Sunday, August 31, 2014
Dear Yankees: OK, they're all softened-up and laughing at us. It's almost time to start playing hard.
Cash, Joe, Randy, Jeet...
I know what you guys are thinking: The key to hooking Old Smokey is to not tug on the line too soon. Let him swallow that worm all way to the belly. You guys probably figure we should lose - say - four more in a row, so Vegas, Monte Carlo and that human kewpie dumpling, Showalter, will REALLY be caught off guard, when we suddenly fling off our homeless person mask, pull out Excalabur and start hacking pitchers into Cycle Four kibble. It will be fun to see the looks on their faces when we shout, "SURPRISE!" and start actually trying to win.
Yep, you've done the hard part. For six months, you subjected yourselves, your families and Hal Steinbrenner to intense and relentless ridicule, maintaining a dead-on perfect impersonation of the San Diego Padres. You even traded for one! (And he's stayed in character too!) But now - any day now - I say, "Pull out! Fire the retro rockets! Release the crackin'!" Whatever.
Start actually playing hard.
Trust me here: They're ripe for the plucking. You got 'em where you want 'em. Boy, it's gonna be great. Do you want me to shout it? Are you waiting for me to say the words? OK... here goes.
DA DA DA-DA, DADADAHHHH-DUH-DUH-DAH.
DUH-DA, DA-DA-DA-dada-dah-DAH DAHHHHHHHH...
FEELIN' STRONG NOW!
WON'T BE LONG NOW!
Saturday, August 30, 2014
If you check the archives of this literary publication, you will confirm that I (or my alter ego….Alphonso ) predicted what would happen.
A partial tear doesn't heal with rest. Unless that rest includes a lifetime withdrawal from pitching.
So the Yankees played," let's pretend."
They went with a fairy tale to protect themselves from the ignominy of having ruined (read; " over worked ") their $185 million investment. Don't quote me on the numbers…..I am a swimmer, not an accountant.
So now I return.
Yankee fans must be well worn out from the ups and downs of hope and despair. Pineda is good; then he is bad; then he is good again. But, all the while, no one hits.
The Yankees need their Japanese import to hold other teams to 1 run in 8 innings.
Not this year.
It was always a pipe dream, and an ill-considered one, that Tanaka would just, " wait it out and heal."
Sure, he can soft toss. He can simulate bullpen sessions. But his ligament is partially torn. Partially torn becomes badly torn when it gets stressed. Rest just postpones the reality.
So I have come now for Tanaka.
Dr. Andrews will soon confirm the inevitable. And this outcome was obvious from the outset, save for the blind, wishful thinking of the brilliant Yankee organization.
Now, the surgery will set him back longer. Likely, he is gone for all of next year.
A silly, childish decision by the Yankees.
Haven't we all had enough of bad decisions and incompetence?
Haven't we had enough of Cashman?
Eli Manning's brilliant and hillarious AMA on Reddit yesterday is quite different from Brian Cashman's attempt eight months ago
If you've never seen a Reddit AMA, (Ask Me Anything) they're sort of fun. Celebrities get asked a lot of suck-up questions, and it's not exactly an exchange of useful information, but anything can happen, and you often get an interesting sense of a personality. (That is, assuming that he/she doesn't simply have a proxy answering the questions - always a possiblity on the web.)
Yesterday, Eli Manning did an AMA, and it shows why his future in broadcasting might even be more successful than his playing career. If you're a Giants fan or you just want a good read, see it here. (Talking to you, Alfonso.)
Now, check out Brian Cashman's tired, brief and souless AMA, done last winter.
He was, of course, writing metaphorically about the 2014 Yankees.
Will we go out swinging hot bats... or sitting in the clubhouse, pressing ice to a swollen elbow or knee?
In recent years, one regular certainty about the Yankees has been the Injury Specter, who is always lurking outside the door or behind the team bus. It seems that whenever we reach full stride, someone reaches for his strained hamstring. It's the mark of old, veteran teams. It's the mark of players who wear down after 140 games, or of pitchers who assume a new consciousness after 140 innings.
Last Sept. 12, all my remaining hopes for the 2013 Yankees died. That night, our best clutch hitter, Brett Gardner, stepped up to the plate against Baltimore. He took a swing and grimaced, then walked gingerly to the dugout. He strained the muscles around his ribs, and he never batted again in the season. Losing him was our final kick in the side.
Well, last night, we might have lost Jacoby Ellsbury, who did something to his ankle on a play at the plate in the ninth. He limped after the game, and he might need an MRI, and if there's anything Yankee fans fear more than bum ankles, it MRIs, which always seem to show something nasty.
We all know what it would mean to lose Ellsbury right now. It would mean losing our best hitter and replacing him with Zelous Wheeler. It would be like moving from an exalted and pretentious high-brow Robert Frost anecdotal lead to a grotesque finale, based on junk TV culture. That's something you'll never see here.
Nope. The 2014 Yankees are like a starship running on impulse power after a direct hit from a Klingon vessel, thanks to those damn cloaking mechanisms, which would be outlawed, if Bud Selig were Commissioner of the Universe, rather than merely Commissioner of Baseball. (Then again, we would probably have to lose much of our front bridge staff - at least Checkov and Uhura - due to Selig's imposed salary caps, so it's probably a good thing he's not in charge.) We're holding steady, awaiting the damage report from Scotty. Wait a minute. Wasn't Robert Frost Scottish?
