Thursday, August 17, 2017

Stand back, world, because plucky Hal Steinbrenner is reaching for the stars!


To dream the impossible dream.
To fight the unbeatable foe.
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To win the wild card under Joe...



So there you have it: Hank of La Mancha's 2017 impossible dream is to reach "the playoffs." Anything else is failure.


I wonder how his dad would have viewed that?

Considering the dynamics of the American League, to reach the magical 2017 wild card game will require at least finishing five games above .500. 

They had a catcher playing third last night, and we never bunted

Jeez, I gotta quit trying to figure out this game. Maybe it was a brilliant move last night - like blowing Watson's computer mind by leaving your queen unprotected - not testing Met catcher Travis d’Arnaud, while he stood knock-kneed at third base. Surely, that's what the Mets expected of us. d'Arnaud hadn't played 3B since Tee-Ball. They scratched two infielders, forcing the emergency defense. It was gift-wrapped for Jacoby Ellsbury, leading off. Just lay down a bunt, exploit the rift, take the gimme. Nope. Never tried. Nobody did. Not once.

Yeah, Gardy sacrificed in the seventh, but not for a hit. With each batter, the Mets moved d'Arnaud around the field, trying to hide him. When he played third, we never even tried. Billy Martin must have been churning in his grave.

Well, we won, right? So why complain? Win, and the what-ifs vanish into the box score like ants into tall grass. All I know is that when Ellsbury led off the game, I'd have bet the house he'd bunt. If it worked, he would have blown the gaskets of every Met pitcher: They're going to kill me with bunts. Even if he failed, they would have had to pitch high and tight. We never tried. Nope. Not once. (And by the way, in the post-game show, nobody asked Joe why we didn't bunt. Not exactly Jake Tappers, the press corps.)

But we won, right? We won without El Chapo or the Toms River Miracle (TRM), who played as defensive replacement. We beat a dead team that, if it played in the AL East, would be chasing Toronto. We kept pace with the '17 Redsock Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM) which - speaking hopefully here - just might be peaking too soon. There are tweaked gonads and slumps yet to come this season, and nothing ruins a September slog more than remembering how hot you were in August. 

I particularly wonder if Chris Sale can keep carrying them. Yeah, he's Cy Young right now, but three games ago, his Matrix cracked: He gave up 7 runs in 5 innings. Thus far, Sale has thrown 168 innings - within last year's pace (226), but that was most he'd ever thrown. He's a workhorse, for sure. So was David Price. The Redsocks are congratulating themselves for rearranging their rotation to have him face us twice more before Labor Day. Fine. That's a lot of pressure innings. They claim Sale gets better the more times he sees each batter. But if we reach the playoffs, it would be four times in five weeks. (Of course, they can play Doris Kearns Goodwin at third, and we won't bunt.)

Any three-game win streak gets me drunk and delusional. I set the World Series rotation. Here's my dream scenario: 

Greg Bird returns and hits as in spring training. That puts us on a level with Houston, Cleveland and - gulp - the Dodgers. This is our lineup.

1b Bird
2b Castro
ss Didi

3b Torreyes (though Joe will play Headley, or the TRM.)
c Sanchez
lf Gardner/C. Frazier (Joe will play Gardy)
cf Hicks
rf Judge
dh Hot Hand (Matt Holliday? Headley. Clint. The TRM.) 


Four man rotation: Sevy, Sonny, CC and Sink (as in Kitchen Sink)
Bullpen: Betances and Robertson as closers. El Chapo? I wouldn't let him near a one-run lead for the next five years.


And if the Mets tonight play Choo Choo Coleman at third, will somebody, for god's sake, please bunt? 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Keeping with the day's political bend...

Ladies and gentlemen... I give you...

THE REAL HOPE HICKS

This is what I meant in the earlier post

You know... this is all so crazy... 


Coney's Keys to the Game!

"She's a superstar at what she does, a great singer and actress and Alex is a superstar in baseball. Any advice coming from them, I'll listen to them."

Gary Sanchez credits dining with J-Rod (or is it A-Lo?) for breaking out of his slump. Seriously. I'm not kidding. He actually said this. And it makes sense. I can imagine J-Lo explaining the intense preparations she went through during the filming of Gigli and Anaconda, the sacrifices she made to achieve greatness. Gary had to be impressed.

On an unrelated note - and feel free to yell at me for going semi-political here - but I saw this Fox still shot this morning, and I can't get it out of my head.

Take a quick glance. This is Fox's version of Coney's Keys to the Game!



Before you start in on me, I'm not just ripping on Fox here. Both sides - many, many sides, in fact are at fault. Many, many, many sides. Many, many, many, many, many sides.

Sign of the Eclipse-alypse: New York tabloids achieve once-in-lifetime singularity over punny Sonny

If you're for a reason to await the Rapture, here you go!

