Friday, October 24, 2014
The Gray Lady today reports a grim set of numbers and asks the philosophical question: If a World Series falls in
On Tuesday night, the first game of the 2014 World Series drew just 12.2 million viewers to Fox, making it the lowest-rated Game 1 on record. Game 2 on Wednesday night fared somewhat better, with 12.9 million people tuning in...
[T]his week, more people watched “NCIS: New Orleans” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and — for that matter — “The Walking Dead,” the cable show about zombies. The audience for “Sunday Night Football,” a regular season game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos, was almost twice that of Games 1 or 2. Even last Saturday night’s college football matchup — Florida State University versus Notre Dame — drew more viewers than either World Series game.
Ouch. What gives? The first five minutes of every Bud Selig six-minute interview - (like most Yankee starters, the great Bud Selig never goes seven) - involve the great Bud Selig telling how baseball is greater than ever, thanks to the great Bud Selig! (Of course, the game IS more successful - for its billionaire owners, who now can poor-mouth with impunity, while the Gammonites wail about overpaid players.)
But wait... is something wrong in Bud Selig's great dream land? This is Bud Selig's fantasy series - Micro-Market vs. Nano-Market - and it's getting clobbered in the ratings to - huh? - NCIS: New Orleans? (Until today, I didn't know there is a show called NCIS: New Orleans.) Thank God the Royals won Game II. A four-game Giants sweep could have plunged baseball down below Antiques Road Show and the Yankee Classic on YES.
Listen: It's time for us to move on about what Bud Selig did to destroy the Yankees. It's time to recognize the work of Hal Steinbrenner and his country club cronyism. Also, it is time for baseball to realize its rightful place in not only the cosmos - but in this nation's heart.
That place is a World Series being played on crisp fall afternoons, under blankets of sunshine, preempting game shows and soap operas. That place is an America where schools once set up rooms for kids to watch the game, where workers listened on the radio, and where World Series pools - remember them? - absorbed every office. Somehow, long ago - even before Bud Selig - baseball sold its soul to Brent Musberger and the harpies of prime time graphics.
It's time to get it back.
The marketers complain that the fan base of Major League Baseball is old and doddering and - what was I saying again? - oh yes, someone mentioned Antiques Road Show! Well, here's a thought. Maybe - just maybe - that's not such a horrible thing. Could it be that Fox Sports, ESPN and Bud Selig - in their maddened push to capitalize every blade of grass in an American tradition - sold off what was beautiful about the game?
Baseball was never meant to be glitzy graphics, exploding theme songs and sideline nipples. It cannot be saved by third-inning dugout interviews with the pitching coach. (These absolutely dreadful interviews should be accompanied by a scroll that says: TIME TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.) For a generation now, we've watched World Series ratings steadily wither, while the lords of the game wring their hands and try to look for something new to sell.
The trend is not going to reverse itself. Sure, someday the Yankees will play the Dodgers, and ratings will see a temporary bump, because everybody loves or hates NY and LA... but it's not the solution, and it never was.
The World Series belongs in the afternoons, being watched by obsessive fans, even if they're in diapers. Cater to the people who care - the grandparent and the great uncles - and their infatuation will become contagious. Play it at night, and they go to bed in the sixth inning. People yearn for an America where traditions are kept, not sold. And on that criteria, Bud Selig sucked.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Feeling down about the season? That noose around your neck starting to itch?
How about some fun fact trivia!
Who has more Vice Presidents: a) the planetwide corporate colossus, PepsiCo, or b) the Yankees?
Well, if you happened to read the above headline, you've probably guessed the correct answer.
The answer is b, theYankees. They have 15 veeps. Poor little PepsiCo has only 13.
By the way, PepsiCo achieves $66 billion in annual earnings, with a budget larger than many Third World countries. As you read this, some Pepsico vice president is converting a reservoir in China or Africa into the mother's milk known as Diet Mountain Dew.
Here's another tidbit. Who has more Vice Presidents, a) the Earth-raping corporate leviathan, Monsanto, or b) the Yankees?
