Tuesday, December 31, 2019

It's the IT IS HIGH End of Decade Celebration: The Exultation of Jeet!


It's the IT IS HIGH End of Decade bash. Let's remember Jeet's last walkoff



Okay, come at me... the all-decade Yankee team.

Read it and weep - look at the glaring weaknesses - because 2010-2019 was a lost decade. 

1B Mark Teixeira
2B Gleyber Torres
SS Didi Gregorius
3B Alex Rodriguez
 C Brian McCann
LF Brett Gardner
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF Aaron Judge
DH Nick Swisher


P CC Sabathia
P Masahiro Tanaka
P Hiroki Kuroda
P Luis Severino
P Ivan Nova


C Aroldis Chapman
RH David Robertson
LH Andrew Miller


PBP John Sterling
BCK Suzyn Waldman, David Cone (tie)

MGR Joe Girardi
GM Brian Cashman

O Hank Steinbrenner

Monday, December 30, 2019

Dick Clark's Rockin' 10 Greatest Dynasties! Ever! Part V!

Due to copyright obligations, all further Greatest Dynasties!  Ever!  posts this close to New Year's Eve must make reference to Dick Clark's Rockin'.  Hey, it seemed like a good deal at the time.

Our story so far:

10. Chicago Cubs, 1906-1910.

9. Boston Red Sox, 1912-1918.

8. Los Angeles Lakers, 1980-1991.

7. New York Yankees, 1994-2003.

6. Green Bay Packers, 1960-1967.

5. Chicago Bulls, 1988-1998.

4. Montreal Canadiens, 1955-1979.

The tension builds as we get to No. 3, which is...

3. Boston Celtics, 1956-1969.  In some ways, nobody else gets close to these guys.  13 seasons, 11 NBA Championships, including the all-time, North America major pro-sports record of 8 in a row, 1958-1966.  If not for league MVP Bill Russell being injured and hobbling during most of the 1957-58 finals loss to the St. Louis Hawks, the Celtics likely would've made it 10 in a row.

We're also talking 9 straight first-place finishes, 10 seasons of 50-plus wins, and 3 seasons of 60-plus wins.

What's more, the Celts did it the right away, with Jewish genius coach-GM from Brooklyn in Red Auerbach, who in turn brought in the first black coach in major sports history, Bill Russell.

The Celtics were not the first NBA team to sign an African-American player—I think that distinction is one of the few happy notes in Knicks history—but they were the first team in league history with many starters or regulars who were black:  Russell, Satch Sanders, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Don Chaney.  As well, of course, as such outstanding white players as Bob Cousy, John Havilcek, Tommy Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey, Don Nelson, and Larry Siegfried.

The amount of coaching talent alone that came from these teams is extraordinary.  (And of course it also should be noted that great as their Russell-led teams were, their attendance never matched that of later Celtic teams led by the likes of Dave Cowens and Larry Bird.  Ah, Boston.)

So why aren't they ranked higher?  In part, because our No. 1 and No. 2 dynasties were, incredibly, even longer lived.  And in part because of where the NBA was, when they were at their best.

In 1956-57, the first year of this dynasty, the NBA was still a very marginal outfit.  We're talking an eight-team league, in which three of the teams played in Fort Wayne, Rochester, and Syracuse (with no offense to our Peerless Leader).  Indeed, the ONLY two NBA teams that remain in their original homes from that year are the Celtics and, sadly, the Knicks, who were still playing some games in the 69th St. Armory.

The Celtics helped lead the NBA's transition to the big-time.  But even in the last season of the dynasty, 1968-69, the aging Celts were able to preserve themselves, finish a lackluster 4th (and 6th in terms of overall record) and still win the title.  For that matter, they didn't finish first for the last four years of the dynasty.

Throw in how inferior players throughout this time were in general—in size and athleticism—to the NBA today, how many felt the Harlem Globetrotters could've beaten the NBA champs at the beginning of it, and how different the rules are today, and we're talking about a great champion (relatively) limited by its historical place.

But still—what a team.  What sustained excellence.

Coming up...No. 2!  And No. 1!  And Dick Clark!

 



Waiting for the Happ shoes to drop

Psst. Hey you. Shhhh. Hear anything? Me neither. The coast is clear. No news today - nothing, nada, zip - on the Yankees. Just dumb features and cruddy speculation. It's quiet across the Yankiverse...

Hmm, maybe too quiet?  

Here's where I got us: This winter, the Yankees have lost Didi, CC, Romine, Dellin and the Parrot... and gained Gerrit Cole. Were it a trade, this would be a loser. Then again, if Cole repeats what he did in 2019, it will be worth it. We finally have an ace.

The Yankees have re-signed Aroldis Chapman and Gardy - a legacy move - and are shopping J.A. Happ, who looks like a one-and-done. Any day now, I expect to hear to Happ is gone.

The next "event" could be a murky deal with Milwaukee, who apparently wants to shed its 25-year-old, long-haired, formerly racist closer, Josh Hader, before he hits arbitration. We've been hearing about this for weeks. Before the winter meetings, it seemed imminent. Now, dunno.

For whatever it's worth, I question how much we should give for Hader, whose implosion in the 2019 Wild Card game - he gave three in the eighth against Washington - killed the Brewers' year. They brought him in with a 3-1 lead, hoping for a two-inning save. He never reached the ninth. You could say the Nats were a "team of destiny," and Hader was simply the first mailbox in their way. But if he could have thrown a scoreless two innings, it might be the Brewers still celebrating. 

