Monday, December 10, 2018

The Sky Begins To Clear....

Many have been asking : " Why does Cooperstown continue to reject George Steinbrenner for its special classification of rich owners?"

The Yankees have already taken the next step of preparing the " bust" for purposes of display:

The answer, then, is clear.

They are waiting for his son Hal and the puppet GM, Brian Cashman, to destroy the legacy of the Yankees.

At that point, history will wish to recall the glory days of history.

That will be the day to honor George.

Go, Randy, Go!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go soak my head in a bucket of ice-water.

Hey everybody, a star is born... with The Master

Will the Yankees lose Happ in the way they once lost Russell Martin?

Last night, prospective White House Chief of Staff Nick Ayers walked away from a deal with the Trump administration, because they wouldn't offer him more than a two-year deal. A tough loss for Individual #1. He might have to sign Chris Christie off the scrap heap. With Ayers, it was the same-old same-old: He signed with a PAC that offered longevity - as did Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi and - maybe soon - J.A. Happ.

According to George King of the Murdochian Post, the current "buzz" around the Major League winter meetings goes that the gold-plated Yankees don't want to offer Happ a three-year deal because - hey - he'll soon turn 36 and is already receiving AARP mailings. If any other team goes to three years, Happ will probably take it, and we'll face another Russell Martin meltdown.

What about Russell Martin? Sherman, set the Wayback to the winter of 2012-13, when Shallow Hal Steinbrenner has just blown a gasket. Look, he's in his office, throwing things at the unpaid Yale interns. "Jesus H. Montero!" he yells, "Does everyone around here think money grows on trees? The unmitigated gall of these players! It's time to hold the line! ENOUGH, I say! NO MORE!"

Somebody mentions Russell Martin, a serviceable Yankee catcher for the last two years. He's one of Brian Cashman's great scrapheap acquisitions, averaging 20 HRs per season ("Russell shows muscle!") for just $7.5 million. But in the winter of 2012-13, Hal issues an Official Edict forbidding the Yankees to sign two-year deals. 

Thus, Martin goes with Pittsburgh (for $6.5 million the first year), and the Yankees trade for slappy Chris Stewart, launching a season-long funeral train that includes Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and the ancient Ichiro - who signs, get this, a frickin' two-year-deal. 

Letting Martin walk - for less than he was already making - blows a hole in the Yankee catching department that lasts until Gary Sanchez arrives in late 2016, and even that is now debatable. Martin, at 35, was still catching for Toronto this year, and he outhit Gary (though, to be honest, they both sucked; Martin hit .194.) 

So, in the aftermath of Corbin and Eovaldi, here comes the bidding on the venerable JA Happ. The Yankees want him to take a two year deal, because at 39, Happ will probably crap the bed. It's all about cheapness, folks. Prince Hal - sitting on the largest pot of gold in U.S. sports - wants to be a leader in fiscal purity, an owner who is beloved by his fellow billionaires. 

Meanwhile, Boston targets the players it wants - David Robertson is said to be high on their list - and shells out the money to obtain them. The Yankees may let Robertson walk, then wheedle down some other bullpen lug nut and save a few dimes. Come September, in some big game, we'll see Robbie on the mound against us, while we trot out our Dopey Dildox, giggling that we're saving money. Oh, how we pulled one over on Boston!

Okay, I need to add a disclaimer: It's possible that Hal is holding the line on Happ so he can make a huge splash with Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. If so, I'll take back everything. Trouble is, I get the feeling that Hal likes being the guy willing to hobble the Yankees, rather than overspend on players, like the Dodgers and Redsocks. He'll be revered by mall market owners and Gammonites, as he holds the line against those "greedy" players and Scott Boras, the boogyman. And his daddy will make the Hall of Fame.

But if Hal sandbags the Yankees, he deserves the complete contempt of Yankee fans. And today, I'm running a spoon across our iron bars, raising a ruckus among the inmates: Let's never forget that, by refusing to boost payroll, Hal is lining his own pockets. And this winter, that is the question facing the Yankees. Does Hal prefer to count money rather than spend it? Is it 2019, or are we back in 2012? Have we identified the players we want? Or are we simply making the numbers fit? Are we the Yankees or the Kansas City Athletics? We will soon find out. Get ready to rumble.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Did we use the wrong fork? Seattle continues to agonize over the fate of Joggy Cano

When Gammonites weep, they say things like this. Here's Larry Stone in the Seattle Times...

It was billed as the dawn of a new Mariners era, one in which they finally meant business. After consecutive seasons of 101, 95, 87 and 91 losses, and 12 years in a row without a playoff berth, management expressed a determination to do what it took to earn a championship. The Cano signing, the fourth-most lucrative in baseball history, was Exhibit A.

Here's the best line of the column.

In the end, Pete Rose proved prophetic when he said of Cano in a radio interview the day after the signing, “He got him a big raise, but he got him an extra 30-day vacation – and it’s called October.”

Here's the voodoo Sabermetrics part where Joggy skates.

Excluding the suspension, Cano’s performance lived up to his contract – outdid it, in fact, if you use the metrics that connect WAR to salary. 

Here's the obligatory part about Joggy jogging.