Well, it just so happens that the Evil Empire Yankees have more V.P.s than the Utterly Evil Monsanto Corporation, 15 to 11. Somehow, Monsanto deflowers the planet with fewer vice presidents.
OK, final question: In the test of absolute evil... who has more Vice Presidents? a) the financial vampire squid known as Goldman Sachs or b) the Yankees?
Well, nobody beats Goldman Sachs. The legion of James Bond supervillains has something like 13,000 Vice Presidents, according to Bloomberg News. If you can recite the words, "I worship thee, Satan," you become a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.
Stay proud, Yankee fans. Hal Steinbrenner is expected to soon add Omar Minaya to the front office. Could he be No. 16? Keep fingers crossed!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
As baseball ponders its worst-case scenario - a four game, small market wipeout, without even close scores - could it be time to start questioning the timing?
Give it five days off.
For the Kansas City Royals, it's as if they just went through the All-Star break. Last week, they were the hottest team in baseball, but last night, they looked as if their plane just arrived from Sierra Leone. I thought bye-weeks were for the NFL.
Last week, when SF clinched the National League pennant, my first thought was, "Thank God it's over, so KC won't have to sit around for a month to play again." Surely, they'd move up the schedule.
Yeah, right. What a joke.
In this day and age, with so much flexibility... with two hungry, ticket-buying fan bases... with half the post-season having been telecast on cable stations anyway... they couldn't schedule the World Series against a garden variety weekend of college football or the NFL?
What a bunch of pussies.
Last night was a four-inning game. If the Giants win tonight, it could be a four-game series. Kansas City will have been punished for its ultimate crime: Sweeping Baltimore too quickly, too soon. If I were a Royals fan, I would be royally pissed.
Kang, 27, batted .360 and hit 36 home runs last season. Unfortunately, he did this in Korea, where the quality of pitching falls somewhere between Scranton and Iceland.
In posting ballplayers to the majors, Korea operates under the old, international blind-bidding, beer pong rules, the same ones that coaxed the Yankees to drop $25 million for the rights to Mr. Kei Igawa. This alone probably elminates Hal Steinbrenner from the party.
But I say it's time for the Yankees to climb back onto the Carl Pavano-boondoggle saddle.
Let's accept that Kang is a crap shot, and there is certain River Styx threshhold - $50 to $70 million maybe - that nobody should cross. There's a current theory making the rounds that Asian infielders don't translate well into the majors because - well - I can't think of why they wouldn't, but it's a nice theory when you're looking for an excuse to sit on your hands. Also, let's face it: Korean baseball is not even Japanese baseball. Kang could clang.
But bum or not, here's why the Yankees should go after this guy.
1. In my 35 years as a reporter, now and then you'd find an editor who was better suited to be handing out towels at the YMCA. They looked at every story and said, "Well, we won't get sued by not publishing." I suspect that among the 15 vice presidents within the Yankee front office, there are a few who always say, "Well, we won't look bad if we don't spend the money." Those guys should be handing out towels at the Y. It's time for the Yankees to take chances. They ignored the Cuban wave. They should jump on this one.
2. We have nobody to play SS. We're not talking about replacing Derek Jeter here. We're just talking about having a shortstop. Are we going to watch Brendan Ryan hit .149 next year? Nor are the free agent options too stimulating. Our best young prospects have not even cracked Trenton. There is no cavalry coming. We could empty our system and trade for a shortstop (So long, Aaron Judge!) Frankly, I'd rather take a half-court shot.
3. Our farm system needs a stalking horse. In spring training, Kang would absorb attention like a Bounty towel. Thus, younger players can fly under the radar, without being subjected to ridiculous Jeter comparisions. Small market teams don't need stalking horses. The Yankees do. Whatever they pay Kang, he could buy time for the system to actually season a shortstop, maybe by 2016.
4. Good grief, we need some pinprick of hope. If Hal plans to sell 2015 tickets on the idea that 2014 was an "off year," that A-Rod will come back, and guys like Beltran and McCann will start hitting... well... good luck with that. Last fall, the YES Men talked giddy about the notion of a full season of Alfonso Soriano anchoring the batting order. Yeah, right. He anchored it, all right. The Yankiverse needs something to hope for, even if it's a mirage.
