Saturday, January 31, 2015

Brian Cashman is the hardest working man in showbusiness

On New Years Eve, he was working to trade Manny Banuelos to Atlanta. Now, in the heat of Super Week, he signs Scott Baker. Yes, that Scott Baker. Minor league contract. No harm, no foul.

Will John Sterling rejoin Katy Perry for a Super Bowl halftime spectacular?

Their duet is already the stuff of legend.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Only two more days of Super Hell

Buckle down, folks. These are the worst two days of the year: The last 48 hours of Super Bowl Hype Week II. It doesn't get worse than this.

OK, I know what you're thinking: Duque, if you can't take the hype, stay out of the TV room. But it's not that simple. To escape the Super Bowl, you need a sensory deprivation tank, killer weed, and maybe a frontal lobotomy. It's not the "hype" that gets you. If the so-called "serious news media" simply ran honest Super Bowl ads, I could hack it. It's that wink-wink, self-indulgent, look-at-me-be-cool air of "serious news reporters," as they pretend to find meaning in stories that do nothing more than promote the NFL, which is even more evil than Vladimir Putin with a Oijah board, and which makes the hammy heirs and heiresses who own Major League Baseball teams look like marauding boys in the Wishbone version of "Lord of the Flies." Super Bowl Hype Week II is like a thousand Entertainment Tonights covering the People's Choice Awards, if hosted by the Real Housewives of wherever the hell the "real housewives" come from - Hell, I suppose. And the last two days of Super Hell Week - that's where we are now. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick...

For the last two weeks, the "serious news media" has trowled out fake relevance about "Deflategate," all the while privately assuring us that 1) It's Super Bowl time, hooray! 2) It's just a game, ha ha! 3) Boys are still boys, ha ha! 4) Maybe Katy Perry's bra will open, hooray! and 5) Our panel of experts will rate the new ads, yippee! The NFL stretches one overly extended game into a two-week block of American brainwashing, if my car had snow tires, I'd drive to Bristol, Connecticut, and sniper the damn place, or at least subject somebody - anybody - to an old-fashioned waterboarding.

Soon, it will be over. We can briefly forget the spouse-beatings, the racist "Redskins," the brain damage of concussions, the lapdance-loving Jerry Jones, deflated balls, the woeful Jersey Giants, everything, everything - and start awaiting the first torn elbow of Tampa - yes, the first media riot around A-Rod's expensive car... the first old fart to arrive in "the finest shape of his career." (Remember how they claimed Andruw Jones had moved in with A-Rod and taken up his workout schedule, looking to reclaim his "Hall of Fame" level career?) The first home run by Zolio Almonte - wait! WE DON'T HAVE ZOLIO ALMONTE ANYMORE!

Two more days. Do they even sell sensory deprivation tanks?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

All quiet on the Moncata front... TOO quiet, if you ask me.

Odds are Cuban stud-wonder Yoan Moncata will soon be passport-stamped for MLB legitimacy, spawning the hottest insider bidding war since Charles and David Koch bought South Dakota. For Yankee fans, this will be the ultimate test of Hal Steinbrenner's true genetic lineage: Is he the son of George... or Bud Selig?

Moncata is a 19-year-old SS likely destined for Triple A. They say $30 million should do it... but jeez, I donno about that. This is no weekend at the Scranton Airport Ramada. Several wallets lie in the bushes - the Braves, Dodgers, Giants and Redsocks, most notably - and I gotta believe bidding will soar above the drone altitudes that Hal has avoided this winter. Thus far, whenever a premium free agent hit the market, Brian Cashman pointed to the rancidly cooked contracts of A-Rod, Tex and CC - and made a high-pitched shriek reminiscent of a pod person from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (He can't point to McCann, Beltran and Ellsbury; they're too fresh in our minds.) The Yankee front office mantra is simple: Whenever something goes wrong, it's A-Rod's fault. And if we can't afford Moncata, you better believe they'll claim it's all due to A-Rod.

Let's be clear on this: If the Yankees fail to land Moncata, it's on Hal.

