Thursday, January 31, 2013

Yanks Sign Hafner

Is This The Most Mean-Spirited Headline In History?

It was unheard of for the Daily News to out-bastard the New York Post. Until today.

Travis Hafner: The Andruw Jones of 2013?

Supposedly, the Yankees are on the verge of signing Travis "Pronk" Hafner - the former Cleveland DH who Miguel Cabreraed us once, long long ago, in a galaxy far far away -- a strikeout/home run guy who hasn't done Steve Whitaker in the last two years.

And you thought we learned from Andruw Jones?

(Insert sigh here.)

Listen: I have no truck with Brian Cashman jiggling the handle on a veteran MLB lugnut, especially in a minor league deal. I'm all for stashing an arsenal of Jack Custs in the Electric City/Wilkes Barre. But the Yankees have an unfortunate tendency to always play the guy who is being paid the most money, as opposed to the one with the minor league option, regardless of how either of them look in March.

If Hafner signs, does anyone really think Ronnier Mustellier will get a shot? We'll have options on the Cuban, so they'll bounce him to Triple A, where he'll just rot like so many others before him. The Shelley Duncans, the Juan Mirandas, the Alberto Gonzalezes, the Greg Golsons, the Brandon Lairds, the Chris Dickersons - yes, I know there is such a thing as an AAAA player, and I accept that the Yankee brain trust knows more about baseball than I do. But these guys rake in Scranton, and some even rake in their brief glimpses of the majors - but they always, always, always leave and bring us squat in return. And you wonder: That year when Miranda murdered the International League, could he have hit better than the pugs we were contractually mandated to play?

So here would come Travis Hafner, like one of those old singers in TV commercials, where your first thought is, "He's still alive?" Do we think he will magically rejuvenate for an entire year? I don't. If he hits in April-May, it simply guarantees that he will tank in June-July.

And how many K/W/HR hitters can one team digest? We could be "The Team of A Thousand Ks." And we've seen how well those teams do in the post-season, when the pitching improves. Do we want to relive October 2012 ever again in our lifetimes?

Cashman recently lamented in an interview how the pickings were so slim these days on the free agent market.  That was before he signed Juan Rivera. Now Hafner? I'm sorry. It's been a tough winter, one of the worst Yankee winters in memory. But Hafner? This can't end well. 

If A-Rod is truly gone, it's time to move Jeter to third

Here's one possible solution to our latest A-bomb:

If Alex is really out the door in 2013 - the first half season healing from surgery and the second half suspended by Commissioner Hairpiece - maybe Brian Cashman should abandon his Hobbit-like quest for a DH and hand that spot to Kevin Youkilis.

Seriously, did anyone figure Youk could last a whole year playing third? For starters, he's got his own health issues. Think of Youkilis at third and Derek Jeter at shortstop, and you can imagine a lot of ground balls rolling happily into left field.

Maybe Jeet should be our Brooks Robinson.

Can he play 3B? Of course! Would he move? He's always put the team first. Playing 3B would put less wear-and-tear on his broken ankle. A change might extend his career two years. He might hit more. Youkilis can spell him at 3B and also back up at 1B. This would spare Jeter the eventual day of reckoning when his range at SS is hurting the team. Hey, nobody stays young forever. Sorry, folks, but I cringe at the idea of a 39-year-old SS. It's the kiss of death.

OK... the downside? We still need a SS. Eduardo Nunez seems a sad, unfortunate lost cause. He might even have Chuck Knoblauch disease, As usual, we have nobody ready in the farm system. (And, naturally, we just released Ramiro Pena.) Doug Bernier is not going to cut it. Yadil Mujica is another 28-year-old Cuban. (God, do we have every 28-year-old Cuban on the planet?) Could we sign a glove guy, another Jason Nix (who we have), and just disregard how he hits? If we found a SS who covers ground, our defense could improve. And it's no sin for Jeter to play third. Think Cal Ripken.

Let's imagine A-Rod is out of the picture for 2013. If he ever returns, he'll be a DH and occasional 1B. Good grief. This is an opportunity, folks. Nothing should be off the table. I say it's time to move Jeter!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to completely rid baseball of performance enhancing drugs


Each October, have the two worst teams play in the World Series.

Open Letter to the Yankiverse: Shame, shame, SHAME ON YOU for hypocritically turning on Arod!

Dear Madams and Sirs,

Yesterday, you went crazy because Alex Rodriguez's name was found scribbled on a piece of paper in an abandoned office. Ever since, you've been combing the stygian depths of the legal profession in hopes of finding a way to screw Arod out of his contract - and thus save the Steinbrenners heirs a little money.

Hey, with such loyal fans, the Yankees must surely feel secure when they step into the batters' box. In fact, next time a bar of soap drops in the Yankiverse shower, remind me not to bend over to pick it up. 

Frankly, you disgust me. I speet on you.

Alex Rodriguez led us to the 2009 World Series. He won the MVP for us. Twice. He is recovering from a deteriorating hip, his second one. He is struggling to return to the team and contribute for the second half. He is injured. Nobody thinks he is faking it. He was benched in the post-season, having played in pain, and he never complained or used it as an excuse. In all his time as a Yankee, he has never jogged out a grounder, not one. His new "crime" is not even circumstantial - it's guilt by association, it's actually beyond that: He's been torpedoed by selected leaks to the media, which considers anything about Arod to be fair game. Oh, Yankiverse, and while you're siding with our owners - heirs who inherited the team - remember that they will basically just pocket all the money anyway, because they were gracious enough to not fight Bud Selig's new MLB rules that were surgically designed to destroy one team - the Yankees.


