Friday, December 13, 2013
Yesterday in Seattle, Joggin' Robbie met reporters - all five of them - and announced that his feelings were hurt by the lack of love and respect from the Yankee tower of power. Somehow, I'm thinking of Randy Levine cocktail comments, or maybe his car was keyed in the lot. I dunno. When a marriage dies, who do you blame?
What's clear is that when the marriage collapses, the kids suffer. That's us, by the way. In Seattle and New York.
Somehow, the Yankees talked themselves into believing they're better off with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, et al - and no Robbie. Somehow, Seattle talked themselves into thinking a 10-year deal isn't a whole decade. And somehow, Robbie talked himself into thinking he'll be happier with a beard in a town known for rain and Windows '95. But everybody watching from a distance sees it clearly: They're all wrong. It's gonna suck. But hey, everybody gets what they deserve, eh?
Today, the Yankees are a .500 team next year, without draft picks - the kind of ineptitude normally exclusive to the Knicks. We'll spackle our holes with money, blow through Happy Hal's $189 million budget "goal," and chase the one-game Wild Card. Until we change our fundamental model - buying yesterday's stars - we are listing in the water. We might even be better off with a full 2014 meltdown, forcing a complete re-evaluation. I dunno.
The Mariners MUST win SOMETHING next year - at least get to the grand one-game Wild Card. Otherwise - well - they're Windows '95. Robbie MUST have a big year; he MUST NOT get injured. Eventually, they'll be holding the bag on a 1B/DH with warning track power and three years left to play. They MUST win next year. For a team as bad as they have been, that's a dangerous slope to climb. And all for a one-game season.
As for Robbie? He gets the beard. I hope it doesn't itch.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
I've said it many times: I've seen Baghdad during a war, and the New York State Thruway during a whiteout. Given the choice, I'd take my chances with the war.
(Make your own jokes on how this photograph fits into the Yankees' future.)
In celebration of Joe Torre's ascention to the Hall - AND Joba Chamberlain signing with the Tigers: From The Book of Joe: JOBA
For it had been a six-year drought; Karsay had begotten Quantrill, who had begotten Sturtze, who had begotten Farnsworth, who had begotten Proctor, the burner of garments, who had begotten a lost generation of Scrantonites.
And the House of George faced a year without October; for the Bostonites were the most ruthless nation on earth, and their slaughter of small markets rivaled all empires that had come before.
And one day, Joe appeared unto Cashman, the great desk warrior, and spake:
“O, Man of Cash, hear me!
“We hath no wings to fly upon, for our bridge to Mariano hath fallen long ago into the sea of Randy Choate; no lead can is safe, no contest secure. Until we find a savior, our battle is lost.”
And Cashman replied:
“I know of one being whose girth and growl portend the End of Days. I hath seen the Leviathan, and it is called Joba.
“And though he be but a babe, he hath the size of a whale, the head of a manatee, and the shape of a designated hitter, and his father rolls on wheels, a tale that shall juice the tongue of every working scribe.
“We shall summon Joba from the mines, and he shall be our bridge to heaven.”
And for a fortnight, Cashman’s words came to pass.
For Joba Chamberlain, son of Goose, forded the streams of mid-game to reach the fertile Valley of Mariano; and Joe’s weary army survived to another October, where pundits foresaw the House of George reclaiming its rightful throne.
But in the first encounter, the Cleveland tribe routed Joe’s minions.
And in the second skirmish, his army barely held an advantage, as the cock crow grew near; and so Joe called upon Joba to bring heat and vanquish the hordes.
Then a trillion billion gazillion locusts descended upon the field of battle; and they did not devour hotdogs of concession; and they did not devour painted female Ohioites; and they did not devour the Clevelanders, who huddled safe in their bunker.
But they devoured the Leviathan, Joba.
And the plague covered his face, probed his anus and roamed his mind.
And Joe’s legions were routed.
And the House of George summoned Joe unto Tampa, where the Son of the Owner, known as Hank, spake:
“Uh, Joe, hey, guy, yo!
“My pop hath turned over this stuff to me, and I hath brought think to it.
“We shalt cut thy pay. We shalt stab thy back. And next year, we shalt whack thee. Here is thy contract. Sign on the line of dots. I do not care. I gotta go smoke.”
And Joe replied:
“Hear me, o, cancered seedling, o Hank!
“Behold, for the End of Days hath come sooner than you planned; and for me, it cometh now.
“For I am the soul of Joe McCarthy, the Scooter, the Yogi and the Clipper; and I am the spirit of the Iron Horse, the Mick, the Billy and Whitey – though not in the Gary Sheffieldian sense of the word.
“And all who read these words shall know that loss can find any team at any time; and all victory is short lived, and all success should be cherished for the way it comes and goes.
“For champions be not purchased, but taught. And they be not expected, but celebrated; and it is over only when it is over. And, yea, it is over. Amen.”
So endeth the The Book of Joe.
