Saturday, April 21, 2018

I Am Worn Out .... Stop the Madness !

Adam Warren has checked into the infirmary.

We can only hope his " soreness" is real.  Otherwise, he sucks.

And who is that Italian guy ?  Gucci?  Lucci?

He wasn't here long enough for us to learn his name.

I am told he was a "Plan B" starter.  No more.

I hear the team is bringing back re-treads.  But not Chance Adams.

I promise you he is hiding an injury.  I can just feel Dr. Andrews lurking.

Sorry situation.

And rumors of Ellsbury having lock-jaw are not true.


Tomorrow Is The Big Day !!



With Severino pitching, we have a shot at a 2 game winning streak !

It may be our last chance.

The Big Dog slowed down again today.

But the little dog might be emerging at third base.

Someone please teach him how to recognize those breaking balls out of the strike zone!

We have a shot.

We once ran the table after going 12-10 in April.

I think.

Teresa Brewer wants to do it with Mickey Mantle in this 1956 duet

Okay, Let's Start A Winning Streak....

Anyone want to take a bet?

Who's pitching today?

Do I care?

Take my money and pass the fucking bottle.

Gentleman Jack all day.

I say we lose.


Weird, weird, weird stats!

As a certain grumpy individual likes to remind us, it's early yet.  But how strange:

Red Sox vs. Yankees: 2-1
Red Sox vs. everyone else: 15-1

Blue Jays vs. Yankees: 3-3
Blue Jays vs. everyone else: 10-3

Orioles vs. Yankees: 3-1
Orioles vs. everyone else: 3-13.


Epic Yankees Flameout Seasons of the Past, Chapter Four!

You didn't ask for it, but you got it!

Season number four: 1959.

Yankees 79-75, 3rd in an 8-team league

After winning 9 of the previous 10 pennants, the defending world champion Yankees were a clear favorite. But nobody told the White Sox. Or they did tell them, but they refused to listen. Or something.

Background:

During their amazing, 1947-1964 run, the greatest in North American sports history,* the Yanks lost out on the last weekend of the year to a terrific, world champion Indians team in 1948, and were outpaced again in 1954—despite winning 103 games—by a Cleveland squad that did some all-time champion bottom-feeding, going 89-21 against the last five teams in the AL to set what was then the American League record with 111 wins.

In other words, they were just beaten out by great teams. But then came 1959...

*No, we don't count the Celtics, who were playing in a primitive, tiny NBA with franchises in places like Rochester and Syracuse, where you didn't even have to finish first to win it all, which was the case with the last 3 of the Celts' 11 championships in 13 years, and when nobody was sure if the league champion was as good as the Harlem Globetrotters. So there!

What happened:

Ennui? A pause to reload?

Hard to say, exactly. This Yankees team really tanked, finishing 15 games behind what was a middling Pale Hose assemblage, and never contending. They had dropped all the way to last by the end of May, and only moved back over .500 in mid-September.

Sure, veterans such as Gil McDougald, Hank Bauer, and even Yogi Berra were finally starting to show their age, while such potential replacements as Norm Siebern, Johnny Blanchard, and Clete Boyer were not quite there yet, and highly touted young players such as Andy Carey and Jerry Lumpe gave indisputable proof that they were never going to be what was hoped for them.

Moose Skowron missed over half of what was shaping up to be a terrific season with injuries. And Mickey Mantle, by nearly all statistical measures, showed that he was once again the best, all-around player in the American League—as he would be for an astounding 10 straight years, 1955-1964. But he had already scaled such amazing heights at age 27 that his 31-homer, .904 OPS, 21-steals-in-24 attempts season was viewed as a huge disappointment, and Yankees fans booed him relentlessly.

The pitching was all right, with crazy, alcoholic Ryne Duren wasting his best season out of the pen, Art Ditmar throwing well, and Whitey Ford still winning 16 games in what was (a little bit) of an off-year for him.

But as was his wont with the Yankees, Bullet Bob Turley suffered through arm miseries after a superb season the year before, going only 8-11. Other young heroes of year just past—Johnny Kucks and Tom Sturdivant—demonstrated that their arms were blown out for good (hmm, could there be something to that pitch limit stuff??).

And once again, Don Larsen—still just 28—failed to emerge despite a good season and excellent World Series in 1958.

"You look at him out there, and he always looks like he's gonna be great," Casey Stengel caustically told the writers, "but he ain't."

Casey's own behavior had become a matter of concern, as he had started to nod off in the dugout late in doubleheaders, and become cranky and impatient with young players. Del Webb and Dan Topping, the Yankees owners, started to plot his demise, desperate not to lose out on that great, up-and-coming talent on the bench beside him...Ralph Houk.

Bright spots:

A number of the young guys—Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Siebern, and Ralph Terry—showed that they were clearly ready to step up and start producing. Elton Howard showed that he was ready to take over Yogi's position as Best Catcher in Baseball.

Beloved vet Bobby Shantz had another good year out of the bullpen and spot starting, as did almost universally hated young guy, Jim Coates.

And a new guy acquired from KC to fill in at third showed that maybe that wasn't his best position, but Hector Lopez, picked up for Lumpe, Sturdivant, and Kucks, hit 22 homers and drove in 93 runs on the year, and showed that he was ready, willing, and able to fill in just about anywhere. He would be the Yanks' consummate utility man for years to come.

Oh, and filling in for the Glass Moose on Opening Day was another player who had lingered in the Yankees' farm system for six years, belting 185 homers there, showing some power but not quite making it in two previous, brief stints with the club.

In the Yanks' opening win in Fenway, though, he was one for three with an RBI single, and fielded 11 balls cleanly at first. Yes, clearly Marv Throneberry looked like the Yankees' first baseman of the future.

What happened next:

The collapse in 1959 convinced many experts that the Yankees were a spent force.

The Go-Go White Sox team lost the Series to a very mediocre Dodgers squad that had somehow beat out more talented Giants and Braves teams, in one of the tawdriest World Series ever played. But Chicago had a host of good-looking players already on the roster: Johnny Callison, Norm Cash, Earl Battey.

All would be traded for various piles of magic beans. While the Yankees used their own kids and their "farm team" in KC to reload.

GM George Weiss brought in a young man named Roger Maris from the Athletics, in exchange for Throneberry, Bauer, Larsen, and Siebern (not as one-sided a trade as it now appears; Siebern was a terrific young outfielder for several years), and bought a nifty little reliever named Luis Arroyo from Cincinnati.

A revived Casey Stengel booted the team home with a great stretch run in 1960—the first of five straight pennants, which would give the Yankees 15 in 18 years. They would average 101 wins during those five years, looking more dominant than ever.

But after a flukey, Game 7 loss to the Pirates, both Casey and Weiss got the boot, one of the most foolish and callous moves the team ever made.

















Are We Asking Too Much?



Yesterday, I posed the question:  "Can we win two games in a row?"

We  know the answer now.

We rolled " snake eyes" ....one win and one loss.....to be followed by one win and one loss.

A .500 team.

A team that has to score 10 runs in a game to win.

That projects as follows:  82 wins.

Likely 4th place.

Bust up the team and begin again.

And play the young guys.

And send someone to break Greg Bird's other foot.

And find a new GM.


Things that shouldn't frighten me, and yet they do...







