Sunday, April 11, 2021

As they watch a tired and listless Yankee lineup, John & Suzyn look ready to explode

Midway into yesterday's sad and exhausting loss, John Sterling suddenly latched upon a surgical path forward. 

The Yankees were down 4-0 in the fifth, with Jay Bruce leading off - prompting the Rays' dramatic over-shift, which happens whenever an old school, dead-end, pull hitter comes to bat.

The Master marveled at the open space on the left side of the infield, a veritable pasture, a meadow, a parking lot. Why, if Bruce - cagey veteran that he is - could simply lay one down, he could walk to first, he could literally walk to first. John also noted that, down by four, the Yankees certainly needed a base runner more than a homer. You could feel John's hopes rising - hoping against hope that Bruce could bunt his way to first.

Of course, he didn't. 

Bruce struck out, swinging on a 2-2 pitch. (Reality check: In his 13 year career, he has three sacrifice bunts.) DJ LeMahieu followed suit with a strikeout and, after Aaron Judge singled, Aaron Hicks fanned to christen the inning as a threesome of futility. John didn't mention bunting again. My guess: He won't use the word for a week.

Earlier, he had praised Brett Gardner's double to left, saying it was exactly what the Yankees needed - hitters adapting to the situation, taking a pitch to the opposite field. 

What a concept: Adapting.  

Today, the Death Barge will unveil its latest project, Roughned Odor, who has in his rather dreary career become a poster child for refusal to adapt. Odor is a classic HR/K/W batter - mostly Ks - who was recently jettisoned by Texas because that miserable franchise had simply seen enough of him. 

It's possible that the humiliation of being waived will change Odor, for a week or two, anyway. 

Sometimes, players yearn to prove their old employers wrong, for a week or two, anyway. And in this case, Odor would be basically replacing Bruce, a veteran outfielder who has been forced to play 1B, and who is hitting .111. (10 strikeouts in 27 at bats.)

Every damning assessment of the Yankees must start with this caveat: It's early in the season.

Too early to scream. Too early to throw things. Too early to call for heads to roll.

But it's not too early to wonder... WTF? 

How can a veteran team start a season looking so listless and lifeless? Is there a sparkplug on this roster? Because Mount Sterling is getting ready to blow. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Pre-Recorded Post Game Remarks

 So the game is over, and Aaron Boone shuffles into the " presser" for some post game comments.

I'm not going to watch it, because I already know what is there.  Aaron focused on the positives from the latest shut-out, and loss. 

Here is the gist:

"I thought Aaron moved well and swung the bat well.  He showed no effects of suffering from that damn left side soreness. He just needs to start hitting the ball somewhere there are no fielders..."

"It was good to see Gio back at third, after that Covid-symptom, sneak attack yesterday ( from his first vaccine shot ).  He may have looked a step slow on the pop-up down the line, but that was a long run. 

".... and, did I mention how tough it is to track fly balls and pop-ups in this baseball complex?  I mean take a look at the ceiling.  It is like viewing a series of over-sized cobwebs in a juicer, hanging upside down. Our guys just can't catch 'em."

" The bullpen today pitched great.  We practically shut them out " ( Note to Aaron;  they did ). 

" Domingo was missing his good stuff early, and his velo on that change-up was off.  But he battled and helped save the  bullpen."  

" He is making one mistake each outing with that home run ball. It is fucking demoralizing. Truthfully, as soon as Meadows hit that out, the game was over.  In retrospect, I mean." 

Aaron then makes a private aside ( " I hope he doesn't get too pissed off and start drinking after this shit...." ).  

"We still have a lot of confidence in Domingo."  

" In all of our starters, I mean to say."

As the presser was breaking up, Aaron responded to another throw-away question:  

.", I am not concerned that Gardy is our best hitter. Well aged wines are the best, too, aren't they?"

Judge Not.

From the discombobulated computer - but combobulated mind - of HoraceClarke66. 


Aaron Judge missed Wednesday night’s game due to “general soreness.” It was the 150th Yankees game he had missed since joining the club for good in 2018, and on Friday he missed his 151st.


That’s 151 games by the very start of what will be his fifth full season with the Yankees, and if Covid had not canceled most of 2020 that total would undoubtedly have been much higher.  He was not ready to go in April of last year, laid up with the usual combination of battered ribs, strained obliques, aching muscles everywhere.


This is a great pity, for Aaron Judge is a smart and talented ballplayer when he can play, with a life story that would have led that noxious corporate entity known as MLB to make him the poster boy for all of baseball.


