Monday, July 13, 2020

Virtual Baseball: Double Trouble—For the Two-Steps! Yanks Sweep Make-Up Twinight Doubleheader in Wild End to First Half!

The virtual New York Yankees finished one of the hottest first halves in franchise history today by sweeping the pesky, Texas Two-Steps this evening, 9-8 and 4-3.

Today's action had just about everything.  The Yankees were planning to start J.A. Happ in one of the two games, but Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker announced that he had named Happ to the AL All-Star team, thereby preventing the Yankees from starting him.

"No, Happ shouldn't really be on the All-Star team," Baker said frankly.  "I just did it to mess up the Yankees.  But I'll be sure to pitch him in the game, hoping he gets messed up real good."

When the Yankees protested these remarks, Commissioner Rob Manfredmann said he would take them under advisement, but warned that it is highly unusual for MLB to punish a team not located in New York.

The Yankees then planned to start Domingo German in place of Happ.  In light of his recent series of car accidents on the way to his starts, German was placed on the No. 4 train to the Stadium, with two of the lesser bastards of the Steinbrenner family.  However, the train stalled in the tunnel between 125th St. and the Grand Concourse for two hours.  German finally forced his way out of his car and tried to make his way through the tunnels to the Stadium, but has not been seen since.  It is greatly feared that he has been eaten by rats.

With two starters down, the Yanks turned to Deivi Garcia, who was slugged early and often, falling behind 6-2 by the third inning.  But as is their wont this season, the Bombers stormed back, behind home runs by Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford, and Miguela Andujar, El Matador.

Completing the "Day of Mikes," Mike King, fully gooped up and back from the E-List, came back to pitch four innings of shutout relief.  The Manhattanhedge sun came out for good in the bottom of the 10th inning when Aaron Judge, still unable to start due to a searing pain in his heal that has baffled team physicians, pinch-hit an opposite field home run to give the Pinstripers the decision.

"It's good to see that he is not using all his power, but hitting to the opposite field," Yanks GM Brian Cashman breathed through his Eagle Protection Headgear.

"How is this possibly a 'twinight' doubleheader?" asked Acting Yankees broadcaster Clyde Frazier between games.  "What kind of word is 'twinight?'  It's not 'twilight.'  It's not 'twinbill'.  What does i even mean?  How does it even exist?"

"Yes, but say it loud, and there's music playing.  Saying it soft, and it's almost like praying," replied an enraptured Suzyn Waldman.

In game two, the Yanks went with rookie Clarke Schmidt, who pitched another outstanding game, striking out 10 and surrendering just two runs in six innings.

Still, the Yanks trailed, 3-2, headed into the bottom of the tenth, when a pale, limping Aaron Judge dragged himself to the plate and delivered another pinch-hit blast, thus becoming the first man in major-league history to hit game-winning, pinch-hit home runs in extra innings, in both games of a (twinight) doubleheader.

"I'm glad to help the team," said Judge, who was openly wincing from the team as he rounded the base.  "But my heel—it feels as if there is a nine-inch nail stuck in there."

Yankees team doctors scheduled further exams at Mount Sinai for Judge tomorrow.  But for now, the Yankees are 66-29, headed into the All-Star break, just two measly games behind the TB Rays.

"Hey, could be worse.  Don't forget about my big announcement tomorrow!" Hal Steinbrenner reminded reporters today, swearing that it would have nothing to do with soccer.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Judging By His Neck....

Aaron Boone said that Aaron Judge simply "felt a few twinges in his neck, and a bit of difficulty rotating his head towards centerfield. "

It happened after he took a "really good cut" at a Chad Green cutter, and missed. Or, it might have happened last night, when he slept awkwardly. 

Our manager expects Judge not to miss any significant time....and said, " if we were playing a game tomorrow, he'd be out there. "

For right field,  the Yanks have numerous back-up choices. 

Manager Boone even mentioned a possible return of Mason Williams, who has been delivering groceries for InstaCart , while playing for their softball team.  

Plague Theater: The Cameron Maybin Appreciation Song

Put to the music of Elon Musk's squeeze.

If you're not reading Horace Clarke's virtual Yankee season, you are missing out

Every day, our blogging partner, who is earnestly chronicling the Yankee season that should have been, makes me laugh out loud. 

Here is what got me today...

Warming up on the wet, slick Stadium field today, though, Aaron "the Oft-Injured" Hicks slipped and pulled a muscle in his thigh.  Yankees trainers assured reporters that it was only a minor pull, and that Hicks would miss at most a day or two.

But Clint Frazier's plantar fasciitis forced his removal from the game, and Aaron Judge reported a strange, burning sensation in his right heel, one that limited him to DHing.  By the ninth inning, Thairo Estrada was playing left field.

"That's all right," Boone reassured reporters after the slushy, seven-hour game.  "We can always call up Estevan Florial again.  Did I ever tell you about his ceiling...?"

Take my advice: Go back and re-read these missives. It's some of the best stuff we've ever printed. 

Aroldis Chapman's Kevlar Super-Jeep didn't protect him from the real danger

Bad news travels at 101 mph. Thus, you've probably heard by now that Aroldis Chapman has tested positive for COVID-19 and disappeared into quarantine. In the meantime, Aaron Boone says Chris Britton will probably serve as the Yankee closer. The Big Wheel will turn. The Death Star will try to shrug this off. 

"A fully operational Death Star..." That's what Brian Cashman called us - a long long time ago, and far far away. It was a joke, and it was funny at the time. Nobody winced. It was a different world - B.C. - Before Corona. We are now entering "A.D." - After Donald. (Or After Dystopia, take your pick. "Death Star" has an unfortunate ring to it. The moral? Be careful how you define yourself, even humorously.

And there's a moral for El Chapo, whose most recent purchase was a huge, six-wheel, Kevlar-lined jeep, designed to crush road blocks and cruise city streets choked with marauders. What it didn't have was disinfectant. All the Kevlar in the world could not protect him. Neither could Andrew Cuomo.

In barely a week, the Yankees have lost to the virus their best position player - DJ LeMahieu - and their most feared closer. This, in a city that seemed to have squelched COVID, at least when compared to the urban hot-spots currently exploding across the south. We don't know what will happen to either player, (or the third, Luis Cessa.) What we do know is that more Yankees inevitably will test positive, and eventually, somebody will pay an incredible price for performing in a made-for-TV season designed to distract us from the overwhelming sadness. 

Ah... but listen to me blathering on, as if I have answers. I got nothing. America needs baseball, as children need schools. But in the absence of answers, here's my question: Until this virus is under control - and it most certainly is not - aren't we just kidding ourselves by sending players out there, so we can pretend all is fine?

We must keep Chapman in our thoughts. He's about to face what could be the fight of his life. Surely, his survival odds are great. He's an elite athlete in peak condition. Surely, he will shrug this off. Then again, nobody knows, do they? Nobody fucking knows... Could the virus compromise some part of him, some anatomical weakness, and keep him from being the pitcher he was? Players return from tweaked hamstrings. From COVID, we are still just learning.

It sure would be nice to watch Yankee games. Four hours of pure escape. But at what price? And who pays it? And when does the distraction become the sorrow itself? We may soon find out, and we might not like the results.

Virtual Baseball: It's a Name Game, as Texas Squeaks Past Yanks. Outfielders Start to Topple.