Ranking the top 10 Yankee 2018 "What Were We Thinking" Spring Fiascoes

It's not the 8-8 record that should worry us. One quick win streak will remedy the standings. What galls me, though, is a mounting realization that we've been played:

We assumed last October's playoff success signified the return of Yankee dominance - the good old days were back. Over the winter, we were blinded by what seemed a low price tag to acquire the biggest salary dump since A-Rod... and we somehow forgot how that turned out. 


No, it's not the 8-8 record that should bother us. It's the team behind it. It's the glaring weaknesses that we somehow blocked from our minds. It peaked through in late spring training, and it has continued, unabated: A wave of Yankee disappointments that - had we looked more closely - should not surprise us now. We're too old to be this gullible, aren't we? 

So, behold... 

The Top 10 Yankee 2018 "What Were We Thinking" Spring Fiasco List.


10. Tanaka. Thus far, OMG. Shoot me. A 6.45 ERA and 2-2 record. Somehow, we managed to forget the entire 2017 regular season (13-12, 4.74) and remember him in the playoffs, when he pitched well. What were we thinking?

9. Bird's injuries. After an injury-plagued minor league career, he'd missed all of 2016 and most of last year (147 at bats)... yet we imagined him batting between the Twin Towers, hitting 30-40 HRs and anchoring the infield defense. Yeah, right. What possessed us? 

8. Gary's defense. Last year, he led the AL in passed balls (with 16). This spring, the YES bullshit machine posed the narrative of his rock-ribbed re-commitment to defense, which would make him an elite catcher. Uh-huh. He has four PBs already. He won't break baseball's all-time single season record, held by the immortal Rudy Kemmler (114 passed balls in 1883.) But he could reach 20-to-30, which would be certifiably, for-the-ages horrible. What were we thinking?

7. Betances. Same guy as last year - that is, we wouldn't want him in a playoff game. Incredible stuff. Still can't hold runners. We thought he could overcome it. Why?

6. The rest of the bullpen. We told ourselves - with help from the courtier media - our relief corps was the best in baseball. After just three weeks, we're on the verge of bringing up pitchers who were afterthoughts in Tampa. How could we be so gullible? 

5. Tyler Wade. He looked good in spring training, so we dismissed his failed audition last summer. Thus far, he has shown us next to nothing, and the shadow of Scranton now looms over every at-bat. Once he goes down - especially if he trades places with Gleyber - will we ever see him again?

4. Brendan Drury and Clint Frazier. We cannot blame players for being hurt, but both are suffering from bizarre head injuries, which mean all bets are off.  I don't remember a Yankee with a personal history of recurring migraines. And Frazier's concussion now has wiped away six weeks - no end in sight. We cannot expect either soon, and way down deep, we must wonder if either can make an impact on 2018. Head injuries are weird: Did you know that yesterday, Chuck Schumer actually signed a bong?

3. Giancarlo. When a guy wins the MVP on a team that finishes 20 games behind, what does it mean? It means he hit meaningless home runs in meaningless games. So he comes to NYC, and we somehow think he'll thrive on all the polarizing attention? What were we thinking?

2. Sonny Gray. There's no other way to put this: He's on the verge of joining an elite cadre of Yankee pitching monstrosities - from Jeff Weaver to Carl Pavano, from Javier Vazquez to Kei Igawa - "power arms" who arrived with too many miles on their shoulders. He was good three years ago. Isn't that the essence of every Cashman trade? Should we call him "Sonny Kei?" 

1. Cooperstown Cashman. All winter, he was lauded as a crypto-genius, the chess master moving pieces into place, while saving money and building a top farm system. Well, have you looked at the 7-7 Trenton Thunder lately? Last night, they fielded a lineup with maybe one legitimate prospect - Dillon Tate, who comes with a lot of caveats. Thus far, our vaunted farm system looks as mediocre as the MLB team. And already, we're bracing for a mid-season wave of acquiring salary dumps - more players who were good three years ago. What were we thinking. WHAT THE FUCK WERE WE THINKING? 

Sonny Gray is in my ears and in my eyes

With apologies to the Fab Four...

Sonny Gray is a pitcher you would hear about
It was said that he was very good indeed
But when you see him come and throw this muck
You say WTF?

Sonny Gray is in my ears and my eyes
Dear God, please  make it stop!
Sonny Gray is a useless piece of junk
And once again he stunk.

Sonny Gray was quite the pitcher back in Oakland
But he hasn't got a bit of guts or sand
He's a useless gland
Ain't it grand?

Sonny Gray is in my ears and in my eyes
Just like tse-tse flies
Sonny Gay deserves those blue suburban skies
After all our piteous cries
And not more rotten lies...



I. Don't. Care. About. The. Passed. Balls.

Look. You put a six-two guy behind home plate, and have him catch pitchers who specialize in bouncing balls in the dirt?

There are going to be passed balls. That's just the way it is.

What I want out of Gary Sanchez?

I want him to go all Tommy Lee Jones on their ass.

I watched that fifth inning. As remarked, it seemed to take about three days, as Domingo looked scared to death against a bunch of truly mediocre Blue Jays hitters.

I didn't care so much about the couple of Sanchez passed balls.

What I needed was for Gary to run out to German, who frankly looked scared to death, and get in his face and tell him:

"Son? Did you like the way the clubhouse boy carried your gear to your locker when you arrive? Did you like the free massage, and the after-game meal, and all that crap? You did? And you didn't miss the 32-hour Triple-A bus ride?

"Good. So why don't you get out there and pitch like you mean it? Why don't you try throwing like you're not scared to death? Here, I have the actors from the start of that Johnny Cash movie. They're here to say, hey, if you have one inning to pitch before you die, let's see it.

"Let's not see some wimpy-ass pitch on 0-2 that a hitter nobody's ever hear of can hit into right for a run. Let's not see you walk in a run because you're scared to death.

"Let's see you pitch like a gawd-damned MAN, son!  Just for once. Just this time."

In my opinion, when Gary Sanchez is capable of this, then he will be a great catcher.

In the meantime...this is what it's all about. It accounts for a bunch of the errors, I'm sure—all these scared little boys, slowing the game down until the fielders lose their concentration. It's why we can't win a damned thing.

Get out there and act like a man. Very simple, really.





Friday, April 20, 2018

I was really starting to enjoy watching the Tide Pod Challenge. What happened? I thought it was ready to take off!

The calls goes out, from all the Clans an' the Wee Woolly Beasties...

...where'n is Mike Ford???

Y'kin hear the name, whisperin' in the wind, up the hills an' down the dales, from Balmoral to Brigadoon, where our gallant Robbie still sits in limbo: where is the one mun who kin hold first base for us?

He's Mike Ford, as well they know from Dumfries to John O'Groats, and his time is now.

Tyler One is suspended for looking cross-eyed at various Fenwankies. Walker obviously can't play this (or any) position.

And what do we have at Triple-A?

A fine, mature laddie who is hitting .280, has been an on-base machine everywhere he's gone, and has worked hard to increase his power and to learn to pay the position.

The knock on him, through all of baseball, seems to be that he took time out to go to Princeton, and we all know how having some Ivy League guy at first worked out for the Yanks in the past. But still!

Get the man up here. I know it may be difficult, because MLB has adapted the old "Punish-the Knicks" rules, wherein we officially have to go with a 24-man roster while Austin is suspended. But still!

Time to send down Tyler Too—he's going anyway, folks, as soon as they assure themselves that the Gleyber's back is all right—and move Walker back to the other position he can't play. Time to give this Ford a test drive!!

Here Is The Question Of The Day.....

Can we win two in a row?

Teams that are playing .500 ball always have that dilemma.

