Wednesday, September 30, 2015
I might just go back to the Greyhound counter and buy a one-way ticket to Mexico.
Last night, Michael Pineda had barely placed his ridiculous "iconic" cap on his head and we were six runs down. He just got hammered.
His expression lost all serenity, his eyes glazed and popped, his confidence went in the toilet. I thought for a moment there, that he was going to ask for a bathroom break. Talk about a panic moment.
I thought I was watching an act; a parody of baseball done in a theater in the west village. Death of a Pitcher.
It was better than batting practice for the red sox. It was like dunking your high school physics teacher at a, " hit the bullseye," game at the county fair.
The game was over. As Yogi would say, " It got late early."
Where the hell is Nathan Eovaldi? All of a sudden Luis Severino is our best pitcher?
Jesus, Mary & Michael.
A team to blow the one game wild card play-in spot if I ever saw one.
Official Yankee view: There's nothing to fear, no reason to worry, lalalalala, everybody go home and go to bed
The Yankees won't blow this.
Nope. Can't happen. Will not happen! Those aging vets, you can count on them in the clutch. They're battle-tested, they know the score. The Yankees have carefully assembled a team of cagy, experienced warriors, and they know how to win. Lalalalalala...
Why would anybody worry? After all, the Empire has played one game over .500 since early August. They are 13-19 in their last 32 home games. A-Rod is hitting .167 over his last 11. Our lineup couldn't hit a lefty with tennis rackets. We're practicing John Ryan Murphy at 1B. Last night, Michael Pineda gave up six runs before recording his second out. Tanaka goes tonight, first time since he tweaked his hammy, which happened when Girardi started him on four days rest. Oh yes, everything is groovy!
Nope. Nothing to fear. No way the Yankees get swept at home by the lowly Redsocks, who - by the way - have five hitters in their lineup with higher averages than the Yankees' leader, Carlos Beltran, (at .274.) No frickin way can the Yankees lose two more. Go home, everybody. Eat a chicken and kiss your children. And - hey - if we do get swept - who cares? - because all we need to do is take 2 out of 3 in Baltimore, where old friend Buck Showalter will have his team take a knee. Right? It cannot happen. Big collapses only happen to the Mets, you know, when they had guys like, oh, Carlos Beltran.
It's been a great year! Nobody expected such success. What a pleasant surprise! The Yankees are contending for the Wild Card! We should be thankful. Everything is great! No, better than great! IT'S FANTASTIC, MAGNIFICENT, ADORABLE, AND I'M SO HAPPY THAT I'M READY TO EXPLODE, HAHAHAHAHA, WITH WILD CARD PRIDE! U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! LALALALALA...
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Do you believe this slop? It's from Anthony McCarron, who used to man the Daily News Fifth.
We do not subscribe to the absurd Jeterian notion that any season that ends with a loss is an abject failure. With that outlook in mind, this Yankee year already should be deemed a success by virtue of the fact the Bombers had a chance to clinch a postseason berth Monday night if a few tumblers fell right.
Dear Lord, protect us from those who would have the Yankees be the Kansas City Royals, and who would happily accept anything less than a World Championship.
Do not let them infect us.
Listen: It's NOT A CRIME in this world to root for AT LEAST ONE WINNING TEAM. It's not a sin to expect that team to win, and to demand nothing less. It doesn't matter if it is Ohio State in football, or Duke in basketball, or the Lakers or Vince Lombardi's Packers. IT'S NOT A CRIME TO EXPECT YOUR TEAM TO WIN. In New York, we can shrug off the horrible Knicks and drink away the last-minute meltdowns of the Jersey Giants. All we have - or once had - was the assurance that the Yankees were in it for keeps.
It is NOT A CRIME to want - and to expect - the Yankees to win every season.
I was not able to watch the Yankees for 34 days. Occasionally, I was able to log on to IIHIIF for news and updates.
I see that the team lost Tex for the year ( which we predicted earlier ), and that A-Rod's offensive contributions were waining as the days grew shorter ( also predicted ).
Last night, I watched and nothing had changed. Nova pitched better than normal for about 5 innings; the Yankees could not score more than one run for him; most bunting attempts were absurd; and Ivan finally got whacked with the long ball.
To me, the failure of the offense remains stasis. Without a flurry of two and three run home runs from Beltran, Mc Cann or the kid, the Yankees just cannot generate consistent offense.
And few pitchers, or combinations of them, can give us nine innings of 1 run ball.
So we lost to the team that, just the day before, crawled out of the cellar.
The one game play-in slot is still not secure, but we will likely get there.
Then, we'll go home again.
I'm talking about Betts, Bradley and Bogartes - three rising stars who could brace their lineup for a decade. Bogartes is already the best SS in the league; he might win the batting crown. Bradley is a Gold Glove OF who has learned to hit, and Betts could be the best of them. Add Yoan Mocada - the great and ridiculous front office Yankee mental lapse of 2015 - and we could face a Boston resurgence that won't be smoke and mirrors.