That’s highly unlikely to happen, now, as is what once seemed his great good chance of having a career as the next Yankee superstar, complete with his personal cheering section, leading the team to one World Series after another.


Judge has been compared unfavorably to Mickey Mantle of late, which is unfortunate, for who compares well with a dead god?  But the salient fact is that Mantle, through his own first five, complete seasons with the Yankees, missed only 58 games. 


In other words, Aaron Judge has already missed almost three times as many games in his first five as The Mick, the most famously injured ballplayer in history, brought up in a literal, Superfund toxic waste site, torn by the sprinkler head in the Stadium, ripped asunder by a fence in Baltimore, etc.



This is not meant as a judgement upon Aaron Judge.  Everybody has their own pain threshold, and their own point where they just can’t play effectively, whether they’re in pain or not.  Obviously, Judge is not going to be the player of our dreams, or America’s dreams, or MLB’s dreams and that’s all right, because he doesn’t owe any of us anything.


But his condition does speak, once again, to the sheer blindness and incompetence of the Yankees’ general manager.  Some of us have been saying since 2018 that Brain ought to face the reality of Judge’s physique and trade him while he could still get something worth the trading.


He didn’t, because Brian Cashman never does anything anyone advises him to do, even when they’re obviously right.  He never found a training regimen that could keep Judge on the field, and he didn’t trade him, and now he can watch him continue to decline.  And the same can be said for Sanchez, and Torres, and Andujar, and Severino, and who knows how many other players, along with those who have already gone ahead. 


Everyone gets hurt, and no one gets better.  That’s the reality of this oh-so-promising New York Yankees team over the last five years, and it’s Brian Cashman’s legacy.  It’s a pity, but such a stupid and needless one.


Ten days into the season, Yankee off-season self-congratulations may have come too early

Throughout spring training, several upbeat Yankee narratives emerged.

1. Our wily front office had outsmarted the world by signing potential aces in Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. 

2. The team faced a massive glut of outfield talent.

3. The bullpen, loaded with Olympian gods, remained one of baseball's best.

4. Advanced training techniques - including yoga! - would keep our big hitters healthy.

5. The Rays had weakened themselves in trades, bequeathing the AL East to the Yankees.

6. Gary Sanchez showed a renewed commit-


Okay, look... it's too early to start carping. Far too early. You know it. I know it. We all know it. It's too early. Too. Early. I should not get upset. I should not boo or make crude remarks. Sure, posting hurtful comments may feel good, but you'll regret them later. Nothing good comes from grousing on this blog. I will hold my fire. So should everybody. It's... too... early... 

There. I feel better already. In fact, yesterday brought innumerable positives... which, um, I will list. Yes! That's it! Instead of dwelling upon the Big Lie - that the Yankees are the AL team to beat - I will list positives from yesterday. And , OMG, it's a long list. It's an endless list. In fact, before I undertake the task of listing the positives, let me just restate the importance - and the refreshment - of thinking positively about this plucky and talented Yankee squad, especially after a tough loss. 

Not that yesterday was a tough loss. A tough loss is when the bullpen blows a lead or  we lose in 10 because of that phony baserunner rule. The loss to Baltimore, for example. Now, THAT was a tough loss. Yesterday? Nah. That was an easy loss. Down 9-4 in the fifth? Ha-ha! I just turned off the TV and worked on the butter-churner. If the juju gods thought they were bothering me - well, I say, "Ha-ha!" 

See? Thinking upbeat! And listing the positives...  

1. Aaron Hicks, a HR! 

2. Tyler Wade, a hit! 

3. Luis Cessa, scoreless inning! 

4. No errors by Gleyber! 

See? I can do this. WE can do this. It's not the Yankee Big Lie. We are still the team to beat. Soon, we will release the Kraken! Any day now... RETURNING YOU TO REGULAR CONSCIOUSNESS...

... ment to both hitting and behind the plate. He could be comeback player of the year! Ah, the March narratives.  

Calgon Bath Oil Beads... take me away...

Friday, April 9, 2021


Aaron Judge is trending on Twitter: Here's the best of it.


Is This The Arrow That Slays The Dragon?

 So Cashman sent two deep prospects ( one, now approaching 20 years old ) to acquire Roughened Odor. 

Odor was such a plague to the Rangers that they paid for everything to get rid of him. 

 " He is the worst player in major league baseball..."  cited one of his followers.  They  ( the Rangers ) bought his contract, his plane ticket, and an Uber car to get him out of town.

The guy can't hit and he can't field.  He makes Torres' glove look like Ozzie Smith.