Yes, there were a few maddening lapses, such as the time at Dodger Stadium in 2015 Cano thought the bases were loaded when actually the Mariners had runners on second and third. On a walk, he trotted home and was tagged out, afterward calling it the dumbest thing he had ever done on a baseball field. 

Here's the obligatory follow up. 

There were gestures that no one knew about... Once, when Cano noticed rookie outfielder James Jones toting a gym bag onto the plane, he bought him Louis Vuitton luggage.

Here's the obligatory whack at management.

Despite the facade of becoming serious players by signing Cano, they still failed to build the team around him that could get them to the playoffs. After the initial flourish, they didn’t finish the job.

And here's my obligatory postscript...

I'm sorry, folks. I know this has become a broken record, but I will never forgive Robinson Cano. He left the most lucrative situation in sports - the chance to be a life-long Yankee - to bask in a smaller pond and - worse - so he could suck up to Jay-Z and Beyonce. By having Cano go to Seattle, Jay-Z could claim to be the biggest badass agent in sports - well, how did that turn out? Cano not only got his Pete Rose vacations, but killed the Yankees' decade, as well. On the eve of his walking - to counterbalance the negative press - we signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a slightly less horrible deal, which still has two years to play out. Cano performed a skillful double-bank shot, undermining both teams.

I suppose he's a candidate for the Hall of Fame someday. By the usual standards - he played eight years with the Yankees, five with Seattle and he'll go the last five with the Mets - he should wear a Yankee cap. I hope the Yankees refuse to allow it. Most veteran players yearn to play for what was once the greatest franchise in baseball. Cano scorned it. I'm sorry. I can never forgive.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Duque's Remaining Optimism for 2019 Yankee Season :

Entering the winter meetings, is there a Yankee plan?

Late post today. Went out drinking last night. Saw one of the great jam bands in America, Donna the Buffalo, an upstate source of musical pride. And while the band played, a revolving set of questions circulated in my head...

How would a three-year deal with JA Happ - age 36 - be much better than going six with Patrick Corbin or four on Nathan Eovaldi? In the final year, or years, they'll all suck. But in their best year, or years, what can Happ bring the Yankees? 

Were the Yankees frugal on Corbin and Eovaldi in order to make a huge splash on Bryce and Manny, or is cheapo Hal - always finishing second - the new normal?

If we miss out on a free agent stud pitcher, would that set up a farm system extinction event trade? If the Yankees were to chase - say - Madison Bumgarner, the deal might include Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Greg Bird, or good grief, anybody? 

If the Yankees find an inside track on Harper, could there actually be a taker for Giancarlo Stanton? Would the Dodgers or Angels be interested?

Do we have anybody who might become a breakout player in 2019? Luis Cessa? Chance Adams? Domingo German? Jonathan Loasiga? Albert Abreu? Anybody? In the last three years, we could look to our farm system for hope. Now, we seem to have nobody. 

Will we get hammered next week in the Rule 5 draft, or - having traded so many of our best prospects - are we barren and bullet-proof? Will next week's draft signal how badly our system has been drained in order to capture the last two wild cards?

Why do I get the feeling that Boston isn't done? They will ditch the increasingly leaky Craig Kimbrel for a new closer, but they might also look for a stud first baseman? They are playing for consecutive rings. If Eovaldi sucks in his fourth year, they won't care, as long as they won multiple championships. 

And will we be celebrating Hal's frugality, if the Yankees still have nothing to show but a series of wild cards? What the hell is the Yankee plan?

Friday, December 7, 2018

To love a jogger

A Seattle fan describes his love for Jogginson Cano.

Spoiler alert: They don't win the world series.

Oh, no. We messed with Mr. In-Between

In keeping with the musical tone of the blog this holiday season, and with apologies to Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen.

You got to ac-cent,
Accentuate the positive.
Eliminate the negative.
Latch on
Latch on to the affirmative.
Don't mess with Mr. In-Between!

You know there are two ways
Two ways to de-velop.
You can build, build
Build from the bottom up.
Get hold
Get hold of each and every pup.
Bring, bring
Bring them all the way up.
That's how you develop from below.

Or you can de-velop
Develop from the top already.
Spread, spread,
Spread around the honey.
Go, go,
Go out and spend that money.
That's how you do it from the top.

To facilitate either of these approaches
You got to rid yourself of those old cockroaches.
Tell Cooperstown Cashie to seek his inner elf,
And Randy Levine to go chase himself.

You got to ac-cent,
Accentuate the positive.
Eliminate the negative.
Latch on
Latch on to the affirmative.
Don't mess with Mr. In-Between!

Looks like we already messed with Mr. In-Between...

Accentuate the positive—

He'll mess you up, that Tweener.

Elim-eliminate the negative—

Who we talkin' about now?  Hal?

Latch on
Latch on to the affirmative—

No, not Hal.  He's Mr. Soccer!

Don't mess with Mr. In-Between.

Oh, oh, here he comes now!  Mr. 81-81.
Better run!
Or better yet, stay home.
Ain't nothin' brewin' at Yankee Stadium.  No, sir.

Don't mess with Mr. In-Between.

Baby, we are nothin' BUT between!

It's the two Johns... Cougar and Sterling!