Of course, we do have Greg Bird and Luis Severino. But after that, our system lands in the middle of the pack. (Boston's is rated among the top farms, in part thanks to Moncada.) All the hype about Aaron Judge belies the fact that he didn't hit at Scranton. Jorge Matos is at least two seasons away, we have no place for Gary Sanchez, and the Yankees dedicated 2015 to devaluing Rob Refsnyder and denying the existence of Jose Pirela. We have no Betts, Bradley and Bogartes. Boston has a wave of youth, and that's how teams win.
Under Bud Selig, MLB quietly became the NFL, a sport much friendlier to cheapskate billionaire owners. To win, all you have to do is come in last for about three years. You'll draft a Bryce Harper, or a Gerrit Cole or a David Price, or maybe a couple of them. The Yankees' money advantage is vanishing, and we have our own Kung Fu Pandas - (did we really sign Chase Headley to a four-year deal?) We cannot buy our way out of bad decisions, and the Moncada debacle shows that still make them.
In baseball, the worst place to be is slightly above .500. You don't draft high, and if you sign a free agent, you forfeit your first-round pick. When you look at the Yankees, you see a middle-of-the-pack franchise that for three years now has desperately chased the one-game Wild Card, the sham of the post-season. Barring an explosive meltdown - the likes of which could end Joe Girardi's run - we should finally make that damn one game shot.
Well, we better win it. If not, all the YES blather about how the 2015 Yankees over-achieved will go down the sink hole. Because we have gigantic sodden lumps in our lineup, and they aren't going anywhere. Boston might be eating our lunches for years to come. And next year, right around now, we'll be chasing that one game wild card.
Monday, September 28, 2015
It's official. Harper is going to be a Yankee.
The Steinbrenners should retire his number 34 right now, in anticipation of his arrival.
The guy hates Papelbon. That's good enough for me. He's a future Yankee.
Harper, age 22, may win the NL Triple Crown. In 2017, he becomes arbitration-eligible. The Nats aren't going to want to pay him. Besides, two years later, he's a free agent. He'll go on the market at age 26. The Nats still won't have won anything. (Quite possibly, neither will we.) But A-Rod, Tex, CC, Beltran and even Stephen Drew will be off the books. By then, Harper will have outgrown his Justin Beiber potty-training phase. He'll be hungry for a ring.
It's well known that Harper grew up a huge Yankees fan - (who else do you root for in Las Vegas, other than the team that the oddsmakers always like?) He recently tweeted that Yogi Berra was one of his all-time heroes. If we sign him for 10 years, he'll still be younger than Beltran was when we gave him a three-year deal.
Write this down. Here's the 2019 Yankees lineup:
ss Jorge Matos
lf Jacoby Ellsbury
cf Bryce Harper
rf Aaron Judge
1b Greg Bird
c Gary Sanchez
dh Jesus Montero
3b Yangervis Solarte
2b Dustin Pedroia
Read it and weep.
But yesterday's revelation that Drew is suffering from dizziness leads to a secondary revelation: Joe Girardi is suffering from a managerial form of PTSD. Apparently, Joe's recent use of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at 2B was not a sign of long overdue change: He was merely resting Dizzy Drew. Thus, as soon as Dizzy is back on the Ritalin, we'll return to his .202 batting average and kiss his four at-bats goodbye every game. How exciting is that, eh?
Listen: I think Joe's a great guy, a leader, he instills loyalty, and is, overall, a decent manager. But he's having a terrible year. The bullpen has traumatized him. He continually uses the two pitchers he trusts, causing them to wear out. And somewhere in his mind, he once saw Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder botch a play at 2B, and - as a result - he could not bring himself to ever stick them in a game. If Joe has lost the ability to adjust, maybe he ought to call a season from the broadcast booth.
It's coming down to the wire. Technically, Boston is still in this - six losses behind a wild card slot. All we need to do is win a game, and they're done. If we do it quickly, the rest of the series will be a laugh and a wink. If they get close to sweeping us, the stress levels will pop Joe's cork.
So who do we root for? California has won 8 of its last 10 games, pulling into a virtual tie (in the loss column) with Houston. The Astros have Dallas Kuechel, who will shut us out in one-game playoff (assuming they can finagle their staff to have him pitch.) The Angels are the hottest team in the AL - which is precisely what you don't want to face. The answer of course, is Minnesota, who is neither good nor hot.
On behalf of the Yankiverse, I say, keep spinning, Drew! And go you Twins!
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Imagine that: Seventy-three points over over .200. As John Sterling would say, "Isn't that amazing?"
Wait, I hear you chanting: SSS! SSS! SSS! Small Sample Size! And you're right. There is nothing to be gleaned from a weekend of at bats against a team that, right now, is to Chicago as the Yankees are to NYC: The town's second tier team.
SSS. That's all it is. In fact, it's the most carefully crafted SSS in baseball. And the reason is simple: The Yankees have two veteran infielders (neither at 2B, though) being paid a coalyard full of money and, thus, have required a BAFSS: (Big Ass Frickin Sample Size). Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan needed the entire 2015 season to prove they cannot move the needle offensively.
Now, with a finger-count of games left, Girardi is looking at Refsnyder and finally weighing the idea of a hitter at the bottom of the order... in an SSS.
