Saturday, January 19, 2019

Heading into colossal storm, Syracuse has opened a huge lead in Golden Snowball

The annual Golden Snowball award - given to the upstate New York city with the most winter snowball - looks like a done deal. Syracuse - the Ming dynasty of snow dynasties - is once again plowing over the competition. We use shovels. Other towns use brooms.

Here you go, Buffalo. Read it and sweep.

What should the Yankees want for Sonny Gray?

It may be the longest winter trade in history. For nearly three months now, the Yankees have been slow-cooking a deal for Sonny Gray. You've heard of "players to be named later." This will involve players to be named sometime this century. Gray is being water-tortured for his crimes against the Yankees. He's been linked to 1) Oakland, 2) Cincinnati, 3) Milwaukee, 4) San Diego, 5) Minnesota and/or 6) Seattle. Everybody wants him, except the Yankees.

And why not? We can all read the handwriting on the wall (or is it steel slats?) Once freed from Gotham's hateful, Gammonitic vortex, Gray should thrive. A lot of bums do. Remember AJ Burnett? Ian Kennedy? The Bronze Titan, Jose Contreras? (The best thing about Phil Hughes: He didn't soar in Minnesota.) Sonny's place on our roster will be taken by James Paxton, for whom the Death Star is whipping up expectations. (As it did last year with Sonny.) If Pax turns into The Son of Sonny, the 2019 Yankees will field the same team that finished 8 games behind Boston. Good luck with that!

Lately, the Gray rumor mill has heated up again. A deal looks imminent, maybe before DJ LeMahieu is added to the roster next week. The latest blather involves the Reds, who could send us a young catcher, a young 2B, a sandwich round draft pick, or some variation of the three. (I'd favor a catcher, because Kyle Higashioka doesn't hit, and I'm tired of having to spell his name. Also, we don't need a 2B and Yankee draft picks are a sore spot; we'll simply pick another pitcher on his way to Dr. Tommy John.) 

Today, the Reds no-name generating buzz is Tyler Stephenson, a 22-year-old catcher, a former first-round pick, ranked Cincy's sixth top prospect. Trouble is, he bats RH and played last year in Single A, (where he hit .256). He's two years away, and the Yankees have a pig's roast of catchers down in the dirt leagues. 

Also, let's remember the Iron Rule of Cashman: 

He never - ever - does what the rumors say. 

I think it's a point of pride with him. It's also a brilliant survival strategy. He whispers up a low bar of rumors, which then makes the trade look good. My prediction, (Suzyn:) He'll gin up a three-way - Cash loves threesomes - so dizzying that nobody can rule a winner. Anything can happen: He could add Greg Bird or one of the Scranton Holy Trinity: Chance Adams, Domingo German and Luis Cessa. 

Here's what I see the Yankees needing.

1. A young, MLB-ready catcher, preferably who bats LH. This gives us a potential platoon with Austin Romine, if Gary Sanchez turns into a full Matt Nokes.

2. A professional first-baseman, who hits LH and fields well. A great glove could save our 2019 infield. Luke Voit has the hands of a linebacker. 

3. Young arms, of which no team has too many. You know... Pitching, pitching, pitching...

So, maybe it will happen tomorrow. Frankly, I don't care. For me, Sonny can wait another month, if necessary. Excruciating torment? So be it. That's how I felt watching him. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Could the Yankees be thinking of Tampa-esque bullpen starts?

With the signing of Adam Ottavino, the Yankee hype engine has been revved up, as Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnel would say, "to eleven." That's okay. The franchise this winter has now performed basic due diligence: It has reconstructed last year's team: (Happ, CC and Gardy stay; Tulo and LeMahieu replace Sir Didi; Ottavino replaces David Robertson; Red Thunder replaces Andrew McCutcheon.) 

Are we better than last year's Wild Carders? Dunno. Our lineup still tilts dangerously toward the right. We still have statues at the corners of the infield. If we trade Sonny Gray, we still lack a fifth starter. And here's the real chilling adventure of Sabrina: Boston has yet to make its countermove. Last year, we spent January drunkenly toasting Giancarlo Stanton, while the Redsocks waited in their bunkers, preparing to low-ball JD Martinez. They won't stay underground all winter. Whenever a free agent rumor conjures the the phrase "mystery team," I get queasy. Soon, Boston will come to bat. 

But the bullpen now stands as the Yankee pride and joy. This raises the question of whether Aaron Boone could occasionally use the Tampa "Charge of the Light Brigade" Bullpen Model: Start a reliever and use the kitchen sink to go the distance. We certainly have the guns to do it. 

Before I continue, let's mention the bugaboo. The Tampa model looks like a great way to burn out a bullpen. I can't see the Yankees spending $40 million on relievers and blowing them up by mid-June. (Although with Boone, I can imagine anything.) So this can't happen often... maybe three or four times per season. But let's say the Yankees absolutely need to rest their starters, and they can't piss away a game. In the old times, they'd phone Scranton and call up Dopey Dildox. But here's how a bullpen game could look.

Innings 1 and 2: Dellin Betances. (I'd start Dellin because a) if he's on, he's lights out and b) if he's awful, we have nine innings to catch up. Betances could mow through the first six batters, and when the Yankees raise an early lead, the entire game changes.)

Inning 3-4: Tommy Kahnle, Stephen Tarpley, Luis Cessa, Chance Adams - still to be added LOOGIE. This is the fulcrum point in the game. We gotta get through these innings.

Inning 5-6: Mean Chad Green. (If we're ahead, the game is effectively over.)

Inning 7: Ottavino.

Inning 8: Zach Britton.

Inning 9: Aroldis Chapman. 

You could argue about starting Betances. I believe he'd benefit from a well defined role. The guy has some of the most dominant stuff in baseball, but it comes and goes. Frankly, he terrifies me. Seems to me, if everything is working, you should let him pitch forever. But, hey, I dunno.

