the terrible things people of color are doing to white people, women are doing to men, gays to straights. It's a PC safe space for blubbering racist dipshits, and--because of its Anti-Semetic Reverse-Golem, Trump--Republicans across the country are dancing to its tune.

Cubs v Indians: An Empirical Evaluation of Which World Series Team Yankee Fans Should Support, Based on Fact Analysis and Empirical Evaluation.

Everybody has his or her personal preference, and that's okay. This is America. We live in a free country. No jackbooted fan thugs will kick in your door, simply for supporting the wrong team. That said, have you no shame? Do you want to live your life without even a shred of Yankeeistic forethought and decency?

I thought not. That's why I've devised an easy scientific analysis to discern which team each and every one of us MUST support, in this New World (series) Order. I suggest you print it out and tape it to a corner of your TV screen.

An Empirical Evaluation of Which World Series Team Yankee Fans Should Support, Based on Fact Analysis and Empirical Evaluation.

Reasons to root for each team, based on a qualitative 10-point scale.
(Note: * Denotes points awarded because of pain for Boston fans to see.) 

Cleveland Indians
Sympathy for having to live in Cleveland... 3.0 points.
Sympathy for long world series drought... 2.5.
Swept Redsocks*... 8.7.
Beat Toronto... 3.0.
ex-Yank Zach McAllister (dealt for Austin Kearns in 2010, ugh)... 2.0.
ex-Yank Andrew Miller... 8.5.
ex-Redsock Mike Napoli*... 3.2.
ex-Redsock Coco Crisp*,,, 2.7.
ex-Redsock mgr Terry Francona*... 4.1.
Carlos Santana, namesake of great guitarist... 0.5.
Rock Hall of Fame (assuming if keeps out Journey)... 0.3.
LeBron James, true Yankee fan... 0.50 points.
Chief Wahoo... MINUS 7.5

TOTAL YANKCENTRIC SCORE: 31.8 Yankee Sterling Hexometers

Chicago Cubs
Sympathy for having to live in Chicago... 2.8 points.
Sympathy for long world series drought... 4.0.
Beat Los Angeles... 3.9.
Beat Washington... 1.3.
ex-Yank Aroldis Chapman... 7.4.
ex-Redsock John Lackey*... 4.8
ex-Redsock John Lester*... 5.9.
Javier Baez (why Cubs dealt us Starlin Castro)... 2.2
rock band Chicago - (Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?)... 0.49
Bill Murray supporting... 0.4.
Theo Epstein... MINUS 5.8

TOTAL YANKEECENTRIC SCORE: 35.4 Yankee Sterling Hexometers

Suggested preference: Chicago in 7.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

It's time we talked about Brian McCann.

Over the last two years, Brian McCann has been, by far, the scariest Yankee. He's big, burly - built like one of those evil movie bad guys who somehow still gets beaten up by Tom Cruise. Can you imagine how terrifying McCann would be in clown makeup? Jeez, if Stephen King ever does a remake of "IT," this guy can play Pennywise. Jeeeeez, I'm getting creeped out, just thinking about it.

It's those eyes. McCann is ferocious. When the Yankees signed him three winters ago, they compared him to Thurman Munson, which is one hell of a thing to say about any incoming Yankee. But we all knew why: That moment with Atlanta, when he refused to let Carlos Gomez touch home plate after dissing a Brave pitcher - still one of the greatest baseball YouTubes ever. This was the guy we compared to Thurm. Goddamm!

Moral of the story: Whatever we do, we must first and foremost treat Brian McCann with dignity, respect, courtesy, gratitude - all those things gone in Presidential politics -  otherwise, he'll disappear into a sewer grate and haunt us for generations.

And while we're here, let's dispel the notion that McCann's career was tanked by defensive over-shifts. (That's Mark Teixeira.) McCann gave opposite fields a try. Every now and then, he'd check his swing and slap a grounder into the left field corner and find himself laughing his ass off at second base. Trouble is, he didn't do it often enough to break the over-shift.

