Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Brief History of Phil Rizzuto on What's My Line

Scooter was the Mystery Guest on the very first episode of What's My Line, February 2, 1950.


Note the unashamed sexual harassment of the model passing out blindfolds to the panelists. Note also host John Charles Daly's efficient post-game interview with our hero:
DALY: And Phil, tell us, what do you do during these off-season days?

SCOOTER: I work at The American Shops, the clothing store up in Newark.

DALY: How's business?

SCOOTER: Pretty good.

DALY: The American Shops up in Newark. I must say, you should be able to sell a suit very well and very fast and thanks a lot for being our celebrity guest on What's My Line.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Quotations From Syracuse Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol, Compiled From Press Releases

"We're itching to get another season of Chiefs baseball going!”

“We're committed to keeping the Chiefs the best affordable family fun in Central New York!”

"We're excited to be back on television so our fans can get a first-class look at the Chiefs when they're not at the park!"

“We can't wait to see our loyal fans get ready for Opening Day and the other 71 Chiefs home games!"

"The Chiefs are more than just fantastic professional baseball!”

"Time Warner Cable SportsChannel is one of our most trusted partners!”

“We can never doubt the passion of Syracuse fans!”

“I love seeing the Chiefs' faithful back on board for 2015!”

"Get out your calendars and circle your dates to catch the 2015 Syracuse Chiefs!"

June 19 vs. Buffalo Bisons: The world famous MiniKISS will be performing before the game! Get there early to hear all your favorite KISS songs!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

News From the Shadow of Baseball's Luxury Cathedral

Nancy Spielberg with Rambo.
Coyote Spooks Steven Spielber's Sister in Bronx: "This one felt like a predator, like he couldn’t be rehabilitated. He was out in the daytime watching us for a very long time.”

Bronx Man Charged With Manslaughter After Parking Dispute: Defense lawyer Dennis Ring says it was a tragic accident and his client will be cleared when all of the facts come out.

Bronx Grandmother Forced to Use Scooter After Teens Steal Wheelchair: "It's hard on the bumps, it goes sideways. I don't trust it too much. I live on a hill. I'm scared of it."

Documentary on Actor Dick Miller to Screen: The Bronx native's film career began with a run of roles for B-movie king Roger Corman that started with "Apache Woman" (1955) and included "It Conquered the World" (1956), "War of the Satellites" (1958), "A Bucket of Blood" (1959), "Premature Burial" (1962) and "The Terror" (1963).

Dick Miller gets electrocuted in Chopping Mall (1986):

Friday, March 27, 2015

"[A]s I've said from day one, my dad and I are similar in some ways, we're different in some ways. We just have different personalities."

I am entering a 10-day cone of silence

Today, I leave for my annual National Lampoon family vacation, and from now on, visits to the "Inter Web" will be sparse and fleeting.

Therefore, I am temporarily turning over the Batmobile keys to Mustang, Alphonso, John M, KD, I'm Bill White, Bern Baby and Alibi, Ghost of Scott Brosius - even Buhner's ghost (secret Seattle operative) - to any of the oldsters who still feel the drunken need to howl at the Yankee moon...

I'll be keeping tabs on this. Sometimes, in transit, I will actually have time to fire off a slanderous and hateful screed - and I will. But it's more likely you won't hear from me.

Please play nicely. Remember: It's only the Yankees... an elite-funded mirage designed to placate the masses into subservience and derail necessary violent revolution. (Hail Hydra!)  

"People see me as not passionate — that’s certainly not the case. I may control it better. I keep it inside. But believe me, I tend to throw something at the TV, as most of our fans do.”

Who knew? Hal is a wereowner.

Our Leader's true identity has just been revealed. He is not one of us!!

The Master is wrong? One CAN predict baseball??!! Who are you, Duque? Excuse me while I ponder my next move. This is bad JuJu. Bad, BAD, JuJu. Duque, you have just doomed the entire 2015 season. Gaaaa!!!

Well, I guess that closes the book on David Ortiz: He says he's never taken performance enhancing drugs, and he certainly has no reason to lie about it

Nope. Big Papi is clean. I'm glad we've finally cleared it up.

He says he's never taken PEDs, so help him, and if he's lying, may God strike him down right NOW!

Look. No lightning bolts. He's still here. What more proof does anyone need?

In the meantime, Papi's head has been purchased by Ringling Brothers to replace the elephant acts.

Predictions for 2015: Don't read, if you have a bad ticker

Ladies and Gentlemen, Moms and Dads, Children of All Ages...

In the words of James Agee and Walker Evans, "Let us now praise famous men."

In less literary terms, let us now ponder the 2015 Yankees.

These are my annual predictions. I'm no baseball expert. Like you, I am merely a particle in the vast,entropic wilderness of Yankee press releases, YES propaganda, Celino and Barnes ads, and Gammonite keyboard ejaculate. Nevertheless, I believe The Master is wrong: You can predict baseball. You just need to look at the past.

I've stalked the Yankees for 55 years, over which there might have been a day or two that I did not wake up thinking about the team, or go to bed patrolling CF. If you're reading this, it's only because we are linked via some sick, Yogi Berraian wormhole of consciousness. You were meant to be here.

For the last two years, I foresaw the Yankees missing the playoffs. It has less to do with my knowledge of the game than a natural inclination toward Yankee pessimism. I practice Yankee pessimism. It works for me. I don't look on the dark side of life. But I always expect the worst from the Yankees. How else can they surprise me?

But I make my predictions with one great caveat. You must remember: No matter how bad the Yankees are, it's going to be a great year! 

That said, here goes: My predictions for 2015.

1. The eternal excuse. "If not for those pesky injuries..." Once again, the DL will foreclose on us. When your average age is over 30, don't skimp on ice. CC and Beltran will return to form - until they tweak something. Tex will come back - until his wrist blows. Last year, we lucked out with Gardner and Ellsbury each playing 140 games. Do you really expect that again? On any pitch, Tanaka and/or Pineda could feel a career-changing twinge. We have just too many old bones and too few young faces. In the end, we will again hear that same sorry excuse: "If not for the injuries..."

2. The wobbly rotation. Lately, hopes are high about Adam Warren "winning" fifth starter. Wait a minute. Adam Warren? He threw 78 innings last year. Over the last two, he's thrown 155. That's our fifth starter? And - get this - he beat out the great Esmil Rogers! Is anybody else seeing this? I feel like William Shatner in that Twilight Zone episode, yelling about the gremlin out on the wing. Adam Warren? Last June, we sniffed through the Scranton staff like dogs over kibble, trying anybody with an arm. Remember Alfredo Aceves? Bruce Billings? Chris Leroux? If March is already this barren, what will August look like? As for Nathan Evaldi? There are 50 guys like him, looking for the pitch that transforms them into Cy Young. I'm thinking by May 15, we are the Esmil Empire.

3. A punchless lineup. Last year's RBI leader, Brian McCann, had 75. Seventy-frickin-five! Back in the dead-ball Yankees era of Bobby Meacham and Ron Hassey - 1986 - as bad as we were, we still had guys who drove in 100 runs. (Mattingly and Winfield were the names.) Seventy-five RBIs? On the "Bronx Bombers?" WTF? Last season, when we were down by two runs, it was like staring up at Mount Everest with a broken bottle of oxygen. We did nothing to change that, beyond reluctantly bringing back A-Rod. Who will drive in 100 runs? Tex? Last year, he hit .216. Two-sixteen. If a starter gives up three runs in the first, why bother watching? Is Michael Kay THAT witty?

4. The inevitable salary dumps.  All this fiscal restraint you see... at the trade deadline, it will go out the window. Some ancient former Mr. Brewer - now 38 with a belly as bloated as his contract - will pop up on Cashman's radar. We will trade a prospect who we've touted this spring - (assuring the Gammonites he was never that good) -  for the next Alfonso, or Ichiro, or Headley, or Mondesi, or Abreu, or Nady, or Berkman, or Reynolds, or Kearns, or Prado, or McCarthy, or Capuano, or Kerry Wood. Momentarily revived, we will chase the one-game Wild Card. The YES men will marvel.