Actually, I take it back. Alex Rodriguez is guilty of one horrible crime. He grew old. Who knows? Maybe the drugs he took early in his career added to it. But let me assure you, Arod wasn't alone. He was just the biggest, fattest and easiest target to bring down. And many of the fukking self-righteous dorktards out there, the players holding him in contempt, are just Lance Armstrongs waiting to be undressed. And the sportswriters are the same ones that swallowed Manti Te'o - hook, line and catfish.

The Steinboys signed a bad contract with Arod. Nobody made them do it. They did it because they were fools. Now, they will put on a full-court press, with help from the sportswriting/access industry, to bring down the player and void the deal.

Listen: You can boo a guy for many reasons. Buy a ticket, and you get you yell whatever you want. And the Steinbrenners - not Arod - have built a system where only wealthy people can afford tickets. So boo Arod if you wish.

But for my money, you cannot boo a guy for getting old.

If Arod were hitting, if he were five years younger, you'd be rallying behind him.


Shame on you all. Shame, shame, shame. I speeet on you. Pttuuuuui. 

Friends, Romans, Yankiverse, lend me your ears: I come to bury Arod, not to praise him...

The double-plays men hit into live after them;
The doubles are oft interred with their bats;
So let it be with Arod. The noble Lupicans
Hath told you Arod was duplicitous:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Arod answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Lupica and the rest -
For Lupica is an honourable scribe;
So are they all, all honourable scribes -
Come I to speak in Arod's funeral.

He was a Yankee, faithful and just to Jeet:
But the Lupicans say he was duplicitous;
And Lupica is an honourable scribe.

He hath driven home many Yankee runners
Whose ransoms did the Steinbrenner coffers fill:
Did this in Arod seem duplicitous?

When that the hips hath barked, Arod still played:
Duplicity should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Lupica says he was duplicitous;
And the Lupicans are honourable scribes.

You all do remember the year 2009?
When the Lupicans blathered praise for his kingly crown,
When he hit .455 in the playoffs: was this duplicity?
Yet the Lupicans say he was duplicitous;
And, sure, the Lupicans are honourable scribes.

Did Arod jog out grounders, as did the spiteful Manny?
Did Arod whine when benched, as did so many before him?
Arod hath been convicted by a scrap of paper
That bears his name; Does he deserve defenders?
Yet the Lupicans say he was duplicitous;
And, as Manti Te’o showed us all,
The Lupicans are honourable scribes.

I speak not to disprove what Arod did,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, when he was hitting:
What cause withholds you then, to rip him now?

O sports bards! thou hath fled to ancient Rome,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Arod,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shocking new report links Arod to .272 batting average and frightening decline in power

BREAKING: A weekly Miami paper today says Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez’ name has turned up on a secret list of major league baseball players who last year batted below .275 and were repeatedly benched for pinch-hitters.

The list was said to be compiled by a disillusioned blogger who calls himself “Alphonso,” and who was said to have sold Rodriguez several months’ worth of below-cost laxatives. The blogger attributed the deals an attempt to “flush” the player from the Yankee batting order.

In response to the expose, Arod today released a statement:

“I wholeheartedly deny and condemn the report. It is completely untrue and inaccurate. I have never batted .272, except once, at the conclusion of the 2012 season. This is all the work of Kate Hudson. She has vowed to destroy me, but I didn't think she would try this kind of deceit. I categorically deny the claim that my power has diminished, although right now I feel as though I would like to lie down. Also, if you people will go away, I promise never to never whatever it is they said I did again."

The Most Expensive Ballplayer In History Is A Recidivist Juicer Who Is Always Hurt Anyway

Five more years of this!

UPDATE: Best comment, at River Ave. Blues:
Usty says:
Well, on the bright side, the last time A-Rod had a PED story and hip surgery the Yankees won the WS. (Hoping…)

Brian Cashman has assembled an army of nerdcakes to dissect and guide the Yankee braintrust

Brian Cashman recently gave an interview to Index Universe, a nerdsite devoted to bean-counter wonks who crunch spreadsheets, and revealed that the Yankees now employ 14 people to do statistical analyses. Says B.C.

We have created a quantitative analysis department and hired a director of quantitative analysis. That department has grown to some 14 people who manage a number of different information streams. Not only do they pool that information, but then it is dissected and produced in a meaningful way about what is truly taking place on the field in present performance and then future predictable performance.

In other words, we're dead. The calculators have won.

Forget that moment in the 1996 World Series when Joe Torre stared into David Cone's eyes and came away believing Coney could get the final out of the inning. Forget Aaron Small. Forget Babe Ruth's shot, Lou Gehrig's farewell and anything Yogi ever said that might have contradicted itself. The future of the Yankiverse belongs to fourteen people with bad skin and slowly herniating discs, mired in their push-pin cubicles, wearing velcro wrist guards and tapping on number keys, as they quantify the fate of our summer passion - in time to get out for ComicCon.

Fourteen people. Good God. There must be a wonk who does micrometer measurement's of Arod's nutsacks. They must have a wonk who crunches placement of pitches at home during The Roll Call.  Somebody must chart the flows of spit. They must have an addition specialist who works half an equation, who then hands off to the subtraction specialist, who closes.

Good God. Imagine fourteen nerds sitting around the commissary, debating Matt Nokes vs. Ron Hassey until somebody throws a cafeteria tray in a momentary pulse of anger. A few probably bring their lunches - egg salad sandwiches - and are totally unpleasant to watch. They argued for obtaining Will Venable from the Padres, the issue that spawned the fight at this year's Christmas party, when the director of quantitative analysis got hammered and drunk-dialed Nick Swisher, to tell him about the shirtless screen-saver of Swish that had been circulating around the office.