Last year, Hader threw 75 innings - that's six more than the Yankees' heaviest  bullpen war horse, Chad Green (69). In 2018, Hader threw even more - 81 innings. By comparison, Aroldis Chapman threw 57 last year, and still looked bleached and bleary at the end.

In the three years since Hader became famous - or infamous; some old racist remarks were uncovered during the All-Star break; he apologized and said he's changed -  his ERA has risen each season. In 2017, he was unhittable: an ERA of 2.08. Last year, it was 2.62. That would have placed him fourth - 4th - in the Yankees bullpen  - behind Chapman (2.21), Adam Ottavino (1.90) and Zack Britton (1.91.) 

(I doubt it matters that Hader pitched in the NL. By the time he enters games, managers would be sending up pinch hitters.) 

In simple terms, I believe there are reasons - beyond impending arbitration - why the Brewers want to trade Hader. Of the top 10 statistical doppelgangers for Hader - at age 25 - six proved long-term disappointments: John Rocker (eerily similar), Kevin Siegrist, John Hiller, Rex Brothers, Don Carman and Alex Claudio. There are scores of closers who are killers at 22 and by 26, the mayors of Palookaville. 

Of course, any trade depends on what we give up, right? J.A. Happ would certainly be a start. From there, though, we better be careful. 

So... quiet today. That's okay. I can do quiet. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

OMG! It's Jay-Z and John Sterling, singing in the Canyon of Heroes




On trading Andujar, no news is good news.

Today's "news:" Aaron Boone is "looking forward" to seeing Miguel Andujar in spring training. He tells the Murdoch Post.

"His shoulder has been feeling good and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be full bore for spring training."

Some hopefully suggest this means the Yankees won't trade Andujar. In fact, it could be spun to say the opposite: That Boone is touting Andujar's heath as trade bait.

Just to remind people, in case they've forgotten:

Andujar will turn 25 in March.

In 2018, he hit .297 with 27 HRs, 47 doubles, and 92 RBIs. He ranked second in the AL in doubles, 10th in batting average. He finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting, which was rigged from the git-go for the Japanese Babe Ruth.

Yes, he hits RH in a lineup that tilts toward the starboard. And yes, as the 2018 season concluded, his throws to first base worsened, (though this coincided with the arrival of Luke Voit, a below average fielding 1B.)

If we trade Miggy, we damn well better get a haul. 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Come on, everybody, sing along with The Boss and The Master


Screw Analytics, Let's Use Actual Software


Below I am pleased to present my Official 2020 Yankees Trading Software Algorithm that I just programmed on my Texas Instruments TI-99 combination super computer/
Instapot/hadron collider.



I tried to keep my programming style simple so, even if you're not a programmer, you can still follow the logic.  I also kept the baseball jargon to a minimum so even non-fans like Hal Steinbrenner can follow along.


To keep things extra clear, I followed good programming etiquette and added inline comments in blue.

BEGIN PROGRAM

     // Establish the basic variables
     
SET TradeBait = 'Happ plus Frazier' 
     SET OtherGuy = 'Milwaukee' 
     SET Target = 'Josh Hader'
     SET Offset = $0

     // Greet the user to establish context
     DISPLAY MESSAGE 'Hi ' + OtherGuy + '!'
     DISPLAY MESSAGE 'Are you interested in dealing ' + Target + ' for ' + TradeBait + '?'


     // Keep looping until either success or failure occurs
     
BEGIN LOOP
          EXECUTE GetUserResponse

          IF RESPONSE = 'No' THEN

               // Sweeten the deal by absorbing some of Happ's salary
     
          SET Offset = Offset + $1,000,000

               // Present the concept to the user
     
          DISPLAY MESSAGE 'How about if we add ' + Offset + ' to offset Happ''s Salary?'

          ELSE IF RESPONSE = 'Yes' THEN

               // They said yes!  No need to keep looping.
     
          SET Success = 'True'
               EXIT LOOP

          END IF

 

          // The following lines of code are needed to prevent an infinite loop 
          IF Offset > $7,000,000

               SET Success = 'False' 
               EXIT LOOP

          END IF

     END LOOP 


     // Process final results as appropriate then exit the program
     
IF Success = 'True' THEN

          SHOW GRAPHIC 'SmileyEmoticon.jpg

          EXECUTE AttendGameAndDrinkBeer

     ELSE IF Success = 'False' THEN

          SHOW GRAPHIC 'ExtendedMiddleFinger.jpg' 

          EXECUTE StayHomeAndBemoanHalsCheapness

     END IF

END PROGRAM


Are you still with me?  Here is the actual fully tested and debugged output from the program:

     Hi Milwaukee!

     Are you interested in dealing Josh Hader for Happ plus Frazier?


     No.     How about if we add $1,000,000 to offset Happ's Salary?

     No.     How about if we add $2,000,000 to offset Happ's Salary?

     No.     How about if we add $3,000,000 to offset Happ's Salary?

     No.     How about if we add $4,000,000 to offset Happ's Salary?

     No.     How about if we add $5,000,000 to offset Happ's Salary?

     No.     How about if we add $6,000,000 to offset Happ's Salary?

     No.     How about if we add $7,000,000 to offset Happ's Salary?

     No.













I think this sort of technology will have significant implications for the way trades are done in the future.  With just a few tweaks, this could be a truly disruptive technology.  My IPO will be two weeks from Thursday.


The question facing the Yankees this winter is simple: What could they get for Clint Frazier and J.A. Happ?

