Sunday, January 31, 2016

Abe Vigoda is dead, Howie Kendricks is signed, and Hal Steinbrenner lost $30,000 gambling on baseball cards.

This week, the Yankee Code Red Terror Alert finally ended.

Howie Kendricks finally signed with the Dodgers.

It's over. The kidney stones passed. Count your toes. Bring the kids up from the basement. And count the kids. Remember: There are things worse than death, and there are things worse than going a winter without a free agent... things such as, well, signing Howie Kendricks.

And now we know why Hal Steinbrenner is so reluctant to spend money: He just got swindled.

Hal was more interested in old baseball cards than another Brian Roberts/Stephen Drew at 2B. Did you hear that Food Stamps lost $30,000 on a baseball card scam? (To a Steinbrenner, $30,000 is the Clam Dip Fund. Hal wouldn't bend over to pick up $30,000 on a streetcorner.) It must have been exciting, buying packs of unopened baseball cards and thinking he might get a Mickey or a Roger. And that's what he's done all winter - signing the Kirby Yateses and Lane Adamses, hoping to get the next Steve Pierce.

The terror has passed. Howie Kendricks has signed. And now we know why Food Stamps is holding onto his money.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

In MLB's Ranking of Top 100 Prospects, the Yankees are, again, looking like a Wild Card

Imagine a FOX Sports Game Break, the glitzy graphics exploding, and then beloved announcer Al Forehead says, "Yanks at Boston, score after three, Yankees 3." And Al never gives Boston's score. Crazy, right? Sort of like political coverage in America, eh? But that's what happens in the Yankiverse this time of year, when various propaganda mills put out their Top 100 prospect lists.

This week, Yankee bloggers jubilantly reported that we have three prospects in MLB's "Top 100." They are Jorge Mateo (30th) Aaron Judge (31st) and Gary Sanchez (59th). Cause for celebration, right? (Yes, it is. I'm not putting us down.) Trouble is, if you add the other scores, we're in second place in the AL East.

Here's the breakdown in our Division, with the number of prospects on MLB's Top 100.

Boston 4 prospects (ranked 7th, 17th, 25th, 39th)
Yankees 3 (30th, 31st, 59th)
Tampa 3 (14th, 43rd, 81st)
Toronto 1 (42nd)
Baltimore 1 (85th)

Other AL teams with more than three: Minnesota (6), Houston (5), Texas (5). Don't get me wrong: Three prospects isn't bad. It's just middle of the pack, that's all.

The difference-maker here is a name we mention way too often, Yoan Moncada, the 7th best prospect in baseball. (Alas, why go there again?) But one point, constantly made by Yankee enabler websites, is that this list underestimates our youth movement, because it does not include Greg Bird and Luis Severino. Both accumulated too much MLB playing time last year to still be considered "prospects."

Trouble is, if you compare our youth wave with Boston's - Betts, Bradely, Swihart, Bogartes, et al - we're still running behind. Every team has a Greg Bird and a Luis Severino. The Yankees only look exceptional when they compare this year's roster to those of previous years, when the farm system was sucking air.

There is hope. Three kids on the list, plus Bird and Severino. But right now, if you're looking for the next Core Four, a better place to look would be in Boston. And that should be cause for alarm.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Yankees are reaching the end of the Ivan Nova Marching Trail

Yesterday, the human embodiment of inconsistency, Ivan "Super" Nova, avoided arbitration and settled on a $4.1 million one-year Yankee deal, producing the loudest cry of "MEH!" since Britney Spears married Kevin Federline (or, for advanced geezers, since "Password"'s Allen Ludden shacked up with Betty White.)

I can't think of any reason to be excited about Nova. Nor can I think of any reason to trade him.

He is what he is. And so it goes. That's Chinatown, Jake.

Here's what going to happen.

In late April, Ivan will march out of the bullpen and shut down some team. This will prompt Joe Girardi to give him a start. He will dazzle, toss a shutout into the Chappy Mill-Tances innings. (Or the Del-Mil-Rodys, or whatever.) This will prompt Joe to give him more starts. Ivan will throw splendidly. This will prompt Joe to install him in the rotation. We will say that "Super Nova" has finally arrived!

Then "Super" will suck. He'll have one mediocre outing. We'll say, "That's OK, everybody has one bad day." Then he'll have another. Then another. And then will come the burning of Rome. Nova's once respectable ERA will be soaring like the stock market after a Republican election. Nova will be banished to the bullpen.

