Friday, January 31, 2014
So for the next couple weeks, for a change, let's be totally positive. Let's be constructive: Let's imagine how Boston could fall apart and actually be worse than us.
Here's one idea: The news is out that Will Middlebrooks has charging the mound of bubbly NESN sideline reporter Jenny Dell. This is a complete breach of journalism ethics. Call Romanesko. What if Chris Christie was found schztupping Megyn Kelly? I would lose faith in Fox News, the sister to YES.
I, for one, hope Middlebrooks is shamed into doing the right thing: He must marry her. That way, every night after sex, she can snag him in the bathroom and ask him - in at least 600 words - how he feels and how this team is catching fire, and then coax him into recapping the big moment and try to describe what he was thinking as his gonads popped. Every night.
I can think of no better recipe for a .200 batting average and a trip to Pawtucket.
Folks, wipe Middlebrooks off the slate. He's done. One down, 24 to go.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
"Was Michael Pineda a perfect model of health when he was traded from Seattle to New York? No, probably not. All pitchers, and certainly pitchers like Pineda, carry a level of risk. But did this have to happen, the torn labrum? Would it have been as likely if Pineda had never been traded, and instead continued to play in the lax Seattle market? I don't think so."
Did the extra pressure of being a Yankee - of being scrutinized, booed and even having his commitment questioned - cause Michael Pineda to blow out his shoulder and probably his entire career?
A Seattle writer wonders...
Today, the Yankees officially signed a light-hitting thirdbaseman from Oakland named "Scott." Dare we think of the last time this happened?
Reason for hope: In his write-up on Yankee prospects, Keith Law calls Slade Heathcott "legitimately a crazy person."
I believe that I speak for the Yankiverse in saying: We'll take him!
Actually, Law quotes an unnamed scout, who questions Heathcott's sanity.
Two years ago, the night after a torturous magazine-length feature article appeared in the local newspaper detailing Slade's troubled youth - (we're talking shotguns, booze, abandonment, and living in cars) - this is what happened when he stepped up to the plate. Watch the catcher go ka-boom. I never did figure out what he said, but I bet it wasn't very nice.)
Hello, people of Atlanta: Go slow and double-pump the breaks. And don't read if this you have a bad ticker: Imagining the Yankee Worst Case Scenarios for 2014
Which brings us to the Yankees, who last year were thrown off the f----g balcony.
If you think about it, the fact that the Yankees made it into last September still contending for the post-season - even that fake one-game playoff - was a miracle. We entered 2013 looking anemic from Hal Steinbrenner's (now aborted) plan to shrink the payroll to $189 million. Then we faced our ice storm of bad events:
1. Granderson breaks hand.
2. Teixeira strains wrist.
3. Jeter can't run.
4. Youkilis hurts back.
5. Sabathia is terrible.
6. The A-Rod charges.
7. Cervelli breaks something, who cares what?
8. Pineda never does nothing.
9. The farm system produces squat.
Seriously, last Jan 31, if we knew those things were going to happen, we would have sold our winter rats and moved to Atlanta. How - I still wonder - did we avoid a Knicks-like meltdown? Well, here's why:
1. Robbie Cano, great player.
2. Mariano Rivera, pure magic.
3. Brett Gardner, stepped up.
4. Bullpen, spare parts performed.
5. Timely hitting, by the nobodies (looking at you, Lyle Overbay)
6. Girardi, he held the team together. No fights. (Still don't know how.)
OK... stick with me now: What have the Yankees done about last year's explosions in the mineshaft?
1. Loss of Grandy. HOO-RAY. Ellsbury, Gardner, Soriano and Beltran are notoriously brittle. But we have the depth.
2. Tex. UH-OH. He has yet to even test his wrist. And in interviews, he's talking like Tippi Hedren in The Birds.
3. Jeter. UH-OH. Complete unknown. We have a backup fielder. If he can't play SS, he's our 900-pound gorilla.
4. Youkilis. Gone. Better off knowing from the get-go. A wash.
5. Sabathia. HOO-RAY (I think). We signed new ace, Tanaka. Plus, new Jenny Craig CC might come back.
6. A-Rod shadow. No distractions. But we won't have him in August. A wash.
7. Cervelli. HOO-RAY. We have McCann, and Cervelli & Romine. (Somebody's got to go.)
8. Pineda. He'll be back. So what? A wash.
9. Farm system. UH-OH. Still weak. Suspended in amber.
And what of last year's successes?
1. Cano. UH-OH. Nobody to replace him. This is actually two UH-OHs.
2. Mariano. UH-OH. Wondering how many Houdini 9th innings I can take.
3. Gardner. HOO-RAY. We still have him. Unless we trade him.
4. Bullpen. UH-OH. Gahhhhh. Under complete reconstruction.
5. Timely hitting - HOO-RAY. McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran added.
6. Girardi. HOO-RAY. In November, he flirted with Chicago. We were smart to keep him.
I count seven UH-OHs and five HOO-RAYs.