Fourteen nerds, analyzing the Yankiverse. We are so dead.

Interesting interview. Still, I wonder sometimes what Cashman thinks when talking shop to outsiders Seems to me, the interviewer's questions didn't much differ from what he'd get from River Ave or Lohud. The Oscar Madison days of checkered suits and hip flasks ended with Torre's long stare into Coney's eyes. The modern Gammonites still include a few chuckleheads - always will - but more and more, the folks who cover baseball are more likely to contribute a statistic than a cool nickname for Brett Gardner. (That's for John Sterling, I guess.)

Fourteen nerds. More than the U.S. Supreme Court. We are so dead. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Juan Rivera comes home

Somewhere out there, in a Yankiverse far far away - actually, a happier one - we never traded Juan Rivera.

The fulcrum point to this Yankiverse is balanced on an event nine years ago: Dec. 16, 2003.  On the day before, Rivera is a highly regarded OF prospect - once ranked No. 1 in the organization by Baseball America - who missed much of the previous season after getting hurt while catching fungos in practice, a la Mariano. He is 24, and he hit 7 HRs in 174 ABs for the Yankees.

On the day after, Cashman trades him to Montreal for Javier Vazquez.

Allow me to speak freely here: UGH.

We traded Rivera, Randy Choate and Nick Johnson for Vazquez. UGHHHH.

It was one of Cashman's signature fantasy deals: Give up position prospects and a spare part for that stud pitcher entering his prime, the future superstar who will surely flourish in New York. The Jeff Weaver! The Denny Neagle! The Michael Pineda!


Vazquez goes down as the two-time Yankee disappointment, the pariah who surrendered the grand slam to Johnny Damon, which ended the so-called Curse of the Bambino and basically made the Yankees and Redsocks equals over the entire last decade. For the Yankees, there is a "Before 2004" and an "After 2004" image. Since losing to Boston, we have never had our Yankee pride fully restored. We probably never will. And it starts with the trade of Juan Rivera.

Rivera goes down in the books as a lifetime .274 hitter with a string of decent seasons between 2004 and 2009. Damn, he could have helped us. In the 2005 AL post-season, he lead the Angels in crushing us, hitting .353. Of course, by then, Vazquez was gone.

Choate is still in baseball. Here's a trivia question: Name all the bullpen lefty specialists we have auditioned over the years? He could have solved that problem. And Nick Johnson still has a career on base percentage of nearly .400.

Well, we're in the wrong Yankiverse. We're in the one where Rivera got dealt, and there's nothing we can do about it. Or maybe there is. Today, the Yankees signed him as a free agent, another RH possibility in the outfield. To be honest, he's probably got the RH DH job no matter what happens in spring training, because - for better or worse - that's generally how the Yankees work. Hey, Ronnier Mustelier, start looking for a home in Scranton.

Juan Rivera has come home. He's 34. Jeez. On this team, that's young.

Which Super Bowl outcome will favor the Yankees?

The thinking fan ponders every news event and political issue with one fundamental concern: How does this affect our Yankees?

For example, take gun control. If the national yogurt-tofu squat-to-pee crowd bans our Second Amendment assault weapons, how will Jete ever again sleep securely? I figure he always doses while spooning a loaded piece, and I'm not referring to aerobics instructors. Good grief, if he wasn't known as "El Capitan," John Sterling could call him "The Bushmaster." Take away his firearms, and Jete's BA could plunge 20 points. Then again, what if some aspiring supermodel wakes up in the middle of the night, fingers the wrong gun and goes Claire Danes on our hero? Then we're looking at Eduardo Nunez. It's complicated.

But there's nothing complicated about picking the Yankee-friendly winner of the 2013 Super Bowl.

Baltimore. We need the Rave-Ons to win.

Why? For starters, in the post-game dignitary parade, Ray Lewis will kill somebody, and - hey - it might be Showalter. Secondly, a Raves victory will turn Baltimore greedy. Last year, they viewed the O's as a Cinderella team, and the fans forgave tough losses. This year, the O's will be expected to win, and they'll be the team that is not the Ravens. When Adam Jones strikes out, he'll hear boos. And he better hope Ray Lewis isn't in the crowd.

Thirdly, nobody in America likes the idea of one city winning the Super Bowl and the World Series, unless it's New York with the Yankees/Giants.  I have nothing against the city of San Francisco, except I once found a worm crawling in a box of Rice a Roni. San Francisco has never hurt the Yankees. But two championships in one year is overkill. And finally, Baltimore beat New England, forcing Tom Brady to get berated by his wife. They win points for that.

So, now... how do we feel about Egypt's increasingly violent leadership crisis?

My gut tells me it helps us - I'm thinking Arod's less likely to fancy a pyramid - but I'm open for suggestions.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


With the signing of David Robertson, the Yankees payroll stands at $206 million, just $19 million above the magic number that Yankee fans everywhere have inked over their hearts.

Today, I speak for the Yankiverse in saying: So close... and yet... so far away.

Just nineteen million dollars.

That's barely eight months of Arod. That's the Kansas City infield. That's one day of attack ads, three drone strikes, a movie starring Julia Roberts.

Nineteen million dollars.

Mmmmm. I can taste the austerity on my lips.

Has John Sterling come up with his home run call for Russ Canzler?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Open letter to Brian Cashman: If you stop blaming the owners and just say “rebuilding year,” we will accept it

Dear Madam or Sir,

It bugs people when the rich guy pleads poverty. They see it all the time. The governor grubs for money. The corporation cheats on taxes. The billionaires complain about their employees’ wages.

