Monday, March 19, 2018

Rogers Hornsby Is Dead

All right, deep breaths, everybody!

Why the season hasn't even started yet, and you're already throwing in the towel faster than Sonny Liston's corner. My friends generally consider me about the most pessimistic individual they know—in fact, my nickname in certain circles is not "Hoss" but Dr. Doom—but I got nothing on you knee-knockers.

Just to set you straight, I have called in Jolly Cholly Grimm, the man with the greatest oxymoronic moniker in baseball history. A profound optimist, Jolly is here to get you a new perspective.


All right, ladies, time to get a firm grip on your scanties and rationally assess what has and has not gone on in this spring training.

Right now, you fair maidens are caterwauling worse than Hack Wilson when he missed that flyball that cost us an 8-0 lead in the Series against Connie Mack's Athletics. We just told old Hack to put a sock in it, and sure enough, 10 or 12 whiskies later, he was right as rain. There ain't nothin' in this world that alcohol and good old common sense won't solve.

Now, it seems to me that somewhere along the line Starlin Castro has become the next Rogers Hornsby. (Mean sumbitch, the Rajah, and he would never go to the movies, either, outta fear it would ruin his eyes.)

Well, I got news for you damsels in distress:  he ain't.

Castro was a perfectly serviceable ballplayer, even if he does have the same name as a commynist.  But before you started in on lamentin', as I recall you were cryin' to high heaven about how we won't have anybody getting on base, and all we're going to be doing is striking out.

Fact is, in his 263 games and 1,083 plate appearances as a Yankee, Rajah Castro drew an entire 47 walks, as opposed to 211 strikeouts, and a .317 OBP.

Yes, we old-timey ballplayers can read a stat sheet as good as you can (Except for Rajah. Wouldn't read neither. The eyes, you know.)  And Castro's says that he is just another free swinger, who never did get back to his promise of greatness.

When you're offered the NL MVP for a player like that, you take him. You want on base? Try Stanton's .376, with 85 walks.

Oh, you weep an' wail an' tear yer garment about how Stanton'll be just like A-Rod. Yeah, that A-Rod was just unlikable. He also won two MVPs, several Gold Gloves (it wasn't his fault they gave them to Jeter), and took charge in your last drive to a World Series by driving in 18 runs in 15 games.

The problem with A-Rod wasn't A-Rod. It was pitching, which is always the problem in everything.

Oh—and did I hear one a you molly-coddles talkin' about how clutch that Castro was? Uh-huh. A lifetime .202 hitter with 1 homer and 3 ribbies in 88 playoff plate appearances. Clutch, my gramma's naches.

So you're afraid that Judge will be rested from the outfield some. Well boo-hoo. Ain't this the guy who hurt himself swinging last year? Will that really be the worst thing?

And you don't want Stanton playing the field much, because it will take time away from Brett Gardner. Uh-huh.

You show me the last season that Brett Gardner didn't take time away from Brett Gardner. Why, if that Cashman hadn't picked up Stanton, right now your outfield would be Judge, Hicks—who I hear half a you rankin' on all the time—the Ever-Injured Ellsbury, Gardner, and that poor, concussed rookie. Oh, and Billy McKinney, a proven quantity if there never was one.

Worst of all, though, is the hy-pocrisy I hear about Gleyber Torres. You just spent the last year-an'-a-half licking yer chops an' rubbin' yer Louisville Sluggers about how you can't wait to see him develop! Now the guy has a rough spring after all of 96 at-bats in Triple-A, and you want to discard him!

Why, you ain't real prospect huggers! You're as impatient as Old George was himself!

Give the kid a little time to get ready. Hell, in my day men spent eight years in the C League and were damned grateful when they got a promotion. Torres will be fine. For that matter, let's not mourn too hard over Andujar. I love the guy, too—but weren't you the ones all het up for somebody who can get on base more? Like, more than one walk in an entire spring training?

So what else are you yappin' about?

Oh, yeah, the one and only time the New York Yankees actually played "small ball" was the summer of 1976, which sure was fun. Then they got eaten up an' spit out by the Big Red Machine, and the next fall, there was Reggie Jackson standin' at home plate while his third homer of the night sailed into the bleachers. Which was more fun.

And you're afraid you don't have enough pitching, which is always a legitimate fear, but you don't want to trade for anymore.

And you're afraid you'll go out and pick up Manny Machado next year. Oh, the humanity.

And you're afraid now that you'll be favored to win.

Well, you'll have to excuse me now, ladies, because I got to get back up to that Big Barroom in the Sky an' tell Joe an' Lou an' the Babe that the fans of the New York Yankees are worried that they will be the favorite again. That thunder you're about to hear is their laughter, if they don't come clompin' right down out of the clouds after you.

All right. I hope I got your heads right. Now re-situate your jocks, wipe your noses, and try to enjoy. Personally, I think it would be rather entertaining to watch a lineup of giants take turns seein' if they can be the first one to hit a ball out of that Stadium.

But what do I know? I spent most of my days playin' for the Cubs.


Anonymous said...







HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, ALL-CAPS! And yes, I get more worked-up, too! Let the great controversies begin!

ranger_lp said...

Ya don't have to worry about having enough pitching when you're analytics say that you should win every game 10-9.

13bit said...

Hoss, I generally agree with you on most counts. And I admire and welcome your exercise in pumping sunbeams up our collective asses here. I really do. Nothing like a good reality check. The one thing I tend to not agree with is the statement about our little boys last playing small ball in 1976. Maybe "small ball" is a bad phrase but, when I think of the late 90s dynasty, the run production was much more small-ballish than now. Somebody would get on base somehow and then somebody else would find a way to punch a single or a double out there, then somebody would steal and then somebody would blah blah blah blah blah. You get the picture, right? You remember? It wasn't all bombs and fireworks. There was a cold, calculating, "get it done somehow" ethos that I find lacking these days. If you had come up and flailed away, chasing homers and coming up with air time after time, in situations where a single was all that was called for and all you did was strike out, I feel that the boys in 98 or 99 would have taken you into the showers and whipped your ass with a wet paper towel and some fish wraps (in the happy phrase of someone yesterday, maybe John M?). Maybe the proper framework here is less "small ball vs long ball," but "unified team" vs "bunch of hotdogs." Last year, due to the young guys and their cinderella status, a team cohesiveness and esprit de corps popped up out of nowhere. I'm afraid now, what with the expectations and the Judge and Stanton pony show, that may never happen. Maybe Drury will end up being the Churchill of this team, inspiring his fellow teammates to fight on in the face of encroaching mediocrity. Yes, anything can happen.

HoraceClarke66 said...

That's a good point, 13bit!

When I saw "small ball," I was thinking more running and bunting. But you're right, that was the outstanding thing with the 1998-99 team: they could beat you in every possible way, with that whole, "pass it down the line" approach. Long ball, singles and doubles, stolen bases, and above all pitching.

Even the 1977-78 team was much the same. I just looked it up: in the famous Boston Massacre in 1978, the Yanks scored 42 runs on 47 singles, and only two home runs the whole series.

This team does not have that diversity, it's true. But who does, in baseball these days?

The year will turn on pitching—as it almost always does.

13bit said...

pitching, pitching, pitching