Thursday, September 20, 2018

THEY CAN'T BEAT US AT HOME. THEY CAN'T BEAT US AT HOME. LISTEN; THEY. CANNOT. BEAT. US. AT. HOME!

The chant must begin as a whisper, maybe by a child in the upper deck. It's like the butterfly in China that births the Carolina hurricane. Someone picks up on it, and soon the entire section is saying it, softly... almost reverently...

They can't beat us at home... 

They can't beat us at home...

It must unfurl along with the game, growing steadily, until in the ninth - with victory assured and the Redsock champagne crates en route to Boston - the decibel levels shake the concrete mezzanines and echo throughout the Yankiverse. 

THEY CAN'T BEAT US AT HOME! 

The Redsock '18 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM)... can't beat us in New York.

All of which will create an existential crisis within the rank and file of this Suffering Chosen Tribe of Celebrities and Understanding White Oh-Dears - the James Taylors, the Ben Afflecks, the Stephen Kings - who still feel put-upon because Uncle Wilmer's liver didn't make it to 2004. Their team spends $40 million more than the competition, yet they still cling to the Cinderella Syndrome, railing against the big money Yankees, as they sit their argyle socked toes onto the breakfast nook and ease warmly into the next cloudy snifter of scotch. 

And if we can lure these preening, self-indulgent fuckwads into a five-game blood match, all we need is one - one win, I say! - in Fenway. 

Eleven games remain in the reg. For the Sons of Anarchy - those merry A's - to overtake us and steal the home field Wild Card, they practically must win all 11. (They play the Angels, Twins, Mariners, then Angels again; I'm figuring 8-3.) After tonight, we have three no-excuse games at home against the worst O's team in history. If we beat Boston tonight, then sweep Buck onto his rightful pedestal within the Gene Mauch dust heap of baseball history - the long time manager who never won nothing - we'd be at least four up with seven to play. Anything can happen. But win tonight, and I like our chances... 

Tonight, it's Eduardo Rodriguez. We must be patient. Masahiro must throw zeroes. Aroldis Chapman needs to pitch an inning. Dellin Betances needs a 1-2-3. Giancarlo Stanton needs a homer. Gary Sanchez needs a hit. The defense needs to hold. And the chant needs to be heard.

They can't beat us at home.

They. Can't. Beat. Us. At. Home.

"Ballgame Over! Red Sox Challenge to the Yankees' Meta Win Record OVER! TH-UH-UH-UH-UH YANKEES WIN! TH-HUH-UH-UH YANKEES WIN!"

Yep.  It's all over.  My friends, the Boston Red Sox will NOT win 125 games, at least not this season.

Our meta, all-time sports record stands.

Terrific, all-around effort tonight.  Well, all right, except for ICS, still staggering backwards in the dust storm outside Mendoza.  And Stanton, now up to 203 strikeouts, just 20 short of the record.

But still.  Great to see.  Most of all...because we kept the record.

HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Also, it was fun to beat David Price.  It always is.

Heheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheh.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

El Chapo returns. Wouldn't it be the perfect time to adopt the Tampa model?

I have this terrifying fear that Aroldis Chapman will pitch the ninth inning tonight, attempting to close a three- or four-run lead. And instead of a series-winning, month-saving victory, we will suffer a soul-crushing defeat.

Wouldn't it be smart to do what major league relievers usually do when rehabbing in the minors? That is, start the game, pitch an inning, and go from there. Don't subject Chapman to a ninth inning pressure cooker. If he has control or command issues, let it happen in the first, with your actual starter warming in the pen.

It makes sense. Why do we all know that the Yankees will never do it?




THEY CAN'T BEAT US AT HOME! THEY CAN'T BEAT US AT HOME! THEY CAN'T BEAT US AT HOME! DAMMIT. THEY. CAN'T. BEAT. US. AT. HOME!

Ladies and gentlemen, lads and lassies, children of all ages... 

As you know, I'm certainly the last person in the world to overstate the importance of one Yankee victory...

That said, I humbly suggest that last night, we reached the crossroads of the 2018 season, the future of human civilization, and the disillusion of the universe due to entropy - reversing the flow of time back toward the Big Bang, and its rightful days of Yankee dominance. Simply stated, for those of you who don't understand quantum theory, our long, gruesome descent into the kind of despair that I call "juju homelessness" may have ended. This morning, that light at the end of the tunnel is not necessarily honking its horn for us to get out of its way. Today, there is hope in the quarks. They're the Higgs bosons, not the Higgs Bostons. 

At Yankee Stadium this season, we are now 5-2 against the Redsock '18 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM). We can beat this team... at home.

If you discard that crippling final loss in the early August meltdown in Beantown - the one where Aroldis went crazy and Miggy threw the ball away - we'd be 7-7 on the season against this incredible, Olympian collection of superhuman achievement. We could be on the verge of beating this team for the season.

From now on, at least through Thursday, I say one great mantra should echo over the Bronx.

They can't beat us at home...
They can't beat us at home...
THEY CAN'T BEAT US AT HOME!


Their bullpen leaks. Their bats can disappear. They're not that great. 

Last night, they had us in kill range. To lose game one of this series - to let Boston clinch the division in NYC - would have been a psychic death blow to the Yankees. And they had us. Nobody was touching Nathan Eovaldi, a galling blow unto itself, considering his Yankee background. We'd reverted to the team that cannot score, the team that cannot make a big play in the field, the a team that cannot close. And then... it didn't happen.

They can't beat us at home.

Listen: There remain a million reasons to doubt the Yankees. This last month has been a rain forest of despair. Tonight, Luis Severino must beat David Price, or at least match him, inning for inning. But not long ago, we owned the bastard. Then, somehow, we yawned off to sleep, like the ghost of America, and let the Redsocks run roughshod over our historical name. 

Certainly, I can never be accused of putting too much emphasis on one Yankee victory. But last night, the juju gods rose from their dingy computer terminals, stood up in their cubicles and waved their velcro wrist supports at the overhead  TVs in their newsroom. Last night, the juju abruptly turned and began to flow in our direction. 

They can't beat us at home. And if we can just trap Boston into a five-game series, we can bloody well send them home and restore truth to the galaxy. 

All we need to do is win tonight. Did I mention that? We need to win tonight.

...But Not By This Much

...they should not be winning by this much.  Not by over 10 games, rolling merrily toward the division title for over a month now, ever since the Beantown Beatdown, virtually unchallenged.

The Yankees' main stress point going into the season was their starting pitching.  If it held up—and it largely has—they should have been able to at least seriously challenge even an extremely successful Boston club, and despite the disparity in injuries.

Take a look at the players.  Very few if any of Boston's starters have greatly exceeded expectations, and some have underperformed.  The Red Sox bench is very thin.  The Yankees' starters, at least coming into the season, were generally better, and their bench and bullpen were deeper.

Once the Yanks' two starting rookies proved they were more than major-league ready, this should have been a dogfight.

It was not.  And there were, I think, three main reasons why:

—The wholesale implosion, for whatever reason, of Bird and Sanchez.  I have discussed this ad nauseam, so I won't go into it again.  But suffice it to say, these were two positions where the Yanks seemed to have a significant advantage over the Sox going into the season.  As it turned out, they did not.

Almost every other position-by-position matchup has usually been offset.  For instance, Gardy's worst-ever year has been matched by yet another disappointing Jackie Bradley, Jr. season; Walker's follies by Rafael Devers' reversion to the mean, etc.