Yesterday, media prospect low-life Keith Law posted his annual rankings of MLB farm systems. Yes, these rankings are rancid. But they serve to remind Yankee fans to take off the blinders and compare our prospects to those on other teams. His analysis is not pretty: The Yankees rank 20th. Yep... the bottom tier. Yankee love-blogs gush over Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird - each likely to make Baseball America's top 100 prospects list - but ignore the fact that Boston may land five players on that list, with several arriving before our first is even named. To actually be considered a "young team on the rise," the Yankees have a long way to go.

That is, unless they sign Moncata, who would instantly become our top position prospect, if not our best prospect, period. He might land in BA's Top 20 - maybe the Top 10. If the Yankees snag him, we may actually see a light at the end of the tunnel that is not Randy Levine's fiery hairpiece, as he drives his Lexus erratically home from the whiskey bar.

Without Moncata - well - we are stuck where we've been for the last five years: Hoping for somebody to have a breakout season. We've gone through Mason Williams (several times), Dante Bichette, Cito Culver, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez (a hundred times), Manny Banuelos... and now we have our new no-names. We just keep waiting.

Soon, it will come down to Hal Steinbrenner's greatest talent: Hauling out his checkbook. We sat out Max Scherzer, the Kung Fu Panda, and practically everybody else. If we sit this one out, it's going to be a long and tedious summer - not only in the Bronx, but maybe in Scranton and Trenton.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Those AMAZING gecko-fingered New England Patriots!


"There are eight stars on the NFL's logo. They stand for the long-term mental and physical trauma of its own people, the eagerness to lie about that trauma, the stubborn refusal to offer the assistance they deserve, the unmistakable contempt of women, the proud defense of a racial slur, the weird financial paradise of a for-profit disguised as a non-profit, the $168.57 a schoolteacher spends on his own supplies for his second-grade class because Roger needs tax money to pour some more concrete by the waterfront, and probably the Dallas Cowboys. It's the uncommon ethical catastrophe that possesses both the gall and the organization to trademark itself."

The only thing good about the Super Bowl:

Breaking Madden.

Yes they can! Plucky Buffalo extends its lead in the Golden Snowball

Let's face it: We all thought Syracuse would clean up this week during the "potentially historic" storm. It didn't happen.

Buffalo entered Juno leading by 11 inches. It's now a foot.

There's plenty of snowball yet to play. But Buffalo - now lead by Rex Ryan instead of Mr. Loyalty, Doug Marone - is not going south for the winter.

The A-Bomb Nightmare: A-Rod's milestone home run should conjure some bizarre pageantry

Watching the Super Bowl Media Day blather yesterday, it occurred to me that, for Alex Rodriguez, every day is Media Day - but a much darker version. Starting next month, whenever A-Rod scratches his balls, a Gammonite will write that he's got crabs. Whatever A-Rod does will be cheered or jeered. (Actually, A-Rod will be universally denounced, UNLESS he's hitting well, in which case Yankee fans will be reluctantly supportive.)

Unless the Yankees release him - definitely a possibility - A-Rod will bypass the beloved Willie Mays on the all-time home run list sometime in May. He only needs six. At that point, the Yankees and A-Rod (with help from the heretofore toothless Players Union) will go to war over whether the Yankees must pay the bonuses they laid out in his contract extension.

Some burning A-Bomb questions:

1. If the legal questions remain unanswered - and if Alex is hitting poorly - would the Yankees front office order Joe Girardi to bench the guy, denying him the milestone? Last season, the team ditched Brian Roberts on the eve of his reaching a contractual bonus for at-bats. If the team is rancid, or if A-Rod is hitting .200 - (even worse than his DH replacement, Chris Young) - anything could happen. They might pull the plug and save some nickels.

2. Will the Yankees order John Sterling to tone down his HR calls for "Alexander the Great?" Clearly, John is a company man - never misses a game, never misses an in-game promo - he definitely reads the memos. But could Sterling tone down his call of an A-Bomb? What if A-Rod's milestone is a walkoff grand slam? Could John not go batshit crazy? This is like a mother bear forced to choose which of her cubs will survive. Humankind has never seen such a psychological test.

