Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017

ALCS Game Seven Chat: There's a kind of hush all over the world tonight

This is what we are

A lifelong Yankee fan reflects...

For posterity, the tabloid pages

Tonight, we must be prepared for the end

Here's the worst part. Come the ninth, with the outcome clear, Joe Buck will launch his usual, "let's-comfort-the-afflicted" funeral benediction for the losers - the most craven compilation of bullshit known to humanity. It makes Trump's botched phone call to that Gold Star mom look like Lou Gehrig's farewell address. As the camera pans through the losing dugout, the Bucket will unleash his golden shower of canned praise - "... nothing to feel sad about... great future... so close... successful year all around..." - to linger in our memories like farts after a Shriner's convention. I believe this is why Elvis shot TVs; he was listening to some Joe Buck-type eulogize his team.

No. I won't do that. If the end comes tonight, as I greatly fear, I say we go out listening to The Master and his Acolyte. Their grief will be real, not a retrofitted Gold Globe acceptance speech, and they won't tell us, wait 'till next year, because John and Suzyn understand the nature of predicting baseball. If Suzyn cries, and my guess is she will, the tears will not be culled from Louie Anderson's 1987 stand-up act.

Tonight, the end may or may not come. But if does, we must be prepared. That means keeping a radio or electronic porthole nearby. Do NOT end 2017 being buttered and basted by the corporate pallbearers at Fox Sports, a network whose only sop to the Yankees was to trot out A-Rod, arguably the most hated player of his generation. 

If we are destined to lose, I implore you - for your own peace of mind - not to go through the winter with the piss aftertaste of ginned-up false sympathy from these human Hallmark cards, who couldn't feel the pain of a Yankee loss if it were wedged up their keesters with a pushbroom. Turn down the TV and turn up the radio, the last bastion of electronic communication in our lives. Yes, radio has become the conduit of hate, lies and dogma - (and Celino & Barnes, the injury attorneys! Dial 888-888-8888!) - but in 2017, it was also the home of the world's greatest enduring love story, (aside from the one between a certain moose and his flying squirrel.) If it ends tonight, if we all go down, do not go down with Joe Buck and his ludicrous tribute to the franchise for which he has always shown contempt. Don't let it end with Buck telling you how good you should feel. There are things worse than death in the world, and the loneliness of lying in a cold coffin with Joe Buck talking about you overhead... nope... I can't think of anything worse. (I've always imagined hearing that REM song, "That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight...") If we go out tonight, we don't need a phone call from a politician. Let's go out with Mom and Dad. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

ALCS Game Six: Drove our Sevvy to the levee

A great facility getting utilized!

They're already printing the tickets!

Merry Mickmas

On this sacred date in 1931 the Commerce Comet came into the world.

Hang the stockings, everybody. 

Drudge Report unleashes terrifying Juju bomb against Yankees

Are the Russians now trying to meddle in the ALCS? 

Is Drudge the real "Little Rocket Man?"

Rejected hed: 

Tonight's game should go five hours, longer the better

Last time we faced Justin Upton-Verlander, we were the Astros and they were the New York Yankees. We played the upstarts, outsmarted at every turn, and they were the resurrected veterans, patiently showing the world how it's done. They won every ump's call, beat every close play by a micrometer, and won after we botched a throw to the plate that would be routine for the Double A Binghamton Rumble Ponies. They deserved to win both the game and the league series, and we sure as hell deserved the Fiery, Hairy Radish Pineapple of Defeat (FHRPD - as in, to be "firped.")

Last time we faced Juston, Aaron Judge looked like a popped media balloon, the baseball equivalent of Yahoo Serious. (Think of a 6'7" Megyn Kelly.) He couldn't lay off curves in the dirt, which so befuddled him that pitchers weren't even bothering to throw them anymore, fanning him on juicy fastballs down the pipe. When Judge came up, Yank fans dreamed of a walk. The notion of Judge v. Altuve seemed a cringe-worthy comparison, and shrieking voices, mine included, called for him to bat sixth or seventh.

Last time we played Verlander - six nights ago - the Yankiverse was a tired, queasy continuum, resigned to approaching snowstorms and the next mass shooting. We pleaded with the fates for one measly victory, with the implied understanding that if none was forthcoming, we'd prefer a quick kill shot - anything but one of those drip-drip torture chamber losses that the Yankees often firped on us during the regular season.  

Last time we faced Verlander - a borderline Hall of Famer, if he knits together a few more good seasons - we couldn't score two fucking, goddamn, shit-ass, cock-sucking, jizz-licking, fuck-me firping runs. (Sorry about that; something came over me.) We let a 34-year-old geezer go nine - throwing 124 pitches, five more than his longest previous outing in 2017. Obviously, Kate Upton has not been wearing him out. (Neither did Boston, the week earlier, when he threw 40.) 

Listen: Baseball players have the life spans of your pet beagle. Some last 15 to 20 great years. Some get hit by the garbage truck after six months. But old baseball players are not dogs: They can learn new tricks. That's why CC Sabathia is still effective: He isn't too old to learn. Clearly, Verlander falls in that category too. Thus, tonight, he will be on us with mystical old-guy voodoo shit. Whatever he did last time, he won't do it again.

So tonight, we must be the veteran team. Tonight, the Yankees need to take pitch after pitch after pitch. We need 10 pitch at-bats, not 10-pitch innings. This series, Houston's bullpen has five pitchers with ERA's at 9.00 or higher, and that includes their all-star closer. Imagine a bullpen half-full of bad Betanceses; that's what they have. But... two pitchers, McHugh and Gregerson, have thrown zeros at us. If Verlander tires - and there is no reason why he should get there beyond the seventh - that's who we will see. This game needs to last a long time. Buy your five-hour energy shots now. Or - better - load up on bath salts.

Tonight, we need to outsmart the veteran. We've done it before. And make no mistake: This series needs to end tonight. Otherwise, we've committed another mistake worthy of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies: We'll have celebrated too soon. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Redsocks obliterate playoffs media cycle with earth-shaking news

Wait. How does Phil Rizzuto's wife end up managing the Redsocks?