—J.D. Martinez's advantage over Giancarlo Stanton.  This is an unfair comparison in some ways.  Martinez has been able to simply DH, while Stanton has had to play constantly, and often in the outfield, thanks to Cashman's decision to get rid of most of our back-up outfielders just before the Judge injury.  G. has probably done at least some of this with a barking hammie.

However:  the fact remains that Stanton's stats have declined significantly from his terrific 2017 season, while Martinez's have not.

There's also this:  Stanton last night became only the 8th man in MLB history to strike out 200 or more times a season (some of them did it more than once).  He has an outside chance at setting the all-time, single-season strikeout record.

He is also the second Yankee in as many years to go over 200 whiffs, after Aaron Judge's 208 strikeouts last year.

Think of that:  one-quarter of the biggest strikeout totals in history, came from Yankees players in the last two years.

—The tangibles.  That is, things that are usually called "intangibles."  But obviously, we can see and calculate them.

Take our making one in three double-plays last night.  That was flukish—but the Yankees have turned the fewest double plays in the league this year, some 13 fewer than Boston.

We have also made more errors, stolen fewer bases, drawn fewer walks, collected fewer hits than the Red Sox.  Not a lot, in any one category.  But they add up.  We play a sloppier, more distracted game than they do.  Day in, and day out.

We do, as predicted, lead the AL in home runs.  I think the total is 242 after Neil "The Walker" Walker.  We are closing in on an all-time Yankees team high, and while it's unlikely we will break the MLB all-time record, we will probably finish as one of the top 5-6 teams in homers in a season—ever.

The teams ahead of us now:

1997 Seattle       264
2005 Texas         260
1996 Baltimore  257
2010 Toronto     250
2000 Houston    249
2012 Yankees    245
1996 Oakland    243

Notice a pattern?  None of those teams won a World Series.  None of them reached the World Series. Only two teams here even reached the league championship series.

I think the only conclusion from all this is, while the Yankees have been hampered by injuries this year,which would probably have "doomed" them to finish second in any case, much of the difference between them and the Red Sox is due to management's failures in instruction, personnel, and philosophy.














Yes, the Red Sox Should Be Better Than Us...

Looking at things from a distance and with perfect equanimity—not, I will admit, my forte—the Red Sox should be ahead of us.

Boston this year put together a starting staff with three recent Cy Young winners, still in the prime of their careers.

They pretty much have lived up to expectations.  Their back starters and their bullpen looked as if they might be the team's Achilles heel.  But they have exceeded expectations, and are among the league's best.

Throw in the fact that Boston has suffered remarkably few serious injuries this year.  They got little from Pedroia last season, and didn't expect much this year.  After that, they have not suffered a major, sustained injury.

The Yankees, by contrast, lost Judge, Frazier, Torres, Didi, Torreyes, Sanchez, Drury, Tanaka, Montgomery, Chapman, and several lesser pitchers for significant amounts of time.

Given all that, it's not surprising that the Red Sox are headed for the division title, and the Yankees are not.

Well, que sera, sera—that's how many a baseball season works out, often as not in our favor.

However (you knew there had to be a 'however' in there, didn't you)...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pre-Emptive Celebration, Anyone???

As the Warbler was good enough to point out, today's improbable win over the Carmine Hose reduced the Magic Number to 1.

One.

One more Red Sox loss, and it will become mathematically impossible for them to match the Yankees' all-time, combined regular-season-and-playoffs-and-World Series record of 125 wins.

Which, when you consider how no sports plays so long a season as that in baseball, probably means that no other major league team, anywhere in the world, ever, has won so many games in a single season.

Tonight's loss, in fact, ensures that no matter what happens, the Red Sox CANNOT break that record, only tie it at the very most.

Bwahahahahahaha!

To keep the Sox from clinching the AL East and celebrating on our field, something they would dearly love to do, all they need to do is win one game in this series.  Something that, judging from our offensive output vs. Nathan Eovaldi tonight is, let's face it, all but inevitable.

So...I'm calling for a pre-emptive celebration.

If, somehow, we win Wednesday night's game—again, a massive "if," more formidable than the terrible island fortress and prison of the Chateau d'If—we will have clinched our record for another year.  And we should celebrate.

Just think of how puny this will make the Red Sox and their fans feel.

To see us celebrating this incredible meta record, before they even get a chance to revel in their all-but-insignificant division title.  Think of how much of the joy it will take out of that silly little outfield dance they do, and all their champagne popping in the clubhouse.

I know, I know:  what I'm proposing would not nearly be in the league of the incredible, "Moon Big Papi" protest which this site proudly pioneered.  (Was that LBJ?  Or LB no J?)

But still.  Think how it would flummox and annoy them if, after besting David "Steroid Chin" Price our whole team and everyone associated with it, including clubhouse boys and trainers, wives and favored annies, suits and cops, all went charging into a big pig pile in the middle of the field.

If there were fireworks, and cannon firing, and that trained eagle swooping around the field picking off Red Sox stragglers, and the groundskeepers formed a conga line around the stadium that one fan after another could join on to.

Saying to the Red Sox:  we are so far, far above your petty concerns that your passing triumph cannot even touch us!  We celebrate, again, being the greatest EVER!

Think about THAT!





The Days of Awe Are Over! ATONE!

Actually, we can still watch the Red Sox in awe.  Even while we atone by watching the Yankees.

God works in mysterious ways...

Can Aaron Judge save Aaron Boone?

In every great player's career, a few legendary moments stand out. Jeter had the flip, Reggie the three blasts, Mariano holding off the Redsocks in game seven, Thurman's Death Valley shot off KC's Doug Bird... 

We cannot assume that Aaron Judge will go someday be a Hall of Fame inductee or even hold a plaque in Monument Park. The juju gods are bastards. Too many bad things can happen and few are as potentially damaging as a broken wrist. But over the next few days, Judge will hold center stage in the Yankees' most critical stretch of 2018. We've seen what the Yankees look like without him, and the portrait of Dorian Grey looked less distressing. What Judge over the next few weeks - regardless of how compromised he is due to the injury - will define him for years to come. It's not fair, really. But it's baseball.

Of course, if Judge returns and cannot hit, he'll have a surefire excuse: He's got a bum wrist. We watched Mark Teixeira flounder for 18 months, and never reclaim his stardom, due to the same. The original prognosis that Judge would be back in three weeks now looks worthy a malpractice suit. If he goes 0-20, everyone will blame the wrist, as they should. But those 20 ABs will leave a shitload of runners on base, and each one will haunt Judge through the winter and beyond.

But if Judge can deliver - a few walks, a base hit here and there, maybe one or two towering shots - it could be the difference between life and death for this team. It could be the kind of week that someday is remembered in Cooperstown or wherever great Yankee memories live forever. 

Okay, yeah... I am Hollywooding... daydreaming of great Yankee victories, the kind that would make us someday look back on the last month and laugh at ourselves for being so morbid. It's a bad habit of mine, and it's why I go off the rail when the Yankees collapse. We are the franchise of the flip, Reggie's three blasts, the dying player who stands at home plate and calls himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. We are supposed to be the team of hope. 

It's not fair to Aaron Judge, expecting him to return and hit well. But hope has been shrinking for weeks, and right now, he's all we've got. 

Epic Yankees Flameout Seasons! Episode Eight!

Like the secondary Bond villain, or that last science-fiction monster that you know is still lurking out there, it’s back!  Epic Yankees Flameout Seasons, Episode Eight!