"Odor is a bad seed and he stinks at everything.  There will be fights in the clubhouse within a week," stated yet another admirer. 

It is a panic move made by Cashman to fill a need Cashman created. 

Basically, Cashman went out and found a guy lying in the garbage, in an alley, dead drunk at 7:15 am, and suited him up.

"The price is right, " said Brian.  "And maybe we can rehabilitate that potential he once had...or people thought he had.  I mean, just putting on the pinstripes is like six years at Lourdes, right?"

Seriously, folks, this guy is named Odor for a reason.  It is not Odour or O'Door.  It is men's room at a bus station stink.  This is one guy who lives up to his name. 

I won't wear my Yankee hat because everyone knows we now traded for the worst player in the game, and are making up alibis to justify it. 

They should just put a wavy line on the back of his uniform, not a number. 

He should move in with Hal and his family for a while. Let them smell the work of their GM.

Holy shit !

Who Is the Real Viking Legend?

 From the mind of HoraceClarke66, whose computer is the Zolio Almonte of laptops...

Enough with all this nonsense about voting on what is the greatest Yankees (and therefore, baseball) team ever!  

Time to vote on who is the real Viking hero of the sagas, Ragnar Lothbrok, or Lodbrok, or something that means (I'm not making this up) "Ragnar Shaggy Breeches."  (He sacked Paris!  Baltimore will be a piece of cake!)

You be the judge!  Is our winner:

Ragnar Lodbrok, from the movie Vikings:


Ragnar Lothbrok, from the TV version of Vikings:


Rougned Odor, from the Texas Rangers? New York Yankees.


Vote early and often!


The All-Time Yankees Tournament Semifinals: 1932 vs. 1951

Ah yes, down to the Final Four. And it wouldn't be March/April Madness without an upset or two, which brings us to our first semifinal: The 1932 Yankees (who upset the 1927 team) vs. the 1951 Yankees. 

Ruth and Gehrig vs. DiMaggio and Mantle.

Click below to see the results:

Recent reports on Aaron Judge elevate Yankee threat levels

Here's the fossil record, originally noted by Mike Axisa on "RAB Thoughts" on Patreon. (Subscribe, dammit.)

Last three games of spring training: Judge sits out for unknown reasons. Later, it's suggested that he had Covid symptoms but tested negative. Threat Level: Green.

Monday: Judge leaves blowout in late innings to get a rest. Threat Level: Green.

Tuesday: Boone says Judge is dealing with "nothing specific." Threat Level: Yellow.

Wednesday: Judge pulled from lineup due to "general left-side soreness." He is said to be available to pinch hit, but doesn't. Threat Level: Orange.

Thursday: Off-day. Radio silence. Threat Level: Orange.

Tonight... ? Judge might miss weekend against Rays. RED?

For now, the Yanks have no SS but Gleyber, and why we should shudder over the fate of James Paxton

With the next nine games vs the Rays and Jays - as close to a season-defining week as you'll get in April - the Death Barge has no choice but to, as Old Rummy once said, go with the army you have. 

That means Gleyber Torres at SS, without hesitation or reservation. Damn the errors. Damn the bounced throws. Write him into the lineup, and don't look back. 

We have no Plan B.

Listen: Gleyber is a generational star, the most critical Yankee, a player who could lead this team for a decade. To toggle him around the infield - smack dab in the Gotham pressure cooker - could wreck his confidence and ruin his psyche. We can lament management's decision to ditch Sir Didi and put Gleyber in the Jeter slot - it was more about Hal saving money than winning - but that's history. What's done is done. For now, the Yankees must double-down and give Gleyber all the support they can.

That means moving Jay Bruce from first base. 

Sorry, Jay. It's not you. But we're kidding ourselves to think a 34-year-old, last-chance OF/DH can take over 1B, especially when a Gold Glove replacement stands 40 feet away. 

DJ Lemahieu should play first, and Rougned Odor - the oft-maligned, strikeout machine/castoff from Texas - should get a chance to resurrect his thread-dangling career at 2B. As a batter, Odor is basically another Jay Bruce. But his defense will be an improvement. 

And Gleyber must play SS. Were we to punt on Torres - (our options being Tyler Wade and the waiver wire) - it would not only undermine his confidence but create a logjam when Luke Voit returns. 

It's weird to write this, but the next nine games could have an actual impact on the entirety of 2021. If the Yankees dominate - or get manhandled - it would affect the trajectory of the season. Either way, we must stand by the most important Yankee. And that is Gleyber. 