Generally, I don't do possible trades. When I was 12, I could sit at my school desk all day, composing trades like bad poetry, with the Yankees always somehow turning Dooley Womack and Hector Lopez into Hank Aaron. Somewhere around 20, I discovered Playboy and Penthouse, and - well - I had better things to fantasize than deals involving Roger Repoz. Still, though, to this day, I still fall for trade rumors. As click-bait goes, they're a notch behind Taylor Swift. 

But since the signing of Gerrit Cole, I have achieved four mountaintop conclusions:

1. Hal Steinbrenner won't sign another big name this winter. He's done pulling out his fanny pack, and it's pointless to speculate on potential free agents. Brian Cashman specializes on finding obscure, low-cost replacements, and that's all we should expect, in terms of spending. 

2. The Yankees have a few minor holes to fill. They could use an elite fielding SS, a solid lefty hitter and another bullpen arm. (With respect to Jell-O, "There's always room for bullpen.") After that, unless a starting pitcher falls our way for some ridiculous reason, I wouldn't expect anything to happen. 

3. They seem intent on dealing J.A. Happ to cut payroll. What they receive will depend on how much money they will pay down on his $17 million contract. My guess is they'd prefer to trade Happ and his entire contract, even if it means getting almost nothing in return.

4. For various reasons - take your pick - they also seem fated to trade Clint Frazier. Maybe it's his attitude. Maybe it's his glove. For sure, it's his predicament: They simply have no easy place to stash him. For the record, I hope they keep Frazier. But here's the reality: Without injuries to other outfielders, he could end up starting the 2020 season at Scranton, and I'm not sure he would go. 

Considering those points, a logical plan is bundle Happ & Frazier and see what the hell we can get. My guess is that Cashman has done this and didn't like the offers. He could add another prospect, or maybe replace Frazier with Miguel Andujar, but then we're getting into blockbuster territory, and I'm not sure Cashman wants to trade the house. The Yanks won 103 games last year, and I doubt Cashman wants a tear-down, especially if he trades away a potential great 3B, only to then learn that Gio Urshela was a single-season mirage. 

So, Happ & Fraze... what could they bring? A decent bullpen arm, you'd think. Maybe Josh Hader? My guess is that Milwaukee is holding out for Andujar. If so, screw them. There have to be others out there. And maybe a lefty bopper, too, in case Mike Ford turns out to be Roger Repoz. I would think the Yankees should feel that they do not have to do anything. And for whatever it's worth, I still hope Frazier gets a shot.

Friday, December 27, 2019

The New Year's Party continues... with Barbra Streisand and John Sterling


Wow! Look who has teamed up with John Sterling: It's Aerosmith!


The 10 Greatest Dynasties! Ever! Part IV!

Oh, the excitement mounts!

Our story so far:

10. Chicago Cubs, 1906-1910.

9. Boston Red Sox, 1912-1918.

8. Los Angeles Lakers, 1980-1991.

7. New York Yankees, 1994-2003.

6. Green Bay Packers, 1960-1967.

5. Chicago Bulls, 1988-1998.

Now it's time, ladies and germs, to get into the real monster dynasties, with Cretaceous-era lifespans.  Are you ready???

4. Montreal Canadiens, 1955-1979. Yes, we have to get hockey in here somewhere.  And who better but Les Habitants?  To people my age, it somehow isn't really a Stanley Cup final if un-helmeted players are not bringing the puck up ice through the cigarette-smoke gloom of the Forum.

(Which, incidentally, suffered an even more ignominious fate than the Real Original Yankee Stadium, having been gutted and turned into the Pepsi Forum, a movie multiplex, shopping and restaurant hub. Honestly, there are people in this world who would make the Vatican into a parking garage.  But I digress.)

To choose these years once again indicates a certain arbitrariness in these selections.  One could just as easily, I suppose, have extended the years to 1992-1993, when the Canadiens won their last Cup, or push them back to the 1950-51 season, when Montreal lost in the Cup finals—albeit with a 25-30-15 record, something that speaks to the whole weakness of hockey in this competition.

Throughout pretty much the whole history of the NHL, most of the teams have made the playoffs, which have often been ridiculously short (a best-of-three final!).  And through a good part of that time, it's not even clear—unlike with every other major, North American sport—that our hockey teams have even been the best in the world.

But the Canadiens were in a class by themselves, and in the era I'm talking about here there always seemed to be some continuity—the same people bouncing back as coaches or executives, the torch being passed to one great players or another:  Rocket Richard and the Pocket Rocket, Boom-Boom Geoffrion and Jean Beliveau, Guy La Fleur and Guy Lapointe, Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden  and Gump Worsley, Yvan Cournoyer and Jacques Lemaire, Doug Harvey and Larry Robinson.  Coaches Toe Blake, and Scotty Bowman, and Claude Ruel.

In these 24 seasons, they won 15 Stanley Cups and lost another final—an astonishing total even if there were only 6 teams in their league for about half of the period.  They won 4 in a row (1975-1979), and 5 in a row (1955-1960), thereby tying the Yankees for the most consecutive championships in any North American professional sport of note (No, World Team Tennis does NOT count.)

During the regular season the Canadiens finished first 16 times, and they reached a sort of grand climax by compiling the best NHL record ever in the 1976-1977 season, going 60-8-12, for 132 points.  (Yes, the Red Wings went 62-13-7 in 1995-1996, but that was with 2 more games and regular-season overtime.  And they still didn't break the Canadiens' points record.)

Les Habitants, sadly, have not won a Cup in over 25 years, since 1993.  I suggest they move back to the Forum, kick out Pepsi, and tear down the Celine Dionne statue outside.  That might do it.
 


  

Is there any reason to believe last year's avalanche of injuries won't happen again?