4. The rising Redsocks. Last summer, while we slogged after the Wild Card, I found myself actually envying Boston fans. They scrapped their old and creaky roster, and started eyeing 2015. Now, it's here. Yes, they have a long way to go, but they retooled with free agents and youth, and if they win, we will look like buffoons. They will  have lapped us, while we sat there, were congratulating ourselves for trading Pete O'Brien for Martin Prado.

5. Third place in the AL East. I hate to say it, but we needed some high-priced free agent, a Scherzer or Shields. Our farm system is still barren. It's sad that we must rely on the check book. But for 20 years, the Yankees won by getting less from more. Now, we're supposed to do more with less? That won't happen overnight. It will take years. This is just Year III.

I hope I'm wrong. But fear not: With or without the Yankees, it will be a great summer! Damn!  I can't wait! PLAY BALL!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

18 Straight Championship Seasons !!!

I know it has already been covered, but Hal's only interest in the Yankees, unlike his father George, is in the financial game.

For the 18th consecutive year, the Yankees top the list of baseball franchise valuations.  At $3.2 Billion, the Yankees still trail Real Madrid ( $3.44 Billion ) for the sports franchise crown.  The difference is;  Real Madrid is constantly winning their championship, or competing intensely for it.

The Yankees, as we know, are satisfied to threaten, but not achieve, the one-game play-in.  This was not the case when Sir George was alive.  He would have fired people and traded people if the Yankees were twice in a row humiliated by the Mets, even in grapefruit ball.

He would spend the $3.2 billion to win.  Hal buys pecan rolls.

Yesterday's game was laughable, in that the Yankees had no chance of scoring runs or even threatening to do so.  Headley is the only clutch hitter….only hitter…we have.  And he is a rental.  Beltran is a joke.  Tex is hitting because he can't get around on pitches any more, and is poking balls to left against the shift. Brett is working himself into batting shape, still hiding under the .200 bridge.

The excuses for Dellin; CC and even Tanaka abound.  On the one hand, Yankee announcers interview Joe and he acknowledges that this is the time when starters ( position and pitching ) have to sharpen up, as the real games are only 2 weeks away.

Out of the other side of his mouth are excuses for everyone;

Dellin's lack of fastball pace, his hanging curves.  Tanaka's two seamer and work on his change-up.  CC's gopher ball, " location" work.  And Ellsbury is getting closer every day.  He even took " dry swings" the other day.  Can you imagine?  $12million to do that?

We'll likely start the season 14-0.

Dear Hal, here's a quick (and FREE!) template for saving the Yankees

Dear Mr. Steinbrenner,

I sense that you're feeling picked-on.

In this angry era of cyber-bullying and Twitter necktie parties, the last thing an old sport such as yourself should fear is the ding of an incoming phone text. But the fact is, some fans are grousing that you don't spend enough on the New York Yankees, (a team you own), and that we are now entering Year 3 of an epoch of Horace Clarkeian mediocrity, similar to the one your dad bestowed on us 40 years ago, when you were just a puppy. This can ruin Internet etiquette.

Now, I realize that everybody wants you to shell out your hard-inherited dollars, and dammit, it's your money, not theirs. It's sort of like going to a fancy restaurant and having them order for you - and not only that, but they skip the cool Cheese Tots appetizer and pounce on the liver plate. Dammit, that money is yours. If you want, you can spend it on broads, weed and blow. You can buy a truckload of Play-Dough and build a giant blue clubhouse with a yellow swimming pool imprinted with newspaper text. You don't have to listen to nobody.

But please, sir, listen to this.

Next December, the odds are quite good that the Yankees - (the team you own) - will have finished out of the playoffs for a third straight season. At this point, a number of fans - if they still care at all - will have turned as orange as John Boehner, and they'll be snarling your name while jabbing darning needles into pillows with your face stitched into the casings. Here's what you must do.

Sign the biggest name free agent on the market. Give him a seven-year deal. Shell out the money. (Remember: You are personally worth about $4 billion.) It doesn't matter who. We just need somebody new.

The following year, do the same. And then the year after that... and the year after that.

On the seventh year, the system will be self-restoring: You'll have one huge contract coming off the books, as a new one arrives. Yes, the price will gradually rise. That's inflation. But every year, the Yankees will be guaranteed one shining new ray of hope, along with two or three stars in their primes, two or three who are fading, and one Carlos Beltran, who everybody secretly wishes would fall into a well.

Every year, sign one - and hold ceremonies to say goodbye to one. It's equilibrium. It's serendipity. Don't go signing three guys at once. And don't trying to paint over problems with Stephen Drews, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafners, et al. Go for one free agent, build the farm system, and every seven years, replace a 39-year-old with a 32-year-old.

This year, if the Yankees had, say, signed Max Scherzer, the eyes of baseball would be upon us - along with the rampant scorn, which we secretly love - and we would now be looking at a team capable of winning the AL East. Right now, we are a rash of injuries away from being the worst team in baseball. And when you're old, you're also injury-prone. We don't have enough fingers to be crossed to imagine this team going all the way. Come July, you'll end up trading for another bunch of salary dumps, and we'll be right back to where we started.

Every year, grab the best. In seven years, you won't even feel the pinch.

There's no reason for you to fear your email inbox. And remember, sir, you are a billionaire, not a cheap-suited millionaire. You are New York, not New Brunswick. This are the Yankees, not the Padres. And you are a Steinbrenner, not a Wrigley. Wake up, sir, or one of these days, you won't be hearing the ding of rampant phone texts - because the Yankees will be the Mets. And once that happens, it's a seven-year trip back to the Bronx.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Yankees are worth $3.2 billion, and that doesn't count the Steinbrenners' interest in YES

Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner arrived in this barren, brutal world worth about $100 million.

Considering that his family is majority owner of the Yankees and minority owner of YES Network, I'm Not Cheap is now probably worth two to three billion dollars - and that's in Yankee holdings alone. God knows what the family passed along in real estate, stocks, art, jewels, gold, slaves and tablets of Viagra.

Today, Forbes ranked MLB franchises according to net value and annual revenues. The Yankees - of course - top the list. The numbers reveal a vast, overwhelming financial clout, the team being as much a money-printing machine as a cultural icon.

The Yankees are worth $3.2 billion dollars. Try to wrap your head around that figure, next time A-Rod's scandalous $26 million salary raises tempers in the beer garden. Three point two billion dollars. Years ago, Forbes estimated the value of YES Network at more than the Yankees itself. Since then, the Steinbrenners sold the majority of their YES interest to Satan himself, Rupert Murdoch.

Last year, the team took in more than $500 million - well more than twice the amount that I'm Not Cheap spent on payroll. He could have run that payroll to $300 million and never felt a twinge. It just would have been uncomfortable in the other owners' parties.

Last month, I'm Not Cheap pulled out his pockets and bleated poverty like a homeless bridge-sitter, after Cuban Yoan Moncada signed with the Redsocks for a few precious pennies more.

Of course, the game is rigged, and the owners can never lose. But one of these days, a hard rain is gonna fall...

Lager Dreams

Too much time at South By Southwest, and far too many 16oz cups of frothy lager, has left El Duque in a state of benign euphoria.

He has given us a formula whereby the Yankees can win it all.

Now I love optimism as well as the next guy, but I drink alcohol for my dream sessions, not so much the frothy lagers.

So I perused his meanderings with a neat Crown Royal Reserve, and was feeling quite upbeat until I reached the part about the "help from Scranton."

If any of you have watched the spring training games, you will know that Pirela was the only hope.  (Until Sabathia threw the gopher ball that he had to chase into the CF wall), that is.

But all the other guys have failed, recently, when it mattered.  And "stars to be," don't do that.

Here is an example;  Our top prospect, by most talking heads, is Judge…a number one pick of ours.  Even the announcers yesterday ( O'neil included )  described him as a " can't miss, future star." So he comes to bat with the bases loaded and either no outs or one out, and a chance to do some damage.  A single gets the Yanks back in the game.  

Do something…anything…positive.  He looks at a third strike.