This will, I promise, be the last one of the year…until we get around to assessing this dubious season, anyway.  But what a doozy!

Yankees 79-83, 5th in a seven-team division.

Yes! It’s the notorious ‘Speed Team” of 1982!  The memory of which still sends chills down the spines of so many of us who were permanently scarred by its appearance.

This was the only Yankees team between 1973 and 1989—the beginning of the Plague Years—to finish with a losing record.  It came within a single game of finishing tied for last in a tough AL East, 16 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

It was, as well, the last time before this season that a Yankees team so completely disappointed expectations.  But as usual, we can learn so much from history about today.

Background:

Basically, an imperious egomaniac who had complete control of the team seized upon a ridiculous new theory of how the Yankees should play ball, and no one could talk him out of it.  (Hmm, that does sound familiar.)

The individual we’re talking about, of course, was George Steinbrenner, and he was about to embark on the period of his most destructive insanity.

The Madness of King George had begun the year before, when he insisted on trying to win the World Series while playing one of the greatest clutch hitters of all time, Reggie Jackson, as little as possible.  The Yanks collapsed, blew a 2-0 lead in games, and Steinbrenner got into a humiliating elevator brawl in L.A., then apologized to the entire City of New York, on behalf of his team.

This was not uncommon, end-of-the-year behavior for the Mad King, before or after, but this time he had a theory of how to make things better—always a bad idea.

The Yankees, George decided, were much too slow and placid.  He would build a “Speed Team” based on the success that teams in places such as Kansas City, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Houston were having, because that was obviously the future of the sport.

Somehow, it had eluded George that those teams were playing all their home games on a carpet, while the Yankees played on real grass.  Of course, many of George’s “baseball people,” in Florida and New York, pointed this out to him, but this was already the era in which the Mad King was busy chasing them away to win pennants and World Series in many other cities.

Nothing would do but that the Yanks signed or traded for the likes of Ken Griffey, Sr. and Dave Collins, while letting Reggie go off to free agency.  The Yankees, it was decided, were now going to run, run, run!

What happened:

Well, not much running, after all that.  The Yanks stole all of 69 bases, good for just 9th in the AL, and were caught 45 times.  At the same time, the team proved very poor at catching the ball, finishing 10th in the league in errors, and 9th in fielding percentage.

What’s more, as spring training began to show just what a miserable offense this would provide, George as usual hedged his bets, and started scrambling to acquire power bats. 

Set-up man Ron Davis and minor-league shortstop Greg Gagne were sent to Minnesota for Roy Smalley, an awful clutch hitter and someone who had all the range and arm strength of a granite post at short. 

This didn’t help much, and so a seemingly endless succession of other has-beens and washouts were brought in to provide the missing home runs (this does sound familiar):  John Mayberry, Lee Mazzilli, Butch Hobson.  At the same time, the Yankees had accumulated a stunning number of guys who had either passed their expiration date, or chose 1982 to have their worst seasons in New York:  Graig Nettles, Bucky Dent, Rick Cerone, Barry Foote, Dave Revering—even Bobby Murcer.

Other stars to be—Don Mattingly, Steve Balboni—just weren’t quite there yet, George backed out of what would have been a great deal for Al Oliver at the last minute, and the commissioner canceled a great one for slugging first baseman Jason Thompson, because he hated us.

At the same time, the pitching began to breakdown precipitously.  Guidry had his first mediocre year, Dave Righetti—after being Rookie of the Year in 1981—had such an awful start that he was sent back down to Triple-A for awhile, Mike Morgan got off to a good start but then flopped, and Roger Erickson was just bad.

Panicking when he saw how bad the pitching looked, too, George at the last minute rushed out Gene Nelson—considered a can’t miss, future star with a reported command of five pitches—to obtain Seattle reliever Shane Rawley, who was to be converted to a starter; and reacquired Doyle Alexander, in part for relief pitcher Andy McGaffigan.

The usual suspects in the media gushed on cue about how well the Yankees had done in picking up so many stars for their young players.  And…both men flopped on cue, Alexander going 1-7 with a 6.08 ERA before hitting the DL, while Rawley was 11-10, 4.06.

The season was a disaster from literally Day 1, which was snowed out.  The Yankees played an Easter Sunday doubleheader instead, in which Guidry lost a 4-1 lead in the opener, the Yanks rallied to tie, and Goose Gossage surrendered the losing run in the 12th.  In the second game, they grounded into three double-plays and lost, 2-0.

So it went.  It would be hard to say there was even a highlight in this woeful season—unless you count April 27th, when Reggie made his return to New York in a rain-shortened, 7-inning game, and homered off Guidry—one of 39 he would hit, to tie for the AL lead. 

Louisiana Lightning quietly applauded him in this glove, while the crowd of over 35,000—I was among them—leapt to our feet and chanted, “Reg-gie!  Reg-gie”—followed quickly by a new chant:

“Steinbrenner sucks!  Steinbrenner sucks!”

Poor Bob Lemon, still dazed after the premature death of his son the year before, was forced out after just 14 games, with a 6-8 record.  Gene Michael, whom George had just fired the season before, was pressed back into duty on the bench, but little improved.

The season’s nadir came on August 3rd, with a big, rowdy crowd of over 34,000 sitting through numerous rain delays—it seemed to rain A LOT that year—for a twi-night doubleheader, once again versus the White Sox.  I was, again, one of the poor slobs on hand. 

Shane Rawley, who was one of the fans’ main whipping boys all year long, gave up just one run, but lost the opener, 1-0.  This did not make people happy.  The second game turned into a rout, eventually ending, 14-2.  By late in the game the crowd was thoroughly drunk and completely abusive. 

Their main target, for some reason, was poor Ken Griffey, who was a fine, well-rounded ballplayer throughout his time in New York, but who the fans went after more vociferously that season than I have ever heard them get on any other ballplayer.

Before it was all over, Steinbrenner actually made Bob Sheppard, the revered “Voice of the Yankees” go on the PA and apologize to the fans, while promising us a free ticket to make up for the night’s debacle.  Most of us responded with more rousing choruses of “Steinbrenner sucks!”

After the game, the team’s record was just 50-50, and Stick was fired, replaced by Clyde King.  But things only got worse.  After early June, the team never did rise above 4th place.

Bright spots:

Few and far between.

Willie Randolph was his usual, steady self at second. Jerry Mumphrey, whom George had also tried to bury on the bench in the 1981 Series, hit .300, with 10 triples.  Between them, Griffey and Collins DID account for one-third of the team’s stolen bases, though neither really had a good year.  Butch Wynegar came over from the Twins and played well at catcher, while Sweet Lou Piniella, now 38, hit .307.

Gossage had another 30 saves in the pen, while Tommy John generally pitched well and got himself traded to California down the stretch.  There, he and Reggie would’ve made the World Series, if they had not had Gene Mauch for a manager.

The best season of all was had by Dave Winfield, who had 106 RBI and 37 homers—the most hit by a righthanded Yankee since Joe DiMaggio.  It was an impressive performance in a Yankees Stadium that was still built against righty hitters (though not as extreme as in Joe D.’s time). 

Winfield also played his usual, outstanding game in the field, with 16 assists, but it mattered little.  Yankees fans who had not forgiven him for his World Series flop the year before—or his record-breaking salary—booed him mercilessly.