It was a long day's virtual journey into night, as the Texas Rangers Two-Steps and the Yanks managed to squeeze in a single game amidst the torrents.   And though it was 7/11, all the luck went with the visitors, as they squeaked out a 3-2 victory at the water-logged Stadium today.

Just prior to the contest, Texas announced that it was changing its team nickname from "Rangers" to "Two-Steps," as in recent years the latest scholarly research has determined that the old Texas Rangers were not so much a law enforcement group as a thieving, conniving bunch of hoodlums and shakedown artists, who spent most of their time murdering Indians and other people of color.

This marks the second team this year to change its name from something politically incorrect.  The Cleveland Indians decided previously to revert to the team's old nickname of "Napoleons," although Americans of French descent and pastry chefs everywhere have been lobbying furiously not to be associated with Cleveland.

It was names all the way, though, as not only did the new moniker seem to spur on the Lone Star team, but so did several of its more outlandishly named players.  James Paxton had been breezing along with an early, 2-0 lead, on home runs by Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez, when further downpours delayed the match for more than an hour.

On resuming play, the Big Maple determined that he too overwhelmed by the fantods to continue.  The Two-Steps then stomped all over the toes of Jordan Montgomery.  Catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa Withaporkchop singled in one run, and third baseman Josh Jung drove in another.

Just about the time the sun was finally setting into "Manhattanhedge" around New York, de-thawed Viking warrior Rougned Odor homered off Adam Ottavino, to dance the Two-Steps home.  Pitcher Austen Biben-Dirkx, entering the game after the precipitation hesitation, got the win, though damned if anybody in the press box could write it.

"What do you expect, with names like that?  We never had a chance!" conceded manager Ma Boone.

Meanwhile, the Yankees clubhouse remained in a fugue state today, following the team's decision to release Brett Gardner, and his subsequent signing with the Metsies.  GM Brian Cashman, however, dismissed any notion that Gardy might be needed down the stretch.

"Look, we got the big guy, Judge, back!" scoffed Cashman, or at least so reporters believed he said through his patented, Eagle Protection Headgear.  "Plus the other Aaron, that little weasel Frazier, Tauchman, Miggy, and surely Stanton will be back soon, wherever he is.  You tell me:  where do we fit Gardy?"

Warming up on the wet, slick Stadium field today, though, Aaron "the Oft-Injured" Hicks slipped and pulled a muscle in his thigh.  Yankees trainers assured reporters that it was only a minor pull, and that Hicks would miss at most a day or two.

But Clint Frazier's plantar fasciitis forced his removal from the game, and Aaron Judge reported a strange, burning sensation in his right heel, one that limited him to DHing.  By the ninth inning, Thairo Estrada was playing left field.

"That's all right," Boone reassured reporters after the slushy, seven-hour game.  "We can always call up Estevan Florial again.  Did I ever tell you about his ceiling...?"


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Next Man Up.....

In another foreboding sign for the season:

Chapman has coronavirus and is showing symptoms.

So he won't be in camp for " the " foreseeable future."

Who the fuck can foresee a future?

Who is the next back-up closer?  

Are the Yankees "contact-tracing" Chapman?   (Did he go to Disney on the pre-opening VIP  tour?)

In conclusion:

Sure folks.  There is going to be a full 60 game season.  And play-offs.

How could we imagine otherwise?

Plague Theater: The brothers Boyer on "What's My Line?"

Never forget: Clete was better.

Don Mattingly is trending on Twitter today... thank God it's not a bad thing

Donny Baseball should always be trending, am I right?

As ReOpening Day nears, the season looks farther and farther away...

Today, across the Yankiverse, you can read about the Yankee pitching glut, the battle between Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada, or Clint Frazier's path to the roster. In fact, I urge you to it, to enjoy a half-hour of uninterrupted escape.

One problem, though: Your ears will itch, from burying your head so deeply in the sand. 

It's becoming obvious that Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami and Tampa are in no position to launch a baseball season in their virus-stricken cities. Several states, with ice cream/morgue trucks now idling outside of overwhelmed hospitals, are on the verge of reordering full-scale lock-downs. At the same time, second waves are on the verge of hitting Chicago, LA, Detroit, Philadelphia - everywhere there are people - and, yes, they will crash into New York, too. 

It's sad to say, but America rolled over. We have no national strategy, no national leadership, no national discipline or willingness to follow scientific advice - (dear God, when did we reach the center ring of Hell where a President is actually BRAGGING that he passed a cognitive test?) - and soon, I fear we will have no baseball.

Today's national case-count has hit 68,000, according to the Times. Not long ago, it was half that number. College football is teetering toward a lost year. Start players - Buster Posey the latest - are puling out. Infections are starting to hit pro football camps. Even the NBA, with tiny rosters and a tournament setting, is facing a tough slog.  

In a way, it's heroic to see our Yankees go about their business, talking up the new season, as if it's really here. And yes, it soothes my soul to sit here and conjure up a half-hour of discourse on whether Mean Chad Green should start or relieve. It's a half-hour when I don't have to think about death and dying, and I love all the Yankee blogs and sites who continue to offer us shelter from reality. 

But today, I cannot fool myself.  

At the way things are going, there can be no baseball season in 2020. I love that we are trying. I love that we are striving. But the pandemic is out of control. And today, that is the only sports story in America.

Virtual Rainout! But Something's Always Cooking in Gotham! Gardy Goes Metsie! Bezos Takes the Reins!

The virtual Yankees took a well-earned day of rest before what will now be a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers tomorrow.

But that doesn't mean that baseball wasn't dominating the headlines in America's most exciting city!

Brett Gardner, kicked to the curb by the Yankees yesterday, amazed the baseball world by signing a new, two-year contract with the New York Mets.  It was believed to be for either $1 million or $1 billion a year.

Asked for clarification,  the new Mets owner, Jeff Bezos, replied "Whatever."

According to team sources, Bezos had made another $2 billion over lunch.

In other sports news, the New York State legislature met in special session today, and immediately revoked the statutes forbidding a private enterprise from buying up public park land.  When a State Supreme Court judge issued an emergency injunction suspending the new law, on the grounds that the prohibition was written in the state constitution, Gov. Andrew Cuomo promptly suspended the constitution, and declared martial law.

"Just call me, 'Amazon Cuomo,' " the governor announced.

Polled on the imposition of martial law and the suspension of all civil liberties, 33 percent of New Yorkers were opposed, 25 percent favored the measure, 17 percent replied that they did not have enough information, 13 percent did not know what the term 'martial law' meant, 7 percent replied, 'Whatever,' and the remaining 5 percent were not aware that they were living in New York State.

Meanwhile, special Amazon work crews were already hard at work building a new helicopter pad for Chairman Bezos, behind the giant apple-in-a-hat in centerfield.

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner announced that he, too, would soon issue an important statement regarding the Yankees' future plan.  When a reporter asked, "It's not about soccer, is it?  Because that's not important," Steinbrenner blushed brightly and replied, "No comment."

Friday, July 10, 2020

Plague Theater: Field of Dreams has nothing on this Flying A commercial

Bobby, Roy, Jake... can you name them all?

The second-base problem, if DJ is sick

Make no mistake: DJ LeMahieu was the 2019 Yankee MVP. Hands down. (Which reminds me: wash your hands.) He played - as the Beatles sang - here, there, and everywhere. Led the team in hitting. His insanely clutch HR saved us in the playoffs, until cheater Jose "Bang the Drum Slowly" Altuve came up. (Insert boos.) LeMahieu is so crucial to the 2020 Yankees that the lineup without him reduces us from favorites to contenders. 

