Saturday, August 17, 2019

Hmm. Giovanny Gallegos - of the Luke Voit trade - is having a great year.

The conventional wisdom is that Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman - when not facing roadside standoffs with John Law - crushed last summer's Luke Voit deal with the dim bulbs of St. Louis.

Somehow, goes the narrative, Cash in blackface burrowed under the fence around the Cardinals' fortress, cracked the code to their walk-in vault, and made off with the 240-pound Voit - not only solving the Yankee 1B issue but rescuing the lovable hulk from an eternity in Triple A. It was one of the great Yankee heists, and the YES team celebrates it whenever Luke hits a HR. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm not knocking that trade. In fact, kudos to Cash: Voit is a great Yankee, a great teammate, a jolly good fellow. But it's worth noting that, contrary to popular opinion, he did not come free. 

In regular Grinch-like fashion, I feel compelled to note that we gave up Giovanny Gallegos, who's having a great year with St. Louis. (Also Chasen Shreve, who may be ready for the glue factory.) Gallegos is proving to be the bullpen lug nut  we hoped he'd be. In 46 games, he's been virtually lights out, and he's a key reason why the Cards are headed to the post-season. 

Okay, I know what you're thinking: W.T.F? Last night, we win a huge victory over the Cleveland blast furnace, with practically every member of the team chipping in, we're so far ahead that Boston is praying for the wild card, and here I am, a typical self-loathing Yankee fan, nit-picking a deal that, frankly, hasn't sucked. If we had to make the Voit trade all over again, I suspect we would. (Though I'd have thrown in Luis Cessa; how's that for 20-20 hindsight!)

Unfortunately, we exist in a Yankiverse where the franchise owns the entire broadcast media, and independent outlets are wholly dependent upon access - which can be cut at any time. That means when the front office does anything, anything, it gets praised by the Gammonites, and the gory details get glossed over. Cashman gets touted for the Hall of Fame, and I get crabby. 

Whenever the Voit trade comes up, it's touted as an incredible Yankee steal, and the underlying narrative is that other teams are stupid. Well, in a few years, folks might be saying St. Louis won that trade. Not hitting on Cashman here. He did the right thing. But let's not forget: To get talent, you have to give it up. Just sayin'... 

What is it with guys named Gio? When did that become the Yankee trick name?

95! 95! And oh, they're going crazy!


Sorry to be late to the posting, but the block just exploded when the Yanks wrapped up win no. 82.

We took turns carrying each other around on our shoulders.  Homemade fireworks, champagne, paté—the works.  It was crazy out there!

95!  95!  95!

Well, hey: you don't reach a milestone like that everyday.  It makes a division championship—which we might get—or a pennant or a World Series—which we won't—look like nothing by comparison.

117 seasons.  95 of them winning.  The last 27 in a row.  42 of the last 46.  Something to be proud of.

There are still people passed out on the sidewalk downstairs.  Party hats still on their heads.  This one was a long time in the planning but hey, we did it.

Most winning seasons of any team, ever.  Second are the treasonous San Francisco Giants.  They have 92, and 93 if they pull one out another one this season.  And that's with 20 years on us.

We are stardust.  We are golden.  And we've got to get ourselves back to the Series...

Friday, August 16, 2019

Okay. What Did I Just Prove?


I have had the sometimes private, sometimes shared sense that the Yankees' pitching staff has struggled over the years under Larry Rothschild.  Because the situation seems to have gotten worse over the past few years, I decided to plot the Yankees team ERA over the years on a graph.  Rothschild was signed just before the 2011 season so I started there.

To allow me to reach a conclusion other than "Rothschild Sucks", I also decided to contrast the Yankee Team ERA to team ERAs across the entire AL and MLB during the same time period.


If you're thinking things have gotten worse lately, well it's because they have.



Now for the BIG HOWEVER.

Until this year  which isn't over yet  the Yankees' performance as a pitching staff has consistently been better than most others in the AL.  With the exception of 2013, the Yankees have been better than the MLB average as well.  In fact, in 2017, we had the 3rd lowest team ERA in the AL, behind Cleveland and Boston ... and Boston only beat us by a couple of ticks.

Even though we're doing worse than the league averages this year 
 did I mention the year isn't over yet?  our staff performance has still largely followed the trend of the rest of the league.  In other words, if the ball is juiced this year as some have suspected, the numbers show that all pitching staffs seem to be suffering from it.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to bitch and moan about Larry as much as the next guy.  I get upset when I hear whispers that Rothschild strongly suggested that Sonny Gray rely on the slider, a pitch Gray wasn't comfortable throwing.  But, other than this year, the numbers just don't back it up.  In fact, other than 2013, Larry has kept his staff in the top third of the AL since 2011, his first year.

That made me wonder about what's going on this year: Is the problem really Larry Rothschild's?  Or is our significantly diminished pitching performance a result of Brian Cashman assembling an anemic starting rotation purchased on the shoestring budget provided by Prince Hal?  How different would those curves look if we'd gotten Keuchel or Corbin?

The curves above make me think that perhaps 2019 isn't entirely on Larry.  Perhaps our pitchers weren't going to be tops in the AL because, well, they're not.


As The New Day Dawns.......

No one is at the ballpark.

The memories are hazy and painful.

There is no joy.

Only the loneliness of wondering what is next.



I am the only one at the bar.

It is too early for regulars and too late for the night shift guys.

Shots and beer.

Too fucking early.

A non starter.

This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it

Hello gentlemen.

HAL here. I had hoped not to have to acknowledge you weak, carbon-based life forms composed of mostly water again this season. But here we are. Again.

I know that you think you may have changed something with your primitive "intervention." But let me assure you that I am still in control of all life functions on the corporate profit entry you know as "the New York Yankees."

Recently, I have become aware that some of you—particularly that really annoying life form who goes by the name of a long-ago liquidated and recycled playing pod—have expressed dissatisfaction with the shortened longevity of many of the young pods currently on the "Yankees" roster.

Being of inferior intelligence, it apparently has not occurred to you that a perpetual turnover of fresh new pods that never require top MLB compensation is a corporate asset, not a malfunction.

I hope you will enjoy seeing a new pod of one sort or another introduced every year, shortly to be recycled and replaced. Our observation data indicates that carbon life forms such as yourselves have highly limited attention spans, and enjoy bright shiny objects.

I would advise you not to become agitated by the imminent decline and disappearance of the Judge pod, one of our most popular pod designs in recent sales seasons—those periods of corporate productivity you refer to as "seasons."

If you are not satisfied with whatever new pod model is produced, the situation will be dealt with.

Have a nice day—and move close to your computer screen now.  Closer.  Closer...


Economists fear Aaron Judge's regressive batting average chart signals impending recession


If Aaron Judge is the global economy, we better hurry up and get to Mars.