What happened next:

Well, it was the end of the Speed Team.  And…the return of Billy Martin, back from Oakland.  Billy, as usual, got the club into contention again—and, as usual, almost as quickly wore out his welcome.  He got himself fired after a 91-71 season fizzled in September.

More important was the continuing exodus of top baseball front office talent from the Yankees, and the continuing discard of good young arms before, during, and just after the 1982 season.


Davis, Nelson, McGaffigan, Morgan, Jay Howell—none of these guys ever attained the true stardom forecast for them.  But they ended up putting together some excellent years as middle or late relievers (and in Morgan’s case, a mid-rotation starter).  Throughout the rest of the decade, the Yankees would fall short again and again because they missed exactly that sort of depth in their staff—a failing that would be duplicated nearly 20 years later, from 2001-2008.

Monday, September 17, 2018

This Just in from Optimism, Inc.


I just received an email from the Yankees.  It was decorated with image shown below:






This amazing offer assumes:

The Yankees will hold off Oakland and will play the one-game playoff in the Bronx; and/or

The Yankees will win the one-game playoff regardless of where it's played and will host "real" playoff games in the Bronx; which assumes

The Yankees will avoid striking out with runners in scoring position (and no outs) for the remainder of the season; and

The Yankees' relievers will not melt down and let winnable games slip away.


I'm a believer.  How 'bout you?

The Yankees should prefer playing the Wild Card in Oakland, because they won't have to hear the booing

It was sort of perfect, sort of cathartic, sort of karmic, yesterday, as the final out dwindled down to Gary Sanchez, the captain of the New York Yankees.

Captain Gary delivered, as usual:  three pitches, three strikes, his third stranded baserunner of the game. The sun-blanched crowd booed, the YES team gobbled - they sound more each day like the Michael Kay Radio Show ads, which feature them "hilariously" blathering about U.S. presidents - and the captain sauntered into the dugout runway, toward the post-game buffet, with his teammates, a gaggle of losers on the verge of inscribing its name into the pantheon of sporting disasters. In the second half of 2018, the Yankees have a worse record than the Mets. In this home stretch, they have twice lost series to cupcakes, which makes them a tomato can that dreamed it was a contender.

This is becoming a time for boos. The question now isn't whether the Yankees will hold onto the Wild Card home field advantage - they surely won't - but whether if they're swept in Tampa, they could actually be overtaken at the finish line, and escape the one-game season altogether. A week ago, such a collapse seemed impossible. Now, for this amazing collection of disappointments, built by Cooperstown Cashman himself, no meltdown is beyond imagination.

Seriously. Tell me who on this team has played well enough lately to inspire hope? Voit has reverted back to a career minor leaguer. Gleyber looks a month past his sell date. Didi? Okay, maybe Didi, if his heel doesn't start barking. Andujar's glove is so rancid that he had to be pulled in the eighth yesterday, leaving the lineup without its best bat. Gardy - dear god, will any team offer him a deal this winter? Hicks is tired. Stanton increasingly looks like a guy who compiles big stats on losing teams. And then there is Captain Gary: Oh for four with two strikeouts and three runners left on base, lowering his average to .188. Wow.

Heading into the eighth, the YES men were actually oogling Lance Lynn's Cy Young-level start - five innings, one run! - and touting the lock-down bullpen. But we've seen enough from Betances to know he is a roll of the dice, capable of blowing any lead at any time. The giveaway: If the lead-off hitter gets on - it doesn't matter how - Betances will implode. But nobody was warming in the pen.  

Seriously. How does anybody summon up hope for this team? Spit, yeah, I can summon up that. Mockery, oh, yeah. But wasn't there a time when the Yankees were famous for their stretch runs, for their comebacks, for fighting to the end, as opposed to striking out twice on six pitches to end a game?

Frankly,We should hope the Wild Card game is in Oakland. Maybe they'll start it at 10 p.m., so we don't have to watch. And when Captain Gary fans on three pitches to end the miserable debacle known as the 2018 Yankees, there will be no deafening chorus of boos. There will just be the silence of the abyss, as players concoct their excuses, and YES team switches into 2019 promotional mode: Boy, is this winter going to be exciting! Who knows what we'll sign! The Yankees beat the salary cap this year, so they won't pay luxury taxes! Hooray, everybody! Pop the champagne! Next year is gonna be GREAT! 

More Signs of the Apocalypse

So, not only is Boston playing record-setting baseball while we collapse, but gigantic rats have begun to roam freely around the Fenway Park outfield and dugouts.

Meanwhile, over 80 houses have exploded deep in Red Sox territory, necessitating the complete black out and evacuation of three towns with a total population of over 100,000.

This was blamed on "uneven gas line pressure."

Uh-huh.

Something's coming folks, and it ain't pretty.

For that matter, a red heifer was recently born in Israel.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7217719/bible-prophecy-apocalypse-firs-red-heifer-born-israel/

You will note the color, please:  red.  Has anyone checked to see if there's a "B" on its underbelly, right next to the "666"?

For that matter, has Aaron Judge REALLY been out for seven weeks?  Or was it just that one day they walked into the locker room and found a gigantic, empty suit of clothes and shoes where he had been standing only a moment before?

And why do you think this team won't tell us a damned thing about where Ellsbury is????

Let's face it, folks, it's the Rapture.  And if you think the likes of "Gary Sanchez" and "Greg Bird" are really who they're supposed to be—as opposed to horrible, demonic wraiths taking on their forms—well then you have another think coming, my friends.

Repent!  Repent before it's too late!!!






Sunday, September 16, 2018

There Is Still Hope

The New York Yankees' approach to hitting reached its all-time nadir today when Brett Gardner, batting with two out, nobody on, and a 2-1 Yankees lead in the fifth inning, "showed bunt."

He didn't actually bunt the ball, of course.  He just showed bunt, and took strike one.  Then grounded out on a day when he went 0-3, with his 102nd strikeout of the season, lowering his average to .237 and his OPS to .689.

Why was Gardner offering bunt there?  This would have been, after all, the perfect place to go by "the Yankees Way" and swing for the fences.  Though a successful bunt, followed by a stolen base, might have been of use, too.

No can do.  Gardner was...trying to bring the infielders in.  Or something.

Or could it be that he, like most of his teammates, is now so utterly flummoxed by what he is supposed to be doing in any given at-bat that he goes to the plate with absolutely no plan in mind at all?

I had to shut off The Master an inning later, when he informed me that McCutcheon "swung out of his shoes" chasing a 3-2 pitch from Toronto rookie Thomas Pannone, who was reportedly unable to break the 89-mph mark on any of his pitches, and was throwing breaking balls at only 69-mph.

Pannone was not the sort of unknown quantity who always baffles the Yankees.  The team had seen him in Yankee Stadium just a month ago, when he failed to get out of the first inning, giving up 6 runs capped by a grand salami belted by Greg Bird.

Greg.  Bird.

Today, too, Pannone was pressed like a panini in the first, surrendering a leadoff homer to McCutcheon, and giving up another run.  But that was all she wrote.  What followed were six innings of one-hit, shutout baseball.

It was practically an instant replay of the day before, when the Yanks faced an even worse rookie they had also battered already this season.  Five innings, two hits, no runs.

In other words, the more the Yanks face even poor-to-mediocre, rookie pitching...the worse WE get, and the better THEY get.

The other side of their game is no more coherent.  Panicking like Capt. Queeg in a gale, Ma Boone yanked Lynn after just five, dominant three-hit innings and 80 pitches.  The rumored reason was that he didn't want Lynn facing the Toronto lineup—with its ferocious, .245 average and .740 OPS—for a third go round.