And that's where we are: Picturing the lineup without him. 

He's been in COVID quarantine for a week. (News reports of his positive test surfaced July 5.) He'll pace his hotel room for at least seven more days, until the virus passes and he tests negative. If he's lucky - that is, no lingering complications - he would have six days to prep for the July 23 reopener. I cannot see him playing in that game. Too many uncertainties.

So, let's picture the Yankee lineup without him.

Hicks CF
Judge RF
Gleyber SS
Stanton DH

Sanchez C
Urshela 3B
Voit 1B

Gardy LF 
Your Name Here 2B

This leaves Miguel Andujar on the bench, which I find troubling. Over the season, he might platoon with Gardy, but not on opening day. (Also, he better learn to catch pop flies, which he didn't do last night.) Also, Mike Ford might replace Voit, considering that Max Scherzer, a righty, will almost surely pitch for Washington.)

The candidates for 2B? 

Tyler Wade, 25, lefty. The fave? Possible LH platoon. Should make the team anyway, as utility man and pinch runner. We've been waiting on Wade for three years. Late bloomer? He always hit at Scranton. Now or never.

Thairo Estrada, 24, righty. Played well last season when called up. A SS by trade. If Wade flops, he should get a shot. Maybe RH platoon?

Matt Duffy, 29, righty. We signed him last week, a strange pick-up at the time (did Cashman know about DJ?). He hit well in his first MLB seasons, then apparently couldn't adjust to pitchers writing a book on him. There's a Scott Brosius vibe to this guy. Sometimes, a hitter has to fall apart before he learns to adjust. I wonder...

Rosell Hererra, 27, switch. He was the talk of camp, long long ago and far far away. Plays everywhere. He seemed to have won a slot on the roster. He's big - 6'3" - with power. This year's Urshela? (As if one comes every season.) Actually, the guy he reminds me of is Hanser Alberto, a utility infielder that Baltimore signed in the winter of 2019, after the Yankees originally picked him off the scrap heap. Alberto hit .305 last year and was probably the O's best player. Somehow - and let's give him his due - Cashman has a knack for finding these guys. Hererra and Duffy might just turn out to be huge pick-ups. 

Kyle Holder, 26, righty. I may be the last fan blogger in the Yankiverse still wishing on this guy, a former high draft pick, whose been lost in the system for four years. His glove (at SS) has always drawn raves, but they say he can't hit. His minor league numbers suggest that he is smart enough to put the ball into play, rather than swing away. I just think there's something there, the kind of plug-in role player that could really help a team. Right now, the only way we'll see Holder is in a virus breakout. Which means we better hold onto Holder.

Which reminds me: All this thought, all this writing upstairs... I still think it's a waste of time. There will be no season. But damn, it just gave me 30 minutes of corona-free thought - no dying, no tests, no stupid fights. It reminds me of the need for baseball. Life is not the same without the boys of summer. Cross your fingers. (After washing them.)

Virtual Off-Day—But Is There Ever Really an Off-Day in Fun City? Gardy Gone, Bezos In, Hal to Speak!

The virtual baseball world was roiled again today, as the Virtual Yankees made it official, and released injured outfielder Brett Gardner, the longest serving Yankee on the planet.

The hyperactive, super-twitchy, commonly injured Gardy, who will turn 36 next month, had his finest power season in 2019, but has been slumping badly this season.  Aaron's Judge's stunning, game-winning homer last night seemed to clinch the decision to let Brett get.

"He will be missed," general manager Brian Cashman breathed through his special, Predator Protection Helmet, devised exclusively for him after an alarming, Eagle-Lizard Misrecognition Accident earlier this season.  "Gardy is my man.  But look at how stacked we are in the outfield! Clint Frazier, Tauchman, Judge, Stanton, Hicks—what, are we supposed to think all these guys are going to get hurt?"

In keeping with his tradition of never trying to get young prospects for aging players, Cashman had the Yanks simply hand Gardner his release after he cleared waivers.  Now the question is who—if anyone—is willing to take on the doughty spark plug.

Meanwhile, the sporting press scrambled all over the city today, trying desperately to keep up with everything that's going on.  The tabloids were reporting that the Jeff Bezos purchase of the Mets is indeed taking place, now that Amazon has agreed to pony up another $1 billion so that Fredo Wilpon, the son of Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon will, according to a news release, "always be taken care of."

Mets fans were all a-twitter about just what changes are likely to take place.  Bezos' office has made no comment on any of the rumors flying left and right now, save to deny that the team will be renamed the "Warehouse Drones," or "Proles."

Trying to join the city's three-ring circus of stunning baseball news, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner announced that he, too, would announce that he has a major announcement to make, over the All-Star break.

"I think it will please and delight Yankees fans everywhere, just as long, glittery red ladies boots please and delight me," Steinbrenner told the fans, with a large and rather repulsive wink.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Plague Theater: Let us hail the renowned epidemiologist Joe West

In case you didn't know, he claims COVID-19 is a hoax.

Of course he does!

With Clint Frazier's bad hoof, Yankee injury-free streak ends at four days

Well, so much for 2020 being the debutante breakout year for Clint Frazier. Old Red Thunder - (he's now 26) - has "a little plantar fascitis," according to the Death Star Zoom Network. 

Trouble is, in a 60-game season, there is no such thing as "a little plantar fascitis," or a little of anything. (By the way, along with fascists, could Antifa fight fascitis?) A bad plate of clams can put a guy out for half the year. Plus, there are those 14-day virus quarantines, which can pop-up at any time. In an 10-week season, two-weeks down is a disaster. 

Capping Red Thunder's latest setback is the Yankee outfield traffic jam, at least until the next avalanche of injuries. If it's true that Miguel Andujar is leaving 3B - (a mistake, in my opinion, but I understand it) - that leaves the following players competing for five slots.

Aaron Hicks
Aaron Judge

Giancarlo Stanton
Brett Gardner
Clint Frazier
Miguel Andujar
Mike Tauchman
Zach Granite
Thomas Milone 

Tyler Wade
Rosell Herrera

Before you dismiss Granite and Milone, both are great fielders, perhaps the best CF gloves on the roster. From a strategic standpoint, one of them probably makes this team. Likewise, Wade and Herrera can play anywhere and thus present enormous value. And the team is packed at DH, too: Luke Voit, Mike Ford, Gary Sanchez and - gulp, if he's compromised by COVID - DJ LeMahieu. 

Even with the 26-man roster, the OF looks crowded, too crowded, until injuries start culling the herd. We are now two weeks away from Reopening Day, and nobody knows WTF? Yesterday, Boston's best starter, Eduardo Rodriguez, tested positive. And can you imagine running safe camps in Miami, Houston or Phoenix, with the virus spiking? 

I'll believe in the 2020 season when two weeks are in the books. Until then, we're just zooming a mirage. Then again, maybe that's all Red Thunder ever was, an illusion in the desert. (Still pulling for the guy, though. Rest the footsies, Red. This is getting stale.) 

Virtual Baseball: Court Is In Session! Judge Belts One for the Ages! Also, Satan Appears.