We are on a hot streak, right now, close to being Booney's best run of the season.  I think we once won two in a row ( early ), but haven't repeated that in a while.

I hoped that we might sweep two games against the Marlins, but they proved far too tough.

So where are we, exactly?

1.  As Duque aptly pointed out, we got 4 innings out of our starter ( just off the DL.... he is on a pitch count).

2.  We used the best of our bullpen, and they did hang on.  Chad Green dominated, as did the guys at the end.  Only Robertson gave us his famous, "bases loaded with no outs" trick.  But those guys are not primed for any work today.  If they have to pitch, we need another rain day tomorrow.

3.  We climbed to the top of the league in errors committed.  A new low for Yankee teams.  As I always say, this malaise begins with the annual Greg Bird injury.  He can actually play first base.  On defense as well as offense.  The Neal Walkers of the world are only " good over there" in the eyes of manager Aaron Boone.  Austin is better, but he is sitting out a league-imposed penalty.  Bird makes Torreye's poor throw an out.

4.  Sonny Grey is reminding me more and more of Dorian Grey.  He looks in the mirror and sees panic, terror, incompetence.  He sees a small man in a huge world.  And he can't throw strikes.

5.  Romine better catch today because, when Sonny is good , most of his pitches bounce.  Some of those passed balls yesterday reminded me of the new kid from down the street who showed up with a glove, ready to play, and when I soft-tossed him the hardball, he put his hands together like Brer Rabbit, ducked, and the ball hit him in the face.  I was grounded for a week.

6.  And let me just offer an old bromide:  "good defense makes good offense."  And the opposite is true, also.  Which makes me worry about whether Gary is going to be MVP.

7.  Back to the infield for a moment:  it is terrible.  Didi is a genius, so we can put his work off to the side.  But Walker is awful at first.  Everyone can catch the easy throws, and field the charity hops.  Good gloves do a lot more.  Tyler is our best fielding second baseman, but cannot hit a lick.  He grounds out to first or second, 35 times out of 37.  Andjuhar needs work, as has been stated. But he also shows signs.   It was Girard-like  of Boone to sit him down right after he doubled and homered.    Torreyes is a really tough out and a good player.  But that flat footed throw was revealing.

8.  Our outfield is good, when Stanton is not part of it.

So where does that leave us?  I believe we need to score prolifically in order to win.  Ten runs should be our game target.  With that, even Adam Warren can pitch an inning, and give up three runs, without killing us.

Following that;  Bird must return ; Drury must return and Torres must arrive.  Until then, we are defending the Alamo and running short of ammunition.




The porous Yankee defense is killing us

Damn. We almost did it again. What Good Samaritans are these 2018 Yankees! Last night, they nearly gave away another game to the poor. They lead the AL in errors (18), are dead last in the MLB fielding percentage (.971), and our catcher has contributed three passed balls in the last two games. That's not counting the botched plays that are charitably ruled as hits, several of which have triggered opposing rallies. Nor does it take into account that Yankee pitchers have the third most strikeouts in baseball (190). Imagine how many errors we can stack up if opposing batters start putting more balls into play.

Boston has the fewest errors in the AL (5), and if you seek the Essential Knowledge as to why they lead the division by 4 games, you needn't butt dial the Oracle at Delphi. The box scores paint it quite well.

Last night, we watched Scary Gary Sanchez wave his concrete glove at a pitch barely grazing the outside corner, the ball soaring to the backstop, allowing a two-out run to score from third. An inning later, Ronald "Big Toe" Torreyes - moments after conjuring a YES booth debate on why he doesn't play more -  flat-footed a throw to first, which Neil Walker - the veteran 2B-1B who cannot play either position well - failed to snag. It led to another gift-wrapped run.

Around here, outcomes generally dictate our drunken, post-game, prison-riot mood. Last night, we won. So who cares about the diddly shit, right? But to beat the looming powerhouse Blue Jay .500 dynasty, we had to burn our entire big four bullpen lug nuts - wringing nearly 2 innings from Chad Green, the surest thing we have to a lights-out power arm. Tonight, unless Sonny Gray takes us into the seventh - (what are the odds?) - we'll be dealing with Adam "Elizabeth" Warren and the Lost Chasen of Shreveport. Last night, had we simply played solid defense, we might not have wasted so many silver bullets.

You know what the poets say about happenstance: The butterfly flapping its wings in China eventually causes a tornado in the Midwest. That, my friends, is why baseball is a metaphor for life. A botched grounder in April can eventually cause a Tommy John surgery in September. We cannot win the AL East, or even a wild card appearance, with five-inning starters and a Swiss chess defense.

Apparently, this spring, Alex Cora made defense the No. 1 priority for his Redsocks. I'm still trying to discern what Aaron Boone prioritized, beyond his dimples. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I Think We Can Finally Take A Deep Breath....



The man went 1-3 with a walk.

Disregard the infield single.

He didn't strike out once !

He is feeling it.

And soon, so shall we.

That was a big Yankee win.

Why it will get worse

As many have pointed out here, it would be difficult for the Yankees to hit or field worse than they have so far, and the team has already taken an inordinate number of serious injuries to day-to-day players, including young and usually healthy ones.

This should all point toward a general improvement in the season as it goes forward, right?

Wrong.

I, too, expect the Yanks to hit and field better, and if they get at least some of their fabulous invalids back, they should look better.

But if anything, the first tenth of the season shows them headed toward a total breakdown of the most vital element of the game, which is pitching.

This team cannot win if it's starters to continue to pitch so little, so badly. It's that simple. Yes, the bullpen has been bad so far, too—but it will only get worse if the starting staff does not pick it up.

Let's take a look at a little history, namely the best years of the last Yankees dynasty. The 1998 team's top five starters—Pettitte, Cone, Wells, Irabu, and El Duque/Mendoza—threw a total of 1,036 innings.

This really empowered the team's Big Five bullpen—The Great One, The Other Mike Stanton, Nelson, Moonlighting Mendoza, and Graeme "The Fighting Kangaroo" Lloyd—which needed to throw only 260.1 innings. Throw in the sixth reliever, the little-used Darren Holmes, and you were still up to only 311.2 innings.

No surprise, the team led the AL in complete games with 22, and was second in saves, with 48. The two stats ARE related.

All right, I know, I know:  the fabled 1998 team was pretty special in all ways. But even in 1999 and 2000, after Lloyd and Wells left for Clemens, the top five starters stayed pretty strong:

1999: 984.2 top five slot starter innings, 316.2 top five reliever innings (366 top six), 50 saves (1st in AL), 6 CG (6th in AL)

2000: 946.2 top five slot starter innings, 329.2 top five reliever innings (354.2 top six), 40 saves (7th in AL), 9 CG (5th in AL).

So based on the first tenth of this season, how are we looking? Well, it projects to:

2018: 833 top five slot starter innings, 383 top five reliever innings (456 top six), 20 saves, 0 CG.

Scary, no? Especially those 456 innings for the top six relievers. Obviously, the team will run up more than 20 saves in the end (right?)—but as is, those 20 would make the lowest total for the Yankees, a team that has traditionally thrived on good relief pitching, since 1946.

But of course, I hear you say, the game has changed a great deal, even since 2000.

Well, let's take a look at the Yanks' last championship team, then, in 2009. Even with a makeshift starting staff of CC, Pettitte, Burnett, Joba, and a No. 5 made up of Gaudin/Hughes/Wang/Sergio Mitre, it looked like this:

2009: 937 top five slot starter innings, 301.2 top five reliever innings (340.2 top six), 51 saves (1st in AL), 3 CG (11th in AL).