3. Will ESPN break in nationwide for his at-bats? Will the Yankees be the regular Fox Game of the Week? It's hard to imagine the country breathlessly awaiting A-Rod's moment. But there will be enormous curiousity over this. (I'm already curious, see?) Will A-Rod be cheered or booed? If he hits it in Boston, we know the reaction. What if it's in NYC? Or Miami? Or Seattle? Or San Francisco?

4. What dignitaries will be present? Theoretically, Willie should be there. The Commissioner of Baseball - Manfred Mann, I think the name is - should be in first base box, with New York Mayor Al Sharpton, and Governor Sheldon Silver. Somebody from the San Francisco/New York Giants - Tom "Coach for Life" Coughlin maybe - should be on hand.

As for the home plate greeting party? The Captain, Derek Jeter, must be there. Maybe Mariano, too. Nobody would boo them. Jason Varitek, mask still on, can be wanting to tussle. Bronson Arroyo will slap him on the back. That Toronto Blue Jay infielder - the one who dropped the popup - will yell "Ha!" Curt Schilling can give us a lecture on ethics. Pedro Martinez can bean him. The holy trio - Madonna, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz - can push popcorn in his mouth. Hideki Matsui will present freshly commissioned porn, and Alex will be led to the opposing dugout, where he can pee on the floor. Steiner Collectibles will sell urine droplets for $49.95.

Of course, Hal Steinbrenner will be circling the frozen globe in his Snowpiercer train, refusing to answer calls. Dammit: That bonus money could be spent on clam dip! And Brian Cashman, if he's not rappeling down a wall - trying to save his soul for a charity - will try to undercut the media event by signing a new Yankee dream player off the scrap heap - maybe Domingo Jean will make a comeback!

For two years now, the Yankees have marketed farewell tours. When you consider all the mid-season acquisitons, the mediocrity of their opening day lineups is truly staggering. And this year, nobody needs to look beyond the starting rotation to see where all of this is going. Nevertheless, the Yankees will have one last great marketing ploy: What to do about A-Rod? Every day will be Media Day. And God help us all if he does have crabs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Loss From The Days of Darkness, When He Briefly Pitched Bravely For Us And, In The Darkest Days Of 1967, Pitched Well. Plus, What A Great Name. Farewell, Monbo.

Knee deep in no-names: Kiley McDaniel rates the Yankees as the 10th best farm system in baseball

All the way to Antonio Arias and Bryan Emery - (an outfielder we signed this month for a half-a-million frickin' dollars, even though his trainer refused to let him be seen in big games - good luck figuring that out!) - the ex-scout chronicles the long list of names to watch next summer in minor league box scores. (Spoiler alert: He's down on Gary Sanchez, the son of Jesus "Ice Cream Sandwich" Montero.)

This is the Ancient Mystic Book of the Dead of write-ups about the Yankee system. You'll end up knowing more about Luis Severino's cat than you will about the Republican Congress. If you start now, you'll finish around the time Bryan Emery's trainer reaches Vegas. Ahh, but it's so delicious, reading about those future Yankee stars (which do not include Gary Sanchez, the spawn of Ice Cream Sandwich.)

Things the Yankees will not do

1. Meet with A-Rod.
2. Sign Max Scherzer.
3. Sign anybody who costs a lot of money.
4. Run out of authentic Yankee Stadium dirt to sell.
5. Waste an entire year "rebuilding,"
6. Decrease the number of promotions during radio games.
7. Twerk.
8. Grow beards.
9. Let John Sterling manage a game, (as he rightfully should.)