Isn't is amazing? All season, they jerk the kid like a yo-yo, and now they plug him in like chewing gum on the bow of a leaking barge. Don't get me wrong: I'm happy to see if Refsnyder can do the job. Like every idiot fan in the Yankiverse, I've watched Scranton box scores all season, waiting for Refsnyder to get a chance. And we've all wondered: How bad can his fielding be? How horribly can he mangle groundballs? I watched him when Scranton came to Syracuse. He handled every grounder. How incredibly wretched can the guy be, when nobody is watching? And who in Scranton was getting on the phone to NYC and saying, "He's a plate of bad clams! Forget that 2 for 3 in the box score! He's an abomination! Stick with Drew! He's going to start hitting, any day!" Or was it Girardi's blind spot for Drew - who surely is a prince of a fellow, when not lashing balls into the defensive overshifts. Was Girardi simply incapable of saying, "Dude, you gotta start bunting, or you'll be out of baseball." Why did we go an entire year and now we're looking at Refsnyder and saying, SSS!
Refsnyder came up around September 1 and sat for three weeks. Did something magical happen to his glove while perched on the Yankee bench? Suddenly, he's the 2B equivalent of Nick Rumbelow, which is to say, "I'll trying anything, just please don't subject me to any more of what's already out there." Why did we wait until the last dreary days of the Wild Card race to give Refsnyder an SSS? And is the guy any good? Could he be our second-baseman in the playoff?
Truth is, we don't know. It's just an SSS.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
If the Yankees win five games, they will make the playoff.
Today, Wallace Matthews of ESPN notes the lack of excitement in the Yankiverse last night, as the team plods toward whatever the hell it's plodding toward.
T]he entire mood, in the stands and in the clubhouse, seems to be one of resignation, if not disinterest. With their team fighting for its playoff life, Yankees fans left about 10,000 seats empty Friday night, which meant about 2,000 more showed up than on Thursday, the night the Yankees honored the memory of the late Yogi Berra. And there were a lot fewer than that left in the ballpark by the time David Robertson -- who was known to blow a three-run lead from time to time during his tenure as Yankees closer -- came on to nail it down for the White Sox.
Nobody cares? Not an exciting pennant race? Well, I'd say Yankee fans recognize a basic truth here:
THE ONE GAME PLAYOFF IS NOT THE POST-SEASON. THE YANKEES WILL CLINCH NOTHING BUT A CHANCE TO MAKE THE POST-SEASON.
Matthews continues, noting the team's current malaise:
... [S]teadily downhill. Nathan Eovaldi, their winningest starting pitcher, is out for the year. Mark Teixeira, the most potent bat in their lineup, is out for the year. Jacoby Ellsbury, their $153 million table-setter, has looked mostly lost since returning from the DL in July. Brett Gardner, who was supposed to be 1a to Ellsbury's 1, has hit .196 since the end of July. A-Rod has two hits in his past 23 at-bats and his average has fallen below .250. Chase Headley still is making throwing errors.
In July - when the Evils led the AL East by seven - the NYC courtier press enshrined Brian Cashman into Cooperstown and debated which superstar - A-Rod or Tex - would win the Comeback of the Year.
Now, we're limping to a silver medal and the phantom slot, because the lords of baseball expanded the number of teams that can chase the phony "post-season." But NYC fans aren't buying it. The truth is, if Bud Selig's expanded playoff system existed in the 1980s, the 14-year barf, the Yankees several times - with their sorry lineups of Danny Tartabull and Lenn Sakata - reached the Wild Card playoff.
Unless it wins the one game, the 2015 season is another flop.
And until Oct. 6, when the smoke clears, YES ought to get its facts down:
THE PLAYOFF IS NOT THE PLAYOFFS.
THE ONE GAME WILD CARD IS NOT THE POST-SEASON.
IF WE DON'T WIN IT, WE ARE JUST ANOTHER ALSO-RAN.
Friday, September 25, 2015
When Refsnyder plays, the Yankee "baseball minds" must collectively hold their breaths and hope he doesn't hit
The reason, of course, is that - on or around July 19 - some Oracle at Delhi within the Yankee brain trust ruled that Refsnyder could not play 2B, or that he didn't bow and scrape, or that he had bad breath, or something equally pertinent, so the guy needed another 50 days at the Scranton Gitmo Motor Lodge Inn. Thus, the Evil Empire went two more months of waiting for Godot - I mean Stephen Drew - to figure out that defensive over-shifts had transformed him into an offensive eunuch. Drew never did adjust. He just lashes balls into reconfigured defenses, and once a month hits 2 HRs in a game. Since July 18, the Yankees have 18 times - (eighteen times, I looked it up , and that's 1/3 of their games!) - scored less than three runs. It wasn't pitching that caused us to fall into second place. It was the fact that in one of every three games, our offense simply disappeared - the way Rob Refsnyder did.
Now, here's where we - as bootless and unhorsed Yankee fans - are obligated to bow and scrape to the Oracles: I mean, what do we know? We are mere fans. We are scum. We have no right to voice an opinion. We sit in the cheap seats. All we do is follow the team with our hearts - and then judge the team by its success or failure. And the overwhelming narrative of the 2015 season is supposed to be: We're excited! The team did better than expected! The Yankees are making the post-season! Right?
