Monday, December 5, 2022

He's Gone...


...if what YES is reporting is at all accurate.  

In the course of Brian Cashman's rambling, self-satisfied interview with Meredith Marakovits and Bob Lorenz tonight, the Yankees' newly renewed GM expressed surprise when told that Aaron Judge was currently in Tampa—but was going out to San Diego tomorrow.

When Michael Kay came back on, with the YES Hot Stove League show, he described himself as "shocked" that Cashman did not know Judge was headed for SD.


There's no way, of course, that Aaron Judge is going to fly across the country—and then back—simply to put on a happy signing show with Yankees management.  

If Judge is really going to San Diego—and if he is really announcing his decision by Wednesday—he's gone.

Cashman for four more

 I need a drink.

Don't Fear the Ninth Year.


All right, show of (invisible, electronic) hands here:

How many of you out there in the dark regret our 2009 World Championship?

What, nobody? In fact, you remember it as the last time you felt unmitigated joy over our favorite baseball team?

How can that be? What is wrong with you? 

Don't you understand that that title was won only through the decision by your New York Yankees to sacrifice further titles for years to come???

Think back, back to the hazy days of October, 2007, when the agent of archfiend Alex Rodriguez announced, during the dying moments of the thoroughly forgettable, 2007 World Series, that A-Rod was opting out of his Yankees' contract.  

This was depicted as something akin to a war crime by MLB and its innumerable sycophants in the sporting press. But A-Rod soon came back to the fold, in exchange for a new, 10-year contract, at the then low, low total of $275 million.  

It was ridiculous, of course. Sure, A-Rod had won his third MVP award in 2007, but he was already 32, and a constant disappointment in the postseason. 

Was Alex going to be the same player by the end of that contract, 10 years later? Of course not. And even the Yankees' front office, that Fortress of Obliviousness, knew this was so. The real hope was that Alex would shatter the all-time home-run record—already invalidated by Juicin' Barry Bonds—and keep the turnstiles spinning.

Well, things didn't quite work out that way—to put it mildly. A-Rod gave us, at most, three-to-four years of play at the high level he had established, before his career dissolved in a welter of suspensions, injuries, and a farcical PED investigation waged by Rob Manfred, the Inspector Clouseau Javert of MLB.

You'll see no tears for A-Rod here. But if you'll remember, that little window of greatness that remained for Rodriguez—drug-induced or not—included leading our Yankees to the 2009 championship.

Hey, I'll take it. 

Look, the truth is that all ballplayers decline. Their peak year is, on average, reached by the time they are 28—and sometimes much earlier. Nearly all big free-agents deals acknowledge the fact that the player in question will be a shadow of himself by the end of it.

So what?

Say Aaron Judge goes to the Giants and leads them to another three championships. Are we going to gloat if he's having a terrible 2031? Are we going to happy if he "only" leads them to one World Series champagne fest?

No, we will not. 

For those of you who really think the Yankees are going to "rebuild" if they let Judge go, I can only point to the last time they got outbid by a small, left-coast city for a regular all-star. 

After they let Robbie Cano jog off to Seattle, did the Yankees institute a bold new, rebuilding plan?

Only if you consider signing three aging, declining players—Brian McCan't, Beltran, and Hurtsbury—"rebuilding." You can expect the same this year, as the Yanks dangle before us the idea of trading leading prospects for a 27-year-old, .262 hitter.

There was, to be sure, an argument to be made for getting rid of Judge and trying to rebuild. That argument should have been made and resolved last year about this time. 

One of the key ways teams with real front offices rebuild is to deal their existing assets—older players they don't intend to retain—for younger starters and prospects. If the Yankees were serious about rebuilding, they should have traded Aaron Judge for younger players last season. 

They did not. Instead, with their first priority being—as always—the Steinbrenner family's bottom line, they decided to bet that their leading asset would get injured or have a mediocre season. They lost. They need to pay up—or lose that asset for nothing.

Will Aaron Judge be close to the player he is today in 2031? No, he will not. We will care—if he has won us a championship along the way? I, for one, will not. Nor will I care if he has "merely" played outstanding baseball for, say, 4-5 years of that time. 

The only person who should care is Hal Steinbrenner's financial advisor.