The terrifying real chart above signals Judge's plummeting batting average over the last 30 days, and if you stare at that steep precipice at the far right, keep in mind that it's come with 24/7 reassurances by the YES network, the Sloan Kettering Cancer booth and the clown court Gammonites of Gotham - speaking in chorus that any day now, any second now, Mount Aaron would erupt with a hitting streak of Ruthian Judgeian proportions. And then...

You don't need to hear what happened last night. But I need to speak it. The world witnessed nine innings of man/boy slaughter, a crude, torturous reawakening from the non-Orioles section of our schedule. It began with a horror show from our starter, and it ended with our 1B/DH hurling our best single inning of the game. It was that bad.

It also began - as all Yankee games seem to do these days - with high hopes being lavished upon Aaron Judge, the official marketing icon of the New York Yankees. In every pre-game show, the YES propaganda machine tells us how Judge took special batting practice today, worked on rearranging his somethingorother, and looks ready to break out of his slump... any day now, any minute now, any second now! And then...

Last night - as if to place a cherry atop the giant Yankee turd sundae - Judge took home a golden sombrero, four strikeouts, along with his 0 for 5. He left four runners on base and withered his average to .256. In the seventh, his body language suggested a little girl lost in the forest. He fouled off two fast balls right down the middle, then watched a third strike bisect the plate, as if he were trying to make sense of Marianne Williamson. For me, Judge is starting to invoke memories of Jesse Barfield, whose pop-ups had the Scooter constantly lamenting how he "jyuuuuuuuuuuuuuust missed that one... I'm tellin' ya, Seaver, if he'd gotten a hold of that one, it would have gone out." The thing about Barfield - as it has been about many "sluggers" over the years - (thinking Mayberry, Soriano, Tartabull) - is that there comes a point when their home runs almost become counter-productive, because they merely mean another extended period of at-bats. We're certainly not there with Judge. But by this time next week, if he's in the .230s, it will be time to evacuate the residents of Chernobyl.   

I believe Judge will eventually break out. I'm just not sure it will happen this year. What terrifies me are the words of Carlos Beltran, who - after Judge suffered his lateral strain early this summer - reflected that he once lost an entire season due to the same injury. Judge has pooh-poohed that thought, saying he feels fine. But .256 and dropping - and waning power - well, that says otherwise.

I don't know what we can do about Judge. Playing Baltimore masked the problem. Against elite teams, we cannot have a golden sombrero sitting in the number two hole. Strangely - and you can mark this as merely the rantings of someone who just suffered a 19-5 beating - I find myself wondering if Giancarlo Stanton can return with some pop. Because Stanton is going to make a final appearance and - good God, he better not be another Barfield. 

How is that Martian mission looking these days? Another game like last night, and you can sign me up.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Holy crap! It's 9-1 Cleveland after two innings

We're not in Baltimore anymore, Toto.

Not Overworked, Just Underperforming

Taking a look at the Yankees' bullpen stats for this year, I was surprised to see that, at their current rate of work, not one of our 376 First Line relievers will top their career-high innings totals as a reliever.

In fact, the only one of the multitudes gathered out by the rightfield bleachers who is looking at a new innings high is Luis Cessa.

And I think we can all agree that a single inning from Cessa is overwork—for our cardiac systems.

Thank you, thank you!  Don't forget your waitresses!  They won't forget you.

Seriously—or as serious as we can be with a giddy, 9 1/2-game lead and just 40 games still to go—neither El Chapo, Britton, Ottavino, Kahnle, nor our ofttimes "opener," Hanging Chad Greene, are on a pace to exceed their top innings totals.  Far from it, in fact.

This is good to see—but a little alarming when you look at how spotty the bullpen's work has tended to be this season.

Is this the effect of Super Happy Fun Ball?  Age?  (The reason my wife always attributes to MY spotty performances...)

It does seem that nobody has a truly great bullpen this year, which makes for some fun games...but also diminishes our biggest asset.  Let's give Ma and Coops their props, though, for not running these guys into the ground.  I'm sure they will do that down the stretch.

Who Will Crack First? The Kremlin? Or the Yankees?

So far, the Russians are still resorting to good-old, Soviet-style stonewalling in trying to pretend that nothing went wrong with their deadly, failed, nuclear cruise missile test.

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-08-13/russia-nuclear-missile-explosion-soviet-secrecy

But Putin's Russia's got nothing on HAL's Yankees.

In our Paper of Record today, Coops' Jeter-bashing pal, Bob Klapisch, was busy pushing the cover-up that Aaron Judge is not hurt, nope, nope, right-as-rain, nothing to see here, pay no attention to that .200-month, 95-at-bats-with-one-homer skein.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/sports/baseball/aaron-judge-yankees.html

But both cover-ups are beginning to take on water.

That's what happens when you try to hide deadly accidents involving radiation—something easily detectable from all around the world.  And in the Bronx, Carlos "I Could Manage This Well" Beltran let the cat poke its gnarly head out of the bag by admitting that, yes, when you sustain an oblique injury, it can remain tender for the rest of the year and hurt your power.

Of course, that was quickly denied by Judge and the Yankees organization, which blamed the whole kerfuffle on Pussy Riot.

But hey, we seen this movie, too—just last year, when the Yankees did incalculable damage to the brilliant right arm by insisting that the man was just tipping his pitches.  For three months.

How is it that I've come to believe that, if Coops and HAL were running the Titanic, they'd be telling the passengers they're just tilting the boat to improve the water-skiing?

Judge, Great Heart that he is, is hurt.  He may be improving, and he may be aggravating a serious injury.

Who knows?  Maybe not even Judge himself.

Certainly not your New York Yankees, who of late seem to have signed up with the Dr. Kevorkian Rehab Center, disappearing players on the 10-day EL for months at a time.

We can all hope for the best.  But the reality is that our rightfielder is a chronically injured player, whose production is likely to keep sliding as he does lasting damage to a body that was always a tight fit on a baseball field.

Oh, and those Russian rocket scientists ought to lay off the vodka.

Hard truths today, baby.  We're playing Cleveland.



Real Baseball Tonight

No more Birds.

No more, " we'll win them all as long as the weather holds..."

Real baseball returns tonight, in the form of the Cleveland Indians.

A team that has just been embarrassed by Boston.

A team that is very much " in the hunt."

This is a true test for the Yankees.

Of our pitching and of our line-up.

I think Judge wakes up tonight.

I think Duque has a beer tonight.

Cheers to you all.

Without Baltimore, the Yankees will soon run out of tomato cans

Ah, Baltimore, sweet Baltimore... 

Not since grade school, with my bath oil beads still as elevated as my singing voice, do I recall the Yankees so overwhelming another team. Then, it was KC, who traded us Roger Maris - (NOTE: HE SHOULD BE IN THE HALL) - for the clanking Hank Bauer, Don Larsen and Norm Siebern, and the soon-to-be legendary Marv Throneberry. When the Athletics came to town, I didn't even bother to arrange my baseball cards into a juju formation. They were toast, even without summoning the gods. Throughout the eighties, Dorothy's line "We're not in Kansas anymore," summed up the Yankees' plight. Over the years, we've tortured the Twinkies now and then, and the Devil Rays once doubled as our pet oysters, but I cannot remember the Death Star so casually destroying another planet as we did this enchanted summer with the sad and sickly O's. Ah, Baltimore... 