One thing, though: The hype machine can bellow self-congratulations, but all we have basically done is replace Robby with a pitcher who has yet to succeed in New York. Don't get me wrong: I'm happy. We all should be. But if the Yankees are now done spending, what we're seeing is same team that lost three out of four to Boston. 

We need Bryce Harper. Now that would change the dynamics of the American League East.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Dear Hal: Signing Ottavino is great! NOW FINISH THE JOB!

We are NOT letting up. 



It's time for the kill shot. If you come this far, and then fail to sign Harper, you are:

-- President George H.W. Bush invading Iraq and letting Saddam Hussein remain in power, thereby ensuring that another war will take place.

-- Captain Edward Smith speeding across the North Atlantic but ignoring the warnings of good-hearted Yankee fans, at the expense of his ship, the Titanic. 

-- Oil giant BP, disregarding upgrades of its Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the worst oil spill in history, a $40 billion cleanup.

Sir... in for a penny, in for a pound.






Ever Have A Series Of Bad Experiences With A Car Rental Company?

I have.

For some reason, every time I choose to use ( insert car rental company name here ), I have a miserable experience.

Something goes wrong;

1.  They don't have the car model promised.

2.  The reservation is screwed up.

3.  The car is damaged, though one doesn't see that until it breaks down on the highway.

4.  The gas tank gauge is faulty.

5.  The price is much more costly than imagined.

6.  It smells bad.

The Yankees have, this off season, decided to feast on rentals from the Colorado Rockies franchise.  This is a franchise known for over-inflated cars.

They seem to perform well at altitude, but not at sea level.

Guys who hit for power, now strike out.
Pitchers who dominated at home, now get lit up at home.
Gold glove defenders grow cement hands.
High contact hitters hit into double plays.

The Yankees opting to use Colorado as their farm system, is like the NFL Giants drafting players from Fordham instead of Alabama.

Time to wake up and change rental agencies.

Re-treads from losers is not a great foundation for a road trip.

Manny Takes A Time Out ......

Manny has been wresting with a philosophical question.

"Is it better to let a team I don't care about bestow riches upon me, or to sign with a team I do care about for far less?"

As a single question, that is easy to assess.

But with Manny, the simple issues become complex.

Should he run when he knows he will be out anyway?

Should he cheat when cheating works?

What is a dirty player, anyway?

Does a tree falling in the river make a splash if no one is there to witness it?

So Manny, per his agent, is off to Tibet for a consultation.

There is a lot of pressure when you know the world awaits your decision.

So Manny has granted the Dahli Lama an audience.

What a guy.

With the Yankees out of it, the Manny Machado sweepstakes has turned weird

Yesterday, Dan Lozano, the lucky agent who happens to represent one Manual Arturo Machado - aka "Hakuna Machado" - issued this fierce statement. While reading aloud, play war drums in background:

"I have known Bob Nightengale and Buster Olney for many years and have always had a good professional relationship with both, But their recent reporting, like many other rumors in the past several months, have been inaccurate and reckless when it comes to Manny Machado. I don’t know if their sources are blatantly violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement by intentionally misleading them to try and affect negotiations through the public or are just flat out lying to them for other reasons. But the truth is that their reports on the details of the White Sox level of interest in Manny are completely wrong.

“I am well aware that the entire baseball universe: fans, players teams, and media members alike: are starved for information about this free agent market for all players, including Manny. But I am not going to continue to watch the press be manipulated into tampering with, not just with my client, but all of these players’ livelihoods as they have been doing this entire off-season. The absence of new information to report is no excuse to fabricate ‘news’ or regurgitate falsehoods without even attempting to confirm their validity and it is a disservice to baseball fans everywhere when the media does just that.

First off, aint no "disservice" to me. Ever since the Yankees signed General Curtis LeMahiue, I don't give a crap. Once our "fully operational Death Star" called in sick, I erected a mental Trump wall to keep out Manny news. If anybody still thinks Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner is playing possum, waiting to jump in and grab Manny at the last second, I suggest you hitch your wagon to that rising British superstar, Theresa May. In the world of free agent spending, this is Yankxit. 

Still, the Manny numbers tossed about do sound crazy: seven years for $175 million? That's Jacoby Ellsbury-type money... and for a player who actually plays! Could Manny's stock have plummeted that far? Unless you think Olney made it up - and he's been around a long time - somebody somewhere has been feeding low-ball figures on Machado, and you don't need Trump's greatest brain ever to discern why: If the world believes Machado will sign for peanuts, it undermines every other free agent on the market, from Bryce Harper to Neil Walker. 

But you  know what? History never changes. The kid who owns the ball can always take it home with him, and the game must halt. In the battle between "Haves" and "Have Nots," bet the Haves. The owners always win. Machado's salary gets debated in public, where nobody can feel sorry for him. Nobody asks how much the team owner banks, or what he even does to deserve a paycheck. He owns. That's all. 

So now we watch the "plight" of MLB free agents - a thought that's laughable, when compared to real working people. But here's the rub: The owners are colluding. Everybody knows it. And in the center square, instead of Paul Lynde, there's Hal, the owner with the largest market at his disposal, and the most money to spend, and a family tradition behind spending it... and he sits on the sidelines, not a peep. 

In a truly free market, the Yankees would set the pace. But that's not the way of a monopoly. So this is what we have, folks: Call it collusion, or price-fixing, or bid-rigging, whatever you want. It's a secret agreement between participants in a market to buy a product at a fixed price, through the control of supply and demand. MLB isn't a corporation. It's a cartel. 

Sustained Excellence

I was doing my usual complaining the other day with some friends, about how dreary and mediocre the city is becoming.

Oh, sure, in the aggregate it's better than ever.  Richer, safer, less corrupt.  Even quieter (Don't think so?  Imagine about 500,000 wagon wheels with iron rims, passing continuously over uneven paving stones.)