Close your eyes and think of .360 and 36 home runs. Ahhhhhhh.... Derek who?
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Holy cow! The YES site has an exciting story about how great our prospects are doing in the Mexican Winter League. Luis Niebla has started a game--one--and his ERA is 2.35! Yowee. Reliever Giovanny Gallegos has appeared twice and not allowed a hit or a walk! Look out, D-Rob. And Jose Augusto Figueroa has been in three games and has a hit! A real, live hit!
|Thames, a river of batting wisdom.|
And Doug Williams at YES says that our next shortstop should be...Asdrubal Cabrera. You know why? Because he's 'solid.' Not great, not exciting, not nothing but 'solid.' Whew. Bring me the smelling salts, Dr. Ahmad.
Holy Mother of Gahhd, like they say in Beantown. I can hardly wait for Spring Training. It's going to be one heck of a year.
First, on behalf of the Yankiverse, let us say: Congrats, Mr. Denbo! Best of luck, sir, in your new vice presidency!
Second, let's all breathe a sigh of relief, knowing the Yankees didn't have to go outside the organization to find a vice presidential candidate, so their waves of recent success will not be impeded.
Finally, while we at IT IS HIGH would never try to tell Mr. Denbo how to do his job, we do want to offer a few pieces of advice. Sir...
1. Always keep a supply of freshly sharpened pencils. You never know when Hal Steinbrenner might walk by the door, and you want to look busy. Remember: A sharpened pencil is a sharpened mind!
2. If you scratch somebody's Hummer in the lot, while moving into your new, upgraded, vice presidential parking space, make sure you leave a note on their windshield and pay full shot on the repair. Best to come clean fast, rather than spill your guts during the lie-detector tests.
3. Buy an expensive clipboard. Don't skimp. As a vice president, you'll need to employ the latest gagetry known to humankind.
4. Keep the shoes shined, fingernails trimmed, hair combed, and put away the joy-buzzer. You're in the bigs now! You're one of only 15 vice presidents.
5. Bring bagels or fancy donuts to executive conferences. Yes, it's expensive. Consider it an investment. Remember: The vice president who brings the most bagels can never be fired.
6. Don't buy one of those little click-clack silver ball devices that sit on your desk, making click-clack sounds all day, like the other vice presidents. Separate yourself. Buy one of those magnets that have the globe suspended a half inch from the desk top. You'll be amazed at how the other vice presidents come in and watch it all day.
7. Remember to reserve every 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for the Rush Limbaugh Radio Show, then it's Hannity for the rest of the afternoon. It's important to stay informed.
Now that MLB has implemented a secret payroll salary cap, via luxury taxes, we can expect the World Series to regularly feature teams from backwater locations, towns too small to have gangland warfare or shopping riots.
When Kansas City plays San Francisco, will the megalopolites care enough to watch?
Baseball needs a gimmick, a device that will make the World Series exciting to all fans, especially those whose teams have turned to crapola because their heir owners can't decide how to spend all their money, so they surround themselves with cronies, who keep their jobs year after year, even though their farm system only churns out Slade Heathcotts and Zolio Almontes. Those fans. Whoever they are.
Here's how you do it.
Award the league that wins the World Series home field advantage in next season's All-Star game.
Think about it. Have two cities in line for next year's midsummer classic. Thus, their fan bases will root, root, root for their league, hoping to host the All-Star Game. Considering that the winner of the All-Star game wins home field advantage for its league in the series, it's a perfect loop.
Save the Series.
Make it count.
Monday, October 20, 2014
He stood in the runway of Jerry Jones "Home of the Groper" Stadium and was nearly knocked down by a stampeding Tony Romo, and you could almost hear every fan in America yelling at the TV, "HA, TONY! RUN HIM OVER!"