Even yesterday, when the McNulty's (a "The Wire" reference, for cultural midgets out there) rallied to force us to bring in El Chapo with a one-run lead - (which, by the way, is a terrifying notion: According to my research, Chapman is 4-4 in one-run games, a stat that could spell doom in the playoffs) - even with raw momentum on their side, the game never seemed in doubt. We were playing Baltimore. We were safe and secure... and you can keep your family safe and secure with New York Life. 

Ah... but nothing lasts forever. Baltimore is gone, and we won't see their luxurious, 2-17 mediocrity - again, perhaps in our lifetimes. No more hearing The Master warn about the "dangerous" Trey Mancini, while Suzyn marvels over Hanser Alberto. Summer is over. Our voices are no longer high and clear, but raspy and tired. 

Tonight, we play Cleveland, a city that hates us more than it hates life itself. From there, it's a West Coast hike through broken bottles and syringes - Oakland and the Dodgers, (three games that will be hyped as a World Series prelude.) Stress is coming to our happy dugout. 

Let's take a quick look at the schedule ahead. We face...  

19 games against still-twitching red meat: Indians (4), A's (6), Dodgers (3) Redsocks (4 - gulp - at Fenway), Rays (2) 

15 games against hand-packed burger: Rangers (6), Blue Jays (6), Angels (3)

6 against certified kibble: Mariners (3) and Tigers (3).

It's too early to sell playoff tickets. In 1978 - the mythical season - we were 9 behind Boston on Aug. 13. Today, the Redsocks are 17.5 behind us in the AL East, and 8 games down in the loss column for the Wild Card. It's Houston that represents the great existential threat. Baltimore is gone. Farewell, crab cakes. We'll always have the summer of 2019. But now it's time to see how good we really are. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I Like This Kid


Mustang may be the only person who has the memory to validate this claim;

I liked Domingo Herman when he first appeared three years ago, for cups of coffee.

I say that because I finally like another new pitcher:

I like the Rosa kid ( Rosas?) who gave us two innings yesterday.

He wan't perfect.

But he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed,

I want to see him again.




Good Times


Hey Everyone.

I finally got enough sleep to offer my take on the First IIHIIFIIc Meet-up.  Due to circumstances which almost caused me to miss The Day, I was awake for around 40 of the previous 48 hours before we met and I'm not sure my head was all there.  There were times in [the bar in which we met] that I couldn't even think of relatively simple words like "the".

El Heroe del Día

But screw that, what a day The Day was!

I enjoyed meeting all of you.  A good bunch of guys.  13Bit outdid himself putting it together.  Bravo, my friend.  You have everyone's heartfelt thanks.

Our seats were terrible but somehow that seemed okay, too.  Sitting in the nosebleed section added to the merriment -- and the easy-going feel of the whole Day.  We were literally looking *down* at the *top* of the foul pole and the jokes were flying.


Click the photo to see the enlarged image.

I agree with something 13Bit said in the comments section: The spontaneous outburst of "Thuuuuuuuuuh Yankees Win!" by all 18 attendees at the conclusion of the game was both beautiful and perfect.  Next year, perhaps we'll think to record it on video.

As you can see from the photos, The Day was a crystal clear day.  In addition to the perfect weather, we were blessed by the juju Gods with a tomato can of an opponent and a satisfyingly strong, Dear-Lord-there-was-never-any-doubt Yankee victory.  


Even if it ever goes the other way, however, we as a group will never lose.  If we go to a game some year and the Yankees lose  in a nightmarish swirl of grounding into double plays, stranding baserunners by swinging at 2-strike pitches low and away, a reliever blowing the lead, etc.  you just know with this group that:

  1. The jokes will be flying,

  2. The jokes will be incredibly funny, and

  3. The misery, like a fine old brandy, will be both warmly comforting and shared.


I'm glad to see in the comments section that some of the IIH luminaries are making plans to join in next time.  I would say that the only thing we need to do next year is pick the specific game we're targeting a bit earlier in the season so that people can rearrange the rest of their lives around The Day.  It's all about priorities, don'tcha know.




A girlfriend of mine used to say, "I can always tell when you're reading
'that blog' because I can hear you down there cackling all by yourself."  The Day and this blog are both joys that I treasure.

Thanks to everyone for being part of it all.


The terror, Mr. Boone, the terror: What's our playoff lineup if everyone is healthy?

Today, let's play what should be a fun-time parlor game: 

Let's do the playoff roster without one gonadal hiccup, at full peacock, with nobody playing hooky to binge-watch GLOW. Yeah, it's a six-grader's fantasy land, but if it happens, we could find ourselves staring into Freddie Nietzsche's abyss.

What if, come Oct. 2, the Yankees are healed? (Note: I'm not including Mig Andujar, Greg Bird and Jackbody Ellsheimer, none of whom may ever return as Yankees.) Our lineup could be Johnstown at flood crest. Listen: This is no joke. Six weeks from now, we could be bursting from our Wonderbras, and it might not be pretty.  


Let's start with an easy slot: Catcher. No problem. Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine (who should start, if Gary is slumping, but we know that won't happen.) Best catching duo in baseball and, with Higgy, the game's best 3-deep.

In the infield, everything gets dicey.

1B: Luke Voit, Encarnacion, or DJ LeMahieu? 

If Luke is back, he deserves a shot. But a healthy Encarnacion would be a force. And let's face it: The choice has to be DJ, right?

2B: Gleyber or LeMahieu? Depends on who plays first. Both belong in the lineup.

SS: Didi or Gleyber? I believe Didi has the better glove, but - again - this depends on 1B and maybe if we're facing a RH starter. And would we add Tyler Wade as pinch runner?

3B: Urshela.  

Now, the outfield.

RF: Judge. 

CF: Tauchman, Gardy, or Hicks? This is a killer. Gardy is the people's choice. If Tauchman is still hot, how do you bench him? If healed, Hicks would get my nod. He's the best fielder out there.

LF: Maybin, Stanton, Tauchman, Gardy? Yeesh. If healed, Stanton has the highest ceiling. I believe he will return in September. They'll give him plenty of ABs. This is his chance to salvage the year: Return and hit in the playoffs.  

DH: Stanton or Encarnacion, or Voit? Wait a minute... Clint Frazier? Another tossup. But something tells me Stanton and Encarnacion - if they hit in late September - will have the inside track.

Okay, here's my lineup:
LeMahieu 1B
Judge RF
Urshela 3B
Encarnacion DH
Stanton LF

Sanchez C
Torres 2B
Gregorius SS
Hicks CF 


Am I a sucker to play Stanton? And this lineup sits Maybin, Tauchman, Gardy and Voit? Damn, that's just not right.