Behold the pages of victory

In three nights, everything changed... for now.

Talk about the world abruptly changing...

Wasn't it last year when Gary Sanchez muffed that fatal throw home, launching the Astros' victory celebration in the 2017 ALCS? Wasn't it the previous millennium? Certainly, it was pre-Trump, pre-Judge, pre-Harvey (Weinstein)... a long, long time ago, back before the floods.

Wait. No. I looked it up: It was four days ago. Believe it or not, the Wikipedia thingy claims that it happened on Oct. 14, 2017 - four days ago, barely a Vernon Wells-hitting streak, as time is measured within Yankee fossil records. Back then - jeez, it feels like a century ago - Aaron Judge was baseball's saddest soul, dwarfed by the swaggering, Bunyanesque presence of Jose Altuve, who bestrode the Earth like a colossus. Back then, we were the team without a DH, or a closer, or a manager with a clue. Back then, we were backsliding into the Keuchel Abyss, victims of the Yankees' death star - (whom someone in last night's chat brilliantly called "Rutherford B. Hayes") - forever to pine for Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian. It was a different fucking universe back then... four days ago.  

So don't get cocky, comrades. We still have work to do. Come Sunday, we could be right back in that smoldering dumpster, fighting the rats for those last KFC wrappers, being forced to root for Eli Manning on his quest for Win No 2.

The road to the series goes through Hell. Instead of "M-V-P" chants, Judge will hear "LOCK HER UP!" If he crashes into the right field wall, the crowd won't flinch; they'll expect Mexico to pay for a new one. If Judge tanks, Trump will call him "Liddle Aaron," (along with "Crooked Didi" and "Lyin' Joe.") Lose the next two, and everything reverts to that prehistoric era when Las Vegas stood for showgirls, Napa Valley stood for wine, and we were a mere wild card floating on the devil's breeze.

Today, I must keep pinching myself. (This is not the bath salts, stupid! It's really happening.) Our "thumbs down" gesture is becoming a national meme. Gary Sanchez is alive. The MLB meat puppets are already hyping the next Yankee dynasty. It's as if Houston has accepted its fate, and we should already be learning to spell Yassel Piug, or Yasiel Puig - whatever. But actually, nothing has changed.

We still must beat Houston in Houston. We must still beat Verlander as Verlander. If we lose Friday, they become the team with the momentum, the crowd, the sense of destiny. They become the team with Kate Upton. If we lose Friday, we're the ones suddenly blotted out by the cold shadow of Mount Altuve. If we lose Friday, last night's win will feel like a hundred years ago. And everything that happened in the last three nights will leave a bitter taste of the inconsequential. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Victory train!

ALCS Game Five Chat: Win Two More

Small sample size. But still...

From ESPN, in case you missed it.

The power of our Rookie of the Year reaches new heights

Earlier today on the home page of the Los Angeles Times. 

Look out, Dodgers. If he can stop the travel ban, he can stop you.

Toddfather: "“The Yankee gods are watching us. There’s no other way to put it.”

This, we know... 

With their backs against the Great Trumpian Wall, the 2017 Yankees become a different team. They have now won four elimination games, and - frankly - the last two at home were de facto extinction events. 

Aaron Judge is a hurricane force of nature. His tidal storm surges hot streaks can turn into tropical depressions  slumps, and he'll spin out to sea strike out without a flood whisper. No FEMA airlifts bullpen can stop him. When his eye hits landfall he gets hot, it's SO LONG, PUERTO RICO! trouble for the opposing pitcher. 

All year, we've been terrified that Judge was an illusion, that his bleacher "chambers" came too soon, that - before our very eyes - he would whither into Andy Stankiewicz. Well, ain't'a gonna happen. If you're my age - that is, old as dirt - we may be watching the last great homegrown Yankee slugger of our lifetimes (with Sanchez and Bird.) Maybe we should just sit back and enjoy it.

Of all people, Todd Frazier has become a key juju component to this team. For many reasons, I instinctively oppose trading prospects for vets, but it's getting hard to criticize the deal for Frazier/Robertson/Kahnle. All three have contributed, and the Toddfather has become the smiling face of this team, (reminiscent of Sergio Romo on the 2010 SF Giants.) I can't see how the Yankees could sign Frazier this winter - we have Miguel Andujar and Glyber Torres coming up - but frankly, I have come to love this guy. He's solid at third, and he's delivered big hits. Since the trade was made, judgment of it's success has been on based on the Yankees winning the World Series. If that's unfair, tough beans, this is the Yankees. But write this down: I was wrong, Cashman was right, and I've changed my mind about that deal: Todd Frazier is fucking wonderful. 

No matter what happens in this series, last night's comeback cements the Yankees as a team of great heart. Moreover, it has completely silenced the spiteful Redsock Nation, who briefly slithered up on Twitter yesterday to slime troll the anniversary of their 2004 comeback. The Yankees' response: We hope they enjoyed the moment, but for us, it was a workday and - by the way - how did they plan to celebrate with their day off? Beautiful. The fact is, Redsock fans can no longer smart-mouth that their piss-poor October performance - they beat Houston once - was basically the same as the Yankees'. Last night, Big Papi was shouting WinWarbles and lovingly talking about Aaron Judge as if he were Pedro's midget. Boston has replaced him with David Price. It's another Popeye's Fried Chicken winter.

I know the world hates A-Rod, and there can probably be no worse Yankee ambassador to baseball, but I draw great joy at watching him smirk after we win. Last night, he was kissing his ring like it was J-Lo's cone of uncertainty-wrist. Two out of three, baby, that's all we need. Two out of three.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Yankee Strong!

ALCS Game Four Chat: When Sonny Gets Gray

Mem'ries will fade
And pretty dreams will rise up
Where his other dreams fell through

The Master calls a three-run blast

Tonight we'll get our first full read on the Sonny Gray deal

Tonight, the man who was supposed to save our rotation pitches. Sonny Gray came three months ago in the biggest swap of tomorrow-for-today since the three-way scrum of December 2009, when we dealt Phil Coke, Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for the earnest free-swinger, Curtis Granderson. For the next two years, the Yankee-owned media proclaimed the deal as a steal. Then it devolved into a trade that helped all three teams. Today - well - we can debate the trade until dawn, but the Grandyman never did decorate the sunrise and sparkle it with dew. We didn't win a ring. To me, that sums it up. 

