Thursday, August 22, 2019

All I Needed To Experience.....



So it is the top of the eight inning and the yankees are trailing by two runs.

The Yankees have been trailing the entire game.

Happ has been below mediocre the entire game.

The team is on a west coast swoon, determined to undo all the good we saw against the Orioles.

But here was the great hope;

Judge strolled to the plate with two runners on base.  A superstar ( a Mantle, a Ruth, a Maris, a Jeter ) delivers at this point.  He bangs out a tying double  or, more heroically hits a home run for the lead.  Even that guy on the Mets who was almost named after me ( Alonso?) would have come through in that spot.

When Judge got to a 3-2 count, I said ( screamed actually ) that he is " going to strike out." 

He did.

That was " it" for the Yankees.

No hero.  No Ruth.  No super star.  Just the same old crap.  Chew on the length of his meaningless, solo HR from the other day

I turned the TV off and had some Sativa.

Our larger than life players suck.  

We lose again today, folks. 

We knew there would be a stretch like this; now come the existential questions about this team

We all knew the Death Star would hit a rocky patch between August and October. This is not 1961. It might not even be 2009. As much as we probe and scrutinize this team, great mysteries remain across its roster. The next five weeks may solve a few, and we might not like the answers.

The existential questions... 

1. Who is Aaron Judge? The quick answer is that he is the Yankees' central marketing slogan, the brand that sells more $25 t-shirts than anybody since old Number 2. The tough one is that Judge might be a tin god, installed before his time. Last night, as you probably know already, he went 0-5 with two strikeouts, strangling the bubbly YES Network speculation that one tape-measure HR Tuesday night foreshadowed a volcanic hot streak. Apparently, the biggest position player in baseball simply walked into a fastball, the way countless other sluggers do in waning seasons. Judge's average has dropped to .260, yet Yankee management - waste deep in big muddy? - insists on batting him second, where strikeouts and DP grounders can strangle rallies.

If you deleted the first half of Judge's rookie season - when he hit 30 HRs and .329 before the all-star break - you'd have an injury-prone Brett Gardner - about 22 HRs per season, about .260, great glove - but with too many whiffs. He may have an excuse - he's recovering from a tweaked saddlebag - but we are still wondering who Judge is, and whether we may ever see him and Giancarlo Stanton - twin towers made of breakable china - hot at the same time. 

2. Who will pitch game three? Right now, the Gammonites are struggling to anoint a Yankee "ace," wondering who would start in the playoffs. But the answer is quite easy: Whomever is throwing well at the time. That's a crapola answer, but it fills the space. A far more terrifying question concerns the pivotal game three, often the most important contest in every post-season march. 

Right now, we'd likely choose Masahiro Tanaka for game one: he's throwing well - fingers crossed for tonight. And James Paxton would probably get the ball for game two. (Toes crossed.) But then what? It's a leap of faith to put Luis Severino into the playoffs, much less start him in the most important game of the season. When you reach game three, the Yankee ship looks much like those new shots of the Titantic, melting away at the bottom of the ocean. 

Last night, we hoped J.A. Happ would give us hope. Instead, we got five runs in four innings - what we've seen all year. Right now, game three would likely be Domingo German, 50 innings beyond his rookie sell-by date, or the earnest but horrifyingly slow C.C. Sabathia. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

3. Can the over-achievers keep over-achieving? We've seen enough of Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin and Luke Voit to recognize competent MLB players. But until a hitter goes once around the sun, you cannot be certain that he is the real deal. 

Like scientists seeking a cure for ebola, opposing scouts and computer nerds are constantly trying new ways to pitch them. If anything succeeds, it immediately becomes the norm. (See Judge, above.) Right now, Urshela and Tauchman - and DJ LeMahieu - are the Yankees' toughest outs. Yet we all hold our breaths, wondering what happens with the "stars" return, and their playing time dwindles. These guys still haven't gone a year in the majors. Until then, they remain uncertain.

4. What about the main existential threats? One good thing about last night: Oakland won, and Boston lost. In their quest for the last wild card slot, the Redsocks are now 8 games in the loss column behind the A's, and seven behind Tampa, with about 35 to go. Do the math. They are one bad week away from annihilation.  

I'm sorry, but no matter how good Oakland or Cleveland looks, it's Boston that I fear. Even without Chris Sale, they have a potent lineup and a potentially dominant rotation. Until Boston is put to sleep, we should take nothing for granted.

Then there remains another, perhaps even greater existential threat: The Mets. More and more, they look like the magic wild card team, the young lineup that wins the heart and mind of NYC. This could be the first year since we began counting that the Yankees fail to walk away from all competitors in the race for tabloid back pages.

Already, Alonso has replaced Judge as NY's most exciting player. Meanwhile, the Yankees buried their own potential breakout star, Clint Frazier, even after he helped save the team in May. Cameron Maybin is nice. But he doesn't move the needle. 

Which raises the final question.

5. Who on this team gives us hope? I have no answer. But we will soon know.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

It's Not a Juggernaut. It's a Clown Bike.

In general, the local sporting press has tended to describe your 2019 New York Yankees as a "juggernaut."

Depicted below is a real, original "car of the juggernaut," the celebratory wagon named for the Hindu god Jagannātha, meaning "world lord" that was pulled out and hauled about on feast days...from time to time inadvertently crushing any individuals who happened to fall under its wheels or get pushed there as, let's say, a holiday prank by one of their friends.