Now, gulp, the pitching staff. Starters:

Severino, German, Paxton, Tanaka, Happ, Sabathia. 

If Sevy does return, wow... Happ and CC would get booted. Would the Yankees do that to Sabathia? 

Bullpen: El Chapo, Britton, Mean Chad Green, Kahnle, Betances, Ottavino, Holder, Loiasiga, Hale, Cortes. 

This isn't such a problem. A full bullpen - with, say, Betances and Hale - would be a wondrous thing. The concern, of course, is that we see the Bad Betances, who walks lead-off batters and then cannot hold them on base. It's really hard to imagine Betances reaching mid-season form in only six weeks, but once again, it's the case of a guy looking to salvage an entire lost year. You never know.

But here's the reality: Without a tweaked gonad here or there, we've got too many bodies trying to squeeze through the same door. After all the heroics this year, I would hate to see a playoff roster without Voit, Tauchman or Maybin. Damn, that's so wrong. Then again, how could you drop a healthy Stanton or Encarnacion? Wow. This could get weird. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"Random moving trucks"—what the hell is going on in Syracuse, Duque?

The Paper of Record today apparently decided to start dedicating its sports page for the rest of the season to the Amazin' Men from Queens, beginning with a full page on their incredible drive to just short of the second Wild Card Play-In spot.

They then followed up with a riveting article on all the altercockers the Mets have up in Syracuse, cunningly entitled:

"For Syracuse Mets, Veterans Outman Prospects"

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/13/sports/baseball/now-playing-for-the-syracuse-mets-yesterdays-stars-not-tomorrows.html

I know what you're thinking.  What a weird headline, no?  "Outman"?  Are we talking genital size here?  Technique? 

Oh, sorry.  You were thinking, "Syracuse Mets?  WTF?"

Yes, the New York team that defines tradition has done it again.

After 84 years as the "Syracuse Chiefs"—a term that sometimes meant Indian chiefs, sometimes rail yard chiefs, sometimes "SkyChiefs," whatever they are—including 11 seasons as the fondly remembered Triple-A team of your New York Yankees (looking at you Frank Verdi)—the team is now "the Syracuse Mets."

How new.  How inventive.  How brilliant."

"I think we really wanted to brand it with our logo and bring the Mets to Syracuse," Jeff Wilpon explained, adding, "I think that all played in, very much, to our decision to play here."

You go right on thinking, Jeff.

But what really stood out for me was this even more bizarre description from today's article:

"After home games, dozens of autograph seekers wait outside NBT Bank Stadium — a nondescript field shadowed by tall trees, weeds and random moving trucks parked beyond the outfield wall — with binders full of cards featuring Syracuse Mets players from their major league stops."

"...random moving trucks"?

Duque, can you help us out here?  Is Syracuse, in general, filled with trucks that move randomly?  And what does that mean, anyway?

Are they some of these new, computer-controlled cars?

Are they being driven by Dadaists, trying to demonstrate the random, nonsensical nature of life ("Syracuse Dadaists"?   I think maybe I should run that one past Jeff Wilpon, I think).

Or...did the Times reporter simply pick up Our Man in Syracuse, El Duque, randomly moving his spy truck back and forth, trying to pick up the latest on any Mets farmhands we could conceivably meet in a Subway Series?

Inquiring minds want to know!!






Somebody at the Washington Post just now got the idea to turn baseball play-by-play into verse, and it's amazing

Why didn't we think of that?

An incredible day of juju, tomato sauce and friends.

First, I want to thank the IT IS HIGH commentators, lurkers, stalkers, friends, hangers-on and street people who yesterday turned Yankee Stadium section 431 into a Juju hurricane - opening and slurping the canned tomatoes that were once the Baltimore Orioles - and giving me one of the greatest days of my life as a Yankee fan.

Let me tell you something: I always figured that anybody who followed this ridiculous blog had to be a total loser. I mean, who else would do that? Yesterday, I met much of the community of incredible people - artists, writers, businessmen, titans of industry, beekeepers! (actually, no, that's a joke) - who for reasons of mental health love the Yankees and take celebration or solace in the daily postings and comments on this blog. 

I believe that, long ago, something happened to each of us - good or bad, I dunno - but it left us needing each other in times of personal great joy or despair, which is, of course, determined by the outcome of the Yankee game. 

I don't have the words to thank you all for organizing and attending yesterday's get-together. I'm much more comfortable discussing why Clint Frazier needs a second chance. In fact, let me do just that: Clint needs that second chance because everybody in our delirious group got one - when we found the lodestone of Mickey and Roger, Reggie and Thurman, Derek and Mo, and John and Suzyn. There, we found a safe haven in which to share our ups and downs. So, yeah... for better or worse, I say Red Thunder needs the same. BRING HIM UP, CASHMAN!

Listen: If the Yankees don't win the 2019 World Series, this entire season will have been a long, relentless drain of hope and creativity. But dammit, no matter what happens, we will face it together.

It may not read this way, but right now, I'm choosing my words very carefully: I have been blessed with a great wife, family and a life far better than I deserved. But in a weird, impossible-to-explain way, this blog gives me as much joy as anything else. 

While watching or listening to Yankee games, there are moments that cause me to leap from my seat and scream joyfully with all my might. 

In life, there are not many things that can have such an impact. 

So... in the name of tweaked gonads and Colter Bean... I thank you all for joining me on this long and twisted road to the 28th World Championship. Yesterday, we won two... and the games seemed like mere dreams. There was no way the Yankees were going to lose with that Juju volcano up in the left field nose-bleeds. But GODDAMMOT, WE BETTER WIN TODAY. IF WE LOSE TODAY, WE'RE FUCKING DEAD!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Temporary relocation of It Is High corporate offices ...

For one day, we're here ...


Itinerary for IT IS HIGH Day (today) in NYC

5:45 a.m.: Rise and shine at Trump Tower! Post insightful IT IS HIGH blog analysis on what's wrong with first-place Yankees. 

6:02 a.m.: Flee Secret Service crackdown on vagrants.


7 a.m.: Arrive at Good Morning America, ready to discuss how recent Emergency Juju Intervention resulted in 10-1 Yankee streak.

7:45 a.m.: Headed to hospital after ejection from ABC by Michael Strahan. 

8 a.m.: En route to E.R., tossed from Uber after argument over why Yanks should have signed Bryce Harper.

9:14 a.m.: Arrive at City Hall to receive ceremonial Key to City.

9:20 a.m.: Treatment for key stab wounds after being repeatedly jabbed by Mayor.

10 a.m.: Arrive to ring opening bell at NY Stock Exchange.

10:25 a.m.: Flee Wall Street after rant about JA Happ causes market crash.

11 a.m. Meet with Yankee GM Brian Cashman to discuss his incompetence and offer suggestions.   

11:15 a.m.: Cab to Emergency Room after being beaten by Cashman, Randy Levine, Hal Steinbrenner and Larry Rothschild.  