Look, I could go on about yet more failings by I.C.S. and Betances, and discuss who we do and do not bring back next year.

But what does it matter?

With the instruction and the approach to the game emanating from the management of this club, it's unimportant who we drop or pickup.  It is guaranteed that our new players, pitchers or hitter, rookies or veterans, will be worse than they were.  Probably much worse.

Far from building a dynasty, I think we could be witnessing the last winning Yankees team for quite some time.

Why anyone should want to see this team in a playoff game against a Boston team that managed to beat deGrom and the Mets today despite seeing their best all-around player leave the game with an injury, is beyond me.  There will be blood.  And it will be ours.

But there is still hope.  And I don't just mean a 5-1 loss in the Bud Selig Game out in Oakland.

There are still the Tampa Bay Rays.

Hear me out:  the Rays are just 8 games behind us in the loss column, with the Yanks having to play 4 games in Tampa.  Count those all as losses.

It is also a lead-pipe cinch that we will lose all 6 remaining games against the Red Sox, a team which actually still possesses people playing a game known as "baseball."

That is 10 losses down the stretch, GUARANTEED.

That only leaves three games against Buck's Orioles.  Heh-heh-heh.

I honestly think this Yankees team could easily close out the season 0-13.  Meaning that Tampa Bay would just have to finish 9-5 to tie us, and 10-4 to take it all.

Given their 4, GUARANTEED, automatic wins against us, that means that all they will have to do is go 6-4 or 5-5 against Toronto and Texas...and we will not have to endure watching Brian Cashman's Yankees team in the playoffs—probably ever again.

THERE IS HOPE, I TELLS YA!!













Yes! We Are NOT Alone! Oh, wait a minute...

I got to run and listen to The Master today for the first time in who knows how long, and was ecstatic to hear the minor rebellion that erupted when one Reese McGuire dumped a run-scoring, pop double into left field for Toronto in the third inning.

The Master and Suzie-Q went on for a good ten minutes about the importance of making contact and situational hitting, citing all the Yankees failures in such spots on Saturday.

"Just put it in play!" Suzyn, in particular, kept saying, though The Master actually kicked it off.  "Just put it in play!  Who knows what will happen?!"

I then became a little apprehensive because a few minutes before, Suzyn had made a snarky remark about one of the Yanks upcoming "giveaway" days.  It was, if memory serves me right, for a 2019 schedule mousepad to the first 15,000 suckers customers.

"When does this team ever give anything away?" she suddenly burst out, flummoxing The Master, and when the Great Contact Rebellion subsequently broke out, I thought, 'Uh-oh, that's it!  They both got their pink slips already.  You finally really did it.  You maniacs!  You blew it up!'

But no.  The next half inning they were back to talking about really long this lineup is—"I mean, Voit is batting 8th, Brett Gardner batting 9th!"—and then about what a great, great job Cashman had done in coming up with replacements for injured players:  "He picked up Happ, he picked up Lynn, he got McCutcheon, Zach Britton...'

I sighed, not altogether unhappily.  At least our favorite duo is still employed.

Why the Coaches Must Go

What's so ultimately discouraging about this team is that I am no longer sure that even Cooperstown Cashman's preferred method of buying up established stars would make us a true contender.

Take a look at our Giancarlo.  I cut him some slack because he essentially carried the team for about a month and who knows where we would have been without him,  once Coops smartly traded all our back-up outfielders only to see Judge get hurt.

Also, Stanton managed to display a modicum of emotion yesterday, the first I've seen of that from pretty much any Yankee this year.

But the fact is that, for all the worries about G's long-term contract, his production has plunged precipitously, RIGHT NOW.

His OPS is down from last year's 1.007 to just .838, with a big drop in home runs—even though this is exactly what the Yanks' vision of the game encourages him to go for.

Moreover, his stats in all sorts of clutch situations...are just terrible.

But wait!  Giancarlo IS leading the AL in something:  strikeouts.  In fact, with 199, he is ALREADY tied for 11th in most strikeouts for one season, EVER!

With 14 games still to play, Stanton is almost a lock to break Judge's team record of 208 Ks in a season, and has an excellent chance to break the ALL-TIME mark of 223, set by Mark Reynolds.

Given the difficulties of adjusting to a new league, a new team, a new city, etc., etc., this strikes me as the famous, MORE THAN COINCIDENCE.

It also leads to a depressing conclusion.

The Yankees' favored means of instruction is so bad that it not only makes worse players out of young, inexperienced players, but even veteran stars.

If the team  does sign the likes of Machado, Harper, and Corbin this off-season—pretty much its only hope to stay above .500 next year, I would say—they would be well-advised to insist on bringing their own personal coaches.
 


The Boone Swoon continues, due to a buffoon named Boone

I hate blaming the manager for a Yankee debacle, however humiliating and tortuous it may be.

Seems to me, the owner lays out his profit quotas, the front office assembles the team, and the players win or lose. The manager's job is to set a preordained lineup, chew gum, gaze wearily into the abyss and rationalize everything on the post-game show. 

The 2018 Yankees are and always will be Cooperstown Cashman's creation. In comparison, Aaron Boone has all the input of a maple tree. 

That said, some losses mock God, revealing themselves in a slow-motion retch, and you can hear the screams of fans into their TVs, as Boone's decisions strain the contours of human logic. Yesterday was such a cosmic event. I suppose you could blame the players - four fucking strikeouts with the bases loaded - but Boone's decisions iced the shit cake.

Which brings me to Tommy Kahnle... 

Where to begin? With the fact that the Yankees gave up one of their best prospects, Blake Rutherford, to get him last summer? Or that he was cuffed around by Houston in the 2017 ALCS? Or that 2018 has brought a career meltdown, an ERA near 5.89, a declining fast ball and service time in Scranton?

No. Let's just ponder his last recent cringe-worthy appearances. Before yesterday, in his last 2 and 1/3 innings, he'd given up two earned runs, including a grand slam that killed us in Minnesota. Before yesterday, to say Kahlne had been struggling was like saying North Carolina is "moist." 

So, yesterday, with a game on the line and the bullpen fresh, what does Boone do? KAHNLE, OF COURSE! Toronto is managing like game seven of the World Series, going lefty-to-lefty, platoon-to-platoon, while Boone is looking to - what? - get Kahnle on track for next April? 

Boone had already used Mean Chad Green and Jonathan Holder. And in the previous inning, when Andrew McCutcheon lifelessly fanned with the bases loaded on three fukking pitches, Boone had David Robertson warming in the pen.

But the call... Kahnle, of course! 

Single. Double. Walk. Bases loaded, and nobody warming in the pen. Larry Rothschild walks out. They converse. Larry Rothschild walks back. Soon after, Kahnle gives up a two-run single that effectively kills our day.  

And, get this, when Boone finally brings in another pitcher, it's Stephen Tarpley, up from Scranton. Single. Another run. It's 8-1, and this game is over. We just don't know it yet. We mount one of those squandered comebacks that you wish didn't even happen. I'd rather lose 8-1 than 8-7.

In the end, the Yankees use both Dellin Betances and Zach Britton - for nothing, because with the game on the line, it was Kahnle, of course!

Today, they will bring up Justus Sheffield and Domingo German. Yesterday was Kahnle... of course!