A lot still to happen. But right now - we haven't had any unexpected ice storms - but we're stuck in traffic, and we're not going anywhere.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
A reason to hope: The Mel Kipers of baseball are rating Yankee prospects near the bottom of the well
This is done, for the most part, by people who - if they've actually seen the players they're rating - saw them once last summer. Between then and now, some got married, some found God, some became alcoholics, some started weight-training, and maybe one or two figured out the far corner of the plate that eluded them in the past. In short, most are entirely different people than they were last August. But they get ranked 1 to 100.
Here is all you need to know about the Yankee farm system and these ratings.
We have a bunch of young guys who, if they have big years, will skyrocket into the upper tier of next winter's rankings! Whoopie.
Right now, if we're pondering who will help the 2014 Yankees, we'd have to mention Dellin Betances, who's been around so long he seems less a prospect than old-timer. This could be Dellin's year. Finally! He might be a middle innings reliever. All he has to do is throw strikes and beat out a few of Cashman's scrap-heapers. The bar is not that high.
After that, we have two ancient Cubans - Adonis Garcia and Ronnier Mustelier - both pushing 30, who spent last year at Scranton, though they were injured. They play OF, but they're trying to learn 3B and 2B (for obvious reasons.) Unless they have big springs - I mean REALLY BIG SPRINGS - they look ticketed for another year in the Electric City. These guys have "Tucker Ashford" written all over them. (For those of you too young, look him up.)
After that, JR Murphy comes to mind. He is "Most Likely to be Traded for a Salary Dump Slob." Murphy, a catcher, played well at Scranton last year and received a cup of coffee, when he was hailed - (rather sadly) - as the big harvest crop of the 2013 Yankee farm system. But now with Brian McCann in front of him, and our supposed best prospect Gary Sanchez behind him, Murphy looks like a good bet to be dealt somewhere in a package for the 3B we currently do not have. This is sad. He actually looks like a future major leaguer.
Finally, there is the raft of anonymous young pitchers - let's call them the Preston Claiborne Class of 2014, named for the guy who showed up last summer after never once being mentioned by prospects ratings. Suddenly, he was there. Claiborne looked great for a while, then was mercilessly bullied by the Redsocks in that horrible three-game sweep at Fenway. He was so hammered in Boston that I wonder if he can come back. If not, there will be a new Preston Claiborne. We just don't know who it is.
In past years, some of the prospect rankings included Japanese imports, such as Jose Contreras and Dice K. This year, they didn't. Otherwise, they would have put Masahiro Tanaka high on the list - possibly Number 1 or 2. At age 25, he's younger than most of our Scranton-level prospects.
As for the Slade Heathcotts and Mason Williamses, the Manny Baneuloses and the Preston Whatnots, well, let's hope for breakout seasons. If so, next February, when there is nothing else to talk about, they'll rise in these meaningless rankings. Whoopie. Pass the meatballs.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Now it's Professor Joba, without the inner tube? Why couldn't Joba Chamberlain get into shape last year?
Last season, Joba looked and pitched like a Keystone Cop. He not only gave up grand slams, but he ate his share of them at Dennys. Either, nobody on the Yankees noticed that he had become a human tub of lard. Or he just kept eating and refused to listen.
How does a player with so much potential turn into such a slob?
Well... that's a question the Yankees need to figure out - and soon.
During their 14-year barf, which ran from the 1980s into the Selig Strike, the Yankees were a franchise so dominated by their nut-bag owner and his syncophantic courtiers that we fans commonly saw players flourish after they left New York. As we head into 2014, it's hard to say which Yankees we are - the team that gets the most from its players, or the place everyone needs to escape.
But does anyone doubt that Joba and Phil Hughes will turn around their careers, now that they're outside the Steinbrenner/Murdoch/YES radioactive zone?
Of all the disappointments last year, their collapses hurt most. If the Yankees had gotten anything from either, the team might have made the playoffs. We fans literally watched once-great prospects turn into meatballs.
And now Joba has discovered "physical conditioning?" Wow. How did this happen? Was there, say, a pamphlet in the Tigers dugout that suggested players try workouts? Did he see an exercise tape lying around?
Last year, the Yankees were a fine team for a scrap-heapers seeking to extend their careers. But for old-line Yankees, it was hell. Everyone was either hurt, or they just stank. This year, we'll have new chemistry. I suspect Beltran and McCann were signed as much for their leadership as their bats. And though I recognize that some people think Robbie Cano was smart to jog out grounders - I'd prefer to see players actually run. (And Alfonso Soriano better stop watching his long flies from home plate. I hate to think of that image - a throwback to the times of Mel Hall - becoming the Yankee way.)
But Hughes and Joba are gone - and lucky to be out the door. So what's going on here?
Listen: I don't think it's the ban on beards that creates problems for Yankees.
But I believe it has to do with the hubris that results in a ban on beards.
When players leave, the first thing they do is stop shaving. Are they not sending us a message? Something about the Yankee mystique needs to change. And until it does, all the free agent spending in the world is not going to help.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Before Wednesday, 2014 loomed as a Met-like disaster. Truth be told, not much has changed. The Yankees remain a duct-taped blob of old players and bloated contracts, with glaring problems and an unbridled status as the worst run franchise in baseball, if not all of sports. (Aside from the Knicks.)