It remains an astounding and, perhaps, disturbing quirk of nature - the wave of injuries faced last year by the New York (broken) Yankees. 

Only three Yanks - Brett Gardner, Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahiue - appeared in more than 140 games. Six key players from opening day - Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitski and Greg Bird - didn't even last through 20. That's not mentioning Jacoby Ellsbury because - well - why bother?

Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks and CC Sabathia played half a year. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge missed almost as much. Jordan Montgomery only made a cameo appearance at the end. Even an injury replacement, Mike Tauchman, went down in September.

It was as if the Yankees were playing in the NFL. And we experienced a new issue: Players suffering injuries during rehab. Betances went down with a shoulder, then tweaked a lateral, then returned one night to wreck his ankle. Severino, Stanton and Bird were all hurt while healing. Used to be, the good part about an injury was that, at least the guy couldn't get hurt. Last year, the Injury List became a dangerous place. 

I believe I speak for the Yankiverse in saying: W? T? F?

Last week, the team jettisoned its strength and conditioning coach. Fine. I guess somebody needed to pay. The bus demanded somebody to run over. But I wonder...  was it the coach's fault, or is something else afoot? Some theories.

1. Are the Yankees predisposed to players with china doll pasts? They certainly knew Stanton was an injury land mine when they took him (and his contract) from Miami, for a can of sardines. Nobody can pretend Ellsbury and Tulowitski weren't the human embodiments of gonadal tweaks. (It almost seems wrong to mention them.) When other teams sense a player will never perform well enough to justify his contract, they always somehow end up calling the Yankees. (James Paxton, Edwin Encarnacion.) And we are always looking for a deal. We sign people on the rebound. (Zack Britton and, recently, Adam Warren.) Is it simply a management decision: Injury-prone players always come at bargain prices? 

2. Could the pressures of NYC affect rehab time? In April and May, we often heard how Stanton, Hicks, Bird and Severino were on the verge of returning, but they needed to completely heal, rather than go through the season with minor injuries. The idea was to have them absolutely roaring at the end. In that pursuit, they completely and utterly failed. None returned at peak. Meanwhile, grinders like LeMahiue, Gleyber and Gardner shrugged off daily aches and pains. (And Masahiro Tanaka - bless him - has now pitched six years with a slight tear in his elbow.) Could the Yankees be inadvertently coddling certain players, turning them into the princess who can't sleep on a pea? (Of course, then there was the stoic Luke Voit, seeking to play with a hernia and flailing miserably.) 

3. Was this all simply a random sequence? The planets happened to line up, and we suffered a wave of injuries, for no reason whatsoever. If so, well, the law of averages means we should anticipate a period of comparative health and well-being, right? 

Why does this not seem viable? The moral of the story is that, for whatever reason, the Yankees ought to consider 2019 the new normal for injuries - and they better not cut themselves too thin on the margins, or "Next Man Up" will only be a memory. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

"You Shall Find the Babe in a Fenway": A Hundred Years Ago Today

It came upon a midnight clear
That glorious Babe of old
From Ruppert bending near the earth
To open his purse of gold...

That's right, boys and girls:  it is the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Big Bang of the Yankiverse, the most marvelous event in our glorious history.

On this day exactly one hundred years ago, December 26, 1919, Harry Frazee sold George Herman "Babe" Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000, or the equivalent of about $1.5 million today.

Frazee, the Red Sox owner but primarily a ruthless Broadway producer—then exponentially bigger money than major-league baseball—claimed he had to do it, telling sportswriters:

"While Ruth is undoubtedly the greatest hitter the world has ever seen, he is likewise one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men ever to put on a baseball uniform."

Uh-huh.

This was so much Broadway palaver, of course.  From 1919-1922, Frazee would also trade catcher Wally Schang, shortstop Everett Scott, third baseman "Jumpin' Joe" Dugan, outfielder Duffy Lewis, and pitchers Dutch Leonard, Ernie Shore, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Carl Mays, George Pipgras, "Sad Sam" Jones," and "Bullet Joe" Bush to the Yankees as well.  They must have been selfish and inconsiderate, too.

Usually, of course, there was a large cash stipend attached, as well as some loans on the side.  At one point, the Yankee colonels, Ruppert and Huston, were holding the mortgage on Fenway Park as collateral.

Contrary to popular wisdom, Frazee did not use the money he got for Ruth to finance the musical No, No Nanette, but the play it was based on, My Lady Friends.  He made a bundle on both.

After dismantling the Red Sox' championship club, Frazee sold out to an under-financed, Midwestern ownership group for another $1.2 million—twice what he had bought the Sox for, just six years before—thereby ensuring the Sox would be awful for another decade.  Then he happily attended the opening of Yankee Stadium as a guest of Ruppert.

Now that's the kind of Red Sox owner we can all love!

"Peace in the Bronx, good will to men"
From Heaven's all gracious Babe
The world in solemn stillness lay
To watch the Bambino play...










Hey, let's start the New Year's party with AC/DC, featuring The Master!


With Encarnacion gone, the Yankees have walked away from more money than they'll pay Gerrit Cole

Yesterday, the perpetually bad White Sox signed Edwin Encarnacion - aka "Mister October" - to a $12 million, one-year deal. So it goes. Watching the Parrot implode in the ALCS - (against Houston, he fanned 11 times in 18 at bats) - made him dead to most of the Yankiverse. He had some moments, but he wasn't coming back. And for better or worse, you could pivot the Yankee career of Clint Frazier on the moment Encarnacion arrived from Seattle in exchange for a 19-year-old pitcher named Juan Then. (Then Then posted an ERA of 2.25 in Single A.) 