Just days before the looming Solar Eclipse-alypse, the New York tabs today achieved the exceedingly rare, once-per-1,000-years, back page singularity... with a headline pun about someone named... this is scary... Sonny.

I'm not making this up. Here is today's rear end of the Daily News.



And here is the Murdoch Post.




What does this mean? Nothing, of course. Who believes in ancient prophesies! Not me. It's just a wad of nonsense! Nevertheless, over the next few days, my postings might be delayed. I'll be selling my house and possessions, cashing in bank accounts, and moving to the million-year-old salt caverns located a mile below Seneca Lake. I'm not sure if the new digs get YES broadcasts. 


Sonny and Scare. Why didn't I think of that?

Yankiverse stumped over the mysterious disappearance of Garrett "D.B." Cooper

Gather 'round, chitlens. I'll toss another piece of furniture onto the fire and tell a tale that'll girdle your innards. It happened back in '17, the time before the war, before the floods, before the Bryce Harper contract apocalypse. Some say this story foretold the catastrophes yet to come - that dark period when Yankee nicknames were actually pasted onto jerseys that held no pinstripes. Settle down, kids. I know this sounds disturbing, but try not to pee yourselves. This really happened. Let me tell you of the mysterious disappearance of Garrett "D.B." Cooper. 

Who was he? Nobody really knows. He appeared as a tall, baby-faced stranger, probably the result of plastic surgery. They say he came from Colorado Springs. In fact, records suggest he was leading the Pacific Coast League in hitting - .366 with 17 home runs - that is, if you believed the fake sports news. It was late July that year when he suddenly turned up in New York City, reputed to be from a trade for someone named Tyler Webb - one of several interchangeable "Tylers" known to populate the Yankee roster.

He quickly blended in, going 0 for 7. In his third game, Cooper doubled off of Boston's David Price, causing him to be immediately replaced by pinch hitter Brett Gardner. The next night, against Minnesota, Cooper went three for four with two doubles. During his brief July incarnation, D.B. had six hits in 26 at bats, including three doubles and a triple. He helped the Yankees "win" the trade deadline, becoming universally acclaimed for their front office savvy, and being named the "Golden State Warriors of baseball." This happened by acquiring the Toms River miracle Todd Frazier - which caused Cooper to be sent to central Pennsylvania to toil in the newly resurrected coal mining industry.

Little Johnny, throw that plastic resin chair onto the fire. No, don't worry about the fumes. Just breathe in the other direction.

Where was I? Oh yes, eight days later, the phone rang in a certain Wilkes Barre coal yard, and D.B. learned that he was being summoned to Toronto, to play against the Blue Jays. Over the next four days, the story goes that he went 8 for 14, with two doubles and four RBIs, raising his average to .359! 

And then - poof - radio silence. Never to be seen or heard from again

It is said that D.B. went out alone in the wild streets of New York City, searching for a bagel and cream cheese. Did he fall into the river? Did he disappear into one of the underground tunnels, where lost souls are said to still be waiting for their trains? Was he spirited away by the violent hipster mobs who roamed the streets, protesting racism while searching for the perfect IPA? Nobody knows. He simply was gone. Gone. 

To this day, theories abound on the fate of D.B. Cooper. Some blame the disappearance on his inability to hit solo home runs during blowouts - a team requirement. Others say he vanished after realizing he could never replace sluggers like Frazier (who went on a white-hot 3 for 20 tear during that same August period, lifting his average to .210!) and the suddenly reborn Chase Headley (who went 5 for 22 - that's .224, not to mention one RBI!) He simply vanished into the wooden bench.

And there you have it, kids - a Yankee mystery for the ages: 
What happened to D.B. Cooper? I guess we'll never know. So, Johnny, it's turning a bit colder. Toss that Wild Card flag onto the fire. Yes, I know it's made of vinyl. Just breathe in the other direction. Say, anyone want to hear the story of Jorge Mateo?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I cannot watch Aroldis Chapman sweat any more

El Chapo is melting down, literally. 

And you thought CC sweats? This guy's a running faucet. I don't recall him sweating so vividly last year. He's the Jonestown Flood. We should start building an arc.

I think he hurt himself tonight, breaking to first on the last out. If ever there was a 10-day tweak sent from heaven, this might be it. He needs a break, and so do we, before the season floats away.

North Korean dictator is right about one thing...

Let's give Kim Jung-un credit:
He knows the front office blew it by trading for Todd Frazier.

Why has Trump been so slow to denounce the deal?
 

Mm-mm... how refreshing it is to find a more poorly run franchise than the Yankees!