I want this to be clear. Because it will be a defining point on this web site.
THE ONE GAME WILD CARD IS NOT THE POST-SEASON.
WE ONLY REACH THE POST-SEASON IF WE WIN THE ONE GAME WILD CARD.
Remember that. I will fight to the death over that point. You can kill me, but you cannot kill the truth: WE ONLY REACH THE POST-SEASON IF WE WIN THE ONE GAME WILD CARD.
So last night, Refsnyder singles off of Chris Sale, and every Yankee fan is captivity - like me, like you, like all of us - just as Girardi is thinking, "Huh?" - we're sitting in our trailers, clipping our toenails and saying - very nicely and politely to our mothers' mummified corpses: "GIRARDI, YOU BASTARD! WHY THE HELL DIDN'T WE BRING THIS GUY UP AND PLAY HIM? HE DOESN'T HAVE TO FIELD IN THE LATE INNINGS! THAT'S WHAT DEFENSIVE REPLACEMENTS ARE FOR! WTF! THERE'S 10 GAMES LEFT, AND WHY THE HELL DIDN'T WE USE THIS GUY?"
Oh, phooey. Soon, it won't matter. Soon, we'll either be in the post-season, or not. Next winter, the Yankees will probably trade Refsnyder. (BTW: He hit .271 at Scranton, despite going into a huge slump after being demoted) for another David Carpenter. Probably, we'll obtain some Howie Kendricks type - a 2B-version of Chase Headley - and lash ourselves to him - like Ahab to the whale - for four years. That's the Oracle's way.
Oh well, all we need to do is win 10 straight. Behind Rob Refsnyder, maybe? If not, phooey.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Robbie Cano is on fire and leading the Mariners in a furious chase for a Bronze medal in the AL West
You bring the gas, I'll bring the flame.
You bring the force, I'll bring the deadly.
And we won't see any more flubs from Headley.
If we lose the playoff game...
They won't put Cashman in the Hall of Fame.
Sports Illustrated won't be right behind him.
They'll look everywhere, but they won't find him.
If we lose the playoff game...
Joe Girardi better change his name.
And vow to never lose morale,
While hiding out there in the bunker with Hal.
Nine innings might as well be nine days.
The AL East race ended last night with Andrew Bailey - Andrew frickin' Bailey! - in a critical matchup. We're 150 games into a season, and we're hoping for a miracle rabbit to pop out of the hat. We're two weeks from the end, and Girardi is playing his bullpen like the New York State Lottery - he's buying a ticket and hoping for the best. The 2015 Yankee bullpen was supposed to be Brian Cashman's crowning achievement. He watched KC year go to the 2014 World Series, and he built the Yankees with the same blue print. Remember the staggering wealth of bullpen arms? Remember how David Carpenter was supposed to be Mr. Seventh Inning. Remember Jacob Lindgren, the great top draft pick? Remember when Chasen Shreve was a steal? Remember when Chris Martin wasn't the poor schmuck who got eaten by Gwyneth Paltrow? And Diego Moreno - remember him, the piece of driftwood we once obtained for AJ Burnett - AJ frickin Burnett! - who threw his arm out after pitching five innings against Texas - five frickin innings! - in a game where we scored 21? So last night, it's our last gasp, the season on the line, and it Caleb Cotham, James Pazos and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.
No lead is safe. Wait. Want a formula for the One Game? Score 21 runs. Have it be one of those games that happens every blue moon, where Stephen Drew hits two home runs and wins himself another month of sub-.200 at bats. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Another year, another Yankee ending that involves falling into a ditch and being covered by scoops of dirt. Well, we do have the One Game, I guess. All we have to do is follow the formula.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
So what's our starting lineup in the One Game?
Surely, Cash is as delirious as we are at the notion of a 22-year-old Yankee slugger who could anchor 1B for the next 15 years. And when you see Bird swing so easily, so effortlessly, you can imagine 40 HRs a year flying into that right field porch. What a delight! And then Cashman's little voice whispers, "Uh-oh."
The reason: The Yankees have painted themselves into a corner, and the coat won't dry for at least another year.
Next season, Mark Teixeira will be our 1B, and Alex Rodriguez will be our DH. There is no negotiation to be done. If A-Rod tweaks a thingy, Carlos Beltran will take over as DH. And in two years, Brian McCann will move to 1B. It's all pre-written in the stars. (Or contracts.)
The Yankees - after going practically a decade without developing a star position player - finally may have one, and there is no place for him.
So what will they do with Greg Bird? Seat him on the bench, so he's denied the at-bats needed to grow? Send him back to Scranton, leaving him demoralized and maybe wasted - (a common Yankee procedure these days.) Or trade him - another Jesus H. Montero for Big Mike Pineda?
Arguably, that may be Cashman's best recourse - especially if Hal Steinbrenner is obsessed with cutting payroll. Nobody will take A-Rod or Tex in a trade. But everybody wants a young slugger. They'd probably give up a young 2B or a pitcher. (No sense getting a 3B, because we are stuck with Chase "Air Mail" Headley for another three.)