And then, like an M.C. Escher etching, the cycle will repeat itself.

This isn't just me being cynical. (OK, maybe it is.) This is what every Yankee fan instinctively knows. Bird gotta fly, fish gotta swim. It's not that Nova is a bad guy, or the worst pitcher ever. He is what he is. And if $4.1 million feeds his family for the rest of his life, good for him! But unless he someday shoots a politician, or invents a cure for Restless Leg Syndrome, his tombstone will say: R.I.P. - Really Inconsistent Pitcher.

So we have Super Nova for another year. Altogether now...


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Off Yankee topic: One of these days, pro football will get a true glimpse into the reality of concussions, and nothing will ever be the same

They'll never end concussions in pro football. Ever. They can ditch the kickoff. They can penalize players for helmet hits. They can coach differently. It won't matter. Football is hitting, and hitting is concussions.

And someday, the NFL will face a reckoning for what has happened to generations of players. It's not the league's fault. It's the game. Football is hitting, and hitting is concussions.

I'm saying this because, as you've probably heard, ex-Giant Tyler Sash just died at age 27. He died of brain complications from concussions - four known, plus thousands of jarring tackles that no doubt were sledge hammers to the head. You don't make the NFL by hiding out there. It caused brain damage - called C.T.E. - which left Sash hopeless and helpless. And dead.

Currently, doctors can only diagnose C.T.E in an autopsy. Thus, Tyler Sash's family learned too late what it surely suspected, too late to do any good.

One of these days, this will change. Somebody will build a brain-scanning machine that identifies C.T.E. in living people. That day, football - as we know it - will end.

Think of it. Every NCAA school will owe it to student athletes that they be tested once a year, or after every concussion. Remember, these are amateurs. You can't expect a kid to put his future mental well being on the line for next to nothing. If a young man shows any sign of C.T.E. - even a sure NFL first round pick - could the school morally allow him to play? Imagine the ramifications, legally, ethically, financially...

Folks, it's going to happen. Once they invent the C.T.E. machine, college football will see a turnover of talent unlike anything before it. Who wants to play for Northwestern, knowing the next hit might mean that 20 years from now, you won't remember how to drive home? And the NFL will see a huge change as well. How much is it worth to you, if you know you've got the beginnings of brain damage?

One of these days, the scanner will be invented. The NFL - and boxing - will get a full glimpse of the damage being done to its participants. And the players will, too. This will cause incredible disruption. Iceberg, dead ahead. The only downside is that it won't happen fast enough to save the Tyler Sashes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Walt Williams, the one and only No-Neck (1943-2016)

Scooter used to love him. 

Nobody ever played harder. 

The Last New York Yankee Fan

I'm not smart enough to write a book like el duque, but if I did write a book about Yankee fandom, it would go something like this.

As the Yankees' bargain basement winter continues, a question: How did we get this way?

Yesterday, the Retrieval Empire added journeyman catcher Carlos Corporan to the Scranton playlist, continuing our K-Mart austerity plan in a time when every other MLB franchise is buying at Bloomingdales.   

For the record, I wish Carlos luck. He's 32, a career .212 hitter, and a few years ago, he and his wife suffered a terrible tragedy, when their 16-month old son died from heart complications. He deserves nothing but respect. And the fact is, add a tweaked gonad to spring training, and you can see Corporan on the opening day roster. His signing is another case of Brain Cashman doing what he does best: Picking through the scraps. And these days, that's the Yankee improvement plan. 

Corporan's signing came as the Mets added Yoenis Cespedes, the O's Chris Davis, and the Tigers Justin Upton. In each case, up until the very end, hopeful bloggers suggested the Yankees might vault in suddenly and surprise everyone. These people take LSD. We vaulted in suddenly and surprised everybody by getting Carlos Corporan. 

How did we get this way? How did the wealthiest franchise in American sports - heir to the NYC money-making market - become penniless? And why are we doing this?

On the day he was born, Hal Steinbrenner had pretty much the same net worth as today: It's infinite. It's uncountable. When Hal earns another dollar, he's now worth Infinity-plus-1!

Obviously, Hal is cutting costs because that is the metric by which he has chose to judge himself? He could be trying to set personal records on the treadmill, but that's not doing it for him. His goal is to make the Yankees sleek and profitable. To win as many games as possible while spending as little as possible. And he can't do the former until he has first accomplished the later.

Will that be his legacy? Will the baseball historians someday say Hal Steinbrenner brought frugality and humbleness to the Yankees? 