One game. The man has given this team incredible loyalty, and he has suffered more than enough. Right now, he's living out of his car, but he's still thinking about the Yankees, and it's time for the team to give back.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Hang in there NYC. Remember: Syracusans have 51 words for "snow"

1. Avalanche 
2. Black ice
3. Blizzard
4. Canadian Express
5. Champagne powder
6. Chowder
7. Closing the Thruway
8. Coming Down
9. Crystals
10. Crud
11. Crust
12. Drifts
13. Dusting
14. Flakes
15. Flurries
16. Freezing rain
17. Frost
18, Frozen water
19. Good-packing
20. Glacier
21. Glaze
22. Granular
23. Graupel
24. Hail
25. Hailstones
26. Hard pack
27. Hoarfrost
28. Ice
29. Ice-flow
30. Icicles
31. Lake Effect
32. Loose granular
33. Old Man Winter
34. Piles
35. Powder
36. Packed powder
37. Pellets
38. Polar Express
39. Polar Vortex 
40. Siberian Express
41. Skiing weather
42. Sleet
43. Slosh
44. Slush
45. Snow
46. Snowfall
47. Squalls
48. Whiteout
49. White stuff
50. Winter Storm Advisory
51. F**K THIS S**T! 

New York City braces for "potentially historic" Yankee storm

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday that the storm  Yankee team approaching on Monday this spring was likely to be one of the biggest  crappiest to ever strike New York City, and he urged people to stay indoors to avoid powerful winds, low visibility poor pitching, bad hitting and “treacherous” road  A-Rod conditions.
The National Weather Service, ESPN,  which issued a blizzard crappy team warning for the greater New York City area, forecast gusts of wind  losses of up to 50 miles per hour 85  and snow accumulation of “at least one to two feet.” another season of missing the playoffs.
"My message to New Yorkers is to prepare for something worse than we have seen before,” the mayor said on Sunday afternoon at a Sanitation Department garage near West 14th Street. “Now is the time to get ready for this extreme weather crappola.

"Why did Derek Jeter die?": The wise and terrifying analysis of the Yankees, according to Google search questions

Have you ever wondered what Google knows about us, based on their algorithmic analyses of our searches? I thought I'd see what they know about the Yankees? For example, type in a simple open-ended question... and Google supplies the punch.

Why do the Yankees wear polyester? From what inquiring minds did that come? It gets a little weirder if you merely change the tense...

Hmm. People wondered why we released Soriano? Well, he stunk out the joint. That's why. Why did we retire 8 twice? Yogi and Dickey. OK, let's look into the future...

Not much there. Either way, I figured we have just invented a fun little parlor game, sort of like a Google Ouija board. And then this happened...

That's it. I'm outahere.

Now we know why the Yankees won't meet with A-Rod: They're planning to weasel out of the contract they signed

It's no fun, being the last frozen outpost in the solar system to defend Alex Rodriguez. It's downright depressing, like missing the playoffs. But MLB (the true Evil Empire) and the Yankees (who own the name Evil Empire) are still moving in their quest to blame the entire steroid era on A-Rod... pretending that, 1) Nobody else did it - (Talking to you, Redsocks,) and 2) The owners were shocked - shocked! - to learn what was going on. Thus, the Armani suits get to act even more self-righteous, deluded and hypocritical than usual. Plus, they can demand their hard-inherited money back! Anything goes, as long as it's in the name of ridding baseball of A-Rod.

This morning's Daily News reports that the Steinbrenners want to void the contract they themselves foisted upon A-Rod, after he opted out of his old deal in October of 2007 - a move that angered the Yankiverse so much that most fans were happy to see him go. But the Yankee brass, guided by Warren Buffett, cobbled together a set of incentives designed to keep the wayward slugger in the bunker. Today's story - by-lined by Billy Madden, though obliviously re-written, because it has none of his bluster - says the Yankees are planning to go to war.

Now, the Yankees will argue that Rodriguez signed the agreement under false pretenses and has rendered the marketing opportunities worthless based on years of lies, deception and, finally, admission to DEA agents last year that he had paid $12,000 a month to Anthony Bosch for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

You can look at this any way you wish. And those who hate A-Rod - seriously, who doesn't? - can see 25 million reasons per season to scrap the old deal and fight this out in court. The article goes on to mention one final phase of the A-Rod battle - the trial of his cousin - which looms on the Yankee horizon like an iceberg the size of Manhattan.