They have now spent nearly $500 million to upgrade a team that still could finish fifth. What if Jeter, at 40, cannot play SS? What if Tex re-tweaks his wrist? Or if Tanaka needs a year to adjust? Or if Robertson can’t close? Or if CC doesn’t come back? Who the hell plays third base? Who in God’s name plays second? How can a team sink so much money into its farm system and receive so little in return? (And yet nobody lost his job? On what metric does job-performance get rated?)
I think it’s because the Yankees have been built by a committee. The members: Frederic Horowitz, Casey Close, Hal Steinbrenner and, now, Rupert Murdoch, the newest co-owner. Everybody else is a YES man. Until now, Brian Cashman simply has been pouring coffee and taking orders for donuts. He couldn’t move until A-Rod’s fate was decided. He couldn’t move until Tanaka chose a team. Now, he can move – but he might as well wait until spring, when the first injuries arrive.
Then, Cashman will probably trade Brett Gardner. This will piss off rabid Yankee fans, who know Gardy as one of our few home grown gamers of the last decade. But The Committee won’t care. He will probably try to package Gardner with either Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine, but this requires a team that a) wants both players, b) has something to give up, and c) is willing to trade with the Yankees. (Some, like the Rays and Redsocks, simply refuse.) Finally, we must decide on our most urgent need: Starting pitching, bullpen pitching, second base or third. And remember what happens if Jete or Tex go into remission: Then the sirens go off, and it’s 9-11.
Yep. The worst run team in baseball. By far. Every few years, they spackle-over their problems with money, but then the walls sag and the house collapses. It’s what George did. It’s now what his son – chair of The Committee - is doing. Last week, we had a day to rejoice over the signing of a player – something we missed last year. (Remember that brief fling with fiscal sobriety? The $189 million payroll? Or did we just dream it?) But now we’re back to the cold reality of Robbie Cano in Seattle and nobody to play third. Three weeks until pitchers and catchers – and the first injuries. God help us. But it sure was fun last week, am I right?
Saturday, January 25, 2014
This could mean changes in YES programming.
1. "Center Stage with Michael Kay" questions David Ortiz’ birth certificate.
2. New feature: Live 7th inning analysis from Governor Palin.
3. Yankee "loss" refuted by Karl Rove.
4. David Cone and Paul O'Neill replaced by Kate Upton and Brooklyn Decker
5. When Cano appears, boos attributed to Jumbotron image of Hillary Clinton.
6. Double-header questioned as part of ongoing "War on Fourth of July."
7. Nationwide survey shows most YES viewers believe Yankees won 2013 World Series.
8. Teixeira’s slow-healing wrist blamed on Obamacare.
9. In ninth inning of loss to Redsocks, network switches to incredible new developments on Benghazi.
10. Roger Ailes offers Suzyn $100 weekly pay raise for sex.
Friday, January 24, 2014
In for a penny, in for a pound: It’s time for the Yankees’ to release the Kraken. It’s time to sign Stephen Drew
Yep. I opposed it last month. It made no sense. I opposed it on Monday. No sense at all. I didn't support it on Tuesday. Or Wednesday morning. But today, everything has changed. Now, if we're in this for a penny, we are in it for a pound. SIGN STEPHEN DREW. He can play 2B. He can play 3B. And if Jeter tweaks a gonad, he’ll play SS. The Yankees have a huge, gaping hole on the infield, and the $189 million payroll threshold - the concept that guided us last year - is now a certified glitch of history (Definition: Never discuss this again. We sucked last year for nothing, nothing.) SIGN STEPHEN DREW. It will:
Thursday, January 23, 2014
The baseball world is appalled, furious, LIVID. Those damn Yankees are trying to buy a
pennant. It’s not fair. It’s not right. First, A-Rod made a mockery of the
game. Now, this. They’ve bought Masahiro Tanaka. For too much money. Somebody
should do something. It’s wrong. There should have been a draft, like in the
NFL. The Chicago White Sox should have been able to select him. Or the Cubs.
They haven’t won in generations. Why couldn’t baseball force this man to play
for the Cubs? Let’s hope Mr. Selig does something. He ridded baseball of drugs.
Can’t he stop the Yankees? Mwahhhh-
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Screw NYC. They should play in Amsterdam.
After the game, the winning QB should shout, "I'm looking for Disney Weed."
"When he gets up to bat, you can hit him and hit him hard. That’s what I’d do. He sued us. Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz screwed up. You know what? They owned up to it. They took their medicine. (Rodriguez) needs to be scared of coming back."
Listen: If this is what constitutes a modern union debate, I understand why organized labor has fallen into such a sorry state.
Yahoo yesterday quoted several Major League Baseball Players Association union "leaders" as fuming over A-Rod's lawsuit, wanting to boot him not only out of their club but from baseball, entirely. And why? Because his lawyers are following the law. They are suing MLB and the union.
OK, bear with us here. It gets tricky - but not too: A-Rod’s lawsuit against MLB stems from the Labor Management Relations Act. The statute says that when a union member sues his employer for breach of contract... he must also make a claim of "breach of the union's duty of fair representation." It's not personal. It's not new. For decades, lawsuits against car-makers or public entities, because of insurance claims, forced families to also sue friends or loved ones. I've seen several such cases. I bet you have, too. They're horrible situations. Everybody feels bad. But it's the way the system operates.