In today's Rule 5 draft, the Yankee farm skeleton was picked bare - more than any other team in baseball
Then today's Rule 5 Draft happens, and the Yankees lose five players - that's more than any other team in the majors. Five (5) players. Boston lost just one. The Cubs, with their emphasis on youth, lost four. St. Louis - the MLB gold standard - lost three. We lost five.
We lost a RH pitcher by the name of Thomas Kahnle, whom Cashman was offering in trades last summer. I think he figured Kahnle wouldn't be protected, and they'd lose him in December. We might get the guy back. Under the rules, Colorado must keep him on the roster all season, or he returns to us. Once upon a time, San Diego drafted a young Ivan Nova from us, but he couldn't throw strikes in spring training, and he soon came back. So losing Kahnle is sort of a big nothing.
But in the minor league phase, the rules change. The players don't return. They're drafted, and they're gone. And in that second phase, the first player picked - by Houston - was a 21-year-old OF named Ravel Santana. When I saw that name, I flinched. And I bet Cashman did, too.
Not long ago, Santana was being hyped as one of the Yankees best prospects - a do-everything outfielder with a ceiling like the Sistine Chapel. Then he broke his ankle and lost 16 months. (SEE: JETER, RECOVERY TIME) He came back and then broke an arm. Growing up, the guy should have drank more milk. But he's still too young to give up, and we just did. Not whining, here. Just sayin...
The others we lost were RH pitchers Michael O'Brien, Felipe Gonzalez, and Kelvin Castro. Gonzalez and Castro were two of the last three players taken. By then, the pickings had to be slim.
So what does this mean? Be my guest. Maybe the Yankee system wasn't as dead as they say? Or maybe it wasn't - but now is. Ravel Santana: Another one bites the dust.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Continuing the celebration of Joe Torre's ascention to The Hall: From the Book of Joe...THE STORY OF DAVID
now in the story of the quirky giant, David Wells, who in the annum
2003 inked unto print his long-awaited memoirs, and whose
quill etched dark secrets from the House of George.
According to the Book of David, his famous Game of Perfection five summers earlier, had been rendered while the called Boomer was healing from a night of grape gleanings and rank tomfoolery.
According to the Book, his warrior team was swallowing unlawful elixirs to thicken themselves with devil-forged muscle.
After seven days and nights, Joe appeareth unto the foam-tongued scribe and spake:
“Hear me, o, Boomer!
“Ye hath braked the Code of Muteness that Yanks have loved since the time of Sparky Lyle. For mere pieces of silver, ye have blown whistles and betrayed the House of George!
“I condemn thee, I denounce thee, I rebuke thee.
“Ye shall be fined a hundred thousand goats. And ye shall smell the stench that ye hath farted upon all who cherish silence.
“This I do decree!”
And so it did transpire.
David, stoned and buttery beneath his pinstriped sackcloth, called a conference of news and spake:
“Hear me, o, world!
“I renounce the claim that I birthed my Game of Perfection following an eve of refrocked virgins and jello-shots of meadfire.
“I renounce the claim that some players of game chewed vitamins of deceit to fortify themselves with counterfeit spine.
“I renounce myself for being a bald and larded lout, a clown who hath penned bile in the hope of bedding runway vixens with my unremarkable staff.
And among some doubters, the winds whispered that Boomer’s new testimony was born not from self-loath, but deceit. And writers called for Joe to replace Boomer with the rising God of Eternal Potential, Jeff Weaver, son of Kaminecki.
Then, one day, Joe appeareth unto David and spake:
“And I hath come to see Jeff Weaver being hammered each time his surfer frame ascends the mound of pitch.
“Ye shall reassume thy place in the rotation. This I do decree!”
And Boomer led the Yankees to the Flag of the League.
And Boomer vanquished the Bostonites in a great Yank victory.
And the House of George was defeated.
And Boomer renounced his ties to the House of George.
There, his quill would never again see censor. And there, he brought filth unto the End of his Daze.
Early last week, Robbie Cano's plane went down, killing the great Yankee. The news shut down New York. Hal Steinbrenner wept on TV. Despite brutal weather, thousands packed Yankee Stadium for a memorial service. A-Rod sat beside Bud Selig, Jeter next to Pedroia. The Yankees will retire his number 24. A plaque in Monument Park is coming. He might go straight into the Hall. God, I'm crying now, tears onto the keyboard. MAMA, SAY IT AIN'T SO, ROBBIE CANO, GONE! NOOOOOOOO...
Bear with me.
Thank you. I'm better now.
Well, Robbie Cano IS gone. Good and gone. And good riddance! And that's how the Yankiverse feels, according to the mocking poll on the left side of this site. Normally, we draw no conclusions from polls. They are parlor games. This time, I think we're onto something. The Yankiverse is seething with rage over Joggin' Robbie.
And you know what? I see no reason to apologize for my anger. Same with my support for the Master.
Some people think every team in baseball deserves an insufferable homer announcer except the Yankees. That's why we honor John Sterling with every breath. He may be nuts, but he's ours. Likewise, some people think it's OK for fans in every other city to scream and boo former players - but not Yankee fans. We're supposed to suck it up and accept it, because we sign free agents ourselves. Well, sorry, folks.