That's right: even a team that didn't really have a fifth starter managed to get over 100 more innings out of its top five than this team is projected to get now.

My friends, at its current rate, this Yankees' squad is headed for a complete pitching breakdown—and thus far, we have only had CC on the DL, in which time he did not even miss a start. Undoubtedly, he and Tanaka will miss more time—maybe go down altogether.

Who will pick up the slack?







The AL MVP Run Could Start Today !

The man of men, slugger of sluggers, could show himself today:



Look at those " guns " ( gun ) !

He can easily hit 50 dingers and drive in 100 +.

Right?

This baseball card says he is an OF.  Of what , you ask?  Of greatness.

He has all the tools.

Right?

So let's be our usual upbeat selves and give him a big hand, when he comes up with runners in scoring position (RISP) !

He is going to come through.

The season is based upon that.  Brian Cashman has delivered.

We are ready.  We are hungry.  We are optimistic.

Let's begin the run.

Mark today on your calendars.

Giancarlo Stanton OF

À la récherche d'Ellsbury perdu

From the diary of M. Jacoby E______.

For a long time, I went to bed early. But it didn't help. This morning I awoke with a new pain in my heel, along with the continuing agony of my side, et mon hanche. Worst of all, though, is the pain in my soul.

Today the trainers from the team came by, to insist that I visit their absurd whirlpool bath. They wish to train me, all right, as a man trains a seal.

I turned them away, and closed the shutters of my hotel room. I was afraid that the sunbeams would dry up my essence. Also, I have had the entire room lined with cork, lest I bump up against the hard floor and walls.

But there is nothing to relieve this malaise.

Today, again, I smelled them cooking up the lobster bisque. I could not help but think of chunks of the delicious crustacean, dipped in small bowls of butter.

What memories that smell brings back! Of my days in Boston, when I could still run like the wind, and had the power and endurance of many men!

How fondly I remember my walks around the Fenway! Sometimes I would take the Van Ness way, and sometimes the Landsdowne way, under le monster vert.

Best of all was how, sometimes, when the season was over, a few of us—moi, M. le Pedroia, M. le Manny, M. le Poppy Grand—would rent a house together, up in the little fishing village of Pigeon Cove, on the North Shore. There we would paint outside in the good weather, and spend hours writing odes to our favorite baseball annies, les jeune filles en fleurs.

I shall never forget the delicate way le Poppy Grand would hold his pen, the beautiful tributes to feminine beauty that would pour out of it!

Today, while reading about the Premier League championships in les Temps du New-York, I noticed a small item about the Yankees. The team has not started well.

Le Swann Noir is striking down one player after another. M. R___ T____ et M. Mc_____ have already been injured, throwing themselves against outfield walls like men hurling themselves against Fate. Poor fools! They can no more escape their destiny than any other men.

Is it time for me to return? The pain in my heel feels slightly better. Perhaps I could tolerate a week or two in the city.

Zut alors! Now my hand cramps up like Giancarlo at the plate! Best not to return north until the warm weather has returned, je pense.  For now, I return to bed, to dream of those chunks of lobster, and happier days en Boston.






Were the 2018 Yankees vastly overestimated?

Let's start with the obvious: At 15-2, the Redsocks look every bit like a reigning division champ, which then added the best free agent slugger on the market. In our drunken winter euphoria - tripping on Cashman's Kool-Aid - we wildly underestimated the Boston threat, recalling their quick playoff exit and forgetting their regular season dominance. That's on us.

But in assessing the 2018 Yankees, did we ignore obvious cracks in the engine casing, which threatened to bring this plane down? Just look... 

The Rotation: Already, our big five has frayed to the point of concern. We chose to remember Masahiro Tanaka's October, ignoring his season of sharp decline. We bought into the Sonny Gray hype, forgetting his inconsistency last summer. Somehow, we pictured CC as the next Bartolo Colon. We still hope for the late summer arrivals of Sheffield, Tate, German and others - (Chance Adams looks like bust) - but who sees us making it to July with this flimsy rotation? In the next few weeks, we're likely to see David Hale, Brady Lail and Cale Coshow throwing one-and-off games. Who saw that

The Bullpen: Betances didn't solve his issues; he remains a headcase. El Chapo's heat isn't dominating hitters like it did; every team has someone who throws 100 mph. And as Dr. Seuss might say: Mean Chad Green/ could run out of steam/ by June fifteen! What some fools ridiculously touted as baseball's best bullpen now looks frail and compromised, and no lead is safe. Kahnle is gone for now, Ben Heller done for the year, Cessa likely out for a month - dear God - it's amazing to think how distressed our bullpen is, and it's only April 19, following several rain outs. What's going to happen in the meat grinder of July?

Positional depth: Wow. This was our secret weapon. We had young, ascending players in every slot, waiting to take over. But a wave of career-threatening injuries has changed everything. Brendan Drury has migraines; something is terribly wrong. Greg Bird's foot is barking - again; can we ever count on him? Same with Aaron Hicks' obliques; he is No Hope Hicks. Clint Frazier's concussion puts his future in limbo. And Jacoby Ellsbury is now stacking injuries like Legos; his career has moved from farce to tragedy. Is he the worst free agent fiasco in Yankee history? This freezing spring isn't leaving. More injuries are likely to come.

Finally, there is the mystery of Giancarlo, for which no answer yet exists. How could this guy go seven years in the National League without learning to play entry-level outfield? The fly balls he has botched are the stuff of Little League. At the plate, he looks lost, an albatross around the neck of this team. How did this guy win the MVP? And how much of his success stems from playing for last-place teams? 

He was the bright, shiny object from which we could not remove our eyes. We hypnotized ourselves into ignoring our problems. In February, we looked at the Yankee lineup and saw a modern day Murderers Row. Now, are we looking at the Titanic?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Appraisals for the yard sale.

Please note right away: I am not necessarily for trading any of the following players.

I still think we have a solid core of a team for the years ahead in Judge, Sanchez, and Gregorius, and that the future is, if not really bright, at least no worse than partly cloudy. And who knows? Even Giancarlo may start to hit one day. The stupidest thing would be to make panicky, silly moves.

BUT—what one-tenth of the season has told us, irrevocably, is that we have no pitching.

These, not Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, are the saddest of possible words.

Not only do we not have any pitching, we have even less pitching than we did in those disappointing-but-transitional seasons of 1975 and 1995.

There's no veteran ace still strong and ready to lead the staff, as Catfish did in 1976, or Cone in 1996. No phenom waiting in the wings, as there was with Ron Guidry in 1977, or The Great One.

We not only don't have pitching, we don't even have pitching on the broad horizon. Which means that acquiring enough to be a bona fide contender is going to be hard. As a great man once sang, it will be like trying to get gold from a silver mine, like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine (which, believe me, I have attempted on certain late nights during losing streaks).

Building a staff from this tower of rot is going to take some major-league finagling. So we might as well start by looking at the value of what we have. And with the notable exception of Sir Didi, I don't think anyone should be off the table.

Again, I have no possible idea of what combinations these guys can or should go in—if they should go at all. You might have to trade some pitchers to get better pitchers. You might have to trade stars.

That's all for a general manager—I mean a real general manager—to figure out. But here is what he will be dealing with:

Thank you for your service...
...and please pick up your ginormous parting checks at the door.