Face it: the alternative to re-signing Aaron Judge is not a great rebuilding program. It's not the signing of two or three other, outstanding free agents who will lead us to victory. The alternative to re-signing Aaron Judge is still more money added to the billions already controlled by an enigmatic, unsmiling Floridian who has never shown much interest in the New York Yankees or any of us, their fans.

Don't fear the ninth year. Don't fear the Reaper, either. It will come for Aaron Judge's career, as it will for all of us. In the meantime, I'd like to see him play in pinstripes.

They claim Yankees' "backup plan" to losing Aaron Judge is trading for Bryan Reynolds? Wow. That'll rev up the fan base.

For the last two winters, the Yankees have been linked to 27-year-old CF Bryan Reynolds, who now seeks a trade from the penny-dreadful Pirates.

And why not? Reynolds is relatively young - 27 - and relatively cheap - merely $6.75 million for 2023.

The Yanks can trade Anthony Volpe and/or Oswald Peraza -they won't play anyway - sign a free agent SS, stick Reynolds in RF, and nobody will be the wiser, right? Reynolds hit 27 HRs last year, batted .262. He
switch hits, too, so there's that. 

Think of all the money we fans will be saving. Hal Steinbrenner can shore up his shaky finances, build himself a nest egg, and let Brian Cashman make the kind of strategic moves that have made him a street legend, like Modelo Beer. 

Without Judge, the low-budget Yanks can forge a new team identity,
known for frugality and respect for the U.S. dollar. The lower the 
payroll, the more fans will love this plucky, willing-to-play-for-
nothing ballclub. They will penny-pinch their way right into our

Yes, it's Hope Monday at IT IS HIGH, and how 'bout those Jersey 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

The staggering cost of Aaron Judge is going to force Hal Steinbrenner to decide who he is

It looks as though, whomever secures the greatest HR hitter in this millennium, they will have to accept his final, unproductive seasons, lasting beyond 2030. 

By then, Miami could be a buoy floating in the ocean, President Herschel Walker could be cracking down on vampires, and Hal Steinbrenner will either have won something of consequence or be reviled as the man who turned the once-great Yankee franchise into the Washington Wizards. 

There's no way out. And everything balances on Hal. 

He must either outbid the crazy money obsessions of other billionaires, or to use the team as a roadside ATM, bleeding his inheritance to buy soccer teams and tropical islands. And it's not just Judge. To win a ring, Hal will need a supportive cast, and the few stars available in trades usually come with similar horrible contracts. (See Donaldson, Josh.) 

Folks, this isn't the train workers' strike. We're not talking about sick days. This is multibillionaires fighting with multimillionaires, and in the final calculus, fans matter to neither.  

Hal must decide his future legacy. He can be the owner who:

1. Kept Judge and financed a Yankee resurgence.

2. Let Judge go to another city.

3. Kept Judge as the solitary star on runner-up teams. (See Henderson, Rickie.)

No free agents out there can fill Judge's shoes. Hal has the money. He must decide whether to spend it. He must decide who he is.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

"In the biggest splash of the off-season so far, (Jacob) deGrom signed a five-year, $185 million deal with the Texas Rangers on Friday, leaving the only club he had ever played for, in a city that never quite seemed to fit him. But he always shined in New York."



You know how last week, when that volcano in Hawaii first blew, the TV foreheads said not to worry, as no communities were threatened? But now, they're watching the lava streams starting to reach major highways, and they're concerned? 

Those tremors you feel are the impending rumble of a massive realignment, from owners who have more money than can be counted, in regions where the political system is already bolted down and only icons of culture remain for sale.

I didn't think I would ever again write these words, but here goes: The price tag for Aaron Judge may have just risen... again.

Presumably, Mets owner Steve "Elon" Cohen - now publicly rebuffed - will shower his unspent deGrom millions on remaining free agents, such as Aaron Judge Justin Verlander.  

Fortunately, he won't chase Judge, right? I mean, MLB has ruled that Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner are NOT COLLUDING. But Cohen simply has no need for Judge. The last thing the Mets need is a RF who can hit 62 HRs. 

So let's just hope their NOT COLLUDING agreement relationship holds. Otherwise, the lava flow might start reaching White Plains.  

