Monday, October 22, 2018

Who's on first? Maybe Abbott and Costello can figure it out.

Let's say this - boisterously and for posterity: Going into 2019, the Yankees have no viable first-baseman.

Yes, Luke Voit deserves our love, and Greg Bird deserves our pity, and if you believe in magic, or maybe the mathematical sequences behind winning lottery picks, maybe one of the pair will cobble together a decent MLB career. But Voit plays 1B like a Steelers linebacker, and Bird has now floundered for three straight seasons. Both are rapidly hitting their sell-by dates, and we have nobody in the system, nobody, unless you're ready to throw in with Ryan "Boom Boom" McBroom.

Our vaunted Yankee farm system - praised constantly for great depth - has nothing. The list of top 30 Yankee prospects holds one 1B - ranked 29th - the converted 3B Dermis Garcia, whose rank probably still hinges on the $3 million signing bonus he received during the 2014-15 international spending splurge ($17 million, shot to hell.) The 20-year-old Garcia played last season in low single A Charleston, where he hit 15 HRs and batted .241 - as high as he's ever hit. But he struck out 111 times in - aww, you don't wanna know, let's just say 1/3 of the times. Moreover, the Yankees are said to be trying him as a pitcher, never a good sign for the guy in the field, eh?

I've already mentioned McBroom, whom we received for Rob "Brigadoon" Refsnyder, and who starred in the home stretch of the International League pennant race. He hit .295 with 11 HRs this year at Scranton - numbers suspiciously close to Voit's. That when Voit came to Scranton, McBroom was moved to RF says all we need to know about his fielding. 

Our other Triple A first baseman was Mike Ford, who hit .253 with 15 HRs and a shitload of walks. (He tied Tyler Austin, a part-time Scrantonian, for the team lead in walks.) The Yankees have never given Ford the time of day, and I doubt they will again. So... who's on first? Here are some options...

1. Trade for somebody. The fifth-grade fantasy bloggers want us to acquire six-time NL all star Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, but he would cost several arms and legs, and he bats RH, a problem. We really need a big lefty bat, which is why Bird has received so many opportunities - and may get another.

2. Move Miguel Andujar to first. But then, who plays third? Manny Machado? Well, we have another all-righty lineup. And if Miggy can't play 3B, why think he can play first?

3. Move Gary Sanchez to 1B. Or Giancarlo Stanton. Either way, we have a clog dancer, a butcher, a slob. It would be nice to have a professional first-baseman.

4. Find a cheap glove guy and go with defense. The Redsocks struck gold - gold glove, that is - with Mitch Moreland this year. They recognized how a glove-first 1B would save their infielders a ton of errors. Maybe the Yankees should do the same. Could a Mattingly playing first make Andujar a viable 3B?

5. Sign Bryce Harper and move him to first. Trouble is, Harper probably doesn't want to play 1B... yet. (He will eventually.) And see Number 3. We don't know if Harper can play infield. (But he sure would solve the LH bat issue.)

6. Just go with Bird and Voit, and pretend 2018 never happened. Maybe even throw in Neil Walker. Have a "competition" in spring training. But, generally, those things never happen. Cooperstown Cashman will have a plan. He always has a plan. What he doesn't have - what we don't have - is a first-baseman. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

I Remember When....

......Whitey Ford was a 19 year old rookie with the Yankees.

He remains one of the best we have ever had.  " The Chairman of the Board."

Today, the lefty from Queens is 90.

Happy birthday !

From all of us at IIH, IIf, Iic America, Austria, Holland, and Yemen.

The Sound and the Fury

So everybody did their Super Mega Strategy last night, in the game to decide the National League pennant.  There were 11 pitchers, bringing the total to 84—that is, six pitchers per game, per team—for a new, postseason series record.

Nobody pitched as many as five innings, and only two pitchers threw three or more innings.  They struck out 26 guys between them, and allowed 17 hits.

The Brewers delighted all the press box strategists by bringing in their fast young closer, Josh Hader, to hold the fort when the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead.  He did his job, blazing through three shutout innings.  But that only took Milwaukee through the first five frames, and his successor promptly gave up the three-run homer that essentially clinched the game for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers responded by pulling their leadoff hitter and left fielder after just one at-bat, in which he grounded out, for a pinch-hitter who then went into play second, while their starting second baseman switched to left.  The new second baseman had a harmless single on the night and struck out three times, stranding four runners on base.

For all the Super Mega Strategy, there were three different times in the first four innings when both teams might have stayed out of a double-play through the old-fashioned micro strategy of starting a runner.  No could do.

In general, everyone celebrated as if they had won the lottery when they so much as reached first base on a single, pointing to the crowd, their teammates, God.  Bill Mazeroski never looked quite so excited after hitting his home run to win the 1960 World Series.

For all the histrionics, and the excited crowd, and the inherent tension of a seventh game, this was a pretty dull contest, with all the runs scoring on three swings of the bat, off mistake pitches left too far in the strike zone.  Transplant it to the middle of July—or worse yet, a cold April night—and you'll be pulling in the crowds by the twos and threes.

One final note:  everyone last night was singing the praises of the Brewers' journeyman, part-time catcher, 38-year-old Erik Kratz, who Brian Cashman managed to get rid of twice in 2017-2018—the first time for nothing and the second time for one Wendell Rijo, a 22-year-old infielder, who batted .209 at three different Single- and Double-A stops this season.

Throw in Steve Pearce, and so far this postseason has been littered with useful lug nuts whom Coops, in his vast wisdom, felt free to chuck away because, of course, the Yankees HAVE to carry 13 pitchers at all times.  That way, they can almost be assured of finding the rotten apple in the barrel, every night.

Godspeedeth, thou Dodgers

And so the road of Hell comes down to this: 

Roughly 60 years after they betrayed Brooklyn - now the high-rent hipster capital of the world -  the putrid Dodgers represent our last hope against the Redsock '18 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM). We have reached the crossroads of John Paul Sartre's most desperate despair, and find ourselves reduced to choosing taxes over death, lizards over snakes, facial herpes over rectal gonorrhea... howl, howl, howl...  

If LA can somehow pull off a World Series victory - (my guess is Boston will run through the Dodgers like my last colonoscopy-prep Fleet Enema) - here's how it could affect us in the future.

If the Dodgers win, Manny Machado will be more inclined to stay in LA and sire the next generation of sitcom Mindys. I can live with that. The more I see Machado, the more convinced I am that he is a) the best free agent on the market, b) the most expensive free agent on the market, and c) the potentially worst free agent fit for NYC. 