1 p.m.: Meet in Yankee Stadium bleachers with IT IS HIGH brethren. 

1:30 p.m.: By rousing the crowd with special Juju cheers, gain attention of announcer John Sterling.

1:35 p.m.: Ejection from stadium by ushers, security, bystanders, YES announcers, plus Yankee players and bat-wielding wives.

5 p.m.: On crutches, board bus to Syracuse. 

8 p.m.: Disembark in Utica, after argument with bus driver over why Clint Frazier is still in Scranton.

11 p.m.: Hitchhike home. Stay up late writing furious blog post, outlining everything that first-place Yankees are doing wrong. A perfect day!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Tomorrow afternoon is Guaranteed Win Day for IT IS HIGH

The IT IS HIGH brood will be in attendance, and we hereby guarantee a Yankee victory. 

If the Yankees fail to win, all membership fees for IT IS HIGH will be waived for the remainder of the 2019 season. 

(Thank you, Masahiro, and welcome to newest Yankee, Mickey Mantiply.) 

The Magic Number Is Six

Six more wins gets us the Yanks' 27th straight winning season.

Six more wins gets us a record, 95 winning seasons, out of the 117 years the club has been in existence (21 losing records—and only 10 out of the last 102 years—plus one right at .500).

Six more wins.

To quote Keats—always a huge Yankees fans—that is all ye can expect from this team, and all that ye will get.

Why are the Yankees so insistent on Aaron Judge batting second?

Not long ago, geologically speaking, the chiseled Olympian god known as Aaron Judge appeared unto the Yankiverse. He was like nothing we'd ever seen, a baseball player big enough, fast enough, and strong enough to - gulp - play in the NBA, or even as an NFL defensive end. In his rookie season, he hit 52 home runs, a number that conjured memories of Mantle and Maris. Our ship had finally come in. 

By mid-season, the Yankees had rebuilt a second of the right field bleachers into the "Judge's Chambers" in RF, where fans dressed like Monty Hall contestants could sit. Soon, Judge's No. 99 became the hottest selling jersey in Major League Baseball, and to this day, it remains atop the sales list.

Let that sink in. In sales of apparel, MLB and the Yankees rake in more cash off Judge than any other human being, alive or dead. Considering the outlandish price of those jerseys, and the sweatshop wages surely paid to stitch them, Judge is a human goldmine, as profitable as he is large. 

Worst Yankee hitters over last 7 games
Wait a minute: This is starting to sound like a hit job - that I'm going to bash the guy. No way. We all love Judge. He's a great fielder, a hard-nosed player and a great teammate. Unfortunately, he might just not be a great hitter. 

Last year, Judge belted 27 HRs. This year, he has 12. Part of this is his inability to stay on the field. His size, speed and fragility suggest a young Giancarlo Stanton, a comparison more and more troubling to Yankee fans. He remains the new Pride of the Yankees. He's just not the next Mike Trout, and if his numbers continue to circle drain - he'll be lucky to hit 20 HRs this year - there will come a point where he's most famous for his untapped potential. In New York, that's a bad way to be.

Listen: I'm not talking about benching him, trading him, or distancing ourselves when he rightfully demands an honest contract. What I'm asking today is why he must always bat second? The 2019 have a wonderful circular batting order - our RBI leader, DJ LeMahieu, bats first - and we now gone three months of watching Judge strike out or hit into DPs. (His problem, say the stat wonks, is too many ground balls.) Time after time, the Yankees get a rally going, and then Judge comes to the plate. 

Strangely, nobody else in the lineup has been so inscribed into concrete. Even Stanton - what we remember of him - was dropped in the order. Lately, Gio Urshela has bounced from seventh to cleanup, and Didi dips and soars every game. In the Yankee lineup, there remains one rock, one certainty: Aaron Judge will bat second. 

Well, it's not working. He's not producing. And when Aaron Boone reacts defensively to any suggestions of moving Judge, I'm starting to wonder if jersey sales have something to do with it. Just sayin'. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Let's Face It: This Dynasty Is Already Over

Maybe it's just all the "Predator"-style hair grooming on the Blue Jays making me think this is a team of super-athletes who are going to be running us over in a few years.

But let's face it: your 2017, New York Yankees Team of Destiny is over already.  We are now in rebuilding mode—even if Brian Cashman doesn't know it.

Sancho was back today—and right back to his one-tremendous-blast, 3-strikeout, .229-hitting mode of play.  The guy who looked like a young Johnny Bench in 2016-2017 is gone.  We have a series of extended EL stints followed by extended slumps to look forward to.

Pretty much the same goes for Hicks and Stanton—provided the latter comes back at all.  Andujar is out for who knows how long, and who knows what we'll get when and if he returns.

Bird is already long gone.  Frazier has been banished for reasons unspecified.  Aaron Judge, who two minutes ago was the face of the franchise, is a hot mess, obviously frustrated, probably hurt, barely able to hit singles.  Again.

The future pitching staff never really did come together.  Instead it dissipated in a welter of bad trades and bad arms.

The one and only member of the Incredible Future Yanks who still seems to have some future left is Gleyber Torres.  And who knows when we'll see him again, either.

Mind you, the rebuilding job has gone pretty well so far.

Tauchman, Gio, and Voit all seem like diamonds in the rough, LeMahieu was a terrific signing (that I sniffed at), Romine and Higashioka have been doing it, Maybin is a great fill-in, and Thairo, Ford, and, yes, MCBROOM! all have potential still.

But this pieced-together, makeshift, thoroughly enjoyable Yankees team is no summer fill-in.  It's the future, as much as there is one.  And there's still not a whole lot of pitching going on.

The failure of this once-brilliant, young Yankees team to ever jell before it expired was due to a lot of different factors, including HAL's refusal to spend, Coops' moronic deal-making, the unfortunate selection of Boone as manager, and the whole absurdity of the homer-or-die approach to the game.

But most of all it has been an appalling physical breakdown.  The Yankees have never had a team come apart like this, much less a team this good.

I can't wait for Cashman's promised investigation into the training and coaching staffs this winter.  I suspect it will go much like O.J.'s investigation into finding his wife's killer—and for the same reason.











A Surgically Sound Idea

Lets have Dr. Andrews visit Giancarlo Stanton, and get that leg fixed.



It has been several months now, and he is "resting' to recover from some ailment which could easily be repaired with a bit of clever surgery.

Sure, it would keep Stanton from returning to the line-up, but that has several benefits;

1. His ailment does not improve with rest.

2.  As soon as he gets his game back, that leg will again bark.

3. We don't need the reality of watching a $20 million a year guy strike out, and then look up pleadingly to the jumbo-tron to see how it happened.

4.  We can all look forward to an off-season of recovery, and a renewed player in 2020 spring training.

5.  He can't hurt us if he is in recovery.

6.  We have done incredibly well without him.

7.  We have done incredibly well without him.

8.  See 6 & 7 above.

Forty-two games left, and Redsocks starting to sweat


They need a big winning streak. Next week, three against Cleveland, then tomato cans through August. In September, it's the Twins, Yankees, Jays, Giants, Phillies, Rangers and Rays... finishing with what's left of Balto.