Jokes are echoing across the Yankiverse, but they might be on us.

This week's Yankee comedy relief comes from clown president Randy Levine, who says the team - with its current fifth starter, the great Luis Cessa! - is just as good the reigning 2018-19 Redsock Hall of Fame Super Team of Destiny (TM). Bad-a-boom. Carrot Top won't be sleeping tonight.

What's even funnier is that, as Levine was honing his stand-up act this week, the Yankees were whiffing on Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi - the two starting pitchers that could have vaulted the 2019 team ahead of Boston. 

Damn. Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner was reaching for his wallet, but those Halligator arms just weren't long enough to get there. 

So, here's the real joke: When the Yankees lose out on a free agent, Randy Levine gets another boat. The unspent money can be plowed back into the ownership pipeline of sex slaves, arms sales and production of Fentanyl. The punch line is on us.

Today, three top starting pitchers remain on the MLB free agent board: J.A. Happ (age 36), Dallas Keuchel (31), and Yusei Kikuchi (27) from Japan. (Charlie Morton, 35, is on a secondary, Purgatory list.) After that, it's a dead drop to the canyon of Lance Lynn and Wade Miley. At a certain point, the Yankees might as well stick with Sonny Gray. It's that bad. And all you folks who stress that Boston and Washington overpaid on their pitchers, wait until you see the price tag for Happ. 

The team's core of Gammonites keeps assuring us that Cooperstown Cashman can trade for a Bauer or a Bumgarner, but at what point do we stop the wholesale draining of our farm system? Already, the courtier press has banned the mention of Justus Sheffield, and our selective memory could soon mean that Clint Frazier, Estevan Florial and a flock of Greg Birds can fly out the door. This was supposed to be the era of the "Baby Bombers," as the team scrapped its old ways and built up from youth. But right now, looking at 2019, there is nothing ready to rise up from Scranton or Trenton, and - thus far - all we see is an ownership unwilling to pay the extra freight for talent. 

There are two jokes currently circulating around the Yankiverse, and it's time we stopped laughing at them:

1. As much as we love to believe it, the Yankees cannot simply bludgeon their way to the 2019 World Series. I'm talking about Bryce Harper. Yes, signing him will give us all four-month erections, through June, until the losses by 11-10 scores take us down. The Yankees must find pitching. This crazy notion that CC Sabathia is our fifth starter? What a crock. Yes, he's a great man, a team leader. But he was awful last year. He'll be worse in 2019. Why are we telling us that CC is a viable front line starter? If we intend to homer our way to a ring, the Yankees must sign both Harper and Machado... and, folks, that aint gonna happen.

2. As much as the sportswriters love to speculate about it, the Yankees cannot trade their way to a pennant. I'm talking about this notion that the highly coveted Sonny Gray will launch a massive bidding war, prompting some team to surrender its crown jewels. What a crock. What we're going to get is another team's version of Sonny Gray. Or Greg Bird. And right now, Frazier - returning from two head injuries - has to be at his lowest value as a trade chip in the last two years. Cashman's record on trades is spotty. Sometimes, he pulls a Didi. Sometimes, he pulls a Sonny Gray. 

Listen: Since beating us like a drum in the regular season, then stomping us in four games in the playoffs, Boston has re-signed Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi. Meanwhile, the Yankees have signed Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia. 

Okay, go ahead, tell me that we've gained ground...

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Yankees have Halligator Arms

A Flexible Approach

I have diagrammed the approach to team-building, developed by Hal and the puppet Brian.

Mr. Levine has earlier opined that the Yankees are already better than the Red Sox.

This is why.

The arrows represent the scripts for :

- free agent signings
- player development
- foreign intervention
- contract management
-  managing resources

"  ...where are we going to....don't ask, anymore."

Here Comes Santa Claus... or is it Trembley?

With all the money in the world, the Yankees still read the menu from right to left

Today, the Internet says Nathan Eovaldi is on the verge of signing a four-year deal to stay in Boston. This is terrible, horrible, rotten news on multiple levels of human torture. Not only is Eovaldi the best pitcher currently available on the free agent market, but he is a certifiable "Yankee killer." It was one thing to balk at Patrick Corbin's six-year deal. Now, are we walking away from Eovaldi because he's getting four? Apparently. 

Listen: Every starter on the market will come with serious flags about his future health and well being. And they will all want deals that run longer than the Yankees want to give.

One difference is emerging: The Redsocks have looked at Eovaldi and decided they want him. They see a power pitcher with ace potential and a good heart, who has proved himself in the post-season cauldron.  

The Yankees, on the other hand, don't see Eovaldi. They see just four years at a certain price tag. 

They walked into the restaurant, saw the price of steak, and they're settling for the salad bar. Get ready for the garbanzo beans, folks. We're going to fill up on bread. 

Right now, when we look at the two franchises, we can see a fundamental differences in their philosophies.

Boston looks at the player. The Yankees look at the price.

Okay, I know what you're thinking... Duke, it's wa-a-a-y too soon in the winter to rage against Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner's unending cheapness. Tomorrow, he could sign Bryce Harper for more money than the state of Delaware and blow all budget expectations out of the water. Also, we can't sign everybody. Presumably, if Boston keeps Eovaldi and Steve Pearce (whom they already signed), they'll be done for the winter, blah blah blah.