Sonny Gray is the latest in the bloodline of "Cashman emerging arms," that is, a parade of 20-something fire-ballers who were expected to become stars in NYC. The line extends back a generation - to Jeff Weaver and Javier Vasquez - and runs up to Nathan Eovaldi - it's the mythical 200-inning, underdeveloped starter who would don pinstripes and becomed Cy Young. Brian Cashman is always looking for that fantasy pitcher, the white buffalo, and this year, he traded the house for Sonny. And tonight - well - we'll find whether it worked.

Maybe, anyway.

Thus far, Sonny has been a middling fourth starter prone to throw up a stinker now and then. He came from Oakland with a 6-5 record and a 3.43 ERA. In 11 Yankee starts, he did worse: 4-7 and 3.72 and seeming to break down at the end. Over his last three regular season starts, he gave up 12 earned runs in 16 innings, drawing home boos. Sonny is 27 and we have him until 2020. As a result, the price tag was heavy.

It's impossible to get a quick read on what the Yankees gave up, because two of the three 22-year-olds - James Kaprielian and Dustin Fowler - are hurt. Kaprielian - the former first-rounder - had been hyped (by the Yankee-owned media) as our best pitching prospect, before he needed Tommy John surgery. He should return to Oakland next summer and could reach the majors by 2019, Sonny's contract year. 

This year, Fowler emerged in Scranton - hitting .293 with 13 HRs and 13 SB - in an overcrowded outfield. But he is primarily remembered for the most painful moment of humanity in the 2017 Yankee season: In his first MLB game, with his family proudly watching from the stands, he slammed into an electrical box along the right field line of Comisky Park - (we should have sued that wretched team) - tearing his knee and causing Joe Girardi to openly weep. Fowler will be back for Oakland next spring. Whenever I see him, for the rest of his career, I will always feel a pang of remorse and a sense of innocence lost. Nobody should go through what he endured. And then, the Yankees traded him. He's not 22 anymore. He's lived a lifetime. 

The third guy was the highly touted and, at times, highly criticized SS-CF prospect Jorge Mateo. I fear he is the most likely to haunt us. For four years, the Yankee-owned media had touted him as the fastest player in our system, a guy likely to steal 50 bases a year. He came up two springs ago and hit a Grapefruit League home run, causing John and Suzyn to go googly over the Yankee future. He made Baseball America's top 30 prospects list. Supposedly, he mouthed off to the front office about not being promoted, and spent the summer of 2016 in the penalty box. This year he turned it around. After finally being promoted to Trenton, Mateo hit .300 with 4 HRs and 11 SB, elevating his status just before the trade. Later, with Oakland's Double A outlet, he hit .292 with 4 HR and 13 SB. (Over the whole season, he swiped 52.) You can't teach speed. He could be with the A's next summer. If he's stealing 50 bases a year, it's going to hurt.

I say all this to remind us that - no matter what happens tonight - it will be years before we get an honest assessment of what the Yankees gave up and received for Sonny Gray. I generally view such deals with horror, because of PTSD over the 1980s, when old George Steinbrenner pushed a series of terrible deals, one after another, of young for old talent. He systematically killed the Yankees for 14 years. Just say the names - Buhner, Drabek, McGee, McGriff, McGregor, ugh - and it's an ice pick to my heart.  

Of course, there is one way to certify a successful Yankee deal: Win the World Series. That's why I didn't mention Chuck Knoblauch. If the 2017 Yankees go all the way - or just reach the Series - long term verdicts will be muted. 

Tonight won't decide everything. When you trade prospects, no matter what happens in the short-term, you are judged over the long haul. We can't predict baseball, Suzyn. But we can predict how the Yankee-owned media will assess the deals: Yankees win, thuh, Yankees win! But tonight will give us a glimpse of the future. It will either be very sunny or very gray.

Monday, October 16, 2017

ALCS Game Three Chat: Houston, we have a problem

Thought for tonight

Life is meaningless.

If we don't make the plays, we don't deserve to win

Tonight, I'm not sure the Yanks are playing Houston - or themselves.

I realize it's late in the hurricane to be buying sandbags. It's hard for a hitter to change his ways. But champions do whatever it takes, and in my mind, it's unacceptable to watch players - and a manager - simply swing through the same failed motions again and again, without at least attempting a change. 

The Yankees are not the first team to be vexed by good pitching. Maybe what we're seeing is what almost always happens when homer-happy lineups run into solid starters: The pitching wins. But Keuchel and Verlander are not Koufax and Drysdale. They are feasting on Yankee hitters increasingly swinging for the upper decks, even when a bloop single will do. And I'm sorry, folks, but if this continues, the memory of 2017 - and all the hope it begot - will leave a sour taste through the winter.

Of course, I'm referring to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, who have turned the heart of the order into a bottomless pit. In sequence upon sequence, they lunge for breaking balls out of the strike zone, then watch a fatty bisect the plate. Is this superhuman pitching, or are Judge and Sanchez simply becoming disillusioned and resigned to their fates, as we saw Granderson and A-Rod in Octobers past? Marching back to the dugout, they seem dazed, stoned, hopeless - even though Judge still forces a manic smile. Are they thinking, Oh, well, it's just a slump, and one of these days, I'll pull out? Because that's no longer the case. These next two games - hopefully four - will become the defining moments of their careers, to date. If they continue this way, their Silver Slugger awards will ring hollow over the cold winter. Remember: Last year's National League home run leader was Chris Carter. Wherever he is now, my guess is that Chris now wishes he tried choking up with two strikes.  

But this isn't mere batting adjustments. Against Houston, in play after critical play, the Yankees came up short. The relay from Judge to Didi to Sanchez. The infield hit that Altuve scratched out, and his stolen base. Bird's failure to score from second on a two-out full count, when he was running with the pitch. Gardy being thrown out at third. We made those plays against Cleveland. If we can't turn them now, I hate to say this but - gulp - we don't deserve to win.