Part of it is the jogging thing, of which he's disturbingly unrepentant. The Yankees already have one jogger. We're hoping to break him of the habit. Do we want Machado loafing down the line, while Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar watch for cues? I agree that Machado plays hard, breaks up double plays like Sam Huff blitzing the Browns, but the notion of our next YES star lollygagging down to first - and rationalizing it in the post-game show - I see nothing good coming out of that, especially with the NY media. 

If the Yankees sign Machado, they drop an atomic bomb on their current lineup. They become top-heavy with RH hitters, and considering that he's not that good a defensive SS, they probably trade Miguel Andujar. That's a huge, long term gamble. Andujar has a great work ethic, and his bad throws could be solved with a great glove at first-baseman, instead of an ex-linebacker. 

If Machado stays in LA, the Yankees would probably sign Bryce Harper, whose LH bat would sit between Judge and Stanton. I can't think of a more formidable heart of the order... Hicks, Judge, Harper, Stanton, Andujar, Sanchez, Torres... wow. If they can sign Patrick Corbin, trade Greg Bird and Sonny Gray for pitching, and find a defensive 1B and a first-half SS, and maybe some bullpen help, they can reload until Didi returns. That leaves Clint Frazier in limbo, but with the lineup listing so heavily toward the right side, I don't see him getting a shot, anyway.

If LA beats Boston, it could dramatically change our future. I'll take it, though. If the Redsocks win it all, 2019 becomes the most important Yankee off-season in our lives. Boston is poised to launch a dynasty. They could win two or three world championships, supplanting us as the gold standard. We better retool fast and hard. If Boston wins, we will be the only team capable of stopping them. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 7


Did everyone get everything they wanted on Mickmas morning?  As for me, my usual request—the head of Brian Cashman under the Mickmas sagebrush—once again went unfulfilled, alas.  I guess I wasn't good enough this year.  Again.  

But in general, I think this Mickmas season ought to be more than the usual celebration of the Commerce Comet that once flared across our skies, cherished though his memory be.

This Mickmas ought to celebrated in sackcloth and ashes, with much rending of garments (Though I know, it's hard to tear sackcloth.  And the dry-cleaning bills!)  This Mickmas is a time of darkness and dread, with yet another Boston World Series championship in the offing.

We must, all of us, think of what we can do to appease the obviously furious JuJu gods in the future, and bring back winning—or at least tolerable—baseball to the Bronx.  

I leave you with the conclusion of our story, before retreating to my monk's cell, to spend the rest of the day in prayer and self-flagellation.

“And then it got easy.”

“Hah!  Smart ass!”  huffed Buck.  “You know as well as I do, it never gets easy.  That ball Paulie hit that juuuust cleared the wall to tie Game Five in the ninth in Cleveland, in 1997.   Then the Buhner home run that won it in the 12th—

“Oh, yeah.  Must have been real hard in 1998, with the greatest team ever,” Meulens laughed.

“I have to admit, that was a team.  Buhner, Bernie, and O’Neill in the outfield, with Strawberry and then Spencer DH-ing. “

“And the pitching.  Once Clemens signed with us in 1997, what were they calling them?  ‘The Five Aces’?  Or was it six?”

“Eight, really,” Showalter grinned.  “Maddux, Clemens, Cone, Wells, Pettitte, and then El Duque and Al Leiter spot-starting and relieving by 1998.  And fronting them all:  the great Brien Taylor.”

“Man, he could throw!  And when you guys got him smart—”

“It was hard to lose with all that.”

“What was it, 139 wins in the regular season, then 11 more in the postseason?  150 wins?  No one’s ever going to break that!”

“I just wanted to give you young squirts something to shoot for.”

“Then on and on it went.  Soriano coming up, and taking over at second—”

“Once we got him to lay off the outside pitches, you could start buffing his plaque in Cooperstown.”

“And you knew enough to put him in center, what with D’Angelo Jimenez and then Robinson Cano coming up to play such great second base.”

“Sure.  But it’s a shame about Cano.  I really thought we could reach him, but we couldn’t.  There’s always one guy who just doesn’t get it,” sighed Buck.

“That’s all right,” said Meulens.  “We have The Gleyber out there now, and when he shifts to short next year, we can just plug in Thairo Estrada after that Triple Crown year he had in Triple-A.  Thank goodness you prevailed on him not to go back to Venezuela last off-season, with all the violence there.  Who knows what might have happened?”

“Hey, sometimes you just get lucky,” Showalter said, and yawned.  “And we’ve had our share of luck, I know.  That three-run homer Shane Spencer hit in Arizona, just before that little storm moved in, that clinched the 2001 World Series.”

“What a tickertape parade that one was,” Meulens said.  “Right after 9/11.  All the players and the personnel walking, and the firefighers and cops and EMT people riding in the floats behind them.  Everybody crying and cheering at the same time.”

“And then the catafalque of Rudy Giuliani, pulled by six white horses.  What a fate!  Dying on your most glorious day on earth!”

“If he’d lived, he would’ve been president.  Everybody said so.  And he would’ve loved to see his Yankees win it all that year,” Meulens said.

“Oh, yeah,” Showalter replied softly.  “That one really put the game into perspective.  Thank God, we never had anything that terrible to deal with again.  Just good times after that.”

“What was your favorite?”

“Oh, I dunno.  I kinda loved 2009, when we signed Pedro for his last year.  How he won the clinching game in the Series, and coming off the mound, 76,000 fans chanted, ‘You’re Our Daddy!’  The way that brought tears to his eyes.”

“It brought tears to mine!”

“Good times, good time.”

The door swung open.

“Somebody say good times?  Doesn’t sound like it in here.”

“Hey, it’s the New Guy!”

There in the doorway stood the grinning figure of Derek Jeter, with his wife Hannah Davis and one-year-old Bella in tow. 

“Time to get this party started.  Mr. Showalter, you got to get yourself doused with some champagne.”

“I told you to stop calling me that!” Buck grinned.  “You’re a big executive now—vice-president of the New York Yankees!”

“Still seems like a dream.”

“Like your whole life does, to most people,” Showalter chortled—but then his visage turned somber all of a sudden.  “Nah, you and Hensley go on down now.  I got a plane to catch. “

“What?” exclaimed Meulens.  “What’s this?”