A-Rod, who has told friends and associates in the past that his No. 1 goal was to break Bonds’ record, still faces the possibility of appearing in a trial in the federal prosecution of his cousin, Yuri Sucart, a defendant in the Biogenesis case. Sucart, who allegedly provided Rodriguez with performance-enhancing drugs procured through Bosch and others, is gravely ill, however, and it is unclear if his trial will go forward as scheduled.
If so, that trial will begin on April 6, the same day the Yankees open the season at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Oh, my, God.

Wall to wall coverage of the A-Rod trial... as the season gets underway.

It's over.

For. Get. A. Bout. It.

At last, we can where this is headed. A-Rod will never again swing a bat for the Yankees. Our cleanup hitter will be Chase Headley. Whatever A-Rod does, it will be for someone else... because the Yankees - the wannabee Evil Empire - are simply too pure and pristine to let someone like him soil their roster.

It's no fun defending A-Rod. These days, truth be told, it's no fun rooting for the Yankees.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

When they mess up, they're always "former Yankees"

Ted Lilly pitched for 15 years, most of the time in the National League. He pitched four years for the Dodgers and four for the Cubs. He twice made the All-Star team. He pitched less than three years for the Yankees - including his rookie year (a full 8 innings, he threw), and midway through his final Yankee year, he was traded to Oakland. In other words, as a Yankee, he was a blip.
So he gets in trouble, and now he's "Former Yankee pitcher Ted Lilly."

We can't win.

*Note: Lilly did one thing that will forever endear him to pinstripes. When the Angels plunked Derek Jeter, Lilly responded by drilling Scott Spezio in the head. That ended the dispute. And we never should have traded him.

Did someone mention a memorial to Ernie Banks? Let's do two.

So Long, Mr. Cub.

Yankee front office in a snit: No talking to A-Rod

Does this seem smart?

Your former star slugger, with whom you are contractually and surgically joined at the hip for three more years, calls to ask for a meeting - to break the ice, clear the air, bury the hatchet, blow off steam, bite the bullet and get back to square one. It's a good thing, right? He'll bring the 12-pack of Saranac, you'll furnish the Colorado sour diesel, and Hal will unveil his magic mushrooms. By 2 p.m. you'll be playing naked Twister, and by 5 o'clock, you'll be best of friends again.

If reports are to be believed, the Yankee front office is saying no. They won't meet with A-Rod. No talking to the enemy.

Beyond this being childish, it conjures up a common view that the Yankees will dump A-Rod first chance they get. They will use any excuse to void his contract, waive his butt or embarrass him. They can bench him. They can send him to Scranton. They can rip him via some toady Gammonite. They'll be cheered by at least half the fan base, if not the majority. There are ways to punish A-Rod for his true crime of stealing the Steinbrenners' hard-inherited money. But I ask one question:

Does this seem smart?

Full disclosure: I think the Yankees will suck this year. In fact, I see one ridiculously long shot that could save the 2015 team: A-Rod returning to a semblance of his old self. Mind you, I don't expect it to happen. But if A-Rod hits, we will be light years ahead of the alternative DH: Chris Young. God help us there. Considering the rotation, unless the Yankees find hitting, the 2015 season could evolve into baseball's version of the New York Knicks.

Right now, we are not just standing on the brink of a third straight season of missing the playoffs. We are looking out at deep, black precipice of ugliness.

So the front office is saying no to a meeting? I dunno. Maybe it's a psychological ploy to keep A-Rod on edge. Maybe they'll meet in Tampa next month, shake hands and form a united front. But something tells me otherwise. And no matter what he has done, the Yankees can only blame themselves for giving him that outlandish 10-year-deal. If the team is now trying to shame him, it should beware: Because every future free agent player in the game will take notice.

No talking to the enemy? Do we go into the season at odds with the one guy we need to hit?

Does this seem smart?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The day the flashbulbs died

Golden Snowball update: In a week, nothing piled up

Buffalo - which leaped out to a huge lead in December - added only 0.2 inches this week. They haven't done a thing since Rex Ryan arrived.