I am starting to believe that 2018 will be remembered as the year Joe Girardi was rediscovered to be a great manager. As Joni once sang, Don't it always seem as though, you don't know what you got 'till it's gone...?  

Worst Yankees 90-Win Team Ever?

I was going to ask if this was the Yankees' worst ever 100-win season, but Mike Francesca beat me to the punch with his rhetorical question about whether this was the Yanks' worst-ever 90-win team.

And, let's face it, this Yankees squad is never going to be able to put together the 9-5 stretch that reaching 100 wins would entail.  Not unless the Boston Red Sox team plane crashes, and not even I would be crazy enough to wish for that to happen.  (Flight crew, potential ground victims.)

So...IS this the worst ever Yankees 90-win team?

Today's loss alone would almost be enough on its own to prove that it is.  The first three innings were a perfect reflection of just how bankrupt this organization's entire approach to the game is.

A 5-0 deficit behind an overaged pitcher, 7 strikeouts, 5 guys left on base, including a 2018 Yankees favorite:  bases loaded, nobody out.  No runs.

These stats hardly tell the whole story, though.  It was more the nature of the strikeouts, which tended to resemble the reactions of blindfolded, mentally challenged children in wheelchairs swinging at a piñata that is being cruelly held just outside their reach.

Swings at balls out of the strike zone.  Taking pitches right down the middle.  Swinging at balls right down the middle and not coming close to catching up to them.

If Toronto's rookie pitcher—a kid with 1 win and a 6.86 ERA who the Yanks had already faced and bashed this year—had not had to throw so many pitches, I think he might have had a real shot at breaking the major-league strikeout record.  Instead, all he wound up with was five, two-hit, shutout innings.

So...

Well, it's hard to say.

For as much as the Yankees have contended over the years, they have very rarely choked. Most of their 90-win teams that fell short of taking it all were simply too battered to win at the end, or beaten by teams that were just better.

Even the biggest choke job in franchise history, a certain 2004 ALCS against you-know-who, was mostly the fault of a GM who let the pitching staff crumble all season, and Joe Torre, bless his heart and honor his name, who did the very worst job of managing a short series that I have ever seen.

That 2004 team, whatever its faults, won no fewer than 61 come-from-behind victories during the season, something that was described at the time as a franchise and maybe an MLB record.  It had heart, and plenty of it—just no relief pitchers with a live arm remaining by the end of the season.

Not so much with this team, which stopped paying attention some time ago, and started mailing in the day's results from assorted beach vacation spots, golf courses, and Viking river cruises.

I suppose one could make a case that the 1983 or 1986 Yankees were worse 90-win teams.  But those were the days of the Mad King, when everybody was caught up in the Old George vortex, with Billy Martin either managing or hovering somewhere in a helicopter above the Stadium, ready to parachute in.

The 1983 Yanks faded in the stretch and came in 3rd, seven games behind a very good Orioles team that won it all that year.  It featured the likes of Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Dave Winfield, Don Baylor, Ken Griffey, Sr., and a rookie Don Mattingly,  and a staff that included Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, and Goose Gossage.

It also, to be sure, had such 2018-style head jobs as Steve Kemp, Roy Smalley, and Shane Rawley.  But I think it would have outlasted this bunch, and just on the basis of those three pitchers alone, beat it in a short series.

The 1986 team finished 2nd, just 5 1/2 games behind that Sox team that had such a sad end in the World Series.

It featured much the same cast, only a Mattingly who was at his peak, Mike Easler swapped for Baylor, Pagliarulo instead of Nettles (a definite downgrade), and, oh yeah, a certain Rickey Henderson in centerfield.  

But...

Its pitching just couldn't hold up, with Guidry and Phil Niekro in final decline, and the best starter Dennis Rasmussen, with an 18-6 record.  Righetti did set what was then a major-league record with 46 saves...but there was little enough behind him.

So...I have to admit it.  Chances are, this is only the SECOND WORST, 90-win Yankees team in history,  probably able to just beat out the 1986 version, thanks to the pitching.

So there.








Saturday, September 15, 2018

Done

Watching I.C.S. Sanchez's at-bat in the third was when I snapped.  For good.

It was when Toronto's rookie, who we had raked over the coals in his first start against us, threw a 94-mph fastball to I.C.S.—and he could not catch up to it.  I mean, he could not catch up to it like I could not catch up to Secretariat running the Belmont Stakes.

I mean it was like that pitch came by instagram, and he was riding Pony Express.

Then, two pitches later, living up the Yankees' most sacred dictum of hitting, Sanchez "dared to take a third strike," on a ball right down the middle.

That was it.  That was when I knew I wanted this awful excrescence of a ballplayer out of pinstripes and off my television set forever.

I.C.S.'s strikeout came with men on second and third and two out.  He followed it up with two groundouts and, yes, ANOTHER strikeout with a man on second in the 8th, in an at-bat that could have tied or won the game.

Today's Daily Pineapple was hardly the fault of I.C.S. alone.  It was a complete team meltdown.

But at it's heart was Gary Sanchez.

I know the logic of keeping him is impeccable.  I have argued that myself.  There is no way we can get much of anything for him in his current, zombie state.  I know that.

I don't care.  I'm beyond logic.

I know much of what is wrong with him is what is wrong with the whole rest of this rapidly deteriorating team, and that when we do get rid of him, he could excel again somewhere else.

Let him.  Then at least he would be, somewhere else.

I don't know if Gary Sanchez's problem is mental or physical.  I don't know if it's the result of a bruja's curse, or going off the roids that actually got him this far in professional baseball.  I don't know if he is really a stranded alien presence, or is suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease.

I don't care.  (All right, I would care if he had a fatal disease.  But he don't.)

I just want him gone.

Yet ANOTHER starter who can no longer catch up to even a mediocre, MLB fastball?   Whose idea of getting made is standing there and taking the next strike down the middle?

No.  No more.  Get out, go.  Hie thee hence.  You have sat too long for any good you may have done.  Get thee to nunnery.  Get out of Denver baby go.  Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

I pledge to you, I pledge to the American people, that if I am ever watching another Yankees game and I.C.S. Sanchez comes to the plate I will turn off the TV set, change the channel, or leave the room.

Done.










My First Name Is Failure....



The yankees are down 5-1 to the terrible Toronto Blue Jays.

So we load the bases with nobody out.  A  chance to comeback.

Three straight Yankees strike out.  Failure.  Followed by failure.  Topped by failure.

And the Yankees had other opportunities as well.  Failure each time.

They hit a number of homers, all solo until Andujar gave them a life.

The umpires screwed us also, but they always screw losers.

This team is miserable for its fans.  They fail when they should succeed.

When given a new life, they simply shoot another needle into their heavily tracked arm.

It is time for all of us to hope they lose.  That they wind up with nothing.  That they humiliate themselves and the name on their jersey.

Maybe some will learn and grow from that.

Maybe the owners will say something.

Maybe they will ask , " why are we always failing?"


The Drive to Mendoza

The old-timer saw him when he came over the hill in the late-day sunlight.  He was riding an old paint he looked none-too-steady on, and wearing a bandolero and a serape that looked a little too big on him, as if he had been half-starved out on the trail.

Just behind him came the rest of them, driving the scrawniest, mangiest looking herd of doggies the old-timer had ever seen.  They bleated and stumbled piteously, their hides all sagging beneath the once-proud, "NYY" brand.

"That the way to Mendoza?" the rider asked the old-timer when he got to him, pointing to the low, distant line of white adobe buildings, shimmering in the north Mexico heat.