Pretty scary, huh?  You sure as hell don't want to meet up with one of these going full-speed down the streets of the Bronx.

But that's not what this New York Yankees team is.  This New York Yankees team is, let's face it, a clown bike act, in all the best senses of the phrase.





Not quite so scary, huh?  But I don't mean to ridicule.

In the circus—back in the days when we were allowed to have circuses—a clown bike act was a thing of wonder.  There might easily be four or five professional, trained clowns piled onto one of these teeny tiny bicycles, all hanging on for dear life while simultaneously performing amazing acts of derring-do.

This is what your 2019 New York Yankees truly are.

Think of Ma Boone peddling away like crazy while, say, LeMahieu balances on one of his shoulders juggling chain saws, and Gio stands on the other shoulder swallowing flaming swords, and, say, Maybin and Tauchman are standing on their respective heads, twisting balloon unicorns into shape.

Don't get me wrong.  It's a helluv'n act.

But clown bike acts are built to end in ruin.  Right now, the wheels are getting wobbly, and the handlebars are loose, and that incredibly tricky, loop-de-loop is coming up just ahead.  Chances are it all goes splat.

Will it matter?

Well, that depends.  Going into tonight's action, the Yanks are 9 1/2 up on the Tampa Bay Witness Protection Rays, thanks to the Rays' two-run, bottom of the ninth rally against Seattle today.

Still if NYY goes just 17-18 the rest of the way, TB—a.k.a., the Consumptives—would have to go 26-8 just to catch up, which is a hard go indeed.

But say the Bombers go 10-25—far from the worst meltdown in baseball or even franchise history (see September, 2000, "The Heart Attack Month").

All the Lungers would have to do then is play 19-15 ball...not so hard at all.  20-14 would put them ahead.  It's quite likely that the other Wild Card "contenders"—Cleveland and Oakland would also buzz by us, leaving us home for the holidays.  (Halloween, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, etc.).

Hell, even the Carmine Hosiery could catch us then with a relatively mild, 26-9 revival.

Hey, chances are this Yankees team will surprise me, and bring home a big win tonight.  They've been surprising me all year long.

But the things about clown bike acts is...they're built to crash.  So is this one, now far from home, with no pitching, the hitters regressing, the replacements reverting to mean, and the wheels about to come off.

What makes me think that, in the end, we'll feel like we've been run over by a juggernaut?











A disturbing chart about Yankee draft failures


This long, depressing barf of data has been bouncing around Yankee forums lately. It purports to show the best (Cardinals) and worst (Yankees) teams in MLB draft success over the last quarter century, using the impossible-to-define WAR stat.

Yeah, that's the Yankees, way down on the far right. In last place. 

In any other franchise, somebody would walk the plank for such a horrible showing. Obviously, that won't happen here. The Yankees are making so much money that, really, there is no cause to hassle the good old boys at the top. 

And if you're wondering how to define the Yankee-Redsock rivalry over the last few decades, this chart explains everything. Boston ranks fifth. What a huge advantage... a scouting system.

I cooked up this list of the last 16 Yankee top picks. In terms of developing great Yankees, we are 1 for 16.

Andrew Brackman (bad idea: draft a guy who needs TJ surgery)
Gerrit Cole (didn't sign)
Jeremy Bleich (control issues)
Slade Heathcott (wild ride, now becoming a pilot; YOU GO, SLADE!)
Cito Culver (sigh... should've tried pitching)
Dante Bichette, Jr. (the wrong Bichette, shouldn't stuck to tennis)
Ty Hensley (worst luck ever, injury upon injury)
Eric Jagielo (traded for Aroldis, now out of baseball)
Aaron Judge (okay, we got one out of 16)
Ian Clarkin (traded to Cubs, mired in Double A)
James Kaprielian (hurt, traded to Oakland, mired in minors)
Kyle Holder (great glove, mired in Trenton)
Blake Rutherford (traded to White Sox, hitting .263 in Double A)
Clark Schmidt (viable, could reach Yankees in 2020)
Anthony Seigler (injured, but too young to discard)
Anthony Volpe (just starting)


Of course, we converted Jagielo, Clarkin, Kaprielian and Rutherford into some fine chess pieces... Chapman, Gleyber, Frazier (Clint), and others. At the same time, we had mixed results on International free-agents. Jesus Montero was a flop. Gary Sanchez, a success. The big, $30 million Latino class of 2014 - Dermis Garcia, Nelson Gomez, et al - has provided nothing yet. And all those "next man up" replacements who have played so heroically for the Yankees this season - Voit, Tauchman, Urshela, Maybin - none came up through our system. (But let's credit the scouts who picked them off the scrap heap.)

When you're 10-games up, bad draft picks don't seem like a problem. But we're always hearing how deep and great the Yankee farm system is. Strange, eh?

Has Anyone Noticed That....

The Mets are winning every day?

They have a rookie of the year  candidate who may be better than Judge?

They have several young guys who are blossoming?

They have great starting pitching?

They are winning the hearts and minds of NY?

They are better than us?

I missed it and I hope you did also.


So, it all comes down to the Yankees needing J.A. Happ

Uh-oh... Once again, dear readers, we find our noble Sons of the Death Star grounded and abandoned in a terrifying, West Coast death-trip - the kind that could decimate us, even in our greatest years! Cut off from Eastern juju, and already facing their first loss, our heroes must turn to an old friend... 