Listen: Boston is the new Yankees. There is no reason to think they'll be done after Eovaldi. Their ownership wants to win multiple rings. Ours doesn't want to overpay on kibble. 

I believe Cooperstown Cashman is wavering between two strategies:  

1. The scrap heap picker: Instead of big splashes, Cashman will tweak the roster through a series of Luke Voit-type acquisitions. Over the years, his wheelhouse has been finding position players off the scrapheap and getting decent value. His weakness has been in trading for power arms, who have logged too many innings. If the Yankees go cheap and small, they will let Machado and Harper sign elsewhere, find a cheap Didi replacement, grab some bullpen lug nuts and secondary starting pitchers. At the July deadline, they'll drain the last dregs from their farm system for salary dump rentals. 

2. The bludgeon: They sign either Harper or Machado, even though neither fits this roster. If it's Manny, he plays SS (where he's not that good, range-wise) and tilts the lineup to the RH side. If it's Bryce, the OF becomes overcrowded, or he takes up 1B, a risky move considering Gleyber's and Andujar's errant throws. In both scenarios, Clint Frazier never sees the light of day, and the Yankees try to homer their way to the world series. They'll get great ratings on YES, but they'll be a plane with five propellers and one wing. 

There is the mixture of #1 and #2, but that requires a total makeover - trades of Frazier, Bird, maybe even Andujar, or maybe even Giancarlo, if the Dodgers would bite. Cashman could tear everything apart and start over. 

Either way, right now, the Yankees are looking at players and cringing over the price tags. Soon, Hal must pull out his wallet. The days are growing short.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

He's on his way...

Don't look now.  But he's on his way.

That's right: him.

The Napoleon of Crime, as Sherlock Holmes might have called him.

No, not Professor Moriarty.  Not Voldemort.   Not Sauron.


Do not dare to say his name—but the initials are:  "N.W."

It's quite clear.

The Yanks aren't spending money.  They have already released the Toe.  Sir Didi is out for at least half the season.  Manny ain't coming.

Who else is there?  Who is it who we have been told can play anywhere on the field?  (Just not very well.)

That's right.  It makes perfect sense.  He will come cheap, he can be counted on to show up and play (Just not very well.), and he fits in perfectly on the Yankees' 2019 Island of Misfit Toys.

That's riiiiight.

Listen, he's on his way!  You can almost hear him.  No, that's not the clatter of reindeer hooves on the roof.

It's N.W.   Continuing in our Christmas songfest:

He's on his way, he's filled his sleigh with things.  But not things for you or for me.

Damned Yankees

From the Broadway-infused mind of Doug K.



Brian Cashman: Gentlemen we just lost out on Corbin. He wanted a sixth year can you imagine? 

Hal: What did you say? 

Brian: I said, how dare you sir! 

Levine: We’re as good as the Sox anyway! 

Hal: Better, because we are the ultimate winners!

Brian: Why’s that Hal? 

You’ve gotta have cash.
Wads and wads and wads of cash.
Doesn’t matter if the team ever wins.
Our season ends and begins… with cash! 

We must make the green. Een-een-een 
In amounts that are obscene. Een-een-een.
Who cares if the fans all feel ill? 
We did three mil.
That’s green.

Just give the fans hope. Ope-ope-ope.
Then bend them over for the soap. Ope-ope-ope.
Tell them all to just sit back and relax
We've reset the tax. That's hope. 

Build a Bar out in the Bleachers 

Ha-ha- ha.

Charge them twenty bucks a brew.


And price out the bleacher creatures. 


Cause they can’t afford to sue. 

There’s nothing to it we should do it. 

Watch us gloat Oat-oat-oat…

Say, why don’t we build a moat? Oat-oat-oat.

Oh, it's fine to win the series of course 
But keep all those fans under the lash
First we gotta make cash. 

So, you say we need a pitcher? 

Who? Who? Who?

What’s the frugal thing to do? 


I mean what will make me richer?


Sign a guy whose forty-two. 
There’s nothing to it, we should do it. 

We make cash. 
Piles and piles and piles of cash.
Doesn’t matter if the Sox pass us by. 
As long as we try… 
For cash.

Who minds those pop bottles flyin'?

The hisses and the boos.

The team has been consistent.

Let’s start spreading the news…

That we're laughin' cause... We've got cash!
We've got cash... We've got cash! 

Hal, Pot and the Yankees

Hal is stealthily sneaking up to claim the pot of gold and skulk away like a worm.

The Yankees are gathered under that dark cloud.

We are just as good as Boston.

Except for everything.

We fans are, " the dead grass,"  deprived of oxygen under the heavy pot.

Sing along with The Master and his Choir

This winter, Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner may be showing his smoking saw

For most baseball general managers, you never look bad finishing second in a free agent auction. The "winning" franchise always overpays, and your lunch-bucket fan base - if such a thing still exists - appreciates frugality. 

So, today, having been outbid by the DC Swamp-Gnats for Patrick "Yankee fan" Corbin, the Retrieval Empire can proclaim to the world that - by finishing second - it is looking out for the fan's bottom line, and any Gammonite who can utter the syllables "Jah-co-be-Ells-bar-ee" should understand.