Here is my point;  when real talent gets a chance, as a youngster, they always do something positive.  Derek would have banged out a single.  Bernie would have driven in a run. Ellsbury would have tripled.  Pete Rose would have hit an inside the park home run.

My test of Yankee "prospects" is; do they do something positive when they get a shot?

The tall, athletic, " can't miss" prospect just stood there, dumbstruck and watched the third strike paste the middle of the plate.  If grades were handed oaut for the quality of an at-bat, Judge gets an "F."

Pirela would have made contact and done something positive.

None of the others ( Austin, Williams, Heathcott, Sanchez ) ever seem too, either.  Though Heathcott got hit by a pitch and drove in a run.

And don't tell me about Judge's HR three weeks ago, when some guy from A ball was pitching to him.

He reminds everyone of Dave Winfield.  Who should have played basketball.  His claim to fame as a Yankee;  Mr. May and the guy who killed the seagull in Toronto.

We have nothing to hope for from Scranton.

Death of a Salesman next? Yankee good sports re-create scene from "The Sandlot" that nobody else remembers

In case you missed this, the Yankees "adorably" re-enacted the scene from the middling 1993 movie, "The Sandlot." It proves that pro athletes are people, too!

My request: The scene where Belushi rallies the frat in "Animal House."


A happy day in the Yankiverse: Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner just saved a few more pennies

After Yoan Moncada signed with Boston, a few Gammonites suggested that the "Empire" was more interested in the Cuban star infielder Hector Oliva, who supposedly is ready for the majors now.

Well, so much for that idea.

Today, the Dodgers signed Oliva for $62 million. No word on whether "I'm Not Cheap" even picked up the phone. Though he was pretty proud of finishing second in the Moncada sweepstakes. It proved he's not cheap.

Considering that the Yankees next year will fall beyond the artificially-set, international free agent payment threshold - and thus cannot go above $300,000 on any single signee - it's safe to say that "I'm Not Cheap" will be saving a ton of money this and next year.

I just hope that he listens closely to the Yankee Radio Network. If so, he'll realize that a 15-minute call could save him up to 15 percent on car insurance. That's even more savings! Good grief, if he ever once breathed asbestos, back when he worked those construction jobs, "I'm Not Cheap" might even have a big cash lawsuit in his future. He should dial 1-IMNOTCHEAP.

How the 2015 Yankees win the Big MLB Butter Sculpture

I'm thinking we win the 9-inning Bud Selig Wild Card, followed by a victory binge worthy of Brian Williams-level hallucinogens. But hell, once you make the post-season, anything can happen - even Kansas City! So... the question is... how do we get to Oct. 5? 

Here's how.

1. Pineda/Tanaka = Koufax/Drysdale. Or, at least, Whitey Ford/Ralph Terry. Hey, they're both 26, prime of life. Their erections can cut glass. Shake their hands, and your elbows stink of testosterone. Twenty six: Same age as Emma Stone, Paula Gretzki, and that red-haired Rupert Grint creep from Harry Potter. Plus, they're leviathans. They look scary coming off the bus. Of course, either can tweak a willy while tying his shoe, and never pitch again. But in our Viagra hallucination, they become dominant starters, Cy Young dandies, and lead this team. (Sadly, nothing short of uncut ether lets me see CC joining them, but he could help.) Maybe Larry Rothschild can save the Great Experiment, Nathan Evaldi. If not, Larry could be Kevin Long-gone by 2016. But Pinedanaka could win us 45 games.

2. Fountain of Youth. We lead the majors in Comeback of the Year candidates. Hell, we lead the world. Our lineup is the baseball equivalent of Saved By the Bell. Who could be 2015's Sports Illustrated cover story? Well, there's Tex, there's Beltran, there's Ellsbury, there's Headley, there's Drew, McCann, Young, Capuano - everyone but Dellin. They need to come back. What are the odds? Frankly, Jim Boeheim has a better chance of being invited to deliver a Ted Talk. But that's how this happens. Like the dead in that French TV series, they all come back.

3. The "A" guy. Nope, not Adam Warren. Alex. He doesn't need to play 3B. He doesn't need to bat third. He doesn't need to run for President. He just needs to hit .270 with, say, 25 HRs. He needs to be the good A-Rod, who is decent and cheery enough to keep the haters from swarming over this team, from turning the boos into cascades of thunder, and from plunging everybody into a downward spiral. He needs to be a positive rather than a diversion.

4. Pen mightier than sword.  I'm still mucho pissed-offo that Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner let David Robertson walk. It happened because I'm Not Cheap was being chea- er, I mean, "frugal" - and didn't respect a homegrown, beloved Yankee, who pitched heroically in replacing the Great Mariano. Write this down: We will regret losing Robertson. It's a huge crap shot, expecting guys from Pittsburgh or Atlanta to come to NYC and excel. Still, Cashman nabbed some power arms. A good bullpen can paint over many problems. Ours could be one of the best. It damn well better be.

5. Somebody gushes up from Scranton. Last year, it was Dellin Betances. This spring, we longed for Jose Pirela, but that dream just hit the wall. We need an infusion of unexpected youth. Maybe Rob Refsnyder can save 2B. Maybe Slade Heathcott can be the Second Coming of Josh Hamilton (God knows, they share the troubled histories.) We could get a jolt from John Ryan Murphy, Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez - even Kyle Roller. Somebody, anybody, needs to bloom. Don't snicker. It could happen - if some of the old guys get out of the way.

6. Didi defense. We traded a shitload for Didi Gregorius. He needs to play SS every day. This notion of a platoon with Brendan Ryan? Ugh. That's how you ruin DP chemistry. If Didi can't play everyday, we're screwed. That great middle defense? It could turn into Drew at SS and the still butter-fingered Refsnyder at 2B - in other words, Swiss cheese. But if Didi is solid, you'll often hear, "That's a ball Jeter wouldn't have gotten!" Our defense will save games.

7. Measles in AL East. Let's face it: We may suck. But so might the rest of the AL East. Maybe those hot Redsock super-rookies will crap out. Last year, Jackie Bradley Jr. was headed straight to Cooperstown, until his .198 average got in the way. (Watch out, though: He's still only 24.) This year's model is Mookie Betts, age 22. Could they toss another air ball? Could something in that vaunted farm system fail to close the massive gap between Pawtucket and Boston? I still dread them having Yoan Moncada, thanks to I'm Not Cheap's - um - fiscal prudence. As for Baltimore: Buck Showalter only builds championship teams for other people to manage. Look it up. Tampa Bay? They need to come in last for five years again and draft high. Toronto? They are - well - Toronto... today, tomorrow, always... tough luck Toronto. Maybe we're bad, but everybody else sucks worse. Like the Presidential race, eh? We're Jeb Bush in a division of Sarah Palins. That's how we win it. Altogether now: "U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

If the exhibition season ended today, we'd make the Bud Selig One-Game Wild Card

Read it and weep, Redsock Nation.

You'd be done, thinking about Moncada next spring.
We'd head to Oakland, with Tanaka pitching the Big Game.

Is Anyone Worried?

Brett Gardener is hitting close to zero, for the entire spring.

Saving himself?

Needs glasses?

Post concussion syndrome?

I am worried.

One out of five of you think the Big 3 - Maddux, Glavin and Smoltz - wait, I mean Pineda, Tanaka and Sabathia! - will still be standing at the all-star break

To those who keep hope alive, I salute you.

I will try to learn from you.

CC is already using the "just working on feeling good" line to absolve himself from poor pitching lines.  We hold our breath whenever Tanaka lets go - and we will for the rest of our lives. But Pineda does look solid, and - who knows - maybe Evaldi can evolve!

Most of you expect one or two will be gardening by mid-July. That doesn't guarantee a Yankee collapse, but it's hard to imagine the 2015 team going far without the three cogs. The competition for our fifth rotation spot already looks desperate - I'm talking Sidney Ponson/Wally Whitehurst Level Desperation. We will spend the season like Rick in "The Walking Dead," pondering those severed arms in the forest - except that we'll be wondering if they can pitch every fifth day.

Oh, well. Maybe we'll get lucky.