I mention this because you’ve spent the last three months poor-mouthing on behalf of Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, and their plan to shrink the Yankee payroll to $189 million. Simultaneously, they can’t seem to understand why Yankee fans – such as me – have become so spiteful.
I think you are in a tough position, dealing with the family. Whatever happens, they’ll blame you. That’s the underside of being a general manager. But frankly, I think you’ve been doing them dirt by constantly mentioning the $189 million payroll figure – a backhanded way of saying they are poor-mouthing - and not addressing the real Yankee issue: We have hit the downside of a talent curve, and our next wave of young players is not ready.

Sir, consider the reality:
Mariano, Jeter, Andy, Ichiro, Kuroda, Arod – even Youkilis… they’re writing the last stanzas this season. If they don’t lose to Toronto, they’ll surely lose to arthritis. Nobody lasts forever, and they’re all past the sales date. Their replacements – maybe, anyway – such as Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez and Slade Heathcott, are still two years away from making an impact.   

Any other team would call this a “rebuilding year,” and the fans would understand. Because the Yankees own the first and richest sports network, and occupy the nation’s largest media market, they apparently cannot use such words. So you blame a number and – in essence – poor-mouth on behalf of the ownership.
I think you are selling the fan base short.  And I think you will only find an angrier and more strident wave of critics.

This isn’t about $189 million. It’s about the organization’s failure to develop talent in recent years.  
There is talent in the system. Hopefully, it’s on the way. We face a rebuilding year – like everybody does, now and then. Just say it, dammit. Stop pleading poverty. We’ll all be better off.

In the name of Mariano,
El Duque

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oscar matchups: Yankees vs. Redsocks vs. Phillies

As good sports, let's accept that Boston won the recent Golden Calf awards. The Youk-bearded Ben Affleck (Redsock fan) was named Best in Show and Mr. Congeniality for "Argo."

That makes Affleck the Miguel Cabrera of the 2013 Oscars, a potential Triple Crown winner, thanks to the Academy of Motion Pictures' Redsock-leaning foot fetish. (Those who cannot remember "Fever Pitch" are doomed to relive it.)

But dammit, this Oscar season, the Bargain Basement Bombers will not go down easily, like Grandy with a runner on base. We have two Oscar hopefuls: Denzel Washington (Yankee fan) and Robert De Niro (Yankee fan), both chasing acting awards. We need big nights from both, considering that Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler went Nick Swisher in the 2013 balloting. 

Also, we need to watch for Philadelphia.

The Phillies could win with Silver Linings Playbook, which is technically an Eagles movie - but that's too close for comfort. Bradley Cooper grew up outside Philly. I'm assuming he was a Richie Ashburn fan..

The only other team worth watching is the Diamondbacks. They have no known fans - celebrity or otherwise. But they are represented this year by Joaquin Phoenix. I don't know who he roots for... but hey, Phoenix is Phoenix.

Thank God Matt Damon and that Krasinski punk from "The Office" (Redsock fans) pulled goose eggs. And what the hell ever happened to Tea Leoni (Yankee fan)? I thought her career had legs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Super-snooty Youk too good to return Joba call

That's not booing you hear. That's the fans crying, "FEUD!" And it's the last thing the 2013 bargain basement Bombers need: A snob third baseman who lacks the fundamental human decency to return a welcoming call to the Yankee family.

Who does Kevin Youkilis think he is? Kevin Brown?

What kind of black-hearted, preening, self-drunk monster receives a friendly message from a new teammate, an olive branch, a peace offering based on the Word of The Man Who Walked On Water - and doesn't even use his fat fingers to pick up the phone and dial a response? I'll tell you what kind of man it is. It's a man who apparently hasn't been beaned enough!

According to the Internet, Youkilis still hasn't return Joba Chamberlain's heartfelt VoiceMail message, sent in December, and which probably was not a wrong number. It took great courage to leave that message. If Youkilis thinks he can ignore a Yankee intonation of hope, and that the Yankiverse will simply spread its arms and hug him to our nippled breasts... I say ha. I SAY HA!

Today, we hear from Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, which begs another question: WHAT KIND OF IDIOT HAS AN AGENT NAMED JOE BICK? IS THIS SOME KIND OF JOKE? SICK JOE BICK? He tells the Daily News:

"At the time Joba called him, he had 17 different things going on,” said Youkilis’ agent, Joe Bick. “It’s nothing personal. It’s a complete non-issue."

Seventeen things? I can imagine what they were: 1) Take out trash, 2) match socks in lower drawer, 3) return library book, 4) alphabetize record albums, 5) synch iPod, 6) whittle, 7) see what's on TV, 8) add TV dinner base to giant aluminum foil ball, 9) download porn, 10) have virtual phone sex with Manti Te'o, 11) listen to tapes of Art Bell Show, 12) study face in bathroom mirror, 13) force servants to fight, 14) create death metal playlist for Jacoby Ellsbury birthday party, 15) return phone call to Big Papi, 16) kneel in direction of Boston and 17) pray for death to all Yankees.

This will not be forgotten.

As of today, Kevin Youkilis is hereby on IT IS HIGH Double-Secret Probation.

He better watch out. I won't say anything more because I know the police are watching. (Any reference to the Art Bell Show catches the notice of authority.) But listenup, Redsock: Diss Joba, and you diss our moms.