Seattle boos A-Rod hysterically, because he walked. Same with Texas. Boston will go nuts when Jacoby Ellsbury returns. All in a day's work. But do they expect Yankee fans to welcome Robbie home? We're supposed to say, "Oh well, he's got mouths to feed, he's putting bread on the table for his family, and let's show him we understand..." Sorry, folks.
Good riddance, Robbie. I'm glad he chose Seattle, because you can't get any farther away. And if he or Jay-Z thinks the Yankiverse will ever forgive, good luck on that. I think they made a huge mistake - a financial mistake - going to Seattle. But what it said about Robbie's character... and if you follow this blog, (God help you), you know it's rare that we side with management.
Actually, I think that stupid poll understates the anger we feel toward Robbie. I think you'd find 11 out of every 10 Yankee fans pissed at him.
The Grandy Man explains why he fanned 195 times in 2012 and sat out practically all of last year: He was tired of playing for fake New Yorkers
He said "true New Yorkers" are Met fans.
Listen: I understand how words get misinterpreted, especially when a guy is drunk on Wilpon vodka. The Grandy Man never showed spite in the past. After striking out, he simply trudged to the dugout - no Paul O'Neill visits to the bat rack. In the overall scheme of walk-away lines, this is more a tweak of the nose than punch in the gut. Still, I wonder where Curtis was going?
Yankee fans are not true New Yorkers? What a thing to say. All those cops and firefighters who rallied after 9-11 and practically made the Yankee flag synonymous with Old Glory? All those people who cried in Mariano's last outing, or stood as Andy walked off the mound, or the bleacher bums in their roll calls, the guys on the streets with faded NY caps ... Pennsylvanians?
Right now, New York sports is a horror show. No pro team is remotely giving the city a source of pride. The Yankees melted down. The Knicks - dear God, the Knicks, will somebody please move them to Topeka? The Rangers, the Nets, the Giants, the Jets - tell me a NYC team destined to win a championship in the next two years. But first and foremost in that Jeopardy category of TRADITIONS OF LOSING DISGRACEFULLY is Grandy's new employer, the Flushing Mets. "True" New Yorkers, apparently, in the mind of Mr. Grandy Man, cherish losing.
I'm tempted to say Curtis was never a true Yankee, never worth what we gave up to get him, never willing to use his vast talents, because he became homer-happy in a stadium that fitted his swing. I guess we should give him a pass and forget it. Remember the person, not the 195 strikeouts, a club record. But it's interesting how players walking out the door are suddenly speaking their minds.
We still haven't heard Robbie unload on how disrespected he felt - being forced to bat second. Wait... didn't Curtis bat second? Hm-mm. Maybe we're onto something. True Yankee stars never bat second. And "true" New Yorkers? Hmm. Isn't Chris Christie a Met fan?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The new stadium is located in the Bronx and carries the same name. But Mickey, Babe, Thurman, Catfish, the Iron Horse, JFK, Pope John and President Mandela never set eyes on it. The one they visited was viewed by the Yankees as a tear-down.
No big thing here, keep moving, everybody, there's nothing to see, I'm not whining, I'm just saying... as the Yankees take their self-congratulatory lap in the glow of Mandela's memorials...
Next summer, when they celebrate Mandela's historic visit with a marker, it won't represent a place he actually visited. And if the Yankees care so much about that legacy stuff - well - I guess they didn't in 2005, eh?
Spoiler Alert: The years 2019 through 2022 are really gonna suck for Seattle, and it'll be all Robbie's fault
Baseball owners, general managers and evaluators are blasting away, believing the contract was reckless and irresponsible, will cripple the franchise and damage the industry. "This is not going to be the first 10-year contract that works,'' says former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling, who Monday was named the analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball... himself facing a fraud and negligence lawsuit from Rhode Island's Economic Development Corp. over a failed video game venture.
If and when Robbie does, they'll say he's in a bit of a slump, eh?
More continuing celebration of Joe Torre's election to the Hall of Fame: From THE BOOK OF JOE... Knobbiticus
it came to pass in the third summer of his four-annum covenant, a time
called 2000, the righteous Yankee warrior Chuck Knoblauch lost his
ability to bring direction to the hurling of his balls.
Sayers of sooth offered solutions, but the more that “Knobby” sought to herd his frantic emissions, the more waxen his tossings became.
One dusk, Knobby’s errant missile soared so far off course that it nearly slew the mother of Keith Obermann, son of Cosell and father of Maddow, while the matronly beast held a baseline seat. So pocked with guilt was Knobby that the once-great Twin barely could see the field through his veil of tears.
That night, Knobby appeared unto Joe’s chamber and spake:
“Hear me, o, Joe!
“My arm mocks God with its treachery.'Tis a curse upon the House of George.
"Lend me thy axe, I beg thee, so that I may chop off the fevered limb and feed it to the plaid-suited toads of print and byte!”