If Chris Young homers in a forest, do the trees cheer?

For the record: I hope Chris Young salvages his career.

Dear God, it'd be nice to have someone in the lineup with an actual pulse - one guy worth holding water to watch, instead of rushing to the kitchen for a mound of glistening comfort food. Right now, there is A-Rod - sort of - and maybe Brett Gardner. Now that Jose Pirela is out, and since Rob Refsnyder never even got a chance, the Yankees are a stack of Strat-o-Matic cards with withering numbers. Unless the dice are incredibly lucky, we could be a team in free-fall.

But let's get back to Mighty Chris Young, who is currently competing with Stephen Drew for the position of 2015 Yankee Malignancy Poster Boy. Until yesterday, Young was most famous this spring for striking out against the pitching machine in a simulated game. Yesterday, he hit two home runs, two!, prompting - well - the dreamers to dream, I guess. Or something like that.

Trouble is, we've seen this movie before. Young is 31. Last year, with the Mets, he hit .205. That's no misprint. Two-oh-five... and without power. He hit 8 HR. He drove in 28 runs. It was the kind of performance that annually makes the Mets the Mets. In early August, they tossed him out like a bag of bad clams. For three weeks, he festered on the scrap heap. In early September, Brian Cashman - the American Picker - signed Young. Over the last month, Young hit a Ruthian .282 with three HRs, and the Yankee YES men became apoplectic about Cashman's genius. Yes, it's a story worthy of a Yankeeography.

Unfortunately, if you look deeper, it turns into an episode of Serial.

In his first four Yankee games as a starter, Young did all his damage. He went 8 for 16 with 3 HRs. But take away those four games, and what do you get?

He hit .219.  Two frickin' nineteen.

(For the record: Young homered off Tampa's Jake Ordozzi and Jake McGee, and Baltimore's Brad Brach.) 

So why do we have Chris Young? Simple: He's cheap.

With the Mets, he made $7.5 million. This year, he signed for $2.5 million. Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner brought him aboard because - well - he's cheap! He fits I'm Not Cheap's business plan. Buy low, release in June.

Two home runs? Great. Just great. But if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the kitchen. Yell when A-Rod comes up. Or maybe, don't. If I want to watch the Mets, aren't they on a different channel?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Have You Heard The Rhetoric?

The Yankee brass are drooling over themselves, and in the press, about how CC's velocity was up.

How about his 24.0 ERA?  That is up too.  So were the three home run balls, in three innings.

Matt Harvey pitched 6 innings of shutout ball, and gave up two singles.   Think the Mets were happy about his velocity improving?

We are so full of crap.  CC Sabathia looks like a disaster, and the Yankees are gushing about him as though he were, well, a Matt Harvey.

THe Pirela story is just a metaphor for this Yankee decade.  A glimmer of hope is squashed before it can become real.  Dreams become nightmares.  The Mets all star, gold glove center fielder, who is younger than Pirela,  crushes the ball that crushes Pirela's face.  The Met guy gets an inside the park home run;  we get another trip to the MRI table, and more reps for Chris Young ( I'm not going to mention the health status of Jacoby Ellsbury).

Welcome to the 2015 Yankee season.

Just yesterday, some study was published in the NYTimes about how concussions impact hitters.   The summary;  they never hit as well after " recovering" from a concussion, as they did before.

Duque is right;  the boy now goes to Scranton to work back his baseball talents, and quietly disappears.  It is like sending him to Chile, as a pro-democracy protester, in the 1970's.

Jose Pirela isn't the first Yankee to get knocked out by an outfield wall. George Herman Ruth did it, too

From Deadspin.

Where have you gone, Bobby Abreu? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

By signing Moncada, Boston vaults to the second-highest rated MLB farm system

I wonder if Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner has noticed this?

It's getting hard, searching for hope in the vast, gloomy Yankiverse. The worst part is recognizing that, no matter how dark the future looks, "I'm Not Cheap" won't change his ways.

BTW, don't bother looking for a write-up on the Yankees in this linked listing. It covers only the Top 10 farm systems. Best guess is that the Retrieval Empire would fall somewhere in the lower tier - 15th to 24th.

Basically, the "jewels" of our system are a bunch of super-rich Latino 16-year-olds. These days, that's where "I'm Not Cheap" likes to sink his movie money. Considering that our top Yankee rookies seem to arrive at age 26, we should start now getting excited about the year 2026! That's when "I'm Not Cheap" will be vindicated.

Where have you gone Jose Pirela? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. (Boo-hoo-hoo.)

Oh, well... so much for that far-flung hope.

Congratulations, Fate. You got me. The cigar exploded, the whoopie cushion farted, and the gum tasted like onion. Yep, you fooled me again. 

Yesterday, Jose Pirela hit the wall.  And so did my warmest spring fantasy.

Of course, I was stupid to imagine Jose Pirela as anything more than The Second Coming of Yangervis Solarte. We all knew he'd eventually crash into something - the earth, I guess. Still, the 26-year-old kid - (Why are Yankee "kids" always on the downside of their twenties?) - offered what the Retrieval Empire has failed to provide: 

A glimpse of someone whose ceiling is not yet cast in gray concrete. 

Spring is supposed to be a time of hope. For the Yankees, it's become a dreary prelude to a year where many - if not most of us - expect the worst. I've never felt the fan base so uninspired and angry. The comments section at River Ave are a demolition derby. And really...  how does one get revved about Stephen Drew? I've come to like Chase Headley, but what hope can I assign for him? He is an APBA player card. His future is outlined by his past. If he hits .400 in April, it only means he'll hit .100 in May. And we have a team of them.

Ah... but before yesterday, Pirela remained a 2015 Wild Card, (which is clearly what the Yankees are playing for.) We didn't know what we had. Yesterday's crash into the wall moves him from the New Yangervis to the New Ronnier, as in Mustellier. (Remember him, from a few springs ago? He raised eyebrows in Tampa, hit well, then crashed into a wall, bruised his thigh, went to Scranton and poof- and we never saw him again.It will take weeks for Pirela recover. He'll start in Triple A. That's where Yankee prospects die.  

Yesterday, Girardi liked him enough to play him in CF in a nationally televised game against the Mets. Today...? 

Insert sigh here.

For a moment, it looked like we might actually ditch Chris Young - the tiring .205 former Mets disappointment, who strikes out against pitching machines - and install Pirela as our all-purpose fix-it.  Now, we're back to a team of Has-Beens. 

The line goes, if not for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. 

Today, for the 2015 Yankees, the same can be said of expectations.

All right... from now on, I'm going to start finding reasons to hope. I swear it. From now on... 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I Hope No One Is Watching

In one of the most disastrous spring training games ever played, our starting day "ace," CC Sabathia has given up three home runs in three innings, one of which ( an inside-the-park) has likely put our most exciting young player ( Pirela ) out for the season.

CC, who cane into the game with a 9.00 ERA, is claiming to all how good he feels and how ready he is for the season to begin.

I now have no reason to watch the rest of the game.  There is no way we score off Matt Harvey ( who reminds me of Roger Clemens at his peak.)  And I don't want to watch a bunch of hopeless "at bats' by a now boring Yankee line-up.  Whoopee, Mark Texiera got a single and we stranded him on first with three straight pop-ups and strike outs.

When Juan Pirela smoked himself into the CF wall, trying to make an impossible catch, I hoped ( no malicious intent ) it was Chris Young.  My hope was that would create an opening for Pirela.  And if Chris Young were out, I could watch many more games.

The fact that Sabathia totally sucks neither surprises nor disturbs me.  The old timer team is just going to be awful.  And he may turn out to be the worst.

This season always was always going to be disappointing and deflating.

But there was a glimmer of reason to watch the occasional Yankee game;  the possible appearance of someone young and talented, as opposed to the same old, ineffective line-up of ancient and egregiously over-paid players ( for past glories).  Predictable failures all around.

Boring leads to madness.

This team is predictably boring.

It must be that time of the month: Lupica (yawn) unloads (again) on A-Rod

Mel Allen used to keep an egg-timer in the booth to remind him to recap the game score for new listeners. The Daily News' Mike Lupica must have had electrodes implanted in his head to inspire another regular drunk-dial rant A-Rod.