Friday, August 29, 2014
I propose that Yankee fans everywhere buy horse-head masks - or animal pull-over heads - and wear them to Tuesday's home game against Boston. Thus, when the Redsocks take the field, they will gaze out upon bleachers full of Hannibal Lecter psycho killers. It will look like a scene from The Wicker Man.
As the Yankees win game after game, more fans will get the message, until the bleachers turn into a sea of nightmares, rousing subconscious terrors within our opponents, and causing their confidence to collapse.
No pitcher can throw strikes, no batter can hit home runs, in a horse-headed arena of horror.
But first, we have to sweep Toronto...
From now on, Tank, think twice before going bang-zoom on your wife!
Thanks to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, scores of lucky ladies can now walk their living rooms without having to fear the flash of a sudden left uppercut, or to find themselves looking up to see a jubilant sack dance performed by their enraged, 340-pound steroidal hubby, who is wondering why they didn't do the dishes.
From now on, boys, beat on the little lady, and you'll face a six-game suspension!
Yep, that's not a misprint, folks. Six games!
That's right, guys. The NFL is throwing the penalty flag at wife-beaters. That's almost a third of the season - and nearly half as much as some guys get for smoking pot!
Make no mistake: You send that lady to the E.R. room, and come next Sunday, you'll be watching the game on TV in her hospital room.
Good luck in figuring this out. But, hey, any Twitter feed named "Justin Pieper" must be stone-cold accurate - and it means Team Cashman can celebrate by pulling ahead even further in the infamous Pineda-Montero trade.
I have absolutely no interest in fact-checking this story. At times, there are items simply too wonderful to fact-check. You simply go with them, and I am going with this one for several reasons:
1. It's a player fighting a scout. It's not as if Jesus was being heckled by a regular fan. At last, he would be taking out his frustration on one of those damned scouts, who have ruined his life.
2. Theoretically, the scout must have been yelling hurtful things at Jesus. For starters, that's great scouting! Secondly, what would he have been yelling: "Montero, you're still dropping your hands in the strike zone! Montero, lengthen your stride for god-sakes!" This is precious.
3. It's Jesus, ascending into the stands to tell off the scout. "You screwed me with that hitting review. If I'm dipping the shoulder, it's because I want to dip the shoulder. You don't know anything." Ahh, a golden moment.
4. Jesus brings his bat. He's not big enough already to intimidate the scout? Maybe he was going to show the scout exactly how he swings.
5. We don't know what happens next. And frankly, I don't care. My take: Jesus beat the snot out of the scout, then used the bat to clear a path to the batters box, and then homered on the next pitch, sealing his anger forever. This beats Babe Ruth calling his shot. I'm going with it. Justin Pieper would never embellish anything.
In the first inning, they noted how Tigers' rookie Kyle Lobstein could be tight in his MLB debut, ripe for a veteran lineup to exploit.
In the second, they said the Yanks were hitting hard drives directly at people. (Aka: the over-shift excuse.) Lobstein's fastball reached 90, not fast-enough.
In the third, Suzyn mused that the Yankees were taking more pitches, as Lobstein fell behind in counts.
In the fourth, she suggested they'd hit Lobstein the second time around.
In the fifth, John said the Yankee hitters were ripe and ready. Of Teixeira's .230 average, John said, "He's better than that."
In the sixth, they said nobody in baseball is hitting - the NL batting leader was .317 - and that it's a pitcher-dominated game.
In the seventh, they said the Tigers bullpen was gassed from throwing seven innings on Wednesday.
In the eighth, they said the Yanks had several players who were stepping up lately.
In the ninth, they watched Ichiro Suzuki botch a fly ball to right, reminiscent of Nick Swisher's screw-up two years ago... also against the Tigers.
Afterword, they said the Yanks must now sweep Toronto to "get back into" the wild card race.
Three hours that will haunt me forever.
Folks, I hereby apologize for the naive tone of recent postings...
I should never have let this sorry team raise my hopes. I should have known better. The Yankees were never close to a wild card, they simply were close to being close to the last wild card slot. They said, "If we win five in a row, we could be only one or two behind!" And I bit. Like Teixeira, I should be better than that.
Right now, if you desire hope for the New York Yankees - well - think about next year, or maybe the year after that. Frankly, neither look all that bright. We'll still have Brian McCann flailing at high pitches, through by then he'll also be a mediocre-fielding first-baseman. By 2016, Carlos Beltran will be patrolling the outfield like Bernie Williams - the monument, though, not the player.
We have one MLB-ready prospect at Scranton - Rob Refsnyder - but he'll probably spend another season at Scranton, because Martin Prado will play 2B. If you stick Refsnyder in RF, he doesn't look so hot. Most of our other high-level prospects - Austin Romine, John Ryan Murphy, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams - did nothing this year. Compared to what other teams will bring up from their systems, our organization looks good and dead.
I am now officially subscribing to the "Collapse Theory," which says for the Yankees to field a contender, they must go through a meltdown, causing them to blow up the entire roster and excise the dead tissue. The Redsocks have used this strategy to win three championships in 10 years - and next season, they will be poised to whoosh past us again. Barring a complete collapse, come next August, we once again will be mortgaging our future in pursuit of a wild card mirage.
Yes, the wild card mirage... the Curse of Selig.
When Bud Selig orchestrated that second wild card slot - the one-game playoff - some experts called it a salve for small market teams, something for them to chase in lost seasons. Instead, it has become the worst thing that ever happened to the Yankees.
Right now, we are the only organization willing to trade young players in order to chase the final, away-field wild card slot. Everybody else steps back and says, "Go for it, Hal!"