Joe placed his calm hands upon the mini-brute’s troubled appendage and declared:
“Verily, o Knobby, Hear me!
“Thy demons reside not within thy wing, but within thy mental mind.”
And so Knobby flung himself to the floor and spake:
“If brain it be, then bequeath to me thy trowel, so that I may carve out the infected lobe!
“If brain it be, then swing thy scythe neckward, so that my thought cabbage shall plummet, and my eyes at last can gaze upon a box score free of errors.
“If brain it be, bolt me to thy bench! Option me to thy Clippers of Columbus! Trade me to the plebes of Kansas City, or a place where my head can be blissfully shrank!”
For seven days and nights, the jell-haired Yank testified to his sins. Finally, Joe spake:
“All right, all right, all right, o, Knobby, listenup!
“Only ye can smite the vermin that breed beneath your pleasingly oiled quaff.
“But fear not for the House of George!
“On the morrow, ye shall occupy a splintered seat of wood. In thy stead, we shall call upon the tuneful Venezuelanite, Luis Sojo.
“Until ye becalms thy head, ye pose threat to all celebrities who sitteth along the Line of the First Base. And that includes Rudolph Giuliani, son of Koch, heir to Dinkins, brother of Ailes, and doer of Donna Hanover.
“To preserve the House of George, which seeks a new Yankee palace hewn of public gold, we must protect the shining, hair-free forehead of Rudolph Giuliani, our political ticket of meal, and the doer of Donna Hanover!
“And in the spring of 2001, thou shalt move to the far field of Left. There, no stones slung by thee shall ever slay a celebrity, or those who birth them.
"This I doth decree!”
And so it came to pass.
The following spring, Knobby roamed the far field of Left.
And he ruled the League of Grapefruit.
And he rained frenzy upon his foes through the showery month of April.
And then, without cause, his June bat floundered and died.
And when Knobby’s covenant expired, the House of George exiled him to the crop farms of Kansas City, where his name was never spake again.
And no Person of Very Importance was ever felled by one of Knobby’s ill-aimed pellets.
And one day, there would rise a greater and more expensive House of George, born from public pork, thanks to the wisdom of Joe, the generosity of Rudolph Giuliani and the sacrifice of Knobby, son of Sax.
They did this, I guess, out of spite. (After money, that's what they treasure most.) The owners hate Miller because he stole the toy they inherited from their daddies: the National Pastime. Hey, wanna hear a joke? In 2007, they elected Bowie Kuhn to the Hall - and excluded Miller. Bowie Kuhn! Hey, that's worth a trip to Humptytown, eh? They've now kept out Miller for 10 years, even though they no longer have to fear what he would say from the podium.
Yesterday's move prompted the great Murray Chass to vault in from the Scooter Store and write a story in today's Gray Lady. Chass puts Miller up there with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, the three most important men in baseball history. He says Miller became so fed up with Cooperstown crapola that he asked to never be inducted. (For the record, I hereby request that I too NEVER be inducted into that cesspool of nepotistic hypocrisy.)
Which brings us to The Boss. You could argue that, after Marvin Miller, no other man advanced the players' financial interests more than Old George. Ask Bob Shirley, wherever he is! But I'm still not sure how to measure Steinbrenner. Nobody more celebrated a Yankee victory, but there were also the cruelties - those Yogi Berra and Bobby Meacham moments - I still dunno. But in my mind, George was the last true owner.
An owner has one job, dammit: OWN! He must be his city's affable, obese, tipsy, gray-haired, cigar-smoking, super-rich super fan. He should never poor mouth (as the current crop constantly does.) He should sit in his owner's box and do nothing but OWN! Old George cheered as hard as any of us. Old George lived and died with the Yankees. When we were swept away by the Dodgers, and Old George punched out that elevator - that wasn't a foible. That was his greatest moment as an owner. Hell, it may have the greatest moment of any owner, anywhere. Dammit, he was OWNING.
And if any owner deserves to be in the Hall, it is Old George. Understand? Unlike the today's grubs, who use their teams to extort money from fans and taxpayers, George knew how to own.
But here's the rub: No owner belongs in the Hall. Certainly not while Marvin Miller remains on the outside. And if Miller's last wishes are to be fulfilled, he'll stay out. And so should Old George.
Monday, December 9, 2013
A friend sent this. I'm filing it under, "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to relive it."
Also, what are the odds that on April 1, none of the above are Yankees?
Continuing celebration of Joe Torre's election to the Hall of Fame: From THE BOOK OF JOE... "St. Tino."
During the 1996 Series of the World, the eternal covenant between Tino Martinez and his powerful bat fell into sickness and disrepute. After many fevered swishings and unfruitful half-swings, the great and earnest keeper of First appeared unto Joe and spake:
Joe placed his healing hand upon the citizen slugger and spake:
“Verily, o Tino, hear this!
“The gritted teeth of stress hath slowed thy swiftly swung sword. Until ye learneth to relax, the good wood of thy firm serpent shalt torment only air.