If Alex Rodriguez lately were promoting ISIS or exposing himself to toddlers, Lupica could righteously rip him as a disgrace to humanity. Instead, he's been a model trustee of the state of Florida. Shouldn't it get him something?

Not to Lupica. In a week when Jim Boeheim fluttered toward retirement, Tim Tebow announced a comeback, and the NCAA plantation brackets captured the nation, The Lip was thinking about Number 13.

Rodriguez? He can’t run very well on a baseball field any longer and is a shell of the player he once was, with or without baseball drugs. But he continues to get by with smiles and vague apologies and this weird “Pride of the Yankees” narrative that he has somehow been able to construct for himself, though not without help.

What we're seeing is a declaration of war worthy of Fox News' Hillary coverage, a relentless anti-A-Rod campaign that will never end... regardless of what Alex does. In fact, it seems like the better  A-Rod does, the more hysterical Lupica will get. 

Lupica has always represented the best and worst of sportswriting. When he's right, nobody brings the thunder like him. But these guys all end up wrapped into their egos. I have no problem with a writer taking a stance on A-Rod. But after the thirtieth column, it gets tiring.

(Wait: I know what you're thinking: Shouldn't I stop screaming about Hal Steinbrenner, the Prince of Pennies? Hell no. There's a special dung heap in hell waiting for owners. The players get their hands dirty and their bones brokens. The owners just cash checks. I WILL NEVER STOP LUPICA-ING PRINCE HAL.)

One final point, though: Lupica goes after A-Rod for getting old. He says:

The reality, of course, for as long as he is around and until his body breaks down for good, is that the Yankees are stuck.

Listen: You can rip a guy for a lot of things. It's wrong to blame him for getting old. And A-Rod didn't write up that contract he signed. The Yankees did. Lupica has developed a serious blind spot here. A-Rod isn't the only thing getting old. So are Lupica's attacks.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

"I found (being called cheap) very interesting," Steinbrenner said, smiling. We need a better word to describe him. How about "good loser."

We gotta stop calling Hal Steinbrenner "cheap." It makes him snicker. He thinks it's, like, oh, wow, man... "very interesting." The Dude abides.

Cheap? That's a nickel word. Hal's no cheapo. I bet at the yacht club, he's one of the top tippers.  Nobody accuses him of skimping on clam dip. "Cheap?" That's a funny one.

How about "scrappy." After all, the Yankees love to pick through flea markets and recycling centers for chea - uhhh - inexpensive contracts. He combs the scrap heaps because it's more challenging than paying top dollar for players. It's more fun.

It's too bad Hal inherited the biggest money machine in U.S. pro sports. He'd probably be happier owning the Indians. Then, he could tinker around, get to the playoffs once every five years, and the people of Cleveland would be happy. Not that it bothers him to be called "cheap." In fact, it makes him smile.

Prince Hal chose to grant an interview this week with the Daily News (which invested a team of reporters to probe A-Rod, back when there was still a chance he might get banned for life.) I missed the moment. Manager Girardi and I were at a South Austin taco bar watching Tunacola (Chilean insane party chaos) and The Boxing Lesson (cosmic rock from Mars) and The Migrant Kids (best new band from Austin) at SXSW. We wuz distracted.

Hal smiles when people call him "cheap," because - hey, he offered $25 million for Yoan Moncada. That's not cheap.

He's right. That's NOT cheap. A better word is "pointless"... because offering $25 million doesn't matter when somebody else - the Redsocks, for example - offers $32 million. Last I checked, nobody cares who finished second in bidding wars. Am I right, here? Is there some award in sports for finishing second in player auctions? Did Selig stick in a wild card tournament?

Imagine an owner who refuses to go an extra $7 million on a $3 billion investment, and I'm not sure "cheap" fits. I think the word should be... "HELLO-O-O-O?"

I recognize there are self-loathing Yankee fans who don't want the Yankees to buy pennants. I wish it were not true. But if the Yankees do buy pennants, it's because other owners are willing to sell them.
(Do fans of Alabama football feel bad because their team outspends the opposition?) When the Steinbrenners put out their pockets and say "no maas" on a bidding war - against Boston, no less - and then smile at the thought of it, there needs to be a word. Cheap doesn't cover it.

"Unhinged?" "Grub-like?"

Wait... I got it: "GOOD LOSERS."

Steinbrenner spoke on the fourth or fifth anniversary - it's hard to keep timelines anymore - of his famous declaration to shrink the Yankee payroll below the $189 million luxury tax line. This was a grand exhibition of Yankee franchise discipline. We let Russell Martin walk out the door. Then we signed Ichiro to an over-crowded outfield. We shuffled our feet on signing Robbie Cano to a long-term deal. Then, with the walls crashing, Hal jetisonned the plan and chased a pile of luxury-tax busting salary dumps... in true Steinbrennerian fashion.

Listen: There will come a day when Hal gets the Yankees below that horrible, annoying tax line. It will be when the line spikes above $200 million, because MLB revenues keep rising. (By the way, this is in part because cable networks charge huge monthly fees for ESPN, which everyone must pay. If they were called a "tax," the right would oppose it, but because it's done by corporations - their kind of people - it's all OK.)

When the luxury tax line hits $200 million, Hal's work will be done. That could happen in five years. In the meantime, folks, we get Chris Young and Stephen Drew and the signing of "C.C." means Chris Capuano. And we should be like Hal... good losers.

Yankees vs. NCAA

I had Valpariso and 2 points over Maryland, yesterday, and lost a bunch of Benjamins.  My inside information proved worthless, by a point.

Now, I'm pretty sure it was a bad bet from the outset.  But I made it with a guy in a bar I don't have to return to.  In a town I can cross off the map, as well.  Still…I have this nagging feeling I have to lighten my wallet.  Know what I'm saying?

The Yankees were unavailable to me on TV and my car ( only radio ) is in the shop.  But I learned a few things anyway;

We can win a "B" game, in the grapefruit league, without Beards.

The stars were all young guys; Warren; Whitley; Pirela, Gálvez ( the guy at third whose name starts with a G ), and Refsnyder.  The news, naturally, was that A-Rod homered.

Lots of the minor league camp guys played, including Judge.  Noonan got no hit.

Blah.  I need a win today and I need my car radio

By the way, it is Spring and snowing again.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yankee notes from SXSW

Manager Girardi pumped me with Mucinex and germ-killers, and we hit the 6th Street chaos zone head on, where Sheer Mag was playing a rooftop show over a whiskey shots bar. Small but gonzo crowd. No Yankee caps. This is t-shirt hipster heaven, my two faves being LEVON FUCKING HELMS and THE DUDE ABIDES. I need those shirts. Even Manager Girardi was impressed, and she's usually down on my crap.

We showed our geezer stripes by scorning modern youth for The Zombies, who we're playing two blocks away. Like tripping back to 1967, except for cell phones and the girl dressed as a seven foot tall drum majorette, who blocked our view of the stage. For the record, band opened with "Tell Her No," and closed with "She's Not There," preceded, of course, by "Time of the Season." The band abides.

From the looks of things, Esmil Rogers yesterday pitched like the Esmil Rogers that has bumped around the majors throughout his career. A real shocker, eh? The Yankees seemed to believe that because they are the Yankees, Esmil Rogers won't be Esmil Rogers. This is what historians call hubris. It was sort of like thinking because America brought democracy to Iraq, everybody would stop fighting. Oh, well, Charles Bukowski once wrote that sometimes you had to waste 100,000 people just to learn again that money is piss and the sparrow is immortal. The Yankees do well when outspending everybody by $100 million. Now, we're rolling the dice on Esmil Rogers.

No harm, no foul. Long before Chris Capuano tweaked his gonad, nobody believed we had five starters. Pretty soon, teams will start dumping players they have decided are washed up. The Yankees will pounce. We'll have a new infusion of Esmil Rogerses. It's the time of the season... For scrounging.