Not long ago, the Tampa Rays had closed the wild card gap to within a few games, becoming one of the hottest teams in baseball. Nevertheless, they traded David Price for prospects, because they saw the futility in such a ridiculous chase. Likewise, the Indians and Blue Jays studied the realism of their wild card chances - and the meager one-game payoff - and chose to stand pat with their lineups. Only the Yankees believed that trading prospects in pursuit of the wild card was a worthwhile strategy.
Ahh, but we all know why they did it...
They were picturing themselves riding along on that flatbed float, crowds waving, ticker-tape flying, in the Canyon of Heroes.
So here we are, folks, riding the Hindenburg. Feel free to take it all the way down. Me? I'm jumping.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Another nice game by Kuroda wasted.
Shawn Kelley coughs up the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Joba "Man Mountain" Chamberlain pitched 1.1 for the hold.
McCann almost hit a three-run homer that would have brought on Robertson, but it curved foul. Sterling says, "These people who think they can predict baseball...who would have said that would go three feet foul?"
Sterling also says, "What a tough loss. But if a tough loss dooms you, you don't have a winning team."
Well, that explains it.
And you know what? He shouldn't.
If we go down, let's at least go down with dignity.
Folks, I'm all in on this. Jeter or bust. Jeter or bust.
Today, the Evils play the first of 31 Wild Card games, fulcrum points in short series they must win.
Forget that it's August, that the State Fair butter sculpture has not even begun to sag, and that you haven't even yet bought the drugs and alcohol for Labor Day. In Detroit, it's Halloween time. The masks are out, and there is raking to be done. From now on, both the Yankees and the Tigers - two of the game's most veteran, most expensive and maybe most disappointing teams - must win virtually every series... and this is their rubber match. Here she comes. It's her time of the month.
Let the record show that the Empire today faces nobody who dates Kate Upton or is auditioning for a future $250 million contract. Nope. We must duel Kyle Lobstein in his first MLB start.
Yes, dear God, another no-name rookie, the kind that the wily Yankee hitters traditionally cannot fathom. Then there is that cursed name, a set of syllables that pangs the Yankee subconscious.
Think "Lob," as in the great Dave LaRoche - heir to Steve Hamilton's Folly-Floater and ancestor to El Duque's out-of-the-sky meteor. To the Yankees, junk balls from slow-pitch leagues are historically the pitching equivalent of Mysterio's smoke machine, which robbed Spider-Man of his spider sense. And then there is the suffix... stein - which needs no explanation, none, to anyone within the Yankiverse. The Lobster is coming? Help us, Mr. Horse Head... Help us.
But let's give Joe and Cash some credit: The Yankees may be peaking at the absolute right time. Today, five teams have won 7 of their last 10: The Cubs (meaningless), the Phils (meaningless), the Angels (critical), the Royals (whom we beat the other day) and us, a .500 club throughout most of the season. The Even Empire.
So today, they face the Lobster and a lineup that has eaten our candy in previous Octobers. Win or lose, we will remain behind Detroit in the loss column. But from now on, if we butcher any Wild Cards, the post-season becomes next season. Here she comes...
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Still, isn't it rather early to start congratulating the Yankee front office for trading power-hitting prospect Peter O'Brien for the 30-year-old Prado, who will be paid $11 million over each of the next two years?
Well, not too early for the brown-nosing NY sports media.
Today, John Harper of the Daily News details the heart-stopping final trade deadline moments, when the fates collaborated to bring the Great Prado to Gotham. The upshot? Wow, the smart Yankees have done it again, gotten something for nothing! Start framing the CF plaque for Brian Cashman! After all, Prado has helped lead the Yankees back to within 7 games of Baltimore, and now three of that final, away-field, one-game Wild Card slot.
O'Brien has been hurt lately, so there's no instant metric for determining the outcome of that deal. Apparently, Arizona wanted a package of prospects, but Cashman didn't cave. (Apparently, they didn't want that package of prospects as much as they wanted to get out from under Prado's contract, but that's another story.)
Even if O'Brien completely tanks as a major leaguer, there is another intangible, conveniently overlooked, in the Prado deal.
Last week, the Yankees passed in the bidding on Rusney Castillo, the 27-year-old Cuban outfielder who became a free agent. One reason: absorbing the last two years of the Prado contract pushed them over the luxury tax budget limit. Boston signed Castillo. The Yankees weren't even in the final bidding. So all we can do is cross our fingers and hope the Redsocks didn't just acquire the next Puig or Cespedes.
No problem, though, not here in New York. Prado had a good week, so the Yankees win, thuuuuuugh Yankees win... thuhhh deal.
Remember how they marveled last year about acquiring Alfonso Soriano? Oh, well, we had a good week and stretched out the wild card race for a few more days. Isn't that all that matters?
Once you tell the world your secret, you always wonder if you didn't just blow it. In the back of your mind, a voice is always whispering, "Once you tell everybody, it's over."
In my book, "The Juju Rules, or How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) the first rule of Juju is simple: DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB. (See what I mean? We don't even mention the j-word.)
I'm sure Shawn Seabuscuit Kelly is wondering today if he should have mentioned the horse-head mask that he had donned for five straight games - five straight victories - to a Yahoo sports reporter. The story moved nationally and, for a few hours anyway, raised hopes among Yankee fan-fools, of which I am one.
Listen: Juju does exist. It's beauty - it's success - stems from the most powerful performance-enhancing drug known to humanity: The placebo.