Youk better get on the phone fast. Or Joe Bick just might get flicked.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dreaming the Dream: What must happen for Yankees to reach magical $189 million payroll

Close your eyes and imagine the ultimate Yankee fan fantasy: A payroll of $189 million! Well, now open them:


OK, I know what you’re thinking:

"Duque, why do you tease us so? Yankeekind shall never experience the glory of One-Eight-Nine. Don’t hurt us with your words. We are mere humans, and the perfect One-Eight-Nine is beyond our capability." 

Well, Yankiverse, I say: BEEEEEE-LEAVE!

With some luck from the juju gods, $189 million in 2014 is not only possible — but feasible. We just need a few breaks — literally, maybe — to bring the Yankee ship into the port of One-Eight-Nine! Four lucky things must happen:

1. Career-ending injuries to Jeet, Mariano and Andy.
Don’t take this the wrong way. Nobody wants our heroes dead or in agony — just plaster casts. We have no choice. If even one survives 2013 with ligaments intact, our fiscal dreams go poof. The Steinbrothers would have to re-sign him, wasting valuable Yankee money. If they all decide to play in 2014, we’re out $50 million! Best case scenario: They excel through August, then feel something go riiiiiip. We need retirements — permanent retirements (Talking to you, Andy!) — with no chance of rehab. Look: We all want the best for these Yankee icons. But they shouldn't stand in the way of our golden One-Eight-Nine. 

2. A wretched, horrible contract year for Robbie Cano. 

Keep your fingers crossed. It needs to start in April and linger into September. Maybe he pulls a hammy, then busts a thumb.  We need piss-poor stats — Lenn Sakata numbers —the kind that will shrink his free agency price tag the way going juiceless did Jason Giambi. I say, bench Robbie against righties. Put him behind the plate. Bat him ninth. If his game collapses, we can re-sign him for a pittance. Lenn Sakata cash. Hey, that's Yankee money being saved!
3. Solid, but emotionally unsatisfying, years from Grandy, Hughes, Kuroda, Joba, Logan and Youk. 

We want these beloved Yankee lugnuts to do well... but not that well. It's not as if we'll keep them. Come 2014, they’ll be spread across the West Coast or drinking laced-milk with Melky in Toronto. In the meantime, let's watch them jack up their future asking prices - which we won't  pay. After they refuse our option offer, we can not only cut payroll but bank the high draft picks. (Which we don’t have to sign.) If they go elsewhere, ka-chinnnnnnng! That's more Yankee money... for you and me!

4. Fourth place finish. 

This is critical. We cannot risk making the playoffs. Winning the World Series would be catastrophic. It would force the Steins to keep players, even pay them more because of popularity resulting from the championship. Frankly, it would kill our chances for One-Eight-Nine. We need Yankee fans to hate the 2013 team, pushing high-salary players out the door. (Except Arod: We must cheer Arod, who will be a Yankee for the next five years.) We need cheap Yankees. Russ Canzler! He could be the next Danny Cater! Matt Diaz? The new Andy Kosco. They'll stay cheap. And with every hit, that's the sound of dollars being saved!

Hey, if we could come in dead last, who knows? We could be thinking One-Seven-Nine! And drafting first! Dream the dream, Yankiverse! We're no longer limited by our checkbook.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The albatross known as Pedro Feliciano has flown home

Every now and then, you eat a bad clam. It's life. Nobody wins every deal. Nobody gets out alive. Your brand new used car? The radiator leaks. Your beautiful blushing bride?  She has a penis. Your expensive new starting pitcher? He's named Carl Pavano.


Two years ago, when Brian Cashman dropped nearly $8 million to make Pedro Feliciano our bullpen lefty,  most of the Yankiverse exhaled. It has become a History Channel-level mystery: Why the Yankees cannot develop - and keep - a lefty-bullpen ace. We raise a Randy Choate and trade him. We raise a Phil Coke trade him. Matt Smith? Trade him. Instead, year after year, we run a Pickett's Charge of scrap heap lefties, which in 2012 evolved into the roller coaster ride known as Clay Rapada. (Who actually wasn't bad, considering that we never expected anything.)

Pedro Feliciano was supposed to end the water torture. Cashman signed him despite his huge workload with the Mets: He had appeared in 92 games - the third straight year with more than 80. In fact, the Mets brass even boasted about Scott Proctoring the guy. Cash put Feliciano through the MRIs - as he did Michael Pineda - (Note: By now, we should learn to use base deals on medical reports) - and concluded he was worth $3.75 per year.

Ouch. It still hurts. It was perfect, clean, surgical - Grandy-ose in terms of the whiff. We never got one stinking pitch from Feliciano. He pulled up lame in spring training, resisted surgery, vowing to come back, then couldn't come back, then went under the knife, then rehabbed last July and couldn't make it in time for the playoffs. It was brilliant. He was always coming back. He never did.

You don't get many opportunities to witness The Perfect Fiasco. Usually, at least some aspect of it results in a positive development. This one was engineered by the Fates. It was as if God was telling us: If thou canteth groweth them on thy own farm, thou doesn't deserve to findeth them in the temple of the market.

Listen: Once again, God is right. (He's very smart.) The failure was not Cashman's belief in X-Rays. It was our organization's absolute failure to develop pitchers. In recent months, the Yankees canned Billy Connors and Nardi Contreras, the two nerf balls most responsible for the malaise. I hope we found the right replacements, because other teams get an annual infusion of talent. Looks like we're going for Year 2 of Clay Rapada. We're still watching the scrap heap. And we're still sick from that bad clam.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The tide has pulled out, and the birds have fled. What should we make of this strange, unprecedented dead zone for Yankee news?