But Syracuse - the perennial upstate snow dynasty - only scored 0.9 - down by 11 inches.

Forget the other cities. They are the Padres, Marlins and Astros.

Watch the skies.

Prospect guru: Yankees farms "may be the deepest system in the game."

Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has broken several big stories about the Yankees in recent months. A former Yankee scout, he was first to write about the team's plan to bombard the international market with money last July. Clearly, he knows people within the Yankees - and for those reasons, a guy might be inclined to see things from their perspective.

Still, McDaniel is the real deal. And he ranks the Yankees as about the 11th best system in MLB (last year,  it was 20th.) This is good news. It's taken three years, but we might have turned the corner.

Monday, he'll write his analysis. It might be the most hopeful news we've had all winter. (Unless the front office uses this as an excuse to pass on Yoan Moncata.)

Here's a new phrase for Daily News columnist Bob Raissman to describe "Pa Pinstripe" John Sterling: "Consummate pro."

For most of the last 10 years, Daily News columnist Bob Raissman has thrown ink pies at the Radio Voice of the New York Yankees, John Sterling. The shiny-headed Gammonite has mocked John Sterling as "Pa Pinstripe" and often suggested that he and Suzyn Waldman - "Ma Pinstripe" - call Yankee games from their own planet.

Here's a Raissmanic pellet bomb from 2006:

When Melky Cabrera made a spectacular catch off the bat of Manny Ramirez, it also became clear that the world is a safer place because John Sterling (above) is a radio play-by-play man. 
For if Sterling descended upon God’s green Earth as a Seeing Eye dog, well, the poor owner of this mutt would be – at best – constantly walking into walls or – at worst – crossing the street directly into the path of oncoming traffic.
At least when Sterling blows a call, nobody gets hurt. Not even him. If Sterling was a Yankee player, he would have been dumped long ago. But in his 17th season in the Bombers’ radio booth, Sterling is rewarded (with a major league salary) by Yankees brass for constantly blowing calls and recapitulating plays. Nice work if you can get it.
Still, even if you appreciate the fact that Sterling is the shill’s shill, or love his ever-expanding list of signature calls and his self-absorbed style, there is no debating the fact that he is severely challenged when it comes to painting the word picture. More often than not, Sterling is behind the play. In Sterling, the Yankees have the American League’s Most Valuable Seven-Second Delay.
Over the years, Raissman has occasionally warmed to Sterling. He is not the announcer's harshest critic, (the NY Post's Phil Mushnick.) But whenever Sterling misses a call - and he misses his share - it can become fodder for Raissman's next column.

So let's ponder the dynamic two nights ago in the cold concrete of New Jersey. Here is Raissman, working the phones on the night shift, calling to ask about the fire that has just destroyed everything Sterling owns. Put yourself in John's shoes: You're watching your life go up in flames, and here is a guy who has buttered his bread with your reputation. Do you take the call? Do you vent on the guy? Or do you just let it go to VoiceMail?

Well, of course John took the call. He gives Raissman the story and some nice quotes. And did anyone think that Sterling would ever walk away from a microphone or a mouthpiece? This is a guy who hasn't missed a game since George H.W. Bush was President. In the morgue, the medical examiner won't need to poke a needle in Sterling to test for life reflex. He'll just say, "Here comes Jeter," and if the body doesn't start talking, they'll know he's dead. Sterling is many things. At the top of the list, he is the consummate pro.

And as far as I can see, two nights ago, Sterling did exactly what he always does - for better or worse: He talked from the heart.

Sterling's on-air persona balances on two giant boulders: his enormous ego, and his love for the Yankees - the kind of love a moose has for his flying squirrel. Sterling wears his heart on his sleeve, whether the Yanks are six runs behind, or his life is tatters.

We often mock Sterling on this site. I consider it one of the most delicious aspects of being a Yankee fan. But when the Yankees lose - and we are railing at our demons - we're never alone. And to folks who really do hate Sterling: Be careful what you ask for, because when he's gone, you'll spend countless hours describing him... and they won't believe you.

Oh, and when you're talking about him, remember two words: "Consummate pro."