For whatever it's worth, Curtis Granderson is a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny. Dammit, I mean that: Which NOBODY can deny! If the Grandyman ever runs for president, he has my vote. (Ooh-ooh, jumpin' jehosiphat! I just thought of something: Last night, when Curtis homered, did John Sterling sing the Grandyman song? If not, he should have.) But whenever Curtis comes to bat in a Met uniform, my privates spontaneously wriggle with glee. Imagine how depressing it would be if the Grande Canyon were still our CF? He's 36, slow as Lyme Disease, and has hit below .240 in five of the last six years - a ceiling so made of concrete that it's a wonder to still be standing.

Last year, Curtis hit 30 HRs with - gulp - only 59 RBIs. Figure that. Thirty homers and just 59 RBIs? So he homered last night against us - his 18th on a year in which he has only - wait for it - forty-eight RBIs. And here's a shocker: Last night, when he hit is, there was nobody on base. 

Same with Humanis Centepedes, their hitting version of Aroldis Chapman. Last night, Cespedes homered - 15th on the season - driving in his 37th run. Thirty seven. Guess what: A solo shot.

It was as if we were playing ourselves, but an older, weaker, dimmer copy.

In the comic book The Flash, his arch-villain is the Reverse Flash - a bad guy who found the Flash's full-body leotards and dyed the colors backwards. That's always been how I view the Mets... the Reverse Yanks. It's not that they're evil - actually, we're the evil team - but they provide a fun house reflection of ourselves. Last night, with Grandy as DH, they appeared as our time warp, astral duplicate from 2013. For a while, they matched us with solo home runs, until we out-soloed them - Judge, Hicks and Sanchez - driving in, gulp, three runs. 

Listen: I'm not complaining about the HRs - which were more than the rest of the team accomplished. (Hey, Gardy, maybe next weekend, the back of your jersey should say "1 for 5.") And I'm not officially mocking the Mets: They could sweep the next three and win the little coveted 2017 Subway Series. Anything is possible, especially with El Chapo inscribed into marble as our closer. Still, it's nice to play a New York-based team, which means that - regardless of the sport - everyone - be it Carmelo, Odell, Tim Tebow or whomever - is always swinging for the fences, because in Gotham, that's what brings the moolah, bread, scratch, schmegira, spawgioleego... the distilled liquid demigreeb! 

So last night we beat a team with Curtis Granderson leading off. Batting fifth was the famed slugger Wilmer Flores. Entering the night, the team was 12 games behind in the NL Wild Card race. In other words, we played the single-most important reason why the '17 Yankees have owned the NY tabloid back pages. There was no competition. If anyone is unhappy with Yankee management, all they need do was hold their noses and look in the direction of Queens. It's been a reverse year for the Reverse Flashers. But if we compare ourselves to them, remember: It's a false read in a cracked mirror. They're us, just a bad version. And if we don't sweep this thing, shame shame shame...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Which is worse? Having Chapman for five, or knowing Boston will have Devers for 20?

Give Joe Girardi credit. Last night, Jiltin' Joe did the impossible: He achieved a new gold standard for excruciating, pineapple-up-the-butt, worst-loss-of-the-season defeats. 

I mean, the man is an artist. I thought Stephen King could plot a horror story. He's nothing, compared to Girardi. For a while, I believed Tom Coughlin - ex-coach of the NFL Jersey Giants - was the all-time master of last-minute, out-of-body, waterboard-worthy defeats, the human P.T.S.D. nightmare that would haunt me to the deathbed. Not anymore. It's Girardi, the new King of Root Canals. Somewhere out there lurk rich, troubled Yankee fans who will someday pay great money to have Girardi dress up in black leather and poke lit cigarettes up their gum wads. But for me, his greatest weapon of pain will not be fire and ice, or the rack or the rat cage mask. It will be his acolyte, the greatest horror that Shark Week ever produced - the unspeakably toxic Aroldis Chapman.

Let us stop for a moment and let those horribly odious five syllables sink in to your cortex: 

Uh. Rall. Diss. Chap. Min. 

It's a horror movie incantation. It is literally summoning the demon, calling for Mephistopheles himself to appear in a cloud of rosin. It is by far the most terrifying moment in any Yankee game (though the words "Now batting: Aaron Judge," with runners on base, is rising in agony.) Even if El Chapo succeeds - even if we win - we will be subjected to a wide-awake colonoscopy, the game saved by some incredible defensive gem. And we have him for five years - the longest and most expensive ($69 million) contract ever given to a reliever... and this by a front office that was publicly disavowing long and expensive contracts. For five years, we will watch this tattooed buffoon - sweat cascading in buckets - until someone swallows the money and trades him for a can of dog food, allowing Foodstamps Hal, our billionaire owner, to justify cutting payroll. 

Uh. Rall. Diss. Chap. Min.