A union "leader" ought to be able to understand this.
So the players union wants to expel A-Rod... but it can't. Doing so would be illegal. It would also help A-Rod. (It would, ironically, support his claim.) So... they'll throw at him? He's now the equivalent of a scab? Some unnamed "leaders" are fuming over the fact that union official Michael Weiner - now deceased - is listed in the suit. Yeah, it's emotion being expressed. But Weiner would have been first to explain the situation to these thug-wannabees. And considering the wanton, under-the-table acts said to be done by MLB in its probe, there are many reasons why the players union might want A-Rod's suit to move on - or at least get a public hearing.
Listen: We don't know how this will play out. But I hope it happens in full view of the American public. If it does, I think both A-Rod and Bud Selig will get what they deserve.
A-Rod's life and reputation will suffer enormously, and financially, if and when he is proven to be a juicer. But MLB's underhanded tactics - the bags of cash, etc. - they need a full airing, as well.
And finally - because honestly, I'm tired of A-Rod; it really is getting to me - I hope the Yankees keep the guy, just for the drama. Come 2015, the entire world will focus on his attempted comeback. Love him or hate him, what an incredible story! It needs to play out on baseball's biggest stage. Good grief, if he's hitting for the Newark Bears, what a loss for everyone. (Except the Newark Bears.) And if he's in LA or Chicago, or anywhere but New York, we will be missing so much theater. For better or worse, I hope he stays a Yankee. We are, after all, the Evil Empire.
But... because he knows that if he pitches for the Cubs, nobody would ever expect him to win a World Series, he could never be a disappointment, and so he could clearly choose to pitch for the Cubs...
But... he comes from Japan, which, as everyone knows, has a great tradition of honor, so he would never choose a team that has no chance, because it would the same as accepting defeat, which he would never do...
Nevertheless... We would only think that he would seek such a challenge, when in fact, what he wants most to do is win a championship every year, and he realizes that if he goes to the Yankees or the Dodgers, he has the best chance to do that, and to win championships in two countries...
But... if he goes to the Dodgers, he will be the third or fourth starter on a team where expectations would be astronomical, considering the unprecedented amounts of money being thrown into the team, and if he doesn't win, he will be subject to intense scrutiny from the disappointed and perhaps angry fan base...
So... he would go to the one team with the greatest tradition, and the greatest need, which is also the team with the deepest pockets, where he can be hailed as a savior, especially considering the team's other ace was a butter bean who has now turned into a matchstick, and TV network is running out of attractions for viewers... Anything else, that would inconceivable!
Unless we're wrong and he goes to Boston.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Whenever a Yankee gets hurt, and the team says he's fine, day to day, expected back soon, he should be fine... well... gubye, it's ovah, kaputski, he's done.
We saw it with Jeter. We saw it with Hafner. We saw it with Nix. We saw it with Gardner. We saw it with Youkilis. We saw it with Cervelli. We saw it with Bosch. We saw it with Vidal frickin Nuno.
And we saw it with Tex. Oh, yes, did I forget him? We saw it Tex.
So this is what Tex tells Jack Curry of YES:
"Right now, I’m six months out of surgery. Will I be 100% day one? I hope so... Even my doctor said ‘it’s going to keep getting looser, keep getting stronger’ … I’m a little anxious about the way I’m going to feel, but I know that as long as I’m doing what I’m told, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, that I should be fine.”
Gubye, it's ovah, kaputski, he's done.
Listen: At the risk of inciting Yankee food riots, let's step back and think with our heads. Tex is simply worried. That's all. He's prudent to worry. Anybody would be. There is absolutely no reason to OH GOD, WE ARE SO SCREWED, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, WE ARE SO DEFINITELY SCREWED, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? WE DIDN'T EVEN SIGN MARK REYNOLDS, AND WE DON'T HAVE ANYBODY TO PLAY FIRSTBASE, NOBODY, BECAUSE BRIAN MCCANN HAS NEVER PLAYED FIRST, AND NEITHER HAS CARLOS BELTRAN, AND OHMYGOD WE ARE SO SCREWED, YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? I'LL TELL YOU WHAT THIS MEANS? IT MEANS WE'RE GOING TO RESIGN LYLE OVERBAY. THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS. OMYGODWEARESOSCEWED. GAHHHHHHHHHH-
The other nominees are:
The Los Angeles Dodgers (Dallas Buyers Club).
The Seattle Mariners (12 Years a Slave).
The Chicago Cubs (Gravity).
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California (Her).
The Arizona Diamonbacks (Nebraska).
And a write-in candidate, Boston? (The Wolf of Wall Street).
Can you feel the jitters? Who should we wear? Gotta lose six pounds. Must fit in that suit. Do we dare write our acceptance speech? So many little people to thank. The Steinbrenners, Mr. Cashman, the team, the fans. Must be gracious. Only get thirty seconds. Don't forget to thank God. Need a few stiff ones beforehand. Fasten the zip. No wardrobe malfunctions. Keep the smile on. If we lose, don't give the bastards anything to use against us.