The Dude wouldn't abide.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

10 things Syracuse University should do to rehabilitate its academic reputation

1. Assign homework.

2. Take attendance in class. Let them know they are being watched.

3. Hold pop quizzes, making sure that students read their assigned textbooks.

4. Have monitors in the hall, occasionally checking on bathroom passes.

5. While on the subject of bathroom privileges, remove the doors to the boys and girls rooms, so they can't smoke without people smelling it!

6. Bring back spanking! These hooligans need to know who is in charge. Let the deans show who is boss, by bringing out the old hickory switch.

7. Have Jim Boeheim, in his final year, go from school to school and receive special gifts, such as cowboy boots and rocking chairs, in special ceremonies.

8. Break off all ties with YMCAs across America. They have proven to be untrustworthy.

9. Bring back Fab Melo and teach him to be a renowned brain surgeon.

10. NO TALKING IN THE CAFETERIA! And food fights will be quashed immediately.

Your questions answered from SXSW

Q: Well, how is it?

A: Great. Eveywhere you go, bands are playing and people are staring into their phones. I've seen only two Yankee caps thus far. This is a hipster heaven, and ball caps don't make the cut. Lone Star Beer is everywhere. Rode in a human bike rickshaw and hung out at a place called the Hotel Vegas. Food trucks everywhere. Got sick yesterday - bronchial thing - and spent last night on the DL. Today, Manager Girardi is listing me drink to drink.

Formula For Improving The Yankees

At present, no Yankee under contract at any level is permitted to go" more than 3 days " without shaving.

This worked for a while, as our "fresh faces" policy helped us accumulate  world championships.

Clearly, this policy no longer works for the Yankees.

And if you peruse the line-ups of teams that have recently added to their World Series hardware display cases, many key players in those lineups have extensive facial hair.

I know that Hal & Hank want to emulate the values of their Dad (except for the commitment to winning aspect of everything), but this "clean face" policy must be reversed.

Personally, I like to look at the players and be able to identify them by their facial characteristics. You all know that I have always appreciated the highest standards of personal grooming, decorum, and exquisite taste in clothes.  Not to mention alcohol brands.

Nonetheless, isn't there a biblical thing where some player shaved off his beard and lost all his powers?  Well if it weakened teams then, who is to say the same does not apply today?

Therefore, I am formally declaring war on the Yankees' "clean face" policy.  We have too many .145 hitters with really clean-shaven faces.  Put a beard on Stephen Drew ( above ) and he'll hit .286.  I promise ( I couldn't find a Drew photo so my photoshop work will give you the idea).

We need beards and mustaches and, sometimes, both.  Even eyebrows which curl up and over the forehead, should be doable.  The more pre-historic we tend towards in our appearance, the more wins we'll record.  It is simple math.

I just don't think this team, beardless, can compete.  I think we'll grow old, sustain injuries, and fold up when the crunch comes.

For those of you who remain suspect to this theory: I say; "Watch the season unfold, and determine for yourselves if I am not correct."

Without beards, we are going down.

Even when promoting Yankee optimism, the headlines carry a hint of doom

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My New Optimism

Duque is right.  And I tried to be positive in my last post.

I just know I said something positive about someone or something.

So here's the latest, based upon last night's game;

1.  I couldn't watch most of it because Chris Young played, I think, 7 innings.

2.  I did see Pirela's two at bats and he is a, "tough out."  He has a great eye for pitches so, unlike virtually every other Yankee, he doesn't waste swings on balls that wind up in the dirt.  He walked and then tripled.  He can motor.  He also looked smooth on initiating a DP while playing second.  the Yanks will surely abuse him.

3.  Bird, the great prospect slugger and MVP from the Arizona Fall league, fanned on a pitch in the dirt.  With men on base, no less.  So the big bird will be going back to the graveyard.  He also looked dumb and inexperienced on a short chop to first, that resulted in Yankee buffoonery and an error.

4.  Noonan cannot hit.  In the Yanks' last at bat, with Pirela on third, he struck out.  And I predicted the strike out when he approached the plate. I would have bet money on it, sight unseen.  He is nothing.   I fast forwarded through his at bat until I saw all the Bluejays walking toward the dugout, patting each other on the back.

5.  Didi hit a rocket line drive.  Unfortunately, right at someone.  Otherwise, he did not threaten with his bat.  I guess I heard 10 times, from the Yankee announcers, that the Yankees are only looking at Didi for defense.  But I doubt they expected a .125 hitter.

6  By the way, Didi's batting average is currently higher than Gardner's average.  No worries, mate.

7.  Tyler Austin made a catch and blasted a double in his brief appearance.  Nice work.  But for nothing, really.  No one is beating out Beltran or Chris Young ( who did get two hits).

8.  Tex crushed an opposite field HR, finally beating the shift.  But the shift is killing him, McCann and Drew.  Can  you imagine;  Drew?  He also got a single to the opposite field, securing his spot and $5 million contract.

9.  I like this third baseman, not named either Hedley or A-Rod.  Gurez, Guvez, Goo something.  He just looks like a player.  Of course, we won't be seeing him again.

10.  On the downside;  CC was great for 5 batters; Bettances looked like the pre-2014 Bettances.  He was hammered; his curve hung like a grapefruit, and his control was awful.  Maybe it was because he came into the game too early.

11.  Mason Williams hit a sharp grounder between 3rd and short, but he was thrown out by a step.  Because I am now the Yankee optimist, I will say that he is starting to look like an athlete.  And if he is still only 20-21, there is a chance.  Is he still only 20-21?

Most of the pitchers seemed to do all right ( save for the above-mentioned ), but I don't know anything about any of them.

It's going to be a great season.  The Yankees are back!

Your Yankee questions answered from SXSW

Not much happening here in Austin, Yankee-wise. Wore the cap. Got no fingers. So I'll go to the mailbag to answer some of your more pressing questions.

Q: What's all this whining about Chris Young? You keep saying he hit .205 last year for the Mets. That's ridiculous. Nobody hits .205, not even for the Mets. What did he really hit for the Mets?

A: .205.

Eduardo Nunez scandal rocks baseball!

Former Cashman Wunderkind and his outrageous quest for cheap thrills. Can baseball survive such challenges that strike at the very core of the game? Eduardo, say it ain't so!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Boring Due To Stupidity

So I visited with Mustang at his Florida retreat ( pictured above ).  We went to a couple of Yankee games with Duque, and then pow-wowed to assess the season to come.  We even watched a game or two on Mustang's jury-rigged, outdoor TV stand.

In my view, the Yankees will be unwatchable.  Sure, they will win a game or two because they have some pitching, and a few talented players ( Gardener, Headley, the former Red Sox star in center, and they will draw a walk, occasionally, and put that together with a stolen base and maybe a single or double.

Very few teams at the major league level can't win 60-70 games just by showing up.  I read today that Girardi has few decisions left to make.  That is pathetic, by the way.

 What it means is if Brendan Ryan, the veteran .190 hitter, is healthy, Juan Peralta, the international league batting champ last season, and one of our few consistent hitters this spring, will be back at Scranton.  This is the player everyone except the Yankees says, " must be on the team."

We all know the rhetoric to come:  " we need him to play everyday, so he'll be ready if we need him."  When you trace the history of the the young talent who come to spring training, excel beyond expectations and outplay every $5 million trash heap player on the roster, you find disaster, demoralization and, eventually, a trade for some 35 year old sot.

I have to say it again.  Cashman is our ebola virus.  He is the village idiot dressed in suits.  I don't care how many buildings he can rappel down…he has, is and always will ruin this team.  His super stars;  Tex, Beltran, McCann, Drew, Didi, are Brett are all hitting below .200 for the spring.

We will have a bench of Murphy, Ryan, Chris Young and Garrett Jones.  No Bird, no Peralta, no Refsnyder. No Judge. Just overpaid Dick.

The young guys will remain trade bait for the July deadline, so we can sneak into the one- game playoff.  This is now the Yankee's standard of excellence.

It is a bad year for Yankee fans.  Unless you want to be bored watching dull and predictable Yankee games.  And when each game is over say to yourself, " how stupid am I to have wasted all that time watching these idiots."