“Hey, that’s all right,” Jeter said, quickly catching on and hustling the manager and his own family out of the room.  “Not like there won’t be another celebration next year!”

When they had left, Buck Showalter pulled out his plane ticket, and looked once more at the picture of the three friends—the men who had taken the Yankees’ already towering dynasty to heights no sports franchise had ever matched before. 

He looked at Stick Michael, the Old Man, gone just over a year now and already ticketed for Cooperstown next season.  Then at Bob Watson, stoically refusing a kidney from his family, living out his last months on dialysis. 

It was he that Buck Showalter was going to see, to sit around with for a few days, and have some laughs, and remember the old days.  And to plan for the glorious future ahead.

Brewers or Dodgers? The Yankee fan perspective.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. That's the logic best exemplified historically in the 1962 Kaju mashup-crossover, King Kong vs. Godzilla, which was the cinematic equivalent of having Goober Pyle turn up in Petticoat Junction. To stop the atomic lizard, the Japanese summon a lightning-juiced Kong from his happy island. Havoc ensues, and in the end, the ape swims home, performing a textbook Australian crawl.

So - LA or Milwaukee? Which is Kong, and which is Godzilla? Here are some points of debate.

Chances of beating Boston: Edge Dodgers.

LA has playoff experience, a veteran team and a stopper, in Clayton Kershaw. I cannot escape the notion that Milwaukee is the Colorado Rockies of 2007, leaving their chances against the Redsocks akin to Jamal Kashoggie's in his "fist fight" against the Saudi 15-man professional assassin squad, (and yes, I do foresee a bone saw in Game Four.) Certainly, Milwaukee has enjoyed a magical run. And surely, if they beat LA, they'll be on stilts. But their season will already have been monumental, and I cannot imagine the fire burning for another two weeks. Boston will pulverize them. The Dodgers have a better chance. 

Historical revenge: Edge Milwaukee.

Frankly, the Brewers have never really hurt the Yankees. Yeah, there was the mid-eighties when Cecil Fielder and Teddy Higuera took turns with the whip against us, but - you know what? We deserved it. They were the worst Yankee teams of my lifetime, and somebody had to do it As for the Dodgers, I'm still smarting from 1981, the last time we dueled, when they crushed us 4-2, and caused bad sport Goose to nearly kill Ron Cey. You can say it's been thirtysomething years, but I'll never forget that embarrassment. I simply cannot root for LA... unless, that is, they make it to the series.

Potential impact on 2019: Edge Milwaukee.

If the Dodgers win everything, it will heighten their chances of re-signing Manny Ma-jog-o. While I'm not sold on Manny, he still looks like the smartest free agent signing we could make. If the Dodgers lose to Milwaukee, the carping will start, and The Man might flee more quickly to the farthest coast. Other free agents: Ryu Hyun-Jin, the LA pitcher, is 32. And then there is Kershaw, whom I believe the Dodgers would spend whatever it takes to keep. As for the Brewers, their big free agent losses could be Gio Gonzalez and/or Wade Miley, and frankly, who gives a shit?

Unadulterated celebrity hatred: Edge Milwaukee. 

Let's not hide our instinctive distaste for LA and the excesses of Hollywood celebrities who - if Boston wins - will line the field on both sides. The Redsocks have a huge cache of trendy, anti-NY celebrities, who swore allegiance during the Redsocks' tortured "chosen people" years before the Curse of the Bambino ended, and before Boston, in essence, became the new Evil Empire. I believe it will be tougher politically for the Boston celebrity machinery to root against cheese-loving middle America Milwaukee. If Boston beats LA, imagine their fun, razzing Kim and Kourtney at Emma Watson's next hookah party fundraiser for Human Rights among the Squirrel People of Bangladesh. If Boston wins, Ben can drink again! All will have a grand time!

Final, gut-level instinctive bile: Edge Milwaukee.

If Boston loses to LA, the Redsock ownership might spend even harder next winter, because big contracts will be how you win. If Milwaukee takes the ring, it would be a de facto victory for youth, and building a team the old-fashioned way: Coming in last for five years in a row. Maybe the Yankees will learn. But I doubt it. I'm still thinking of Emma Watson's party. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 6

"It's not dark yet, but it's getting there," as the poet wrote, seems to describe our new baseball millennium thus far.

But hey, there are still 982 years to go!  Plenty of time to turn it around! And why rely on reality, when there are always delusional fantasies to fall back on?

Here is Vol. 6 of our alternative Yankees reality.   We take up where we left off last time, with the start of Buck Showalter's glorious career as Yankees manager, en route to his record-setting, 21 straight World Series triumphs.  

Of course, many of you will recognize that this series of alternative reality scenarios is leading up to one of the holiest days on the Yankees calendar, "Mickmas," as Brother Richard Karney dubbed it, the birth of Mickey Mantle on 10/20.  Naturally, we will conclude with Vol. 7 (get it?) on 10/20 itself.

Oh, who am I kidding???  You peasants know nothing of Mickmas, or all the other high holy days!  No doubt, you still think I'm mad, mad, mad, mad—

“With an organization like that behind you, it’s hard to screw up.  All that money, all that talent.”

“Oh, come on!” scoffed Hensley.  “People can screw up anything.  Especially in baseball.”

“Well, that’s true enough,” Buck chuckled.  “You know, they even wanted to tear down the Stadium?”

“I heard that!  What was it, back in the ’70s?”

“Yeah, they were pretending it was just a makeover.  But they really would’ve gutted the old gal—maybe even moved the team to New Jersey.   Fortunately, Ms. Burden said no way.  She had them just fix it up just the way it was, in the exact same spot.   Paid extra to have all the work done in the winter, so it wouldn’t interrupt play.”

“They wanted to move the Yanks to New Jersey???”  Meulens was incredulous.

“Yup.  The usual racism, fear of the city.  Fortunately, the Yankees put so much money into the community, everybody was just fine coming up here.  Why, I remember during the 1977 World Series, Howard Cosell even had some helicopter cameras trained on the neighborhood and brayed at everyone, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is THRIVING!’ ”

“Incredible.  But it only goes to tell you, there’s not a stone on earth some idiot won’t overturn if he thinks he can make a dollar.”

“You’re right, you’re right.  You know, some idiots even tried to tear down Penn Station once.”

“Now you’re pulling my leg,” Hensley insisted.

“Anyway, the Bronx and the city being in such great shape was what really helped Stick talk Greg Maddux into signing with us for 1993.  He took him all around, showed him how great New York looked.  The man couldn’t resist.”