And that's no small thing.  I hold zero nostalgia for crime, filth, decay, etc.

But at the same time...

Looks, it' now all millionaires living over empty storefronts.

Does rich mean we can't have style?  Does rich mean we can't have beauty, and cultivation?

Does rich now mean no great buildings, no great restaurants, no great art, dive bars, newspaper columnists, night clubs, music, great plays, and on and on and on?

Used to be, many of those things seemed to come WITH money.  In fact, they seemed like the whole reason for money.

Not so much anymore.

Take the New York Yankees (you knew I was getting there).

Hey, I'm not saying the team was ever run by people who wouldn't cut your throat for an extra doubloon.  But they brought something to it all.

The Yankees were supposed to be about class, right down their classy pinstripes, and their interlocking "NY" (a Tiffany's design), and their "hat-in-the-ring" logo (lifted from Eddie Rickenbacker's flying squadron, no less).

The Yankees were about a ballpark that looked like a cathedral, and players who seemed like gods.  Don Mattingly was actually amazed to learn that Babe Ruth was a real person.  A hundred years from now, some fresh busher from Indiana will think the same thing about Joe DiMaggio, or Mickey Mantle, or maybe Aaron Judge.

And yes, the Yankees were about dollars.  But also about winning.

Well, even that sounds pretty crass, doesn't it?  At least, that's what generations of sportswriters—from here and elsewhere—and hordes of fans from Boston and Chicago and L.A. have tried to make us think.  "Oh, you Yankees fans just like to win all the time!"

Let's drop the malarkey right now.  Yes, we like to win.  All the time.  And so do those other fans, once they get a taste of it.

Even the lovable Mets, back in the early sixties?  A huge percentage of their gate every year was for Giants and Dodgers games.  In other words, people turning out to see their old favorites.  When it came to just the lovable losers...not so much.

Somebody asked me once how I could like this big, terrible, arrogant team.

My answer was:  sustained excellence.

Isn't that how we should measure accomplishment in most endeavors?  Vocationally, I mean.  Sustained excellence.  Building terrific cars, year after year.  Showing up and teaching a great class to your students, year after year.

You can have all your teams with their miracle years.  Anyone can get lucky, particularly nowadays, when everyone makes the playoffs.

No one is lucky for fifty years.  Or a hundred.

Sustained excellence.

I even admired it in teams I didn't like, such as the Boston Celtics, or that I actively despised, such as the Dallas Cowboys.

That's the standard you measure yourself against.  Without it, sports means less and less.  I know, I know, it's what the owners would like for their cartels:  every year a crapshoot of mediocrity.  Every year, everybody wins between, say, 78-82 games.  Hurrah.

Sustained excellence.  Not simply money.  That is—was—the New York Yankees.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Not long ago, we had a rollicking farm system. No more.

Last winter, rawboned OF Esteval Florial generally ranked among the top 5 prospects in the bubbling, gurgling Yankee wellspring. With high expectations, the lightning-legged Florial began 2018 at Class A Tampa, where he'd finished the previous summer. It wasn't pretty. He didn't hit, hurt his hand, missed two months, then returned for the Arizona Fall League and didn't hit again. You'd think he'd drop a notch or two in the updated rankings. Nope. He rose. Baseball America now ranks Florial the top Yankee prospect, over first runner-up, pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga, who showed promise in his MLB debut before hurting his shoulder, which is a thing for him.

Listen: I'm not ripping on Florial: he's only 21 and simply needs a break-out season. (That's the one-size-fits-all refrain of prospect-watchers: "needs a break-out season.") But remember that abundant Yankee farm system of 2017, the one that was going to resurrect the franchise? It's gone. We traded it for Todd Frazier, Sonny Gray, Zach Britton, Andrew McCutcheon, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Brandon Drury and JA Happ. Check out the following chart, prepared by Fangraphs. Read it and weep:

Reread it and re-weep. It wasn't that long ago when we battled Atlanta for the top spot. Now, our Baseball America Top 10 list brims with Single A arms in their pre-Tommy John incarnations and fleet-footed outfielders in the Gulf Coast League, where everybody is a future star. 

Okay, I know what you're thinking: One reason why the Yankee system plummeted so far is that we elevated Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Luis Severino to the show. (By the way, none has yet proven a sure thing - with Bird and Sanchez facing murky futures.) Also, my list of trades conveniently left out David Robertson and Giancarlo Tartabull Stanton - valuable players with crapola contracts. They weren't all Sonny Grays. (And, hey, maybe we'll score a decent prospect for Sonny!)

But what saddens me is that, back in 2017, I thought the Yankees had finally turned the corner By combining their money advantage with a commitment to the farm system, we would have it both ways: A winning team and top tier system. We'd do it like all dynasties do - refresh our system by trading elders for prospects, and letting the kids compete in spring training. (Last spring, we did just that at 3B, and Miguel Andujar emerged as a potentially generational star.) But this year, instead of Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada, we'll see Troy Tulowitzi, age 34. 

Likewise, we'll be back to watching retreads in Scranton and even Trenton. And when holes emerge in the mothership - they always do - we will drain the system dry for more oldsters. I can already see Florial flying out the window for a half-season of a name I will someday add to the list of Yankee sighs. We have the 10th worst system in the majors, but more money than God. So... what are we going to do? Spend our money or bleed-out? 

Yankees Press Conference, December 1919

This idea is owed completely to Joe Formerly of Brooklyn's post earlier, wondering what might have happened if the Yanks had applied their current perspective to signing Babe Ruth...Guaranteed, all historical references are accurate.

"Good morning, gentlemen of the press.  I am Col. Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston, the co-ower of the New York Yankees, and I called you here to the Polo Grounds today to discuss some questions we've been getting about our intended off-season moves.  Yes, you there, from the Telegram."

"Is your first name really Tillinghast?"

"Yes, it is.  Can we have a real question, please?"

"Is your middle name really L'Hommedieu?"