So, in the ongoing matter of Hal Steinbrenner cash-flow, here are the latest cocktail napkin numbers:

Spending in 2020:Signed Gerrit Cole for $36 million. 
Re-signed Brett Gardner for $10 million. 
Signed Erik Kratz, Zach Granite, Thomas Milone for donkey doodle.

Thus far, an additional $46 million, (give or take donkey doodle.)

Walked away from spending last year:
CC Sabathia: $8 million (retirement)
Greg Bird: $1.3 million (released - still a free agent)
Didi Gregorius: $14 million (Phillies)
Austin Romine: $4.1 million (Tigers)

Dellin Betances: $10.5 million (Mets)
Edwin Encarnacion: $12 million (White Sox)  


Grand total - ka-ching! - $49.9 million in money not spent, if the Death Star had simply tried to keep last year's team intact. 

According to the Gammonites, the Yankees are industriously looking to dump trade J.A. Happ and his $17 million contract to some stooge lucky suitor. 

Look, I'm all in with Gerrit Cole. Who doesn't love the guy, or feel ecstatic about adding a legitimate ace to this rotation? Cole has given us, at least through the winter, a touch of the old-time Yankee confidence. But at some point, Hal needs to open his fanny pack and stop obsessing over luxury tax bills... and start thinking about bullpen help and a LH bat. 

And good luck to Mister October in the coming year. I'm sure he'll hit a homer against us, just to rub salt in our tortured memories of him flailing against the Astros.

We officially have no Chance



But we do have a Cristian.

Remember all the Austins? Those were the days.
 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Holy crap! America has won yet another war on Christmas! Current record: 243-0


Recapping Dellin Betances' perfect 2019

Pitch one: A called strike.
Pitch two: A called strike.
Pitch three: A foul ball.
Pitch four: A ball, outside. 
Pitch five: A called strike three.

Pitch six: A called strike.
Pitch seven: A called strike.
Pitch eight: A called strike three.


The perfect season!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Holidays, all, from IT IS HIGH


Christmas Eve Brain Teaser


Q: What do you call a guy who:

    • Has a fragile psyche,

    • Cannot hold runners,

    • Cannot throw to first,

    • Cannot be brought into a game without a replacement warming in the pen, and

    • Takes the #7 train to work?

A: Click here for the answer!



Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah.


A Merry Xmas To All

A bit of good cheer can go a long, long way.  Even until the next morning, if you do it right.




This is how WASPs decorate their trees.

Somebody was kissing Santa Claus... sing along with The Master


The 10 Greatest Dynasties! Ever! Part III!

A quick caveat:  I should have entitled this, "The 10 Greatest PROFESSIONAL Dynasties!  Ever!"  No taking on the almost impossible task of deciding whether Knute Rockne's Notre Dame teams, Alabama football today, or John Wooden's UCLA basketball champs were the greatest.  I will leave that "amateur" sorting to someone else.

So moving right along, let us review where we have got so far:

10. Chicago Cubs, 1906-1910

9. Boston Red Sox, 1912-1918

8. Los Angeles Lakers, 1980-1991

7. New York Yankees, 1994-2003

And here we go...

6. Green Bay Packers, 1960-1967:  Yes, Vince Lombardi's Packers.  Five NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls, in the space of just 8 seasons.

The NFL's one-and-only three-peat champs (unless you count the 1929-31 Packers, in primeval, pre-division play) went 82-24-4 under the coach the Super Bowl trophy is named for (and New York's own gridiron genius).

They also came within a couple of hairsbreadths of taking 7 championships in 8 years, losing the 1960 title game—played at Penn's Franklin Field, believe it or not—when they fell five yards short of beating the Eagles, as time expired, and missing out on the 1963 championship by half-a-game, to the Chicago Bears (11-2-1, to 11-1-2).

For that matter, the Pack repeatedly came close to going undefeated, in 1962 (1 loss), 1963, 1966 (two losses by a total of 4 points), and even 1967 (4 losses by 16 points, including a game they didn't care about).

This is pro football, but in few other dynasties did the coach matter so much.  Take a look at film of the first two Super Bowls sometime, and listen to how mystified AFL players such as Fred "The Hammer" Williamson were by how much the Packers dominated, winning 35-10 and 33-14 in games that really weren't even that close.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the Chiefs and Raiders in those games were terrific teams, filled with stars—and actually younger and more athletic than the aging Packers.

The difference was Lombardi, whose surprising, innovative game plans put both AFL teams constantly on their heels.  St. Vincent even set up Joe Willie Namath for glory, by making it SEEM like the NFL was so far ahead.


5. Chicago Bulls, 1988-1998:  Of course.  Ten seasons, 6 championships, 4 losses in the conference finals, a record-busting 72-10 record in 1995-1996.  Had Michael Jordan not decided to try his hand at hitting a curveball—not so easy, is it?—they might easily have won 8 NBA championships in a row, and tied the Celtics' record.

But of course, the Bulls were about more than Jordan.  They were also Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, Tony Kukoc, and a supporting cast that included Ron Harper, Bill Wennington, Bill Cartwright, etc.

Sure, if the Knicks could've made a layup or two, and if Jordan had maybe not been allowed to commit war crimes on the court for his last few years, things might've been different.  But somehow, I think resident Zen genius Phil Jackson would've found another way to win.  Of course, the Knicks would then employ him in the wrong position...Oh, Knicks.

Coming up:  The Top Four!  The excitement grows!!