Nothing is happening in the Yankiverse. Nothing at all. We are courting no free agent. We are awaiting no prospect. There is no steroids trial, no Cashman stalker, no Arod starlets, no rumors, no nothing. The last hot Yankee news brought the signing of Russ Canzler. Russ Canzler. America's most famous pro sports franchise - which finished 2012 with gaping sections of empty seats - is frozen in movement, asleep - if not dead - behind a long, black curtain of nothingness.

This is strange, the silence being otherworldly. Six years ago, we launched this blog with the understanding that the Yankiverse never closes, that we are not the Kansas City Royals. We are the string that, once plucked, vibrates for months. The Yankees constantly create controversy and rule every back page, a machine that generates round-the-clock interest. Follow the Yankees, and you're never bored.

Well, have you tried a Yankee conversation lately? "Hey, ya think Canzler can beat out Diaz for DH?" "Gee, I don't know, that should be exciting..."

OK, I know what you're thinking: Let's be thankful that Cashman hasn't pulled a stinker trade. Then we'd have something to discuss. Still, I cannot recall such an extended period of nothingness. Even in the late 1980s, when the team was certifiably terrible, we could blather about the arrival of Danny Tartabull or Steve Kemp. This year, the lone newcomer of note is Kevin Youkilis, whose presence leaves us numb with dread.

Russ Canzler. Think he can beat out Diaz for DH?

You know what? I'm not sure I care.

I'll be more interested in watching Melky in Toronto, or Swish in Cleveland. The tide has receded, and all I see are old rocks and car parts. There is nothing to say about the Yankees.

I never thought I'd say that. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

R.I.P. Stan the Man: He never hurt us

Today, I saw Stan Musial's obit and felt bad, because my wife is from St. Louis and loved him growing up. Moreover, I didn't register a pang of revenge, the kind you feel when when a nemesis dies. (Earl Weaver, for example, although managers never hit the home run that wrecks your weekend.) I can truthfully report that I have no truck with Stan Musial. He never hurt me.

In fact, he never hurt any of us. Twice, long before any of us came online, Stan played against the Yankees in the World Series, and he was - well - more Stan the Nick Swisher.

Of course, in 1942, he was just a tyke, Stan the Boy. But those are meager numbers. In today's climate, he'd have to splainin' to do. And the saddest part is that his post-season career ended at age 25.  The guy played until 42, retiring in 1963, a year before the Cards beat us in the World Series. That's when he would have done damage.

Today, players appear so frequently in post-seasons that they accumulate statistics representative of entire years. (Jeet, in 16 post-seasons, has come to bat 734 times, with a .308 average and 20 HR.)  Stan the Man really never got the national audience - and the distractions that come with it - that he deserved.

 Oh well. R.I.P. Stan. You never hurt me. I thank you.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Note to buyers of Curt Schilling's sock: First, check it for DNA

Last Sunday, we bootless and gaggle-toothed mortals of the underclass were blessed to watch the Golden Globe awards - (which should be called the Golden Calf awards) - the annual salute to human self-indulgence, second only to birthday parties given for North Korean dictators. It is an honor to watch the gods get hammered and flirt with each other - even if Redsock-leaning Ben Affleck won the big prize.

Next up: the Grammys, Oscars, Emmys and the Scranton-Wilkes Barre level awards - People's Choice, Lincoln Center, Daytime Emmys, etc. - chances for the lesser stars to preen their plumage and mate, evolving our hairless ape-species to a higher, more 90210 level. By the year 2100, because of award shows, our Hollywood stars will be genetically enhanced to include 24-pack abs, breasts like windsocks and heads the size of weather balloons.

But our pro jocks - they will be grunting, tree-necked, 500-pound Morlocks of the underworld. And they will be mercifully put to death at age 30. Because Award Season in Hollywood comes during Open Season for sports icons. Look what happened just last week:

1. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get Rizzutoed by the Hall of Fame selection committee. (Bill Mazeroski is in the Hall? Really?)

2. Lance Armstrong slobbers his Oprah moment after single-handedly killing the sport of cycling. (Seriously, will anybody follow the U.S. Postal cycling team ever again?)

3. Manti Te'o is exposed as, at best, a doofuss -  and, at worst, a cynical lying bastard who'd say anything to win a Heisman. (With the entire University of Notre Dame as his personal publicist.)

4. Terry Francona's new book discusses how the Redsocks owners' complained that the team needed more sex symbols. (The ratings weren't high enough.)

Listen: The NFL and the NBA are cesspools of bullshit. Hockey is dead, golf died with Tiger, and now this... 

Curt Schilling, the former Ayn Rand-professing U.S. Senate hopeful from Massachusetts, plans to sell his "bloody sock" at an auction, to pay off his $100 million debt to the taxpayers of Rhode Island. Everybody knows the legend of how Schilling pitched Boston to the championship, ending "the Curse of the Bambino" while bleeding openly from a wound.

You have to wonder: Was there ever a heartwarming story about sports that wasn't amplified 500 times by a gullible, cynical, ratings-obsessed media?

It's interesting that Deadspin broke the Te'o story. Deadspin is the junkyard dog of sports media. But we've seen what happens: Give it 20 years and a place in the press box, and history says it will be another ESPN - barely able to see the truth while submerged in its own bullshit.

Which has me wondering this morning:

Should I ever believe ANY heartstrings story about a jock, when reported by a media that makes its bread and butter from the sport?  Certainly, if Brent Musberger is telling it, the answer is no. But when the whole pretense of the media is to glom onto athletes' success, why believe anything dished out between pitches or during the Beyonce-Pepsi half-time show?

Sports is turning into the Golden Globes (which should better be called The Golden Calves.) 