In a virtual barnburner at Yankee Stadium tonight, the Virtual Pinstripers swept the Mets in their first series of the year, thanks to an Aaron Judge, pinch-hit home run of Mantlian proportions—a homeric blast in the bottom of the 10th inning that smashed the Armitron clock atop the scoreboard in left field, giving the Yanks a 7-6 victory.

The game had been full of what used to be called "ding-dong" action before that—including a frightening batted ball by Robinson Cano that struck Yanks starter Masahirto Tanaka flush in the temple.  Cano, who had spent the previous evening getting on everyone's last nerve, was immediately swarmed by the young, doll-like women from Tanaka's favorite idol group, Momoiro Clover Z, along with their 75 back-up singers and dancers.

"It was like, like being attacked by dozens of beautiful butterflies," a dazed Jogginson said afterwards.

By the time security was able to restore order, Tanaka could walk off the field under his own power.  He is expected to miss at least one start, but otherwise seems to have avoided any more serious injury.

Even before the line drive, though, the pitcher had looked wobbly, giving up two long home runs to Polar Bear Alonso, and trailing 5-2 in the top of the fifth inning.  The Yanks were able to cut that lead to 5-4 against Long Island's own Marcus Stroman in the eighth, thanks to a two-run shot by Miguel Andujar—only to see a Dominic Smith blast off reliever Chad Green give the Metsies a 6-4 cushion headed into the bottom of the ninth.

Once again, the Bombers rallied, this time on a solo shot by Mike Tauchman, and a run-scoring single by The Ubiquitous LeMaheu.  This time, though, Zach(k) Britton surrendered a another long home run to Wilson Ramos in the tenth.

On to the bottom of the tenth, with Mike Ford on first thanks to a walk and two outs.  Manager Ma Boone—who had intended to rest Judge for the night after his return, "golden sombrero" outing yesterday—instead sent the big, bleeding man in to hit for catcher Kyle Higashioka.  It was a hunch that paid off, as Judge missed the first two offerings from reliever Edwin Diaz, then wasted a waste pitch that was a little too wasted, smashing the Armitron clock for a game-winning, two run blast.

The destruction of the clock face revealed the presence of two small children, approximately five years of age, who were being used to move the clock hands forward.

"Wow, how'd they get there?" wondered Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner.

The New York State attorney general's office announced that it is looking into whether or not to charge the Yankees with child labor law violations.

One other note of concern for Yankee fans was that Judge continued to bleed openly from his rib cage and through his uniform as he rounded the bases to a wild, standing ovation.  Afterwards, the Yanks crack medical team said they were still baffled by this development, and admitted that, "We had the last x-rays upside down."

Judge said that he was icing the suppurating wound, and should be ready to go for the Yanks next game on Saturday.

Also, rumors that the Mets are about to be sold to Jeff Bezos and Amazon continued to swirl, thanks to Bezos' dramatic, helicopter entrance tonight.  Bezos' chopper put down in Macombs Dam Park, scattering the loose leaves and playing children there, after which the Amazon potentate and his entourage made their way over to Pangolin House, the new restaurant installed in the black hole of the Stadium's centerfield.

Bezos had bought out the entire restaurant, which features innovative, forest-to-table cuisine from the Chinese interior, for his private party, which included Mets owners Fred and Fredo Wilpon.  Reportedly, the deal has stalled on the Wilpons' insistence that Fredo remain in charge of the team until it wins the World Series.

According to inside sources, Mr. Bezos responded by laughing darkly.


Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Frank Robinson steals a game.

Holy crap: Aroldis Chapman looks like a stick figure

Three photos of Aroldis Chapman have ruled his 100 days of quarantine. 

In May, we saw his "Hulk Smash" shot - cartoonish arms swollen from curls - while playing, what?, looks like the home version of Hollywood Squares. Yeesh. Look at those shoulders. Would he even fit in a Yankee jersey?

In June, we met the Chapmobile - his $150,000, custom-made, six-wheel, Kevlar-lined super jeep. WTF? Does he expect to be attacked by street gangs? Will he be off-roading in NYC? This begged the question: Does he ever expect to find parking? 

And now this, a shot of his newly svelte, vegan-no carbs Justin Timberlake, thin-again, beach boy pin-up. According to the Internet, he's lost 10 pounds, down to 208.

Look: No judgement here. Yes, we're jealous. We could all have used the quarantine to dump 10 pounds. Some of us - well - chose other avenues of weight fluctuation. 

Obviously, Aroldis has worked hard. Kudos on that. The first thing that Cooperstown Cashman did last winter - yeesh, it seems like 10 years ago - was to sign Chapman to a contract extension. Looks like he plans to give his all.

But pardon me if I worry.

A few years back, you may remember that CC Sabathia came to camp looking like Ann Coulter with a tummy tuck. It was a noble experiment - with CC hoping less body weight would mean less strain on his knees. It didn't work. Somewhere in the Jenny Craig transformation, the new CC Mini-Me lost a few MPH on his fastball, and he eventually returned to whale status. Pitching requires a strange mating dance between health and power. Until Chapman starts pitching, we should wonder whether this new guy - he looks like Aroldis - will be the same deal. 

I worry about why Chapman thinks he needs an armored car. Does he plan on blowing a few saves? 

Virtual Baseball: Aces High! Yanks, Cole Edge Mets, deGrom, 1-0! Judge Is Back! Cano Exasperates Everyone!

The Virtual Yankees opened their annual showdown with that Queens Team tonight, and the result was a throwback to baseball, deadball style.  Gerrit "King" Cole managed to edge Jacob "The Flying Dutchman" deGrom, 1-0, much to the delight of the full house in the Bronx.

Both pitchers threw complete games tonight, the first time that both starters accomplished that feat i the same game since Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal did it in 1969.

Both hurlers were at the top of their form.  Cole struck out 14 Mets, and gave up only 1 walk and 3 hits, while deGrom struck out 11 Yankees, walked no one, and surrendered only 2 hits.

But in the end, the win went to the Yanks, thanks mostly to their erstwhile second baseman.  Jogginson Cano might have driven in the go-ahead run today, in the top of the ninth, when with two outs and the Mets' Dominic Smith on third base, Cano hit a routine chopper toward Luke Voit at first base.

Cano, exasperated that he had failed to get a hit, started down the first base line at his usual, tectonic clip—only to see the ball go right through Voit's legs.  With Smith pounding down the baseline to home, disaster was averted for the Yankees only by the quick thinking of D.J. LeMahieu, who was backing up Voit.  LeMahieu alertly scooped up the ball and beat the lethargic Metropolitan to the bag.

The Stadium was still resounding with all the usual, joyful baseball noises of despair, fury, and mocking laughter, when with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Aaron Hicks lashed a ball into the power alley in right-center.

The hit managed to split Mets outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Jeff MacNeil, rolling all the way to the wall, while Hicks dashed around the bases.  Ignoring the stop sign from his third-base coach, the Oft-Injured Hicks looked to be dead to rights at home, until Cano's relay throw sailed high over the catcher's head.

Hicks seemed miraculously unscathed by his 360-foot run, though deGrom did have to be sedated and carried off the field.

The game marked a return to the Bronx for some of the city's most beloved ballplayers over the past few years, including Yoenis Cespedes and Pete "Polar Bear" Alonso of the Mets, and Aaron Judge, who started in right field.  Judge was seen to be spitting up blood from time to time on the bench, but insisted that he could have played a doubleheader if necessary.