I mean, it was incredible. When the Yankees took the lead in the eighth, with Dellin Betances in complete command, the first wild thought glanced off my brain: Surely, Girardi wouldn't just go back to the book and subject this game - this series - this season - to another El Chapo ninth? The definition of madness is to perform the same task over and over, long after it's clearly not working. Would Girardi actually bring in Chapman, as if nothing has happened, as if the Yankees have a closer?

Because we don't. The Yankees have 20 blown saves in 44 save opportunities. That's a conversion rate of 54.55 percent, the second worst in all of baseball. Only Texas, which has been destroyed by its bullpen this year, is worse. And yet to hear to the YES team talk, our bullpen is stocked with Olympian gods, the greatest of which is - gulp - the closer from Hell. The stat for a LOSS cannot fully describe the depth of Chapman's malignancy. He doesn't blow saves. He blows entire weeks. He's 29, going on 35, and he's already a dying arm bordering on head case.

Which brings me to a second ugly revelation from last night's torture chamber: Boston's willingness to play a 20-year-old 3B, while we put our stock in another generation of "cagey" vets. The other day, a friend asked why we often see other teams with 20-year-olds, but our rookies arrive closer to age 24? I mean, the modern sports world is brimming with kids. The NBA routinely drafts college freshmen - the one and dones - at 19. They had to ban NBA teams from drafting kids out of high school, because it was becoming so successful, it threatened their free college farm system. But when it comes to promoting youth, the Yankees always have an excuse not to.

This year's excuse is borderline brilliant: The Yankee front office - geniuses, all - had built such an incredible farm system, so brimming with prospects that the franchise had no choice but to trade a few, or we would lose them next winter in the Rule 5 draft. Therefore, barely three weeks after giving up on Chris Carter, who was hitting .201, we upgraded with Todd Frazier, who was hitting .207. And Miguel Andujar - age 22 - remained in Scranton, hitting .320.

You can say that our "baseball experts" know more than I do - and you're certainly right. But if these guys are so smart, why do we keep doing the same thing, over and over? Boston - with more to lose than us - brought up a youngster, Rafael Devers, while we traded four of our Top 10 prospects to make a wild card run that - given our current trajectory - might not last to Labor Day.

Give Joe credit. Just when you think it can't get worse, that the Yankees cannot torture you more over a nine-inning span... the incantation takes form, and you see Old & Sweaty warming in the pen. Howl, howl, howl. UNCLE! I say UNCLE!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

You Knew This All Along, Didn't You?

You knew that, " the wheels were going to come off the bus."

You knew that more injuries were coming, and that they would strike in a concentrated fashion upon areas of known weakness.

You knew that some injuries would linger for the entire season.

You knew that injuries would be used as decoy strategies, to sit down respected old guys who were no longer producing.

You knew that the home run derby would destroy Aaron Judge.

You knew that Castro would come back too early.

You knew that we would waste top prospects on garbage.

You knew that Joe would sit players down who got hot.

You knew that some old guy, with an expensive contract , would always get playing preference to a multi-talented young, unproven, rookie.

You knew that Boston would do it right and we would do it wrong.

You knew that we would, " throw good money after bad,"
at the trade deadline.

You knew that Girardi does not understand the principle of moving runners into scoring position with sacrifice bunts.

You knew that the Yankees never practice bunting.

You knew that Cashman could not stick to a "re-building" strategy, despite a world of evidence that it is needed and it works.

You knew that we would sink into the toilet.

You knew that nothing changes under this Yankee regime.

You knew that.

You know that more bad news is coming.

Are the Yankees doomed by their "perpetual contender" strategy?

In the last five years, the Redsocks have thrice finished dead last in the AL East, twice won divisional titles and celebrated one world championship. Today, they lead the AL East by 4.5 games. By tomorrow, it will probably be more.

Over that same period, the Yankees took the division once, then twice finished second, then third, then fourth. They have not won one post-season game, not one, and this year lead the wild card race by 2.5 games. 

Throughout this period, Boston used its crapola years to strategically rebuild. They regularly traded old for young (Lackey, Lester) and coldly - cynically, you might say - let their teams crumble for a long-term gain. (They drafted 7th in 2015; that's why they have Andrew Benintendi.)  

The Yankees, on the other hand, only once dedicated their team to the future - last season, when they unveiled Gary Sanchez and the (there's no other way to put this - currently horrible) Aaron Judge. Their policy is - unlike virtually every other team in baseball - to always contend and never rebuild.

One question, folks: Is this strategy working? 

I ask because while you are digesting your oatmeal, Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman is desperately working the phones, looking to peddle more young talent for whatever aging inner-tube arms remain on the waiver market - the Yankee future be damned. He is Lady MacBeth, piling up the bodies and wondering, why stop now? We have traded four of our Top 10 prospects - nearly half of our blue chip personnel - while the Yankee-owned media marvels at our front office brilliance. (With two exceptions, I should point out: John and Suzyn - the most notorious of homers, according to Yankee critics - have openly questioned the team's direction... especially Suzyn.) Cashman has no choice. He's the GM who got us here, and he's won nothing - nada - in five years.