"Yes.  Gentlemen, please!  For the sake of brevity and pronunciation, just call me by my nickname, 'Cap.' Yes, the Herald?"

"Cap, do the Yankees have any intention of signing Babe Ruth, now that Harry Frazee has made it clear he's up for sale to the highest bidder?"

"Gentlemen, I can't say anything definitive.   But why should we go after Ruth?"

"Um, because he's the best hitter in the game?"

"What do we need from hitters?  Why, you gentlemen have already dubbed our lineup, 'Murderers' Row.'  And let me say, this year we will be introducing a whole new line of Bobblehead Doll Murderers, beginning with Wally Pipp and Home Run Baker, who clouted ten of—what is it you call them?—roundtrippers!"

"Yeah, the Babe hit 29."

"But the Yankees led the American League in homers, with 45!  That's the old team effort!  And what would we gain from adding to what is already our strength?"

"Ruth can pitch.  He went 9-5 last season, with a 2.97 ERA."

"We have pitchers—"

"And he can play the outfield."

"Gentlemen!  Why, we have six outfielders already!"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah!  I mean, of course!  Duffy Lewis, Ping Bodie, and Sammy Vick, who is just 24 but hit .248.  And then there's Al Wickland and Bill Lamar, and Frank Gleich.  Seven, if you count that promising young George Halas, though I'm under the impression he may stay in Decatur to run a football team."

"Uh-huh.  Isn't it true that half the Boston team is up for sale?"

"Yes, I've heard that.  But why would we want what they're selling?"

"Because they've won four World Series since 1912?"

"And are now full of beat-up old veterans!  I mean, the Red Sox finished sixth last year!  We came in third, 21 whole games over .500.  Besides, who could we get from the Red Sox?"

"Wally Schang."

"Everett Scott."

"Waite Hoyt.  Herb Pennock.  Sad Sam Jones.  Bullet Joe Bush—"

"But that last bunch are all pitchers!  We don't need more pitchers.  We have Sailor Bob Shawkey.  And anyway, we traded with the Red Sox for a pitcher last season, Ernie Shore.  He didn't fare very well."

"Didn't you also get Carl Mays in that deal?  Didn't he have a 1.65 ERA for you?"

"Next question!"

"What about Babe Ruth?"

"Why this obsession about this overgrown manchild?  Look, you've read all the stories, same as I have.  This Ruth is a constant carouser.  Drink and eats like a glutton, chases women all over town—"

"The Babe's best ballpark in the league is your Polo Grounds!  He would give you a great left-handed bat, hits 'em out to right like nobody's business!"

"That's neither here nor there!  You remember when he got so mad at that umpire he knocked him out?  Over a ball-and-strike call!  Or how, on his way to Chicago for the Series in 1918 he went down the aisle in the train, drunkenly smashing everyone's straw hat?  Is that setting a good example for the younger players?"

"Didn't he throw a 1-0 shutout at Wrigley?  Then set the World Series scoreless inning record back in Boston?"

"Yes, but that's no indication of his future behavior!  Look, we're a young team—"

"No, you're not.  You're over 28 years old on average.  Ruth won't be 25 until February."

"Thank you, Mr. Sabremetrician!  As I was saying, we are a young team, and we will continue to build from our farm system—"

"You don't have a farm system.  They haven't been invented yet."

"All right, then.  We will continue to build as we always have, hoping some fresh, freckled-face kid—a white kid, of course—will present himself at our door someday, with a sprig of grass in his teeth and a bat named 'Wonderboy' in his rucksack, and ask if he can have a tryout."

"Swell.  What about the rumors concerning a new stadium?"

"We are perfectly content to stay here in the Polo Grounds!  The Giants have been very reasonable about rent, and we see no reason to go to all the expense and uncertainty of building a new park.  It's the same risk involved in signing some big stars to the payroll.  Why would we do such a thing?"

"One more question: isn't 'Cap' a boy's name?"

"I thought I made it clear—"

"Don't they really call you 'The Man in the Iron Hat'?"

"Well?  What of it?"

"You sure it isn't 'Head'?  The Man with the Iron Head?"

"This press conference is over!  Please enjoy the spread of bucketshop beer and boiled eggs our Legends-in-the-Making Hospitality staff has prepared for you.  And remember, just dunk the eggs in the finger bowls first to get rid of the rat feces."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Yankiverse is seething, and some sites simply don't get it

First came the shock, as we realized that - holy crap! the Yankees aren't just posturing; they're really going to pass on Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. 

Then came the rage, as the revelation settled in: The grand and glorious Yankees, who spent the last two years cutting payroll in preparation for the 2019 free agent class, is turning its back on two generational talents, both of whom want to play in New York.

Now, we're seeing an "on the other hand" backlash from sites and Gammonites, assuring us that - no, the Yankee ownership isn't cheap. It's just doing what all teams do.

Listen: That's why we're angry. Yesterday, a lengthy thumb-sucker popped up on a website called The Runner Sports, arguing that Yankee fans should stand down. Here's the final paragraph:

The New York Yankees are not being cheap. Fans need to realize this. They will be over the luxury tax threshold. Likely, their payroll could compete for the highest in 2019. Cashman is still determined to add one more reliever (waiting on Adam Ottavino). Plus, the team will add a player during the trade deadline. That will only add to the payroll. Fans need to stop spewing nonsense about how cheap the team is right now. It is not cheap. It is paying for the value that is needed rather than the value fantasized.
First, I don't mean to pick on a fellow blogger. It's like firing on your own troops. But folks never go wrong by agreeing with the status quo. You weigh and assess, mull and deliberate, figure and finagle - and then announce that, yes, all considered, it's not raining outside, merely drizzling. Rather than be defined by someone who has painstakingly counted the beans and found us to be spending far more than the Cincinnati Reds, I'd like to explain Yankee fan-rage one more time. This is not an attack on a writer, but an attempt to clear the air on why we Yankee fans feel betrayed.
The Yankees used to represent the greatest and most glorious tradition in American sports. They were always the team to beat. There was baseball, and there was the Yankees. They spent the most money. When Curt Flood knocked down free agency, it allowed the Yankees to buy their way out of 1960s mediocrity and restore the brand. Ever since, when stars became available, the Yankees would set the market on their value. That was their place in the baseball universe - at least until Hal Steinbrenner took over. Today, as team revenues skyrocket, Yankee payroll has flat-lined, leaving fans to wonder, where is all the money going? Worse, the Redsocks have now won three straight AL East titles and are poised to win the World Series again. Last year, they outspent us by $40 million, while Hal wheedled to get below the luxury tax threshold. 
The Yankees used to be capitalism's great gift to the working fan. For most of us, rooting for the Yankees was as close as we'd ever get to being rich. The Yankee fan never had to worry about money. If a player came on the market, we could afford him. We were the gold standard. We were never supposed to hear the owner whine or poor-mouth about player salaries. For most of the last century, the Yankees offered the working class the same level of escape as millionaires. In The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway made the great Dimaggio signify the promise of America. The team is not supposed to run by a cold, calculating money-grubber. The Yankees are supposed to offer an escape from the hardships of daily life. That's why they have fans in every city. We are not supposed pull out our pockets and plead poverty.
Everything changed ten years ago, when the Yankees scrapped the greatest cathedral in American sports and built a concrete symbol of power and corruption. In many ways, it's right that they won the 2009 World Series and have done next to nothing since. Instead of providing an escape for working people, they have done all they could to alienate them. Their security guards police the stands tightly, so that the rich and poor never co-mingle, even in late innings, when the box seats sit empty. They serve food that doesn't even meet Health Department standards. And when two great free agent stars emerge - both in mid-20s, both expressing their desire to play for the Yankees - they turn their backs. 
You can compare the Yankees to small market teams and rightfully say that - no, they are not cheap. Trouble is, this is the fucking New York Yankees. Compare them to who they were and - yes, they are cheap bastards. And the fan base knows it. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Mel Stottlemyre is dead

 Today, 27 world championship flags should fly at half-mast.
R.I.P.  Number 30.
If you had played for any other team,
you'd be in the Hall.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice... Yank fans are told to look forward to big 2019 free agent class!

Feel the electricity, everybody! The first Gammonite is already thinking about  next winter's sure-fire Yankee free agent spending splurge.

... [Buster] Olney posits the Yankees could make a run at Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado should he reach free agency a year from now.

Yep. Nolan Arenado! Get ready. We'll be writing the checks. Hot only that, but Super Hal and his front office dream team are surely already thinking of 2020, when Mike Trout might become available. (As an East Coast native, maybe he wants to be a Yankee! If so, it's practically automatic that they'll sign him!)

Don't worry, folks, if this year's buying binge suddenly looks like a mirage. We've waited five years for this free agent class, but - hey - who expected the players to want so much money? Anyway, there's always next year! What's important is to keep our payroll low, so when the time is right, we can strike.

I mean, this year, Hal has managed to return JA Happ, Zach Britton, CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner, plus he brought in Troy Tulowitzki at the minimum price... and finally, HOLY SHIT, DJ LeMahieu! And February is within sight. Who knows what bargain basement values we will find in the scrap heap. And next year, there's always Nolan Arenado.

This is what it's like to be a fan of the Kansas City Royals, eh?

While I have you, here's an interesting tidbit in today's fish wrap: Diamond Hal now and then ventures onto the Interweb to "take the pulse" of Yankee fans. He might be anonymous. 

HEY, HAL, DON'T BE SHY. ASK US WHAT WE'RE THINKING! We can talk about next year's free agent class, and the year after that, and the year after that. Yeah, give us a call. We know a thing or two 'cause we've seen a thing or two. And we're still waiting for that big spending splurge you've been teeing up for the last two years. Now it's Nolan Arenado in 2019? Hmmm. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

"We're Off to See the Wizard..."

"Cashman may seem like a wizard and, in reality, he definitely is."
                                                     —Allison Case, Elite Sports NY

The five weary friends dragged themselves back to the Emerald City, and into the Grand Palace of the Wizard.  There they stood once more before the great, glowering visage, glaring out between its dyed hair and turtleneck sweater.  Smoke billowed out around it, as the terrible head spoke.

"So, my witch people down in Tampa told me that you finished off the Wicked Witch of the North!  How resourceful of you!" it boomed.

"What? No, look at us!"  spoke up Dorothy Warbler of Kansas.  "They beat the crap out of us!  Those Flying Monkeys are tough!  And don't get me started about those Gammonites with all the—what the hell were they?"

"Halberds," Giancarlo the Straw Man said miserably.  "F----ing halberds!"

The Straw Man was missing a straw-stuffed arm.  Icks the Tin Man was badly dented, all over his oil can chest.  Sonny the Cowardly Lion seemed unscathed, but he could not stop sniffling.  Even their cute little dog, Boonie, was missing some big patches of fur.

"Well, you know what they say," the Great Head bellowed.  "If at first you don't succeed—"

"Eat my t--t, you dick!  You promised you'd help us!  We need more men!" little Dorothy raged.

"How DARE you speak to the Mighty Wizard of Oz like that!" boomed the Head.

But just then little Boonie, yapping furiously, darted over and pulled back the curtain surrounding the Great Head.  They could all see there was nothing there, just a short, balding man with a bad moustache, dressed like an elf, standing behind a microphone.

"Pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain!" commanded the Head.  But it was too late.  They could see the little man saying the words.

They advanced on him as one, the Tin Man tapping the handle of his axe in the palm of his hand.

"Who the f--k are you?" Dorothy Warbler demanded.

The little man looked like he was about to flee, glanced down at Boonie now holding his pants cuff between his teeth, and sighed.