Friday, December 2, 2022

RIP, Sal Durante


At 80 years of age. Very sweet story in the NY Post about it. And what a picture of Durante catching Maris's 61st! I have never seen that before. A one-handed, barehanded grab, with another guy's hand in his face—not bad!

A class act, as was Roger.

Yankee Holiday Newsletter

Happy Holidays Yankee Customers!

On behalf of the rest of the Stienbreners, GM For Life Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, Lonn Trost, Randy Levine, and our shareholders and bondholders, I want to wish you the warmest Season's Greetings.

Thank you for choosing to spend your entertainment dollar with us and we look forward to even more opportunities to enrich your fan experience with an even better product in 2023.

Your pal,

 Hal (Steinbrenner) 

2022 Was Another Great Year For The New York Yankees!

Yankees Set First Half Win Percentage Record!

'27 Yankees move over! From April to June the 2022 Yankees showed that we were the best team in baseball and were playoff bound! 

Yankees Win AL Run Differential Title!!!

Great job and kudos to our cubicle commandos in the analytics department as our heroes in pinstripes took home the AL Run Differential Championship beating our rival Houston Astros by twenty one runs! 

As if that wasn’t enough... out exit velo was tops in the bigs! 

Crack open a bottle of champagne boys. You deserve it. 

More Great Numbers!

Former Yankee employee and greedy opportunist Aaron Judge had one of the greatest years in Yankee History ™ and helped drive strong attendance as we once again eclipsed three million paying customers.

The Ninja Strikes Again!

Once again our great GM Brian Cashman made a series of trade deadline deals getting rid of potential Rule 5 castoffs for key pieces that set us up for a prosperous future. 

Freddie Montas looks to slate in as our number two by May of next year, while Scott Effros will be anchoring the pen by 2024 the latest.  Cashman built on the success of his offseason deals that added a 3B a SS and Ben Rortvedt! Our musclebound catcher is already  hitting off a tee and looks to be a big part of next season’s Murderer’s Row. 

The Kids Are Alright!  

Our youngsters Oswald Cabera and Oswaldo Peraza got important experience last season. Cabrera proved to be a jack of all trades filling in by playing several positions and Peraza, from his catbird seat on the bench, got to see what the playoffs looked like up close! We will be seeing a lot more of this pair as soon as current shortstop IKF’s contract expires.

Aaron Boone in Conversation For Greatest Yankee Manager Ever!

By adding another 99 wins to his already impressive resume Aaron Boone moved up the most wins as a Yankee Manger! Our bubblegum chewing Yankee Skipper has already “blown” past such Yankee luminaries as Dallas Greene and Jack Keane, and is knocking on the door of being top five. Do I hear extension? 

And Speaking Of Extensions!!!

The Yankees and Brain Cashman Renew Vows

“Til Death Do Us Part” With those simple words and after twenty-five years of unparalleled success we decided to renew our vows in a simple ceremony.

Here’s to the next twenty-five!

See you next season! 

Hey, you know what makes a great holiday gift? 

Yankee Tickets! 

With or without Aaron Judge, it's easy to see the 2023 Yankees descending into negativity

Imagine, for a moment, opening day in Yankee Stadium, as the bleacher creatures' famous roll call reaches right field:  

"BRAN-DON NIM-O!" Clap clap, clapclapclap. 

"BRAN-DON-NIM-O!" Clap clap, clapclapclap.

Fukkin shoot me. Whomever is out there, if he's not named Aaron Judge, will be welcomed to NYC with a tidal wave of boos, likely followed by the once-every-generational chant, "STEINBRENNER SUCKS!" 

What a way to launch a season.  

In fact, it won't be Brandon Nimmo. He knows better. It'll be some small market schmuck obtained in a Cashmanic trade, who gets sent out like Brad Gulden to replace, in this case, the most beloved Yankee since Derek Jeter. His every failure will be magnified 100 times. If he homers - defying the vibes -it will only remind many fans of who is NOT there.

Listen: The Yankees are dangling over a precipice. With or without Judge, there is no guarantee that they won't go Thelma and Louise

Three years ago, they were hamstrung by Giancarlo Stanton's bloated contract. Today, it's far worse. They face a mountain of similar deals. They have no choice but to roll out the money truck for Judge, despite knowing that his contract will inevitably become a lead-weighted albatross. 