CC
Gardy

Sellable scrap

Tyler
Tyler Too
Walker
Romine
Montgomery
Rommel
The Toe
Hicks
Houdini
Chance Adams
Higashioka
Warren
Shreve
Heller/Holder (really the same person)

Broken stuff we are probably stuck with

Tanaka
Bird
Drury
Red Thunder
McKinney
Ellsbury
Cessa
Kahnle
Toonces
El Chapo

Deal 'em while they're still hot (IF you deal 'em at all)

Judge
Sanchez
Andujar (all right, tepid)
The Gleyber
Mean Chad Green
Severino
Sonny Gray (cooling rapidly every second)

The great stone head that will sit in the basement forever

Scranton










 

He'll Adjust...It is only April



I am adding to my collection of Giancarlo cards because, one day, it will be like having all Ty Cobb's cards.  And I can cash them out for bitcoins.

As you know, this man is my favorite Yankee.   I recently started a fan club for him on one of
 the ( unnamed ) social media sites and, so far, there are three "followers."  One seems to be a White House spokesperson ( you see her on tv a lot ) whose political views, and personal appearance, are not to my liking. But I digress.

And this is baseball.  So politics doesn't enter the dialogue.  But she lies a lot.  So how can I believe her interest in " Mike " is sincere?  Moving right along....

In any  case, I did a survey and 50% of the " followers " ( one abstention ) believe Giovanni is terrific, and simply going through an adjustment period.  The fact that he has been in the major leagues 8 years, and was MVP last year notwithstanding.  And being MVP in that other league...where pitchers hit for God's sake....doesn't mean much.

Think how you would perform if you were paid a guaranteed $265 million, and presented as
the cog that would bring us the championship?    That is a lot of pressure.  Add to that the dreary weather, and Mike's personal concerns for the welfare of those Yankees already on the DL.

And no one ever mentions that his strikeouts are already on the decline...only TWO in each of the last two games.  True, they tend to demoralize everyone east of the Mississippi River, and kill rallies.  But, as some intelligent blogger opined the other day, " it isn't Stanton that is killing the Yankees, it is our pitching."  If Stanton had homered four times yesterday, we still lose by a run!

It is also the fact that only one team in the world has more errors to date than we do.  When was the last time the Yankees all wore concrete gloves?  And the fact that Stanton has made a few of those errors, is not reason to give up on the man.  He is playing anew position.  The balls all look different, coming at him.   Same as in the locker room.

We all know he is going to " do his thing."  I heard Al Leiter say so.  I heard Aaron say so.  And O'neil and Coney. And that former catcher and his partner on the post game show.   Everyone with a head and a suit, knows that Giovanni ( Mike ) Stanton is going to deliver, and make his critics eat crow.

That's why he is my favorite.  Thank you Brian Cashman!

P.S.  If any of you have rookie cards of this future hero, I will buy them from you.  But you must take cryptocurrency.  You can sign up at " FillMyWallet.com" or some such.

Six games out with only 146 to go... and other terrifying reasons to panic

We live in harrowing times. America has not yet come to grips with the changes in Carrie Underwood's face, or Gwyneth Paltrow's secret wedding, or the historical significance of Beyonce's performance at Coachilla... each a matter of our cultural jury duty. As a nation, we are playing .500 ball, while China and Russia are dominating their divisions (Asia West and Asia Central). One night, we look invincible. The next night, we lose 9-1 to baseball's worst team, at home, with our "ace," being no-hit through five, while Boston beats up on the Japanese Babe. We couldn't have had a shittier night if Sean Hannity took us up to his hotel room to see his etchings.

Mission... not... accomplished.

Listen: We keep chanting that it's only April, it's only April, it's only April... and let's be real, everybody: It is only fucking April. Eight and eight truly sucks, but it's not as if we staggered out at, say, 3-13... in which case we'd already be 10 behind streaking Boston. While we must legitimately fear the Redsocks, the history of the rivalry has been that we lose April and win September. It's a long season. And it's only April. That said... a .500 team deserves equal dollops of hope and despair:

Hope. Miguel Andujar has started to hit. If Joe Girardi were still managing, the Migster would now disappear. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed as though whenever a young player got a few hits under Joe, it was his ticket to oblivion. Joe didn't believe in the hot hand. He used binders, and because rookies have no track record... they weren't in the printouts, and they went poof. Hopefully, Andujar gets April to show what he can do. (Last night, it must be noted that he butchered a slow roller, which led to a three run homer. So the jury - like the Drury - remains out.)

Despair. Luis Cessa strikes out the side - leaving us to hope he's finally arrived - than leaves with a strained oblique, which is death to a pitcher. Out a month? Two? Let's figure July. I'm starting to wonder if this cold, miserable spring in the Northeast is behind the wave of tweaks to our frosted gonads. If so, be very afraid. Because there's a lot of crapola weather still to come. As someone once said... it's only April.

Hope. Manager Boonie hinted last night that Giancarlo Tartabull will move down in the lineup. That would put Sir Didi in the third hole, where he belongs. Thus far, Didi has been drawing walks, his only weakness last year. Batting third establishes him as the Yankees' premier player, maybe the de facto captain. It creates a nice lefty-righty batting order, and Scranton - I mean Stanton - still has Gary Sanchez to protect him. Also, he simply cannot be this bad. It's almost statistically impossible. At his current rate, Giancarlo will fan 348 times this season, making Chris Carter look like Albie Pearson. He simply cannot be this bad. The laws of physics will intervene.

Despair. Down in Stanton - I MEAN SCRANTON - Gleyber Torres sat out last night due to a bad back. WTF? A bad back? On a 21-year-old? The Yanks say not to worry. Oh, sure! Why would we ever worry? La-de-dah. The team always keeps us up to date on injuries. A bad back... on a 21 year old? La-de-dah.

Okay... I'm gonna say it one more time, just so it's out there: The notion that teams can protect only a few top super-prospects and trade all the others betrays one fundamental rule: The only true way to build a franchise is with a wave of prospects, not one or two. The keys are the Tyler Austins and the Jordan Montgomerys - not Estevan Florial. We can already see that Uber en route to whisk Tyler Wade to Triple A - he's been certifiably horrible - but if it means a month of equally horrible bad Neil Walker at bats - well - that's what I call mediocrity - another name for .500. So what about Gwyneth's mystery wedding? Think guests got a jar of her cootchie goop? You think it would work on Scranton? I MEAN STANTON!

"Always look on the bright side of death."

With apologies to the Pythons...

"Some guys on our team are bad
They can really make you mad
Whereas Giancarlo makes you scream and curse.
When you're reaming out some Tyl-er
Don't choke on all your bile or
You'll never get through
All hundred-sixty-two.

And...always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life.

If Tanaka's jolly rotten
There's one thing you've forgotten
Which is that we can't field a ball to save our lives.
If we can't pitch at all
We still can't hit the ball
And we're playing like our hands are taped to knives.

So always look on the bright side of death
As these Yanks draws their terminal breath

Our team's a piece of shit
When you think of it.
It's best they suck in all ways the same year.
We'll sort out these feeble lads
And get past these hitting fads
And put out all these sad-sacks on their ear!

And always look on the bright side of life—

Worse things happen at sea, you know!

Always look on the bright side of life—

I mean, what did we have to lose?
We lost to the Sox by two games last year, we're going to lose to them by twenty this year.
It's still losing!

Always look on the bright side of life—

Cheer up, you old bugger!
It could be worse—Jacoby could be playing!

Always look on the bright side of death...