"I am—" he turned back to the mictrophone, "—the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.  At your service.  Cooperstown Cashman."

He tried to hand Sonny a card, which only made the Cowardly Lion jump back.

"Why, you're no f---ing wizard at all!" Dorothy exclaimed.

"Do you talk like that in Kansas, young lady?  Well, uh, no, no I'm not.  I was just a little elf, happily climbing up and down buildings throughout the greater Tri-State area, when one day a big wind came along and blew me high up into the clouds!  I was hoping I might touch down in Cooperstown.  But instead it took me here—to the wonderful land of Oz."

"So you were lying to us the whole time!  You never had f---ing ability to f---ing help us!" Dorothy accused him.  Boone growled ominously.

"Now, now, wait a minute!  That's just not so!" pleaded Coops.  "I have thought long and hard about all you wanted, and I have just what you need!"

"A brain!" exclaimed Giancarlo the Straw Man.

"A heart!" squeaked Icks the Tin Man.

"Courage!" mewled Sonny the Cowardly Lion.

"A way back home to the championship!" shouted Dorothy Warbler.

"No, no, much better than that!" Coops the Elf told them.

Before they could stop him, he had ducked behind another curtain and pulled out a strange, immobile figure made of many different scraps of things—metal and marble and pieces of old tires—that looked as though it had been broken a lot, and pieced back together.

"Behold!  Troy the Stationary Man!  HE will help you defeat the Wicked Witch of the North!"

"You mean we gotta go back up there?" sniffed Sonny the Cowardly Lion, wiping his eyes with his tail.

"What the hell does he do?" asked Dorothy.

But the adorable little elf had already disappeared behind the curtain again.

"Fear not, my good friends!" he spouted, reappearing with another odd contraption that none of them could make heads or tails of.

"What is it?" asked the Straw Man.

"Why, it's a LeMa— a LeMa— a Doer of Good Deeds!" Coops proclaimed, setting it down next to Troy the Stationary Man.

Their bemusement was interrupted at that moment by a terrible cackling sound.  Gazing up through the skylight, at the very peak of the enormous tower above them, they could see all sorts of witches circling on their broomsticks, and landing at the penthouse terrace.

"What the m-----f---ing shit is THAT about?" Dorothy inquired sweetly.

"Oh, that's Hal's place.  He has these little confabs all the time—" the elf said nervously.

"Hal?  Who's that?"

"Why, you might say he's the real wizard around here.  Or at least, he's the one in charge."

"What? Well, let's go f---ing see him!" suggested Dorothy.

"Um, I don't think so.  He doesn't see many people."

"What's he doing with all those witches?  They're supposed to be his mortal enemies.  What's going on here, anyway?" asked Icks the Tin Man.

"Oh, well.  There are enemies, and then there are enemies.  Here, see what else I have for you!" the excitable little elf said, and scampered behind the curtain again.  He trundled out a box on a wheelbarrow, holding all sorts of broken junk that he held up before them as if it were purest gold.

"Look, here's a Bridwell!  And here's a Hutchison, a Lipka, a Billyburns!  Ooh, you can't go wrong with that one!" the elf said hurriedly.

But Dorothy Warbler was already checking out the shipping label on the box.

"Island of Misfit Toys," she read.  "Why, these aren't even from the f---ing right fairy tale!"

The elf sighed.

"Look, whattaya want?  Building an army capable of taking on the Wicked Witch of the North takes a lot of money.  And Hal has expenses."


"Sure.  You think emeralds grow on trees?  You know what a single yellow brick costs for that damned road?  He's already got the Munchkins subsisting on Vermin Turd Dogs.  Then there's the cost of his personal masseuse, the catering for the witches' concave—"

Coops stopped, noticing how the five of them were closing in on him again.  All of a sudden, there was a terrible creaking noise.  Everyone turned to look.  Troy the Stationary Man was moving!  He turned slowly, slowly, lifting up his huge steel arms—then collapsed in a pile on the floor.

"That does it," said Dorothy.  "C'mon, boy!  I say we beat the f---ing s--- out of this—"

Just then Boonie sunk his fangs deep into Coops' shin.  He let out a high-pitched scream.


The unfortunate elf was beaten to a pulp.  Even Sonny the Cowardly Lion got a few good shots in.  It might have been even worse, but Icks the Tin Man took several wild swings with his axe and only managed to hit himself in the foot.  Then they headed for the door.

"Wait, what about your stuff—" Coops gurgled after them.

"F--k you, you f---ing ------------------------------" the Warbler call back.

As they walked out, they noticed how many of the businesses they had patronized in the city just a few days before were now shuttered and closed.

The joint where they dyed your eyes to match your dress was boarded up.  So was the garden spot that was never too hot and never too cold, and the carriage service that had carried them through the streets before was finished, the half-starved nags being led off to the knacker's yard.

"You know, the Emerald City ain't what she used to be," said the Straw Man.

"No shit, Sherlock," Dorothy told him.

"Look, I asked you not to call me that—"

"What do we do now?" asked Sonny the Cowardly Lion, his voice close to breaking.  "Oh what we will ever do now???"

Dorothy gave him a bracing slap, and kept walking.

"I dunno about you bozos, but I'm gonna gather up the Munchkins and go all Pol Pot on this Hal's ass.  First we take the countryside, then we cut off the city.  I bet we can get some of those Flying Monkeys to come in with us.  Get us some of those—what were they again?"


"Yeah, good name," said Dorothy, changing into her camos and bandoliers as she walked, and lighting a cigar.  "We're gonna get us some f---ing halberds and stick Hal's head on one."

She glanced back at the highest tower of Oz, surrounded by its cackling witches.

"There's a storm coming in."

Here is a list of things we gave our hearts to, only to discover that they're primarily engines for enriching the rich and don't love us back

  • Newspapers
  • Sports franchises

As a "mystery team," the Redsocks could wrap up a dynasty, and all it will cost is money

If I owned the Redsocks...