I cannot remember a more depressing December. I cannot recall a time when one team - even Boston - had our number more than Houston does. If Food Stamps Hal keeps Judge, he will probably impose a moratorium on further spending. Thus, we will become the California Angels. And if Hal loses Judge, if the unthinkable happens, his replacement will carry the biggest target on his back since Archduke Ferdinand. 

Soon, Judge will decide his fate. I really hope he stays. But either way, the Yankees face a dark December. And the days are still getting shorter.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Redsocks' song: "Patches, I'm dependin' on you, son..."

 Proud day to be a Redsock fan. 

Is this how they keep Rafael Devers?

From now on, let's call them... the MassMutes? 

"Everyone thought it was a homer." Let's savor Aaron Boone's mushiest 2022 defenses of Josh Donaldson

Whadda we gonna do with Josh Donaldson? Last year, age 35, he hit .222 with 15 HRs - yet it wasn't his worst this decade. (That's 2020, when he hit .222 with 6.) 

We'll pay him $21 million this year, plus an $8 million buyout, and if Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner doubles down on self-imposed austerity, Donaldson is the lead paddle in our paper canoe. 

I try not to whine about player contracts. They're just feeding their families. It's the GMs and owners who deserve the boos.  

But Donaldson has broken me. Last year, he was awful in April, troubling in May, terrible in the dog days and embarrassing in October. And at every step, Aaron Boone was there, telling us the horseshit under the tree meant there must be a pony in the back yard. 

On that note, enjoy the Season in Boone-on-Donaldson Mush:

April 16, after loss to O's:

“I think he’s on the verge. I’m not worried about him. If we keep him healthy, he’ll have a big year for us.”

May 22, after JD called Chicago's Tim Anderson "Jackie," a borderline racist comment:

“I understand that Josh has been very forthcoming with the history of it, the context of it. I don’t believe there was any malicious intent with that regard. This is just somewhere in my opinion he should not be going.”

Oct. 14, in playoffs, after JD is thrown out, jogging on fly to the wall:

“Everyone thought it was a homer.” 

Same night, on errant throw: 

“I'd have to look back at it. If it's not on target, maybe. You guys know better than me. I haven't re-looked at the play. But I think you see him going up for a second there, and, you know, I thought he was quick to recognize it.”

Oct. 21, later in playoffs.

“At times he’s struggled [with] where you’re trying to cover a couple of different speeds, so you’re a little in-between with your timing... We’ve got to continue to trust that he’s got a chance to change the game for us and really produce one of those heavy at-bats.”

Nov 4, looking back.

"I know it was a grind for him offensively, I know it was a struggle like it was, frankly, for a lot of our guys in the postseason... It was just getting to that big hit or big swing that would really help get him rolling. That didn't happen."

Same day, on JD as starting 3B next year.

"As we sit here right now, absolutely. He’s been an offensive machine for the best part of his career. I think it was one of those years where he was searching for that consistency.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

"One team in particular (has) really talked to me and talked to, really, my soul.” How sad that Don Mattingly is talking of the Blue Jays - not his old team

Forget the Babadook. Forget global warming. Forget even Andrew Benintendi as an Astro. (BTW, let him go; he's got the "Ellsbury" scent.)  Forget them all. 

The Yankee fan brain cannot summon a more terrifying omen than the image of Don Mattingly stalking us in... gasp... a Blue Jays cap. 

According to the universe of podcasts, that's the likely future for Donnie Baseball, who is in "deep" talks with the BJs to become manager John Schneider's bench coach in 2023.

The Yankees' offer? A YES broadcasting gig. 

Let's pause a moment to ponder this. Breathe. Pull the loaded Luger out of your mouth. The Yankees - 2009 World Champs! - view themselves so perfectly run, so flawlessly idealized, so immaculately mastered, so everlastingly uncorrupted, so unmitigatedly pluperfect, that they have no place in their system - beyond gobbling Michael Kay's leftover goo in a YES booth - for not one but two modern Yankee icons: Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter (also said to be offered a job as team announcer.) 

I get it that both Mattingly and Jeter might make fine YES personalities. (Or not; sometimes, that happens.) 

But these are two of the most upright characters - and baseball minds - on the planet, and both of whom are still identified as faces of the Yankees. 