But damn: When Bud Selig and Yu Darvish open the envelope up on the stage, I might faint.
Gotta go work out. Get the hair done. Gotta look good. (Should we take out another ad in the Tokyo newspaper?)
Of course, if we're not chosen, it's still a great honor. And who knows, at the after-party party, we could take home a Ubaldo.
In the latest photo making the rounds, CC looks like Manute Bol after an enema. This is no 290-pounder. This is a Jenny Craig graduate who caught Dengue Fever. CC looks so svelte, so slim, that your first thought is that Lena Dunham's agent is working the Photoshop, or that he's trying out for Matthew McConaughey's role in a dinner theater version of Dallas Buyers Club. It's not just the cut of the tuxedo. If it were, that's the suit we all could use.
Yesterday, some trainer attempted to assure the Yankiverse that all is well, that CC is merely on a super-training regiment, that he's converted all that old baby fat into muscle, that he's becoming a rock-ribbed power blaster, that he's in the best shape of his life, that blah, blah, blah... go back to sleep and buy more tickets.
CC came to camp last year touting a slimmer than usual figure, due to a tricky knee. The expectation was that by reducing pressure on his legs, he could lengthen his career. Only problem: His fastballs turned into Happy Meals. He went 14-13 with an ERA just shy of 5.00 - worst of his career. Unless he retrieves his old speed, or becomes a junk-baller, we might not be worrying about him lengthening his career.
OK... let's give him benefit of the doubt. After a bad year, you gotta try something. And CC is a legitimate great Yankee. He's won the right to make his own training decisions. If he wants to join Weight-Watchers, so be it. But this is no 290-pounder. He looks closer to 220. And excuse me if I go binge on wings just to calm my nerves. This looks like an entirely new pitcher coming to camp. And who knows if he'll be any good?
Once again, the Yankees are getting a glimpse of the downside of long-term contracts to 30somethings. No team, regardless of its money, can consistently contend without young players reinvigorating the roster. And if each year we squander our first-round draft pick in order to sign yet another oldster to a seven-year bomb - (hello, Jacoby!) - we are going to be watching photographs like this one - or the famous "Jeet and Eat" shot from last winter - and shaking our heads. If CC doesn't return to form, 2014 could be a meltdown year. Let's hope the Yankees leave themselves an escape hatch - with ample food supplies to last through next winter.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Well, this year that game came early. It's this week.
(OK, I know what you're thinking: Yes, this is ridiculously premature and overstated. We all know this. A million factors can save or kill the Yankees' year. In fact, usually, the big game in August, that one we target, doesn't truly make or break our season. But this IS it. All those other times, when we're wrong? Forget them. THIS IS IT.)
This week, the Yankees could be chosen by Masahiro Tanaka as winners of the 2014 International Star Award, vaulting us into contender status in the AL East - and the land of 35 percent luxury taxes. If Mr. Tanaka selects us - and we hope that he is reading this, and recognizes how much we love him - who knows? We could win something.
If Mr. Tanaka bypasses the Yankees, Brain Cashman will likely run to sign Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, the sloppy seconds of 2014's winter. This news will be met across the Yankiverse with a collective sigh of hopelessness. All season, we will be playing for the one-game wild card.
There is a third possibility: That if we whiff on Mr. Tanaka, Hal 9000 directs the Brainster to stay within the infamous payroll target of $189 million. We would be biting the bullet. Over the long haul, this could be the best thing that ever happens to the Yankees. If they could shed the luxury tax burden, retool the farm system, and develop two or three solid players, the franchise could rise in 2015 in the way Boston did last year. (Big if's, though.) But 2014 will be a blank spot on the fossil record.
In other words, folks, everything, everything, EVERYTHING! hinges on the next few days.
Sad news. Carlos Silva, the silent presence during every Yankee radio broadcast, has died of cancer at age 50.
Silva produced the games, and from the teasing way that John and Suzyn spoke about him and to him, it was clear that he was part of a closely knit family.
I saw a picture of him today. He looked nothing like I envisoned. For some reason - my own hangups, probably - I pictured him as a twentysomething engineer, someone who was chiding - and constantly being chided by - the stars of the booth. In fact, he had a long and successful career, a wife and a family, and I am sure that, among those who knew and worked with him, he cannot be replaced.
The show will go on. It always does. But 50... that is way too soon.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Seriously: Who needs public debates? After all, SU has the prestigious Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, whose resident Oh-Dears pontificate about democracy, while the Pooh Bahs decide things behind closed doors. What are we, Utica? This is Syracuse, the city that birthed the drive-through bank teller and the popular teen craze, "Knock-Out." So what if the city's infant mortality rate belongs in a Third World country, and the waters of Onondaga Lake still look made from frozen concentrate, a new 40,000-seat arena could snag us an NCAA championship! That would mean a parade!
Face it: There are TWO HUNDRED MILLION crisp reasons why SU needs a new sports toy. But let's cap the number at 10.