I would secretly invite Manny Machado to Boston, get him drunk, give him a golden shower, remind him how the Yankees scorned him, and offer him the second-base position as heir to Dustin Pedroia. I would put up $30 million for seven years, with opt-out clauses and no dental plan, and I wouldn't let him leave until he signed in blood.

The following day, I would do the same with Bryce Harper - once again, reminding him of how the sniveling, cheapskate Yankees wouldn't bother to piss on him to put out a fire.

Next spring, this would be my batting order.



We would win the next three World Championships, the Boston Redsocks would become the world's premier sports franchise, I would down in history as the greatest man ever, and Hal Steinbrenner would be even richer than he is now. In other words, everyone would be happy.

All it would cost me is money. And you know what? I'd never even miss it. In fact, I'd consider it well spent, because I could treasure Boston's victories for the rest of my life, and have my way with all sorts of actresses and supermodels until I was well into my nineties, my libido fueled by constant victory.

Now and then, I'd visit Hal at his super-secure island fortress in the South Pacific, where he lived safely despite occasional armed drones sent by radical Yankee-fan militants. He would show me all the crossword puzzles he has completed, reveal to me his highest scores on all the video games he plays, and show me his recreation of "Monument Park," with statues of his father gazing sternly at the horizon like the moai of Easter Island. Hal would be very happy, living with his 70 cats and faithful, lobotomized manservant, "Cash."

Can you put a price on that?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Worst Thing Any Yankees Owner Has Ever Done

Enough with pretending Coops is in charge of anything.  He is, to quote Paul Newman in The Verdict, only a bagman.  A front.  A beard.  The New York Yankees' equivalent of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean Spicer, and Ron Ziegler, all rolled into one.

The one calling the shots is Hal Steinbrenner.  And what he has done this offseason is the worst thing that any Yankees owner has ever done.

We have, to be sure, been pretty lucky in this department.

No Yankees owner has ever wrecked our team to finance a musical.  None has ever moved the team to LA, or Milwaukee, or Arlington, Texas. No one ever tried to actually dissolve the franchise just to keep from spending a few dollars out of his billions, as that 87-year-old guy tried in Minnesota.

But we have had some bad ones.  Our first two owners, Frank Farrell and Big Bill Devery—the country's leading gambling king and the most corrupt police commissioner New York ever had—rescheduled what turned out to be a key, pennant drive game from Hilltop Park to Boston, because they had rented the field for a Columbia-Williams football game for the day.

Larry MacPhail almost succeeded in trading Joe DiMaggio, once for Ted Williams and once for Mickey Vernon, God help us all, and then there was CBS, which wanted to turn the Yankees into just another miscellaneous corporate asset, literally on a par with the road show of, I think, "Funny Girl."

There was plenty of awful, awful stuff that the Mad King did, too, such as continually trying to hold up the city for more money, and dumping perfectly good players, and wonderful managers and executives.

But that was mostly out of very fan-relatable pique and rage over losing games.  Well, that doesn't really explain the extortion schemes.  Or the relentless bullying and buckpassing.  Or the hiring of a criminal to try to rat out one of his biggest stars.

But, you know.  That's just how rich people act out in America.

Hal's malfeasance this offseason, by contrast, was served up ice cold.  It was apparently planned for years.  And it has been covered up with something even worse.

Hal Steinbrenner apparently never had any intention of signing the leading free agents on the market this year.  That was just a lie from the get-go, designed to keep the fans coming up, and tuning in.

Even this subterfuge might have got tired, but for the one time in his long and largely fruitless career, Cooperstown Cashman actually made a series of good trades that recharged our farm system.

As things worked out, it made the signing of the same free agents we were promised—nudge nudge, wink wink—absolutely vital to take us over the top.

And they're not coming.

It's not that we HAD to have Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.  They are, it is true, the best-ever YOUNG players ever available in over 40 years of free agency.  But neither one is a sure thing.

We might, it is true, have done even better with a series of brilliant trades and other signings.  But that wasn't coming either.

What WAS coming was, instead, a series of incredibly cynical signings and re-signings of used-vets, worn out arms, and marginal mediocrities—ours and others—that will cost nearly as much next year as the big dudes would have, and will instead seriously damage the team.

The likely logic behind this was discovered at this site by Doug K.  It is to deliberately devalue the Yankees' YES Network so Hal can regain whatever portion he wants of it for whatever sports empire scheme he is working on.

Most of that $41 million of the terrible signings will be off the team by 2020 at the latest.  They were necessary to provide at least a fig leaf of cover for many of the slower fans and thicker commentators.

"Look, we re-signed Gardy!  Look, it's CC!  Why is he lying on the ground and not moving?  Oh, hey, Britton is back!"

This way, Hal and company have what used to be called "plausible deniability," back in those days before there was nothing even vaguely plausible about our leaders.

This way, he can at least say, 'Hey, the payroll WAS increased over 2018!  By tens of millions!'

This way, we actually have a player at every position.  Not necessarily a player who can move, but whattaya want?

Next year, the payroll will shrink again.  And the year after that, without the sort of bothersome, long-term deals that a Manny or a Harper will want.  And we'll be told that, hey, we're saving up for Mike Trout, or Babe Benitendi, or some other chimera.

Don't believe it.  Hal Steinbrenner just let the best, young-and-coming Yankees team in a generation die on the vine, and he did it so that he can save a few buck on a TV deal.  Out of his $4 billion estimate net worth.

And despite the fact that—had he possessed his father's balls and been willing to fire the Apple-Polisher for Life who serves as our GM—he might well have MORE than made up for what he is going to save now.

Worst Off-Season Ever.

Worst Thing Ever Done By A Yankees Owner.

Just Looking Forward To The Season ( in picture )

If this cold. soggy cereal doesn't whet your appetite, the 2019 Yankees will (Our new guy from Colorado sounds like he should be a hockey player).