Chance Adams had his chances, but Christ-ian hath come

Yesterday, the Yankees dealt Chance Adams to Kansas City for Christian Perez -  a 21-year-old, 170 pound, advanced Single A shortstop who last year a) Didn't hit a HR, b) stole just 5 bases in 15 attempts, and c) batted .252. So... that's the market these days for 25-year-old, RH pitcher prospects in decline.

Coupla things:

1. At least we got something. A warm body, right? We had waived Adams to make room for Gerrit Cole, and the Yanks had almost no leverage. I mean, Cooperstown Cashman had a deadline hanging over his head, and everybody knew it. So, what was he gonna do, bundle Chance with Giancarlo Stanton? Nope. Warm body.

2. The Royals must have seen something in Adams. They won only 59 games last year, so they are low on the totem, and - still - they must have felt Adams would be gone before they could claim him on waivers. So, there was a teeeny tiny bit of bidding. Quatlooms. 

3. Adams never seemed to fully recover from what in the winter of 2018 was described as minor surgery. This reminds us that surgery is only minor when somebody else has it. (Keep that in mind, folks, when thinking of Masahiro Tanaka this winter.) It wouldn't surprise me if Adams blossoms with KC and becomes a serviceable 6th starter/bullpen lug nut. I fully expect to see him pitching against us someday.

4. Our new guy - Christian for Christmas! - was listed by Fangraphs as a potential "bench" prospect in the Royals' system. He the last guy mentioned in a system overview that named almost 60 minor leaguers. He had one sentence, which described him as an "instinctive" fielder, whatever that means. In his four-year career, he has four homers.

5. Hey, if the guy can field, he could start this year at Double A Trenton and, who knows?, maybe our new female strength coach can get him a couple home runs. He just turned 21 in late October. He could fill out and maybe... awww, fukkit. Odds are, this will be the last time you ever read his name in this blog. Our Christmas miracle, 2019. The kid who came with Gerrit Cole.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Babe Ruth as Santa Claus



UPDATE: Joe DiMaggio as Santa Claus


UPDATE 2: George Steinbrenner as Santa Claus, with Gen. H. Norman Schwartzkopf, 1991 

Here comes Santa Claus... sing along with John Sterling


BAD DEAL AMBER ALERT: The Yankees may actually trade Miguel Andujar

Whenever Cooperstown Cashman is asked to name the worst trade of his front office career, he replies: Mike Lowell for Ed Yarnall, Mark Johnson and Todd Noel. (Question: Can you spot the Christmas wordplay?) The atrocity happened in November 1997, a few weeks after the Yankees signed Scott Brosius, making the 23-year-old Lowell an afterthought.

An afterthought who haunted us for the next 13 years. 


Lowell remains the best 3B the Yankee farm system has developed in modern times... that is, maybe, until Miguel Andujar. Gulp.


So, will we repeat Cashmanic history?


I ask because virtually every rumor mill these days has the Death Star dangling the 25-year-old Andujar in trade talks, sticking with Gio Urshela at 3B. I believe this stems from Cashman's psychological need to put his personal scent on the team, perhaps in the form of reliever Josh Hader. Also, I get the reasoning: The Yankees don't right now have a position for Andujar, another RH hitter. 


But there's a reason why other teams covet Andujar, and I'm hereby sounding the "BAD DEAL AMBER ALERT" Emergency Broadcast Alarm. The National Yankee Weather Service has detected the atmospheric conditions for a disastrous deal. Wherever you are, take precautions. Cover your genitals and find shelter. 


This I know: 


Whatever we get for Andujar in a trade - it doesn't matter - we will regret the deal for the next 10 years. 


It doesn't matter whether Andujar plays 3B, as I believe he can do, or moves to the OF. He will remain one of the game's premier hitters. 


If we trade him, the move will haunt us. 


Now, I must note that the Yankees won three rings with Brosius, and they came within a hump-back fly of a fourth - thanks to his incredibly clutch HR against the Diamondbacks' Byung-Hyun Kim in the 2001 World Series. Also, Urshela came out of nowhere last year to become a linchpin of the Yankees. I get the reasoning behind a trade.


But I would sure like to see Andujar make some plays in spring training before the Yankees decide he cannot play 3B, and trade him somewhere as a hitter without a position. If Andujar can play 3B, Urshela can move to 2B, or anywhere, taking the role that DJ LeMahiue perfected in 2019. And if the Yankees trade Andujar, they will suddenly be thin at the infield. 


Look, I try not to get involved with trade talks, because - basically - the devil is in the details. Certainly, some trades are better than others. For example, wouldn't it feel great if the Yankees could trade Andujar for - say - three can't-miss prospects? That would look good, right?


Because it looked good in 1997. And I hope Cashman remembers. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Welcome Santa... with The King and The Master


It's Christmas time, so sing along with The Master and The Choir


The 10 Greatest Dynasties! Ever! Part II

All right, so Mr. Brady and the Pats survived today against a very tough-looking Bills team.  (Surprise, Jets!)  Maybe they're not quite through yet, though I can't see getting past Baltimore this playoff season.

Meanwhile, though, we're back here with the next two entries in our 10 Greatest North American Sports Dynasties Ever!  To recap, we have:

10. Chicago Cubs, 1906-1910.

9. Boston Red Sox, 1912-1918.

And now...

8. Los Angeles Lakers, 1980-1991.  It's hard to know just which dynasty to go with from this storied NBA franchise.  Phil Jackson's Kobe and Shaq teams went to 7 finals and won 5, from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010.  You can even go back to when the team was still in Minneapolis, and won 5 BAA and NBA titles in 6 years, with George Mikan, from 1948-1949 to 1953-1954.