The big names produced little.  Judge was called out on strikes four straight times, in keeping with the Yankees' hitting approach that challenges players to "dare to strike out," while Cespedes also wore the "golden sombrero," in keeping with the Mets' approach that challenges players to "dare to be a jack ass."

Thanks to the fact that there were no pitching changes, only seven baserunners, and just one run scored, the game breezed by in a mere three hours and forty minutes.  Many fans could be heard complaining after the game, as to what they were to do with the rest of their evening.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Plague Theater: The Yankees play the Yankees... tonight

The YES Network will broadcast the scrimmage, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Fans can watch the event with Hulu.

Plague Theater: You won't like him when he's angry

CC Sabathia, the Yankee enforcer.

“We’re trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that’s killed 130,000 people. We’re way worse off as a country than we were in March when we shut this thing down... We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done... Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. And we’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve.”

The words of Nats reliever Sean Doolittle resonate, as MLB stumbles over testing players.  

Several camps have temporarily closed, and more veteran players are opting out of the shortened season. Texas slugger Joey Gallo is latest to be sick with the virus.

The Yankees played an intra-squad game in their deserted stadium. It was on TV. Thairo Estrada homered. JA Happ and Clarke Schmidt pitched.

MLB released its schedules: The Yankees will play the Redsocks 10 times, seven in NYC and three in Boston. Bizarre, eh?

And here's a capper: For decades, those "Cinderella" Redsocks protected a racist sexual predator. 

Virtual Off-Day: The Mets Loom. Here Come the Judge? And How About Gardy??? And, oh yeah, that Amazon Guy is Back.

The Yankees will start the season's virtual subway series tomorrow, hosting the Virtual New York Mets—and rarely have so many question marks hovered over both teams during this annual summer extravaganza.

While the location and condition of Giancarlo Stanton remains mysterious, rumors are flying that the Yanks' erstwhile superhero, Aaron Judge, has recovered from his latest lingering injury, and will be activated in time for tomorrow night's game.

For the Pinstripers, this raises the question of what to do with their aged, hobbled hero, Brett Gardner.  With Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, and Aaron Hicks already playing well in the outfield, the return of Judge would seem to leave Gardy with no place to go—even if Stanton does not return.

Meanwhile, even more confounding stories are now chasing the Queens Team like the proverbial hound of the Baskervilles.

Reliable sources close to the Mets' organization are insisting that the team is about to be dealt at last—and that the buyer will be Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.  The main interest for Bezos is not, of course the ever-underachieving ball club, currently mired in fourth place, 15 games behind the division-leading Gnats, but the Willets Point development that has stalled under the direction of Fred and Fredo Wilpon.

Just how this would work is unclear—especially since Bezos is said to be interested in renaming the team, the "Amazonians," and adding the company's famous curved penis to the team's uniforms.

Asked how he would feel about sacrificing so many of the traditions of the team he has owned for so long, the senior Wilpon replied, "Yeah, but they would give us money.  Lots and lots of money.  So it's okay."

A further problem may lie in the fact that Willets Point is actually public land, and cannot be sold or given away without an act of the New York State legislature.  But Wilpon pooh-poohed these concerns as well.

"Maybe you didn't hear me.  Bezos will give them all money:  the judges, the legislature.  He has all the money in the world.  An estimated $166 billion, right now.  Do the math.  He gives us $2 bill for the Mets and Willets, gives each member of the legislature, say, $10 mill, maybe another $70 mill in all to the governor and the top judges, and what's he down to?  About $162 billion.  A billion for every game.  Get it now?  Fuck, you guys are slow!"

A spokesman for Mr. Bezos had no comments, except to confirm that his boss does indeed have all the money in the world.


Monday, July 6, 2020

This is absurd, already

Nick Markakis won't be playing for the Braves, adding to the list.

Really, guys, come on. Shut it down. This is ridiculous.

Plague Theater: Oscar rocks the House

Humble Howard: "Reggie lit the fuse, and Oscar Gamble follows suit."

Will a 60-man "taxi squad" be enough for the china doll Yankees? And could they be compelled to trade prospects for a pennant surge?

This week, James Paxton threw off a mound, and Aaron Hicks did jumping jacks in center field. In the future ledger books, nobody will suspect they were injured for the first half of 2020. They have impeccable COVID timing. 

Yet the question still hovers over each: Can he ever stay healthy?

Each is a walking tweak. Bad backs, suspect shoulders, core muscles - you name it. Their gonads need bubble wrap.

Same with Giancarlo Stanton, who also was ready to miss the spring. And Aaron Judge, still nursing a bum rib. Then there is Jonathan Loaisiga - the revolving door of shoulder woes - and Jonathan Holder, Jordan Montgomery, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Gary Sanchez and the cast of America's Got Talent. In a 60 game season, each is a bug on the windshield. One tweak, and they go home.

Coupled with COVID, which already has claimed last year's iron man, DJ Lemahieu, and the mysterious Luis Cessa, the Death Star might need to annex the Trenton Thunder by mid-September. Will the MLB's current 60-man roster be enough? It's easy to foresee Cooperstown Cashman digging into the MLB scrap piles for game-ready talent. Or worse, trading Yankee prospects for an adrenal rush in a pennant race that - in the eyes of many fans - simply will not matter. 

Paxton and Hicks may fool the future historians. (And this is not meant to blame them; injuries are a part of the game.) But 2020 will be a season far different than anything in history. Will it even qualify as a true world series? Let's hope the team doesn't have to trade future victories for a season that should not have been played.

Virtual Baseball: German Fails to Make It to Rogers, Yanks Fall.

Domingo German, the erstwhile Yankees virtual phenom who was scheduled to finally make his first start of the season today, instead caused an 88-car crash in Toronto.  Jordan Montgomery, rushed in to pitch in German's stead, was battered by the Blue Jays, as the Yanks lost, 9-4, and dropped their first virtual series since virtual May.

German was thought to be safe and secure on his way to the Rogesr Cetnre today, as he had borrowed Aroldis Chapman's new, Kevlar-lined, $150,000 armored combat Jeep.  But he inexplicably set off for the ballpark on the left side of the road, and ended up ploughing through vehicle after vehicle that had the misfortune to actually be obeying the traffic rules.

"I thought, you know, Canada is a British colony, right?  So, you must drive on the left," German explained afterwards through a translator.

Manager Ma Boone was soon heard furiously lecturing the delinquent hurler on the fine points of the 1864 Quebec and Charlottetown conferences, the 1867 British North America Act,  the 1931 Statute of Westminster, and the 1982 Canada Act.  Afterwards, the young pitcher only seemed more confused.

"Wait, so Newfoundland didn't join the Canadian Confederation until 1949?  What was that about?  And now it's Newfoundland and Labrador?" German asked through his openly exasperated translator.

Later, clubhouse cut-up Luke Voit admitted that it was he who had misinformed Domingo about Canada's colonial status, "just to see what fun would result."

The hastily prepared Monty was ripped apart by those twin killers of Toronto, Bo B. and Vladdy G., who each hit two home runs this time out.  They more than negated solo shots by the repentant Voit, and Kyle Higashioka.

The loss dropped the Yanks to 62-28 on the virtual season, still three games behind the TB Rays, who are still hanging tough in first.