On a secondary note...

Don't lie: Didn't we all smirk yesterday when stinking Seattle announced James Paxton will undergo Tommy John surgery? (Never forgiving them for Joginson Cano.) But swallow the grins, everybody, because Paxton is Exhibit A for why we should fear what's to come.

The line on Big Maple is an old one: The potential Hall of Fame career derailed by ligaments and tendons, things that should only be mentioned in 5th grade biology. Paxton is the classic soldier who seems to get hurt blowing his nose. For some reason - DNA or the juju gods - he goes from tweak to tweak. It's not that he's a malingerer. It's not his fault. But this injury might well furnish the epilogue on Paxton: 

Coulda been great, but for the tweaks.

Well, the Yankees have a staff of Paxtons - Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon and Luis Severino, to name a few. Jordan Montgomery has yet to pitch a full year, following TJ surgery. Jonathan Loaisiga has had his share. And let's not even mention the china dolls  who bat second, third and fourth.

That's the thing about oft-injured players. Some - maybe most - never change. Hide your smirks, folks. She's a long, long season, full of dark surprises.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Once A Year...

 ...I sing this song.

The name of the song is " You Win With Strength Up The Middle."

It is the oldest, and truest, baseball maxim there is.  And it is always correct.  Want a quick, empirical check? 

 Look at the Dodgers roster that won the world series last year.  

Here is how the maxim goes:

1.  You have to have a great catcher.  The kind of player we all once though Gary Sanchez was.  A reliable hitter, with power, and top defensive skills. A catcher who allows pitchers to throw their best breaking stuff in the most clutch moments (e.g. breaking balls in the dirt ), and guns runners out who dare to steal. 

2.  Terrific pitching.  Starters and bullpen. And a closer who is dependable all the time. 

3.  A gold glove shortstop who can hit ( usually for average, rather than power ). He puts the ball in play, and you want him at bat when you've got to advance or score a runner.  He is a smart, resourceful, unpredictable baseball player. On defense, this guy turns hits into outs due to his range and arm strength. He makes the catcher look good on throws to second with acrobatic catches, when needed. 

4.  A centerfielder with a gold glove and exceptional speed. Patrols 40-45% of the outfield and is known for spectacular catches.  His work is dis-spiriting to the other side.   And, this is a guy who hits for both average and power.  Anyone remember Micky Mantle?  Or Mookie Betts last year on the Dodgers?  It is not usually a guy whose best offensive asset is earning a walk.  You don't bat him third to do that. 

So, how do you rate the 2021 Yankee team on these measures?

And, having done that, can you realistically think anything other than getting into the wild card game, and then getting incredibly lucky to extend the season?

The Plan! The Plan!

 From the amazing HoraceClark66, (who needs a new laptop.)

On the play that lost our first battle for first place last night, I agree with everybody:


Yes, any ordinary first baseman—even Mike Ford!—woulda shoulda coulda had it.


And yes, on The Gleyber’s throw…WTF???


Well, anyone can have a bad game, especially in April. But yes, we should be alarmed that Gleyber, El Conquistador, has yet to drive in a run on the season, even after three games against his personal whipping boys, the Birds of Baltimore.


Thus far, he has looked exactly like he did through last year’s sad rump of a regular season: shaky in the field, and inexplicably bad at the plate.


Sure, sure give him time. But the trouble is, The Gleyber was “The Plan.”


Even Judge’s awesome 2017—how long ago that seems now!—came out of nowhere. The New Yankees Dynasty was going to be built around The Gleyber, the player even the Evil Genius Epstein admitted publicly that he hated to give up, a blood sacrifice necessary to finally get the Cubbies a trophy.


The Gleyber was going to be the shortstop of the future, in the shiny new Century of the Shortstop. He was going to make Derek Jeter look like some clanky old, retro Model T—an added bonus for Brain Cashman—with his phenomenal hitting and fielding.


Instead…in an MLB full of superstar shortstops, here we are looking at yet another mysterious Yankee flame-out, gone into a ditch on Sanchez Row right next to those other gorgeous, malfunctioning models:  the classic Judge, the Miggy, the, well, Ford.


What gives? I’d say, at this rate, pretty soon The Gleyber’s confidence, along with what’s left of his ability, though I hope not. 


Never forget, though, the mantra of the Brain’s would-be dynasty: Everybody gets hurt, no one gets better.

40 years ago: Bobby Murcer hits a pinch-hit grand slam on Yankees' Opening Day

(Correction: I really am old ... I got the dates mixed up. It was April 9, 1981, not April 8.)