But hey, pro basketball was played in places like Sheboygan and Fort Wayne in those days.  I have to go with the Showtime Lakers because the competition was so intense, in what was surely the golden age of the NBA.

Think of who the 1980-1991 Lakers were competing against:  Bird's Celtics, Dr. J. and Moses Malone's 76ers, Hakeem Abdul-Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson's Rockets, Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer's Nasty Boys in Detroit, Jordan and his crew in Chicago, Barkley in Phoenix...

Nonetheless, the Lakers in this time made 9 finals over 12 seasons and won 5 of them.  They took 2 of 3 from Bird and almost made it a clean sweep, beat the Sixers 2 of 3, and took Detroit once before losing to the Pistons in a final Magic Johnson missed because of a devastating injury.

Beyond that, they won 10 division titles, won over 60 games 6 times (including 4 in a row, 1984-1985 to 1987-1988), and won over 50 games all 12 years.

Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Jamaal Wilkes, A. C. Green, Kurt Rambis, Michael Cooper, Bob McAdoo, etc.  Best of all was how they played, brilliantly, at the speed of light—and as a team.


7. New York Yankees, 1994-2003.  This might be considered an arbitrary cut-off, I know.  But I think the Yanks changed considerably after 700 lifetime wins walked off the team following the 2003 season, in the greatly varying shapes of Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and David Wells.

In the 10 years listed here, the Yanks made the playoffs every season that there were playoffs, and won 8 division titles, 6 pennants, and 4 World Series.  They also finished "best in class" during the strike year of 1994, ran up 3 100-win-plus seasons, and won 90 games or more in every year except the lockout-foreshortened 1994 and 1995.

Their overall playoff record in this period was 68-35.  During the Yanks' three straight Series titles, 1998-2000, it was 33-8, and in 1998-1999 it was a ridiculous 22-3.  That's right:  .880 ball in October.

With a little more luck, they could easily have won the 2001 and 2003 Series as well.  And of course there was 1998, with their then-record 114 wins, making them in this observer's humble opinion the best team in the history of baseball.

You could even rank this dynasty higher (though I like having it at Number 7, for obvious reasons).  But the biggest reason to include it is that, at its very best, these New York Yankees, in 1998, were probably a clean team playing against what was already a heavily juiced MLB.

It's impossible to know for sure, of course, but PEDs seem to have entered the Bronx with snake-in-residence Roger Clemens.  Before that, it looks like the Yanks sure weren't juicing—meaning they played at an epic disadvantage—but still turned in the greatest performance by a major-league team.  Ever.

Pretty neat.

Look for our next installment in...The 10 Greatest Dynasties!  Ever!









Saturday, December 21, 2019

Santa Claus is Coming... sing along with The Master


Welcome back, Erik Kratz


The big lug turns 40 in June. But he's seen the world, he knows how to mentor teenagers, and I gotta believe he can answer the call - short term, anyway - if/when Gary or Higgy tweak a G-string. We signed him yesterday. No ticker-tape parade or appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. But only two Octobers ago, he started in the NL playoffs for Milwaukee (and hit .625 - five for eight in the Divisional Series!) He's no Romine, but sometimes, it's the deals done in agate that make the difference.

Last year, we signed Gio Urshela, Cameron Maybin, Breyvic Valera and David Hale with barely a peep on MLB Tonight. 

This year, thus far, it's Kratz and two LH speed/glove outfielders, Zack Granite and Thomas Milone. Lottery tickets. Could Cashman get lucky again?

The 10 Greatest Dynasties! Ever! Part I

So, in honor of the acquisition of Gerrit Cole by your New York Yankees AND the fact that Tom Brady's creaking Patriots have a big showdown today with an overmatched but plucky young Buffalo Bills team, it's time to start on our holiday list of...

The 10 Greatest North American Sports Dynasties!  Ever!

We'll leave the Honorable Mentions to the very end, so as not to give anything away.  And let us say right from the beginning that determining exactly when a dynasty begins and ends may seem a little arbitrary.  But that's sports—arbitrary!

Enough palaver.  Let's get started:

10.  Chicago Cubs, 1906-1910.  Yes, it's the Tinker-to-Evers-Chance Cubbies, with a crackerjack, deadball pitching staff headed by Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown (The other two fingers were lost in a reaper accident on the family farm.  Asked how he thought he'd do as a pitcher with the other two, Brown—who also had the nickname, "Miner"—replied, "I don't know.  I've never done it."), Ed Reulbach, and the wonderfully monikered Orval Overall.  The Cubs won four pennants and two World Series in the space of just five seasons.

More significantly, they ran up the all-time best, single-season record of any major-league team since 1900, going 116-36 .763 in 1906, AND the all-time best, five-year record of any major-league team since 1900, going 530-235 .693.  Beyond the record-setting, 1906 season, they also won 107 games in 1907, and 104 in both 1909—the one year they did NOT win the pennant—and 1910.

Ouch!  Sometimes you just have to tip your hat and call the Cubbies your daddy.

Why they're not ranked higher:  they only got into the 1908 World Series ahead of the Giants because of the single worst officiating call in all North American sports history, in the "Merkle's Boner" (don't ask) incident.

Also, they lost the 1906 Series to the Chicago White Sox, known as "The Hitless Wonders."  Hard to rank as the best dynasty ever when you lose to The Hitless Wonders.

What are the saddest of possible words?  And who was ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble?