“Ye must swaddle thy nerves in silken robes, then pleasure them in the light of candle and music of Mancini mood.
“Ye must take seedpipe in hand, floss clean thy fear and fling sacrifice wherever it needs to take root.
“Whence ye hath achieved this, thy drives again shall pierce outfield foreskins, and blood-red rivers of runs shall flow down the hosed thigh of thy box score.”
But, alas, on the morrow, Tino could not summon the birdsong of one self-snoggle.
Nor on the next morrow, or the next morrow, or the next.
Finally, without any more morrows, Joe appeareth unto Tino and did spake:
“Hear me, o, Tino!
“Until ye drinketh from the well of self-flog, the cob of thy batting corn shall remain mealy and without taste.
“Until thy stroketh returns, the Yankee order shall be inscribed henceforth without thy good name.
“Until the end of this Series of the World, my card of score shall bear in thy stead the mark of the Behemoth: Cecil Fielder. This I do decree.”
On the morrow, Cecil Fielder occupied the base of First.
And though Tino’s humiliation was shrieked a million times by the hounds of back page, he rejoiced when the House of George – with Cecil Fielder – bested the tribe from Atlanta in the Series of the World.
And in summers to follow, Tino learned to soothe his twitchery by drawing man-milk from the spiggot of self-shag.
And Tino led the Yanks to great victories, which were celebrated with parades, merriment and slaughter of joyful animals across the Canyon of Heroes.
And because he laid grasp upon Joe's vision, Tino became a saint in the House of George, until its trust of brains gave ditch to him, so they could sign the mittless brute, Jason Giambi, son of Oakland, brother of Jeremy, and ward of Balco.
(From October 2007) The Song of the Rocket
And in the annum of 2000, thy great bringer of cheese, Roger Clemens, returned to the village of Boston in search of remaking friendships.
But across its pagan tabernacles, those who had once exalted the Rocket now brought hurtful chants about his plumpness, and etched crude remarks onto signs and loincloths.
Stricken with woe, the beef-laden hurler appeared unto Joe and spake:
“Hear me, o, wise and decent Joe!
“Why do the former lovers of my filth now so loathe me? How doth my robust physique come to gird such geysers of spleen?”
Joe placed his calm hand on the pitcher’s abundant meat cakes and declared:
“Verily, o, Rocket! Thou art truly King of Pitchers.
“Let no arrows of poison ink draw tight the strings of thy magnificent hams. The foul showers of Bostonian spittle shalt never include the spice of truly deserved bile.
“They loathe not you, o, Rocket, but the pinstriped linens that hug your ample buttocks.
“They loathe not you, o, Rocket, but the bareness of their fingers, which hath never felt the warmth of championship ring.
But on that day, Roger did not go forth with music of chin, or stuff, or cheese, or filth.
And he suffered smiting from the corked and angry bats of his tormentors.
And the House of George was routed.
And the King of Pitchers collapsed into a bottomless despair.
Presently, the form of Joe appeared and spake:
“Hear me, o, Rocket!
“Do not drown thyself in mead or seek the false salvation of Krispee Kreme.
“Long ago, the House of George foresaw a calamity such as this. At the cost of a hundred Marlins, the Owner hath secured El Duque, the exiled Cuban prince, to hurl on the morrow.
“Behind El Duque, this defeat shall be avenged! The Bostonites shall be vanquished.
“This I do decree!”
Behind El Duque, the Yanks cast out the Bostonites, four games to one, to secure the Kingdom of the American League.
And they went on to capture the Series of the World.
And they went on to frolic on flatbed trucks along the Canyon of Heroes through a glorious deluge of tickertape and feminine undergarments.
And the Rocket went on to hurl more seasons for the House of George, and the House of Houston.
And in his final appearance in Boston, his accusers stood to adore him as the true King of Pitchers.
But by then, sadly to the House of George, their base hatreds had been heartily softened by the warmth of two Championship rings.
The first chip you will see Cashman deal this week is the afore-referenced ( see Christmas message of Alphonso ) Eric Almonte.
He is young, fast, had an excellent winter in the Dominican league, and displays 4 tools ( I don't think he is a big HR guy ), which is 3.5 more tools than any other Yankee outfielder who will survive spring training.
It is, of course, Almonte, whom other teams do covet. Why covet Almonte, you ask? Because he is young, somewhat proven from his time with the Yankees last year, is from the Dominican, and has plenty of upside. The Yankees won't use him because they have Vernon Wells who is cheap, slow, and finished but a great, veteran clubhouse presence.
The Yankees actually still believe they can win with resumes.
I see Almonte either going alone or, more likely, packaged with some other prospect ( the name Sanchez comes to mind). In return, we get a formerly average, national league starting pitcher who, now well into his 30's and with lingering injury issues, will rarely see the fourth inning.
That "free out "every 9th batter ( the pitcher has to hit in the real game of baseball ) just doesn't happen over here.