(Much whistling)








Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Aaron Boone's squeaky voice is killing us


He's a good looking guy with a smokin'-hot wife. He had a historic walk-off home run against the hated redsocks. But how can anyone listen to that squeaky, nasally, annoying voice of his and take him seriously? (Spoiler: they can't. They don't.)

It's time to rethink this new age experiment and get back to basics. 

He's probably spending time with his kids Guido, Fabian, Amarosa, Vinny and Santaluces but give the guy a call. Tell him it was a mistake, a joke, a stunt, whatever. We need Joe Girardi back in the Bronx. Enough of the sucking! Enough of the errors! 

We need the one man who can whip these guys into shape. Send the adenoidal pretty boy back to the booth! 

Joey G, call your office and please forgive C-Money and the S-Boys for their horrendous error.



Just To Keep You Up-dated.....



So that relief pitcher you were counting on....KANHLE.....unpronounceable as it is, went on the 10 day DL.

Apparently, when he hit the gas pedal on the open road, the engine wasn't responding 100%.  It was  supposed to take 5.2 seconds to get from 0-60, and it was taking 6.7 seconds.  The " burst" from the superchargers just weren't getting it done.

So, they have done a full review of the car, and have found no major flaws.  Sometimes, these ultra high performance engines just need a breather.  Clean out the lines, put in fresh lubricants, tighten everything up to scale.  Change the tires, for sure.  Should take about 10 days to see if the " rest" theory has any merit.  Personally, I'd be more concerned than that.

Oh, and our candidate for ailments of the year award goes to one of our highest paid, longest
 term ( non participant ) players; Jacoby Ellsbury.

He had originally been out for an ankle, or was it a muscle pull, or was it that hip thing?  Wait, it was the thumb!  Doesn't matter.

He now has " plantar fasciitis," an old, disabling favorite.

There is no prognosis or timetable for full recovery, at the moment , because, for the moment, who cares?

When does Lloyds of London have to pay Hal for this season of non Jacoby?

Red Barber, Mel Allen and David Cone walk into a bar....

By commentator Doug K.

... and they run up a huge tab. Unfortunately none of them brought any money with them. So the owner comes out from the back and he says, “I will let you slide on the bill if you do some announcing for me.”

The three of them look at each other and say, “Sure, why not? What you you like us to call?” and the owner says, “You see that guy over there? Every night he comes in here and he picks a fight. It’s getting tiresome. But if you guys call the fight it might make it more enjoyable for the rest of the patrons.

Sure enough ten minutes later the guy is in someone’s face. Red Barber goes, “This is Red Barber speaking. Let me say hello to you all. Looks like we’ve got a rubarb! Oh doctor!” and the owner says, “That’s good. OK you can go.”

As Red is leaving the bar the guy starts to shove one of the patrons and the owner points to Mel Allen. And Mel says, “ Hello everybody this is Mel Allen. It’s a beautiful day for a bar fight. The little guy swings.. oh he took a good cut but hit the waitress. How about that!” And the owner says, “Thanks. You can go” and as Mel walks out the door he says, “I am going..going.. gone”

So now the fight is getting out of control and he turns to David Cone and Coney says, “ I think I know that guy. He and I used to cruise the bars together when I was with the Royals. It was different time back then.” And the owner says, “Are you going to call the fight or what?” and Coney says, “Nah fuck that. I’m out of here” and he starts to leave.

Just then the owner and the bartender leap across the bar grab him and as Coney goes flying through the window he says, “ I have a launch angle of 38 degrees and an exit velocity of 10 MPH.“



This Is My Guy Now !

















Why are they calling him Mike?  I though Mike was a former Yankee reliever.

Have we got this entire thing confused?

Is Giancarlo supposed to be pitching rather than hitting?

Did Cashman screw up?

In any case, as I announced yesterday, I am now a Giovanni, Giancarlo ( Mike ) ...you know, old #27....I'm his biggest booster.  This trade will make the Jesus Montero deal languish in the detritus of unfinished ice cream sandwiches.

Yesterday, he started to show flashes of the greatness which lies within:

     -  he blasted a tape measure foul ball down the left field line
     -  he defied the Vegas odds makers by striking out but twice ( I had the tri-fecta).
     -  he walked and scored a run.  SCORED A RUN.

Sure, he fouled out with the bases loaded, but we were getting the bases loaded all night, and we have others who can drive in runs.

Some of you are complaining that he is hitting third in the line-up, while sporting a batting average of .210.  Come on, folks.  A 10-10 run this early in the season, and he is right back with the league leaders.

Others have said that the Marlins pitching is worse than minor league staffs, and Stanton was the only Yankee not to register a base hit.  Big deal.  He came very close to a huge home run, and he made contact at least one other time ( the foul out with the bases loaded).

And for this, they boo?

He had to adjust to the nasty weather up north, new team rituals and pranks, and then his old team comes to visit, and Jeter refuses to show up.  That is a lot of pressure.

Watch him unload today.  We might mark this day on the calendar as the day he claimed his rightful place in New York Yankee glory.

Mike is now my favorite player.




Just two weeks in, Aaron Boone seems to have aged 10 years

Last night, after a 12-1 victory.
When the Yanks in December made Aaron Boone the 33rd manager in their history, nobody knew if he had the chops to run a ball club, but one point remained above dispute: The guy would certainly look good stepping off the bus. 

At 45, Boonie showed the cheekbones of a Prada model and the pillowed lips of a game show host, if not a network anchorman. He looked much like Joe Girardi did 10 years ago, before he turned into a Dorian Grey painting of pineapple shivs. He might not be a manager, but he sure could play one on TV.

"My captors want $1 million to secure my release..."
Well, take a good look at the poor, bedraggled, homeless man on the right... clicks from last night's celebratory post-game show on YES. Note the mailbags under the eyes, which seem focused down the barrel of an imaginary Glock. The arms are crossed, shoulders slumped, soul locked into a perpetual sigh. Clearly, this hostage has been abused, physically and mentally. Throughout  most of this ransom video, Boone slumps forward, so the brim of his cap - (God forbid he take it off) - obscures half his weary face. He looks like a war prisoner. 

This... after a 12-1 victory.

I've often wondered what it would be like to manage the Yankees. (Not a month goes by without a call from Randy Levine, offering me the job.)  You'd face constant second-guessing, even when your team wins. On a daily basis for nine months, you'd massage 25 egos - figuring out which players need to be coddled and which need the whip. And one day, no matter how successful, they would come with a cardboard box for your personal items.

Surely, Boone is a bright man, a fast-learner. And the Yankees saw something in him. It's too early to judge his decisions. One could argue that - considering the deluge of injuries - the team has done fine, just above .500. But take a good look at the man pictured above. It's been two weeks.

Monday, April 16, 2018

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

That was a big Yankee win.

Back To Baseball .....



I just want everyone to know that I am back in full support of the big daddy Stanton.

He is going to rip for the Yankees from now on.

You will soon see our foundering team soar, as we run off 7 or 8 straight W's, largely on the back of Giancarlo or Giovanni...the Stanton guy.  Number 27.  You know, the guy whose trade I did not favor.

I have done a total turnaround, after a lot of R&R due to the rainouts.  I feel that the season begins today.

But there is this little matter of Los Vegas;

The odds are currently 8-5 that Stanton will K three times today.

It is 22-3 that Stanton will win another " golden " for today's work.

Considering the opponent, I am taking the three K option.

Who's in?



Rain out theater: Channeling Buzzfeed, if the Yankees were a Simpsons episode, who would be what character?