9.  Boston Red Sox, 1912-1918.  Yes, there are a disturbing number of Boston teams on this list, which is to say, "any."

But it's impossible to overlook these Red Sox.  After winning one of the most thrilling World Series ever in 1912, behind one of the best pitching performances ever by Smoky Joe Wood (34-5, 1.91, and  3 more World Series wins), and Tris Speaker's .383 average in centerfield (and no, he did NOT win the batting title—not with Ty Cobb in the league), the Sox made over much of the team but barely lost a step, pummeling the Phillies, Dodgers, and Cubs in three more World Series.

Speaker, one of the greatest fielding centerfielders ever and a lifetime .345 hitter, was the connecting link, starring on the 1915 champions as well.  An arrogant, nasty racist who bet on ballgames and who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan—hey, he'd fit right in up in Boston today!—Speaker demanded to be traded after the 1915 season.

He got his wish, but the Red Sox already had a new superstar in place in 20-year-old Babe Ruth, who would set a World Series record with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings as a pitcher, and then go on to transform the game.  He was already enough of a slugger to lead the AL in home runs in 1918.

The Sox also capitalized on the fact that Connie Mack, unable to compete with the Federal League, had begun dismantling his great Philadelphia Athletics champion.  The Sox plucked stars such as Stuffy McInnis, Jack Barry, and Herb Pennock from the dissolving A's (and got Sad Sam Jones in the Speaker trade).

But hey, that worm was about to turn...

Next time:  Numbers 8 & 7!!

  










Friday, December 20, 2019

Gather the children... It's the annual IT IS HIGH tradition: TWUZ THE NIGHT BEFORE STERLING


Gerrit Cole, Gerrit Cole, Gerrit Cole

From Doug K.


GERRIT COLE (Let it Snow)

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the hot stove is so delightful.
And at last there’s something to show
Gerrit Cole! Gerrit Cole! Gerrit Cole!

Hal finally opened his wallet.
Our rotation, now is solid.
To the series we should go.
Gerrit Cole! Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole!

Sure he did it to please Sinclair
and also Am-a-zon Prime.
But, the truth is I just don’t care.
We should win it all one more time.

So we’ll finally beat those cheaters.
While the Red Sox Nation teeters.
Run a pennant up the pole
Gerrit Cole! Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole!

While there’s no Bowie Kuhn to null it
Let’s hope that he’s not Don Gullet,
And his arm out he won’t blow
Gerrit Cole! Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole!

Sure, Stanton’s still on the team,
and Sanchez forgets how to hit
but we finally signed the cream
so I’m hoping, this might be it.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the hot stove is so delightful.
and at last there’s something to show
Gerrit Cole! Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole!

Gerrit Cole! Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole!

Yankee opening day roster... if nothing changes (though, of course, everything will)

Sometimes, to assure yourself that you actually have enough pennies to buy the pony, you must empty the piggy bank and count the coins. On that note, let's look at where the Yankees stand - right now, today - before trades, before injuries, before free agent reinforcements. Here's a proposed opening day lineup.

2b DJ LeMahieu
rf Aaron Judge
ss Gleyber Torres
dh Giancarlo Stanton

lf Miguel Andujar
c Gary Sanchez

1b Luke Voit/Mike Ford
3b Gio Urshela

cf Brett Gardner

(Note: This lineup wins the AL East. But it also tilts hard right. Against dominant righties, Mike Tauchman might play LF, and Gardy would probably move up. Not sure about Gleyber hitting third and playing SS; that's a lot of pressure. He might need to work his way into that role. By July, we should have Aaron Hicks, whatever that means.)

Bench

Tauchman

Ford
Kyle Higashioka
Tyler Wade 

Thairo Estrada 

(Note: In case you didn't notice, there is no spot for Clint Frazier. If he is sent back to Scranton - again - the poor guy will be a basket case. The big question is whether Andujar can play LF. If not, Frazier has a foot in the door (assuming he can play LF). As it stands today, either Andujar or Frazier needs to be traded. Andujar would bring more, but he's a great young bat. Do they really want to let him go?

This should be Tyler Wade's year. With a 26-man roster - the new normal - Wade looks perfect. Not only does he bat LH, but he can play the OF and he is the fastest player on the team. 

Finally, before Gerrit Cole, our big winter acquisition was scrubino OF Zack Granite. To save Gardy's legs, Granite might be a late-inning replacement.)

Rotation

Gerrit Cole
Luis Severino
Masahiro Tanaka
James Paxton
J.A. Happ


(Note: This rotation wins the AL East. But Happ will almost certainly be traded, leaving an opening for Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa or Deivi Garcia. Trouble is: No one on that list is a sure thing. So who pitches fifth?

This is why Gammonites keep postulating trades of Happ, Andujar/Frazier and a young arm... for a solid pitcher. But for whom? That's a substantial package. Cashman better not blow it. 

Finally, for a team of china dolls - Hicks, Stanton, Severino, Judge - is it wise to cut ourselves thin?)

Bullpen 

Aroldis Chapman
Zack Britton
Adam Ottavino
Tommy Kahnle
Chad Green
Jonathan Holder/Ben Heller/Stephen Tarpley/ Cessa/Loaisiga
Whomever stands out in Tampa


(Note: This bullpen wins the AL East. The Yankee surplus is why we keep hearing rumors about Milwaukee's Josh Hader. He would certainly buttress our late innings, especially if Smiley Chapman goes down.  

(In a perfect world, we would wait until March - see who looks good - before doing a major deal. Trouble is, other teams won't wait on Happ. Something will have to Happen. We are clear front-runners in our division. But there is a lot of winter yet to play.

(Am I wrong to suspect that some of you have different opinions?)