Soon, Al will return to Florida for spring training, where he will face a relentless wave of boos at every baseball stadium he visits. And we Yankee fans will constantly hear the question: "How can you root for A-Rod?" (*Who, for rebranding issues, we will call simply "Al.")
Keep this in mind. (Or clip and save.) To our knowlege, A-Rod...
Hasn't knocked out any girlfriends.
Hasn't whipped any of his children.
Hasn't pulled an AK-47 on a cop, or driven people off a road, or taken hostages, or had dogs tear each other apart, or killed anybody with a DUI, or sent a phone text of his genitals to a female sportswriter.
In his most brutal and heinous physical attack on record - for which he shall always be condemned - he slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove. Yep, he slapped!
Alex Rodriguez is accused of using performance enhancing drugs during a period in which they were not only legal but abundant throughout the game. In one case, he was given a waiver by MLB to use drugs - along with two other players, neither of whom has ever been identified.
Yes, he's an insecure, self-centered jerk.
The pariah. Our pariah. Shame on us. Shame, shame, shame...
Well, the NFL's ratings only went up. Turned out, nobody was listening to the sermons. And who could blame them? The fans were trying on the Lawrence Taylor jersey, practicing the ol' forearm shiv on Aunt Edna, and buying whippets for the kickoff!
Well, as fans of Ray Rice might say, the bloom is off the nose.
People, it's time to march for a better world.
Altogether now, New York Gints fans:
"ON MORAL GROUNDS, WE ARE BOYCOTTING THE NFL. FROM NOW ON, UNTIL ROGER GOODELL* IS GONE, WE SHALL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BLOOD SPORT OF PRO FOOTBALL, WHICH IS ON THE LEVEL OF HUMAN COCKFIGHTING."
(*In lieu of Goodell, we might consider Tom Coughlin.)
Yes, Gint fans, it's time to replace our Eli jerseys with Pope robes. Let's get 100 percent self-righteous and at least 50 percent morally clean. Another season just died in the womb. Hey, dammit, that's abortion!
Once again, it's not even November, and the Gints are done. Of course, Coach Dale Carnegie will rally the team to win the last two games and finish 8-8 (and win a three-year extension from Rooney Mara, or Kate Mara, or whomever is counting the family cash flow these days.) They'll win the final game to "establish momentum" for 2015, as they did last year.
From now on, indignation is easy. The NFC East is a race between Dallas and Philadelphia, and when those moral dwarfs play each other, if there is truly a God, a volcano will erupt beneath the stadium and blow everybody in it to Iceland. That would teach the NFL about messing with the most important Commandment, (which the Giants have faithfully upheld) - "Thou shalt do no work on the Sabbath! And that means you, offensive line!"
Once again, we see the New York City sports mediocrity model in pure form: Two teams represent NYC, and one is so rancid that it makes the other look competent. The Mets have given the Yankees a free pass for the last 13 years. And the Jets? Good grief, you must go back to Emerson Boozer.
Last spring, the Gints made a big point about "character issues" in the NFL draft. I'm not making this up: They drafted team captains and linchpins of morality. We can probably out-debate the Cowboys. No animals will be harmed in the playing of this season. But the Vegas line against Phily is 20 points and growing.
Not that it matters, of course. From now on, I'm avoiding the NFL. It's a league of wife-beaters, children-whippers and displayers of shriveled grapenuts, such as Jerry Jones. I'm not ignoring these beasts from the netherworld. I'm officially boycotting them. Stop, hey, watch that sound, everybody look what's going down...
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Since the Yankees went out of the pennant race in June, I have been drinking more and more.
Did you know that Crown Royal shots actually taste better at 10:00am than at 10:00pm?
I use alcohol to stimulate my thinking when it comes to the Yanks. Rather, I use it to forget everything I'm pretty sure I know.
And in today's stupor, my only hope remains: we have to buy the Royals.
If this doesn't happen, I will just keep drinking.
It's autum in New York, a great time for cryogenic suspension.
But why, why, WHY are NYC sports so rancid? Why does Boston get the Celtics, Patriots, Redsocks and Bruins, while New Yorkers actually ponder Syracuse as a home town college team? Why does San Francisco have the Giants and 49ers, while we have the Giants and the 13s?