If we win tonight, we can press RESET on the series. In New York, we watched Cleveland slowly unravel over sustained pressure. We have yet to get a lead against Houston. We have not put any pressure on their hitters or even touched their bullpen. But tonight, we're facing the hardest opponent we've yet seen. We're playing ourselves.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Try To Pay Attention, Aaron..........

The Yankees, it is rumored, have a batting coach.  Or is it called, " hitting " coach?  I know it isn't called " strikeout-in-volume " coach.  Maybe it should be.  In my view, the record shows that Judge would contribute more to this team if his hitting guru simply told him, "never to swing."  At least 30% of his strike outs occur on " ball four."

But this failure of a coach gets paid, at minimum, $200,000 per annum.  Perhaps he ( not a she, yet, right?) even has a multi-year contract that totals in the millions.

Whatever he is saying to Aaron is not working.  So, again, we have a senior executive unblemished by failure.  Accountable to no one for his lack of results.  No gain no pain.  A golden parachute awaits for this maestro of golden sombreros.

 If Aaron only hits home runs, and strikes out in world class, record-making style when it matters most, what is truth?

We do recall ( thanks to an attentive reader ) when Judge hit everything, to all fields ( including singles and doubles ) in the first half of the season.  It was clear that we had a superstar in the making.    Power and bat control.  And suddenly, like the wicked witch of the west,  Dave Kingman arrived.  Honestly, Dave never performed ( or" bombed," if I may use the word given the North Korea deliberations ) as woefully as Aaron Judge.

No one in the world of baseball has ever just swatted at air like Aaron. His strike outs are virtually automatic, as long as the opposing pitcher has a curve, slider or change-up.  That is to say,
" if he can pitch at all."

So I hired the above teacher to replace the Yankee's, over-paid, seed-spitting genius batting coach,  who shall remain nameless.

"Aaron please pay attention," our true teacher says, pointing to the physics of, " hitting the ball where it is thrown, and experiencing success."

Why doesn't Aaron get it?  His university didn't just wash him through their academic system did they?  Can't he once, once, ever, once, shift his body  ( and the bat will follow ) toward right field when he sees that low, outside, in-the-dirt spin on those " strike-out " pitches?  Are there no tapes of Derek Jeter to watch? Is attempting to pull every pitch his version of never bunting against a shift, even when a base hit beckons?

How is it possible that Aaron Judge doesn't do this?  I could do it for cripes sake.  I might not hit the ball, but at least the world would know I had a clue.

Seriously, if Girardi is a manager trying to win, he should play Gardy, Jacoby and Aaron Hicks in the outfield.  If he wishes to continue our fine tradition of having no production from our DH, let Aaron Judge do that.  He can strike out as well as Holliday.  And that keeps us out of double plays, if we ever get a baserunner.

I just can't believe we see no adjustment of any kind.  That's why the " automatic " strike out waiver should apply to Judge.  It is a waste of time ( and emotion ) to watch him fail and fail and fail with that bat in his hands.  Just let the opposing manager "call it," and have Aaron sit down with a strike out recorded in the box score.  He just goes from the on-deck circle to the bench.

We'll give the opposing coach three challenges per game, and come out ahead.

"If we cannot learn, we are doomed to repeat our failures" - ( Voltaire or Yogi Berra)

Some thoughts

Yesterday, before a pitch was thrown ( at 1:09 pm, pacific coast time) I sent the following text to El Duque and Mustang:

Alphonso:  " Here is my prediction for the Yankee's first at bat:  one weak pop out and two strike outs."

Reality:  Gardy and Judge ( of course ) struck out and Didi popped up to second base.

Alphonso :  at 3:39 pm, pacific coast time , I texted the following:  " We can't win a tie.  We have no hitters on this team.  But we are winning the strike out race.  The Yankees are setting records for the number of strikeout in playoff situations."

Post game:  Alphonso :  " Out of 27 at bats we struck out 13 times.  Do you know how boring and frustrating that is?  Can't we install an " automatic strike out," similar to the hand wave that delivers an automatic base on balls?  Think of the time it would save.  Yankee games would be shortened by about an hour and half."

Our 13 strike outs yesterday is similar to not having any at bats for 4 1/3 innings.  Let's just round it off and say: the Yankees will concede their at bats in 4 innings ( your choice ) of each game against the Astros.  Play on.

This diatribe goes to prove;

 You can predict baseball and you can shorten Yankee games.

Since Alphonso asked...

Even in heaven, the angels sometimes disagree. And let's face it: The world is divided, Hollywood is in turmoil, Washington is exploding, and why wouldn't the Yankiverse be facing civil war? These days, you can get killed in a bar by arguing about whether Joe Girardi deserves his job, or if Jacoby Ellsbury should be our DH. The planet has gone nuts. I think it's those trace amounts of drugs they're finding in our water supplies, or sunspots, or nitrous-oxide, or Russian interference, or magnets, or Satan, or what Freddy Nietzsche called the entirety of humankind staring into "the abyss." Or maybe the place is just getting too damn crowded. 

Or maybe - as in the case of my old friend Alphonso - it's just a case of Baby wanna a new bag of peanuts, WAH-WAH-WAHHH....

Last night, after the Yankees blew game two, the Fonz fired off an angry set of questions, attacking my universally acclaimed, point-by-point, scientifically-empirical-yet-poetically-magical analysis, which I rendered unto undeserving humankind on Saturday morning, and which looked hopefully upon the Yankee condition. Obviously, a dam burst in Alph's mind. I shall now attempt to address his tantrum points, one by one, in a calm and professional, bloglike manner. 

Who wants to tell me how great the Yankees are doing?

I do. Nobody - certainly not I - expected this team to be breathing in October. By now, I had Aaron Judge tickle-monstering Keith Hernandez in the Fox pre-game shows. But here we are, playing with the house money of Destiny. If in 2017, we simply unveiled Judge, renewed Gary Sanchez, returned Greg Bird, and elevated Luis Severino - and finished third - it would have been a good year. Yeah, we can fume over each loss. (Believe it or not, I still question the cascade of deadline trades, which the TV talking heads have proclaimed were the stuff of Cashman's genius. How can you judge those trades without seeing what happens to the players we gave up?)  