Three weeks ago, briefly finding ourselves in first, "Cooperstown" outbid Boston for Todd Frazier, keeping Frazier's vaunted .205 bat from our rivals. If not for the Mets' refusal to "help" us, Cashman would have traded more prospects for yet another outfielder, Jay Bruce - maintaining the Steinbrennerian tradition of knee-jerk trades for DHs in times of turmoil. 

With the Yankees grabbing Frazier, the Redsocks had to settle for Eduardo Nunez (.304). When Dustin Pedroia's knee continued to flare, they brought up 20-year-old Rafael Devers to play third. He is hitting .314 with 3 home runs in 57 at bats. 

Yesterday brought a tale of two third basemen. In the third, Frazier flubbed a potential DP bouncer that ignited Boston's 5-run rally, effectively crushing Luis Severino's spirits. Later, Devers hit a rocket over Jacoby Ellsbury's head in center, smiling at second base with a future as bright as his team's. 

We have a highly regarded 3B named Miguel Andujar. He's hitting .318 in Scranton. Earlier this season, he came up for one game, went three for four, and drove in four runs. Then he was sent back. Of course, one game means nothing - unless it's the 2017 wild card, because that's what the Yankees are chasing.

Once again, we dismantled a long-term plan for a one-shot deal, because - as we all know - the Yankees are always supposed to contend... every year. Trouble is, anybody near .500 is a contender for the 2017 wild card - it's baseball's equivalent of the GED; even Blue Jays aren't out of it. And when that is your goal, you're going nowhere. 

Tonight, the Yankees take on Chris Sale. We could win; stranger things have happened. But my guess is we'll be absorb our eighth loss in 12 games - as we plummet toward .500, the base line of perpetual mediocrity. Rest assured, we will not rebuild. A new GM might be able to float a two or three-year plan. Not "Cooperstown." He's been here 19 years. My guess is he has a golden shower video of somebody. So be prepared: More trades are coming. Lady MacBeth is not finished.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Meanwhile, in Another Universe...


I belong to a Facebook group devoted to NYC trains and subways.  Every once in a while, my interests in the Yankees and trains intersect like the shaded areas on one of those cool Venn diagrams from grade school.

The original post-er labeled the photo below "The IRT 4 train passing by the old Yankee Stadium Aug. 8, 1964."


Lest you think that train nerds are any less passionate and knowledgeable about their area of expertise than baseball nerds, consider the following comments that appeared under the photo of the subway:

  • When I was kid, I used to stand in the front car and waiting for the train to come out of the tunnel and Yankee Stadium awaited you. Awesome sight when you were 6/7 years old.

  • Looks like new R 29cars. They have the NYCTA emblem from the St. Louis car factory.
    • If the picture was taken in 1964 these are most likely 33/36's
    • 33/36 were on the 7 for the worlds fair. they were aquamarine blue and white. the 29's were delivered red with the NYCTA emblem.
    • R-33/36 were built red. R-26/28 were dark green.
    • There were two models of R33/36....R33 and R36, then R33 WF and R36 WF. The difference was the WF cars had the aquamarine color and new type pull in windows same as the R32. The R33 WF were single cars and 36WF married pairs. That allowed 11 car trains on the 7 Super Exp to the World's Fair.

    • <...the remainder of this "what model is it?" sub-thread is mercifully snipped...>

  • With the Yankees championship banners hanging from the facade it must be old timers day.
    • Very observant!

  • That's a great photo and a great year too. :-)

  • WOW!!! Sometimes you forget that it once looked like this.

  • Last of the good Mantle years.
And on and on and on.  Although train guys' vocabulary travels along a different highway, the argument concerning the exact model number of the subway cars reminded me of similar arguments among a group of baseball guys.  Anyone who thinks sabermetricians need to get a life only needs to hang out on a railfan board for a while. And, by "a while", I mean about 4 seconds.  To be fair, I did love the observation that the photo must have been taken on Old Timers Day due to the banners hanging on the facade.

Only two hours until game time.  I'm going to listen to some loud music, make a pitcher of sangria, and wait for Severino to shut the bastards down.

Go Yanks.

Behold... the Yankee Path of Totality

If we don't win this series, we don't deserve to make the post-season.

Seriously. Screw the wild card. Considering last night's Redsock self-immolation, if we can't take two out of the next three, we're not going to win anything meaningful this year. Forget it. The Fates will have spoken. It just won't happen.

If we had lost last night - if El Chapo blew it (as, frankly, he deserved) - it would have been the emotional equivalent of five Yankee losses. Technically, it wouldn't have ended our season. But it sure would feel as though it did.

All we have to do is win today... 