I was at the game - left field, lower deck - and when Murcer was sent up with the bases loaded,  I was praying he'd hit one out. 

As soon as ball met bat, I yelled "He did it!!" My older brother next to me said, "Maybe not ..." thinking it might die out and fall short, but I knew. 

I was 15 and Bobby Murcer was my baseball hero. I was certain that the baseball gods wouldn't be so cruel to tease me like that.

I've learned, in the four decades since, exactly how cruel those juju gods can be, but that day, at least, they weren't.

40 years. Damn, I'm old.

If Judge Is Hurt... the poem

If Judge is hurt, 
Please forgive this ditty...
If Judge is hurt,
This won't be pretty.

If Judge is hurt,
He deserves our pity.
If Judge is hurt,
He needs a new city.

A night filled with dark omens casts an early shadow over the 2021 Yankees

Last night was a trap, a mirage: We entered on a roll, unveiling a stud winter acquisition, and our dearest friends - the jolly-good Orioles of Baltimore - would surely accommodate us. They are wonderful guests. 

Still, it began with one Yank in the jacuzzi and ended with another face-down in the dirt. A night of bad omens, with the juju gods working overtime. Consider...

1. Gleyber Torres threw a game away - literally. One out from a scoreless 10th, Gleyber botched a Little League throw to first. Yeesh. It was a play he simply has to make. By night's end, YES was airing a highlight reel of his errors from the first five games. Dare I wonder: Is this becoming a Knoblauch thing? The '21 Yankees were balanced on Gleyber at SS. If he can't play it - increasingly a concern - it forces a domino-drop of roster moves, all of which begin with finding someone who can. The lineup with Gleyber at 2B is like a Picasso painting, the nose and eyes out of place. Be afraid.

2. In the ninth, down by a run, Gary Sanchez - is there such a thing as an omen-free night from Gary? - smacked a clutch line drive double to left, except for a problem: He stopped at first. Actually, he had no choice. Halfway down the baseline, Gary stopped running so he could better watch the ball. It soared past the LF's glove and bounced off the wall, and Gary had no chance to take second. The result: a runner on first, as opposed to one in scoring position... because he didn't run hard. 

The game was on the line. If a guy doesn't hustle in that situation, will he ever? Great Yankee teams were built around firebrand catchers - Yogi, Elston, Thurman, Jorge, even Girardi - who led by example. That's not Gary. It never will be. Last night, Sanchez was bailed out by an epic romp by Mike Tauchman - scoring from first on a ball that didn't even get past the LF. If Tauchy were out at home, the Yankiverse would be on fire today, seething about Gary's failure to run.  

3. Gleyber's botched throw might have been snared by an expert first-baseman. Instead, we saw an awkward lunge by OF/DH Jay Bruce (who otherwise did not play poorly) as the ball skidded by. Gleyber might have one chance at SS - a gold glove-level 1B who snares his bad throws. That's not Bruce. (It might not even be Luke Voit.)

4. Okay, no more burying the lead: Aaron Judge watched. He suffered "side soreness." WTF does that mean? I do not think Judge is a wuss or bad actor. He is a big lug with with big muscles that snap like matchsticks and heal in geologic time. It we hear today that he'll miss six weeks, will anybody be surprised? And if it's Giancarlo tomorrow, would eyebrows even raise? This we do know: The Yankees will not feel compelled to disclose the truth about an injury, if they sense any advantage to keeping it quiet. So whatever they say about it being minor... their words mean nothing. 

5. Clint Frazier is in a funk. In five sad at bats last night, he gave the O's infield practice. We all have high hopes for Clint. But now and then, you blink and see another Billy McKinney, another Zolio Almonte - another young Yankee whose great potential might be obscured by a flaw that we never noticed, but is now on every opponent's chalk board. 

Until Frazier is a proven hitter, he is not. 

This weekend, we start a nine-game set between Tampa and Toronto. Although there is no such thing as a "must" series in April, last night's omens will not disappear on their own. Thus far, the 2021 Yankees have just not looked all that good.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

How Is This Year Like All the Other Years?

 (From HoraceClarke66.)

Sigh. And I thought that over/under of 6 was really in jeopardy. Oh, well...


 Did y'all watch the game yesterday?

Remember the prodigious swing that Aaron Judge took in lofting his 110 exit velocity home run?

Well....he be a late scratch from today's line-up.

He be sittin......

What's that muscle that rips when you swing a piece of lumber too hard? 

Keep a watch out....

Just sayin..

The Yankees say, " it's be precautionary....."