“That must have helped,” Meulens teased his boss.

“Yeah, you think?  And everything just seemed to get better from there.  We got another big break when CBS leaned on everybody and kept a strike from breaking out in 1994.  That was my first World Series.”

“I remember.  That incredible seventh-game win, when Maddux outpitched Pedro for ten innings.”

“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” Showalter chuckled.  “Broke those people’s hearts up in Montreal.  But you know, all the excitement saved the franchise for them.”

“Then in 1995, Maddux and Mariano just got you past the Braves.”

“Sure did.”  Showalter lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.  “And let me tell you something I never told anybody:  that last game we just pulled out in Seattle, in the ALCS?  I almost didn’t put Rivera in.”


“Yes!  He was just a kid, maybe a flash-in-the-pan.  Pull David Cone for him with the bases loaded? “

“But he got it done.”

“Sure did.  I shudder to think what would have happened sometimes if I hadn’t trusted him.  Why, they would’ve been right to fire my ass then and there.”

“A team as smart as the Yankees?  Do some impetuous, fool thing like that?”

“I know, I know.  Too much bourbon, I guess!” Buck laughed.  “But you know, sometimes in my nightmares, I can still see myself wearing a jacket with a little bird on it.  The Orioles or something.”

“Stop it, you’re killing me!  Hey, where’s the New Guy, anyway?”

“Oh, he’ll be here.  You can always count on him.”

These are the best of times, these are the worst of times

Hey, buddy, what'll ya have... a shot of hope, or a tumbler of some old-fashioned despair? Belly up. Okay, you can argue that:

1. This could be the second straight year where the Yankees prove to be the toughest hurdle en route to a ring. We gave Boston a bigger tussle than Houston. (What a bunch of limp dicks.) If Boston rolls over the NL team, we will once again have been the most difficult test. (So... whoop-dee-fuckin-doo... eh?)

2. This winter, the Yankees should be poised to spend lavishly on the most talented free agent class in years. (Oh, did I mention that the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros and Angels also apparently cut payroll below the threshold? So there will be bidding wars.) 

3. Boston should be hard-pressed to add free agents. They'll face a 50 percent luxury tax. (Oh, but that doesn't mean they won't spend, anyway. Remember Yoan Moncada, the one they outbid us on a few years back? He cost them twice as much, due to luxury taxes, but they did it anyway. And that's why they have Chris Sale, while we dicked around with Luis Cessa.)

4. The Yankees can save a quick $20 million by letting Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia walk. Love them both, but business is business, and neither justified his salary in 2018. (But won't it hurt seeing them in, say, a Rays uniform?)

5. We won 100 games in arguably baseball's toughest division. We did this despite a wave of injuries that corroded our lineup to the point of playing a journeyman minor league outfielder in the season's most critical series. (But several young players - Bird, Sanchez, Frazier, Sheffield, German, Cessa - remain complete enigmas. We could actually come up empty on the entire group.)

6. As hard as it is to swallow, we should be thankful that the elbow injury to Didi Gregorius and ensuing Tommy John surgery was diagnosed now, rather than in spring training, when most nagging ailments come to the forefront. As a result, the Yankees could get Didi back late next summer, a nice shot in the arm. (But a possible long term problem if we sign a big name to replace him.)  

7. Supposedly, the Yankees still have a "deep" farm system, with our top talent sprinkled through the lower levels. Last year, after the Japanese Babe Ruth chose the Angels, the Yankees bought a bunch of kids with their leftover international money. (I'm as skeptical about such signings as anybody. Five years ago, we signed every Latino 16-year-old whose testicles had dropped, and we still have almost nothing to show for it.)

8. This winter means a chance to focus on needs - or just burn money for the smoke. Last December, the last thing we needed was Giancarlo Stanton, a righty DH. But Jeet dangled him, knowing our back page addiction, and so we bit on the most onerous contract in baseball history. Come the Winter Meetings, more big names will come available - (my prediction, write this down: Robbie Cano, for next to nothing). Will we bite? Or will we address our needs: Pitching, pitching, pitching. Manny and Bryce, and another year's lock on the tabloids? Or actual improvements to the team?

9. Oh, and did I mention the Redsocks are going to win it all, making 2018 officially a horrible year?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Hal Plan

Hal wants more money and will not invest in the Yankees enough to threaten the "bad tax " line.  But he sees himself as an important person.

He has a good friend, who has a good friend, who has enough money to buy anything:  silence,
 co-operation, rebellions, countries, limos, women, diamond mines and beachwear.

By selling and renaming the NY Yankees:  "The Mbs Yankees," he can get $100 million deposited into his private, non-taxable account in Riyadh, and billions for the franchise.

Hal can continue to pretend he runs things, because the Saudi's really don't know baseball.   Brian Cashman will be retained as his Limo Driver.

When the team fails, as it always does since Hal became titular head, he can simply duck into a Saudia Arabia Embassy (anywhere in the world) and disappear for a while.

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 5

In our story so far, Brian Cashman, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, has met with a fatal, possibly A-Rod-caused rappelling accident, going up the Green Monster clad as Paul Revere.  George Steinbrenner was driven mad by a stint owning the Cleveland Indians, and his sons ended up on food stamps.

Get it?  Actual food stamps?  Like "Food Stamps Hal"?  

Oh, you people make me sick!  Here I am, busting my butt to try to make you laugh, make you dream while our baseball apocalypse is looming, and do you care?  No, you don't care!  Look way from the Boston series!  Look away from the looming, Boston-Dodgers World Series!  It's the end of the world!  Bwahahahahaha!

Ahem.  Anyway, here is Yankees president and GM Buck Showalter talking to Yankees manager Hensley Meulens about his own progress through the amazing, dauntless Yankees system:

“I was still in the minors back then, of course.  The Yanks were a damned hard club to break in with, back in the day.  All I had ahead of me was Chris Chambliss, this monster-sized guy named Cliff Johnson, then Balboni and Mattingly.”

“Did you ever wished they traded you off?” asked Meulens.  “I mean, it was hard enough for me coming up.”

“Yeah, but you had, what seven, eight terrific years in the majors, Mule?” objected Buck.  “And a couple more in the beginning, platooning with the great Orestes Destrade?  Man, talk about a tough player to dislodge!”  Showalter said, shaking his head.  “Me, I could hit all right, field all right.  But no power.”