It's time for a must-win situation. Today. 

Aaron Boone Hicks has a Yankee moment for the ages

Quick: When I say "Jason Giambi!" what comes to mind? The Golden Thong? His early HRs in the Aaron Boone game, keeping us close? Me, I think of his first Yankee spring... the two out, walk-off grand slam that made his pinstriped bones. From that night on, he was the Giambino, a Forever Yankee. And dammit, the sun can blow up, the universe can retract, and the world can end... but we'll still have that Giambi moment, blowing across the solar winds of time. It happened. They can't take it away from us. 

Now and then, the Fates make some lucky human-being a Forever Yankee. It might be Tex's HR to win the 2009 playoffs. Or Jim Leyritz against Atlanta (or Seattle, or good grief, against Atlanta again - though, yeah, that DWI tragedy can never be ignored.) Or Rauuuuuuul! Or Slade Heathcott's 2015 blast against Tampa. I remember one by Pat Kelly in 2013, stunning the mighty Blue Jays. They are bonding moments that will endure the rest of their - and our - lives.  



They don't all have to be home runs, like Bucky Dent's. Think Lou Piniella - same game - deeking Burleson on that fly ball lost in the sun. Think of Jeter's flip or Jeter's dive. Or Pauly O'Neill's walk against the terrifying Benitez in the 2000 Subway Series, fighting back from a 1-2 count. Was it not the finest at bat ever by a Yankee? (Okay, Ruth did call his shot... but don't stop me, dammit, I'm on a roll!)

Last night, Aaron Hicks inscribed his name into the ledger - Aaron Boone Hicks, that is - twice. In fact, moments after Hicks' HR cleared the fence, Michael Kay made one of his most astute observations in years: He said if the Yankees happen to win anything this season, Hicks' homer will be considered historically equal to the assassination of a Boston Archduke Ferdinand. It will go down as the night the Yankees jolted the Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM.) 

Little did we know that one-half inning later, Hicks would do it again - his throw to third beating the helmetless Eduardo Nunez and saving El Chapo's tattooed - and increasingly frazzled - neck. 

Frankly, Kay could have gone a step further. No matter what happens, Aaron Hicks will always hold two special moments in our hearts. I, for one, don't ever remember a home run ball taking longer to come down. It seemed to float up there in the lights, taunting us, temping us, like Geraldo Rivera in front of Al Capone's vault... and like all the other false moments we've seen this year. Then it landed. Fair. Home run. Suddenly, there was light.

Bit of trivia: Last night, the Yankees won at every level - throughout their major and minor league teams. It was as if the gods decided to grant us one magnificent moment for 2017. Regardless of what happens the rest of this year, we'll always have the Hicks game. And we better enjoy it. 
Amazing shot of Alphonso watching
in his bunker during 7th inning.

We just gave Boston one hell of a bloody pineapple suppository. Think about it: At that point in the night, every Redsock fan in captivity was watching with only one thing in mind: The chance to revel in our agony. They were cats playing with their food. They were self-pleasuring themselves in the silence of a humiliated Yankee Stadium crowd. You better believe that, throughout New England, little Redsockian boys and girls - future Boston jihadists - were being allowed to stay up late, so they could be brainwashed by the Yankee defeat.

And you know what? They just got an Aaron Boone Hicks moment for the ages. Thank you, juju gods. Thank you, Fates. And most of all, thank you, Aaron Hicks. Kay understated it. No matter what happens this year, 2017 wasn't a waste. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

That was a big Yankee win.

Big Yankee win.

Big.

Yankee.

Win.

Big.

19 LOB... the poem

T'was once, they said, a pennant race.
The Yankees, second best to none!
Nineteen runners left on base…
They couldn't even score one run.

Each tortured week, a darker chase.
Every batter up, an instant clown.
Nineteen runners left on base…
T'
is time to shut the season down. 

Don’t ask to see a hopeful face.
Don’t say this team is looking good.
NINETEEN RUNNERS LEFT ON BASE…
I’d punch the owner if I could.

Big game tonight

Tonight, we shall bring fire and fury, 
the likes of which the baseball world has never known.

And, hopefully, we will score a run.

Sauce from Hoss

From commentator Horace Clarke... or as we call him, "Hoss."

News item: Yankees offered Mets "multiple prospects" of their choosing for Jay Bruce.
We now give you the transcript of a partial broadcast picked up from "The Metsverse," a terrifying alternative universe that exists parallel to our own, one first described by Stephen King.

August 10, 1993.
Gene "Stick" Michael returns to his office high atop Yankee Stadium II, his ears still blistering from the tirade George "Banned for Life" Steinbrenner just laid on him, regarding the team's shutout loss to Boston and Frank Viola up in Fenway that night.