Note to buyers: Check that bloody sock before writing the check. Remember those announcers who joked that it had paint? And remember what happened to the original sock? (Note: It got thrown away. The one Schilling intends to sell is a second sock he wore in a later game.)

Oh, well. Good luck in your fantasy Oscar league. I hear Whazzizname will win this year.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Oprah To Interview Chair She Sat In For Armstrong Interview Tonight On OWN

A quote from Terry Francona, which could be the future words of Joe Girardi

From Francona's book, excerpted in this week's Sports Illustrated:

"Our owners in Boston, they've been owners for 10 years. They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don't think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It's revenue, and I know that's their right and their interest because they're owners - and they're good owners. But they don't love the game. It's still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It's not their blood. They're going to come in and out of baseball."

Take this quote, eliminate the reference to Boston, and put it in Joe Girardi's memoir, which will come out in 2014.

My unfortunate text conversations with Manti Te'o

Like most Yankee bloggers, in my spare time, I enjoy using multiple Internet identities. In the National Rifle Association chatroom, I like to be Big Ed Glock, God of Killing Power, and on the Rush Limbaugh site, I weigh in as Theo the Human Tripod.

But now and then, what Yankee fan doesn't fancy himself - or herself! - as a voluptuous Stanford cheerleader who is dying heroically of an exotic disease? Come on, fess up! We're among friends here. We all do it. Don't act like you don't! It's fun, and it's a great way to meet people - and famous athletes!

I spent most of last fall in character, swapping fun texts with some guy who was pretending to be a Notre Dame football player. (I never checked it out with MTV, but I think the guy is actually the wife of a hog farmer from Duluth.) We had great fun, swapping one-liners and "going all the way" online. Well, I went back into my files to relive some of most cherished exchanges. (I'm K.)

Te'o: We've been texting for months. I've fallen in love with U. When can I see U?

K:  Oh, you silly pooch. I'm really not much to look at. Here is latest photo.

Te'o: Minga! We really need to meet. I want to hold you, even more than want to smash Michigan State this Saturday.

K: Me 2!  I can't wait 2 C U.  We can do - what is football phrase? "horse-collar!" Here is new photo.


K: NO. DO NOT COME!  I have cancer. Bad sinuses. On death door. Owww, pain. Nurse take shot of me in hospital clothes.

Te'o: OMG! This is terrible! I can't concentrate on football. I must C U now!

K: NO. Getting chemo. Doctors not allow visitors. Staff and roommate say hi.
Te'o: Darling, babydoll, U more important than Heisman Trophy.

K: Weak. Doc say not long to live. Cough. U must live 4 me. Never 4get the great texts we had. I am facing last sunset.

Te'o: God, this is horrible! What 2 do?

K:  If ever Notre Dame is losing big game, or TV networks ask about personal life, tell story of me and urge team to, WIN ONE FOR THE SICK GIRL.  OMG. IT'S DEATH. HE WANTS ME TO FOLLOW. I see white light. Am floating like firefly into vast horizon. - 30 -

Te'o: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Baby, text something, text something, NOOOOOOOOO-

Te'o: IT'S BEEN DAYS. Still no obit. Must have missed funeral. TEXT SOMETHING.

K: Hey there, cow-pardner. It's Virgil the Talking Horse. Your old lady K told me you could use a new text buddy! Wanna talk? Don't say, Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! LOL. Trust me, I'm more fun than Theo, the Human Tripod. Here's my photo!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Still waiting, waiting, waiting... but for what?

This we know: Faith, at times, is crap.

In the face of overwhelming despair - as the fireball in the sky expands - to simply close your eyes and clutch a statue, or a book, or a center fielder who hit .310 last season in Charleston - it's just a matter of faith. You either have it, or you don't. 

Since that night when Miguel Cabrera put down our tired franchise like a cancer-ridden collie, every piece of Yankee news has been tinged with a mounting, faith-crushing dread. We can close our eyes, but the heat of that fireball is not going away.

We spent millions to maintain our icons - Andy, Mariano, Ichiro - more as legacy gifts than planks for the future. Nobody can or should question the moral decision to keep them as Yankees. But does anyone really have faith that they will last the season?

We spent millions on Kevin Youkilis, arguably the most hated Redsock since Pedro. We expect him to play third base, despite his own advanced age and health issues, which include a regular series of hobbling tweaks. If Youkilis doesn't hit, or if he goes out with a hammy, nobody will claim the fans are shouting "Yook."   

We watched three critical cogs walk out the door - Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher - and we never even phoned the free agents out there who could have replaced them in stature or statistics.

I can't remember a Yankee winter so barren of hope. All we have is faith.

Well, none of the Gammonites has yet invoked the "R-Y" phrase: Rebuilding Year. It would be hard to use it with a straight face when you consider a lineup that on any given night could average 35 years of age. And what if those "jewels" of our farm system - the kids at Single A - turn out to be over-hyped?

Impossible, you say. Hey, keep up the faith. But I dunno. Baseball America recently rated the Yankee farm system at 11th - basically, middle of the pack. There are many ways to spin this. You can say it testifies to the high ceiling talent in the low levels - because we have zilch at the top. I dunno. Go for it.

Last year January, we envisioned a wave of youth: Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances were on the cusp of Yankeehood. Turned out, the entire youth movement was David Phelps. Everything else tanked. Now, we're supposed to put faith in kids two levels below Scranton?

Listen: At Single A, everybody's a great prospect.