On a brighter note, the Royal Canadian Mounties announced that German's battle Jeep had caused an 88-car pile-up, breaking by one vehicle the previous Canadian record for largest ever multiple-car crash.  (The record does not count the infamous, 103-donkey cart collision set on a foggy day in Labrador in 1946, when the province was still independent of Canada.  But not of Great Britain.)

Thankfully, no individuals were seriously hurt by the Kevlar Konqueror, although German also totaled 23 mailboxes, 10 fire hydrants, 3 empty baby carriages, 15 vegetable carts, and 10 plates of sheet glass being carefully carried by workers in overalls through intersections, who then squeezed their formless little hats in their fists, hurled them to the street, and shook their fists after the retreating Kevlorian.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Plague Theater: Yankees and Redsocks fight... and the Spaceman pays the price

"Things have really gotten out of hand."

Yankee streak of days without workplace injuries ends at 115

Giancarlo liner topples Masahiro.

DJ and Cessa test positive.

The Yankee season has begun. Already in jeopardy: Third starter and best hitter/secondbaseman. 

Run for the hills.

Virtual Baseball: The Master Speaks! Yanks Rally, Top Jays.

A sudden, temporary emergence from his medically induced coma enabled beloved Yankees broadcaster John Sterling to deliver a strange stream-of-consciousness monologue, drawing on language from both real and fictional characters that had neurologists scrambling for some clue to his mental condition.

Whatever it was, his words, recorded and hurriedly transmitted to the Yankees clubhouse in Toronto were pored over by Ma Boone and his staff, and by starting pitcher J.A. Happ, who at the moment was trailing the Blue Jays by 3-1, after four innings of play.

The message from the jocular, oddly coiffed Yankee spieler—delivered on his 82nd birthday—seemed to inspire the Bombers' play all around.  Happ pitched his second complete game victory of the season, striking out 10 batters in all and not allowing another run.

Meanwhile, home runs by D.J. LeMahieu, Clint Frazier, and Aaron Hicks spurred a stirring comeback that gave the American side a 9-3 victory on the Fourth of July.

But the big story on the day was the sudden awakening of Sterling at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale, which for 100 years has helped residents live the fullest lives they can.  Sterling abruptly announced, "It is high, it is far, and I really need to pee," before opening his eyes for the first time in weeks.

The Master, who was placed in a medically induced coma to deal with a rare, life-threatening, spatial judgement malady, never regained full consciousness according to doctors, only achieving the rough equivalent of Travis "Pronk" Hafner's level of cognition during an average major-league game.

But Sterling did manage to reel off an odd collection of seemingly unrelated sentiments, beginning with "Warn the Duke!" and continuing on to "Mother is the best bet and don't let Satan draw you too fast...And you were there and you were there and you were there...Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth...Here's looking at you, kid...The horror.  The horror...Tutti fruitti, good booty...And I will always love you...The best lack all conviction.  But nothing's lacking at the Hebrew Home for the Aged, in Riverdale...Steinbrenner sucks!...It is high, it is far—oh my God, it's coming this way!" before concluding with:  "Rosebud."

Sterling relapsed into his coma before anyone could ask him about what he was saying or how he felt.   Suzyn Waldman and temporary replacement legend Walt "Clyde Frazier rushed to the phone on hearing that Sterling was talking, but could make no more sense out of his words than the doctors could.

"We found them bracing," was all Ma Boone would say after the game.  "Just the fact that he was talking—" J.A. Happ started to say, before bursting into tears.

"Wait, what did he say about me?" asked Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

You Really Think There Will Be A Season.....?

Starting a "Sick Bay " Roster for Covid - 19

Today's Entries:

Room 1.  D J LeMahieu

Room 2..  Luis Cessa

Room 3.  TBA

Today is John's 82nd birthday

I wonder if Suzyn is wearing her vest.

Plague Theater: Chris Chambliss... need I say more?

With Humble Howard calling it!

Are COVID masks a threat to the Yankee facial hair ban?

What if certain Yankee players, in conjunction with foreign powers, use face masks to hide secret beards, in violation of Hal's ban on hairiness?

Could we end up with a team of hippies?

What's going on under those masks? And why is America being told by our medical overlords that we must wear them everywhere... when we cannot even know for sure if our Yankees are clean-shaven!

Wake up, Yankiverse, or feel the rising stubble that threatens our heritage.

Virtual Baseball: Sons of Giants Chop Down Big Maple, As Yanks Fall.

The Virtual Toronto Blue Jays had the Yankees crying "Timber!" tonight in the Rogers Cetnre, as monster smashes by Bo Bichette and Vlad the Lad, Jr., brought the visitors from the south down, 6-4.

The Yanks got out to a quick lead on home runs by D.J.  LeMahieu and The Gleyber.  But the son of Bo, son of Vlad, sons of bankers, sons of lawyers, turned James Paxton around and made him say good night!  The three-run megillas off the bats of both emerging superstars were all the birds of a different plumage than the Yanks have become accustomed to, needed.

"Suzyn, something tells me we're not in Baltimore anymore," Clyde Frazier japed from the press box as the first of the rocket blasts took flight.

All sports news took a back page to the mass rally President Donald Trump's re-election campaign held at Mount Rushmore tonight, though.  Attendance even exceeded the 2 million President Trump had predicted, with red vans and RVs jamming the highways down to Oklahoma and Denver, Colorado.

In a tragic mishap, thousands of Mr. Trump's most enthusiastic adherents caused the noses of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington they had massed on to collapse, plunging them, granite noses and all, several hundred feet.  President Trump announced that repair work on the gigantic edifices would begin immediately.

With the Dow now above 50,000 and unemployment all but nonexistent, another four years for the president seems all but assured, especially since Democrats are becoming increasingly agitated about the prospect of nominating frontrunner Amy Klobuchar, a.k.a.,"The Minnesota Mesmerizer."

Friday, July 3, 2020

A Correction?

You tell me:

So, in looking up Branch Rickey, I found him listed, sure enough, as holding the AL record for allowing the most consecutive stolen bases in one game as a catcher—13—which happened in a 1907 contest against Washington, while our Branch was a receiver for the Highlanders/Yankees.

The game was a June 28th loss to the 18-37 Senators, 16-5, in New York's awful, Hilltop Park.  Rickey, whose arm was a wreck, did indeed give up 13 stolen bases.

But here's where it starts to get weird:

Three days later, in a doubleheader at Hilltop, the Senators and Yankees are playing again, and for some reason, New York's starting catcher, Red Kleinow, leaves the game after just one at-bat.  Who comes in for him?  Why, one Branch Rickey, of course.

This time, Rickey (or maybe Kleinow) gives up only 3 stolen bases, in a game in which the Yanks fall behind, 13-6, but rally to win, 16-15, with a four-run, ninth-inning rally.

In this one game, by the by, the two teams also had a combined 38 hits, 5 walks, and 8 errors.  Time of the game?  Two hours and forty minutes.

In a game in which the Senators may have had as many as 27 baserunners, in an age when all teams ran like crazy, why would they only try to steal 3 times, against a guy they had run wild on just three days earlier?

Even weirder, while Rickey's pct. of catching baserunners was 23%—well below the league average of 44%—that first Washington game seems to have been far and away his worst game of the year.  Rickey played in 52 games as the back-up catcher, and gave up 23 stolen bases, as opposed to catching 7 men trying to steal.

In other words, take away that one, horrible Washington game, and he threw out 7 of 17 runners.  Not bad—but again, how was it that nobody was running more on this dead-armed catcher?