Yes, we should be furious over each loss. Hurl kitchen objects, kick the furniture, and if that door looks at you with a sideways smirk, body slam the fucking asshole like it's never been slammed before. (Don't hurt the TV, though. She's done nothing wrong. Around here, we don't take kindly to TV batterers.) I get it that you're mad. But the Yankees - on the cosmic scale - are doing great.

Who wants to tell me how we are " this" close to turning things around?

I do. We have lost two games, each by one goddamn run, while coming out on the short end of every close play by the juju gods and every close call by the home field umps. I don't think Houston can win a game without home cooking. If they do, well, they deserve to beat us. At one point last night, John seethed that "the New York crowd won't be like this one." We have now looked the mighty Astros in the eye. They're not that good.

Who wants to remind me how Judge is really a talent and Sanchez is a great hitter?

Not me. I'm as pissed as you are. I'm starting to look at Judge in the way Redsock fans are now seeing Jackie Bradley Jr. - they want him traded this winter. Two years ago, at the all-star break, Bradley looked like the Second Coming of Willie Mays. He was challenging for the Triple Crown. He completely tanked in the second half of the season, and in 2017, he's been nothing like that emerging star as seen on TV in the spring of 2016. 

I doubt Judge will ever see a half-season like the one he enjoyed this spring and summer. He's never going to hit .300, or even .270. He'll settle into being a .245 hitter with 30-35 home runs and a shitload of strikeouts - I think he can learn to cut down - but he will supply good defense, good speed and a good clubhouse presence. I think he's smart. I think he'll figure out that strike zone weakness that, right now, makes him look terrible. (I do believe Girardi should have dropped him in the batting order, as he did Sanchez against righties.)

As for Sanchez? Look at the batting averages of other teams' catchers. Yeah, he must work his way into becoming a good defensive catcher. I think he will. If not, the Yankees will trade him, because Greg Bird will be playing first base for the next five years. 

Who wants to tell me we were down 0-2 against Cleveland and came back?

Anybody want to take this? Class? Anyone? OK, I will.

We were down 0-2 against Cleveland and came back. You can look it up. 

Who wants to tell me that we'll have Tanaka and Luis back for games 6 and 7, respectively?

I'm pretty sure Tanaka will answer the gun. Good grief, the guy has pitched for three years with a partially torn elbow. You think he'll call in sick from being overworked? Don't know about Luis' shoulder, but - frankly - I'm much more concerned about CC and Sonny Gray. I don't see either pitching into the sixth, and it could mean that - at some fulcrum point of destiny, Dellin will get the call. Can you imagine that? Betances on the mound in a playoff game. Now, that's something to worry about... or, considering his ability to decapitate batters - something for Houston to worry about.

I am not in the fucking mood.

You know who else is not in a "fucking mood?" Suzyn! She was absolutely sure that home run would get called back, was almost cackling at the serendipitous perfection of Houston's run coming off the board. And then, she was angry. The Sunoco Broadcast Booth is a snakes next of fury and rage. The Master saw Brett Gardner safe at third, taking a base that "no mere mortal" could have done. If Suzyn gets a pre-game interview with Jose Altuve, she'll tear off his leg and beat him to death with it. Now THAT, my friends, is what rage looks like.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Who Wants To Write Today's Essay on the Goods Outweighing the Bads?

Who wants to tell me how great the Yankees are doing?

Who wants to tell me how we are " this" close to turning things around?

Who wants to remind me how Judge is really a talent and Sanchez is a great hitter?

Who wants to tell me we were down 0-2 against Cleveland and came back?

Who wants to tell me that we'll have Tanaka and Luis back for games 6 and 7, respectively?

I am not in the fucking mood.

ALCS Game Two Chat:
Saw a dollar yesterday
But the wind blew it away
Goin' back to Houston, Houston, Houston

Designated What?

The Yankees invested several million dollars into a position known as, " Designated Hitter."

Matt Holliday is the chief investee.  The prime recipient of that largess.

He had a great spring and first half of the season, propelling the Yankees into the conversation about playoffs.

Then, he contracted, " the virus."

He looked ill and remained ill for a long time.  Even today, he looks like a weakened version of the world series batting hero for the St. Louis Cardinals of a few years ago.

His hitting went on such a decline ( catching the Judge/Sanchez strike out virus ) that he did not appear in our first series of playoff games.  That chore was allocated to Headley and Ellsbury.  But Matt returned yesterday, due to the ineffectiveness of the other two.

So what have we got?

After 24 at bats for our various DH's in these playoffs, we have zero hits.  A batting average of .000.  There have been 3 walks earned, and 9 strike outs.  No runs scored, no runners advanced, and no RBI's.

Shall we re-name the " position" in the batting order?  Something along the lines of: " non stressful auto out?"  Seriously, if we get to the WS, where there is no DH in away games, we'll be better off having CC at bat.

So here is what I propose;

 Let Torreyes be our DH.  I know.  He struck out in his one plate appearance, and got picked off first in that disaster loss to Cleveland.  Ancient history.

But he usually puts the bat on the ball, and gets it in play somewhere.  If Houston has to play a ball occasionally, they might screw up.  It doesn't happen when we simply swing at air.

We need his grit.

We need some offense.

We need a reason to watch.

Last night, the goods outweighed the bads

Ahh, dear Suzyn, pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name. Thanks for dropping in. I trust you left your soul and parking validation stub with Miss Bixley, the receptionist? Yes, the one with three heads. Excuse my sulfurous breath; I worked late last night. Now... where were we? 

Oh, yes, we were discussing the future! Today, rather than contemplate humankind's inability to predict baseball - a metaphor, of course - or the stunning reason why today will not be exactly like yesterday - different pitchers, my Precious, different pitchers! - I'd like to talk about why a loss is not always a loss.