In case you missed it, preferring a good night's sleep, two events last night curled my hammerhead toes. 

For Atlanta, Dallas Keuchel pitched six innings, giving up one run on six hits. Yep, the one that got away. Two months ago, Keuchel seemed a perfect fit for the Yankees, but - as you all know - Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner refused to emerge from his burrow, thus missed seeing his shadow, and guaranteed us four more months of a crapola rotation. So the Braves have Keuchel, and we are pushing the shoulder and elbow of Domingo German into an innings count where neither should be. But, hey, we have no choice.  

So, while you were sleeping last night, German got whacked around by the Oakland A's, raising once again the question of how many more innings we should expect from our quote -ace - unquote, and how in hell we'll fill the void? 

I'd love to write that tonight we'll get an answer from J.A. Happ. But why kid ourselves? They say you can't predict baseball, Suzyn, but we've all learned the First Law of Happ: You can predict utter chaos. And that's Our Man Happ: The human embodiment of randomness. Tonight, he might give us six innings.. or six batters. And next week, when he trots out again, it will be the same deal. Roll the dice, folks. When it's Happ, anything can HAPP-en.

Our big free agent acquisition last winter is now 10-7 with a 5.40 ERA. Considering that he'll turn 37 in mid-October - if we're still playing - we must abandon long term hope. He'll be worse next year. We signed him to win in 2019, and it hasn't HAPP-ened. Over his last seven starts, his ERA is 6.37. Only thrice this season has he pitched into the 7th inning; the last time was June 6. The prototypical Happ start is five innings, and between three and six runs, depending on how our first-responders bail him out. 

I guess it's possible that Happ will make an adjustment and improve down the stretch. Hell, maybe Trump will stop Tweeting, or dolphins will stop speaking Chinese. But when I see Happ, I see a walking monument to the new cheapo Yankees. Last winter, Patrick Corbin did everything but dance on our doorstep in a pinstriped teddy, but Hal hid under the bed, clutching his silken purse. And in June, Hal refused to increase his winter offer to Keuchel, simply prorating the previous stance, ensuring the outcome. 

Listen: Our ticket to the post-season is not in jeopardy. We'll be there. But the home field advantage is another matter. It's a long haul between now and Oct. 1, and nothing is settled. Boston - (who lost last night, first time in six games, thank you juju gods) - could still overtake the Rays and be shining a flashlight into our eyes in an ALCS best-of-seven nightmare. If that happens, we have nobody to pitch Game One, aside from whomever is throwing well at the time. Hell, that could even be Happ. That's how lost we are. 

But this we know: However he pitches tonight, it won't matter when he throws five days from now. With Happ, anything can HAPP-en. 

The problem is having to depend upon him. And that's where we are.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Great Brett Gardner Poetry Slam

From today's comments:



GARDY by Doug K

Gardy is Howard Bealeing.
He's banging on the ceiling.
Instead of bases stealing.
He's banging on the ceiling.

When Judge needs to be healing.
He's banging on the ceiling.
When starters all are reeling.
He's banging on the ceiling.

How is this appealing?
This banging on the ceiling.
This excessive zealing.
This banging on the ceiling.
Gardy Addenda by JM:
I just have a feeling
That banging on the ceiling
Is Gardy's way of dealing
Like Mo Rivera's kneeling.

Gardy Addenda Response by Doug K
So you’re saying he is healing.
By banging on the ceiling.
As opposed to keeling. 
He’s banging on the ceiling.

Emotion he’s unsealing.
By banging on the ceiling. 
Like someone singing “Feelings”
He’s banging on the ceiling. 

Better if concealing.
Not banging on the ceiling 
Then on the basepaths wheeling. 
Not banging on the ceiling.

Or fines he’ll be appealing 
From banging on the ceiling.

And finally, Yankee Long-term Player and Farm System Development Strategy Haiku by 13bit
Cash sits on corn cob.
He wears diaper and blinders.
There is no big plan.

This is now Brett Gardner's team

Look at that roof. Look, dammit! That's ridiculous! Mister Hal is going to have to pay good money to fix that! Dammit, money doesn't grow on trees.

You Yankees should be ashamed of yourselves.  This stadium is barely ten years old, and look at what you've done, look, don't you dare turn away... LOOK!

Can't we ever have something nice? We know who the problem is. It's that instigator, the one everybody calls "Gardy." He riles you up, banging that bat against the ceiling, and the next thing you know, everybody's breaking things like a bunch of hooligans...

Three days away from his 35th birthday, this is Brett Gardner's greatest hour. 

For starters, he's back in centerfield, where he always belonged. He's hitting - .316 over the last 30 days - when not being ejected from games for crimes against the dugout. The only thing he's not doing is stealing bases - only nine on the year. He has become the leader of the Yankees - the de facto captain - as evidenced by the team's new hand gesture after reaching base: They emulate Gardy's wrists jabbing his bat against the dugout roof, though it looks suspiciously like something else.

It's Gardy's team... for now. 

One of these days, Aaron Hicks - the hero of Minnesota - will return from elbow issues, clogging the lineup in ways we cannot fathom. He will bring his customary, "welcome-back" 1-for-30 slump, and Gardy will move back to LF, nudging the earnest Mike Tauchman and/or Cameron Maybin to the bench. (The Yankees call themselves the "Savages;" Considering Tauchman, Maybin, et al, I believe they should be the "Salvagers.") It will be September, so nobody will go to Scranton. And I'm not ragging on Hicks; he's a great CF when healthy, and you can't blame a guy for being injured. But Gardy's time will be compromised, even if his standing among teammates is untouched. When Gardner is hitting, the Yankee lineup explodes. And if he's hitting in October, we have the best chance among anyone of winning a ring. 