I dunno. Faith is faith, and pizza is pizza, unless it's got pepperoni. It's almost time for Cashman to weigh in with his signature January move. I'm not sure if I want it, because his track record for trades is spotty. Right now, the light in the sky is just starting to burn us. Clutch the statue to your breast. It's going to get hot. But I don't think we want to let go.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The Yankee draft picks - 27, 31, 32 - as explained through Biblical prophesy

Yesterday, Rafael Soriano signed with the Washington Nationals - (yes, even the woeful Nats are now raiding our larder) - for $28 million and a XL jersey with XXL tails. Meanwhile, we're left to play the traditional rebuilding strategy of the Washingtons and Tampas: Finish last enough times, and eventually you draft the Bryce Harpers, Evan Longorias and Stephen Strasburgs, and you challenge.

So on this great Yankee holiday - Arod Surgery Day - let's spend a few moments looking forward to the next Yankee resurgence: 2018!

Meanwhile, yet another Yankee star hath walketh out the Doomsday Door of Judgement, aka "Armaggeddon outahere." In return, the Yankees gain another high "sandwich" pick in the June amateur draft. We now hold numbers 27, 31 and 32.  (Brackman, and Culver and Bleich, oh my!)

Still, those numbers - 27, 31 and 32 - haunt me. What do they mean?  Being the Bible scholar that I am, I quickly found answers in the Old Testament Book of Acts.

27:31: "Then Paul said to the Centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.’"

Analysis: Clearly, Hal Steinbrenner (Paul) is telling Cashman to keep the Centurion (Mariano Rivera) and the young pitchers, Robertson, Joba, Phil along with the Philistine prospects. If the Yankees trade them, we won't save any games.

Acts 27:32: "So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away."

Analysis: The Yankees "cut the ropes" to Rafael Soriano – (the lifeboat) and "let it fall away." And the guy is gone.

So what next? 

Acts 27:33: "Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. ''For the last fourteen days,' he said, 'you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food--you haven't eaten anything.' "

That’s right, folks. A Yankee move is coming. We haven't eaten for 14 days.  Not even an Eli Whiteside. It's going to happeneth, folks. We're going to sign or trade for somebody soon.

And happy Arod Surgery Day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To escape looming budget crisis, should the Yankees mint a $189 million platinum coin?

Those hardline, Tea Partyin’ Steinboys are refusing to expand the Yankee debt ceiling without major payroll cuts, leaving us everyday fans wondering what to do?  
Should we negotiate with these owner-extremists, who clearly hate John Sterling so much that they would plunge the team into a winless, unSwishalicious recession?   
Should we just sit back and take it - watch the 2013-14 Yankees tank, waiting for 2016, while the AL East turns into the Big Sky Conference? 
Our solution: The Super Yankee Coin. 
Yes, it’s an answer so perfect Yogi Berra could have tweeted it: Mint an Official Steinbrenner Collectable $189,000,000 Yankee dubloon.  
This limited-edition, collector's item special coin - valued at exactly $189 million - would be placed into the custody of Commissioner Bud Selig, the $25 million-per-year, handsome, virile and orange-but-organic-haired leader of professional baseball. The coin is worth the Yankee team payroll, but replicas would be sold for just $69.99 - a great way for fans to connect with the team! Proceeds go toward the Yankee luxury tax, which helps the team sign big name stars such as Michael Morse and Oliver Kloseoff. 

Of course, some will decry this move as a "gimmick." These people are fools. We says Eduardo Nunez at DH is a gimmick. Drafting Andrew Brackman in the first round, when the world knew he’d need surgery - that was a gimmick.

If it scores us a Biff Tundrafunnel, we’ll take the gimmick.

Coachilla: MLB rule change can open the gates to allow long-overdue seventh coach in dugout

Didn't see this coming. Wow. Mammoth. The MLB owners have OKed a tentative rule - sit down for this - that each major league team can now suit up seven coaches per game. No, this isn't a dream. No, this isn't The Onion. You're actually reading this, and it is actually happening. In the past, teams could only play six coaches at a time. Just six. How they managed - well - it was brutal, but they survived. Next year, seven. I swear this is true. I swear to God you're not having an acid flashback. Stephen King couldn't write a wilder plot. Next year, our under-coached Yankees can have seven.

Listen, with seven coaches, Joe Girardi can be a king of kings. Between innings, while the pitcher and catcher warm up, every player on the field can have a personal coach. If you concede that Jete, Pettitte, Mariano and Ichiro are sort of coaches - they're old enough anyway - every man in the lineup could have a coach - a confidante, therapist, father figure and 24/7 drinking buddy.  Seven coaches - on a team of 38-year-olds. We should call ourselves the 50 Shades of Gray.

We are no longer limited to the subhuman poverty of pitching coach, hitting coach, first base coach, third base coach, bullpen coach and a bench coach. The wall has come down! We now can have a utility coach. Or a bunting coach. Or a rover. Many things can be coached. Base-running coach! Or maybe a second-base coach. If runners on first and third are important enough to have them, what about the runner on second? Is he second-rate? Doesn't he matter, too?

Wait a minute. A coach coach! A coach who coaches the coaches, if a coach slides into a coaching slump.  Or a life coach, like that lady on The Biggest Loser. When ARod walks back to the dugout after striking out, she can get into his face and scream, "DON'T YOU GIVE UP ON ME." It works on fatties. Or wait... a first-runner up coach. The Miss America pageant has one. And in the event that a coach cannot complete his term, the first runner up would be designated to fill out the season.

Seven coaches. A magic number, seven. A magical rule change. Arod will never have to write notes to women in the bleachers. There's a coach for that. Want to calculate currency exchanges? There's a coach for that! The weather? Latest news? Record video? There's a coach for that! It's gonna be a great year.