10 GOLDEN REASONS WHY SYRACUSE NEEDS ANOTHER ARENA
1. Hockey fans are sick of being unable to score good seats for Syracuse Crunch games when Hershey comes to town. A 40,000 seat thingy would solve that problem. Good grief, when those pesky Binghamton Senators play us, they bring their families. With a new facility, we'd have a place to put 'em: The nosebleed section!
2. Nothing stinks more than when the Carrier Dome is reserved for use, leaving the area with no sports or entertainment venue, aside from Manley Field House, the SRC Arena, Coyne Field, the Lampe Center, the Onondaga County War Memorial, LeMoyne's Niland Complex, the State Fair Coliseum, Chevy Court, the Landmark Theatre, Destiny, the Turning Stone Casino, the entire the town of Fabius, and that venerable ballpark home of the Syracuse Chiefs, "Your Name Here" Stadium. Where can we hold the next Benny Mardones concert? We could lose our gun shows to Cortland.
3. A new arena on the Eastern fringe of the downtown will help Syracuse grow the bars on the Eastern fringe of the downtown. Right now, the hot bar action is on the Western flank, Armory Square. What about our Eastern bars? Shouldn't they get a swipe of the card? Hey, think we could get the 2015 Redneck Summer Games? That would boost the Eastern front.
4. Syracuse needs an identity upgrade. For 100 years, we were "the Salt City." Today, that's a dangerous diet. Now, we're "the Emerald City," a true WTF? moment for all who visit. We need a new handle. How about THE ARENA CITY... with more domes per capita than anywhere in the world! Welcome to Syracuse, Home of the Sell-Out!
5. It's just state money? It's not like we paid for it. It's free money, from Albany! Cuomo gets it from Obama, who gets it from China, which owns all of Utah, where the Mormans secretly keep the Arc of the Covenant, from which all earthly currency emanates. Nobody will miss $200 million. It's free! Money! For you, and you, and YOU! Freeeeee!
6. The current arenas are antiquated. Take SRC Arena, for example. It's now three years old. Time for the wrecking ball. The Carrier Dome? It still doesn't have cup-holders. Have you peed lately at the War Memorial? (Good luck finding hand soap.) One of these days, we'll all have rashes, or bed bugs, or bad backs, and everybody will say, Why didn't we build that new arena?
7. A new arena could attract a new pro sports team, such as in the WNBA. How about the Syracuse Snow Queens! More teams mean more games. More games mean more tickets sold. That creates the famous Economic Development Ripple Effect. Did you know that one dollar you spend for a football ticket generates $7,003 in economic stimulus, according to the Football Concussion Institute of Math, where numbers are crunched by ex-Green Bay Packers, recovering from head injuries. If you buy a Chiefs t-shirt, you're feeding 100 children for a month.
8. The I-81 overpass through Syracuse, which is sagging like a rope bridge. The whole city is debating what to do. A new arena would solve that issue: Without any money, we can't do anything! No more arguments. Just ram all the traffic into the arena's parking lots, and let folks tailgate until they sort things out. End of problem.
9. Naming rights. A new arena presents a golden opportunity for some rich bum-wad or institution in need of p.r. power-wash to stick their names onto something positive, for a change. (Think: Golisano Children's Hospital.) That weird shake-up at Upstate Medical Center? Ladies and gentlemen, it's the "Upstate Medical Center Hope Gardens!" Death weapons buzzing Hancock Air Base? Welcome to the Syracuse Predator Drone Dome!
10. Luxury boxes! Come on, folks, let's get real: That is all this is about. The new arena will have bigger, better, more luxurious sky-boxes than everything we currently can offer to the 1 percent. And frankly, why even bothering with a debate? We've seen this movie. We know how it ends. If they don't get the $200 million this time, they'll just come back next year, or the year after, until they do. And they'll win - of course, they will - because they'll promise jobs.
That's all. Jobs. Nobody cares what we're building. Just give them a job. Let them show up, flag cars for eight hours, and then go home. Mission accomplished. Remember that Kevin Costner box-office turkey, "Water World," where the crazy leader Dennis Hopper has all the men on his boat rowing and rowing - they don't know where they're going on the ocean - but they row, row, row... for the sake of rowing? Well, that's us. When did we ever question what to build? Certainly not with super-brains on a hill, happy to think for us, behind those doors.
To hear various bleating voices from the Yankiverse, the Yankee brain trust should be fired because of Cito Culver. Last week, one blogger called the former first round pick a complete whiff. (Ah, the reason we blog: to vent.) Culver was selected number 32 - end of the first round - of the 2010 draft, outraging all those experts who consider themselves to be the Mel Kiper of baseball. (Which is terrifying, if you think about it.)
In his great novel, "The Art of Fielding," Chad Harbach writes about a prospect who is told by the St. Louis Cardinals that they'll draft him first, if he'll sign for a certain amount. He jumps at it. Thus, the team can spend bigger on other picks, luring studs away from college. It's a viable strategy, which the Yankees played. Did it work? Too soon to say. But some people can't move beyond ripping Culver as Exhibit A in the case against Brian Cashman.
Fact is, they're wrong. Culver, 21, is a fine prospect, and it's time for folks to stop whipping him like a rented mule. In the middle of last season, he quit trying to be a switch hitter, and now bats exclusively from the right side. His average jumped 40 points. He hit .313 in August and moved to High A. Here's what he did between Charleston and Tampa.