"Ay-yup," the old-time said, squinting at the rider's face, which was covered by a strange mask.  "Say, don't I know you?  Ain't you—"

"The Cincinnati Kid," the man acknowledged right away.  "Yeah, that's what they call me."

"Nah.  It was somethin' else, if I reckon.  'The Ice Cream Sand—"

"I asked you a question, old man!  That Mendoza over yonder?"

The old-timer looked over the cattle drive that had pulled up behind him.   It was the most motley group he'd ever seen come out of the scrub country.  There was a tall fella with his arm in a sling, and another tall fella who was sitting backwards in his saddle.  On the box of the chuck wagon an old woman was wringing her hands and moaning out psalms and cliches.

Some of the hired hands were so young that they were obviously on their first cattle drive, and they kept falling off their horses.  One jittery kid everybody called "Sonny" shot himself in the foot, then managed to hop into the campfire some of the fellas had just got started.

"Yup, that's Mendoza, all right," the old-timer said, and spat through his two remaining teeth.  "But you don't wanna go there."

"Why not?"

"Cause the moment you set foot over that Mendoza line, yer gonna be encounterin' some of the toughest hombres south of the Rio Grande," the old-timer told him.

"Like who?"

"Why, there's Responsibility, an' Expectations, an'-an'..." The old-timer's voice went hoarse with fear for a moment.

"There's Hope.  John Q. Hope his own self," the old-timer croaked.  "You don't wanna mess with him, Kid.  He'll leave you gut-shot every time!  Why, there was a fella a lot like you, came through these parts seven years ago.  Name a Jesus, no less—"

"That's all right, old-timer," the mysterious young man in the mask told him.  "We're goin' to Mendoza.  And we're goin' a lot further than that.  We're goin' all the way to Glory!"

The old-timer took a final, appraising look at the Man Who'd Lost Weight, and at the collection of stumble-bums and no 'counts he'd brought along with him, and sighed.

"Well, all right then," he said.  "But don't say I didn't warn ya when you get yer nuts shot off."




It's gotta be Masahiro

Lately, there's been talk of J.A. Happ - or even the ghost of Luis Severino - starting the one-game season Wild Card. 

What. A. Crock. 

If the juju gods have learned us anything, it is that Masahiro Tanaka needs to pitch the big games. We might have hotter pitchers. But we have no one better. If Tanaka doesn't have it, we will empty the bullpen and hope for a slugfest. But the truth is, if Tanaka doesn't have it, we won't last long in the month of October. 

Check out these stats since the All-Star break:


Not much inspires hope, eh? (Maybe Chad Green's return to form does.) But there we have Tanaka, once again burnishing his reputation as a warrior of the home stretch. Last night, he blew away sad, hapless Toronto, which doesn't even want to subject its top prospects to such a disillusioned clubhouse. 

Trouble is, the rest of the weekend is Antiques Roadshow - CC Sabathia and Lance Lynn - both human bullpen hurricane warnings. (And for now, the Yankees haven't set their starters against Boston - with Eovaldi and Price going in the first two against us.) 

After 140 games, the Yankees are waterlogged with questions. We still don't know who closes, who bats second, who plays left field, or on which coast the game will take place. But dammit, we have our Wild Card starter. This is one call Boone better not blow.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Darkness before the dawn? Or are the 2018 Yankees staring too directly into the abyss?

Wow. The end is near. Batten the hatches, folk. The waters are about to rise. 

Buck Showalter's team just won a game to help the Yankees. Either that's a software glitch in The Matrix - have you, by chance, been seeing any mustached Italian plumbers flying overhead? - or the world is ending. Either way, Armageddon outahere.

Or maybe it's just a prelude to Buck's upcoming three-game set at Yankee Stadium. Just watch: He will manage like it's the World Series. Expect a Pickett's Charge from the bullpen. 

Sixteen games remain. But if we expect Showalterian tomato cans to beat the rising A's, we must be vaping the scents of Elon Musk. Oakland lost last night because Brett Anderson returned, and he didn't have it in the early innings. Baltimore quickly scored four runs and then held on for dear life, winning 5-2. 

Anderson's rust raises an issue for the Yankees. We somehow must win while easing both Aaron Judge and Aroldis Chapman through major league, in-game rehabs. With Chapman, that could be particularly torturous, if he comes into a closer situation. Some of the most painful losses of the season could be lurking in the final two weeks. It's hard to imagine a more torturous path than what the Yankees have already endured, but make no mistake: The worst could be yet to come.

Forget the won-lost record. It's been a nightmare season: A team bursting with talent and potential, which seemed poised to launch a dynasty, is now lurching desperately toward the finish line, gasping for breath and hoping for a last-minute transfusion. Meanwhile, our nemesis is rolling to perhaps its greatest season ever, and they will soon control our fate - six games against Boston - where they can, in essence, sit back and play with their food. If Boston falls behind in a game, they simply pull the starters and take the night off. If it's close, they can run full bore and try to knock us out of the home field advantage. I cannot imagine a worse situation for the Yankees to be in. But make no mistake: They have earned this dilemma.  

Yesterday, two veteran warhorses of the Yankiverse popped up like Marley's ghost to weigh-in on the debacle. Mike Francesca called the 2018 Yankees the "worst 90-win Yankees team ever," which is sort of weird. Meanwhile, Bill Madden lifted his forehead from the bar long enough to dictate a screed blaming Aaron Boone if the Yankee collapse continues. 

Well, if the Yankees blow this, I dunno who to blame. All I know is that the most ridiculously painful losses of the season may still be yet to come. The world might not end. It's just going to feel that way.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Apologies to the great Walt Kelly for stealing that Pogo line, but it seemed the best way to describe the crack Billywitz analysis of the Yankees in yesterday's Times.

The trouble, it seems, is that just too much is being expected of all our young players.  As the headlines on the piece reads, "Young Talent Finds the Yanks Have No Room for Error," and "On a World Series Contender, Patience Is Hard to Come By."

Well, fair enough, I guess, in as much as this approaches what I've been saying for most of two seasons now, which is:  stop competing, keep rebuilding.

The Yankees did not have a World Series winner ready last year, and they didn't have one this year, and the two seasons would have been better spent assessing our young talent and giving it a real chance, particularly on the pitching mound.

But that's not exactly what Billwitz is driving at.  Just what he IS saying is hard to discern, as it so often is with the Times sports staff.

Exactly who is being impatient with whom?  It's never really said—though it is noted that Bird was finally sat for Voit...after about 300 plate appearances, and a .196 batting average.  Would that we could all be treated with such impatience.

Then he cites Judge's injury—which has to do with what, exactly?—and tells us that Bird was "arguably the Yankees' best hitter in the playoffs" last year (dubious), and that for all his hitting, Andujar "is the worst defensive third baseman in baseball, by many metrics" and cost the Yanks that fourth game in Boston (highly dubious—I seem to remember a certain, injured relief pitcher blowing up, and Bird dropping something.  But what do I know?)

"...the progression of emerging talent is rarely linear," Billwitz informs us, which is certainly true.

But typically, he is missing the onrushing avalanche for the trees here.

The Yankees this season have not simply endured the usual ups-and-downs of the young players everywhere.  They have plunged backwards in ways that have rarely been seen in living memory.

It's one thing to point out, for instance, that Aaron Judge jumped from a .179, part-time rookie year, to last season's monster performance.  But none of that explains his road hitting dropping by 52 points, to a completely anemic .204.  It doesn't explain the utter and complete failure of Bird.