In study after study, over generations of clinical work, scientists have found that people who believe in the snake oil always get a little more boost than those who do not. This won't help the evangelical preacher who attempts to faith heal Ebola in the Congo. But when Martin Prado steps into the box against David Price, it might just sharpen his confidence just enough to pull the trigger on a belt-high fast ball.
Baseball players are not always the sharpest knife in the butcher block. Can you imagine driving across the country with Paul O'Neill talking all the way? Keep in mind, his sister wrote for The New York Times. If ballplayers believe there is a nation of nutcase fans who are pacing in their rooms, holding up amulets and photographs of Thurman Munson, then - at least for some of them - there is always a trace of hope, even in the worst of situations. I believe the New York Yankees have built the largest army of practicing wackos. We have the juju to win the World Series every year - though the Redsocks certainly have built a sizable juju war machine, as evidenced by their beards last year and the zealous belief that Boston was a city fated to win the championship. You could feel that juju coursing through September.
And maybe the Yankees felt it Monday night, after they crushed Kansas City. Frankly, Shawn Kelly should kept quiet about the horse head. Last night, it probably wouldn't have mattered. Maybe we were fated to lose. But once Kelly mentioned it publicly, he had to know that he looked like a fool and that he was jinxing his secret good luck charm.
A juju rule: Never jinx your secret good luck charm.
The Yankees lost. Tonight, Kelly can wear the horse head, but he'll only feel like a fool. The placebo only works when people believe. It's getting harder and harder to believe.
We'd put runners on base. I would rise. We would leave them. I would sit.
One on in the first, McCann hits a DP grounder. (The man runs like Amos McCoy.)
Two on in the third, Jeter strikes out looking.
Two on in the fourth, Prado and Drew fail to move them.
One on in the sixth, Prado grounds out.
One on in the eighth, McCann another DP.
In the ninth, the Empire spares me from the temptation of hope, which appears in the form of closer Joe Nathan, who has thrown gasoline-dipped blasting caps all season. They go down 1-2-3, like Valium tablets.
Technically, summer is not over. But spiritually, emotionally, psychologically - damn, we have been dead for a while. In hindsight, I'd put the flat-line moment two weeks ago in Baltimore, when Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones hit those home runs off Dellin Betances and Seabuscuit Kelly, blowing a 2-1 lead in the eighth. We ended up losing five in a row to Cleveland, Baltimore and Tampa. At that point, I was ready to trash the season and turn this site into a self-righteous blog about the need to stamp out twerking during the Video Music Awards, something like that, which would allow me to post photos of scantily-clad women, while pretending to be outraged.
But then we won five in a row, and last night, there I was - needing to believe again.
What a fool.
We can still win this series, I suppose. All we need is for Shane Greene to out-pitch David Price, for Brian McCann to take the concrete out of his shoes, and Derek Jeter to regenerate - 15 years younger. Stranger things have happened, I guess. But only fools are willing to believe it.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
A few days ago, I went on my annual scouting trip, scouring the beaches and tropics of this hemisphere to find the great Yankees of the future.
While I have not found that great prospect, despite great effort and too many Utica Clubs to count, I see that the Yankees have not lost since I left. I left with the team a crumbling mess and I now look and see hope.
I did not anticipate this powerful juju. So, in the name of all that is good, I guess I will have to stay here and continue soaking up the sun and Utica Club. All in the name of helping the team, of course.
Usually, it's a three-game set against Boston, or a West Coast swing, which has all the trappings of a 2 a.m. visit to an emergency room, with your stomach-pump working overtime.
Tonight, the Yankees start perhaps the most frightening series since the All-Star break: We play the mighty Tigers, our playoff nemesis in recent years, and a team that - if you compare lineups and pitching staffs - makes us look like a collection of laid-off Walmart greeters from Scranton, or maybe Wilkes Barre. Two weeks ago, the mere notion of the Yankees - with Zelous Wheeler and Chase Whitley anchoring the team photo - battling Detroit for a playoff spot, conjured a feeling of hopelessness not experienced since Alfonso Soriano last lifted a bat.
But the Tigers are floundering, to the point of hearing boos at home. And now the Yankees have won five in a row - even beating a contender (though KC did look a little cowed last night, as if they had reverted to old, Jerry Lumpe - R.I.P. - form in the presence of pinstripes.)
A mark of the 2014 Break-Even Empire has been the team's uncanny ability to follow winning streaks with losing skeins, two stutter steps forward and two stutter steps back, like an insider-trader "correction" in the price of pork commodities. If it happens again, so long, Cashman!
Over the next three nights, the team will either tie or flip past Detroit, or it will topple like convenience store beer displays in the next Napa Valley aftershock - maybe even behind Cleveland.... and Labor Day is wayyyyyy too late to be looking up at Cleveland. (Hey, it may be too late already.)
Yeah, if the Yankees win in Detroit, it only means they will live to play next week. They could tank against mighty Baltimore, or fall into the teeth of the toothless Redsocks, who'll play with nothing on their minds but spite.
But this is a week yearning to define the '14 Yankees. We either break the .500 roller coaster and make a run into September, or the post-season becomes an afterthought, and from here on in, it's just drinking heavily, chanting "Der-ek Jet-er" and pretending that its 1999. It starts tonight. Yanknado or Yankeegeddon. Who knows?