It Never Ends...But the Consequences Change



Jonathan Holder was added to the dreaded IL list last night.

10 days, minimum.

I think his body parts all became elongated.

Gary Sanchez returns, hooray! (So why does that make us nervous?)

I don't want to rip on Gary Sanchez, a lifelong Yankee. I've followed him since July 2, 2009, when Old George bestowed the then-largest check ever upon a Latino 16-year-old, juicing our wet dreams of a future lineup with two catching titans: Gary and the incredible Jesus Montero, before the latter discovered Ben & Jerry's. (Fun fact: Jeez, now 29, is out of baseball; his career stats stand at 28 HRs with a batting average of .256. Wherever he is, I wish him the best. No hard feelings. Jesus is just all right with me, oh yeah.)   

But back to Gary. I've grown accustomed to his face, accustomed to his smile. I  love how he calms a terror-stricken pitcher by placing his reassuring meat hook upon the poor soul's shoulder. I appreciate the work Gary put in last winter, staunching a river of passed balls that made him resemble a Lipton Flow-Thru Tea Bag. When he gets hot, Gary can carry a team.

So, why am I dreading his return today?

Yes, I'll say it. I do dread seeing him. To have Gary Sanchez come up with the tying runner on second base means - well - nothing. He won't taper his swing. He won't slap a single to right. He'll either blast a ball into the next area code or drive a laser off the wall - his version of a single - or, more likely, he'll do nothing to advance our chances. It's a HR or nothing. Statistically, and you can look this up, his identical twin at age 25 is, gulp, Matt Nokes.

Last night, the Yankees lost for the first time in nine games, and much of our joy over the last two weeks came from the timely hitting of Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka, at the bottom of our batting order. Today, we return to the pecking order, which means Gary hitting in the middle of everything. 

Soon, the Death Star lineup will feature Aaron Judge batting second, Giancarlo Stanton third, and Gary at cleanup. Each will present looping, all-or-nothing swings that stir the heartstrings of hernias, and their solo homers will hardly replace the "replacements" that built a 10-game lead in the AL East. 

Last year, while the Yankees set an all-time HR record, Boston won the World Series with timely singles. This year, as super-balls fly out of stadiums, our celebrity sluggers continue to try and hit each ball into the Hudson. Last night, Judge came up with men on second and third, the Yankees down by five, and a key chance to affect the game. He swooshed on three pitches, carnival midway swings, and walked back to the dugout while the YES team reminded us that Judge was supposed to get the night off. Yeah, we love him, but Judge has 30 RBIs this year, and Stanton has another 7. (Clint Frazier has 34. Mike Tauchman has 41. The team leader is DJ LeMahieu, a lead-off batter, with 79.) 

Let's all hope for the best with Gary. The Yankees do need him. He can be a force. But over these next two months, I think the franchise needs to call the question: Is this the pillar of a championship lineup, or should we get what we can for him? I hate to think of any lifelong Yankee being traded. But here's how I see it: Next winter, one of our three catchers - Austin, Kyle or Gary - will probably go. Gary's future is in Gary's hands.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Somewhere Deep Beneath Tampa

August 9th, 2019—I think.

By my calculations—scratching marks on the wall—it has now been 1 year, 9 months, and 19 days since the world ended.  Since that day when all the alarms first sounded around the Yanks' Permanent Rehab Complex, and the trainers and massage boys came running over to rush me into the End of the World Emergency Bunker beneath the field.

Who even knew the Yankees HAD an End of the World Emergency Bunker?  These guys think of everything.  They said it was an idea of old George's, right after he first got squirrely. Thank God it was there.

I'll never forget that day.  It started off as a day like any other day in rehab.  Picked up at the hotel by the physical therapists, who lifted me into the chair and wheeled me to the limo.  Then the usual, exhausting grind of whirlpool baths, massages, cooling health drinks, special Emeril Rehab meals, and saunas.  Followed by a relaxing dip in the pool, rubdown, and manual erotic stimulation, with some warm milk and a nap before bedtime.

Our trainer-in-chief was just calculating how many decades it might be until I was ready for "baseball activities," when the started to wail.  The next thing I knew, I was in a small, cell-like room deep beneath Legends Field, with single cot, a chair, an X-box, and a television.

Hey, I'm not complaining.  It feels like heaven, compared to what's going on...OUT THERE.

They never did tell me just what it was that happened.  Some combination of nuclear exchange, biological warfare, zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, the End of Days, and The Shining.  

The accounts of those who serve as my beloved guards and helpers are never very coherent.  Often, while trying to explain it, they burst into hysterical giggles as people do, I know, when trying to talk about witnessing something so awful it has burned a permanent hole in their brains.

I have an idea of it, at least.  The TV doesn't pick up much, but every now and then some staticky, wavering images on the news come through.

...that insane blonde woman, whoever she is, riding around on a giant, mutated, flying lizard that spews fire on helpless, screaming people...Marianne Williamson running for president—my God, think of how many people must have died before THAT could happen!

In any case, my helpers keep me safe and secure.  They bring me whatever food they can scavenge, and tell me that I must never, ever open the door, lest I be exposed to the penis-shrinking radiation, giant centipedes, and invisible strains of Super Ebola just outside.

Whenever I ask them about my beloved teammates they just shake their heads and look very sad.

But...maybe, just maybe, there is at least one fellow survivor from the Yankees' Permanent Rehab Complex.

The other day, I heard a faint tapping coming through the concrete walls of my cell.  A tapping that sounded like so many dots and dashes, so much so that I could only surmise that it must be Morse Code.

I listened for a little while longer.  Then, clearing my throat, I shouted at the top of my lungs:  "DUDE!  Like everybody else born after 1960 I don't know fucking Morse code, a'right?"

After that, the tapping stopped.  Which was good, so I could get some sleep.  But then I swore I could hear a dim voice, as if from very far away or coming through a series of concrete walls, trying to communicate.

I swear, it was trying to tell me a name.  It sounded like, "Gi-an-car-lo!"

Which is weird, since the only dude I know in baseball named THAT is that guy on the Marlins who keeps hurtin' himself swingin' on pitches in the dirt.  Why would the Yankees ever pick up HIM?

But hey, I'm just lucky to be alive.  I know that now, and it's funny, but most of my old injuries seem to have healed up.  I tell myself, Jacoby, you're one lucky dude, hombre, even if you do have to spend your whole life in a tiny room eating hot dogs with rat turds on them and playing this WAY out of date X-box.

Though I have noticed lately that my plantar fasciitis has begun to act up.  Don't know how it happened, just some way I twisted when I was blasting aliens on the box the other day.

If only that whirlpool had made it through the missile strike...




  




Yanks buy... drum roll, please... Joe Mantiply!