Now, a loss is a loss, of course, of course, and nobody sleeps on a loss, of course. Defeat is the kicked ass, the barking gonad, the cosmic rejection slip that misspells your name. Every Yankee loss is a bad Yankee loss - only seemingly confined to the Yankiverse. Each defeat carries global consequences. If you don't believe me, study the Yankees' record during the Vietnam War. So - to summarize, dear Suzyn: Yankee loss = not good.

But there are losses and then there are fukkinay LOSSES. Last night was not what some fans - for reasons never to be discussed in the Sunoco Broadcast Booth - refer to as "The Pineapple." Dear Suzyn, it is the job of us in the eternal heaven and hell industry to protect innocents such as you from "The Pineapple." And last night, for all your sadness and despair, you can still sit comfortably in your hotel room chair. Last night, the Yankees didn't win. But they will, Suzyn. They will. Someday. Why would I say this? Let me count the reasons for hope...

1. Last night, with fava beans and a nice Chianti, you ate the liver of Houston's closer, Ken Giles. He threw more pitches than he's done all season. I wonder if he can pitch today. Either way, the Yankees stretched him to several full counts, where he skated on sketchy home plate calls. (We do own the umpires, Suzyn; never forget.) To top it off, Greg Bird crushed one off him. If I were Houston today, I would dread the next save situation like a news bulletin from the National Weather Service.

2. Mean Chad Green returned. Not that anyone had had lost confidence in Mean Chad, but - well - Hangin' Chad did give up that Game Two grand slam, which resurrected Cleveland from the dead (which in the state of Ohio is often called "Toledo.") Until he returned - and last night, he did - we had to wonder if something was wrong. No more. Let Mean Chad rest today, and you'll have him for the duration.

3. Masahiro Tanaka's resurgence continued. If not for a bang-bang play at first - Altuve beating out the infield hit - he would have thrown zeros against Keuchel, well into the seventh. In recent years, the Astros owned him. Tanaka could be inscribing his name in American history. This winter, he can opt-out of his Yankee contract. A month ago, few would have cared. Now, all of baseball will be watching.

4. Aaron Judge got a hit. He struck out only once, and my ump pinched him on the calls. The Yankees must keep faith with Judge. The fact is, it is humanly impossible for anyone - even Betty White - to look as bad as Judge did against Cleveland. He actually may have had a worse week than Harvey Weinstein. If Judge is climbing up from his pit - and we'll know today - he could shut the mouths of all those pundits so gleefully proclaiming little Altuve as MVP.

5. If someone can just get Gary Sanchez - who has caught lunge-itis - squared away, the Yankees can do damage. Last night, Sanchez was the last Yankee you wanted at bat. When replaced for a pinch runner in the eighth - he was walked - you had to feel that Austin Romine couldn't be much worse a hitter.

6. The defense continues to hold. Hicks, Didi, Starling, Bird, Toddfather - everybody continues to make plays. As long as you keep doing that, the pressure will build on Houston. And the dams will blow. 

7. Bird homered. Whenever he comes to bat, the entire Yankiverse feels a surge of electricity. It is a bolt from the future, Suzyn. With every Bird walk, with every Bird home run, Yankee fans foresee another Murderers Row, another M&Ms, another string of championships that will restore order to the world and bar the doors to Chaos for a generation. 

It's fun to believe, isn't it, Suzyn? And today, you must have faith. Just don't go making predictions.

Death, oh death, where is thy sting?

"Thy sting" is in the left arm of a fur faced pitcher.

We had no chance.

I hate watching Yankees strike out.

It is like watching nothing happen.

Nothing at all.

Empty swings.

Why bother?

Friday, October 13, 2017

ALCS Game One Chat: And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

A Clear Headed Perspective...

We have all read, recently, idiotic statements from the professional media types;  " the Yankees are on a roll,"  or, " their momentum from being down 0-2 to Cleveland demonstrates that..."

 Enough already.

It is time for some honesty.  A sober assessment of the situation, so to speak.  And who better to give a sober assessment of anything, but I?  Or me?

Houston is a superior team.  They beat us 5 out of 7 during the season ( I kept thinking they were part of the inter-league thing;  a national league, emerging force).  Turns out, I guess after the 2016 elections, that Houston became an American League team.

But for what seems like centuries, they have been an awful team, in horrid uniforms, who always came in last. IN the national league, anyway.  As a result, of course, they had numerous number one picks and they, to their credit, did not select kids like Cito Culver, Dante Bichette and the pitcher who went to UCLA, with those opportunities.

So they are loaded, and they made a few astute trades to eliminate the few glaring weaknesses that remained.  They stormed through Boston as though the Ultimate Dream Team of a Lifetime was a childhood fantasy of the Boston Diocese.

Now we arrive.  Flood-ville, USA.

In the first round against Cleveland, this Yankee team showed a lot of grit.  Some superb pitching, both from selective starters and selective bullpen relievers.  The hitting and scoring was done, largely, without the normally huge contributions from Judge and Sanchez.  Those two guys were 5 for 40 with about 30 non-contact, strike-out at bats.  Might as well give their plate appearances to Matt Holliday.  Or bring back Chris Carter.

Announcement; the Yankee will not defeat Houston in this series unless those two dudes hit as advertised.  Didi, Gary,  Hicks and Frazier ( are you serious?) will not be able to do it by themselves.

Note to reader:  Bird struck out three times in game 5 as well, but his solo dinger off of Miller in the 1-0 win earns him a lot of latitude.

We have the possibility of getting hot as a team.  Playing championship baseball at every level.

If we don't, Houston will.

I see us losing in six games, but growing a lot.

And now for a drink....see you at the opening bell.

Bad, horrible, awful juju

This is how you lose.

Tonight, the Yankees face Dallas Keuchel - their official Babadook - and a new media narrative

You must remember this: A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is still a - o, fukkit - a sigh is the sound of the world always hating the Yankees, as time goes by. And soon - like, tonight - our brief tryst with popularity will splatter against the media windshield.

It will end against a vastly superior Houston lineup, created the old-fashioned way: A decade of finishing last, drafting first and shedding veterans at the trade deadline. It's the tried and true recipe for success among cynical owners, who are happy to wait their turn. Our touchy-feely Yankee "Cinderella" moments will end as the TV meat puppets start selling the Astros as God's healing tonic for a city having been built on a flood-plain. Beginning tonight, the Astros will be providing spiritual aid to all those who suffered from Hurricane Harvey, thus allowing America to move on from the catastrophe.