I'm always good for ripping the Yankee brass, which seems to hate all its own prospects - and prefers players on the way down to those on the way up. That's a strategy doomed to fail. But good grief, cut Cito Culver some slack.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Either way, dark news. Frankly, if the Yankees cannot sign Tanaka, I'd rather see them go for the $189 million payroll than throw in with Santana for three to five years.
The Ancient Order of Berra-ians: 2014 Yanks will sport the second oldest offense in baseball history
Yes, we're the Feeble Empire... The Nine Shades of Gray.
Last year's Yankee lineup averaged an age of 31.9 years. This year, even without A-Rod, the team is anticipating a batting order of 33.6 years.
Comrades, this is truly an accomplishment, a monument to the inability - or unwillingness - to see forests for trees. The 2013 Yankees lost more time to injuries than any other team in baseball, and there's not a Yankee fan in captivity who could not see the absolutely critical need for an infusion of youth.
So... Carlos Beltran.
Yes, they got older.
The 2006 SF Giants - anchored by Barry Bonds, when his head was the size of a weather balloon - remain history's oldest lineup. They didn't make the post-season.
The 2014 Yankees: Every Day... Old-Timers Day!
Friday, January 17, 2014
But if it's a ring next year... well... the team most likely to supply it happens to also have $100 million lying around - the Jacoby Ellsbury Farewell Fund - and these days, they're acting awfully damn quiet. "Too quiet," as Ward Bond would say, sitting around the Wagon Train camp fire.
If you were the Boston GM, and you wanted to turn one World Championship into three or four - a "dynasty," they call it - here's your ticket. If the Redsocks ante up - say- $120 million over six years, they can also guarantee him the 2014 Post Season, the loony loyal fan base, friendly toadies in the ESPN and FOX booths, and - if he's of the mind - a safe and secure PED-supplying network, (which the Yankees clearly cannot offer.)
Boston is a position to put the Yankees in its rearview mirror for the next three years. Don't think they are unaware of this. Don't get comfy over news stories that are based in ether, or anything that suggests the Redsocks will sit this out.
Be afraid, Yankiverse. Be very afraid.
Now that they hold the key to a managerial challenge, will home team broadcast booths run instant replays in a timely manner?
Baseball isn't like the NFL, where all games are broadcast by a major network. Each MLB team has its own TV network, and some in the booth are notorious homers. (Not the Yankees, of course. Other teams, obviously.)
If the Yankees are hosting, say, Houston. Will the Astros broadcast crew be using the YES camera feed? Or will they bring their own camera crew? Will there be conflicting booth reviews, before the managers decide whether to use one of their challenges? This will never be a big issue - unless the day it becomes one. Then it will be a doozy.
Yesterday, Major League Baseball approved the use of video replays on close calls. From now on, if the Yankees get screwed on a play at first, Joe Girardi will simply walk out and call for the replay. If it's after the seventh, the umps will probably beat him to the punch.
|It's up, and it's... GOOD!|
There will still be arguments. Balls and strikes can be disputed. Bean balls can be thrown. Runners will leave base paths, and managers will occasionally blow just for the sake of blowing. But teammates won't have to haul Brian McCann from the field on a close play at the plate. They'll just stand back and watch the Jumbotron.
Just saying. "Kill the umpire!" is dead. From now on, "Call the umpire!"
Thursday, January 16, 2014
All last year, Bud must have looked at Mariano Rivera's final tour and thought, "Damn, what did that little punk do for the game?" When Uncle Bud, goes, baseball should build him a pyramid.
So... it's time to ponder Bud Selig Day, the greatest commissioned commissioner celebration in baseball history, when thousands - nay, millions! - will bid
Before the game, the great stars Bud personally touched will honor him on the field. There will be Senator George Mitchell and the entire Redsocks organization, which skated through Bud's steroids probe. Big Papi will tell the world that Bud was "f----n awesome!"
Then comes a parade of 1990s lawyers, who received full time jobs trying to defend Bud's collusion plan, which screwed free agents like Jack Morris out of an estimated $280 million, before it was clobbered in court.
At this point, Bud will symbolically shove swords into an effigy of former commissioner Fay Vincent, signifying how
After the bloodletting, the Bud Selig Day game itself will be delayed 150 days, symbolizing the players strike of 1994, which Bud oversaw in an attempt to force a payroll cap onto the sport. Replacement players will take the field and then be paid to leave, giving homage to the man who canceled the first World Series since 1904.
When the game is played, it will feature the Minnesota Twins, who Bud attempted to scrap, a move that would expand the market of the Milwaukee Brewers, the team from which he completed "divested" himself, after passing it onto his daughter.
The game will feature a special treat: Spider-Man 3 logos painted on all the bases - oh, but don't worry traditionalists. No logos on home plate! No way, not there - because Bud never believed in rank commercialization.