Aaron Boone - Troy McClure

Michael Kay - Kent Brockman

Giancarlo Stanton - Millhouse?

"And a very neat line in character assassination."

Thanks to the great Elvis Costello for providing the title of this post.

It fits perfectly with what Billwitz, henceforth to be known as "The Little Assassin," did to Giancarlo Stanton in the Times today.

Picking up the paper, desperate for some baseball news, I found to my surprise a feature on Stanton—under, of course, the thrilling, SportsMonday lead piece on how Man City won the Premier League on its day off—and which was all about how Giancarlo's troubles were due to...his new furniture taking awhile to arrive.

Oh no, I thought, they'll never forgive him this. A big, rich athlete falling down on the job because he's worried about home decorating.

Except he didn't say that. Not once.

Read past the split and into the piece, and the only quotes from Stanton come from when he was asked if he was trying too hard.

"No, I just felt there was a lot going on. Focusing on maybe too many things. But not trying too hard, I don't think."

Asked to elaborate—presumably by The Little Assassin—all Stanton would do was smile and say, "Not to worry about."

Asked to elaborate again, all he would say was, "I'm not going to make excuses."

So, how did a polite, smiling effort by an athlete NOT to make ANY excuses, become a big feature on how he's more worried about home decor than baseball?

Well, because The Little Assassin then went and asked everybody he could about it, including Ma Boone, Mets pitcher A.J. Ramos, whom Stanton is subletting from, and even Stanton's father.

Not knowing the context, of course, and trying to say something nice about Stanton, they all said something to the effect of, Yeah, it must be hard to concentrate when you're not settled in yet.

And voila! A new "truth" is invented.

It really is a beautiful piece of work. A perfect gutting that poses as a sympathy piece. The Little Assassin missed his calling by not going into politics.

Meanwhile, Soccer and the Yankees have been making as much ground on each other as the two sides did on the Western Front in WW I.  Each has rung up five pieces, making our total for the year, Soccer 61, Yankees 57.

Gonna be a long season.




It's barely mid-April, and at least three teams look done for the year

With yet another rain-out looming tonight - and Mr. Ellsbury's barking hip still weeks away from doing the funky boogaloo - let us take time out to ponder the unponderable... 

It's now been two winters (November 2016) since MLB and the players union signed the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which imposed a de facto payroll cap and a shit ton of convenient reasons why owners should not rain money upon players. Free agency has been virtually toppled, with unsigned veterans sitting at home, contemplating forced retirements and clipping coupons. The goal was to even the playing field between big and small market franchises, to kneecap big spenders like the Yankees and bring an NFL-style "parity" to the game (which would coincide with huge windfalls for the owners.)

But something has gone wrong. While every season is subject to streaks and slumps, for several weak teams, a dead summer already looms. It's mid-April, far too early to jettison a year, yet for a few struggling franchises, an old John Melencamp song comes to mind: It's aint the end of the world, but you can see it from here.  

The Rays (3-12) are now ten behind Boston in the AL East, with the wild card slot barely jingling like a hypnotist's watch. The Royals (3-10), blessed to be in the AL Central, sit five behind Minny. In the West, Oakland (6-10) and Texas (6-11) are seven behind LA, though nobody expects the Angels to stay hot. In the NL, Miami (4-11) and woeful Cincinnati (2-13 and nine out) are already the Walking Dead. 

Listen: None of these teams is done... yet. Any one could catch fire. But baseball has become a dichotomy of contenders and tear-downs, as owners tank weak teams to reap the vast benefits of finishing last. Unless the Rays, Marlins and/or Reds have an unbelievable change of fortune, they'll be trading their best players by early June, not even waiting for the July deadline.


But they won't get away with it.

Recently, baseball has seen two amazing embarrassments, which should be sending warning flares to the heavens. Last week, the White Sox put on a game in Chicago, and practically nobody came. (The Rays don't draw on the road, either.) When this happened long ago in another era, (Sep. 22, 1966) the Yankee announcer Red Barber lost his job, because he demanded that the cameras show the stands, which he believed was the real story of the game.

Last Wednesday, the Marlins drew 6,150 fans - while their Double A farm club in Jacksonville drew 6,960. (It was their home opener.) 

Listen: baseball fans are not stupid. They know when their front office isn't trying. If the franchise doesn't plan to compete in 2018, they can wait until 2020 before shelling out for games. 

The CBA was supposed to make everything even. Some of its more draconian features are still to come. Big market teams will be forced to hold down spending more than ever, as a class of super free-agents - you know the names, Bryce, Manny, etc. - prepare to explode the system next winter. The final result could be an NBA system of one-star teams, with the shameful need for an NBA-style draft lottery. When teams are eliminated by May 1, what can baseball do? Add another tier of wild cards, of course. Or impose insane rule changes, naturally. 

Something has gone wrong, folks, and the more the gods tinker, the worse it's going to get. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Even truer today

Remember The Old Adage?



As I sit here, finding it difficult to quaff Jack and Coke without a game on, I harken back to my youth:

I still remember a radio guy saying, " ...and it is starting to rain here at Forbes Field....", and:

"  ...so they are bringing out the tarps here at Shibe Park, so be prepared for....."

But the most famous of all ( to me ) was:

" Spahn and Sain and pray for rain..."

In those days, the earliest ones, they used " sound effects " in the radio studios for ;

fan noise ( sheers and groans )
bats making contact
the sound of ball smacking leather
and yes, rain and thunder

The game action in some of the night games came on western union tapes and were a few seconds removed from live action.  Just like in the movie, " The Sting."

My point here is:  nothing.

Maybe these postponements will help Aaron gather himself. Maybe he'll make a few smart decisions.  Get a few of the players who were pressing, " back on track." Settle the bullpen.  Give a few more days of healing to key players, without adding to the loss column.

Maybe something good will come of these washouts.

Not for me.  For them.







Remember this day, and keep it holy

Almost forgot: today is April 15th.  Jackie Day.

On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He did not get a hit, but his speed forced a bad throw from future Yankee Johnny Sain on a bunt in the seventh inning, something that set up the Dodgers' win, with Robinson himself scoring what proved to be the winning run.

The color line was finally broken.

Robinson, the very epitome of class, had gone off that morning to Brooklyn leaving his wife and their sick baby behind in a cheap Manhattan hotel room. Even with all the burdens of the world on his shoulders, he had enough of a sense of humor left to tell Rachel Robinson, who would be leaving for the game with their son a little later:

"I'll be number 42."

So he was. And so we honor it still.

We have reached a sort of weird, perfect balance

The sort of thoughts inspired by a second-straight rainout:

Right now, the Yankees are 7-7.

They have also scored 77 runs, and allowed 77 runs.

Weird, huh?

Beyond the obvious iconography relating to our own St. Mick, this should tell us something.

That 77 runs scored? It's fifth best in the American League. That 77 runs allowed? It's 11th best.

I agree with Alphonso that Giancarlo has been a big bust so far, and I agree with John M. that the increasing one-dimensionality of baseball is hurting the game, and hurting my enjoyment of it. Too many strikeouts, too many guys going for the long ball, all the time.

But even with this less than auspicious start, the facts are that our Twin Towers so far total 21 runs scored and 19 driven in.

They are not the big problem. Nor is our offense, in general—and let's face it: we excuse those players we like the best. Gary Sanchez has spent most of April sucking because there's too much pressure on him? C'mon.

I think there is a whole book to be written on what fans, managers, and GMs will do to excuse a fatal lack of...pitching.