Listen: I don't mean to make fun of people losing homes in floods. It's just the notion that a sports team will make everything right - dispelled by the 2010 New Orleans Saints, the 2013 Boston Redsocks and - yes - the Yankees of 2001 - is nothing more than a marketing scheme wrapped in human suffering. This is baseball, Suzyn, a game played by overgrown boys and sold by the most ice-hearted lizards ever evolved. 

Tonight, our Cinderella run hits Dallas Keuchel, and it might be the only thing that does. Last time we faced Keuchel in a "post-season," we scratched out three measly hits, a performance more denounced than Spiderman: Turn off the Dark, which ended with home fans booing Brett Gardner, as he ran out a dinky grounder. In three quick hours, including commercials, the one-game, fake post-season was over, hardening our hatred for the Wild Card and exiling us for two long years of wandering the moors of Scranton in search of Brigadoon Refsnyder.

Yesterday, the media put on its loving face toward the Yankees, branding us as the team nobody expected to be here. What bullshit. I'm not saying we shouldn't be happy, but when Brian Cashman made all those deadline deals - trading four of our top 10 prospects - the front office was throwing down a gauntlet that said, reach the post-season or die. We made it. And yes, anything can happen.  

Of course, the beauty with media narratives is they don't mean squat. Wednesday night, the barking minions of the Yankiverse understood this, while the Fox 1 announcers talked up CC Sabathia's return to Cleveland as if it were Odysseus swimming home from Troy. While the comedy team of Vasgersian and Smoltz breathlessly noted CC being perfect through three, the fan base simply begged the juju gods for five solid innings. And it worked.

Listen: Dallas Keuchel kills us. Look at the chart. He always has. But so did Corey Kluber-Feldman. And this time, there is one big difference. It's a seven-game affair. Whatever lines the media puts forth, they won't last long. Hold on. Last time I looked, a kiss is still a kiss...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Big Papi performs The Master

Being mooned must have done something to him.

Haptit to Mustang.

More Yankee verse

To the tune of "Captain Fantastic and the Brown-Dirt Cowboy," sung by Elton John...

Courtesy of the Urban Farmer (Formerly Known as Dutch Fan.)

If you don't know the lyrics, just read it aloud and yell to the gathering clouds...

Master Fantastic and the Helmet Coiffed Suzyn
Master Fantastic, smooth and captivating
My night-time hero
The voice with its timbre so low
Very clearly a case for H, O and F fame
Maybe a grandstand in his name
At the home of the Yankees

And sleepless Dutch people
Lay drowsy on their pillows
No Morpheus rescue
Or bleeding Socks nightmares to fear for
For it's “hey Suzyn” “hey Sweeney”
Come with me to the Hebrew home
Buy some more Admiration
Go to Geico,
It is high, far and then as always
It is caught

Master Fantastic
Still keen and growing
Take me to Cleveland
I need you to guide me
To sooth and delight me, through the play offs
For with all of the game changers,
Foul balls and strike outs
I know you get me closer to
Playing in Houston
And the ‘17 upstart Bronx baby bombers
Are winning

For you make me feel I'm part of the deal
In my bed
Believe me or not, I don't really care if it's true what you said
We won't throw the towel in any game
I hear the Master and chant his name
Master Fantastic and the helmet coiffed Suzyn
Let us go all the way into LA

And all this talk of redsocks
Coming back to haunt us
Oh, couldn't fool you
You kept on spinning out them lines
Making up your rhymes
We are all so glorious at times
Euphorious, sublime
A hot shot down the line
From here on everything to gain
‘fore the cold November rain

For you make me feel I'm part of the deal
In my bed
Believe me or not, I don't really care if it's true what you said
We won't throw the towel in any game
I hear the Master and chant his name
Master Fantastic and the helmet coiffed Suzyn
Let us go all the way into LA

"Didi Gregorius was de grote man in Cleveland. De 27-jarige Oranje-international was zowel in de eerste als in de derde inning goed voor een homerun en die leverden de Yankees een 3-0 voorsprong op."

Didi coverage in his homeland. 

Haptit to Urban Farmer Formerly Known as Dutchfan.

Yankee baseball in mid-October! Who figured? Well... certainly not me.

At some point, after the dust settles, I will dig out the most wrongful, ignorant, blasphemous and puke-worthy things I said about the 2017 Yankees, (and believe me, there are some doozies.) Then I shall begin my Walk of Atonement, mandated by the High Sparrow. I shall march naked down the Canyon of Heroes, while citizens of the Yankiverse hurl feces and shout, "Shame, shame, shame!" Children will run up and tweak my gonads. I will probably crawl the last half-mile, bleeding openly, leaving a trail of tears and shmegma along the glass-strewn gutters. At some point, I will be beaten senseless by the mob and flung into a dumpster. And, all the while, nobody will be happier! 

Listen: Regardless of what transpires on the Texas flood plain, the 2017 Yankees are now an officially certified IT IS HIGH TEAM OF TRIUMPH (TM), which means the owner is entitled to lucrative tax breaks and the benefit of the doubt in future trades. The Yankees are a source of pride. Let me say it aloud: I was wrong about Castro, wrong about El Chapo, wrong about Joe and wrong about - gulp, excuse my retching - w-wr-wrong about Mr. B-B-Brian Cashman and - deep breaths now - wrong about the Wise Supreme Prince Hal Steinbrenner, son of George, breaker of chains, defender of the realm, bastion of the blood line, the rightful and true king of kings! I kneel before thee and beg forgiveness, bahhh, bahhh, bahhhh...

But but but, wait a minute, but but... I'm not yet ready to throw myself into New York harbor over the Toddfather and/or Sonny Gray deals until the last precincts have voted. That means waiting a few years to learn what we surrendered, and my guess remains that a couple emerging players will make those deals hard to stomach, long after Todd's Toms River Little League jersey is retired. (Remember: When he homered in the 2010 ACLS, we thought Lance Berkman was worth it, and then, we slowly watched the rise of Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes.) But today, playing ball in mid-October, everything has worked according to plan. And if we get past Houston, it will be hard to argue against any of Cashman's deadline deals without sounding like an insult clown perched on a midway dunking booth.  