To the right are his stats for the last five years - games, at bats, HRs, RBIs and average. Note the consistency. In fact, he practically had the same season this year than in his final two in Atlanta. He always hits about 20 HRs. He always drives in about 60 runs. He always hits what he always hits.

But these are not the numbers you want from your 1B or DH. These are not the stats you want from a guy hitting 3rd, 4th or 5th. On a really good team, these are the stats of your seventh man. And here's the rub: Next year, at age 33 and relegated to backing up Gary Sanchez, McCann's stats will surely decline.

Contractually, we have him for two years, both at $17 million, plus an option for a third. Seventeen million is a hell of a lot to spend on a backup catcher, and 58 RBIs is just not enough from your DH.

Meanwhile, Austin Romine, who will be 28 this year, also hit .242 - with 4 HRs, 26 RBIs in 165 at bats. If Romine played the entire season, the only difference would be fewer home runs, and who knows - maybe the power will come. (There is one other difference - Romine bats RH, same as Sanchez, so we lose the platoon part.)

There's no other way. It's time to trade McCann.

If we don't, we will be shopping him next winter, age 34, when his numbers are even less appealing. I have no idea what we can get for him. But it has to be more than for dealing Romine or going with three catchers, and also parking in Scranton forever the extremely intriguing prospect Kyle Higashioka - who blossomed at age 25 this year. They say Higashioka changed his swing and hit 21 HRs - and .276 - at Scranton and Trenton. He has long been touted as the best defensive catcher in the Yankee farm system. We can't let him rot in Triple A.

It's simple: We either trade the young guys or the old guy.

I have no idea what we can get for McCann. Once, we traded Francisco Cervelli for Justin Wilson, who was then converted into Luis Cessa and Chad Green - a deal hailed by the YES men throughout the second half of 2016. McCann is better than Cervelli was at the time of the trade. (Cervelli, now 30, is a very popular Pirate; he hit .265 last year with 1 HR, but suffered injuries - the bugaboo he always faced with the Yankees.) 

We certainly cannot give McCann away. But if we keep him, next year, right around now, we will be facing the same dilemma: What do you do with a $17 million backup catcher? That's a thought almost as horrific as a clown staring up from a sewer grate.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Curt the Blurt: "I don’t understand how people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic Party,”

The pride of the Redsocks, Curt Schilling, went on CNN to talk politics. It didn't go well.

If Trump owned the Yankees...

We would reject the rigged 2016 AL East outcome.

During games, we would seat opposing players' ex-wives behind the dugout. (Their current wives would sit in the Owner's Box, being groped.)

We'd buy all players from China.

Instead of a facial hair code, we'd have a hairstyle code. (And a skin code: Orange.)

"If you're walking down to first, you get shot!"

Under-performing Yankees would be lambasted in 3 a.m. Tweets.

After we beat Boston, they go to jail.

We'd bar sportswriters.

Twenty eighteen... the year that matters

I hate to say it, but - unless Hal turns into Cher on buying free agents - 2017 looks like a tax write-off. Without a 2009-esque splurge - that is, we sign the likes of Encarnacion, Rich Hill and El Chapo - the Evils next year should again trend near .500 and probably jusssssssst miss yet another Wild Card.

See for yourself. Without a large-scale Hal Mary money infusion, we must improve by trading Gardner and McCann - and/or the youth we spotlighted in July. Right now, here's the lineup.

c Gary Sanchez
lb Greg Bird, Tyler Austin or TBA.
2b Starlin Castro
ss Didi Gregorius
3b Chase Headley or TBA.
cf Ellsbury
lf Hicks, Mason Williams or TBA.
rf Aaron Judge or TBA
dh TBA or TBA-2

sp  Tanaka, CC, Pineda, Cessa, Green, Mitchell, Severino, TBA
rp  Betances, Warren, Clippard, TBA, TBA, TBA.

Without a blast of new free agents - would just one matter? - we're depending on Sanchez, Bird, Judge, Severino, Cessa and Green to come up big next year. It's naive to think they'll all make it. The thing about prospects: They break your heart. We must also avoid major injuries, and when does that ever happen? Finally, Brian Cashman must make lop-sided deals - near bank robberies of other teams - and the cherry on top must be that Boston somehow tanks. What are the odds?