Monday, August 25, 2014
Once again, the Yankee front office is delighted with itself, big in the britches, proud of the discipline it has shown by holding the line against wasteful spending. The newest evidence is the brass' decision to not go over $40 million in the bidding for Rusney Castillo, the 27-year-old international man of mystery from Cuba - the so-called Brett Gardner with power.
Over the weekend, the Redsocks signed Castillo for $72 million, beating out the Tigers. Clearly, neither of those front offices don't respect U.S. currency, as much as the Yankees do.
Instead, the Yankees three weeks ago traded Pete O'Brien, the best HR-hitter in their farm system, for 30-year-old Martin Prado, who will be paid $22 million over the next two years. This weekend, Prado tore the cover off the ball against the White Sox, hitting two home runs - to bring his seasonal total to eight. Yes, eight! This hitting spree has allowed the Yankee front office to declare the trade a complete success and award themselves pats on the backs.
Castillo has no MLB track record. Unless Boston straightens out his entry VISA, he might not even get to play this year. So next year, we'll learn whether he is the next Puig, Cespedes, Abreu, etc. - or the next Ronnier Mustellier.
Prado, on the other hand, comes with a clear skill set, based on his career in Atlanta and Arizona. Baseball Reference lists for him these statistical astral twins:
Let me abandon my usual snarkiness for a moment and state categorically that I have nothing against Martin Prado. He looks like a decent player, a nice lug nut, who could add a lot to a really good team. He plays three positions and hits 10 HRs per season. And if Prado hits 10 over the next month and leads the Yankees to a 2014 World Series - well - I'll happily eat crow.
But from where I sit, $11 million per season is a lot to spend on Les Bell... or even Mule Haas.
And no matter what happens to O'Brien - moments after he was dealt, the Yankee blogosphere immediately started declaring him a failure - I just hope people remember that it was the Prado acquisition that effectively took us out of the bidding for Castillo. According to various reports, Hal Steinbrenner simply wouldn't authorize further spending over the current payroll, because of the crushing luxury tax. Thus, Boston had an open path to sign the next big name from Cuba. We weren't even close to running up the price tag.
So we get two more years of Frank Demaree.
Like I say, who knows how this will turn out? We have a nice little spare part with Prado. But is that going to win a World Series? The way I see it, the Yankees can either be the big spending, bombastic, Gotham-based Evil Empire - and throw their weight around, whenever a new star appears on the horizon - or they can be the team that counts its nickels and occasionally overpays for Les Bell's statistical doppelganger.
Next August, if Castillo turns out to be Brett Gardner with power, I'm wondering whether Prado's 10 HRs are going to feel so nice. Of course, by then, we all know the deal: The Yankee front office will be congratulating itself on another Moose Haas. Some things don't seem to change.
From now on, we have no time to heal, not time to rest - no time to play W.B. Mason commercials and flip the channel to the Little League World Series. Instead of watching scoreboards to see how KC, Detroit and Toronto are doing, we'll play them ourselves. And make no mistake: We are no longer facing the toothless blue gills from Houston or Chicago. From now on, we play teams that bite. And god help us, if the waters become scented with blood.
Ah, did someone mention the White Sox! What a treasure! May they always play against us! And before the world anointed the 2014 as a team of destiny, we must take a moment to respect Robin Ventura's club as a team of crapola. Their LF muffed dropped a routine fly, opening the flood gates against Chris Sale. On Saturday, their catcher didn't even reach for a throw to the plate, he just smiled at the ball as it whizzed past. They botched grounders, made base-running mistakes, handed us three victories like checks to Derek Jeter's charity. They answered the age-old question: Is there life after death? The answer: Yes, if you are lucky enough to play the White Sox.
Now, they'll help other teams. We'll swim with sharks.
Imagine: A meaningful game against the Royals... in August.
Imagine playing the mighty Tigers... after having clubbed them around two weeks ago.
Imagine, the powerful Blue Jays, which - aw, screw it - they'll always be Toronto; (do they still have Jesse Barfield?) But you know what I mean. They're not the White Sox. And this is Shark Week.
From now on, if we get swept, it's over.
If we lose four out of five, it's over.
If we go on one of our patented 20-scoreless-inning hitter streaks, it's over.
Meet the wrong shark, and we could be all but mathematically eliminated by Labor Day.
Imagine that: Done before Labor Day. Last year, as horrible as the Lyle Overbays were, we at least managed to stretch out the collapse until the season's final week. Now, if we get eaten by the sharks, we'll still have a month to play Scantonians, write speeches about Jeter, and ponder all the things that went so horribly wrong.
It's Shark Week, campers. Prepare to get wet. We have run out of land beneath our feet. If you see someone go under, odds are, they won't be resurfacing again.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
To protest protests against the Washington Redskins, Fox News will no longer use "Washington" in any mention of the team
They will just be called "Redskins." Please note.
Three in a row, Tanaka throwing, Phelps healing, Beltran hitting, Prado sizzling, no useless "6" jersey clogging the locker, and a lineup capable of scoring FIVE RUNS IN ONE GAME. (Did we die and go to heaven?)
First up, "E."
Congratulations to Jo Torr, Drk Jtr and Yogi Brra.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Or our 2-2 record against Houston and the White Sox, so far.
We don't need a potentially game changing young guy from Cuba, we need more 35+ pitchers. It is in the air.
The thought is; we have a killer line-up with Beltran, Ichiro, McCann, Texiera, Gardener and Ellsbury. We have filled in the infield for next year with Drew and that number 12 person. And, we have Prado to play everywhere. Not to mention a healthy Francisco. The thought is: all of the above ( or most ) have just had, "off years," and in 2015 will rock.