Apparently, both seek meaningful ways to make their mark in 2023. And the Yankees have no place for them, beyond marveling over exit velos and recalling how great the nineties were? 

You almost wonder: Do certain people in the organization feel, well, threatened?

Mattingly in a Jays cap. What hath God wrought? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Off Season Plan – We Need Specialists

The Yankees have so many issues going into this off season that the GM, especially one as inept as "GM For Life", Brian Cashman, cannot get it done alone. They need to divide up the tasks and bring in specialists.  

Last off season I suggested that the Yankees fire Cashman and bring in Marie Kondo the Japanese de-clutter guru to help them remove players that don’t “Spark Joy”.  Sadly they did not take my advice. 

Yes, they dumped Gary Sanchez, but they immediately brought in overpriced, broken, mismatched bric- a- brac that just made it worse.

This year I would bring in Dr. Kevorkian, but I think he took his own advice and is dead.  Instead, I offer a three-part plan designed to give the team a reset.

Step One

Hal needs to bring in Sam Bankman-Fried. 

The former FTX CEO can help Hal understand that, while on paper the Yankee roster looks reasonably strong, it is actually worthless.

This will soften him up for the next step.

Step Two

Hal needs to get Michael Milken out of retirement (or the federal pen if that’s where he is) to help him move some his junk assets.  

The two most important ones to move are:

Josh Donaldson:  

Jackie D. is owed $30 million. He supposedly is a strong defensive third baseman. Good. That will help. He is also a putz. That will not. So, while normally it would have been possible to cover half the salary in a trade, his attitude alone means we will need to pony up at least 60%. Add his haircut and we will need to push 75% to get it done.  

Do it anyway.  

Yes, we will still need to get another 3rd baseman. Maybe the Angels will trade this Urshala guy.  I kid. Get a filler or, if DJ can still walk, let him play it.  Cabrera is the utility man.  IKF won a Gold Glove at third... whatever. Josh needs to go. With the discount we should be able to get at least one or two single A guys.  (-22.5M)

Aaron Hicks:   

He too is owed $30 million. A perfect change of scenery candidate. Yankee fans are done with this guy.  He seems nice. Spare him the cascade of boos. Seems like 50% on the dollar should work. That takes his annual salary down to $5M for any team that takes him.  A bargain. We should get back some international draft money or a low A player.  (-15M over three years. Chump change.)

Step Three

The Yankees need a new trainer. 

Giancarlo Stanton health has been a major issue for the team.  We currently owe him $260 million. Two-hundred-and-sixty million dollars.  For a part-time DH. 

There is no way to soften this financial blow by trading him because no team is that stupid. Well, there's one but we're it.  

Besides, even if the Yankees were to offer to pay a percentage of Stanton’s contract, he has a no trade clause. So, it's LA or nothing. And LA isn’t going to bite. Plus, we can’t move on and get another star because the cumulative cost is prohibitive.  

It’s time to get him a personal trainer.  

I suggest Kadarius Toney. 

We need Kadarius to befriend Giancarlo. Take him to the clubs. Teach him his workout routines.  

How does this help? 

The salary cap hit is a sunk cost. It’s big and there is nothing that can be done. But… and it’s a Kardashian sized but… much like with Jacoby Ellsbury, if Giancarlo is injured the Yankees can get the money back using insurance. 

The problem is not that he’s injured too much. It’s that he’s not injured enough! 

Bringing in Kadarius as his personal trainer insures Stanton will be injured year round. 

How does this help the team and not just Hal?  They need to bring in a top free agent Left Fielder to take Stanton’s place. This will put them over the cap and cost them luxury tax dollars, but it’s broken up by the year so even if the tax hit is 30% it’s only 30% of the overage. At $40M over the cap it’s just an additional 12M. Bupkis. The actual cost of the player is a wash. Covered by the insurance payment.

The Yankees only get in trouble if Stanton remains uninjured. Hence, we bring in Kadarius to make sure that doesn’t happen.  (-12M per year.)


By following this plan the Yankees have to spend roughly an extra 39M this year and only an extra 17M a year after that for the next three to get rid of the three major players holding them back.

It's a start. 


A grim preview of 2023?

From ZacharyA...

(In the American League), there were only 11 qualified players this season to bat .300 or better.