Or is this just a passing phase of somebody born with too much money at his disposal? After all, two years ago, Hal - seemingly on a whim - larded up the Yankees with three of the most questionable long-term contacts in recent history: Beltran (3 years), McCann (5) and Ellsbury (7). Ever since the reality of those deals became apparent, Hal's plan has been to wait until around 2020, when everybody is off the books and he can press reset. 

Which leaves us with Carlos Corporan.  

Back when the Yankees were great - the days under Torre - now and then, when things were going bad, Paul O'Neill would smash up a water cooler. I wish there was a way we could that now. Yesterday, my fave Yankee blogger, Mike Axisa, wrote about this Yankee winter...

If you think about it - "since 2012" - that's not saying much. But still... I wish I felt it. But all I see is Carlos Corporan, and it hurts to laugh.

These Are The Times (Well, Actually, It's Not The Times, It's ESPN) That Try Men's Souls

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A giveaway suggestion for 'Big Papi' David Ortiz Day at Yankee Stadium

It's only a rough draft, needs a little work ... but how about a poster?

Just a suggestion.

And a pregame ceremony suggestion ... how about having CC Sabathia bean Ortiz and have Papi bitch and whine about it, just for old times' sake?

The new Grandy Man Preservation Act? MLB owners may shrink the strike zone to add HRs and eliminate Ks

As a Yankee fan, one of the saddest memories in recent times was the career track of Mr. Curtis Granderson. He arrived as a 5-tooler, a guy who could beat out a nubber, then steal his way to third. The Grandy Man can! The Master would shout, 35 times a season. But the Grandy Man didn't... about 200 times. I still see him trudging back to the dugout, bat in hand, and grumble about Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke.

Well, maybe the historians will say that Curtis came too early.

An idea under consideration by the League of Extraordinarily Rich White Men - aka the MLB owners - would raise the current strike zone a few inches, above the knees. Like hemlines. Showing some thigh always gets attention, right?

Basically, the move would shrink the zone, adding HRs and eliminating Ks. This is Commissioner Rob Manfred, talking yesterday to the AP:

"I think that the interest in the topic is really driven by the fact that if you look over time there has been a movement down of the strike zone, largely as a result of the way we evaluate the strike zone with umpires."

The old fan in me, he dunno about this. If you look over time, the movement in MLB has been toward HRs rather than Billy Ball. The AL East last season was a strikeout/hit-it-out division. Not one of our "sluggers" hit .280, and both Tex and McCann were in the .220s. More hitting would be great. But the old fan dunno.

Whenever the lords of baseball want to boost attention, they look for HRs. In the mid-90s, they turned their heads so a few steroid-built Sasquatches could rescue the game from the seething fan anger caused by the strike. When it was over, the most iconic records in sports were gone, and to this day, I can't tell you what the single season HR mark is, because - frankly - I've tried to block it out.

So what are the Great Men thinking? That they can tweak up a couple season-long HR derbies - with Trout and Harper chasing 80, maybe 90? Would that finally exorcise the names "Bonds" and "McGwire" from their shitlist? The old fan... he dunno. Somewhere, the ghost of Charlie Lau is watching and shaking his head. So, will they just shrink the strike zone and unleash the Krakens?

The old fan dunno.

The great LA Times sportswriter Jim Murray once said of Rickie Henderson, by the way he crouched in the batters box, that he had a strike zone "the size of Hitler's heart." No owner had to help him. Back then, they simply didn't swing for the fences all the time.

One of the best memories I have of last season was Greg Bird's first MLB at bat. He hit a liner to left. It was caught. But he hit it to left - to the opposite field. Nobody had to shrink the zone to let him do it. He put the bat on the ball, rather than trying to drive it to Mars. If Bird becomes another Grandy Man, if that right field porch hypnotizes him, as it did old Curtis... they can make the strike zone the size of Hitler's heart. It won't matter.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Could unheralded New York City win the Golden Snowball?

The battle to be called New York's snowiest city is one of the grittiest competitions in all of urban badmouthing. But over the years, one city has dominated in the "Golden Snowball" race. Syracuse has won it 13 out of the last 14 years.

When it comes to clearing snow, Syracuse is "the city that never sweeps."

Once again, Syracuse has opened a sizable lead over perennial "allsnow-rans," Buffalo and Rochester. Even in a down winter - 28 inches below average for this date - the Salt City has a comfortable, Trumpian lead. It looks like the city that invented air conditioning will soon have another Golden Globe.