In the first three innings of the game, each team will hit 70 home runs, showcasing the the celebration of modern protein enhancements, which helped
Then, in the fourth inning, all the home runs and all the home run hitters will be abruptly deleted from the box score, as if none of it ever happened. It will be a tie game, and the two teams will play a ONE GAME PLAYOFF... with the winner gets to advance to the real ONE GAME PLAYOFF for the post season, and also for the chance to win home field advantage in next year's All-Star Game, which Bud will call after nine innings, because no team sent pitchers.
In the ninth, with the game designated a tie - (the two teams will play another ONE GAME PLAYOFF to determine who goes to the ONE GAME PLAYOFF) - special ceremonies will be held. Bud will receive the gift of sex from a team of fawning announcers from Fox, or ESPN, or whatever network happens to be paying for the rights - and, by the way, charging about $5 a month to every cable subscriber in America, a de facto tax, whether they care or not about sports. The owners will present Bud with his annual check for $23 million, and Bud will announce that he's done a great job, and that, "Baseball considers itself the luckiest sport on the face of the earth."
A special MLB drone will land on the field, and Bud will be lifted into the sky - straight to Cooperstown for induction ceremonies - while Tim McCarver leads the crowd in singing, "So Long, It's Been Good Ta Know Ya."
For the next hour, people will gather around the Bud Selig statue, where Alex Rodriguez has been chained, to pose for selfies. Through the miracle of modern technology, the statue will grow live human hair. It'll be great, except that we'll have to see it through the tears.
Hal Steinbrenner, supercomputer: “I’m pretty objective in my thinking. This is business. I’m just focusing on the team, a player. Is the player an asset to the club or not? That’s about as far as I look. I don’t get personal.”
On the computational sense of time: "I have not thought about 2015 nor am I going to. My focus has to be on right now."
On the unlimited potentials of problem solving: "Pitching, starting pitching, is an area I believe we still need some help. We're looking at a number of possibilities and we're talking to a number of people."
On "emotional" attachments: "I love hockey. I don't follow it as much as some people do, probably. I love the sport."
On maintaining a binary hockey modality: "I am a Rangers fan and I root for the Lightning as well. Those would be my two teams. I have no others."
On projecting statistical variations: "Hopefully... we'll have a more normal year when it comes to injuries and the team we hope and the fans expect to see is on the field."
On reality v. anticipated projections: "I wish our Minor Leagues were a little bit better than they are. I wish that some of the prospects we were so excited about had panned out the way we thought and hoped they would. But it is what it is."
On calculating numerical jersey retirement probabilities: " We're going to figure out just whose numbers are going to be retired... Sometime in the next few weeks we'll be talking about it. It could be none, one or multiples. You've been around long enough to know that it's a very special thing for us. It's not something we do lightly."
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The Yankees better find some NYC celebrities that Mrs. Tanaka wants to meet. Hello, Miley? Wanna host Saturday Night Live again?
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
NESN's Villain List stars a suspended Yankee, an ex-Yankee and a Yankee GM... plus some players who were never Yankees at all!
|Did you know that the Yankees have been "making it rain this offseason?"|
Strange, how it's come to this, eh? We've tracked through a dead farm system, an aging lineup and the public banning of A-Rod. The Redsocks now sit atop the world of baseball, and the Yankees - o, those mighty Yankees - are grasping for the 2014 one-game playoff, that phony post-season that was installed to make MLB look a little less like the National Pastime and a little more like the NBA.
Well, if we sign Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees could be competitive this year. Add an ace pitcher to the lineup, well, that's can put a so-so team into the playoff mix. Suddenly, the Yankees could be a trade deadline acquisiton from the post-season. Hey, ya' never know.
But without Tanaka, well, ouch. Good luck, Yankee fans. Without Tanaka - or the Tanaka we're hoping he'll be - the Yankees must hope for a) Sabathia to put on 30 pounds and get younger, b) Kuroda to take off 40 innings and get younger, c) Nova to add three years of maturity, d) Phelps/Pineda/Bannelous/Nidal - good grief - why bother listing them all? - to become Andy Pettitte. All this must be added to a batting order thick at the top and pencil lead thin at the bottom. And then there are the injuries, sure to ravage such an old roster. Nope. Without Tanaka, this is a team likely to be out of the race by August 15, and there will be no worse place to play sports in America than Yankee Stadium for the final six weeks. We'll be watching Slade Heathcott playing Kevin Maas.
Without Tanaka, there is - well - Ubaldo Jimenez, and another lost draft pick. Without Tanaka, there is Adam Warren, a perfectly fine long reliever, asked to throw 180 innings. Without Tanaka, the Yankees roll the dice on a Brett Gardner trade, and even if they succeed, it's hard to imagine their strengths overcoming their weaknesses.
January 24 is the deadline. That's when Masahiro Tanaka decides the future of the Yankees in 2014. Amazing, eh, that you can invest so much money into an operation and still be waiting for the call.
In his late years, Shoeless Joe Jackson – he, of the lifetime ban – ran a liquor store in Greenville, South Carolina. One day, Ty Cobb and the sportswriter, Grantland Rice, came in to buy life-sustaining booze. Jackson pretended not to recognize them. Cobb grew exasperated. “Don’t you know me, Joe?” he said. “Sure, I know you, Ty,” Jackson replied. “But I wasn’t sure you wanted to know me. A lot of them don’t.”