Today, New York revolves around the Yankees - though, sadly, this doesn't take much to do. The other main components of NYC sports long ago punted - in the case of the Jets and Giants, literally - leaving only the Yankees as a source of civic pride. It's amazing how bad the Knicks can be; at some point, the law of random sequences should bring about a decent team. The Mets and Jets defy history with their perfect mediocrity. I blame the old money owners - the Dolans, Maras, Wilpons, good god, the Trumps, the Pruits of Southhampton, etc. - whose mediocrity of the soul infects the entire organization. Again and again, we see front offices full of hubris, instead of hunger. But the Yankees are different. Sort of, anyway.

Let's not forget, it took the Yankees a three-year colonoscopy to abandon their moronic policy of perpetually trying to win with over-the-hill stooges - and finally to rebuild with youth. Hal famously said the Yankees will rebuild and contend - far tougher than it sounds. I hope that stays committed to that plan - by continuing to rebuild, and not returning to the Pronks and Vernon Wellses. (A quick sign of this will be whether we re-sign Todd Frazier.) The Yankees have several veterans in need of a new franchise, and their solid autumns should increase their market value. We must always seek to get younger. 

But hell, what do I know? I picked this team for third. I had Tyler Austin pegged for stardom. I'd write more, but I gotta go work out, lose a few pounds. You know how it is: You want to look good for your Walk of Atonement.

Sing along, everybody, 'cause we were born to runnnnnn


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

ALDS Game Five: All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome

"When the winds of November come early..."

From IIH commenter, HoraceClarke66

(With apologies to Gordon Lightfoot, and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald")

“The Wreck of the Boston Red Sox”

The legend lives on
From the Bambino on down
Of the team that folds like a patsy
The Fens it said
Always throws up its dead
When the winds of November come early

The Sox were the pride
Of the MLB side
With a team that was certain to win it
A roster so sweet
That they let the boys cheat
And said scarcely a word ag’in it

They had Sale on the mound
And Price who would pound
Any old man who dared to offend him
And Porcello who
You knew would come through
And too many others to mention

The outfield was young
Their praises were sung
Above all the Babe Benintendi
They did a cute dance
And around they would prance
When the team it won so bigly

They were handed the East
Which was the least
MLB could do for their story
Then they’d run through the Stros
And the bows and arrows
And go straight to the Series and glory

But Nuni’s knee gave
Then their main Sale caved
And the Olde Towne Team was hurtin’
Then Pomeranz fell
And Kimbrel went to hell
And another big choke it was lurkin’

Does any man know
Where the love of God goes
When the hits turn the innings to hours?
Altuve went yard
And Springer hit hard
And Beltran finished with power

They Sox they were smote
It was all that she wrote
And they tossed their poor skipper over
And all that remains
Are the faces and the names
Of their fans now sullen and sober

The Tribe and the Cubs
Have both have had their flubs
And even the Yankees have blown some
But nobody chokes
Like those Boston folks
The all-time major-league krum-bum

In a musty old park
In the Boston dark
They mourn their Sox as ever
The church bell chimed
And it rang twenty-five times
For each man on the greatest team ever

The legend lives on
From the Bambino on down
Of the team that folds like a patsy
The Fens it said
Always throws up its dead
When the winds of November come early

R.I.P. Hub Champs

Major Headlines of the Day

1.  Boston has fired the ferret.

 After producing another failure for the team of destiny, the Red Sox nation has sobered up enough to dismiss manager Farrell, Ferrill, Ferile or Fair-isle.

Hee, hee, shall a failure be.

Surely, another cast-off from the Boston Diocese can be found to run this team of choir boys.

2.  USMNT ( soccer ) brings an end to all interest in US men's soccer.

The worst day in the history of US soccer occurred last night in either Trinidad or Tobago.  These countries, with a combined population of 3 million, soundly defeated the US, a nation with a combined population of 300 million ( or so ).

T&T had nothing to lose.  They were already eliminated from any chance at earning a spot to the 2018 World Cup.  They were the worst team in the entire inventory of teams competing for spots in Russia.

Remember every player on this USMNT team. Put the list of names on your wall.  Throw stuff at it.  Never hire anyone whose name appears. It is like the Black Sox of baseball infamy, except only incompetence and lack of heart were involved, not game fixing, or gambling ( as far as we know).

We do have one teenager who gets an exemption.  Hi name is Pusilic or Pulisic  ( who can remember in this blur of talentless players?), and he is the one world class player the US has managed to develop in the last 20 years, despite spending billions on the program.

This USMNT proved that they are not of World Cup quality.  If 64 teams are invited, the USA is in the 70-90 range. Not worth a look.  Not worth going to a game or buying a jersey, except for those of us who value dark humor.

For those sports caster who frame this defeat as an upset;  it wasn't.  What they won't say is that the USMNT stinks.  They are not worthy of TV coverage.

Just to add to the humiliation;  if you watched the game, you noted that about 2800 people attended, and it is my guess that no one had to purchase a ticket. We used to get more people at high school football games.  This was like watching an independent league baseball game between two teams in last place, held in an old cow pasture in Rolf, Iowa.

3.  California is burning.

 Mostly up in wine country, for now.  Fire and Storms are getting worse.

4.  Jeter is dismantling Yankee organization.

 Note to file:  Derek, don't forget to bring Cashman and Girardi with you to Florida.

5.  Harvey Weinstein's wife is leaving him.

As allegations of rape abuse and other forms of sexual misconduct against him mount, his loving wife is bolting from the sewer.

Ben Affleck, whose movie career was made by Harvey and his cronies, has been accused by a prominent actress of knowing what Harvey was doing, but lying about the truth.  A cover up.  Just like he learned to do in the Boston Diocese, where he was nurtured and became a Red Sox fan.

Red sox nation.  Abuse and sexual misconduct.  Cover up.

 See a pattern here?

6.  Game 5 tonight.