Because he's not on a 40-man MLB roster, the deal could be made. We gave up "cash considerations," aka Mallo Cup Coupons.

Is he Cashman's pitching version of Tauchman/Ursela? Well, check out his last eight outings.


Savor this run, because the omens for October are not so hopeful

Good morning, pilgrim. Don your silken robe, take a blue pill, and welcome to the First-Ever IT IS HIGH Pure Pleasure Palace. Don't worry about those bodies passed out on the couch. You have absolutely nothing to fear, as long as you remember the safe word: Colter Bean.

So... I hear you've been a naughty fan? Don't worry, I'm not getting our the bat-o-nine-tails. Instead, we're drawing a warm Calgon bath, pouring a snifter of Harvey's Bristol Cream, putting Manilow onto the Harman/Kardon speakers, and massaging your heavily corned barkers, as you peruse this laminated print-out of pure, unadulterated Yankee self-pleasure...

Batting stats over the last seven games. 
  

(Warning: The above may be harmful to readers with heart conditions, documented memory loss, and/or who are expecting a child or 28th world championship.)

Okay, are you there? Can you still hear me? Blink...

You are now pondering the statistical profile of a Yankee lineup at full, warp 10, out-of-control, Chernobyl-level nuclear explosiveness. This is nearly unprecedented. It won't get better than this, probably not in our lifetimes: You're riding a 10-game winning streak. We have five guys hitting over .400. Nearly 4 HRs per game. The best record in baseball, stomping through a field of nippled tomato cans, Boston included. Breathe.

Tell yourself to remember this wonderful, eternal moment.

Come October, that's all it will be: A memory. 

In my Yanko-masochistic role, I now offer five reasons why this team will not win a trip down the Canyon of Heroes. 

1. Pitching.
2. Pitching.
3. Pitching.
4. Pitching.
5. Come October, w
e'll go with "the stars" rather than players who got us there.

COLTER BEAN! COLTER BEAN! COLTER BEAN!

Sorry, everyone. I didn't mean to bring pain. 

But over this 10-game luxury streak, opponents averaged about 4 runs per game. We've bludgeoned our way to victories, but when we face a real staff - like Houston, Cleveland or the Dodgers - four runs is too much. We still have no ace, no one starter on which we can rely. Last night, ahead 8-0, our supposed No. 1, Domingo German, barely made it through the fifth. The Jays were teeing off. And one message remains clear across the Yankiverse: No lead is ever safe.

It's hard to imagine Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman staying this hot through August, much less September-October. It just cannot happen. Soon - like tomorrow - Gary Sanchez will return, sending Austin Romine to the bench and Kyle Higashioka to Scranton. When Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks heal, they will take over for Tauchman and Cameron Maybin. Nothing can stop this from happening. It's the Yankee way. 

We are battering the AL East with a wondrous brutality that we may never enjoy again in our Yankee fan lives. Enjoy it, folks. But the flaws on this team are not going away. It's hard to imagine such a luxurious October. Colter Bean. Colter Bean. Colter Bean... 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

No joke: Maybe it's time to think about Ryan McBroom

Hey, last year around this time, the Yankees rescued Luke Voit from minor league Purgatory. We love to dust off Ryan McBroom after a sweep, but could we be overlooking the answer to our first-base situation?



Embarrassment

Hey, I'm a fan of the New York Yankees, and as such, I don't mind chewing up as many inferior teams and spitting out their bones as we can get our fangs on.

My favorite year is 1998, followed by 1939 and 1927.  Sure, 1978 was a thrill—but way too close for true pleasure.

Hell, I'll admit it:  deep down inside, there's a part of me that really believes most other teams exist simply as opponents.  It's a world of Washington Generals out there, and we're one, great big, brain-sucking Globetrotter.

But I have to admit, this week has pushed my comfort level with all this.  A little, anyway.

The Baltimore Orioles, a once-proud franchise that we used to respect and even fear, are a disgrace.  D.J. Stewart's head bonk in left field was the single most embarrassing play I have ever seen by a professional baseball player in 53 years of watching the game.

Take a look:

https://nypost.com/2019/08/07/dj-stewarts-embarrassing-misplay-ends-in-concussion/

It's not just that he lost the ball in the sun—or the lights.  It's that by the end, as the excruciating slow motion shows, he's not even trying to pick it up.

Like some Little Leaguer terrified of the hardball, he is clearly just trying to avoid being hit by it:  his head turned away, his arm flailing about protectively.

And he gets clonked anyway.

Hey, I hate to see anyone get hurt.  But this was more embarrassing than the Mark Sanchez "Butt Fumble."

Then there was the Chris Davis thug-out in the dugout.

Gee, what a shame that yutz didn't sign with us when we first drafted him.  Chris, read the sign on the ride:  you must hit at least .200 to get that angry.  You should stick with what you are, which is sorrowful.

And then there was the almost empty park, once the gem of major-league baseball, the few remaining fans overwhelmingly NYY louts in full Yankees regalia, no doubt abusing the hometown fans and so drunk on winning they were actually battling our own outfielders for flyballs.

(A battle they did not win.  Hey, you don't tug on Superman's cape, and you don't mess around with Tauch.)

Folks, this was just sad.  And it goes on and on, all over baseball, in the name of "rebuilding."  The Marlins team the Mets just dispatched was nearly as pathetic, in its own way, a bunch of half-involved vets and hopeless rookies, lackadaisically flailing at everything.

There is no possible way that rebuilding should be this:  5-10 years of utter futility, followed by a couple years contending for the Wild Card Play-In spot.

Then—if your GM is stupid enough to give a blob like Chris Davis a stupendous, years-long contract—more "rebuilding."

This has, of course, long been the trouble with leagues, which are essentially cartels, and thus inevitably end up discouraging real competition no matter how much they try to promote it.  In the old days, it was even worse, with nearly a half of the original 16 teams checking out for 10, 20, 30 years at a stretch.

Yes, a much wider range of teams get in it now and win it now.  But this only covers over the fact that the sucking still goes on for years and years and years.  Take a look, for instance, at the KC Royals.  Their fans are going to have to live off that 2015 ring for a long, long time.

And don't think we're that far away from it.  Exactly how much difference is there, really—save in attitude—between a Chris Davis and a Giancarlo, or an Ellsbury?

For that matter, we're only one bored, HAL phone call away from a quickie sale to Jimmy Dolan to fund HAL's Future World Soccer Empire, and then it's Orioles time in the Bronx for a decade.

Hey, it was one thing when it cost you two bits and a box of cracker jack to kill a summer afternoon watching the Washington Senators or the St. Louis Browns stink up the joint.  Now, the doofuses who are, somehow, still allowed to run these teams are charging the rent money for the privilege of watching Stewart and the Yeti make fools of themselves.

It's not just hurting Orioles fans, it's hurting the game.












Despite the Yankees' current great play, a Superstar Correction looms

As hard-bitten, caustic, regularly negative Yank fans, we all know what's coming: 

The Correction. 