“C’mon!  You got your shot.  That pinch-hit that won the 1982 World Series, when Balboni was out with his back injury.  I still gotta watch that on the video screen every other game.”

“Yeah, well, that was a special moment.  And being with the Yankees worked out all right, I have to say, thanks to their tremendous organizational loyalty.  And you know, it sounds crazy, but it seemed like there was always something looking out for us.  Like when Thurman Munson had that plane crash?”

“Oh, right!”

“Thank God he’d invited Reggie Jackson along on the flight.  It was Reggie who pulled him out of the cockpit, unconscious, and carried him to the ambulance.  Even when the EMT guys tried to take him from him, Reg wouldn’t give him up, saying, ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my Thurman.’ ”

“He actually said that?”

“Well, that was Reggie.  He couldn’t help himself.  Wasn’t enough mustard in the world to cover that hot dog. “

“So that’s why those guys are always thick as thieves.”

“Yep.  And believe it or not, they couldn’t stand each other when Reggie first came over to the Yankees.”

“Yeah, well, they’re a pain in my ass.  Always sitting just behind the dugout in spring training, heckling and second-guessing every move I make, like those two guys in the Muppets show.”

“That’s them, all right.  But don’t forget, Thurman worked with Posada, helped make him a first-rate catcher in no time.  Then Jorge worked with Sanchez, got him in line for you.”

“He did.  You know, Jorge’d make a good manager some day.”

“Nah, we’re grooming Posada for the front office.  Besides, you’ll be in the dugout as long as I was.  You know how it is with the Yankees:  you’re manager for life!”

“We’ll see about that.”

“Anyway, after Reggie finally retired we just went on and on.  That great lineup with Winfield, and Henderson, and Mattingly.  Balboni in the DH spot, until Fred McGriff came along.  Willie McGee and Roberto Kelly setting the table.”

“Don’t forget those ‘Young Guns’ staffs in the 1980s.  Gene Nelson with his five pitches.  Jose Rijo, Gil Patterson, Ken Clay, Mike Griffin, Doug Drabek, Mike Morgan.  Righetti and Fisher and Jay Howell in the pen.  Thank goodness we were smart enough to hang on to them.” 

“Well, that’s always been the philosophy around here:  ‘Don’t trade, develop.’  And so we did.  Sure, there were setbacks.  I mean, when Yogi finally handed over the reins to Dick Howser, I thought Dick was the best manager in baseball.  But then came that damned brain tumor.”

“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when he gave that speech in the Stadium,” Meulens said soberly.  “Telling everybody he finally knew what Lou Gehrig meant.”

“We moved on.  We had to.  Sweet Lou took over and had some good seasons before he said the stress was getting to him, and he retired to Florida.  The first time.”

“Yeah, that lasted a good two minutes.”

“It was right about then, too, that Gillick finally handed over the reins to Stick, and he brought in Bob Watson. “

“And you.”

“And me,” Buck acknowledged.  “Right on the hot seat, with all that Yankees tradition hovering over me.”

“How the hell did you do it?  How’d you keep the pressure from getting to you?”

“Well, I’ll tell ya.  But first—more bourbon!”

The new world order: Boston is on the verge of its 4th World Championship in 14 years

Twenty-eighteen was supposed to be the Year of the Yankees Ascension. We would make the next step, reach the World Series, maybe win the first of several rings. We had the new Core Four. We were the team to watch, if not to beat.

Instead, we watched Boston compile perhaps its greatest team in history, with young stars still reaching their peak and an owner willing to spend whatever it takes. Today, we blather on talk radio on whether Gary Sanchez is our future catcher, or what loose change the team might get for Sonny Gray, but it cannot mask the bitter reality: We may be entering one of the most humiliating periods in the franchise's history... with no end in sight.

This season, Boston on payroll spent $233 million - about $40 million more than what we once loved to call "the Evil Empire." That includes nearly $30 million to  Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo, two complete losses, which Redsock ownership shrugged off as the price of doing business. Meanwhile, the Yankee front office can't seem to get over the wasteful contract of Jacoby Ellsbury. Our owner spent all of 2018 obsessed with keeping payroll below a luxury tax reset, and now the question is simple: For what? 

This winter, Boston faces the loss of the following free agents: Joe Kelly, Drew Pomeranz, Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kinsler, Stephen Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi and Brandon Phillips. In other words... not much. If you view Kimbrel as a steadily  collapsing war horse (easily replaced on the market), the only loss of consequence would be Eovaldi, the mid-season rental, and don't be surprised if Boston re-signs him... because their goal is to win, rather than beat the tax man. 

Lately, Yankee fans are expressing hope that our owner will splurge on payroll this winter, looking to stay competitive. What are we smoking, that would make us feel this way? The team could well sign the enigmatic jogger, Charlie No-Hustle, aka Manny Machado - to play the compromised position of SS and basically fill a giant hole vacated by Didi Gregorius' injury. But if we make such a bold move, akin to standing pat, watch Boston match it by signing a high magnitude player for an open position (catcher, first base, or second base.) They have the team to beat for a long, long time. We have a few young players of note, but none like Benintendi, Betts, Bogaertes, Martinez, Sale, Porcello etc... nothing close to their rotation. 

They are rolling into the World Series, folks. Four world championships in 14 years? Boston may be on the verge of a dynasty. And we'll play the Wild Cards.

(P.S. Wow, did Houston ever get screwed last night on that home run call against Altuve. The ball was clearly in the seats. The fans did what fans have a right to do. It was nothing like the Jeffrey Maier call, which the new rules were supposed to prohibit. Insane. But as a rule of thumb, whenever a call goes for Boston, or in any way against the wishes of Yankee fans, you can be assured Joe West had something to do with it.) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A note to remember

In 2017, the Yankee payroll stood at $226.4 million.

This year, it was $193 million.
That is an extra $33 million, which came from payroll and now lines
 Hal Steinbrenner's pockets.

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 4

Things are getting pretty heavy and gloomy around here.  Time to continue our saga of a better place, where the Yankees are always gallant, gracious, well-mannered, hustling, and above all, invincible!

You'll recall that when we last left our story, Brian Cashman, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, met a tragic fate trying to rappel up the side of the Green Monster, adorned in a Paul Revere costume.  Dark rumors had it that his rope was cut by the new BoSox GM, Alex Rodriguez.

Now, we return to the executive suite at Yankee Stadium, where Yanks President, GM and former record-setting manager, Buck Showalter—21 consecutive world titles!—is reminiscing with crest manager Hensley Meulens after the team's back-to-back, 2017-2018 titles.