When Chris Young is our most exciting option, we are doomed.

Why Is This Screen Blank?

Am I dreaming?

The entire blog has gone dark, except for the poll?

Have I been placed in a rubber room for consuming too much Crown Royal?

Are the Yankees still a team?

Is Mustang asleep at the switch while, " you know who," is off in Austin, tracing rock bands?

I will give a full report on tonights ( today's?) Yankee game as soon as I see it.

I could do it now and not be far off.  Most of my favorite players ( all young ) are already in the " minor league complex."

Which is where I feel like I have been placed.

The month of the unnamed scout.

In Journalism 101, they warn you about unnamed sources. The reporter should never use them unless in the direst of circumstances: 1) The public's need to know outweighs other concerns, or 2) The source's life or well-being would be endangered if revealed. It's a rare and grim moment when a journalist must resort to an unnamed source.

Wait: There is an exception...

It's March in sunny Florida, and while your trying to file from some python-filled sinkhole of a press room, you're on the verge of missing Happy Hour, and you need to make a point.

Yesterday, we saw Daily News writer Bill Madden base a column on an unnanmed National League scout. Today, his colleague Mark Feinsand ices his cake with an unknown oracle from the World of Spoken Truth.

“He shouldn’t even be out there,” one major-league scout said of A-Rod. “They should just let him hit. He offers nothing defensively.”

Frankly, this quote shouldn't be out there. Feinsand should just make his point - that A-Rod looks bad in the field, and move on. The unnamed scout offers nothing journalistically. But Feinsand goes back to him (or her) two paragraphs later, assessing Masahiro Tanaka.

“He looks like the guy we saw in the first half last year,” the scout said. “You can’t even tell he was hurt."

WAIT A MINUTE: Stop shaking your head. I'm not going on a bender about journalism ethics - especially since many of the bloggers on IIHIIFIIc use anonymous names. (I'm El Duque, though my real name is Hart Seely, I've been a reporter for more than 30 years, and I am identified on the right.) But beyond all the fair and hurtful criticisms that are laid on sports fan bloggers - don't get me started - we don't use "unnamed scouts" to make our points.

Using an unnamed source is like consulting a Oujah board. What the hell is an "unnamed scout?" It sounds like a buddy of Davey Crockett. Do we assume that because the scout is unnamed, he (or she) is telling the truth? What constitutes a "scout?" Is Brian Cashman, speaking off the record, an unnamed scout? Is the quote accurate? Will the unnamed scout complain, saying he was misquoted?

There is NO reason to believe the unnamed scout... and yet, we do.

Somehow, we are led to think that he (or she) is the ultimate arbiter, the person speaking Truth from the sodium pentothal of anonymity.

This is the month of the unnamed scout. He tells us that A-Rod can't field, and Greg Bird will be great. He says Jose Pirela should play 2B and Esmil Rogers can throw. He says cigarettes are good for you and Soylent Green is NOT people, so go ahead and take a bite.

I don't mean to pick on Feinsand. He's a fine writer and, I think, a decent soul. And it's not easy being a Yankee beat writer in the land of python-filled sinkholes. You must generate daily copy - 15 inch chunks - using rules that were important a long time ago, but that was before Twitter. You don't get to make the rules - except when deciding who not to identify.

This is the month of the unnamed scout. Remember his name.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring is near, and the Golden Snowball is returning to Syracuse

Read it and weep laugh, Buffalo.

Where are they now?

A quick look at the ones that got away...

Yangervis Solartes, Padres: 22 AB, .318 BA, no HRs, no RBIs, two walks.
Martin Prado, Marlins: 17 AB, .294 BA, no HRs, 1 RBI, two walks.
Frankie Cervelli, Pirates: 9 AB, .111 BA, no HRs, no RBIs, one walk.
Pete O'Brien, Diamondbacks: 22 AB, .227 BA, no HRs, 2 RBIs, two walks.
Zolio Almonte, Braves: 23 AB, .174 BA, no HRs, 2 RBIs, three walks.

Chien-Ming Wang, Braves: 5.1 innings, 5.06 ERA, no wins or losses, three earned runs, three walks, five strikeouts.
Sean Kelley, Padres: 3.1 innings, 8.10 ERA, no wins or losses, three earned runs, two walks, five strikeouts.
Manny Banuelos, Braves: 1.2 innings, 32.40 ERA, no wins, two losses, six earned runs, two walks. Ouch. 

And of course, Robbie... 11 AB, .364, no HRs or RBIs, yet.

World may be coming to end: Bill Madden makes sense

The Daily News' Bill Madden must bestride spring training press boxes like a colossus, hearkening back to the era of the late Dick Young - the hateful, hyper-righteous, acid-bombing sportswriter - the MLB equivalent of AM radio's Michael Savage. In recent years, Madden's blinding hatred for Alex Rodriguez caused him to edge shamefully into the silken bathrobes of Hal Steinbrenner and the Yankee top brass - letting them blame Yankees' misfortunes on Number 13.

In today's column, Madden asks a simple question, one that fans have pondered since last July:

What the hell is wrong with Jose Pirela? Does he use the wrong fork? Do his ties not match his socks? What's the problem here?

Here's a guy who wins the International League batting crown, plays several positions, most notably 2B, and yet last September, the Yankees didn't even promote him for a cup of coffee until injuries forced their hand. In the final, dreadful games of a lost season, it was none other than Suzyn Waldman who - in a gasp of exasperation - wondered why Pirela had been left behind in Scranton? (This was after Pirela deftly picked off a runner who had strayed from third base.) And despite assurances that Pirela would compete for a job in 2015, the Yankees went out this winter and signed the bobblehead doll known as Stephen Drew ("Official IT IS HIGH Whipping Mule for 2015") to play 2B. Last year, Drew hit .162. This year, we'll pay him $5 million.

Today, let us rejoice in knowing that Madden is no longer pissing outward; he has turned around to and directing his urine stream toward the fire.

[W]hat is becoming more and more mystifying is why... Jose Pirela, the 25-year-old Venezuelan infielder, who is generating a lot of buzz among the scouts that is apparently falling on deaf ears with the Yankee high command. “For me, Pirela’s got to be on their team,” said one scout for an NL team who has watched almost all of the Yankees’ games this spring.

Who is Madden's source? Don't ask. It could be any of the 150 voices screaming in his head, or the ghost of Casey Stengel, or maybe Dick Young himself. Let's not go there. Let's be thankful that Madden is writing things down. The unnamed scout continues:

"I’ll be honest, I don’t understand Drew. He was as bad a player as I’ve ever seen last year and he hasn’t looked any better this spring. He can’t hit a lick and whether they know it or not, the Yankees need offense. That’s why I’d take my chances on Pirela at second.”

Like the rest of us, Madden has seen this movie before.

Assuming Drew at second base is etched in stone — and there’s no way the Yankees are going to admit a $5 million mistake quickly — Pirela’s only hope of making the team is if Brendan Ryan’s chronic back issue keeps him on the disabled list to open the season... The good news for Yankee legions is there is a long-awaited new wave of legitimate major league prospects on the near horizon. The perplexing news is, the first one to arrive has been received better by opposing scouts than the Yankees themselves.

Small steps. That's how you climb from the abyss. A third straight year of missing the post-season - despite spending $200 million - ought to motivate the NYC media to train its guns on management, rather than A-Rod. (Or on both.)

Still... why must we annually try every retread in captivity before giving young players a chance?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Planning an assault on The WinWarble Song

I head to Austin Tuesday for SXSW festival - the "South-Bi," to hipsters - so expect posts to be less coherent and Yankeecentric. (Hope Mustang, Alph, KD, John, Bern, Bill White, et al, will cover, if something critical affects the big Stephen Drew comeback year.) 

My goal, of course, is to make an updated photo for Yankeetorials (See at right.) I figure the vast, spewing smegma of celebrities should provide backdrop for a selfy. Good grief, Kim and Kanye will be there. Snoop Dog will be there. Tony Romo. The cast of "The Walking Dead" (to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Show, live from SXSW.) Maybe even Jimmy Kimmel.