But the question remains: Are the Yankees being smart... or cheap?

Yesterday, Corbin chose crisp U.S. dollars over soggy childhood loyalty. Frankly, nobody can criticize. The Yankees refused to give him six years, and he invoked the "I gotta feed my family" mantra to which almost all players succumb. But I wonder why they do this. They should be set for life, financially. By chasing contractual longevity, they are guaranteed to finish their careers as fiscal millstones - mocked by sportswriters, booed by fans, and blamed by the front office for the franchise's mediocrity. This isn't about feeding families. It's about adding zeroes. In the year 2025 - if man is still alive, if woman can survive - they will find that Corbin is pariah, a human salary dump. He might have become an icon of New York. But he blinked and took the zeroes.

With five years left on his deal, Robby Cano is being passed around like a plate of bad clams. In the final year, to avoid being booed, the Jogger should live in a submarine. And whenever Cano struggles with the Mets, Hand-Me-Down Hal will look smart for having said no. 

Listen: I'm not here to rail against the Yankees for failing to land Corbin. There are other pitchers available. Just as you cannot judge a trade until the prospects have matured - (these winter celebrations have yet to consider the future of Justus Sheffield) - you cannot measure a winter before the winter meetings have even begun. 

But today, one huge question still looms: Is Hal going to spend? Because if the answer is no - if he's going to be an "billionaires first" owner and toe the line on luxury taxes - it's fair for Yankee fans to ask what the fuck he intends to do with all that money he saves?

Will Hal buy another mansion? Will he re-elect Trump or burrow further into Chuck Schumer's aorta? Will he just eat coins until his bowels shit pure gold? How many times can he renovate Steinbrenner Field? How many statues of Old George can he commission? Hal has inherited one of the prolific ATMs on the planet, the biggest market team in all of U.S. pro sports. If he's not spending on free agents, if he's going to use the luxury tax as an excuse for his alligator arms, then what is he going to do with all that extra money? Fuck Trump's tax returns; we'll never see them. But I'd sure like to see Hal's. 

Yesterday, Randy Levine idiotically claimed the Yankees are as good as the Redsocks. What planet is he living on? We haven't reached the world series in 10 years. We are approaching the most fruitless decade in Yankee history. The Redsocks have won four in this millennium - going through three GMs - while the Yankees seemingly have given Brian Cashman a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. 

If the Yankees aren't going to spend their money on free agents, then where is it going?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Turns out, Corbin was a Nats fan, all along

So... he's signed with Washington for six years? Might be a smart move: He won't have to face the DH 120 times per year. 

He reminds me of another former future great Yankee.

Jesus wept

Patrick Corbin agrees to terms with Nationals

Sing along with The Master and The King

If Patrick Corbin is a REAL upstate Yankee fan, his signing is a done deal

Truth here: I don't know lint/squat/doodily-dick about pitching. I eat sliders. I don't throw them. Not only that, but I don't do Sabermetrics, or Freakinomics, or basic math. As Humphrey Bogart said in the epic boxing movie, The Harder They Fall, "Don't give me numbers, you can make those numbers jump through hoops!" Screw numbers. And while we're at it, screw knowledge! Screw information! Screw truth! Who needs it?

But wait... there is one thing I do know, and I know it from head to toe, from liver to kidney, from bowel movement to hair extension: 

I know the Upstate New York Yankee fan. 

Oh, yes. I do. I have seen them in the dawn, at the sunset, and under the full moon. I have seen them copulate. I have seen things - dear God, you don't want to know. And if Patrick Corbin is one of us, if he is truly of the cloth - that is, that he was raised to love the Scooter, the pinstripe, and the ghosts of Thurm and Billy - there is no debate within his heart or mind. Everything else is mere negotiation. If it's true that he is from a family of Upstate Yankee fans, well, write this down, folks: Corbin will be a Yankee.

Let me tell you a story about Syracuse Yankee fans. Sometime around the mid-eighties, when the team was crapola and the Orioles were a power, the Yankees were featured on the Saturday NBC Game of the Week. But the local network affiliate, recognizing that the Yankees were out of pennant contention, chose to run the alternative game. 

This unleashed the usual phoned death threats. (I might have made one myself. Once, when an opening day Yankee game was found to unavailable on our cable system, a buddy and I phoned Steinbrenner's office in NYC and demanded to talk with him personally, and then yelled at the secretary who wouldn't patch us directly through.) That day, several Yankee fans went to the Syracuse affiliate  on James Street to complain. They were told to leave. They refused, hanging around the parking lot and berating employees who came out to smoke.  Eventually, police were called. The indignant Yankee fans were dispersed, (though surely, I believe the cops were on their side. I once talked my way out of a speeding ticket by blaming the Yankee game on the radio.)  

Upstate New York was one of the first areas of the country to receive WPIX cable broadcasts during the late 1960s. Patrick Corbin's father and uncles surely grew up on the sweet nectar of White and Rizzuto. Throughout the seventies and eighties, you could drive the length of the Southern Tier Expressway - Route 17 - from Jamestown to Tuxedo, without missing a pitch on the radio. What evolved across the backroads and small towns of upstate was a link to Gotham itself, as deep and loyal as the love of a moose for his flying squirrel.