I'm gonna honk on that. 

Who is Rougned Odor and why is he a Yankee? Is Cashman facing an existential crisis?

The answers, my dear Watsons, are simple...

1. This is a Tinker Year for Brian Cashman. He'll tinker the rotation, tinker the roster, tinker the media - (hopefully not the interns) - and toggle this team like its the Hadron Collider. Cashman and his algorithms have taken control. Clearly, he suspects that 12 years without a World Series - coupled with the rising Mets - will stain his Yankee legacy. Thus, regardless of how microscopic the change, if his projections show but one molecule of improvement, he will do a deal.

2. It's about defense. Rougned Odor plays a certifiably bad 2B, but he's still better there than Jay Bruce is at first. The intangible is DJ LeMahieu, who plays anywhere with the footwork of Gene Kelly. Bruce can't go a full month at 1B, where despite his lefty bat, he also has two left feet. At this stage of his career, he's a DH/RF, and his defensive shortcomings undermine Gleyber Torres' shot at SS. I believe Bruce might lose his spot. Ironically, last night, he both homered and threw a runner out at home. He surely realizes the threat of Odor.

3. It's about age. Though Odor seems to have been around since Watergate, he is only 27, a year older than Clint Frazier, a year younger than Jordan Montgomery. He is the consummate former super-prospect who flamed out and fizzled, probably because he read too many news clippings. In 2019, he led the AL in strikeouts. Ponder that. Despite great speed, he's caught stealing almost half the time. And though it's hard to assess the root cause of  a brawl, Odor has been in a few too many. Clearly, Texas wanted him gone. But the Yankees have some solid - and very, very large - team leaders. If discipline is an issue for Odor, perhaps being waived will knock some sense into him. Sometimes, it takes just that.

4. It's about money. Texas will pay the freight on this guy - $27 million over the next two years. Like I said above, they wanted him GONE. They cut him, waived him, DFA'ed him, and what did they get in return? Two low-level minor leaguers who - like everybody else - missed all of 2020. It's impossible to assess the price, but it sure doesn't seem high.

5. It's about Luke Voit. Our favorite middle linebacker should return from knee surgery by mid-May. But by then - we all know this: injuries will have happened, Stanton will be in the jacuzzi - and maybe Luke can play DH. Odor will give the Yankees some breathing room, in case Luke is struggling. (One thing we've learned about Voit: He'll play in pain, though he won't necessarily be as productive as he should.)

6. Cashman just blinked. He hopes nobody saw, but everybody did. This winter, the Yankees ignored their the lack of LH bats. They claimed Aaron Hicks, batting third, would be the answer. Well, Hicks hasn't looked like the lefty deterrent. Last night, Brett Gardner - with one hit - equaled Hicks' production over four games. Of course, it's too early to give up on Hicksy, one of baseball's greatest golfers. But Mars needs women and the Yankees need lefties. Odor is just the beginning. He won't be the last retread we see this year. 

7. We get to see what Odor looks like without the beard. (Major improvement, out of the blocks.) 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Bases loaded, Hicks steps up to the plate...

and I think, "Perfect situation for him. Maybe he'll draw a walk." 

OK, yesterday it worked out, but I can't get used to the idea that my expectation was so low. 

It's absurd.  

Can you imagine...

My Grandfather in 1927 (Translated from the original Hungarian): "Oh good the Babe is up. Perfect situation for him. Maybe he'll draw a walk."

My Father in 1961 "Oh good Maris is up. Perfect situation for him. Maybe he'll draw a walk."

Me in 1976:  "Oh good Munson is up. Perfect situation for him. Maybe he'll draw a walk."

Me in 1985:  "Oh good, Mattingly is up. Perfect situation for him. Maybe he'll draw a walk."

Me in 1998:  "Oh good Bernie is up. Perfect situation for him. Maybe he'll draw a walk."


Here's an easy suggestion.  Bat Frazier 3rd.  "Oh good Frazier is up. Perfect situation for him. He'll probably lash a bases clearing double or, at a minimum, hit a long fly ball and get a run in."

There, that sounds better. 

How Monty did it


Is Monty the Second Coming of Andy?

Last night, Jordan Montgomery threw six brilliant shutout innings. It means that... (choose one) 

1. At least for now, he's our Secret No. 2 starter. Corey Kluber will still steal the headlines, but Monty will be the one we count on to restore order through the four-game abyss when Gerrit Cole is not pitching.