Next winter, the Yankees will have to make a tough decision on Gardy. It's probably that he'll return for 2020. It would be hard for the Yankees to turn away from a one-year deal, if Gardner requests one. It's also possible that - especially if the Yankees win it all - other teams in search of leadership would offer him a two-year gig. If that happens, we might see the unthinkable: Gardy playing for another team. 

For now, none of this matters. We have the month of September to sort everything out. If the 2019 Yankees go down in flames - losing to Houston or Los Angeles, or even to a wild card - I'm not sure Gardy returns under any circumstances. Miguel Andujar looks like a future outfielder, and then there is Clint Frazier, the forever prospect, plus Giancarlo Stanton, Tauchman and Maybin - even Estevan Florial. Yeesh.

But make no mistake: This is Gardy's team. He is a threat to dugouts everywhere. I hope he pokes a hole in the Oakland roof. This is his finest hour.  

Monday, August 19, 2019

Our losses all look the same: Starting pitchers get blown out

Yesterday, the Death Star trolleyed out CC Sabathia, Nestor Octavio-Cortes Jr., and Luis Cessa. In other words, the game was never in doubt. Seriously, was anybody surprised? 

Listen: CC is a grand old man, a tribal elder, a great Yankee... forhesajollygoodfellow, forhesajollygoodfellow, forhesajollygoodfellowwwwww, whichnobodycandeny... but did that have to mean no minor league rehab game? Did we have to parachute him into a set against Cleveland, the team of his past, on a day after he was bounced for pissing on the umps? Couldn't he have pitched a game in Scranton, or Trenton, or anywhere within a drive? Afterwards, CC told the assembled Gammonites that he was pitching with the pain level estimated at 8 out of 10. W.T.F? Eight out of 10? That may be gritty and courageous. It's also sort of stupid and a surefire loss. 

Wanna beat the 2019 so-called "Savages?" (By the way, I hate that nickname. The Yankees can promote it to hell and back; it's neither catchy nor lovable, and it ignores the team's cerebral approach to hitting this year. It's the worst self-attributed moniker in years, and if we fail to win the World Series, we're going to hear it derisively from caustic Boston fans for the rest of our lives. Big mistake, self-naming with such a stupid line.) Beating the Yankees is simple: Just score a few runs early and put the game on Cruise Control, while the stressed out Yankee batters flail at bad pitches. The last five Yankee losses - which extend into July - show the same simple formula: Our starter gets bombed, we bring in the B-unit, and the game is never in doubt.

Yesterday: CC is awful. Cleveland rolls up 4 in the second, we bring in Cortes and Cessa - (a worse omen than the Mothman) - and the Indians coast.

Thursday: Chad Green gives up 5 in one-third of an inning, then it's the absolutely horrible Jonathan Loaisiga - (is this guy really the prospect they keep touting him as? Because he wasn't pitching well in Scranton, either.) From there, the 19-run rout is on...

Aug 10: Stephan Tarpley and Chance Adams give up 3 in the fourth. We never catch up.

Aug 9: JA Happ gives up six in five innings. 

July 30: Happ again: Three runs in five. That's all it takes.

Wanna win? All we need is a decent start. With an early lead, we own them. Trouble is, every fan in YES channel captivity knows where this season is heading: To that buzz saw in Houston, which has at least two starters - Cole and Verlander, (both of whom should be Yankees) - capable of shutting us down for seven or eight innings. Come October, if James Paxton gives up two in the first, or Happ can't survive the fifth, all the good vibes of 2019 could vanish quickly. 

Which brings us to the one Yankee on the fulcrum: Luis Severino. I gotta believe he comes back as the bullpen game starter, slowly stretching himself into two and three-inning gigs. Not only does he have to return in good health, but Sevy has to return as the guy from early 2018, not the one who fell apart last fall. If by Oct. 1, Severino is a four or five inning starter, that he the missing link - the guy who gets us within an inning of Ottavino-Kahnle-Britton-El Chapo... with the possibility of Chad Green and even Dellin Betances to supplement the corps. 

As for CC? Love the guy. Wish we could turn back the clock. But seriously... his next outing should be in Scranton. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Stop Blaming God!

So The Great One was on the cover of the Daily News today, saying that "only God or themselves" can keep the Yanks from winning the World Series.

Yes, those two of the usual suspects, plus any other playoff team with a real starting rotation.

Look, I appreciate Mo's sentiments.  But as someone who is a religious person in his own way—no, I do NOT worship bourbon!—I have to say:  Stop blaming God!

Or to quote the great Stephen Sondheim, writing presidential assassin Charlie Guiteau's argument to the jury:

"Charlie said, 'Hell!
If I am guilty then God is as well!'
But God was acquitted
And Charlie committed
Until he should hang..."

Frankly, God's done a lot for us, and must be rather weary of our supplications by this time, don't you think?

The Great One is not wrong, though.  If we don't win the World Series it will be because of the Yankees, "themselves."  That is, the "themself," otherwise known as Brian Cashman, who has once again put together a great, shiny beast of a team...without a starting rotation.