How sad is that? Go back in time to 2000 and there were 53 such players. But I digress...

Four of those guys are free agents: Aaron Judge, Xander Bogaerts, Jose Abreu, and Andrew Benintendi.

One down. And to our bitter rivals.

We'll see if the Yankees land any of them.

The Yankees lineup, minus Judge and Benintendi, hit .233 on the year. That's a preview of 2023.

The Astros have money to spend, showing Yankee fans how it's done

It's comforting for Yank fans to believe the Astros are cheating again. 

We're like that backroads county in Arizona that won't ratify the recent gubernatorial election. They don't show evidence. They don't advance a theory. They're just sick of vacationing libs, who guzzle the drinking water and leave lousy tips, and they wanna blow up the system. So, yeah, we donno how Houston did it, but they must be cheating.  

I mean, the damn city can't even deliver potable water, but somehow it just signed Jose Abreu - perhaps the best 2023 free agent hitter not named Aaron Judge - to a $60 million deal. 

The Astros won the World Series with a $154 million payroll: That's $60 million below what the Yankees spent to finish alongside Kari Lake. Drunk with its victory, Houston will spend another $20 million per season on Abreu, who hit .304 last year (but with only 15 HRs, strange) at age 35. The Yankees, who re-signed Anthony Rizzo, didn't place a bid. 

But, yeesh, look at the financial difference between the franchises. 

Houston, the 2022 champion, is looking to improve. 

The Yankees are seeking to field last season's same basic team.

In a way, Hal Steinbrenner is absolutely right to look at Houston, whose payroll is 72 percent of what the Yankees spend, and whine about salaries. He shouldn't need to shell out $200 million a year to buy a ring.  

Trouble is, Food Stamps then doubles-down on the executives, managers, connected interns and hangers-on who have built and maintained the Yankee runner-up machine. 

It's foolhardy to judge rosters so early in an offseason. But it looks as though 2023 will begin where 2022 ended: The Astros in command and the Yankees struggling to figure out a lineup.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Dear Mr. Steinbrenner: Show Aaron Judge the Yankees intend to win. Sign some free agents NOW!

Dear Mr. Steinbrenner, Sir...

In the past, we've had differences. I won't sugarcoat it. I'm not proud of the things I've said, at least many of them. I won't repeat that folderol here. I come in peace. Olive branch, extended. 

I accept that you - like the citizen fan warriors of IT IS HIGH - have only the best intentions for the Yankees. We all want Aaron Judge to stay. We all want to win in 2023. We all want world peace, under the total domination of our team. 

But right now, Judge appears to be in the clutches of treacherous West Coast operatives, Svengalis who seek to pry him loose from New York City. They are wooing him with celebrities, piles of gold and nefarious recipes for avocado toast.

Swimming pools, movie stars...

We cannot let this happen.

Sir, you must speak to Aaron Judge through actions, not words. 

Here is what you must do: 

Sign somebody. Anybody, as long as they are expensive. Justin Verlander. Cody Bellinger. Trea Turner. Wilson Contreras. Carlos Correa. Pick two, any two. Sign the best free agents on the market - after Judge, of course. Show him the Yankees mean business, that they will retain their swagger in 2023, and that he will not languish in a lineup without runners on base and/or deterrents behind him.

Last year, when Anthony Rizzo went down with back issues, and Giancarlo Stanton turned into - well - Giancarlo Stanton, Judge went nearly a month with no one to protect him. Show him this will not happen again. 

Sign them... NOW. Don't wait until Judge has decided. Once he leaves, it will be too late. No matter who you sign, it won't be enough. 

Sign them... NOW. I'm sure you assured Judge that the Yankees intend to win in 2023. Now... prove it! Show you are more than words. You're a multi-billionaire, dammit! So act like one. Spend the money! You won't live forever. What else are you going to do, build a pyramid? And this will not be a bad investment. The fans will come. The world will know that the Yankees - the mighty New York fucking Yankees - are back. 

Sign them... NOW. Don't wait, or it could be too late. If Judge leaves, no signings will fill his shoes. In fact, I doubt the top free agents will even want to join the Yankees, because they won't want to be seen as replacements for Aaron Judge.

Do it... NOW. 

Yankee fans will know you're trying.

Yours truly,

A friend.