Patrick Corbin grew up in North Syracuse, where his family elders would have gone to MacArthur Stadium to watch Ron Guidry and Tucker Ashford. Surely, one of his uncles as a room devoted to the Yankees. His family, his friends, his neighborhood want this. And if Corbin is really from upstate New York - that is, he didn't lose his soul in the Arizona desert - that everything that has happened thus far in his career was only a prelude to the beginning of time. And his new age will begin on opening day in the Bronx. 

And if something goes wrong, I'm phoning Hal to complain.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Guess who is coming to town? (No, it's not Manny)

Cashman says he's all in with Gary, but only his hairdresser knows for sure

Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman says reports that he recently offered Gary Sanchez for Miami's J.T. Realmuto are fake news, and that we all should look forward giddily to Gary's big comeback season in the Bronx. Cue the final scene of It's a Wonderful Life: "I tell ya, Hal, once the fans heard that Gary might go, word spread across the prairie like wild fire; people started sending in their money - one dollar, two dollars, three - out of the goodness of their hearts, and and now the Yankees are solvent again! It's a miracle, I tell ya, a miracle!" Coop tells the NY Post:

"I saw that somebody had written that we had offered for Realmuto. That is completely false... We definitely look forward to him (Sanchez) coming back to what we saw a little bit in the postseason and what we saw in the previous years."

Listen: Whenever Cooperstown Cashman denies a trade, a Scranton Railrider gets his wings. As for me? I dunno. There's a micro-distinction between talking about a trade and making an offer. Supposedly, the Yanks discussed a straight-up deal - Sanchez for Realmuto - and when the Marlins vomited no, Cash zipped up his fly and fled the motel room. No harm, no foul, no deal. That's China Town, Jake. And let's not worry about Wary Gary's tender feelings. In fact, it might be a good thing to ruffle his plumage a bit. Sanchez remains one jogged-out grounder away from my permanent shit list. His .186 average for 2018 is in the books; it will never go away, a reminder of how fleeting stardom is, especially if you're not running hard.

Okay, I know, I know... the official line is that Gary was hurt last season, that he was battling a tweaked gonad, a touchy foreskin, and couldn't run hard. I dunno. But the memory of him trotting after a passed ball while a base-runner scores from second... from fucking second... Nope, that will never disappear. That mere image nearly kills the buzz to sign Manny Machado - juicing up the fear that we suddenly have two jogger-doggers - almost a quorum - in the starting lineup, and that the decision not to hustle could metastasize throughout the roster. 

The Yankees have Gary on a relatively cheap contractual basis for five years. It was the contract, not just the player, that they offered - or didn't offer - Miami. The Marlins said no, or maybe not. And once again, Cooperstown says Gary is our catcher. Or maybe he isn't. 

Fine. Okay. But if Sanchez doesn't improve defensively, it won't matter how he's hitting next season: The Yankees will need a catcher. Of all the great hopes from the "Baby Bombers" movement of 2016, Sanchez has been the biggest disappointment - even worse than Greg Bird. A winning team needs a spark plug behind the plate. And every championship defense starts at catcher. Seems to me that blocking errant pitches is mostly a matter of commitment. Catchers either make the commitment, or they don't. Looks like Sanchez will be our catcher in 2019. But my guess is that Cashman would have made that trade in a heartbeat, and that if another chance comes along, he won't drag his feet.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Mariners look like 2019's top tanker

After years of stupidly trying to win, the Seattle Mariners finally have wised up. They're trading everyone and setting up 2019 as one deep, glorious, beginning to end tank-a-thon. They could lose 120. They could be eliminated by July 1. Damn! When it comes to being beaten, they're going to be hard to beat!  

But let's not concede last place just yet. The awful Orioles are already Triple A-worth and planning for 2022, assuming Baltimore hasn't by then been swallowed up by the sea. I wouldn't count out the White Sox, either, whom I believe have come to enjoy tanking. The Tigers, Royals, Rangers, Blue Jays and Twins could all be out of it by June and traded for garage sale kibble by the deadline, and if the Angels have a bad spring, they could be scrapped down to the Japanese Babe Ruth. And then there are the tank-masters themselves, the Tampa Rays, who are always lurking, ready to pounce on last place. If the first few months go south, they could be auctioning off the reigning AL Cy Young award winner. Would they be in the catbird seat, or what? 

These days, no team can simply tank overnight and be assured of the top pick and cheap payroll. But the Mariners are looking techno-smart; they're trading everybody who threatens to win meaningless games and ruin the plan.  

As far as I can tell - and it's too early, for sure - here's how 2019 shapes up.

AL East: Boston v Yankees.
AL Central: Cleveland v boredom.
AL West: Houston v A's, unless the A's decide to tank. 

Wild Cards: Yankees v A's, Rays and/or Angels. 
Last place: Everybody else.

Coupled with the continuing home run derby mentality, the refusal by batters to adjust to defensive over-shifts, and five-hour games that feature 20 strikeouts and 10 walks, the National Pastime looks healthier than ever! And the crackerjack group of owners - always looking to bank more money - is certainly on top of whatever problems do arise. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Go, Mets, Go!