So Cashman may have to trade the most exciting homegrown Yankee since Derek Jeter. Come December, Bird will be at peak prospect foliage. They might never get more for him in a trade. But trading him would break our hearts - at a time when the city may still be slobbering over the Mets' parade down the Canyon of Heroes. And if the trade goes south - that is, if Greg Bird has a great career with another team, while we end up with a head case or Tommy John patient - well, NYC can be a cruel place. So the voice says "Uh-oh."
What a night. The Yankees offer a glimpse of light - and maybe, just maybe, a future star. You go to bed dreaming of Greg Bird leading the team for 20 years. You wake up to learn Yogi Berra is gone...
One was over-matched by fame, seduced and reduced into drinking and a premature death. The other fitted easily into his role as philosopher-jester, becoming the most universally loved character that American sports has ever produced.
I think it's relevant that two nicknames have never been appropriated by the machinery of modern sports marketing. There has never been another Babe. There has never been another Yogi. To say that nobody could match up is an understatement. Nobody ever will. There are Ruthian seasons, and there are Yogi-isms. Both will be remembered, - if not mythologized - as long as our culture survives.
Well, we knew this was coming. In public appearances, Yogi looked incredibly frail. It's too late to act shocked - shocked! - at the revelation that even a Yankee legend can die. But long after we're in the grass, people will be quoting Yogi about nickels and dimes, about forks in the road, and about deja vu happening all over again. But make no mistake: There is no deja vu for today's news.
There was never anyone like Yogi. And there will never be another.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
O,,grand and glorious Juju Gods, why did you hath forsaken the Yankees last night? And how would you like a GLOBAL JUJU INTERVENTION TONIGHT!
SUMMONING THE SECRET WORLD YANKEE JUJU-LUMINATI NETWORK...
CRYING OUT TO ALL UNDERGROUND YANKEE LONE JIHADIST BOOK AND SUPPER CLUBS...
IN THE TOP OF THE AFOREMENTIONED INNING - (That's the 2nd; we'll probably be down by four) - ALL YANKEE FANS, FAMILIES OF FANS AND PAID YANKEE OPERATIVES - (You know who you are) - ARE HEREBY INSTRUCTED TO DO THE FOLLOWING:
1. STAND DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF YOUR TELEVISION, RADIO, COMPUTER OR ELECTRONIC YANKEE INTAKE INSTRUMENT, (or EY-I-I.)
2. WHILE FACING SAID DEVICE, PERFORM A TIGHT 360- DEGREE SPIN, CLOCKWISE. (Think of a clock.) DO NOT SPIN TOO QUICKLY, AS IT COULD CAUSE YOU TO LOSE BALANCE. IN CASE OF IMPAIRMENT, HOLD ONTO SOMETHING.
3. WHEN YOU HAVE COMPLETED ONE COMPLETE ROTATION, RECITE THE FOLLOWING WORDS -
AWAGI... IEK... DAMMIT!"
(That's Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, spelled backwards. Plus "Dammit.")
4. AFTER SAYING THE WORDS, CONCENTRATE ON THE EY-I-I AND PROJECT ALL RIZZUTONIC DEATH RAYS ("REGGIEs," see above) INTO SAID DEVICE.
FOCUS ON ON THE SHOULDER OF THE BLUE JAYS PITCHER. IMAGINE A LONG STRAND OF SPAGHETTI DANGLING ON A FORK, WITH SAUCE DRIPPING TO THE PLATE. IMAGINE THE STRAND STRETCHING, LONGER - LONGER - AND MORE PAINFULLY, AND THEN SNAPPING, SO THE SECOND HALF OF THE SPAGHETTI STRAND FALLS FROM THE FORK, ONTO THE FLOOR, WHERE IT IS EATEN BY A FURRY, WHITE CANADIAN RAT, WHO LOOKS A LOT LIKE JOSE BAUTISTA, WHO SWALLOWS THE TAINTED STRAND, GRABS ITS BELLY AND THEN KEELS OVER OVER, DEAD.
5. THINK: "ONAVAP... LRAC... AWAGI... IEK... DAMMIT."
Friends, let's be honest here: This descent into madness is not something we're proud of or happy about. But last night, A-Rod's pop foul down the right field line landed a half-inch from fair territory, where it would have driven in at least two runs and altered the course of the game. Then, in the eighth, the shameful called third strike against Brett Gardner was an example of the kind of fraudulent, hometown fix you get when you play in a third world country that would happily frack its mother for a 30-rack of Labatts. The Blue Jays are not only using juju, but they have pictures of the umpires partying with Jared from Subway.
TONIGHT, WE CHANNEL "INDEPENDENCE DAY," THE GREATEST JINGOISTIC HYPED MOVIE IN AMERICAN HISTORY. ON JULY 2, THE ALIENS ARRIVE! ON JULY 3, THE ALIENS STRIKE! BUT ON JULY 4... or in this case, September 22... WE STRIKE BACK!