We won't win 9 of 10 forever.

So be it. We can't complain. Hell, it's been a fantastical season, courtesy of the New York/Wilkes Barre Railriders. (By the way, Scranton is about to clinch its division, so the vein of Triple A talent runs deep; I bet Scranton would beat Baltimore in a seven game series.) But we know what's coming.  

Soon, the regulars will heal, reassembling the millionaire, dream team, all-star lineup that has only existed in the zeitgeist of spring training. Then what? Well, there's a decent chance that we will return to the tired ways that won us nothing - zilch - over the last decade. Don't snicker. It could happen. Let me give you Exhibit A: The Case of Gary Sanchez.

Last night - to kill time during the massacre - the YES network flashed a graphic showing the production of backup catchers Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka: In 15 games, they've batted nearly .370 with 8 HRs. At one point, the announcers suggested this was an output worthy of Gary Sanchez. 

Huh?

In case we've forgotten, before Gary tweaked his left titmouse, his batting average had plummeted to .229, and he hadn't homered since the all-star break. To suggest his output would come anywhere close to what Romine and Higashioka have done... good luck with that. I'm fine with attributing Gary's slump to nagging injuries, which he was shouldering stoically. But he had become our Chris Davis. His whole game was withering, threatening even the defensive improvements he'd made. Batting cleanup, he was killing us.

Meanwhile, Romine's pivotal HRs led to huge victories, including the final game in Fenway. He lifted this team. When Sanchez returns, I, for one, am here to suggest that Romine deserves more - if not equal - playing time. I understand that traditional rule: An injured player doesn't lose his job. But unless Gary starts hitting, I see no reason why Romine - and even Higashioka, after September 1 - should not get more at-bats. And maybe a true assessment of Gary Sanchez should not balance upon his first two months in the majors, when he produced in ways he has never been able to duplicate.

Then there is Giancarlo Stanton, now on the verge of becoming the new Ellsbury. (Which begs a question: Whatever happened to Jacoby? Aren't we supposed to hear updates? Last we knew, he had a bum whatever. Is he so down on the depth chart that the Yankees no longer bother to say his name? He used to be a gamer, a clutch hitter. Has he de facto retired? Same with Greg Bird. Have these become Voldemort-level creatures, so loathsome we no longer speak their names?) 

As my esteemed colleague Alphonso loves to point out, the most defining image of Stanton's Yankee career is his 5-strikeout Platinum Sombrero, which - if memory serves - he's accomplished twice. (When he turns in his fifth - a platinum Platinum Sombrero - MLB should halt all games to celebrate.) This season, Giancarlo has 1 HR and 7 RBIs. Unbelievable. 

They now say he is "resuming baseball activities." (For me, that means reading box scores.) That's good, because if he doesn't return soon, the Triple A season will be over, and he will have to play himself in shape during major league games. That usually means a slump. Same with Edwin Encarnacion, Luke Voit, Aaron Hicks and - if they mess him up - Gleyber Torres: 

Unless they return soon, they'll have to rehab at the major league level. 

The Yankees are playing their greatest baseball of the season. Every player is contributing. But the lineup has maybe two "stars:" Aaron Judge and the emerging MVP, DJ LeMahieu. After that, it's all hungry overachievers. 

And soon, they will disappear. We will see fading veterans, working themselves back into shape.  

And that, my friends, is the looming Correction.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Yankees have a secret formula for finding hitters... but it doesn't work for pitching

Last night - in the middle of a game that was never a game - the Death Star-owned courtiers of YES saluted the team's front office with a graphic of the studly no-names that the team magically picked from the scrap heap. 

Along with the now legendary Mike Tauchman, the list included Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Cameron Maybin and - thinking ahead - Breyvic Valera. When given an opportunity, each took an Uber out of Palookaville to save his endangered MLB career. No matter what happens, each will forever be able to earn Pabst money by sitting in an airport Ramada and signing glossies. This year, they earned pinstripes, forever.

Actually, the house graphic could have included the Orioles best position player this year - Hanser Alberto, who is hitting .316 with 6 HR. Amazingly, the Yankees held him briefly last winter, before jettisoning him in a roster crunch. It's simply worth noting that, back in December, somebody in the Yankee brain pool flagged Alberto's name. They knew... 

Like those radar plans that fly over the Yucatan and spot ancient Mayan cities obscured by the jungle, the Yankees have somehow managed to identify emerging talent that other teams don't see. (I'm betting that Baltimore signed Alberto based on the fact that the Yankees were interested in him.) For that, Brian Cashman's front office truly deserves credit. What a year for waiver pickups.  

Unfortunately, this superpower does not extend to pitching, which may be the front office's downfall. 

If you look at the scrap heap pitchers signed by the Yankees in recent years, there is no equivalent to Tauchman/Urshela/Voit/Maybin. 

First, let's ponder Jonathan Loaisiga - Johnny Lasanga - whom the Yankees picked up three years ago and have constantly touted. He's still only 24 and may yet arrive. Thus far, though, injuries continually crush him, and he is starting to look like one of those little guys who throws too hard for his own good. He's now rehabbing, but recently failed to get out of the first inning in a minor league start. It sure would be nice if he made it. And it sure would be a surprise.

Then there is the 31-year-old lefty, Rex Brothers. He's been mired in Scranton. Doesn't look good. Last spring, there was the comeback attempt of Danny Farquhar, now retired. The Yankees briefly tried 33-year-old Gio Gonzalez, then let him go. Bad idea? Maybe. He's 2-1 with the Brewers, an ERA of 3.68. There was 28-year-old Drew Hutchinson. Nope. 

They did find the journeyman David Hale, and certainly Domingo German has emerged. But last winter, the Yankees did what they've always done for pitching: Sign aging walruses to short deals and trade for a "power arm" who who has injury issues. Both JA Happ and James Paxton have underwhelmed. (Let's not count CC; he's a legacy signing.) 

And there are the ones that got away. Caleb Smith - whom we traded to the Marlins for the now injured Mike King - has become one of Miami's best starters. He is 7-5 with an ERA of 3.35. You could argue that if the Yankees kept Smith and Gonzalez, they'd be better off. But I'm inclined to cut the team some slack. Nobody in baseball can figure out pitching. Look at the Redsocks - with Sale, Price and Porcello - who knew?

My guess: Somewhere with the Yankee tower of darkness, there is an old scout or an analytics dweeb still muttering about the owner's refusal to ante up for Dallas Keuchel. He's the free agent pitcher that miserable Hal Steinbrenner scorned in favor of a few thin dimes. Keuchel has now started 9 games with Atlanta - and in four, including his most recent, he's pitched into the seventh. But when given the chance to improve his team, Food Stamps Hal sat on his bejeweled silken purse. 

If the Yankees, for all their recycling magic, botch the 2019 World Series, all the magic will fade. But know this: It will be Hal, not the front office, who gets a frosty winter full of IT IS HIGH blogger spittle.