"Its funny the little things that can go right or wrong and shape a team's whole destiny," Buck was ruminating, now into his third shot of 1792 bourbon.

"For instance?" asked Meulens, making rings with the smoke from his second Havana.

"For instance, did you know the Yanks were on the verge of firing Casey Stengel?  True story!  They were going to force him out after the 1960 World Series."

"For real?  Why the hell would they ever do that?  Why, he held the record before you did:  18 pennants, 17 World Series rings—'

"Swear on my mother.  They were afraid of losing Ralph Houk."

"Who?"  Hensley looked genuinely perplexed.

"Ralph Houk.  A coach they were grooming to follow Casey.  I met him a time or two after he retired.  Nice guy, managed the Tigers and the Red Sox for years.  I think he won a division title once in Detroit."

"And they were going to can Casey for him?"

"Yep.  Then, Yogi hits that famous home run in the top of the 16th at Forbes Field, and Mickey guns down the tying run in the bottom of the inning for the final out.  They just couldn't fire ol' Case after a win that dramatic, seventy years old or not.  So he stayed on until he slipped and broke his hip in 1965.  By then Ralph Houk had walked, but they brought in Yogi, and he won all those Series."

"Wow," said Meulens. "I never knew that."

"It's true.  By then, CBS had come in.  They didn't know what to do with the Yanks at first, just saw them as another way to expand their portfolio.  But then Bill Paley's stepdaughter, Amanda Burden, pointed out how the synergy of a great team and the leading TV network in America could really work well together.  That's how she became the first female executive in baseball—and we just kept winning and winning."

"Huh.  No wonder she's president of the U.S. now!"

"But you know what?" Buck leaned in, a mischievous grin playing around his lips again.  "The biggest break we ever got came when this lunatic in Cleveland bought the Indians."

"Huh?  How did that help us?"

"That's what I'm getting to.  It was 1973, and some blowhard in the shipping business bought the Tribe from Stouffer, the frozen TV dinner king."

"Frozen TV whatsis?"

"Before your time.  Be grateful.  Anyway, it's always the way.  This bloated idiot—Steinbrenner was his name—thinks he can run the Indians better than any of the baseball people there."

"They always do.  My wife reads their stupid little blogs sometimes.  'Get this guy, don't get that guy.  The game is all about the fans!'  Sheesh!"

"Right?  All this Steinbrenner had ever owned was a basketball team—not even in the NBA!—and he ran that into the ground.  So he buys the Indians, and about two minutes later he's canned Gabe Paul."

"Not Gabe Paul!"

"The one and only.  So of course Ms. Burden scoops him right up.  Paul knows just who's for real and who isn't in the Indians' organization, and pulls off one deal after another.  Nettles, Chambliss, Eckersley.   That's how we got all those guys.  And what's more, it was Paul who stocked the front office to succeed him.  When he was ready to retire, in came Pat Gillick."

"Of course!  But hey, what happened to that Steinbrenner guy?  He must've blown sky high."

Buck gave an evil chuckle.

"Oh, he did, poor bastard!  He got so desperate after that, he brought in Billy Martin to manage for him.  That was just nuts, of course, as it always was with Billy.  But Steinbrenner kept thinking he could make it work, kept firing Martin and rehiring him.  Finally, fat old George just broke.  Took off all his clothes and ran into Lake Erie, howling like a maniac!"

"Oh, right, I've seen that YouTube video!  So that's who that was!"

"It was quite a spectacle.  And after that came the investigations, the bankruptcies.  The jail term.  Why, it broke the whole family."

"Poor devils."

"Oh, yeah.  Even after crazy old George passed, the kids couldn't get out from under.  You know, a few years ago, I ran into one of his sons, Hal or Hank or Biff or something.  He was living under a bridge outside Cleveland, and surviving on food stamps."

"Food stamps!"

"Can you believe it?"

A Poem to Celebrate Giancarlo Stanton's Final At-Bat of 2018

The final frame, of thee I sing,
The game, the season, everything,
Two runners on, the Redsocks cling,
The tying run we'll surely bring,

If only Stanton doesn't swing.

Craig Kimbrel stares, the fourth pitch thrown,
 good ten inches off the zone.
Way down near Stanton's anklebone.
He lunges, strike three! Carved in stone,
Our rally spiked, our chances blown.  

We score two runs, the ninth ends quick,
We simply needed one big stick
One slugging, power-swinging dick,
We might have pulled a magic trick,
Had only Stanton called in sick.

He came to New York seeking fame,
Now sits all winter, full of shame.
A fallen star, a tainted name,
And he could now avoid the blame,
If only Stanton skipped that game.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The new "Last Person in the World the Yankees Need to Sign"

Doesn't run in playoff games...

Is defiant about it...

You know what?

We don't need him.

Reality Bites

Next year's team has huge problems.

We used to speak of the vast wasteland at first base, due to the annual Bird injury and melt-down.

Since no one seems to believe Voit can play the position on a regular basis ( except yours truly ), that position remains in Limbo.

But we have a far worse problem, and I haven't even gotten anywhere near the pitching or catching.

Shortstop is our new vast wasteland.

Torreyes can play there, but he is considered too small to be a full-time guy.


 Torreyes hits .300, sure.  And he can bunt, run, field and throw. He hustles always.  Oh I remember, he doesn't hit homers.  So he is a thorn in the new Yankee gold standard of " how many players can a team have who hit our 20 or 10?"  He is a baseball player, and this Yankee team does not play baseball!

So get ready for this:  Option 1 for the Yankees is to move Torres to SS and re-sign Neal Walker to play second.  Until DIDI returns, of course.  Which , with luck, will be early October, with no minor league work available by then.

Neal can also back-up Voit and Company at first, and play some third and outfield as well.

You think I am toying with you?  I promise this is the plan.

We shall also have a void at third base, as the braintrust has concluded that Andujar can't play the position.  He has too many flaws in his feet, his double clutch, and his rhythm.  So he becomes traded or thrown to to the wolves in the competition to replace Hardy in left.  A rookie of the year, who got benched in the final game we lost by one run.

If Machado is signed, that is the plan.  If Machado declines, because he sees the Dodgers in a far better position to win than the Yankees, we have to start over.  Neal Walker at third, and Frank Weinerschnitzel at second.