2. At last, the Yankee farm system may have birthed a lefty starter. Since Andy Pettitte arrived in 1995, the Yankees have touted a steady stream of duds and near misses - from Brien Taylor to Manny Banuelos, from Eric Milton to Ed Yarnall, from Ian Clarkin to Randy "Snakebite" Keisler. I won't relive the list, which is enough to freeze the ice cream sandwiches in Jesus Montero's eternal cabbage basket. But in the name of Ian Kennedy - (whom we traded) - we may finally have raised another Andy. All hail the Yankee Farm System... two lefty studs in 25 years? 

3. Baltimore was in town.

Hard to say, but Monty's 4-hit outing over the PREVIOUSLY UNDEFEATED AND UNTIED Orioles masked some good and  bad omens. For example:

Good Omen: Aaron Judge's HR went to the opposite field. When he's hitting, they go everywhere.

Bad omen: Gary Sanchez made his third error in four games. He dropped a pop foul. WTF?

Good omen: Luis Cessa pitched two shutout innings. Who thought that Cessa/King could be the new Ramiro Mendoza/Mike Stanton?) 

Bad omen: Gary Sanchez fanned three out of four times. WTF? I'm starting to wonder if this is his "Fat Elvis" phase?

Good omen: Giancarlo Stanton's massive grand slam. 

Qualifier omen: It came after Baltimore's pitcher issued a bases-loaded walk to Aaron Hicks. Frankly, after a pitcher issues a bases-loaded walk, he should be removed. But this was Baltimore. 

And hey, a win is a win is a win. Tonight, maybe Kyle Higashioka can catch, igniting rumors that he's Gerrit Cole's secret personal bodyguard. I say, bring them on. If Higgy doesn't make an error, or strike out three times, he'll look like Johnny Bench. 

And Monty looks like Andy. 


Monday, April 5, 2021

Management Test

Here is a proposition.

Have 8 oz. of Gentleman Jack with your breakfast, and ponder this decision:

1.  You own the Yankees.

2.  Your name is Hal

3.  You are an asshole

4.  Giancarlo's agent asks for a meeting with you.

5.  Behind closed doors, said agent proposes that his "client" will retire tomorrow morning, citing the need, " to pursue other interests ."

6. Just write a check for $100 million.

Raise your hand if you would do it. 

Toronto just sent the Yankees a message, and it should worry us

Let's start with the obvious: 

Aside from injuries and joyful visits from topless dancers, nothing of consequence happens in the first weekend of a season. 

If someone told you Michael King would throw six shutout innings, that Gary Sanchez would belt two HRs and that nobody would splatter like Lady Diana into an outfield wall - (too soon?) - admit it: You've have pricked your thumb and signed Mephistopheles' parchment. After three games, our bullpen remains intact. We even scored most of our runs (five out of eight) via small ball. Why would we worry?

Expect a long, hellacious season, made even longer because of last year's 60-game sprint. Between now and October, our lineup will turn over countless times, and all expectations will be chewed up and spat out. Baltimore is 3-0. (Last year, the O's swept us in Games 4 and 5.) Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack. That's China Town, Jake. You can't predict baseball, Suzyn.

I can't even believe I'm bothering to write this: That's how obvious it is. Aside from speeches and bird shit, nothing of consequence rains upon the opening weekend. Take the loaded Luger out of your mouth. Put down the Draino. As long as nobody is clutching his elbow, we have 158 games to erase the 2-game lead Baltimore has amassed. I mean, WHY AM I EVEN SAYING THIS? MY MAIN LOBE, THE PART OF THE BRAIN THAT KNOWS THESE THINGS, THAT ACCEPTS REALITY AND UNDERSTANDS THE RIDICULOUSLNESS OF DRAWING CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FIRST WEEKEND OF A SEASON, IT'S ON FIRE WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT IT'S PREPOSTEROUS, IT'S INSANE, IT'S A WASTE OF MY TIME AND YOUR TIME, AND EVERYBODY'S TIME, TO WORRY ABOUT THE 2021 SEASON. AND I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO BE INVOLVED WITH ANYTHING OF LESS CONSEQUENCE THAN DRAWING CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FIRST GAMES OF A YEAR. WHY, THAT WOULD BE PATENTLY ABSURD!

That said, I have some thoughts...

In fact, you'd have to blind to miss them.

1. Until further notice, Toronto is the class of the AL East. They put us down so easily that, for the first time in 40 years, I recalled Nature Boy Buddy Rogers with his Sleeper Hold. They scored runners. We stranded them. Their lineup offers at least five emerging stars - players who have yet to peak professionally. We might have two (Gleyber and Frazier.) We must stop kidding ourselves about the Yankees being the power team of the AL. That's YES propaganda. (And after a weekend of Coney and O'Neill, it's clear that YES is evolving from the Yankee Fox News into the Yankee OAN.)  