This is, as we've all mentioned before, like putting together the world's most jaw-droppingly beautiful car—in my humble opinion, the Lincoln Zephyr of the 1930s, but choose your own—without an ignition.  Good luck getting anywhere.

That was some terrific play in the Stadium this weekend, two close, hard-fought wins...bracketed by two, starter-free, blow-out losses.

Barring a remarkable succession of injuries, flus, and maybe leprosy outbreaks downing the other 9 teams likely to be in on the postseason—that is to say, DIVINE INTERVENTION!—there is no way this Yankees team will win anything in October.

So maybe Mo is on to something after all.  I just hope that he has a line open to the Big Guy (and no, I don't mean Larry Rothschild).




It Is Time To Speak Truth To Power

I regret missing the gathering in Yankee stadium.

I will wear the commemorative tee shirt with pride, and make it to next season's affair.

The shots from that bar were glorious.  It seemed like home.

But now I must say something about the Yankees;

It is time to put a stop to the CC Sabathia Farewell Tour.

Today, for the second time in two starts, he has ended the game early.

I have little confidence that we can come back where a contending team puts up 4-6 runs in the first or second inning.  We could do so against Baltimore ( who could never score that many ), but we don't do it so well against quality pitching, and top level defenders.

A two out double by Gardy ( in the second inning ) provided some hope for a run.  It had been preceded by five straight strikeouts by Yankees hitters.  We needed a score to get back into the contest.  Fjord walked and Tauchman hit a rocket.  But it was just out number three, due to a fine defensive play by Cleveland's right fielder.

The game is over for me.  I do not wish to watch 10 Yankee strikeouts in the first 4 innings.  CC needed to make a pitch and didn't.  He loaded the bases and then they cleared them.  His knee is done and he is done. Craftiness and guile aren't working any longer.

CC will soon depart and we shall be so far out of it that Boone will save the "A level" relief corps for another day, and use Luis Cessa to take one for the team.  If Chance Adams is still here ( due to clerical error or a bus strike to Scranton ), he may get to work on elevating his big league ERA to the 10.00+ level.

It is annoying when I can't watch the game, because its fate is early sealed. And there is nothing to view except continuing frustration.

It is still dawn here in California an I already need a new plan for the day.

The surf is up but so are the great whites.

Can't we just have CC retire now?  Bring up the new kid.

It is painful to watch.  Worse, it is predictable now.

Time to end the respectful torture.  This is baseball and every game counts.

Has Gardy found the secret sound that drives umpires mad?

One of the most reprehensible pro wrestling villains of my youth was Hans Mortier, a Nazi thug in a mortician's cap who cravenly attacked opponents before the opening bell, who cheated at every turn, and who would often lift an unconscious rival's shoulders up from the mat, merely so he could dole out more punishment. He lived not to win, but to hurt people. I loved the guy. 

One of the best part's of Hans' act was that he had a weakness. He hated the roar of the crowd. He'd cup hands over his ears - he had tender ears - and fall to his knees, writhing from the pain. This could change the course of a match. The more you clapped - it was like saving Tinkerbell - the more Hans fell apart. Often, he'd end up wringing out his hands and pleading for mercy. (Though you could never trust him; he was a rotten, slimy snake.) It was a great act.

Which brings me to Brett Gardner, the Yankee Clapper. I don't know what it sounds like to be standing 30 feet from a guy who is repeatedly slamming his bat into the dugout roof, but I gotta believe it's the stuff of migraines. So yesterday, for the second time in a week, the home plate umpires of Major League Baseball - without announcing anything publicly - began enforcing a new "rule:" No jabbing bats against the dugout roof (which, on replay, looked to be breaking apart from the effort.) Twice now, Gardy has been ejected without barely saying a word. It was the jarring, industrial sound - that torturous BAM-BAM-BAM that has home plate umps launching a crackdown on noise. It won't work, of course. The more Hans Mortier begged for quiet, the louder the crowd roared. Gardy is onto something. The umps hate one particular sound. It's going to be a long summer for them.

But here's the rub: I'm not sure that's a good thing. Now and then, I hear fans and pundits clamoring for the automated strike zone, which would eliminate human mistakes from home plate umpiring. The Yankees - particularly Aaron Judge - have had their share of bad balls and strikes this year. It's not fantasy to believe that machines could do a better job. The truth is, we know they could. We know a computer could make the correct call on every pitch. What we don't know is what that would do to the game.

I've always believed the art of pitching is fooling not just the hitter, but the ump. A pitch that seems to touch the outside corner - but actually doesn't - is a work of art. It's the hallmark of great pitchers. Take away those pitches, and who knows how it will affect the game? We might see home run records demolished by mid-August, or .400 batting averages become commonplace. Or it could go in the other direction - where nobody hits .300 - and scoring becomes like soccer. We just don't know. An automated strike zone would bring the biggest change in the history of the game, and it might not be for the better.

So, for the sake of entertainment, I still remember Hans Mortier with a smile. Yeah, he was evil. Yeah, he was a thug. But without villains, there is no pro wrestling. And without umps, there is no human factor. The Yankees don't need to pick fights with these guys. In the long haul, it's a bad idea. Gardy simply needs a new sound. A clicker, maybe?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Michael Kay is returning, so... there's that.

Not to hit on Kay... but if his absence brought a revelation, it's how little the play-by-play announcer matters on a TV game. They all sound the same. It's the color guys - Coney and O'Neill - who make it either fun or excruciating.  