It may be a new art form;

Use food shots to describe your enthusiasm and feelings, game by game.

I am bereft of words.

No to Manny, yes to luxury taxes; what LeMahieu means to an angry Yankiverse

Actually, Suzyn, you can predict baseball...

You can predict when Aaron Boone will remove his starting pitcher: One batter too late. You can project when Jacoby Ellsbury will return: When something freezes over. What you cannot predict, Suzyn, is Brian Cashman. And yesterday, once again, the Cooperstown-bound, future Hall of Famer defied a tsunami of Gammonitic prognostications and signed... drum roll, please... David John "DJ" LeMahieu, a player most Yankee fans had previously never heard of, much less discussed.

LeMahieu had been making $8.5 million a year in Denver, Colorado, which apparently has a baseball franchise. He'll earn $24 million over the next two in NYC. Fun facts: He has played in two all-star games and, statistically, through age 29, he translates into - gulp - Brian Roberts. He's the former Mr. Oriole, retrofitted into thin air.

Aside from the ice-water jolt of reality - the Yankees will not be signing Manny Machado - the "fully operational Death Star" magnitude of yesterday's move has yet to be understood. And if we consider what cannot be predicted - (hint, see above) - it may be pointless to try. What we do know is this: Cash gonna do what Cash gonna do... and God is a maniac. 

That understood, let's strap ourselves to the waterboard and try to figure this out. After a sleepless night, here are my best observations...

1. Manny won't be a Yankee... this year. Of course, he will someday appear in pinstripes. They all do. It could be six years from now, in the year 2025 - (if man is still alive, if woman can survive) - when he's hitting .220 and playing 1B/DH. By then, he'll be running out grounders, but it won't matter. The White Sox or Philly fans will be booing his name, face and haircut. (By the way, those are two particularly ornery fan bases, if you are old and blamed for sucking the franchise dry, so... good luck with that!) The team will trade him to the Yankees for a Gallegos and a Shreve, and our automated John Sterling - (they're doing wonders with artificial intelligence) - will be as ecstatic as a robot can be. Upon arrival, Manny will go on a nice little tear, lifting his average to .240, and then disappear. I only hope that, by then, they have medications that equal the "Calgon Beauty Bath, Take me away!" experience. I'm going to need it.

2. Something is fishy. I'll never understand the testicular dynamics between GMs and agents, but it seems as though Cashman considers himself one Viagra tablet shy of the Chrysler Building. To me, it's scandalous to think that the Yankees didn't even even make Machado a low-ball offer. You have the premier free agent in baseball, age 26, who wants to play in NYC, and his wife is practically your inside Paul Manafort... yet the Yankees apparently never even exchanged scribbled numbers on a cocktail napkin? WTF? Did they fear Manny would say yes? To me, it looks like ownership collusion, the kind that federal courts once viewed as dirty dealing. Ah, but that was a different court system and a different era. Still, the Yankees have had the chance to sign perhaps the two greatest free agents in history, or at least this decade, and they won't even play their cards. Yeah, something smells. 

3. Bryce is gone. With respect to the Iron Rule of Predictions - (hint, see above) - we should dismiss the fantasy that Cashman is poker posturing, using  Art of the Deal tactics to build his wall wheedle down Bryce Harper's asking price. It's over. He'll sign somewhere else. I personally see Harper as the perfect piece for a 2019 World Championship, but this is not The Voice, and there is no audience participation component. It's depressing: I've spent seven years believing Harper would be a Yankee, and I suspect Harper has done the same. Turns out, to become a Yankee, he will have to be old and dumpy, and platoon with Manny for the DH slot. By then, Miami players might be wearing hip-boots. Let's come to grips with it: The great Bryce Harper fantasy was just killed by someone named DJ LeMahieu.

4. Which brings me to The Hieu. My guess is he's is a fine player, solid handshake, credit to his home town, and the kind of infield utility man we might consider indispensable. Over the last 24 hours, I've read how he will spell Gleyber at second, Tulo at short, and Miggy at third - almost simultaneously - and how great his fielding is. And, yeah, we can use a golden glove. Last year, Gleyber Torres was statistically the worst fielding 2B in baseball, and Miguel Andujar was his counterpart at 3B. Now, we're going to sandwich them around a 34-year-old shortstop? Wow. So... yeah, I can see the need for a defensive specialist. 

But it seems to me, the 2019 Yankees have only one real hope: That Gleyber and Miggy improve defensively, in the way that young players do. If they sharpen their game, they become all stars, maybe destined for Monument Park. If they don't, well, will DJ LeMahieu save the day? I donno.  

5. We're back to spending. Okay, maybe I buried the lede. Yesterday's signing puts the Yankees about $15 million over the salary cap. No longer can they shrink back below it by trading Sonny Gray for a set of Leggos. Once you're over that payroll threshold, you're paying taxes. So, the question is: How far over the line will Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner go? I have a suspicion. Let's say Hal gives Cooperstown Cashman a target of $239 million - the budget that Boston spent last year. It's chickenfeed compared to total Yankee revenues (which produce the worst ballpark food in baseball.) If we have Boston's 2018 budget, Cash would still have about $20 million to spend this winter. That gets us a starting pitcher, or two bullpen arms, or a big LH bat that is not named Bryce. You can buy a lot with $20 million, if you know what you're doing. Which leads to another question...

6. This could be Twilight of Cashman's Epoch. Listen: The 2019 team will be entirely Cashman's creation, and if it flops, it will be time to face the consequences. No longer will he be able to mollify the Gammonites by blaming the owner's self-inflicted austerity. (Hal's priority last year was not to win the world series, but to get under the tax threshold.) If Hal spends his hard-inherited money, he'll expect results. No more excuses. If the Yanks spend Boston-level money, they better win. 

That said, you can't predict Cashman, Suzyn. Cash gonna do what Cash gonna do. I need some sleep.