Monday, September 21, 2015
Yankees unveil startling new concept: A hitting secondbaseman who can be replaced in late innings for defense
Well, thank God for the deal! Ackley promptly tweaked his lumbago - a juju blessing from the skies - because it forced us to promote Greg Bird. Over the last six weeks, Bird has nearly negated the loss of Mark Teixeira - at least statistically. Last night, Bird hit his 8th HR - his sixth this month, which is as many as Tex hit in both May and June. The Yankees' real loss has been in Tex's glove and his George Clooney-like lineup presence. Of course, Bird may still be the Second Coming of Kevin Maas, or Mili Vanilli. Time will tell. But when you consider the franchise's refusal to inject rookies into races, it's almost a karmic thunderbolt that Bird is even here. Thank you, back of Ack!
But wait, there's more! Lately, Ackley has started at 2B, where presumably he's rusty, if even competent. Last night he hit a three-run HR and, in the late innings, was replaced by Stephen Drew, the worst Yankee pickup from Boston since Kevin Youkilis - (who is probably the worst in history, past and future.) At least Drew can field. (Though he screwed up a big game two weeks ago.) This is what Yankee fans have hollered about all season, only with Jose Pirela and/or Rob Refsnyder. Pirela is a line-drive machine that Reggie Jackson pronounced the best hitter in spring training, until he went Minnie Minoso on a CF wall. Refsnyder is a line-drive machine who homered to beat Boston in Fenway, then was soul-crushed by being dispatched to Scranton for sins that apparently involved failing to genuflect in the presence of somebody's pet turtle. So we endured another two months of Drew, lashing DP grounders into defensive over-shifts, and the Yankees' bottom third of the lineup became a day trip to Camden, New Jersey.
Well, not this weekend. Joe Girardi - in his worst season season managing the Yankees - finally woke up from his Stump Merrill seance re-enactment. Joe has apparently figured it out: It's better to have a hitting 2B and then use a defensive replacement, as opposed to absorbing another 0-4 from the whiffle-ball bats of Drew and Brendan Ryan. What a concept: A 2B who hits! It's like getting an extra inning each game - three outs that might be converted into a run. Of course, when we face a lefty - like tonight - we'll probably go back to the invisible bat of Brendan Ryan. But you can dream, right? Maybe John Snow is alive!
Write this down: We can take two out of three in Toronto! We can walk out of that miserable snowy wasteland one loss down with 11 games left. Dammit, I'll take my chances with Adam Warren, Luis Severino and even Ivan Nova (who always disappoints when you expect something, and then surprises you when you don't.) We used to eat David Price for breakfast. Severino has something to prove. And our second glimpse of Marcus Strohman won't include those 1,000 ccs of adrenaline he had from six months of waiting. And who knows! Maybe we'll see a hit from our secondbaseman! Wouldn't that be incredible? Folks, I'm telling you: GIRARDI IS A GENIUS!
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Yesterday, I cleaned out a closet to make space for the next load of crap that I won't be emotionally able to throw away for 20 years, should I live that long.
One of the things I found was a stash of old newspapers my father had saved. Some were from 1945, following the death of FDR (sadly, falling apart and unsavable), one of NIXON RESIGNS, which warmed my heart, another of the moon landing...you know how it goes.
There was a NY Times Sports section from 1979, too. It was a couple days after Munson died in the plane crash, and there were two interesting bits. One was a short excerpt of Munson's autobiography, another a story about Ken Singleton, his views on the '79 O's ("We're not the Red Sox of 1978"...ouch, man) and his relationship with Munson as an opposing player. Both good, and the Munson bio reminded me of something I had completely forgotten: he didn't want to play for the Yankees after 1977. He wanted to be traded to Cleveland to be near his family.
Here are photos of the articles. If you drag them to your desktop, you should be able to blow them up to a very readable size (and turn them around...).
A couple of excerpts from the excerpt:
"People speculated over whether my talk of retiring was a bluff. Hell, no, it wasn't. There were days when I was sure I'd never play again for the Yankees."
"George Steinbrenner visited me in Canton during the winter. He seemed out of touch with my real feelings, as I was still upset over old contract misunderstandings (note: how diplomatically put). But he came away impressed with my business interests and seemed to feel I was determined to stay with the Yankees (this is George being clueless twice in one paragraph)."
"I have a new love to make things somewhat more pleasant for me this year -- airplanes."
Ten and five. That could do it - depending on where we place our battleships. Ten and five. It's not outlandish. We've done it before. Simply win twice as many as we lose, sandwich a couple four game winning streaks... get a little lucky.
Yesterday, we were a little lucky. The Doctor Jekyl Pineda showed up, instead of the Mr. Hyde Pineda. Also, the Mets got a glimpse of why their "MVP candidate," Humanis Centepedes, has bounced from team to team like a van load of Russian strippers. He is now 0 for his last 17, and - we've seen this show on Broadway before: It's called Welcome to the Five and Dime, Alfonso Soriano. A guy comes to NYC, gets hot, so the team signs him to a long-term deal (Hello, Chase Headlice?) and then the team learns why he was traded, to begin with. But unlike Girardi, who thinks tweaking his batting order would traumatize someone's tender ego - the Mets are planning to drop Cespedes from the two-spot. Still... if we can just stretch his hitless streak by four - drop a little Vernon Wells mid-August swoon fairy dust on him - and maybe receive a gift roller here or there... if we can beat the Mets today, put down this NYC insurrection...
Just get lucky.