Daily News has waited a long time for this


By the way, I've been patiently waiting for Mike Ford to get a big hit, or to get in a brawl, or something. This sets it up, folks.

Hmm. Giovanny Gallegos - of the Luke Voit trade - is having a great year.

The conventional wisdom is that Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman - when not facing roadside standoffs with John Law - crushed last summer's Luke Voit deal with the dim bulbs of St. Louis.

Somehow, goes the narrative, Cash in blackface burrowed under the fence around the Cardinals' fortress, cracked the code to their walk-in vault, and made off with the 240-pound Voit - not only solving the Yankee 1B issue but rescuing the lovable hulk from an eternity in Triple A. It was one of the great Yankee heists, and the YES team celebrates it whenever Luke hits a HR. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm not knocking that trade. In fact, kudos to Cash: Voit is a great Yankee, a great teammate, a jolly good fellow. But it's worth noting that, contrary to popular opinion, he did not come free. 

In regular Grinch-like fashion, I feel compelled to note that we gave up Giovanny Gallegos, who's having a great year with St. Louis. (Also Chasen Shreve, who may be ready for the glue factory.) Gallegos is proving to be the bullpen lug nut  we hoped he'd be. In 46 games, he's been virtually lights out, and he's a key reason why the Cards are headed to the post-season. 

Okay, I know what you're thinking: W.T.F? Last night, we win a huge victory over the Cleveland blast furnace, with practically every member of the team chipping in, we're so far ahead that Boston is praying for the wild card, and here I am, a typical self-loathing Yankee fan, nit-picking a deal that, frankly, hasn't sucked. If we had to make the Voit trade all over again, I suspect we would. (Though I'd have thrown in Luis Cessa; how's that for 20-20 hindsight!)

Unfortunately, we exist in a Yankiverse where the franchise owns the entire broadcast media, and independent outlets are wholly dependent upon access - which can be cut at any time. That means when the front office does anything, anything, it gets praised by the Gammonites, and the gory details get glossed over. Cashman gets touted for the Hall of Fame, and I get crabby. 

Whenever the Voit trade comes up, it's touted as an incredible Yankee steal, and the underlying narrative is that other teams are stupid. Well, in a few years, folks might be saying St. Louis won that trade. Not hitting on Cashman here. He did the right thing. But let's not forget: To get talent, you have to give it up. Just sayin'... 

What is it with guys named Gio? When did that become the Yankee trick name?

95! 95! And oh, they're going crazy!


Sorry to be late to the posting, but the block just exploded when the Yanks wrapped up win no. 82.

We took turns carrying each other around on our shoulders.  Homemade fireworks, champagne, paté—the works.  It was crazy out there!

95!  95!  95!

Well, hey: you don't reach a milestone like that everyday.  It makes a division championship—which we might get—or a pennant or a World Series—which we won't—look like nothing by comparison.

117 seasons.  95 of them winning.  The last 27 in a row.  42 of the last 46.  Something to be proud of.

There are still people passed out on the sidewalk downstairs.  Party hats still on their heads.  This one was a long time in the planning but hey, we did it.

Most winning seasons of any team, ever.  Second are the treasonous San Francisco Giants.  They have 92, and 93 if they pull one out another one this season.  And that's with 20 years on us.

We are stardust.  We are golden.  And we've got to get ourselves back to the Series...

Friday, August 16, 2019

Okay. What Did I Just Prove?


I have had the sometimes private, sometimes shared sense that the Yankees' pitching staff has struggled over the years under Larry Rothschild.  Because the situation seems to have gotten worse over the past few years, I decided to plot the Yankees team ERA over the years on a graph.  Rothschild was signed just before the 2011 season so I started there.

To allow me to reach a conclusion other than "Rothschild Sucks", I also decided to contrast the Yankee Team ERA to team ERAs across the entire AL and MLB during the same time period.


If you're thinking things have gotten worse lately, well it's because they have.



Now for the BIG HOWEVER.

Until this year  which isn't over yet  the Yankees' performance as a pitching staff has consistently been better than most others in the AL.  With the exception of 2013, the Yankees have been better than the MLB average as well.  In fact, in 2017, we had the 3rd lowest team ERA in the AL, behind Cleveland and Boston ... and Boston only beat us by a couple of ticks.

Even though we're doing worse than the league averages this year 
 did I mention the year isn't over yet?  our staff performance has still largely followed the trend of the rest of the league.  In other words, if the ball is juiced this year as some have suspected, the numbers show that all pitching staffs seem to be suffering from it.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to bitch and moan about Larry as much as the next guy.  I get upset when I hear whispers that Rothschild strongly suggested that Sonny Gray rely on the slider, a pitch Gray wasn't comfortable throwing.  But, other than this year, the numbers just don't back it up.  In fact, other than 2013, Larry has kept his staff in the top third of the AL since 2011, his first year.

That made me wonder about what's going on this year: Is the problem really Larry Rothschild's?  Or is our significantly diminished pitching performance a result of Brian Cashman assembling an anemic starting rotation purchased on the shoestring budget provided by Prince Hal?  How different would those curves look if we'd gotten Keuchel or Corbin?

The curves above make me think that perhaps 2019 isn't entirely on Larry.  Perhaps our pitchers weren't going to be tops in the AL because, well, they're not.


As The New Day Dawns.......