In 1929, Miller Huggins blamed his team's fall from first all the way to second on their supposed preoccupation with playing the market.

The Yankees of that day, who aside from Ruth were paid mostly in stale moon pies and jumping jacks, scored 899 runs in 154 games, and had a team ERA of 4.19. Hmm, I wonder what went wrong?

This century, we heaped all the troubles of the world on the shoulders of Alex Rodriguez because he was, well, such a twit. While in the very definition of insanity, we kept sending the Jaret Wrights, Kevin Browns, Javier Vazquezes and Carl Pavanos of the world out to the mound and expecting better results.

Our problem in 2018, thus far, isn't that we don't do enough situational hitting, though it's true that we don't. It's that we don't have a starting pitcher who can throw six innings.



Wrong, long, and losing

This started out as a comment to Alphonso's post below, but it got too long and leeched into another issue entirely, so it's post time.

Of course, we didn't get the right guy. That was kind of a given, but since Babe-san would not sign with us, it's like Jesse Jackson said back in the 1970s: "The point...is moot."

I was clenching my teeth when the Yankees got Stanton, regardless of Judge and other players singing their hosannas. It seemed to upset the delicate apple cart that the Yanks had achieved near the end of last season. Now, instead of one gigantic guy who hits a lot of home runs but strikes out four or five times as much, we have two. I'm not sure what the statisticians and number crunchers have to say, but that equates to a big gaping hole in the lineup. And it puts more weight on the shoulders of Gardner, Didi, and Sanchez to be productive enough to pick up the slack. (Would've included Bird in there, but it looks more and more like he's the second coming of Nick Johnson, with his foot being what Nick's wrist was.) Say Clank and Judge are up 1200 times, and maybe they hit 100 home runs but strike out 400 times. That's gonna kill a lot of rallies and scoring opportunities. (Judge's silver lining is his OBP, which hovers in the .400s. Over 100 walks is nice, but it still shifts the burden to other guys. They didn't pay Mantle and Reggie and DiMag and Tino to walk.)

All of which would be less of a problem if we had the pitching. But so far, as we all know, we don't. In fact, aside from Severino and a few guys in the bullpen (who are not named Betances and Chapman), we got nothin'. When your pitching staff basically demands that you score 10 runs a game to notch a win, the strike-out kings become that much more of an albatross.


There has been some discussion over the years that continuing to hit into the shift and striking out with regularity (yeah, the Mick did strike out quite a bit for his day, but he also hit .325) are fine, since the power numbers make up for it and more. But we watch the games, and the reality seems different than the theory and the numbers. It shows that we struggle when guys do it, and it shows that over and over and over.

The turn in the game that brought us to this point is inexplicable, at least to me. Supposedly, the stats say striking out one-third or more of the times you come to the plate is fine, because you gain from the HRs that result from this approach.

I still don't buy it. Maybe because I'm an antediluvian fossil from another era, or maybe because having five or six guys in the lineup who hit .300 give you interminably more chances to score, wear out pitchers, and drive the other team nuts. Psychological factors are completely lost when you go with numbers alone. And so are a lot of games. 

But, you know, I hope I'm completely wrong and we win 100. Plus, I'm old. What do I know?

Hmmmm... Let's See....



It seems only a few days ago, in this still nascent season, that someone of prominence opined that the Yankees were fortunate not to have acquired the new " Babe Ruth" of Japan.

His name, for lack of any other identifier, is Ohtani.  And, he had let the world know that New York was too big for him, whereas LA was just about perfect.

But I digress.

It rained in Detroit yesterday ( they need the water in Flint), so I decided to do some fact checking,
and take a look at how the "Babe" is doing;

1.  He pitches every Sunday
2.  So far, he is 2-0
3.  He has 18 strike outs in 13 innings
4.  He has allowed 4 hits in 13 innings
5.  He has walked two
6.  And allowed 3 runs

Compare that to any Yankee starter or reliever, and we lose.

On the offensive side :

1.  He hit three home runs in his first three games when he was the DH.

2.  He has no sombreros; golden, platinum or bronze.

It is early yet, I know, and we should not draw conclusions. And I have it on good authority that by mid-June, the outstanding player we acquired instead of Ohtani will be back on his MVP track.

I will say this;  the Yankees would have a lot more front and back pages in those NYC sports rags if he were wearing pinstripes.  (Although 5 strikeouts on an 0-7 day comes pretty close to demanding similar coverage).

Are we still confident that we" lucked out" by not having him in the Bronx?  Too much distraction?

Did we really get the right guy?

YES broadcasts from Coney Island are getting weirder and weirder, and that's a good thing

Maybe I've gone hinky-dinky. Hit a certain age, and your egg gets poached. You spend hours wondering why the design of boy and girl bicycles is backwards, or who was the first French sucker to ever eat snails? Either way, for nearly 30 years now, various mental wards within the Yankiverse have awaited The Second Coming of Scooter - that is, the free-form announcer for which games are inconsequential afterthoughts, and the central question is not who will win, but onto what alien planet the conversation will next wander? 

Baseball is a four-hour game that features barely five minutes of physical play. The rest is a vast stretch of grown men fidgeting with their nut sacks or expertly streaming spittle onto the dirt. During those moments, the late Phil Rizzuto used to comb the human condition, musing about squirrels outside his kitchen window or the way kids preferred to play in the boxes their gifts came. Back in the '80s and early '90s, a period in which the Yankees were twice the worst team in baseball, The Scooter changed the way I listened to sports. It was Rizzuto who kept me coming back for game after game. It was he who inspired my first break in the realm of publishing. (With Mustang, of course.) 

I'm not ready to anoint David Cone as the next Scooter, mostly because there can never be such an entity. But last week in Boston, I found myself laughing at the otherworldly antics of Coney and Paul O'Neill, as they covered the series from a vantage point east of the moon and west of Professor Irwin Corey. They critiqued cold-weather fashions. They talked about food. They reminisced about great on-field brawls of the past, including some they triggered. They meandered in whatever direction their thought river flowed. At one point, they mused about the nature of talking.

"You know what's really great?" Coney said, after a brief silence. (I'm paraphrasing here.) "We're so comfortable in the booth that we don't even feel the need to talk."

"Huh? What do you mean?" O'Neill said. "I figured somebody cut my mic. I've been talking all this time."

Yeah, it's stupid. And yes, I realize that if you're absorbed in a game, such chatter can be maddening. Some fans never developed a taste for Rizzuto. But for years, the YES announcers - with their terrified pro-Yankee stances, a Fox News like devotion to the team - were boring and predictable. Maybe it's because the 2018 Yankees have lofty expectations; if this team fails, no excuses will work. Or maybe it's just that Cone and O'Neill have been bouncing off each other now for 10 years - (Coney started at YES in 2008; O'Neill in 2002) - and because he talks incessantly on radio, Michael Kay has finally learned that, on TV, less is more. But lately, watching games from Coney Island, especially with Pauly, have become prime time ice cream. 

(I should note: We've chewed lately on a sad story about Molly O'Neill's battle with cancer, and whether her brother is helping enough financially. There is no easy way to deal with a sick family member, and all I can offer is that these situations are always more complicated than news stories make them seem. That's my guess here. From where we sit, it's hard to pass judgement.)

Anyway, like I say, maybe I've gone soft. It's not that we have a new Rizzuto. But come summer, if this team collapses upon itself, nightly visits from Coney Island may become the best reason to tune in. Wouldn't that be weird?