Of course, if we lose today, it's like three losses back in June. If we lose, who cares if Toronto stumbles in Boston? We'll be kicking ourselves. If we lose, it's like one of those old crappy West Coast road trips of the mid-2000s, when nothing went right and we came home with a Raul Mondesi or Wally Whitehurst to show for our sins.
Yesterday, we got lucky in Boston. The Redsocks - instead laying down against a Yankee opponent, as they did last year - beat Toronto, by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins. We play the Redsocks four more times. The dwarf, Pedtroia is back. They'll try like hell to beat us. We'll be lucky to take three out of four. But all we need is some luck.
I'm now appealing to the juju god who is answer phones in the Emergency Juju God Hot-Line: Can we just have a little luck? Not a thunderbolt. We don't need what you gave the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night. Just a little luck?
And of course - you don't need me to tell you - we might a voodoo doll full of stickpins in Toronto this week. The odds of us sweeping the Blue Jays at home are what the odds of Trump winning the GOP were three months ago - ridiculous, but hey, you still have to play the games. If we take 2 out of 3, we're still 2 down with 12 left.
We cannot win the Division without being lucky.
But there is one last factor, and maybe it's luck, and maybe it's something else. But when teams get an infusion of talent from the trade deadline - as the Mets and Blue Jays did - and when the players change uniforms, there is a tendency to get red hot - or super lucky - to go on big, almost celebratory winning streaks. But then things settle back to normal. Cespedes goes into a slump. Tulo gets hurt. It's the Soriano show. What goes up must come down.
We cannot win the AL East without being lucky.
Hello? Are you up there? Do you hear me? Don't send lawyers, guns and money. Just a wind-blown popup, here or there.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Seven-Year Ellsbury stays in Yankee RBI Top 10, but Chris Young - with one last night - increases his lead for the 10th spot
2. Alex Rodriguez 83
3. Mark Teixeira 79
4. Brett Gardner 65
5. Chase Headly 60
6. Carlos Beltran 53
7. Didi Gregorius 52
8. Stephen Drew 44
9. Chris Young 41
10. Jacoby Ellsbury 30
Tanaka on four days rest? It sounds like a good way to blow out 2016.
Of course, Yankee pitching right now is facing the equivalent of a Third World humanitarian crisis. Hungry innings are beating at our doors, and we don't have enough pitchers to feed them. Not in the bullpen, which is 90 percent Scranton. Not in the rotation, which has nobody to be counted on. Once upon a time, a position player would throw an inning maybe once a year. For the Yankees, it's become a once-every-two-months occurrence. Other teams bring up young horses from Ashtabula and Elmira Heights. They come in, throw strikes, eat innings. We can't hold a six-run lead without turning to Betances or Miller. The Mets are limiting the innings of their aces. We are running Tanaka on four days rest.
Our team was built for an April-to-August season. Once we hit September, wheels fell off. But it's all cumulative. Back in May, Girardi was turning to Betances and Miller in blowout games, if a big lead looked in jeopardy. And while we have congratulated ourselves for the arrival of Luis Severino and Greg Bird - fine players, indeed - we overlook the fact that practically every other team has a few 22-year-old impact rookies. For us, it's an exciting breakthrough. For everybody else, it's business as usual. And now we're throwing Tanaka on four days rest.
Last night in the bottom of the eighth, down by four, Joe brought in the once-upon-a-time closer Andrew Bailey, temporarily rousing David Cone from his Ibogaine delirium. Coney announced that this was a golden opportunity! Bailey could "leapfrog" others in the bullpen and put himself into the playoff mix! What he was really saying is: Yep, it's that bad. Anybody who can throw an inning without summoning the dogs from hell will suddenly become Girardi's new Scott Proctor. And now we're throwing Tanaka on four days rest.
Oh, well. Maybe Tanaka can be the next Bumgarner. If the Yankees hold on to the Wild Card birth - right now, I'm not betting on anything - and then got hot, our season could go deep into October. That could mean another six or seven turns of the rotation. But something tells me Girardi doesn't really expect that to happen. If he did, would Tanaka be pitching on four days rest?
Friday, September 18, 2015
So who do we want in the one game Wild Card, Houston or Texas? The answer is easy... and it's not the team it looks like we're going to get
Of course, there's two whole weeks to play, and - considering the icebergs still ahead for the Yankees - nobody's guaranteed of diddly-doo. Still, Girardi's Geriatrics have a 5-game lead (losses, that is) in the Wild Card, and Houston is up by one (loss) over Minnesota.
So... right now... it's Houston?
This is bad. This is really bad.
The reason is not Houston. It's Dallas. Not the city. The pitcher. Dallas Keuchel.
If the Astros finagle their rotation to fit Keuchel into the one game - well - it looks like a short post-season, comrades. This year, Keuchel has pitched two games against the Yankees. He has thrown 16 innings - (OK, let's do the math, two goes into sixteen, that's um, eight... eight innings per game, right?) - and in those two starts he has given up exactly ZERO runs. That's an ERA of exactly ZERO-POINT-ZERO-ZERO.