Michael nibbles at the single stalk of celery that is his only sustenance for the day, while studying the board listing all the Yankees' farmhands. Then he notices the little pink slip of paper on his desk: a phone message, from Al Harazin, general manager of the Mets.

'Harazin, poor bastard, all those hopes, and his season's gone south again. What with the firecrackers, and the bleach gun, and hey, lady!" Michael muses, channeling his inner Jerry Lewis while quietly crunching away. "But hey, he's making a solid offer here."

He looks at the phone message again, making sure he's deciphered his secretary's handwriting correctly. But there is no mistaking it.

'Damn, he's willing to give us Eddie Murray, Bobby Bonilla, Bret Saberhagen, and Sid Fernandez! And all he wants in return is Andy Pettitte, from down in the Carolina League, that Posada kid we just converted to catcher, that skinny reliever from Panama who had the arm surgery, and that first round draft choice from a couple years back who has five homers and 56 errors at short...'

Michael picks up the desk phone, and starts to dial.

'Well, hell. How can you argue with the chance to get that kind of star power? Murray, Bobby Bo, Saberhagen, and El Sid? They've got 18 All-Star games between them! The tabs will say I'm a genius!

'Sure, I told George we were still rebuilding. But we're just two back of Toronto! Who knows when we'll get a chance like this again?'

Michael looks at the organization board, reassuring himself with all the names still up there.

'Besides, it's not like we're stripping the franchise bare. We still have Russ Davis, Sterling Hitchcock, Mark Hutton, Bobby Munoz, Carlos Rodriguez, Domingo Jean, Andy Fox...and Brien Taylor! We can't miss!'

He turns back to the phone as it starts to ring, concentrating on how he will drive a hard bargain with Harazin.

"Besides, if I really push him, I bet I can get him to give up Vince Coleman!' 

Over And Over......Round and Round...

Yanks trail early.

Yanks down 2, but still in the game.

Yanks down 4 early.

Need to cut into that lead.

Need a run.  Then 2, then 4.

Two men on and no one out.

Baseball manual says; " advance those runners into scoring position."

Manual says;  "bunt them over,"

Girardi says:  "nothing."

Result: Yankees do not move runners over.  No one hits homer or base-clearing double.

Later in game:  Yanks repeat scenario.

And then again.

Result:  4-0 loss.

Why watch?  Nothing happens.




Catching up with Dietrich Enns

One of the guys the Yankees traded for Jaime Garcia started for the Twins last night. Dietrich Enns went 2.1 innings - apparently, he was viewed as a bullpen lug nut in a spot start - and gave up 5 hits and one run. 

Garcia pitches tonight against Boston. 

The team of a thousand LOBs

Congrats to the '17 Yankee frustration machine, which last night regained the lead in the great Sisyphusian LEFT ON BASE rankings for all of baseball. The Yankees stranded 19 - yes, NINETEEN - runners, and if that sounds unbelievable, you must understand that it took a shutout to reach this rapturous benchmark. 

The Yankees lead MLB in humiliation, collapse and ignominy by averaging 7.34 runners left on base per game. (The 0.34 stands for leaving Ronald Torreyes.) And as much as I hate to say this, an elephant in the room would like us to know that Aaron Judge is tied for second in all of baseball with 165 runners left on base. (Will Myers is first, with 166.) If Judge's horrible second half continues - he's below .200 since the break - he'll soon be leading all of creation in failures.

Trust me: He will be the last Yankee ever to take part in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

But "All Remain Stranded" isn't a one-man team collapse. The heart of the Yankee lineup has LOB fever. Before taking time off to contemplate the rustling of the leaves, Matt Holliday personally stranded 155. Even Didi, beloved Didi, has 143 LOBs (which puts him slightly below Boston's Andrew Benintstremsky.) 

Listen: The '17 Yankees are rapidly defining themselves as the most disappointing team of this horror show decade. This could be a collapse of Philliesian proportions - Gene Mauch-style! Over the last 81 games - not a small sample size - we are 39-42. That's right - a sub-.500 team, below also-ran status, and yet - get this - we've traded four of our top 10 prospects for - well - oh, hell, don't get me started. 

I'm no longer worrying about the great sacrifice of tradition next weekend when the Yankees dress up in spring training regalia, like the Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars. What's the point in honoring pinstripes when your team is a slow-motion carnival attraction? 

And make no mistake: The inability to drive in runners stems from a lack of situational hitting. It's what kids are supposed to learn in Little League: With a man on third and less than two outs, you choke up and put the bat on the ball. You must put the ball into play. You absolutely cannot afford to strike out. And yet, somewhere between the Gulf Coast League and the Bronx, those lessons were never learned by this team of home run swingers. And I hold management - yeah, Joe, that's you - accountable.