Catching anyone?  The Yankees are all-in on the ice cream sandwich.  This year, as they ponder, had to be an aberration.  Gary is a fine catcher, working hard on his mlb-worst defense.  And batting a solid .180 with power, once in a while.

Dreamers dream, don't they?

And we are solid as a rock with pitching.  Young and broken down, mixed with aging and broken down, stirred with old and broken down.

But we still have that world class, unhittable bullpen, right?

Put that all together with an experienced manager, able ownership, an aggressive, inventive GM, and we've got 86 wins for sure.  Or possibly fewer.

The off-season will be more enjoyable than the next season for Yankee fans.

Should I Cool It or Should I Blow? Episode Five

All right, wrapping it up here.

I take it nobody's contemplating trading The Gleyber, right?  And we're all for keeping Hicks, if only so we can make him the new Gardy and complain about his many shortcomings, in between praising him for doing so many things kinda sorta more-or-less pretty well?

Good.  So let's get on to our final subjects...

Me tienes que decir...

G.:  Okay, so Duque gave it to us straight today:  we will not be trading Giancarlo Stanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a passel of terrific kids.  Bummer.

So what DO we do with him?  If he WERE to opt out after 2020...we would all be dancing in the streets.  It would mean that Stanton had just put in two stunningly good years, at least one of which probably netted us a ring, and what we would should do is wish him a fond farewell as he rides off into the seriously declining part of his career.

But again, what are the odds?

So if we do keep him...what do we do with him?  Try him on first?  Get him a new hitting coach?  For starters, I would say at least hit him back-to-back with Judge.

Severino:  I know, I know.  He's still our ace, and our best bet would be trying to get him back on track.  And maybe all the writers are right for once, and it really is just a case of tipping his pitches.

But I gotta say, that late-to-the-bullpen moment in the biggest game of the year had D-R-U-G-S written all over it, and I don't mean the performance-enhancing kind.

I hate to libel anyone, and you can never tell for sure with Kremlin-on-the Hudson.  But something smells and smells bad here.  Working out a deal would still get us a lot, and might mean shipping away a future implosion.

Aaron Judge:  No way, right?  He's the face of the franchise, maybe the saving face of all baseball in the grim, Red Sox-dominated, all-relief-pitcher-all-the-time, winter-is-coming epoch that is rapidly descending upon us.  A guy who looked mighty clutch at the end of the season.

What's more, he's somebody who pays attention to his whole game.  He's not just a slugger but also a terrific fielder and a very good baserunner.

But submitted for your consideration:  Judge is a very big man, who has now been seriously injured twice in as many seasons.  Each time, it put the Yanks into horrific tailspins.  Were these just flukes—or just the start of an injury-laden career?

Then there's that lurking, .212 batting average on the road, with only 22 ribbies—stats brought UP by a good last series in Boston.

Is this the future, too?  Yet another Yankee who does nothing but swing for the fences, and doesn't get the calls on the road?

Granted, that is more of an organizational problem than just the Big Guy's.

But let's remember:  this is one of the very few Yankees we could probably get a great deal back for, right now.  Shouldn't we at least think about it?

So you got to let me know...

Let's ponder some truths about the upcoming winter

Following the death of the 2018 Yankees, it's taken the fan base barely one week to soar through the first two stages of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' Model for Grief. 

The Denial Phase lasted 90 seconds, until the video review concluded on Gleyber Torres' close play at first. Yankee fans understood the situation. Nobody rioted. We handled this stage quite well.

Then came Anger - our wheelhouse. Frankly, we live in this stage, win or lose. In fact, if the Yankees had beaten Boston, we'd today be spewing bile about something stupid that Boone did... it doesn't matter. So, Anger? Yeah, we're passing through it as well as we ever will. 

But now, we've reached the Bargaining Phase, where we will stay for most of the winter. (We'll hit Depression when Spring Training arrives and we still have no shortstop; Acceptance will come on Opening Day, when our well-hyped lineup gets shutout by some team's bullpen.) In the Bargaining stage, we arrange chess pieces for 2019, proposing trades that can never happen. 

And yes, that's the hot stove league, right there: Fantasy trades where we give up nothing and get great young players in return. (The kind we hoped for last winter, when the reigning NL MVP fell into our lap.) But as we bargain, here are some ground rules that I think we should deal with.

1. Nobody is going to take Giancarlo Stanton off our hands. His contract is an anvil. When Derek Jeter unloaded him and his contract on us, we took them both for life. Now... this isn't the worst thing that ever happened. I don't want to be ripping Stanton here. He hit 38 HRs and played with a tweaked gonad. But now and then, folks suggest we can trade Stanton and then sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, etc, and - well - that ainta gonna happen. For better or worse, get used to Stanton. Unless he opts out after 2020 (which would mean he's lost his mind) we have him through 2028 at about $30 million per season. He'll be Jacoby Ellsbury times two. (And it means that if the Yankees don't win a championship in the next few years, a long dearth could be upon us in the 2020s, when Hal blames Stanton for out-of-control payroll.)  

2. No matter how much the Yankees spend, there isn't much pitching on the free agent market. We hear about Patrick Corbin. He's a decent pitcher, yeah. But basically, he's the best in a mediocre batch. Here is a compendium of what is out there, pitching-wise. Unless Clayton Kershaw opts out - and the Dodgers would still be favorites to keep him - there is no superstar pitcher waiting to hit NYC. The real free agent market is with position players, where the Yankees are already strong. If we add Machado or Harper, it may mean trading Miguel Andujar or Aaron Hicks. Nobody's going to like that.

3. Boston won't stand pat. Last winter, after winning the AL East handily, they added JD Martinez, the best hitter and most expensive free agent on the market. This summer, with a sizable lead in the division, they added Pearce, Kinsler and Eovaldi. This winter, they'll have $10 million coming off the books with the disappearance of Drew Pomeranz, and there is no sign that the owner intends to hold back. The difference in franchises? They have a billionaire who realizes he is a fucking billionaire, as opposed to Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner, who thinks the best way to impress his dead daddy is by making more money off the team. If we think the Redsocks will sit by while we add the 10th Fleet, we're wrong. They'll splurge. It won't matter whether they have won their fourth World Championship in 14 years. They'll splurge. 

I say we delay the Bargaining stage and spit some more anger. Just let's leave Aaron Boone for a while and focus on the powers at the top.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 3

On this grim, October day—grim in spirit as well as weather—I think we need a little pick-me-up.  Namely, a report from that alternative, Yankees Universe, on how our favorite ballteam was able to stay light years ahead of the Red Sox this millennium...