So we need more pitchers with huge contracts. The thought is: Greene and McCarthy aren't really any good. Nor is Phellps and Pineda is unreliable. CC still haunts us. And Tanaka will have surgery. So let's add a few more starters whose arms are dying, and leave the offense alone. Let's not add spend on run producers, or clutch hitters.
We have plenty of pop ( pardon the irony ).
Just let Cashman's convoluted reasoning, and poor player selections, continue to interface with the Steinbrothers' feigned interest in the team.
Money for old guys. Take no risks. Bottle up all prospects' hopes forever. Don't get into a bidding war for anyone who is a position player. Remember that drugged out bum we signed out of Cuba a few years back to play third. Don't do that again.
The thought is: the Yankees are a magnet for guys whose careers are shot and who are looking for a cushy retirement in," the pinstripes I have always wanted to wear."
The thought is; we are screwed.
Today, the Yankiverse honors Joe Torre, the last truly successful Yankee manager - the latest in a progression of oldies concerts, designed to fill the void of an August without otherwise meaningful games.
GeezerFest began with Tino Martinez, moved into the masses with Old-Timers Day, picked up steam with Paul O'Neill, hits its stride today with Torre, and will reach a cresendo with the farewell to Derek Jeter, when all the singers collaborate on a version of the Beatles "Yesterday." Seriously, who needs a pennant race? We've got Night Ranger, Styx and Foreigner.
To commemorate this great day, manager Joe Girardi last night drained his bullpen, Torre- style. (Brian Cashman should be on the phone to Tanyan Sturtze and Scott Proctor. Unless Hiroki Kuroda goes eight, we'll be visiting the land of David Huff.) And with the walk-off celebration last night, you'd think the original members of Blue Oyster Cult had reunited to take the stage and play "Don't Fear the Reaper." Either that, or somebody gave Francisco Cervelli an ice unexpected bucket challenge.
I certainly don't want to throw cold water over a Yankee win. Not me. I'm ready to hoist Alfonso onto my shoulders, shirtless, so he can wave his Bic lighter in the air. And who knows? Maybe Mr. Torre has one miracle left to bestow on his old team. But the speeches and the plaques - the songs and the dances - cannot obscure the fault lines on the giant video board, when the camera zooms in for a close-up:
Four games above .500. Thirty-six to go. Three behind in the loss column. Two teams ahead of us. All for a one-game, half-court shot... almost certainly in Oakland.
I'm not biting. Not yet. Two wins - against Houston and Chicago - nope. Not enough.
Well it's all right now; I've learned my lesson well...
You see, you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself...
Friday, August 22, 2014
Of course, the Yankees have managed to set the bar pretty low on hope.
Basically, they offer none.
Tonight, the Murdoch/YES p.r. Zambroni machine will smooth this over with words dipped in rose-water. They'll tell us how Castillo isn't worth $72 million, and the Yankee "baseball men" - which may include the chain-smoking ghosts of Stump Merrill and Syd Thrift - analyzed the situation and ruled against spending Hal Steinbrenner's hard-inherited money, and - of course, they are second to none, when it comes to identifying Cuban talent.
After all, they saved us from the likes of Puig, Chapman, Abreu, Cespedes, et al, and lured to the coal mines of Scranton Ronnier Mustellier and Adonis Garcia. Yes, they know Cuban talent the way every third-rate Hollywood celebrity knows the Ice Bucket Challenge.
So Boston enters 2015 with an overhauled team, including a 27-year-old Cuban outfielder who might just be a future superstar. They will claim the cover of Sports Illustrated and the national spotlight.
We'll have Martin Prado.
Damn. This is a dark day, a truly depressing Friday afternoon. This is what I most feared - that Boston was hording its money to buy impact players, rather than over-the-hill LOB machines. You know what? I hope the Yankees lose tonight! They deserve to lose. I hope they get swept by Chicago, fall into fourth and get booed off the field, and then I hope Brian Cashman develops a nasty ugly rash - I'm talking shades of purple - in the center of his forehead, so he doesn't want to go to parties, and I hope that Hal - while piloting his yacht - cuts his foot on a broken gin bottle, and it gets infected, and they have to cut off his big toe.
No. Actually, I don't hope for any of those things.
I wish I could. Because they have a better chance of happening than the Yankees do of winning anything memorable this season. Damn... How did it get this way? How did we get so screwed up? The only thing we have left is Derek Jeter - everything else is collapsing - and we couldn't even give him a decent send-off. It's exactly the same as what happened with Marinano. The Yankee organization - like its team - can't deliver in the clutch. But hey, isn't that the ultimate mark of mediocrity?
"Thank you, Suzyn, thank you, everybody, and I want to welcome you all to an absolutely perfect night here at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees will be hosting the Chicago White Sox. Joe Girardi's team is four games behind in the race for the second Wild Card slot, which makes tonight's game especially critical for YEAAAW! FUCK ME! WHAT THE FUCK! HOLY SHIT, THAT'S FUCKING COLD! GODDAMMIT, CANDY, WHO THE FUCK TOLD YOU TO DO THAT? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? I'M GODDAMM FUCKING FREEZING! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! WHO THE FUCK DID THAT? I'M GONNA FUCKING KILL 'EM? I GONNA FUCKIN... well, excuse me, everybody. I'm being told that Derek Jeter called for it, a great human being, Derek Jeter, and, heh heh, Hiroki Kuroda checks the signal, thuuuuuuuugh pitch..."