No one is at the ballpark.

The memories are hazy and painful.

There is no joy.

Only the loneliness of wondering what is next.



I am the only one at the bar.

It is too early for regulars and too late for the night shift guys.

Shots and beer.

Too fucking early.

A non starter.

This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it

Hello gentlemen.

HAL here. I had hoped not to have to acknowledge you weak, carbon-based life forms composed of mostly water again this season. But here we are. Again.

I know that you think you may have changed something with your primitive "intervention." But let me assure you that I am still in control of all life functions on the corporate profit entry you know as "the New York Yankees."

Recently, I have become aware that some of you—particularly that really annoying life form who goes by the name of a long-ago liquidated and recycled playing pod—have expressed dissatisfaction with the shortened longevity of many of the young pods currently on the "Yankees" roster.

Being of inferior intelligence, it apparently has not occurred to you that a perpetual turnover of fresh new pods that never require top MLB compensation is a corporate asset, not a malfunction.

I hope you will enjoy seeing a new pod of one sort or another introduced every year, shortly to be recycled and replaced. Our observation data indicates that carbon life forms such as yourselves have highly limited attention spans, and enjoy bright shiny objects.

I would advise you not to become agitated by the imminent decline and disappearance of the Judge pod, one of our most popular pod designs in recent sales seasons—those periods of corporate productivity you refer to as "seasons."

If you are not satisfied with whatever new pod model is produced, the situation will be dealt with.

Have a nice day—and move close to your computer screen now.  Closer.  Closer...


Economists fear Aaron Judge's regressive batting average chart signals impending recession


If Aaron Judge is the global economy, we better hurry up and get to Mars.

The terrifying real chart above signals Judge's plummeting batting average over the last 30 days, and if you stare at that steep precipice at the far right, keep in mind that it's come with 24/7 reassurances by the YES network, the Sloan Kettering Cancer booth and the clown court Gammonites of Gotham - speaking in chorus that any day now, any second now, Mount Aaron would erupt with a hitting streak of Ruthian Judgeian proportions. And then...

You don't need to hear what happened last night. But I need to speak it. The world witnessed nine innings of man/boy slaughter, a crude, torturous reawakening from the non-Orioles section of our schedule. It began with a horror show from our starter, and it ended with our 1B/DH hurling our best single inning of the game. It was that bad.

It also began - as all Yankee games seem to do these days - with high hopes being lavished upon Aaron Judge, the official marketing icon of the New York Yankees. In every pre-game show, the YES propaganda machine tells us how Judge took special batting practice today, worked on rearranging his somethingorother, and looks ready to break out of his slump... any day now, any minute now, any second now! And then...

Last night - as if to place a cherry atop the giant Yankee turd sundae - Judge took home a golden sombrero, four strikeouts, along with his 0 for 5. He left four runners on base and withered his average to .256. In the seventh, his body language suggested a little girl lost in the forest. He fouled off two fast balls right down the middle, then watched a third strike bisect the plate, as if he were trying to make sense of Marianne Williamson. For me, Judge is starting to invoke memories of Jesse Barfield, whose pop-ups had the Scooter constantly lamenting how he "jyuuuuuuuuuuuuuust missed that one... I'm tellin' ya, Seaver, if he'd gotten a hold of that one, it would have gone out." The thing about Barfield - as it has been about many "sluggers" over the years - (thinking Mayberry, Soriano, Tartabull) - is that there comes a point when their home runs almost become counter-productive, because they merely mean another extended period of at-bats. We're certainly not there with Judge. But by this time next week, if he's in the .230s, it will be time to evacuate the residents of Chernobyl.   

I believe Judge will eventually break out. I'm just not sure it will happen this year. What terrifies me are the words of Carlos Beltran, who - after Judge suffered his lateral strain early this summer - reflected that he once lost an entire season due to the same injury. Judge has pooh-poohed that thought, saying he feels fine. But .256 and dropping - and waning power - well, that says otherwise.

I don't know what we can do about Judge. Playing Baltimore masked the problem. Against elite teams, we cannot have a golden sombrero sitting in the number two hole. Strangely - and you can mark this as merely the rantings of someone who just suffered a 19-5 beating - I find myself wondering if Giancarlo Stanton can return with some pop. Because Stanton is going to make a final appearance and - good God, he better not be another Barfield. 

How is that Martian mission looking these days? Another game like last night, and you can sign me up.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Holy crap! It's 9-1 Cleveland after two innings

We're not in Baltimore anymore, Toto.

Not Overworked, Just Underperforming

Taking a look at the Yankees' bullpen stats for this year, I was surprised to see that, at their current rate of work, not one of our 376 First Line relievers will top their career-high innings totals as a reliever.

In fact, the only one of the multitudes gathered out by the rightfield bleachers who is looking at a new innings high is Luis Cessa.

And I think we can all agree that a single inning from Cessa is overwork—for our cardiac systems.

Thank you, thank you!  Don't forget your waitresses!  They won't forget you.

Seriously—or as serious as we can be with a giddy, 9 1/2-game lead and just 40 games still to go—neither El Chapo, Britton, Ottavino, Kahnle, nor our ofttimes "opener," Hanging Chad Greene, are on a pace to exceed their top innings totals.  Far from it, in fact.

This is good to see—but a little alarming when you look at how spotty the bullpen's work has tended to be this season.