Buck Showalter, team president and general manager of the 2018 World Champion New York Yankees, took a thoughtful puff on his Havana, and turned back to Hensley Meulens, manager of the 2018 World Champion New York Yankees.

"I don't mind telling you, I was tempted to bite on that Giancarlo Stanton fellow—just for the name alone!"  He gave a big, hearty, typical Buck laugh.  "After all, we still hadn't used Starlin to help us get Gerrit Cole yet, and him and that and one minor league pitcher was all we needed."

"So what stopped you?" Meulens asked, sipping from the 1792 bourbon he had provided

"It was the new guy again.  Something about Stanton just didn't feel right to him, and as he pointed out, why commit to a contract that long?  Besides, with the Double Digit Outfield already dominating, all we needed was a DH, really.  Go get J.D. Martinez, he said, that's the guy Boston's slobbering over.  And so we did."

"He knew his stuff.  As usual," Hensley said, saluting him with a toast.

"He did that.  He'd done his homework.  He knew that was what Stick always used to say:  'We have one real rival—Boston.  We keep ahead of them, and we're golden.' "

Buck leaned back and took a swallow of his fine bourbon, letting it swim around in the back of his throat for a moment.  When he started talking again, there was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

"It was the same thing, year after year.  You remember when Manny Ramirez was a free agent?"

"Who didn't?"

"There were some people around here, didn't want us to sign him.  You remember that office boy, the little twerp?  What was his name, Crapman?"

"You mean, Cashman?"

"Riiiight!  The guy who beat out Theo Epstein to become the Boston GM a couple years later."

Both men were convulsed with laughter for the next few minutes, remembering.

"Yeah, that was a good move:  Cashie over Theo!  Anyway, Cashman felt we shouldn't sign Manny because he would fall in with his homies from Washington Heights," Showalter finally resumed, wiping the tears from his face."

"That's ridiculous!  Why, he was only great—and maybe the most popular player the Yankees ever had!" Meulens exclaimed.

"Right!  The next year, 2002, Johnny Damon was up, and the Sox needed an outfielder.  We signed him up right under their noses.  Year after that, when the Twins cut Big Papi, we saw that Boston needed a first base-DH—so we scooped him up before they could clear their throats."

"Who the hell would ever cut Big Papi??  That's so...Twins."

"And it wasn't only that Stick saw these could all be great players for us.  The Old Man understood that when it comes to the Red Sox, each action leads to an opposite and completely destructive reaction.  Every time we signed up one of those guys, they went out an acquired some over-the-hill guy, or an overrated juicer."

"I know!  We got Manny, so they signed Jason Giambi.  We got Damon, they signed up Mussina.  Gosh, I loved facing that idiot in a big game!  Boy, it seess to obvious, now," Meulens said, shaking his head.  "They even got Randy Johnson when he was, what, 46?   I mean, they couldn't see he was pretty done?"

"I know, I know.  Though they did manage to sign Matsui.  I wanted him, but we already had Damon, Bernie, and Manny in the outfield, with Rickey Ledee, Spencer, and Ruben Rivera—after Mariano had that talk with him—still playing great as back-ups.  I hated to pass up Godzilla, but there just wasn't room."

"He was quality.  But hell, Hideki only had two good years in Boston before he got hurt.  Then we signed him just in time to have that great season DH-ing for us in 2009!"

"Indeed."  Buck Showalter paused dramatically.  "And then there was A-Rod."

Both men were soon convulsed with laughter again.

"I mean, I know Stick thought about it.  For maybe two minutes," Showalter said, still chuckling.  "But we had Mike Lowell on third, who was only great.  I remember the office boy wanted to trade him for Ed Yarnall or somebody.  That's when I first began thinking he needed a change of venue."

"And then Boston hired him, and he went out and cut that deal for A-Rod.  Held a big press conference at Fenway to say that this changes everything."

"All the Gammonites were all over it.  They kept pointing out that all Cashman had to give up was Kevin Youkilis."

"And he was so...A-Rod."

"Yeah, I don't think I'll ever forget that 2004 game in the Fens when Roger beaned him," Buck downright smirked.  "To be honest, I seriously thought Stick should let Roger just go back to Texas that year.  I mean, the juicing was getting out of control, and I didn't like his influence in the clubhouse.  But the Old Man understood that if Clemens went he'd take Pettitte with him, and what moron would ever let that happen?"

"So you gave him another three years, at big money, and he went out and hit A-Rod, and earned his money right there!" chortled Meulens.

"Oh, yeah.  And then Alex makes that pathetic charge at the mound.  Going juuuuust slow enough so he hopes someone will run out and get between them.  And Jorge, God bless him, runs up from behind and tackles him around the knees.  Drops him right there."

"Oh, I've seen the video!  Who the hell hasn't?  And that knocked the wind out of A-Rod.  Didn't hurt him really, but he can't get his breath, so he's writhing around on his back like an overturned turtle, twisting and gasping for air—"

"I think every Yankee fan must've had that poster on his wall for the next ten years!" Buck laughed, pounding his palm on the table until his bourbon glass jumped.  "And that was it for any chance they had of winning with him.  They loved him to death up there, though.  Always chanting, 'A-Rod, A-Rod!' even after the drug suspension.  And Cashman would never get rid of him.  Took him into the front office, showed him the ropes so he would succeed him as GM."

"Oh, that was so...Cashie!"

"Now, now!" chided Buck with much fake solemnity.  "After all, what happened was very tragic."

"Sure.  Trying to rappel up the Green Monster dressed as Paul Revere to raise money for the Jimmy Fund.  It was a terrible thing."

"Though you know what I hear?"  Buck leaned in close toward his manager.

"What's that?"

"A-Rod cut the rope."

And then both men were on the floor laughing again.


Where Do I Begin ?

1.  The Red Sox won.  And David Price didn't get embarrassed.
2.  The Cowboys won in a romp.  Over a team that easily beat the Giants.
3.  The Eagles won.
4.  The Jets won.  And their QB of the future (* and present ) looks much better than our QB of the past ( assuming there still are some Giants fans anywhere ).
5.  The Redskins won.
6.  The Yankees went fishing.
7.  Didi went to Dr. Andrews.
8.  Other bad things happened to current and future Yankees, but no one has yet informed us.
9.  Gary Sanchez was awarded a golden ice cream sandwich for his work behind the plate.

And now it is the next day....