Joel Sherman says it (He said it last August too): "Maybe these Yanks would be better off getting clobbered by the lowly White Sox this weekend, having their fate fully defined and taking advantage of pitching needs with the Angels and Dodgers to see if they could trade McCarthy and/or Hiroki Kuroda/"
1. No trade for Alfonso Soriano, who through July sat in our bellies like a State Fair deep-fried pat of butter.
2. We could have traded Robby Cano for a front-line prospect, or maybe three. If we scored a young 2B, we would have been spared the Brian Roberts Experiment.
3. Maybe we could have traded Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlain - for a pile of prospects.
4. Tried Adam Warren as a starter. Given J.R. Murphy and Zolio Almonte 150 at bats.
5. Maybe avoided signing Carlos Beltran for three years and Brian McCann for five.
Yes, hindsight is 20-20. Anybody can look back, postulate moves that could have been made, and criticize. But when you study the Yankees' quest to chase the one-game wild card windmill, and to trade youth for veterans, two arguable views of Hal Steinbrenner emerge.
1. He is a Quixotic hero for refusing to concede a season - as some owners do - even in the face of overwhelming odds. He just patches the lineup and exhorts his army to "step it up" (as he did this week.)
2. He is a coward, who hasn't the guts to face the abrupt rage of sportswriters, call-in-show experts and paying fans, who would spend the next month criticizing management.
Trouble is, I don't think Number 2 really applies.
It's interesting how Redsock fans have accepted - even embraced - their 2014 collapse. Come next spring, they anticipate an overhauled roster, new young players and another World Series chase. Right now, as bad as their team is, they have more hope than most Yankee fans.
The Yankiverse is about as troubled as it's been since 1990. I don't know one Yankee fan who thinks this team could win the 2014 World Series. Most doubt we're a contender for the Wild Card. And here's the real rub: Most expect us to be down and out next year, too.
Next year, the Yankees won't have Derek Jeter to showcase in the lineup. In fact, they'll have no player with star power whatsoever - unless they drain the system for somebody, a thought that causes fans to cringe. The quick fix would be to sign John Lester and Max Scherzer - who have already logged a lot of innings in their careers - to Sabathia-length contracts. Are you cringing, too?
Joel Sherman is right. Perhaps the best that could happen would be for the White Sox to sweep us at home. But even then, would Hal get the message?
Damn. It's like standing on the deck of the Titanic and watching the ship bore full-speed ahead.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
They. Are. Trying. To. Raise. Our. Hopes.
They. Think. We. Will. Bite.
They. Think. We. Were. Born Yesterday.
I have said this all year. I have said it for 2, maybe 3 years, actually.
The problem with the Yankees is Brian Cashman. Get rid of him. Bring in a talent. Clean house.
And begin anew.
Cashman has only one strategy and it consists of the following tactics:
1. Have idiots in charge of the draft. Waste picks by trading them, or focusing on family friends like Mariano's kid, Dante Bichette's kid, or Cito Culver.
2. Trade everything we have, picks and prospects, for pitching. Which, as it turns out, is not the fuc**** problem.
3. Keep making the team older and slower. Pay outrageous sums to players whose best years are so far in the past as to create laughter from the teams who deal them to us. It must be like Christmas every day during the off season for them. Wasted players whose contracts other teams were prepared to eat, all of a sudden are redeemed at par and usually we throw in a bonus in the form of a, " player to be named." The shock and laughter at the Yankee's stupidity must bring tears.
4. Fire the guy who cleans the locker room when we fail to make the playoffs. But keep the incompetents who are in charge of scouting, evaluating and developing talent. Doesn't anyone notice that we have no one we are willing to bring up from the minors at any position other than pitching? Whose responsibility is it that we have no talent? Whose?
5. Constantly, without fail, make trades that hurt us and help others.
6. Sign 15 year-olds from the Dominican, and give them millions. By the time they are major league eligible, they are zonked out on drugs and/or don't give a crap. They are already
millionaires ( zillionaires compared to their lives in the Dominican), and could give a crap about working hard, traveling forever and, perhaps, being revealed as without talent.
I am telling you, as I have endlessly, that Cashman and his band of useless hangers on are the problem.
Incompetence, incompetence and incompetence. The three musketeers of Cashman's approach.
We have spent millions, loaded and re-loaded the team and, if Derek were already gone you would see a total collapse. These .225 hitters are trying as hard as they can because they are on his team. Don't even contemplate what next year will be like.
They score 2 runs a game, and have no clutch hitters at all, save perhaps Ellsbury.
Cashman has failed in front of everyone's eyes. Isn't it time?
What will it take to dump him? His damn contract will be up at the end of this season. Which, to us, is today.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Hence, a question to be shouted at the unblinking, unresponsive Mount Yes:
Jose Pirela? W.T.F?
Down at Scranton, Jose Pirela is a 24-year-old 2B-utility fielder, who might just win the International League's MVP award. He's batting .306, with 9 HRs, and playing almost everywhere. Pirela has slowly risen through the Yankee ranks, year after year, on a steady climb to Mt. Nowhere. He's just another piece of organizational fodder, I guess.
The "line" is that the Yankee scouts don't see Pirela as a true major league 2B. And let's be realistic here: They certainly know more than clods like me, who simply read box scores and yell W.T.F? Maybe the guy has a critical flaw. Maybe he bats cross-handed, or throws underhanded, or has a contagious rash - I dunno - but it doesn't show up in the stats. At a certain point, we simply must trust the Yankee scouts, just as we are supposed to trust the NSA, or the EPA, or the CDC, or whatever formal apparatus is supposed to protect us from the Martians, or the Redsocks. They are the experts, right?