Seriously. Anybody out there know? I've spent the better part of the last five minutes mulling this. Here are my guesses.
1. Pro sports owner communism. All pro teams are owned by Ayn Rand capitalists, who run their leagues like Che Guevara. Their goal is always to achieve parity, and the first salvo in that campaign is to crush any NYC-based teams, so they cannot exploit their advantage in market size. If you can't exploit your market advantage - well - then it becomes a disadvantage. If everything is equal, you have a better chance of winning in a small city, where the players have nothing else to do but chase personel records for their bench presses.
2. Obsessed wacko nutjob loonpie fans. NYC has at least 1 million drooling, loopy fans who a) make crappy players and midling prospects think they are Gods or b) scare the living hell out of star athletes. Whenever they talk about Jeter's greatness, they note that he kept his bearings while playing in New York. If he'd gone 20 years in Cleveland, would he simply be Omar Vizquel with better hair?
3. Hot and aggressively horny babes. Once the dairy princesses and prom queens, fresh off the bus from Ashtabula, realize they're not going to be Broadway's next Neil Patrick Harris, they quickly move to Plan B: Bed down some pro athlete and turn his powerful bat into Pad Thai. What really happened to Kevin Maas? (Without whom we would not have a great Yankee site in his honor.)
4. Water supply, air quality, proximity to Indian River nuke plant. Is NYC on a methane vent? Sometimes, it smells that way.
5. Yahweh pissed. NYC is, after all, Gomorrah on the Hudson. Half the Arab world still thinks God orchestrated the 9-11 attacks because Mayor Dinkins went easy on the squeegie guys. The Bible thumpers blame it on Rosie O'Donnell. Maybe God is taking it out on Brian McCann?
6. Best street drugs. Nah. Then why did Miami win in the NBA?
7. Bagels. Could there something in the delicate nutritional make-up of this magnificent New York delicacy, which undermines a highly tuned athlete's peak performance? Sometimes, after my fourth bagel, I do feel a tad gassy.
8. Keith Olbermann. Every NYC pro athlete knows he or she must face the ultimate scrutiny.
9. Owner incompetence. Let's face it: The owners of NYC sports teams are second or third generation pinheads, who make just as much money when their teams lose. I'm wondering if there isn't some inbreeding here? Could old George have had a secret affair with one of the Dolans, spawning Hank? Just asking.
10. Random sequence. We're simply talking about a small sample size (Note: On the River Ave site, this is referred to as "SSS"). If you wait a million years, NYC sports will probably rise. It just won't happen in our lifetimes, or our kids' lifetimes, or our grandkids' lifetimes. Somewhere out there, in the year 2525 - if man is still alive - a scrappy Steinbrennerian seed will find purchase in a fertile Zuckerman egg, and the ghosts of today's Yankee fanbase will enjoy the fruits of today's earthly torment. And I bet their kid will have flippers the size of surfboards.
Enough reason to consider cryonic suspension, eh?
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Apparently, the Seligian gag rule is now just a gag. The 2014 World Series is about to be forgotten, because the Yankees are on the verge of announcing... drum roll, please...
THE 2015 YANKEE HITTING COACH.
Speaking on behalf of Planet Earth, I say this:
Hold on, everyone. Try to stay calm. We're awaiting the envelope. It might be Dave Magadan. It might be Chili Davis. Good grief, maybe Hal will resurrect Babe Ruth back from the dead. (It's now been 10 years since the Yankees slayed the Babe a second time, ending the Curse of the Bambino, and we've been a declining force ever since.) Whoever is annointed 2015 YANKEE HITTING COACH, he - or she - will really make a difference. Right?
Hahahaha. Of course, they will. Hahahauhg. Just keep repeating it, over and over. A new whipping mule! A new organizational scapegoat! The one guy who - unlike the starting nine - can be fired next winter. The batting coach. Hahahaaha.