As the Mets close in on 36-year-old Jogginson Cano, they have become front-runners to claim the mantle as baseball's version of the woeful New York football Giants. 

That is, they will dismiss the horrors of last year, and the need to rebuild via youth, and plan to win the Super Bowl with a cast of aging, tired, former stars. Hey, can Eli Manning pitch? Could Carmelo Anthony maybe play SS? Is Emerson Boozer still around?

Wow. That 2019 Mets lineup is looking scary, in a Jurassic Park mad scientist's laboratory kind of way. I'm seeing geriatric, DNA-altered marvels of medicine, such as the Toddfather at third, Humanis Centepedes in the OF, and the Jettisoned Jogger himself, posing like a stegasaurus at 2B. Has any National League team ever looked more stocked at the DH position?

But wait, there is one final component to this re-enactment of the Disney Dinosaur Apple Dumpling gang franchise: God's DH, Tim Tebow! He needs to play somewhere, anywhere. Maybe he can be levitated above the outfield, moving with the over-shifts!

Thus, to counter the popularity of Aaron Judge and whatever bookend the Yankees supply - (it's probably Giancarlo, but we can still dream, can't we?) the Mets will trot out Joggy for the next five years. Wow. Cooperstown Cashman won't be sleeping tonight. You can already pencil the guy in for 80 games, assuming his blood-work analysis doesn't glow in the dark. And the Mets know they've got a player who has taken care of himself. 

By dogging it on all those infield grounders, Joggy has probably added another season to his career. The question, of course, is whether he can bend over. I still remember the last game of the 2008 season, when he didn't bother to bend over for a slow roller into right field, which eliminated the Yankees from post-season contention. Who knows? By not bending over that day, maybe he's added another year to his career! He'll be around longer than Supreme Court Judge "Pabst" Kavanaugh. 

According to the Internet, the Mets will trade two former first round picks - now viewed as their fourth and fifth rated prospects - plus a couple salary dumps. This appears to be one of those deals that looks great in April and horrifying in August. If so, once again, the Yankees have New York City handed to them on a silver platter. Which means that Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner can sit on his fanny pack. This morning's NY Post suggests Boston will sign both David Robertson and Zach Britton. Who cares? It doesn't take much to be the best sports team in New York City. Hey, is Gump Worsley still alive?

Friday, November 30, 2018

As Winter Descends...

The Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley returns:

" .....And on the pedestal these words appear:  My name is Brian Cashman, king of kings:  Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair !"

" Nothing beside remains:  round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away."

- The world of Humanity ( sans Boston) awaits.

The shifting sands on Gary Sanchez suggest the earth is getting ready to move

Scientists are still trying to discern the mystery seismic waves that were recorded worldwide three weeks ago, figuring they could be an underwater volcano, a small asteroid or the unleashing of a prehistoric monster with atomic breath and an unmistakable wail. I propose that they emanated from the failing New York Times Yankees headquarters in Tampa. Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman was huddling with the boy owner, Hal Steinbrenner, and merging of the two minds disrupted the earth's magnetic core.

Today, according to the Internet, we should anticipate more waves. Cooperstown is said to be talking with Derek Jeter, the Miami Marlins functioning spirit animal, about J.T. Realmuto, generally considered the best young catcher in baseball. 

To pull off such a deal, the Yankee GM would almost surely trade Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and a busload of 20-year-old Latinos to the ever-tanking Marlins. It would also require Cooperstown to pull a complete reversal of his earlier winter comments that the Yankees were doubling down on Sanchez.

As a rule, I try not to shriek about trade rumors because a) they're always bogus, b) you can't measure a deal until it's done and c) life is too short. (I make exceptions for certain possible catastrophes, such as Jogginson Cano.) But today, several outlets have the failing New York Times Yankees "talking" about Realmuto, and - considering how quickly Giancarlo Stanton came aboard last winter - let's face the new reality: 

Anything can happen.

Should the Yankees stick with Sanchez? FukifIknow. I think Gary is a fine candidate for a bounce-back season at the plate. But can someone tell me why we'd think he'll conquer the passed ball thing, when he's failed to do so in the last two seasons? Is he going to work harder? Because that notion implies that he didn't apply himself to the problem thus far, and if you think about it, that's pretty damning.

There is a moral here, which we should never ignore: Like a certain president, Cashman clearly feels no obligation to be held to his previous public statements. If a good deal comes around, all he has said in the past means nothing. 

A common thread this winter is that Sonny Gray is half-way out the door, as Cashman takes bids. But are we really thinking of CC Sabathia as our fifth starter? Why would we believe CC - giant as he is - can last 100 innings with anything below a 5.00 ERA? Let's remember: When he speaks about a player, Cashman isn't talking to us. He is baiting a hook in hopes that some GM on another team will make a call. And these days, Cashman is talking to everyone about everything.

The Yankees won 100 games last year and still finished a million miles behind Boston. Something tells me the waves of Nov. 11 were just an omen. A massive Yankee explosion is about to happen. It will start with Patrick Corbin - either he signs with us or goes elsewhere - and detonate across the Yankiverse. Winter is here, folks. Write this down: 

By this time next week, the Yankees will be exploding with change. Brace yourselves. It's coming.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

TV Guide

Merry Christmas everybody, let's sing: Manny M is Coming to Town!