And yet...

That annals of sports are full of Cinderella stories, where small town teams rise from nowhere to defeat Goliath. And this year, one such city has emerged.

Little New York City, a minor snow league franchise that is not even allowed to compete for the Snowball, just finished a weekend that Binghamtonians can only dream of.

This weekend, JFK Airport recorded 30.5 inches of snow - (and it's airports where the official Golden Snowball numbers are taken.) That total alone would vault NYC into second place for the 2015-16 crown. Normally, that would be it for New York City, a one hit wonder.

And yet..

Another Nor'easter could be coming this week.

Could unheralded, little known NYC - a Division III snow town - find itself suddenly challenging for a Snowball? Maybe it's time for Albany to be demoted to some Virginia or North Carolina snow league, where it has a chance. Give the people of New York something to dream of. It's time to put them in the Golden Snowball.

"The recent comments by owner Hal Steinbrenner regarding club payroll and the future elucidate the seriousness with which the club is taking its goal of winning within the confines of fiscal responsibility. It also creates a concern that the team’s focus on winning at all costs is gone."


A plan that changes based on the latest fad and arbitrary results is not a plan at all. Had they hired a new GM – one who has a history or resume in building a club based on financial constraints, developing prospects, and making shrewd deals – then there was an excuse to follow this scheme. They didn’t. They kept the same people in place and told them to do it differently than they’ve done it for almost 20 years and are, for some reason, thinking they’ll get a different result...
Hal Steinbrenner’s comments are worrisome to Yankees fans who want passion and are instead getting a synthetic, robotic imitation of that passion. If the Yankees are looking across town at the Mets with numerous factions wondering why the Yankees can’t do what the Mets are doing, then there’s a problem that Hal Steinbrenner’s step-by-step rationality can’t solve. There are times that the “What would George do?” lament is totally ignorant of the destruction that the late Boss’s acts created. This, however, isn’t one of those times.

In John Sickels' grading of Yankee 2016 prospects, we are a Yoan Moncada light year below Boston

A constant lament across the Yankiverse is that our prospects always get dissed by the Gammonites at ESPN and other dog-and-pony-show rating services. "If Austin Romine was in the Redsock system," the line goes, "he'd be a number one!" That the Yankees over the last 30 years have projected Number Ones such as Eric Duncan, Brien Taylor, Ruben Rivera, Drew Henson and Jesus "Ice Cream" Montero - none of which beat Luis Polonia in service time - doesn't matter. The Yankees get screwed, and it just ain't fair.

Well, today, John Sickels named his top 20 Yankee prospects. He's a former gopher for Bill James, an ex-ESPN columnist with a 1990 degree in philosophy from a place called Northwest Missouri State University. Unlike other sites and services, which simply rank Top 10s, Top 20s, or Top 50s, Sickel painstakingly grades each prospect. This must be grueling, like painting uniforms on a miniature Civil War diorama made of toothpicks. It's completely arbitrary, and it's actually pretty stupid, but it's one of the rare opportunities to compare the Yankees' system to others. (We get so excited about the arrival of Andrew Brackman, while the Rays have a nobody named Chris Archer.)

So here's where we stand.

Under Sickels' analysis, we don't have a Grade A prospect. We have four B+ players - Gary Sanchez, Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge, and James Kaprielian (our top pick last year). After that, it's Bs and Cs. We wouldn't make the Dean's List. Again, this is ridiculously arbitrary, the kind of work you'd expect from a philosophy degree at Northwest Missouri State. But today, let's play along, as a parlor game. Here are Sickels' Yankee Top 20 prospect grades, compared to Boston's.

Yankees v. Boston
A+: 0 - 0
A:  0 - 1
A-: 0 - 2
B+: 4 - 1
B: 0 - 2
B-: 5 - 2
C+: 13 - 12

You can argue the systems are too close to call. But you cannot argue the Yankees are winning. No way. And here's our turd in the lemonade: Boston's A prospect, the one that sets them ahead of us - perhaps for years - is Yoan Moncada, the Cuban free agent that Food Stamps Steinbrenner couldn't afford last winter. Of Moncada, Sickels writes:

... Hit .310/.415/.500 in last 56 games. Needs to reduce errors, may not stay at second base, but I totally believe in the bat. Power, speed, strike zone judgment, switch-hitter, complete package.

We have nobody like Moncada. And when people wonder why the Yankiverse seems in such a malaise, chinzy decisions like the one last winter always rise to the forefront.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

As spring training nears, some personal announcements...