Another curio for you:

One source I saw said that the post-1900 record for stolen bases in a game by one team is NOT 13, but 15, which was set by the Yankees/Highlanders at Hilltop Park, on Sept. 28, 1911, against the St. Louis Browns.

Now, the Browns played two catchers that day, Jim Stephens and Jay Clarke, so maybe neither one gave up as many as 13 SBs.  And both of them were usually pretty good at catching baserunners, so maybe the fault lay with the 3 Browns pitchers.

But it's true, the Yankees did steal 15 bases that day, without getting caught once.  Hal Chase and Birdie Cree had 4 apiece, while Cozy Dolan and Bert Daniels each swiped 3.

New York won that day, 18-12, in a game that also featured 24 hits, 12 errors, 20 walks, and 1 hit batsman.  There was not a DP turned all day.

So, in a game where 30 runs scored and there were maybe as many as 57 baserunners, what was the total time of play?

Two hours, fifteen minutes.

Hmm, think the game is getting too slow?

Plague Theater: Mickey throws out Garvey

O, the days before video reviews!

For Those Of You.....

....who remain optimistic about a 60 game season and playoffs....leading to a 2020 Covid World Championship ....I shall say only this:

Mexico has cancelled baseball for this season. Kaput.  Gone.  Adios.  Nada. 

I coached/played/managed/scouted in the South Mexican Dirt Field League for years, and we never didn't play.  Even when high on Mesclin and Tequila.  

We played when we couldn't stand up, or see straight. 

In Mexico, baseball is taken seriously.  And it has vanished for 2020.  

By fiat. Due to the threat and spread of Covid-19.

Today in Mexico:  You play...they shoot you.  It saves on hospital bills. 

So, I wish MLB in America nothing but the best. 

 Judging by how the good ole USA has handled the virus...and are still handling it this fine July 4th ain't never going to happen.  Setting records for hospitalizations, new cases, and ICU occupancy is not a positive indicator ( unless, of course, the increased patient load, use of ventilators, and rising death numbers are solely due to more testing.. in which case, if we stop testing , everyone can leave the hospital.  I am going to ask the White House Press Secretary for confirmation on this ). 

The best idea I have heard , so far, to "encourage" national compliance with masking ( our only valid method of curtailing viral spread ) ....are school teachers saying;  " if you want school to open in this town, we won't be there to teach unless the community has gone two weeks without a new case of Covid." 

Maybe the baseball union should say the same thing.  

For now, anyway, Northeastern baseball teams have the advantage. But there is a lot of football left to play.

This weekend, time restarts. 

The baseball world reopens. 

For America, for us, a small sense of normalcy - the boys of summer - will return. 

For now, anyway. 

But in this current crisis, it's hard to imagine teams reopening camps safely in Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and other exploding COVID hot spots. The Yankees and Mets - along with other northeastern teams - face no overwhelming wave of infections... for now, anyway.

Yesterday, Hal Steinbrenner said he expects fans in the seats this year at Yankee games. That would be nice, a wonderful goal for which to strive. 

But here we are, three months in, and this thing is still beginning. Since the pandemic arrived, every day feels like a week, and the weeks feel like months. There is, as they say on Sundays, "a lot of football yet to play." We yearn for that first night with a Yankee game on YES, or John and Suzyn bantering in the car - that first incredible moment that vaults us back to a time that - frankly -  we might not in our lives revisit.

On this July 4th weekend, when the nation seems to be on fire, I say we lace our hands together - (after washing them) - and vow to never again take for granted the wonder of a pennant race, the jubilation of a victory, the splendor of a great play. They say only pitchers can throw a perfect game. That's not true. Every game is perfect. Let's never again forget this.

Stay safe this weekend. Have I mentioned lately that we are all in this together? Huh. Once again, I buried the lede. 

This is what a genius does in times of trouble.

The gent featured here in living, added color is a young, raggedy armed catcher during his one season as a New York Highlander.  After batting .182 on the season and allowing 13 consecutive stolen bases in a single game—still a major-league record—young Branch Rickey would depart these environs for the next 36 years.

When he returned, he was already a widely acclaimed genius, whose farm-fed St Louis Cardinals had been the only team anywhere on the planet able to consistently stand up to the Yankees for the previous two decades.  Brooklyn's dysfunctional ownership allowed him to buy a quarter of the Dodgers, knowing his reputation as a notorious skinflint, and thinking he would keep expenses down during the drowsy war years.

Sure enough, "El Cheapo," as the knights of the press box quickly labeled him, peddled off some of the Dodgers' older and more expensive talent.

But he also did this:  Rickey expanded the Dodgers' recruiting budget, setting up tryout camps all over the country, even as the rest of baseball was laying off most scouts and going into hibernation.

"They figured there wasn't any sense in signing players who would soon be drafted," Rickey aide Fresco Thompson remembered.  "Mr. Rickey said, 'We'll gamble.  We'll sign every young player we can get our hands on.'"

Or as Rickey himself told scout Clyde Sukeforth, "If we win the war, it will be worth it.  If we lose the war, what difference does it make?"

The Mahatma was only kidding.  He never expected America to lose World War II.  But he did sign young players, a whole dynasty worth of them:  Ralph Branca, Carl Erskine, Gil Hodges, Clem Labine, Rex Barney, George Shuba, and 16-year-old Duke Snider.

They were about to be drafted?  So what?

Let the Army feed and clothe them for the next couple years while they grew and developed, and spent most of their time playing ball against better, veteran players on military base teams.

And when he wasn't doing that, Rickey was looking to open up the biggest, untapped pool of players:  the Negro Leagues.

I think of this because someone—El Duque, our Peerless Leader, I do believe—suggested that now that all of baseball is foolishly cutting back on its minor leagues, this is the time for the Yankees to go large, expand their system, and pick any number of players who could turn out to be diamonds in the rough.

Well, that's what a genius did, anyway.  And since we have a self-proclaimed genius in the Yankees' front office, maybe he should look into it, instead of trying to steal the next Giancarlo away from that poor, befuddled Derek Jeter.

A wartime baseball story for you.  Happy Fourth of July!



Virtual Off-Day: Yanks Set to Head North. MLB Meetings Loom.

As the Virtual Yankees prepared to invade Virtual Canada this weekend, looking to close the final gap between themselves and the thoroughly annoying Rays, speculation grew, concerning the upcoming MLB meetings, scheduled for the All-Star break on the week of the 13th.

Thanks to the influence of Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees transformed "man of knowledge," on Commissioner Rob Manfredmann, fans were looking forward to a true revitalization of the game, featuring lower prices, quicker and more interesting games, and a renewed nurturing of baseball's minor leagues.

All of these expected changes are now in question, though, thanks to the constant, behind-the-scenes lobbying by Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

Cashman, a self-proclaimed genius, has been diligently working the ownership suites in at least two dozen ballparks, trying to make the other satraps of the national game understand just what they would be losing, if they were to give up constant work stoppages, incessant price-gouging, tedious and uneventful games, and treating customers like escaped chain-gang convicts.

"It's a little hard to make out just what he's saying, what with that thing on his head" one owner, who requested anonymity because he did not want people to find out exactly how self-interested a fuck he really is, said—referring to the protective device Cashman wears after an unfortunate, eagle-based, lizard misrecognition accident earlier this season.