The second trading chip, per El Duque, has got to be Brett Gardner. The Yankees are bound and determined to field a team that has no original Yankees on it. Gardner has the grit and hustle we just don't want. If he can't hit 30 homers ( just like Tiexiera, I might add ), the Bronx Bombers ( choking on my egg nog ) , don't want him. Once Derek retires, and Brett is traded, I think David Robertson becomes the lone ranger of original Yankee chips.
The team, accordingly, will soon be re-named, " The New York Amalgum," or, " The Melting ( I think, "melted" is better) Pot." We'll have time to run a poll.
Remember back in the late 1800's, out on the prairie, when our grandparents were rooting around trying to carve out a life, and the grannies would stitch together old, used up rags and pieces of worn out clothing to make a quilt for warmth? Their way of getting some value out of detritus.
That's how the Yankees build a team.
Only today they use discarded Fendi bags and scarves from Bloomingdales.
Just seeing the phrase, it hurts, it hurts! It conjures a momentary vertigo, the impending sense of disaster after your car hurtles off the cliff, and you're awaiting the impact. The Yankees are heading to the Winter Meetings. God save us.
They happen this week in a Hell-spawned place, the ideal location to mark the Yankees' return to 1985: Yes, it's Disneyworld... the fabricated consumer Vatican, the community of fake history, where "dollars" feature the face of Mickey Mouse. There, the lords of baseball will spend four days dizzying in the teacups, riding through "It's a Small World After All," and hot tubbing all night, pulling deals that will torture us for the next 12 months.
This winter, it's interesting - no, amazing, if you think about it - how the Yankees have managed to screw up everything. Seriously, if you were trying to mess up the Yankees, secretly attempting to destroy the franchise, could you do a better job?
Last winter, the billionaire heir Hal Steinbrenner invoked his de facto self-destruction, claiming the team could not sign multi-year contracts, because it had to lower the payroll to $189 million - the magical number to luxury taxes. They let Russell Martin walk, passed on several useful free agents and then - oops - signed the venerable human powder-puff, Ichiro Suzuki, to a two-year deal! Nothing like sticking to your guns, eh?
Last June, the wheels fell off the Yankee team, as every writer, blogger and half-interested fan in captivity had predicted - yet it caught Hal's pals by surprise. For three months, they fought A-Rod's return, then reversed course and promoted it - (Plummeting ticket sales and YES ratings do get their attention.) The team finished fourth while the Redsocks won everything. And did I mention that the farm system went zero for 2013, its second straight fruitless year? (Now going for three.)
Soon after the season ended, the front office started its anonymous whispers about Robbie Cano. Yes, the Robbie thing is complicated, and maybe we'd never have signed him anyway - but the weekly leaks eventually riled Cano and help push him out the door. Maybe you can't save egomaniacs from themselves. But remember all that crap about how Cano had no market, no teams likely to go after him? We went through the entire 2013 season certain that Cano would stay. I recall John Sterling flatly stating there was NO WAY he would go. Now, he's gone. How in hell did that happen?
So they sign Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, the two brittlest outfielders on the market, and here we are: Sitting in a Disney reality, with too many outfielders, having to trade Brett Gardner. Yes, we're taking offers! We're about to deal away not only one of the few products of our farm system, but one of the few gamers we've seen. We're going to trade him so Alfonso Soriano - who turns his fly ball doubles into singles by watching them from home plate - can bat third and play everyday. We have managed to put ourselves in a place where we almost must trade Gardner. Wow. How in hell did this happen?
Most of all - and this is where Disney fantasy really kicks in - we now are depending upon Brian Cashman to trade our way back into respectability. Cashman is fine working a scrap heap. But has anybody checked his trading record? If you're generous, he's barely at .500. It's not all his fault. It's the secret rule of baseball GMs: Nobody trades with the Yankees unless it's a slam dunk.
In the early years, Cashman seemed to be the Voice of Reason - the guy who wouldn't trade youth for hacks, as opposed to the Dallas Greens and Syd Thrifts who rolled through, promising a quick fix. Now, the overnight turnaround is Cashman's assignment. And when we bring in the next Rick Rhodens or Ken Phelpses, who are we sending out the door?
Hal Steinbrenner likes to say the Yankees intend to compete each year for a championship. If that were so, we would hold the line one year and rebuild, create an organization with youth and supplement it with the dough. Right now, we're just hoping to compete each year for that ridiculous one-game Wild Card. Welcome to Disneyworld. When you hear of Mickey, trust me, they won't be talking about Mantle.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
A lightning bolt of hope in this dark Yankee world: In Syracuse, we will no longer have Yankee games pre-empted for Rush Limbaugh
You sit next to that trusty AM radio, the lifeline - chips ready, six-pack on ice - in the shade of the garage. You wait for 1:05 p.m., the afternoon ballgame. You tune into the Yankees. Instead of John Sterling shouting "THUUUUH pitch..." you hear mega-dittos going out to some nursing home.
Some people say Satan's greatest trick was convincing the world there is no devil. That's not true. It was convincing WSYR Radio in Syracuse that Rush Limbaugh was more in the public interest than baseball.