Ah. But that's just it.
What if you've lost faith in the Yankee scouts? After all, they're the guys who said Eduardo Nunez could play SS, and assured us, over and over, that Jesus Montero was a future MLB catcher. (Wait: On that note, they were famously lying to us, right? So they could peddle him for Michael Pineda, right? It was a campaign of disinformation, designed for our own good.) Yep, those Yankee scouts.
In a perfect world, Jose Pirela would seem to be the perfect September call-up. He plays five positions. Good grief, we only have three guys on the bench. But now, we are told the Yankees simply have too few roster openings to pour poor Pirela a cup of coffee. There's just too much outstanding (definition: high priced and injured) talent on this team, as it chases the coveted Bud Selig Memorial One-Game, Away-Field Wild Card Trophy. (Can we call it The Selig Cup? When a team clinches the last spot, the Cup should appear, and the captain should run around the field, drinking from it.) There is no room for Pirela. Forget about him. If he wins MVP at Scranton, well, maybe he can do it again next year. Maybe he can become "Mr. Baseball of Scranton."
But something seems wrong here. The Yankees spent the entire first half of 2014 with Brian Roberts at second base, (before cruelly waiving Roberts, just two at-bats away from a significant bonus payout.) They never gave Pirela so much as a sideways glance. After all, playing 2B at Scranton, Pirela made made six errors - a .978 fielding percentage. (Note: Roberts this year made 10, a .974 percentage.)
But again, that's just statistical stuff. The experts know better than me. I accept that.
Listen: It's a lost cause for me - or you - or any fan - to argue the fate of Jose Pirela, as if we know something the Yankee coaches don't. When we make such arguments, we sound like loony coots or a 12-year-olds with an internet connection.
But as a fan, I hereby reserve the right to throw up my hands - as high as I can - and yell at the unblinking YES mountain:
W. T. F?
Over the next month, every Yankee fan in captivity should be doing the same. Why NOT Jose Pirela? Why NOT try youngsters? Why NOT look to the future?
It is time for a loud, angry fan-based Yankee s*t storm. We may not be the experts. But you don't have to be a cow to know that the milk is sour.
Food Bank. Do gooders.
Derek Jeter is leaving. Twenty years of sacrifice and leading the Yankees, and he doesn't even warrant a butter sculpture?
This is the same State Fair that once unveiled a butter sculpture of Daryl Strawberry. DARYL STRAWBERRY. AS A MET.
I ain't going. NOBODY SHOULD GO! BOYCOTT!
NO JETER, NO PEACE!
NO JETER, NO PEACE!
NO JETER, NO PEACE!
As far as I'm concerned, there is no 2014 Butter Sculpture. It's a margarine sculpture, and the brand is, "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT JETER."
Girardi's Yankees are the team that always, somehow, springs a new leak.
Last night, it was David Robertson, who was just starting to be appreciated. But the loss wasn't his fault. If Robby had pitched a perfect ninth, would it have mattered? It would have been Rich Hill in the tenth. Some new pigeon would have stepped forward, booting a grounder or leaving the bases loaded. Somehow, Brian Cashman built a team destined to lose, to be forgotten - that is, if we can drink enough to forget.
Now, we're supposed to settle for winning the home series, 2-1, against the Astros? Gimme a break. Haven't we already seen this episode of "Lost?" Of course, we have. And we know the outcome: THEY DON'T EXCAPE THE ISLAND. NOTHING GETS EXPLAINED. AT A CERTAIN POINT, THE SHOW ENDS, BUT THEY'RE STILL STANDING THERE, LOOKING EMBARRASSED FOR HAVING WASTED OUR TIME. IT DOESN'T TURN OUT HAPPILY.
Last night, Martin Prado did look solid - just as Alfonso Soriano looked 10 years younger last August. Already, the YESIRs seem to have anointed Prado as "Yankee 2B of the future." Yeesh. The same experts seem to think Cashman should re-sign Chase Headley, who two weeks ago sported a Soriano splurge, but now is settling back into the LOB machine he was reputed to be in San Diego. Are we going to add him to the long-range payroll?
Listen: When you sign players from the scrap heap or the municipal salary dump, you eventually face one grim reality: There is a reason why the previous team decided to part ways. It may not show up tomorrow. Just wait, and it will.
And when it does, your team will have sprung a new leak.
And a game you desperately had to win will fly out the window.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
But has anybody else noticed that part of the Ice-Bucket Challenge's incredible viral success seems to stem from it being basically a gigantic Internet wet t-shirt contest?
1. The overbearing, obnoxious sound system in the Tropicana Dome.
2. The Major Deegan Expressway.
3. Sunday night getaway games.
4. Pitchers who take too much time on the mound.
5. Batters who do not exploit a defensive over-shift that virtually guarantees a base bit from a bunt or well-placed ground ball.
7. The ridiculous distance of the broadcast booth from the field at Nationals Park.
8. Reporters who try to stir up controversy when there isn't any.
9. The Wave.
10. So called "experts" who think they can predict baseball games.
UPDATED: VIA MUSTANG
11. Umpires who don't signal strikes quickly and clearly.
12. The really loud fan right under the booth.
13. Opportunities the Yankees fail to capitalize on.
14. The booth window in Fenway that doesn't close when it's freezing.
15... ? (Anybody... class?)