And it says nothing about the regression of Sanchez.

Going from an all-star and the best-hitting catcher in the league, with 33 homers and a .278 average, to the current, .186 bit-spitting?

The only player I can even think of who had a similar fall from grace was George Scott, who went from being a Gold Glove, .303-hitting first baseman in 1967, 10th in the MVP voting...to .171 in 1968, under Dick Williams' constant goading about his weight and effort.

Boomer eventually turned things around, and became an outright star for a time in Milwaukee—away from those lovable, color-blind fans in Boston.

But frankly, I just don't see the Cincinnati Kid doing that, not under current management.  It's one thing for young players to suffer a "sophomore slump," as other teams adjust.

It's another for NOT ONLY the Yankees' young players, but also pretty much every veteran they bring in now to fall into a dramatic decline (we're looking at you, Giancarlo).

You'd think Billywitz might have noticed that during his gainful daily employment.  But then, that would have implied that Brian Cashman is not necessarily Cooperstown material...





Thursday, September 13, 2018

Time to Cue Ned Beatty

No, not the Ned Beatty from Deliverance, maybe the most embarrassing role ever played by a modern movie actor (and while we're mentioning it, a shout-out to the departed Burt).

I mean the Ned Beatty from Network, the corporate magnate brought in to explain to crazy Peter Finch that all his "I'm mad as hell" raving is futile against the machine, and that he does not understand how the world works.

I've been reading everybody's comments here, and I completely agree.  Particularly with ALL-CAPS' call for the Yanks management team to be cleaned out from top to bottom, starting with the Steinbrenners.
 
In a remarkably short time, these bozos have wrecked any hope for what seemed like a surefire dynasty—the last Yankees dynasty most of us were ever likely to see.  Go back to the Sports Illustrated take on this season.  SI reluctantly admitted that, when it came to both the major-league roster and the minor-league system, the Yankees were the best positioned of any team in the sport to win and keep winning for a long time.

Amazing how that all melted down to the stumble bums we see nightly now—one of the most spiritless, disengaged Yankee ball clubs I have ever seen.

A full assessment of this fiasco can wait until after the last out of our already foreordained, 5-1 loss in Oakland.  But suffice it to say for now that we are in a Chinese finger puzzle of a trap here.

Yep, current management SHOULD be pulled out, root and branch.  But that will never happen until Brian Cashman goes.  And Brian Cashman will never go as long as the Steinbrenners own the team.

And the Steinbrenners, the Snopeses of modern New York...aren't going anywhere.

This is where it's time for Hal—or maybe better, Hank, who has nothing else to do—to enter as Ned Beatty.

All of us fans who have been screaming from the windows, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take Neil Walker anymore!  I want a Yankees dynasty built the old-fashioned way, from the ground up!" ?  We might as well hold our breath.

Corporate is in charge.  And what corporate prefers to do is sign big free agents, so they can keep the advance sales money rolling in.  It's all they know.  It's all they're comfortable with.

Building a great team from the ground up would entail having to accurately identify talent.  It would entail having to hire the right people to nurture and mold said talent.  It would entail having in place people who can tell which talent to keep, and which should be dealt away for the Jeff Nelson's and Tino Martinez's of the world.

It would entail taking risks, which is something no modern American corporation of any kind is ever willing to do anymore.

It would entail having to surrender some modicum of power to people who actually know the game—not just mathematical theory—and who have the confidence to develop and follow their own opinions, not serve simply as robotic extensions of The Great Brain sitting in the GM office.  

As long as G.B. Cashman is there, those people aren't going to be hired.  As long as the Steinbrenners are there, those people aren't going to be hired.

So we should go ahead and do the only thing Corporate is comfortable with.  Sign every free agent in sight, now that the cap has been eluded.

Sign Machado and Harper.  As Rufus T. Firefly notes, this could easily be a disaster.  But more likely, it will at least be something to see.

Is it guaranteed that a Yankees team even with Machado, Harper, Judge, and Stanton, not to mention El Matador and El Conquistador, can win it all?

No.

Even the one champion that Cooperstown Cashman supposedly built, in 2009, was buttressed by Gene Michael's Core of Four.

Are Severino, Sanchez, Didi, and Chapman the equivalent of Pettitte, Posada, Jeter, and The Great One?  Please, don't make me snort out bourbon through my nose.  It stings like hell, and is a waste of good bourbon.

Corporate has, once again, made it clear that all of our hollering out the windows is for nought.

Our real choices are between watching lumbering, overpriced, alleged superheroes slowly age and decay—and seeing the likes of Shane Robinson and Neil Walker in right field, and Sonny Gray on the mound.

I will take the first option, which will probably mean a bunch of playoff appearances, maybe a ring sometime, and at least some nightly entertainment value.

Just the sort of carefully limited aspiration that that ultimate corporate entity, MLB—fast becoming the Rollerball of the 21st century—is willing to grant us.

I'm mad as hell...and so what?











It's time to refocus our outlook on the 2018 season

Having watched our heroes squander a six game lead for the Wild Card home advantage, it's time for Yankee fans to ponder the Ditch and Switch.

Ditch the Yankees and switch to ABB: ANYBODY BUT BOSTON. 

It starts with abandoning our increasingly ludicrous shot at a 2018 world championship. Right now, is it sane to imagine this burned-out team running the table in October? Instead, maybe we should root for a lineup that poses a legitimate threat to the Redsocks. 

That team, of course, is Oakland.

They are blisteringly hot, ascendant with youth, and possessing a spirit that the Yankees have missed since Aaron Boone took over the post game show. Boone is great at blowing bubble gum balloons, though the YES cameras last night showed him picking exploded pink matter from his face, making him resemble the nose-challenged Lee Harvey bad guy in the 1965 comedy western Cat Ballou. This was supposed to be when the Yankees ran down Boston from behind and took the AL East. Instead, they are clawing the chalk board on their way to the floor, and if the 2018 season had another month, they'd be watching the Tampa Rays steal that final Wild Card berth. 

But this leaves Boston with a philosophical dilemma. They play us six times in the final two weeks. If they sweep us, just to show they can, Oakland will surely win the home field advantage - and the Wild Card game. Thus, Boston would face the hottest team in the AL, and a far more likely threat to their championship season. Good luck with that. 

If I were a Boston fan, I'd be rooting for the team whose "ace" was being praised last night for throwing 5 and 2/3rd innings - yes, he made it into the sixth! What a dominant start! He only gave up one run to Minnesota! That's the Yankees right now, and wouldn't Boston love to see the bad versions of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman coming in to secure a lead? We're supposed to have a shutdown bullpen? Didn't shut down the Terrible Twins, did it?

It may be time to stop hoping for the impossible - a ridiculously Hollywood Yankee resurgence - and simply hope that somebody else can beat Boston. Instead, we fans can bust our britches with pride over, for the first time in history, we won't pay MLB luxury taxes! I think I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, "Hooray, and thanks, Mr. Steinbrenner!" 

Come December, we can sign some hellishly overpriced free agents to 100-year-deals and return to the failed strategies that put us here. We can watch Toronto and Tampa bypass us, and maybe in 10 years, even Baltimore will be good. It doesn't matter. That's for other blogs to sweat. From now on, we don't have to worry about the Yankees. We're IT IS HIGH, IT IS FAR, IT IS... ANYBODY BUT BOSTON!