No, sir. Never again. At least, not this year. At least, not in Syracuse.
We are free. In our town, the Yankees have shed the clown court of "News Channel 57" - home to Rush, Glen, Hannity, et al - the 24/7 echo chamber that long ago turned the Republican Party into the San Diego Padres of national politics.
Last year, whenever the Yankees played on a weekday afternoon, our beloved Clear Channel masters stuck with Rush, America's famous electronic babysitter for grampa. They refused to pre-empt Limbaugh. They feared Rush would dispatch his army of aging commandos, who would hobble to the station and pelt it with their daily plates of creamed corn.
We are free. WE ARE FREE! Sort of, anyway.
Games this year will be on TK99, Classic Rock, which means enduring 20 plays per day of "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner. If I hear that song one more time, one more time... God, I'll move to Seattle. Anyway, I hear that's where everybody's going...
Tony Lazzeri and Willie Randolph are the two
greatest 2B in Yankee history.
Jason Giambi and Dave Winfield can sleep well, knowing their positions on the All-Time Yankee HR list are secure
You all know the story. Three wise men, traipsing through the desert , eating curds, whey and mescaline, arrive at some sacred place where no new born talent is thriving.
In this case, and I add this modestly, the three wise men, along with their required asses, are Alphonso, Mustang and, of course, El Duque ( The lead goat herd and mule driver).
We three kings have found ( identified ) a somewhat tested, baby Yankee outfielder (not named Jesus), who has shined ( like those guiding stars ) in the Dominican winter league. He is fleet, a good defender, and he hit .315 in a league whose pitchers are all better than Pineda.
His name, known already to the Yankee world, is Almonte. We have him because he was never exposed to the draft. If he had been, the Yankees would have selected Cito Culver's younger brother, Phido, whose a better baseball player than Cito ( so is El Duque ), but whose forte is pingpong and he is threatening to enroll at Albany State.
So we three kings knocked at Cashman's door where, after rappelling down an abandoned mud-brick building somewhere in Galilea, he greeted us in toga and thorns.
"What is it," he asked. " What frankincense and myrrh have you brought for our cause? How do you plan to worship me and my bearded friends?"
"Sir Brian," we exclaim, "we bring you a tax refund from Caesar Augustus, in the Dominican Republic." His name is Almonte and he can play. He is only 25. You must make room in the Yankee INN for HIM."
After chewing on some straw, Sir Brian replied," we have six senior veterans and a DH spot that must be retained for Derek Jeter. So I am forced to smote you, your dumb asses, and your gift, swaddling clothes notwithstanding. " However," he bespoke: " Do you have any gold? Or some live goats?"
Mustang retorted quickly, " But sir, you have numerous old goats already. Why not take on one yearling? One yearling for whom the stars seem aligned?"
"Go fuck yourself," sayth Brian, as he slammed the manger door.
And to all a good night.
Is there not a way to honor him, in a manner befitting his Yankee legacy?
Just spit-balling here:
1. Retire number 24. Let no starter ever again wear the vaunted jersey. It should stand apart from others, a number to burn in the hearts of Yankee fans forever. Yes, there will be other Yankee stars. But "24" should only be given to third-string catchers, sixth outfielders and the 33-year-old rookies that comprise the Yankee farm system. My choice for 2014: Michael Pineda.
2. A statue in Monument Park. Currently, there is not even an engraved brick in CF to signify the great work Mr. Canoe did for the Yankees. That must be remedied. The team should commission a life-sized plastic statue of the man in his customary pose - jogging - with a bank-slot along the back, so tourists can insert coins. The money will go to the Jay Z Sports Agency Fund, which is dedicated to showing how much craftier the famed entertainment mogul is than other sports agents, and always remembering the bottom line.
3. Robinson Canoe Day at Yankee Stadium. Fans will be encouraged to donate cans of corn to Mr. Canoe's favorite charity: Mr. Canoe. The crowd can be entertained by Jay-Z, singing a medley of songs about his love for New York City. This day will be held only once, sometime in the future - perhaps the distant future - when the Yankees have captured their 28th World Championship. It will be held late in the day, on West Coast time, so Mr. Canoe can watch.
*After Willie Randolph, Tony Lazzeri and Bobby Richardson.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
I have been working hard all week and missed an opportunity to participate in a series of email rants written by high school friends, college friends, and work friends. I decided to take a little break last night and I wrote a few rants of my own concerning $189MM caps, McCann, Ellsbury, et al. At the end, I signed off with "I need a beer."
I stood up, went to the fridge, and discovered I had none, so I went out to buy a 6-pack.
My liquor store is a little neighborhood affair.
It's run by a little Portuguese guy who's a big time New England Sports fan. Among other things, he was chosen as "Patriots Fan of the Year" by the NE Patriots and participated in an on-field ceremony in which he was given a plaque, etc. from Bob Kraft himself. This guy is a serious fan.
He says: "Do you know why Ellsbury went to the Yankees?"
He knows I'm a Yankee fan, and I see his sh*t-eating grin forming, so I half-know what's coming.