Friends, that's not "lights-out." That's Stygian darkness. That's black hole sun, won't ya come and wash away the rain, black hole sun, black hole sun, black hole sun. And it's no fluke. Keuchel might be the 2015 AL Cy Young winner. He's won 17. His ERA is 2.56. This is the last guy in the solar system - after maybe King Felix - we want to face in a one-day baseball game, beauty pageant or hotdog eating contest. We don't want this guy. Calgon Beauty Beads, take me away!
Now... OK, breathe... there's always the chance that Tanaka can match him - inning per inning - if we work our rotation so Masahiro gets the nod. But I spent the last three weeks planning to face face Texas - whose staff is deeper but with less of an ace - and now, MAYDAY. The Rangers would probably start Colby Lewis, who is also 2-0 against us this season. But he's lasted 12 innings in two starts - a 4.97 ERA - and if we can score five, I'll take my chances. Also, Cole Hamels, the guy they got at the deadline, hasn't thrown any no-hitters lately. His ERA - over eight games - is 4.04. Yeah, they have Prince Fielder, who absolutely kills us, but pardon me if I don't cringe.
And let's face it: The real reason we want Texas is revenge. We owe them a ziplock bag with a bloody foot in it. They cleaned our clocks a few years ago - back in our Lance Berkman era - (not that many current Yankees remember it.) We have unfinished business. They are on my black list. They must pay for their insolence! They must be taught a lesson, mwahahahaha!
Folks, Houston isn't the Astros. It's the asteroid. We don't want Houston. We don't need Houston. What we need is... hmm, wait a minute, there is another option out there...
HELLO, PHIL HUGHES! Hey, Minnesota, how about a win streak!
Thursday, September 17, 2015
So... where we? Oh, yeah, Betances. He's losing it, of course. Buddy Love is becoming the Nutty Professor, right in front of us. It began last month, and one of these days, he'll either regain command, or we will utterly collapse. And the reason, in my opinion, is simple:
We had a truckload of young arms in the Scranton bullpen this year, and not one has stepped up to be - even for a weekend - a reliable reliever. I sorta thought that somebody, anybody, would come up and give us, say, 10 decent innings, just out of sheer ardrenal flow. Didn't happen. So it's all about Betances, and, right now, no Yankee lead is safe, and you cannot win anything that way.
But, right around then, I learned that Doomsday had come to the Daily News, and some of the most hated villains of my delusional sports life had finally gotten their comeuppance. Mike Lupica and Bill Madden got sacked. Wow. I should be happy. But something was wrong.
First, Lupica. Old George used to call him "Little Mike Lupica," a back-handed insult. I don't know how tall the guy is - 3 feet 4 - but he sure got under George's skin, and for that alone, Lupica was usually worth reading. But I used to view him as the litmus test for any Yankee trade: If Lupica supported it, it was a mistake. He was always wrong. And then, one day, America found itself in the bloody Iraq War, and Lupica's rants against George W. Cheney were some of the harshest to be found in a NY tabloid. I'm not here to argue politics, but from that point on, I saw Lupica as someone who at least had the stones to pitch off his fedora and take on the world. It's not easy when you're a midget.
But what caught me more was the sacking of Billy Madden, the eternal Yankee/Met columnist. As anyone who reads this blog would know, I've bashed Madden a lot over the years. For starters, he shamelessly carried water for the Yankee ownership whenever they went into a hissy fit. In their war on A-Rod, a feud that now looks ludicrous, Madden pitched a lot of garbage from "scouts" and "high level officials," who assured us that Alex would never play another game. I considered Madden to be the surrogate voice of the Steinbrenner family, when it gutlessly didn't want to be quoted. But here's the rub: They'll find somebody else. As John Irving once wrote, "When the dear disappear, someone else is always near." And a huge component of the Yankiverse just disappeared.
What is the Yankeenet other than YES, John and Suzyn, a few beat writers and a thousand bloggers - myself included - blathering about the bloggery? Madden was a prime mover, and you knew that whatever he wrote - for better or worse - it would be read and heard in the clubhouse. And you knew where he was writing from. He wrote with conviction, and even if he pissed me off, at least he blathered from the heart. I think River Ave is fun to read, but it bothers me that Yankees, in the future, will be covered less by newspapers and more by their own employees.
Two years ago, I quit the Syracuse Newspapers because the billionaire Newhouse heirs shamelessly jumped ship on a city that had made them rich, and without even firing a shot in defense of print journalism. For a good 80 years, the family simply drove a truck to Syracuse every week, filled it with money, and then drove back to NYC, so it could fund the lavish bullshit lifestyles of the Conde Nast bow ties and human cocker spaniels. When upstate New York hit hard times, they fired practically everybody in the newsroom who was old enough to be vested in the pension plan, went to a three-day-per-week delivery, and congratulated themselves for being so smart. Yep, they were the newspaper equivalent of Hal Steinbrenner.
Well, yesterday, another column of the Baby Boomer generation fell into the sea. The Daily News brought down Doomsday. No more Lupica. No more Madden. They'll probably latch onto something - comic book villains never die - but it won't be the same. Weird to say this, but I'm going to miss them. Both the GOP clown circus and the horrible Hillary coronation are going to go 100 innings. I may have to cut off my own ear.