I can't wait to see how this new key linchpin of the Yankee attack will alter A-Rod's swing. Maybe he'll teach Tex a new stance! And Prado, my goodness, the things he'll do with Prado! It'll be like Mickey, changing Rocky to a lefty, by having him drink eggs and chase chickens across the barnyard. That Prado, he's gonna eat thunder and crap guitar feedback!
What's sad here is that the Yankees didn't change hitting coaches last July. We'd be in the World Series, instead of KC, and the games wouldn't be shown on your cable system's Channel No. 400.
A new hitting coach. You'd think this was the NFL, and the Yankees just hired a new Offensive Coordinator for Tom Coughlin. Next year, will we launch a West Coach attack?
A new hitting coach. This could mean an entirely different set of inspirational slogans being yelled at Brian McCann, as he marches back to the dugout after his 100th strikeout. (Sometime in June.)
A new hitting coach. Whoopie. For the first time, maybe I miss Bud, after all.
He would tell the Yankees to keep quiet. Then again, who can stay quiet with a cowbell in hand?
Friday, October 17, 2014
(Cue the classy music)... Tonight on Yankeeography, we celebrate the career of baseball hero Travis Ishigawa, the "Six-Inning Yankee."
The time is July 8, 2013. The place is New York City, in the back of an expensively seedy hotel bar and hash house near Yankee Stadium.
Brian "American Picker" Cashman has just spent the last 24 hours giving depositions to authorities in the case of Crazy Louise Meanwell, the famed "stalker from either Hell or Connecticut." Cashman has been doing massive amounts of ibogane and laxatives with fellow top Yankee official, the legal begal known as Randy Levine, who still wears his Buzz Lightyear costume, which he donned for a Fourth of July founding fathers costume party.
Cashman is worried. The Yankee team is listing, losing, lifeless. Something has gone wrong with the Murderers Row batting order... Zolio Almonte, Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells, Luiz Cruz, Alberto Gonzalez... the team simply hasn't recovered from Boesch getting hurt.
"We need a firstbaseman who can spell Lyle Overbay," he tells Levine.
"I can do it... I think," Levine says. "It's O-v-e-r-b..."
He stops when Brian slaps him, hard, across the mouth. Levine has been cycling steroids, growth hormone and lead-based paint chips for the last. He's a little hazy. The slap awakens him. It also excites him.
"O-v-e-r-b-e-y!" he shouts.
Before Brian can hit him again, his cellphone trills. It's Brian's special "MLB Waiver Wire Mix and Match Madness" ap. A new names has landed in baseball's recycling bin. The name is Travis Ishigawa. He sounds Japanese.
"KEI IGAWA?" Randy says, fitting himself onto his Yankee logoed bong. "I've heard of him. Sign him!"
"Not Kei Igawa," Brian says. "ISH- Igawa. And he could spell Overbay."
"That's easy. O-v-e-r-"
"Shaddup. I'm involved with important Yankee backroom wheeling and dealing. I should call our chief scout and baseball man"
"Don't wake up Hank," Levine says. "Last I heard, he was on a horse and hookers bender."
"Shaddup. This is big business."
"Sorry, Brian... you know that, really, I... mean well." Randy blurts out a bong hit. "MEANWELL, GET IT?"
Despite his anger, Brian simply must laugh. This mirthful scaliwag, Levine, he knows how to push a fellow's funny bone.
And so the Yankees sign Travis Ishigawa.
That night, Travis appears in the Yankee lineup - batting sixth, after Vernon Wells and before Luis Cruz. Travis goes 0 for 2 with two strikeouts, then is replaced by Lyle Overbay. The Yankees lose to Kansas City, 5-1.
A six-inning outing... Seven pitches. Six strikes.
Next night, he is gone... like Brigadoon... like that Malasian airliner... like Vanilla Ice.
And every July 8, it is said that he reappears in the clouds over New York City to say...
"I'm Travis, not Kei."
TRAVIS ISHIGAWA... NOT KEI... THE SIX-INNING YANKEE.
This week's .... YANKEEOGRAPHY. (Cue out music. Run credits. Audience applause.)