Because I'm a good sport, I say "Why?"
He says: "Because he was sick of playing baseball in October."
I left thinking I should have gotten 2 six packs...
That's the state of a Yankee fan's life right now.
Let's take a hard look at what just went down.
1. Robbie got about $65 million more than the Yankees were offering.
2. Robbie looked around Yankeedom, and here is what he saw:
- a team that did not make the playoffs in 2013
- a team that went out ugly from the playoffs in 2012
- a team with the oldest roster in either league
- a team riddled with, and ripe for, sustaining injuries
- a team that, despite a horrid year, made no changes in coaching, managing, the scouting system,
the committee of dolts that decides on draft picks
- a team that has no young players in the farm system who will ever be any good
- a team that is still hoping that," spending money again," ( though stupidly ) will restore the team of
- a team where most of the new additions have had their best years, and are Yankees because of the
money and because they want to tell their grandchildren that they once wore pinstripes
- a team that has no Yankees on it ( Derek; Robertson; Gardner )
3. Robbie looked around the infield and saw:
- Tiexiera who may never play again ( that wrist is tricky ) and, even if he does, has become a .235
hitter with only occasional power
- A-Rod as a non-playing distraction, at best, and no one to play third.
- Derek who refused to retire with dignity and will be challenged all year by his faded ability to run
full out, and who will be relieved by a better fielding kid, with greater range, who hits.190.
4. No replacements of worth. No prospects. No innovative ideas.
5. No Mariano. No closer.
6. A starting pitching staff depending on Pineda for quality, hoping that CC puts on 50 pounds and
returns to form, and desperate to sign Kuroda who, at 38 or 39, was their best pitcher.
7. Still with Boone Logan as their only lefty out of the bullpen.
Sure, it is likely he has seen his last baseball run ( jog?) into late October/early November. But he has his rings. And it is even money that Seattle sees the world series before the Yankees again do.
He can find plenty of amusement during the off-season and fish, ride horses, or "coast" in the south of France. Who needs to be ducking 98 mile per hour heat in some hostile stadium when it is near Thanksgiving?
Not playing in playoff and championship games will keep his body younger so he can fulfill the 10 years of his contract. He knows that, by age 38 or so, he'll likely be the Mariner's official greeter for VIP parties in lounges owned by Microsoft, but he has a great smile.
He is smiling now because he is, clearly, the smartest guy on the block.
Yesterday, we held the line against Robbery Cano's outlandish deal. We stood up to that ridiculous contract. We showed grit... for eight hours. Yes, eight magnificent hours! Hooray for us! Then... we scurried to the vault, drunk-dialed Carlos Beltran and caved in on a third year. God knows, we couldn't go to bed that night without spending $45 million for a piece of the back page.
We now have six outfielders - each one either a china doll or far past his sell date. The only one anybody will take is a trade is Brett Gardner. Why, you might ask, is Gardner the only one anybody will take in a trade? Simple. He is the only one worth keeping.
My friends, we are living in a universe of magical thinking if we believe Derek Jeter can play SS for 120 games, or that Mark Teixeira - who in 2012 was already showing symptoms of Early Onset Giambizheimers Disease - will return to all-star form at 1B. Right now, no infield position looks remotely secure, not one.
With an injury here or there - and we will field the game's most brittle lineup - we could easily be one of the worst teams in the American League. We could find ourselves in the most pathetic August since 1990: Waiting for A-Rod's ban to end, so he can spark ticket sales among booing fans. Yet the danger is far more long term.
We are approaching the coldest part of winter, that period when teams start dumping old players and rotted out contracts - you know, like Vernon Wells last year, or Robbie Cano four years from now. Here is where the Yankees could blow up their future, while following the mad hubris of thinking they can buy a championship every year.
We have few prospects in our farm system, nearly all of whom floundered last year, diminishing their trade value. It's not as if we're trading them when they're hot. We'll be trading them at a low point, getting the least in return. Next week, the also-rans will start shopping the Chase Headleys and Brandon Phillips - the contractual zombies on their rosters - and they will want bundles of our best prospects in return. There is a reason they call it a "salary dump." The key word is "dump," as in - where we could end up. We went 14 years under George Steinbrenner, trading the future for the past, and it didn't end until we drafted first. We are ripe to start watching the best young talent in our system fly out of the door in exchange for somebody else's mistakes.
Yesterday was both invigorating and depressing. I was so glad we didn't match Seattle's absurd contract. Still, I always thought Cano would stay - that being a New York Yankee meant something to him. (Regardless of what he'll claim, it didn't. That is the take-home point of yesterday.) Cano is gone - (I'll never call him Robbie again) - and without him, we are a far worse team. Unless Beltran can play 2B, he cannot replace Cano. And if we're thinking Brian Cashman will trade our way to a pennant, please tell me what historical record inspires such hope?
Get ready, everybody. We are going to trade Brett Gardner and a bunch of prospects for meatballs and gravy. And the aftertaste is going to linger for a long, long time.