"But I gotta say: his message resonates!  'Live like there's no tomorrow, squeeze every last penny, out of 'em, and slam the conquistadors!'  At least that's what I think he said.  That last mighta been, 'Damn the consequences!' I dunno.  But in any case, what's not to like?"

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Plague Theater: Mickey saves Gator

He turns and stretches.

Thank you, virus: Yankees escape horrible "Field of Dreams" game.

At last: COVID has done something good for humankind.

The Yanks have been bumped from the first-annual "Field of Dreams Game," to be played Aug. 13, in Dyersville, Iowa. In the Death Star's place, the St. Louis Cardinals will play the Chicago White Sox at the edge of the cornfield where W.P. Kinsella's wondrous 1982 novel, "Shoeless Joe," was transformed into a monument for the Hollywood-corporate-Americana, Exit-through-the-gift-shop bullshitocracy. 

The Yankees' 60-game schedule, which has not yet been announced, will keep the team playing closer to home. Thus, they're done with the "Field of Dreams."

You might wonder why I feel such negativity about a baseball movie, when - after all - aren't they all the same? If anything, "Field of Dreams" sort of broke the mold: It didn't come down to two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with Lucky coming to bat. And it launched Kevin Costner, who plays a mean guitar.

What burns me is the notion that MLB will play an actual game in a nowhere location in order to promote its false innocence - after turning its back on an actual small town event: the annual Hall of Fame exhibition game in Cooperstown. For 70 years, major league teams gathered once a year in upstate New York in a pastoral setting as pure as Iowa corn. In 2008, MLB dumped Cooperstown, saying that to play in such a far flung location posed too many "inherent challenges." Yeah, right. It was all about money, that's all. 

So now, 12 years later, MLB plans to varnish its tattered image by playing in a Hollywood studio, decorated with Iowa corn. Sure. Have at it, Dyersville. But beware: If this makes money, you can bet MLB will be taking bids from other fake locations for next year. Maybe Vegas can offer an onion patch. It's all about the green, folks, and I don't mean cornstalks. 

Frankly, I'm glad the Yanks are out of it.

As for Dyersville, Iowa, well, good luck. Their list of hottest attractions - after the Field of Dreams diamond - include No. 6, the Dyersville Chamber of Commerce office. I think I speak for the world in saying my bucket list includes visiting the Dyersville CoC, when the lines are manageable. I'll have to put it off until next year. Until then, it's the National Farm Toy Museum. 

Yanks Brimming With Optimism Over Stanton.

"If you're shooting for the DH role by Opening Day, I think that's a possibility,'' Cashman

 said before saying Stanton's left field availability "is to be determined.''

Okay then.

Virtual Baseball: Mole Men Emerge Blinking In Sunlight—Still Beat Birds.

Fresh off eight straight night games, the Virtual New York Mole Men, er, Yankees, came out of the shadows today, looking pale and disoriented—but still managed to rout the Orioles, 8-4.

Masahiro Tanaka was far from his best, but "my fine fellow" managed to subdue the Birds long enough for the usual Jinga stack of Yankees home runs to start piling up.  The Gleyber homered, of course, this being Baltimore, and so did "El Matador," Miguel Andujar, Mike Tauchman, and Clint Frazier.

The team's 13th straight win over the O's got New York off to a rollicking start in July, after a June like none other (save for June Cleaver, of course).  The Yanks went 22-4 in the Caesarian month, raising their overall record to 60-26 at the end of it and closing the once 12-game gap behind the TB Rays to just 2 lengths.  Tampa Bay is still hanging tough, though, and it is anybody's guess as to which team can persevere.

Meanwhile, longtime Yankees fan favorite Brett Gardner had to be helped off the field after making a diving catch today.  He turned out only to have a sprained ankle, and was told simply, "Put a little goop on it."

But the injury, however minor, further endangers Gardy's chances of staying on in New York's already overcrowded outfield, once Aaron Judge returned from the DL.  Judge would join his fellow Aaron, Hicks; Tauchman, Frazier, and Andujar, which would be more than enough bodies, even if Giancarlo Stanton—last reported seen living and recuperating in a Texas ashram—does not return anytime soon.

In the meantime, Estevan Florial will be called up to fill in for Gardner.  Floral, recently recovered from a corridor head injury, is only hitting .217 at Double-A Trenton, but Manager Ma Boon noted that his ceiling "is as high as the Sistine's."

Gardy has 11 roundtrippers on the year, but is still batting only .194, and many think that, like sand through the hourglass, his time as a Yankee is running out.  But if so, where would the Yankees trade him?  And what could they possibly get in return?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Optimist In Me Says......

1.  The minor leagues are all shut down.

2.  A handful of players have already "opted out" of the 60 game season.

3.  Several key baseball states are out of control with new virus cases.

4.  No fans allowed at games.

5.  No fans = no need for vendors. 

6.  The recently signed draft choices are all working as baggers in supermarkets. 

7.  I sold my Limo for beer.

I think the trend is very upbeat. 

Can't wait for opening day ( or is it night?)

Domingo German eligible to return during game 4 of the ALCS

Plague Theater: The Scooter's greatest calls

"Holy Cow!"

Plague Theater: Happy Birthday, Debbie Harry

(Wiping tears)

Or there is the live concert version...

Happy Bobby Bonilla Day

At 8 a.m, trending #1 nationwide on Twitter,

"Without a season, several minor league owners feared some teams would fold permanently because they could not go 18 months without revenue — in effect giving M.L.B. the minor-league contraction it has sought since last fall."

The last great days of Americana?

No Mud Hens. 

No Railriders. 

No Rumble Ponies. 

No Fireworks Night. 

No Bring Your Pet Day. 

No Taco Bell Free Taco Strikeout Batter.

No Scootch, no Salty, no Presidents Race. 

No Hit a Ball Through this Hole and Win a Car.

No perfect evenings watching "the stars of tomorrow."

No minor league baseball in 2020.

Virtual Baseball: The Birds Virtually Play Ball.

Tanking v. non-tanking reached a new, virtual nadir of actual competition tonight in Camden Yards, as the Virtual Yankees—still without virtual former superstar, Aaron Judge—smashed and mutilated Orioles yet again, 16-0.

Yankees starter Gerrit Cole coasted through six innings, allowing just two singles and a hit batsman while striking out 12, and probably could have thrown a complete game if there had been any reason for him to do so.

Loading up on the hits and the home runs like so many sample packs of beef jerky at the local Piggly Wiggly, the Bombers tallied 24 safeties in all, including jacks from Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, and—because it was Baltimore!—Gleyber Torres.  Meanwhile, of the announced attendance of 31,000 at the ballpark tonight, approximately 30,000 were Yankees fans, who entertained themselves between scoring bursts by chasing Birders around the stands and pantsing them.

Not even this year's new, seventh-inning mascot contest between competing soft-shell crabs named after famous Baltimoreans went well, as Lord Baltimore, H.L. Mencken, Alger Hiss, and Spiro Agnew all collided, and burst into flames.  Still, they proved delicious with a light butter sauce.

"To paraphrase Ogden Nash, the only great Baltimore poet ever to be killed by improperly prepared coleslaw, " Manager Ma Boone said after the game,"'Who wants my shellfish/ I'm not selfish!'"

MLB announced that beginning next year, the Orioles will get to start every game with a runner already on second base, which should ensure that sooner or later they will get a runner to third base.