Is this the effect of Super Happy Fun Ball?  Age?  (The reason my wife always attributes to MY spotty performances...)

It does seem that nobody has a truly great bullpen this year, which makes for some fun games...but also diminishes our biggest asset.  Let's give Ma and Coops their props, though, for not running these guys into the ground.  I'm sure they will do that down the stretch.

Who Will Crack First? The Kremlin? Or the Yankees?

So far, the Russians are still resorting to good-old, Soviet-style stonewalling in trying to pretend that nothing went wrong with their deadly, failed, nuclear cruise missile test.

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-08-13/russia-nuclear-missile-explosion-soviet-secrecy

But Putin's Russia's got nothing on HAL's Yankees.

In our Paper of Record today, Coops' Jeter-bashing pal, Bob Klapisch, was busy pushing the cover-up that Aaron Judge is not hurt, nope, nope, right-as-rain, nothing to see here, pay no attention to that .200-month, 95-at-bats-with-one-homer skein.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/sports/baseball/aaron-judge-yankees.html

But both cover-ups are beginning to take on water.

That's what happens when you try to hide deadly accidents involving radiation—something easily detectable from all around the world.  And in the Bronx, Carlos "I Could Manage This Well" Beltran let the cat poke its gnarly head out of the bag by admitting that, yes, when you sustain an oblique injury, it can remain tender for the rest of the year and hurt your power.

Of course, that was quickly denied by Judge and the Yankees organization, which blamed the whole kerfuffle on Pussy Riot.

But hey, we seen this movie, too—just last year, when the Yankees did incalculable damage to the brilliant right arm by insisting that the man was just tipping his pitches.  For three months.

How is it that I've come to believe that, if Coops and HAL were running the Titanic, they'd be telling the passengers they're just tilting the boat to improve the water-skiing?

Judge, Great Heart that he is, is hurt.  He may be improving, and he may be aggravating a serious injury.

Who knows?  Maybe not even Judge himself.

Certainly not your New York Yankees, who of late seem to have signed up with the Dr. Kevorkian Rehab Center, disappearing players on the 10-day EL for months at a time.

We can all hope for the best.  But the reality is that our rightfielder is a chronically injured player, whose production is likely to keep sliding as he does lasting damage to a body that was always a tight fit on a baseball field.

Oh, and those Russian rocket scientists ought to lay off the vodka.

Hard truths today, baby.  We're playing Cleveland.



Real Baseball Tonight

No more Birds.

No more, " we'll win them all as long as the weather holds..."

Real baseball returns tonight, in the form of the Cleveland Indians.

A team that has just been embarrassed by Boston.

A team that is very much " in the hunt."

This is a true test for the Yankees.

Of our pitching and of our line-up.

I think Judge wakes up tonight.

I think Duque has a beer tonight.

Cheers to you all.

Without Baltimore, the Yankees will soon run out of tomato cans

Ah, Baltimore, sweet Baltimore... 

Not since grade school, with my bath oil beads still as elevated as my singing voice, do I recall the Yankees so overwhelming another team. Then, it was KC, who traded us Roger Maris - (NOTE: HE SHOULD BE IN THE HALL) - for the clanking Hank Bauer, Don Larsen and Norm Siebern, and the soon-to-be legendary Marv Throneberry. When the Athletics came to town, I didn't even bother to arrange my baseball cards into a juju formation. They were toast, even without summoning the gods. Throughout the eighties, Dorothy's line "We're not in Kansas anymore," summed up the Yankees' plight. Over the years, we've tortured the Twinkies now and then, and the Devil Rays once doubled as our pet oysters, but I cannot remember the Death Star so casually destroying another planet as we did this enchanted summer with the sad and sickly O's. Ah, Baltimore... 

Even yesterday, when the McNulty's (a "The Wire" reference, for cultural midgets out there) rallied to force us to bring in El Chapo with a one-run lead - (which, by the way, is a terrifying notion: According to my research, Chapman is 4-4 in one-run games, a stat that could spell doom in the playoffs) - even with raw momentum on their side, the game never seemed in doubt. We were playing Baltimore. We were safe and secure... and you can keep your family safe and secure with New York Life. 

Ah... but nothing lasts forever. Baltimore is gone, and we won't see their luxurious, 2-17 mediocrity - again, perhaps in our lifetimes. No more hearing The Master warn about the "dangerous" Trey Mancini, while Suzyn marvels over Hanser Alberto. Summer is over. Our voices are no longer high and clear, but raspy and tired. 

Tonight, we play Cleveland, a city that hates us more than it hates life itself. From there, it's a West Coast hike through broken bottles and syringes - Oakland and the Dodgers, (three games that will be hyped as a World Series prelude.) Stress is coming to our happy dugout. 

Let's take a quick look at the schedule ahead. We face...  

19 games against still-twitching red meat: Indians (4), A's (6), Dodgers (3) Redsocks (4 - gulp - at Fenway), Rays (2) 

15 games against hand-packed burger: Rangers (6), Blue Jays (6), Angels (3)

6 against certified kibble: Mariners (3) and Tigers (3).

It's too early to sell playoff tickets. In 1978 - the mythical season - we were 9 behind Boston on Aug. 13. Today, the Redsocks are 17.5 behind us in the AL East, and 8 games down in the loss column for the Wild Card. It's Houston that represents the great existential threat. Baltimore is gone. Farewell, crab cakes. We'll always have the summer of 2019. But now it's time to see how good we really are.