2. Though there's no need to make changes now, the brain trust must start pondering a post-Aaron Hicks era. If by May 1 he isn't hitting, they must move him out of the third hole. If by June 1, they must replace him. The problem is our distressful lack of lefty bats, which could force a set of horrible trades by Aug. 1. How does a Yankee team - in the House that Ruth Built - evolve into an almost entirely RH batting order? Right now, we're leaning on Jay Bruce and Brett Gardner to balance an entire lineup. That's a glaring weakness. 

3. Okay, rabbit hole  time: I cannot help but wonder if there is more to Giancarlo Stanton being rested after just two games in three days? Sadly, with injuries, we've been programmed over the years to expect the worst. Whenever a pitcher gets walloped, it turns out he was throwing in pain. And when a player sits out, there's usually an ache involved. I get it that Aaron Boone wanted Gardy to get into a game. But Stanton is an absolute central cog to the 2021 Yankees. He's so important that they didn't play him for one pitch in the outfield this spring. So he sits out the third game? WTF?  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

GAME TREAD... Da Jays.

 Document the atrocities.

One game in April means nothing. But a series against your main opponent... that brings takeaways!

Weird season, '21. We won't play Boston until June 4. (Yes, June Fourth.) By then, Chris Sales will be soft-tossing, Jeter Downs will be in Double A, the SI swimsuit edition will be in shreds, and unless somebody emerges, the Redsocks will be tanking - as they so artfully do in weird seasons, such as this. They're the Brood X cicadas of the AL East.  

It's the Rays and Jays that concern us, and  starting next weekend - April 9 - the Yanks play nine straight against these self-entitled, villainous frat-pigs. Six will happen in Florida - three in Tampa, three in Dunedin - where Toronto will play until Lake Ontario unfreezes and Fauci figures out Covid. Weird season, indeed, but happy days for Florida Men (and their 17-year-old concubines!) 

Which brings us to this: 

Happy Insert Religious Holiday everybody ! 

For Domingo German, this is Resurrection Day. If he pitches well - I'm thinking six innings, one run? - 2021 looks far more pleasanter. 

So... two games. One win. A million takeaways. (Distilled, for your convenience.)

1. Okay, it's great to see Gary Sanchez blasting HRs. Not complaining. This notion some people have that we at IIHIIFIIc whine about everything?... NOT TRUE! This is not a whine. It's a takeaway. I am not complaining. I'm fulminating. And in this fulmination, I would simply note that over his roller coaster career, Gary Sanchez HRs go in all directions. If he's swinging for the fences - well - another .146 batting average is possible. Can he adjust? Can he change? If not, don't be deceived by two HRs. By the way, Gary has yet to strike out this year. Not one! Wouldn't it be neat if he kept that streak going for, say, 10 games? Just keep putting the bat on the ball, Gary - that's all we're asking. And this is NOT a whine!)

2. On the other side of the fulmination fan... in eight ABs, Aaron "Hope" Hicks has struck out six times. One hit, one walk. Insert sigh here. The YES pre-season narrative went that Hicks would thrive hitting between the skyscrapers - Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton - elevating his stardom and value. Thus far, nothing. That trio has been a drain on the offense. (Stanton is 0-8.) They will surely wake up. But I'm less "Hopeful" on Hicks batting third.

3. Meanwhile, doncha leap from the bean chair whenever Clint Frazier comes into view? He is the one ascending star on this team - the hitter whose peak remains ahead of him. He is three for six. Of course, he bats ninth. (Not complaining: It's nice to start him out low in the order, so he can hit his way to a higher perch. If he keeps it up, though, Hicks must fall and Frazier needs to rise.)

4. Jonathan Loaisiga could be a breakout bullpen arm. But Aaron Boone better be careful. Loaisiga's career has always shown great talent and numerous injuries. If he becomes Boonie's Daily 8th, Loaisiga's health will be in danger. (I'm thinking of how good Tommy Kahnle looked last year, right around now - then, poof.) The Yankees must not Scott Proctor this kid. In fact, they might even make him a starter. Yes, it's more innings, but they can be more carefully planned. I leave this to the Yankee brain trust; I'm sure they're on it. (But when Boone hits a salad buffet for bullpen arms, he chooses whomever is hot. That's where we hit trouble.) 

Even in a weird season... and yes, this is one.