So... the prevailing strategy of every off-season move must be to think about 2018. By then, the verdict will be in on Sanchez, Bird, Williams, Judge, Austin, Severino, Cessa and Green - not to mention Aaron Hicks and - the absolute last chance - Pineda. By then, Clint Frazier, Jorge Mateo, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Justus Sheffield, James Kaprielian and Dominic Acevedo should be ready. A talent wave should be cresting. By 2019 - unless we blow it - the Yankees could be the Cubs of the AL.

So what do we do about Boston? One thing would be to keep them from getting Edwin Encarnacion - which would seemingly guarantee them the 2017 AL East. But if they beat us in a price war, they probably have to sign him for five to seven years. That's Ellsburian in scope. In 2019, he will be 36, along with Pedroia. David Price will be 34, and Hanley Ramirez will be 35. Of course, Betts, Bradley, Benintendi and Bogaerts will be in their primes. That year, the Yanks and Redsocks could be the powerhouses of the AL... maybe all of baseball. Think of it: A new rivalry, with the upstart Yankees seeking to dethrone the veteran Socks? The Bronx would come alive again... because - really - it's been dead and dying now for four years.

Listen: There is a future for the Yankees. Trouble is, it's two years away. We must be patient. And most of all, we mustn't blow it by trading away the hopes of 2018 for a quick and likely meaningless fix.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Welcome to our world, Toronto

Greetings, Torontonians and unhorsed Canadians! Congrats on a great season! You almost did it. One hit here or there! I really thought you had a chance! Oh well, there's always next year! Pitchers and catchers, barely four months away! Do you have the roof rake ready? Oh, one other thing... can we borrow Edwin Encarncion's phone number?

And so does Toronto's time at the top come to an end. This winter - this cold, cold winter - they must either shell out massive bucks for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion - or they'll go back into hibernation in the depths of the AL East. They had two shots at the post-season, and both fell short. One hit here or there... so close, and yet... so far away.

Lo, the cruel vagaries of professional sports! Once, the Yankees were the one team in America that you could always count on. Folks either loved them or hated them. They bought pennants, and it was wonderful. I personally never felt guilt about rooting for the Yankees, because I figured everything else in the the world was rigged against me - (Trump, Trump, Trump) - but at least on the baseball diamond, I was a billionaire. There's something to be said for joyous escapism. The Yankees were my Cuervo Gold.

No more. Today, they feel more like a pack of cigarettes, when you're trying to quit. There seem to be three ways to build a successful pro team.

1. Be terrible for three to five years. Eventually, you'll draft a star, or in the case of Washington, maybe two. By losing, and losing, and losing, you never forfeit top draft picks, and come July, you can regularly trade bloated veterans for a prospect or two. Of course, you can screw up the draft picks and blow the trades, and it might take five to seven years - but if you stick to losing, losing, losing... eventually, you'll win.

This year, the Yankees finally adapted to this reality.

2. Get the taxpayers to build you a breathtaking new stadium. The infusion of public money is God's gift to the billionaires who own pro sports franchises. Usually, it guilts the owner into digging deep for a few free agents.

The Yankees did this in 2009, when the new stadium - buttressed with tax breaks - opened, and we signed CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira.

By the way, the U.S. Constitution originally argued for something called "separation of church and state." Well, that ship has sailed. How about a separation of sports and state? How about a Constitutional amendment that forbids taxpayer money to go to any privately owned sports franchise? Ahh, dream on.

3. Cheat, in some nefarious and covert way. Only God and a few trainers know if the great Yankees-Redsocks rivalry of the early 2000s was a product of drug-fortified steroidal rages. The Cardinals hacked opposing teams' computers. Boston was recently caught bundling huge bonuses to sign 16-year-old Latinos. Today, when a pro team constantly wins - see New England Patriots - odds are they're getting away with something. Wait... is there a Boston component to all this?

So happy winter, Canada! See you back in the playoffs - oh, I'd say - around 2022. And find that roof rake. You'll soon need it.