From all I can gather, the Yankee veterans love Joe Girardi. He shows loyalty and always has their backs. Yet they consistently let him down by swinging for the fences when a ground ball is all we need. If this continues, Joe must go. It's that simple. I'm tired of watching and waiting for a change that isn't coming. A week ago, we foresaw this weekend Boston series as a pitched battle for the AL East. Not anymore. It's a last ditch effort for the Yankees to remain relevant. The Wild Card just doesn't cut it. And by this time next week, I've got a feeling relevant will be the last term we use to define this team. 

Relevance will be standing on third with no outs, and we know how that ends, don't we?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

We now have a competiton

Dietrich Enns - a 26-year-old lefty whom the Yankees buried at Scranton, until trading him last week for Jaime Garcia - will start tonight for Minnesota. (The Twins also received 21-year-old Zach Littell, a Double A pitcher.) River Ave summed him up this way: "Enns is pretty much a throw-in."

Garcia last week started for the Yankees. The 31-year-old went 4 and 2/3rd innings and gave up 5 earned runs. Said River Ave: The Yankees desperately needed a new fifth starter... and now they have one."

Good luck to both, as we track their production.

Critical lineup test for Girardi

Okay, everybody: What are the odds that Garrett Cooper - after going 4 for 5 (and his only out was via a great play by Toronto's shortstop) and lifting his average to .364, where it was in Triple A - plays tonight? Or sees a pitch against Boston?

How is it that we're even asking this question?

Judge and Ellsbury, a tale of two trajectories?

Lately, it's been a nightly root canal, watching Aaron Judge. Every time he steps to the plate, his average has dropped another point. (This morning, he's .294. Next stop: The .280s of Pat Tabler [.281, career], Kevin Youkils [.281] and - gulp - Jacoby Ellsbury [.284.]) Stop me if you've heard this, but Judge chases more curves than Leonardo DiCaprio, and then watches third strikes split the plate like a Lou Groza extra point. A month ago, Yank fans booed when a pitcher walked Judge. Now, it's a minor victory.

It's not Judge's fault. We can't blame a guy for vastly overachieving in the first half. We knew a 30-HR half couldn't last. Even the Trouts and Harpers must adjust. We saw it last year with Gary Sanchez. We would have seen it with Greg Bird, but for the Heel That Would Not Heal. The instant Babe Ruth - be it Ron Kittle, Walt Dropo, or Kevin Maas - comes and goes like White House spokesmen. (There you go commentors; start arguing politics!) And today, the question across the Yankiverse is one we always knew was coming:

What will be the career base line for Aaron Judge?


If his slump continues, by late September, we're looking at a .250 hitter with 40+ home runs - not bad, dammit! - who nevertheless bats seventh and maybe platoons in the Wild Card game. If that happens, the MLB Home Run Derby curse will gain national notoriety. For now, we can only hope the coaches who refined Judge's mechanics last winter can do it again, on the fly, during a pennant race. We've been waiting for Judge to "get hot," as if it's automatic that he'd suddenly go on a tear. We keep waiting. I dunno anymore. For me, the sign of hope comes in the form of the other Aaron. 

I say this because Aaron Hicks - perhaps the more ascendant of the two - should return tomorrow night, and just in time. He was going to create an outfield logjam, until Clint Frazier conveniently "slightly" strained an oblique - (there is no such thing as a slight oblique strain, but that's what they're calling it.) Which brings us back to Mr. Career .284 - Jacoby Hellsbury, the man without a plan.

The nutjob fan in all of us simply wants Ellsbury to vanish, like a foe of Vladimir Putin. But that won't happen. Nor should it, frankly. If the Yankees were to release him, they'd still pay his $21 million salary for three more years. Why watch him have a comeback in Seattle or - gulp - the Mets or - double gulp - Boston? The fact is, Ellsbury probably has a decent half-season left in him. We cannot just give it away and be virtually helping to pay Joggy Cano's tab. 

For now, all we can do is use Ellsbury as a pinch runner and/or LH outfielder, then trade him next winter for someone with an equally onerous contract. I'd dream of a Verlander or Zimmerman - Jordan, not Ryan - somebody so vastly overpaid that the front office considers him an eyesore. We have a gaggle of outfielders. We could stick a Verlander in the bullpen without drawing heckles from Joel Sherman. Such a deal would probably require Foodstamps Hal to eat more of his precious inheritance - one less beach house - and it won't necessarily work out, beyond the instant gratification of seeing Ellsbury vanish. (There's a reason why teams trade washed up pitchers; the Yankees are constantly re-learning this.) But it's how we will eventually solve the Ellsbury/Voldemort situation. And in the meantime, here is a grim reality: 

If Aaron Judge continues to flail, he might be platooning with Ellsbury in the one-game Bud Selig Memorial Wild Card this fall. It's a long, long season... to be decided in a short, short game. Unless Judge figures it out, that's where we're headed.