Most importantly, Sheer Mag will be there.

Sheer Mag is a Phily band that happens to be extremely close to my heart. Longtime IIH readers may remember The Deadly Spinners, of the infamous John Sterling WinWarble Song. The boys now produce - (I'm not making this up) - "eighties power pop, garage punk scuzz." They've been written up by Rolling Stone, Spin, The Guardian, NME, Pitchfork and a shitload of blogs. They're playing all over the place in Austin. I'm going to stalk them, get close, make eye contact and DEMAND they play the WinWarble Song. Or this one. Give a listen.

If I don't get a selfy with Kim Kardashian, I'll kneecap Romo on behalf of disgruntled Giants fans everywhere, and wear my Youkilis Yankee protest shirt through the streets of burgeoning weirdness. Damn. If he gets hurt, maybe Stephen Drew will be there.

(By the way, this formally designates Stephen Drew as the official 2015 IIH Whipping Mule. Until further notice, whatever goes wrong with the Yankees will be blamed on the signing of Stephen Drew. Apologies in advance to Mr. Drew's family and friends.)

Clip and save, for when they trade him in July

Sorry. Hate to be such a pill. (I'm thinking sodium pentothal.) The Moncada thing still haunts me. But in the names of Peter O'Brien and Manny Banuelos, I REFUSE to accept another steaming load of Yankee prospect hype, ginned up by a propaganda machine that will say anything about anybody, as long as it fills space in the paper and seats in the stadium. Nope. Won't buy it.

I ain't a marchin' anymore. I ain't a-goin' back to Hal's farm.

Greg Bird is the third rated prospect in the Yankee system, which is considered to be middling at best, and the reason why we are that high is because of an avalanche of money shelled out last July on Latino 16-year-olds, who have yet to suit up in America. Bird had a breakout season last year and then, in the Arizona Fall Instructional League All-Star Game, hit a big HR. He will play at Double A this year, and that's where most Yankee "real deal" prospects wither and die. One reason why the Yankees are hyping Bird is that Gary Sanchez - who has been touted for the last two springs - is no longer hype-able, due to mediocre hitting lines and personnel matters. If Bird doesn't hit this year - and there are guarantees - they'll ship him off in July for some 32-year-old reclamation project, and they'll claim Bird was never in their plans.

If the Yankees had a rookie like Mookie Betts - the Redsocks' 22-year-old CF - they'd be installing his face on blimps. We had 10 years to develop a replacement for Derek Jeter, and we couldn't do it, and not one of the top brass in our farm system was fired. (Mark Newman has "retired.") Until the Yankees start developing actual players, I will not accept this crapola.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Boston unveils its prize, Yoan Mocada, and all the air leaves the stadium

Damn. I meant to write about last night's big exhibition victory over Boston. Then I saw Yoan Moncada.

Damn. It's like Mom and Dad showing up at your 50 Shades party: Everyone sets down his whip and goes quiet. Yesterday, the Redsocks trotted out Yoan Moncada, the 19-year-old Cuban who was too expensive for Prince Hal Steinbrenner's delicate silken purse. It's one thing to envision another boring and mediocre season. It's another to foresee a crapola decade.

Damn. I'd almost forgotten Moncada. His name didn't turn up in box scores - (nor will they; he'll go straight to the dirt leagues camp.) The Yankees were trotting out Aaron Judge, Jake Cave and Ramon Flores - our future stars, according to the YES/Fox News Channel. I'd made peace with Hal dropping $5 million on Stephen Drew, who didn't hit .200 last season, and $5 million on 36-year-old Chris Capuano, now of the DL, and $2.5 million on Chris Young, who recently fanned against a pitching machine - but who then pulled out his pockets and pleaded poverty, when Mocada's name came up.

Thirteen million on Drew, Capuano and Young... and then you sit and watch Moncada sign with Boston?

Damn. Wasn't somebody supposed to be looking ahead about these things?

So yesterday, there he was, the latest reason to go out and measure bridges.

Yesterday, MLB released its Top 30 List of Yankee Prospects, a whoopy-do designed to foster hope for each team. They're all future stars. But the Yankees are a middling farm system, elevated to the second tier only because of some ridiculously expensive 16-year-olds we signed last summer. For 20 years now, the Steinbrenners have been lavishing money on Latino teens, usually to find that - around age 23 - they're out of the game and selling off their car collections.

It's a plantation mentality, the idea that if you buy a child young enough, you can raise him to be a ballplayer. It didn't work for Jackson Melian. It didn't for Ricardo Aramboles, or Jesus Montero, and maybe not for Gary Sanchez - it hasn't for a generation of kids, and I wonder why the Yankees still see it as their prime strategy. Last summer, when they were shooting money out of the fire hose, did anybody stop to think that it would be wise to hold some back, in case an international player like Moncada came on the market? Isn't that what managment was supposed to do?

The Yankees 2015 team makes no sense. We have a four man rotation, hanging by tendons and tissue. Our DH plays RF, and maybe our 3B is at DH. We have Drew at 2B, with a SS who may actually be a worse hitter. We are touting comeback years from players at the ages when comeback years are far from certain. We tout Tyler Austin and Ramon Flores, who might reach the majors this fall - yet they are older than Boston's Mookie Betts, who looks more than ready this spring.

And they have Moncada.

Damn. Sorry, folks. I meant to write about last night's big exhibition win. Then I saw him. Set down the whips, everybody. The fun is over. It's time for actual torture.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How To Improve The Yankees

Good morning y'all and welcome back to Yankee baseball.

I've just returned from a scouting mission with El Duque and Mustang.  Turns out, they find all the ballpark bars faster than I do but, when called upon, I am more inclined to " hit it out of the park,"
when it becomes time to lose oneself in public.

In any case, here is what I have seen so far;

1.  Reggie may be right.  Jose Peralta looks like a really good hitter.  He is a bit clumsy, as yet, at second base.  But no where near the fiasco that was Nunez.

I'm told they are playing him everywhere, desperate to find a roster spot for a guy who is not a great glove man.

2.  My new " man of the future" is Jake Cave.  great baseball name, and a fine prospect in CF.  He is having a hot spring with limited appearances, which is my criterion for a quality player.  That is; he delivers whenever he is given a shot.

3.  Judge made a great running/diving catch about four feet in front of our seats in the Sarasota game against Baltimore.  Sadly, he did nothing at the plate.  Nothing.  Mustang and Duque keep telling me about a game changing HR he hit a few weeks back.  Ancient history.  He K'd twice when I saw him.  Send him down and cross your fingers.

4.  The draft pick lefty (Lindgren?) pitched a dominating 1-2-3 ninth.  He reminded me, though his style is totally different, of a young kid I saw in Tampa several years ago who struck out the side in the 9th, on 9 pitches;  David Robertson.

5.  Heathcott struck out on a ball in the dirt in his one appearance.

6.  Refsnyder ( SP?) did the same….looking, I think.  Unimpressive.  But he looked good walking out of the stadium, with an aluminum container of food, heading back to the Yankee bus after the game.

7.  Flores and Austin, two other hot prospects, are rumored to be trade bait.  Maybe they get packaged with JR Murphy ( he hit better when he was JR ) for some old, loser who costs $18 million a year.  Now that Cappy is down, and with Tanaka on a tight rope, those rumors about mortgaging the future again, for Cole Hamels, seem to have some life.

8.  The projected starting line-up is boring beyond belief.  Hedley can hit.  So, too, can Gardy and that ex Red Sox centerfielder.  But Tex is a double play machine with a slow bat; Beltran is a NY Met in the playoffs against the Cardinals; Gregorious could go all spring training without a hit; Mc Cann could hit .300 if he went to the opposite field, but he won't.  Stephen Drew can't hit a lick.  It is two runs on a good day.  And I feel that A-Rod will be ineffective as a DH.

9.  I think Romine wins the back-up catcher job, even though Murphy is already pencilled in.

10.  Starting pitching for this team is precarious, to say the least.  We may have a pretty decent bullpen.

11.  Any day that that other ex-Met plays in ( Young…the outfielder ) , I won't watch or listen to.

Let's play two !