From the ghost of Christmas past, Doug K. 

Manny M. Is Coming to Town
You’d better just run
And no dirty slides
For 30+ Mil
You’d best turn the tide
Manny M. is coming to town.

Just stay away from ice cream
And don’t speak to the press
For the love of G-d
Avoid the shift 
Or we’ll all get quite depressed. 

Oh, you better just run
And no dirty slides
Hit in the clutch
Restore Yankee Pride 
Manny M. is coming
AnDUjar is bumming
Manny M. is coming to town! 

Today in news described by Yankee analogies

On why it was wrong for Paul Manafort's lawyers to convey confidential prosecution info to the Trump team, from today's Washington Post.

"As former U.S. attorney Chuck Rosenberg put it, having signed with the Yankees, he couldn’t give scouting reports to the Red Sox."

See? If you follow the Yankees, all eventually becomes clear.

Let's go Christmas caroling! Stanton's Night, O-fer Night

From the substantial yule log of Doug K.

Stanton’s Night (O fer night)

Stanton’s Night. 
O-o-fer night
Swing and miss, 
There’s no fight. 
Low and outside 
He strikes out again 
Doesn’t adjust 
Just swings for the fence.
Please, just let it go by-eye.
Plea-ease just let it go by.

The Yankees just jettisoned a guy who hit .344 with runners in scoring position last year

So long, Ronald "Big Toe" Torreyes. All you did was come through for us.

(In case you're wondering, in RISP last season, Giancarlo Stanton hit .241. And everybody's fave Yank, Mr. Grit himself - Brett Gardner - hit .208. 

Let's face it: "Big Toe" Torreyes was always the last kid picked on the sandlot. And with the Yankees, no matter what he did, it was never enough. He was never viewed as a starter, and the most attention he ever received came from standing next to Aaron Judge, so he could look like a carnival dwarf.  Last September, when the infield was banged-up, the Yankees traded for Adeiny Hechavarria to play SS and 3B. (And last year, with runners in scoring position, Hech hit .221. You could look it up.)

Okay, am I cherry-picking a stat to make Big Toe look good? Of course! The bg bad truth is that Torreyes slumped in August and that his glove could never compare with Hechavarria's. But over his entire career, Torreyes's batting average with runners in scoring position is .303. And that's why the fans loved him. He. Came. Through. 

Tuesday, the Yankees waived Big Toe to sign Parker Bridwell, a 27 RH power starter who was cut loose by the Angels. That last phrase is troubling. He was cut loose by, gulp, the Angels. 

At 6'4", Bridwell definitely looks better coming off the bus. He looked promising in 2017, going 10-3 with a 3.64 ERA, then missed almost all of last season due to elbow inflammation. Who knows? My guess is that Cashman is still smarting from the resurrection of Nathan Eovaldi, and he's on the prowl for a similar pitcher. And maybe it'll turn out well. But I cannot let Ronald Torreyes leave without a proper sendoff. Pound for pound, inch for inch, and when the chips were down, he was one of our best. And now he's a Cub.

Here's to the great Yankee Big Toe! Stand up, everybody. We won't see many like him come our way again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hey, it's time for another Yankee Christmas carol: Boonie the Robot Skipper

From the holly jolly Doug K.

Boonie The Robot Skipper 
Boonie The Robot Skipper 
Is calm no matter how it goes.
He never shows emotion.
Chewing gum is all that blows.

We watched him in the dugout 
Manage sabermetrically 
Not watching the ballgame 
Substitute automatically 

Then one day while in the Bronx
The pennant on the line.
Kept AnDUjar on the bench
Thinking Walker would do fine.
Boonie the robot skipper
Failed to change the course that day.
Still the front office loves him 
We want him to go away. 

Yuletide cheer

Doug K. inspired me. So herewith, some additional Christmas carols rewritten for It Is High fans. 
I hope they live up to the standard he's set.

(To the tune of "Christmas Bells Are Ringing")

Larrity, Larrity, to the mound
Sevvy is in trouble
Larrity, Larrity, turn him 'round
Fix him on the double

He's been doing this so long
Why does he still get it wrong?

Ding dong, ding dong
Larry is a ding dong

(To the tune of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town")

You better not bunt
You better not try
Hit into the shift, I'm telling you why
Brian C is coming to town

With hollowed out eyes
And shiny bald dome
Rappelling rope
And Randy the gnome
Brian C is coming to town

He see when you're in rehab
He knows when you can't hit
He's gonna call your agent up
With a contract not worth spit

So, swing for the fence
And never ask why
Who cares if you whiff
And make the fans cry?
Brian C is coming to town

(To the tune of "Good King Wenceslas")

Good King Hal the Poor looked out
With his chauffeur, Steven
All free agents knew his clout
Though is 'twas uneven

Brightly shone our hopes that night
Though the tax was cru-el
But our good king just sat tight
Laughing at us foo--oo--ls

(To the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas")

We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
And a new ring this year

Good signings to you
From Corbin to Bryce
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
Come on, let's roll the dice

We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
And a twelve dol-lar be-e-e-r