First, I'm excited about coming back in 2016. Over the winter, I've dedicated myself to a hard physical workout regime, the likes of which I've never done before. The results have been astonishing. I feel like a new blogger. I've never felt better, and I believe this Yankee season shapes up as the best of my career.

Secondly, I've done a lot of thinking about my breakdown toward the end of last season. I fell into a prolonged slump and was not helping the team. Over the winter, I made some critical adjustments in my typing. On the advice of Mike Lupica, I moved myself a few inches closer to the keyboard. The results have been astonishing. I feel like a new typer. I've never keyboarded better, and I believe this new sitting stance is going to change everything in 2016.

Thirdly, I've done some hard thinking. Over the winter, I dedicated myself to the team. Total commitment. I cut down on the Twinkies, the Snyder's of Hanover and the Old Milwaukee, and for the first time since fifth grade, my blood pressure is below Rosie O'Donnell at a Trump rally. The results have been astonishing. I feel like a new fan. I've never peed better. I'll blogging blog spring training in the best bloggng shape of my blogging life.

I can't wait. I'm expecting a roll out year with Joe, A-Rod, Tex, CC, Mustang, Alphonso, John, KD, I'm Bill White, maybe even Whitey Fraud, and all the commenters. I smell Wild Card! Excuse me, it's time for my enema.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

As Mets strengthen their grip on NY, the Yankees do what comes naturally: They pass on Cespedes

Wednesday, Hal Steinbrenner made a rather comical remark to reporters while entering the Bohemian Grove East conference of the Loyal Order of Illuminati, aka the MLB owners' meetings. Food Stamps suggested the Yankees might still be in on free agent Yoenis Cespedes because, "You never know with the Yankees. We've surprised people in the past." 

Quickly, cheerleader squads across the Yankiverse started projecting our lineup with Cespedes aboard - a concept that makes about as much sense as President Palin. Having passed on three aces - Price, Greinke and Cueto, none of which would cost a draft pick - arguing why we should sign Cespedes is a task worthy of a 10-part Netflix docu-series, The Making of a Malady. Clearly, the Yankees had zero interest in Cespedes, no matter how low he was willing to go to stay in Gotham.

The fact is, the Retrieval Empire has always passed on Cespedes. They passed on him as a free agent escapee from Cuba. They passed on him at numerous trade deadlines, when he was passed around like a plate of liver. Somewhere within the Yankee cortex, the Grand Nameless Scout - the ghost of Billy Conners? - sees Cespedes as the second coming of Danny Tartabull.  Why bid on him now? To add a fifth OF and force a deal with Brett Gardner?

"You never know with the Yankees? We've surprised people in the past."

What a boatload of crud. Was Hal being whimsical? He must be wearing super-comfortable Haines briefs. Maybe next time, he'll burst into song, like an episode of Glee. I'm thinking he was stoned. It was a 10 a.m. "wake and bake," and he thought he was on the Charlie Rose Show.

Wait. I take it back. There is some truth here. Around this time last year, the Yankees surprised everyone with one of the cheapest decisions in the new Millennium. We let Boston outbid us for Yoan Moncada. Hey, you never know with the Yankees.

For the record, I'm not whining that Food Stamps sat on his hands with Cespedes, though the Mets sure got him at a NY discount: $75 million over 3 years. But this winter, our wacky, madcap, irrepressible owner has done nothing to improve this team. I'd love to think there will be a better era someday, that the Yankees are truly building from the bottom, but I'm not convinced. We've heard that line for 15 years. This owner seems more interested in making money than winning. Nope... the Yankees are not the Yankees, the Mets now own New York, and most of the surprises... they are bad ones.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The neutering of the Yankees has been completed: They will host a day to honor Big Papi

Today, I planned a drunken, happy-worded barf-festo celebrating the face that Howie Kendrick is signing with Arizona, ending the nightmare scenario whereby he would join the Yankees and create a Brian Roberts/Stephen Drew/Kendrick trilogy - a move as hotly anticipated as Land Before Time 3. I've waited all winter to write this words: Howie Kendrick will not be a Yankee. We're safe. It cannot happen. Sleep, child, and dream the dreams of happiness. The threat has passed... Now it's here, and frankly, it doesn't matter.

Then I was going to rail about a recent spate of articles mouthing YES/Gammonite propaganda, suggesting that the Yankees "can have it all" - that is: maintaining their status as contenders, while rebuilding. This narrative - marveling that the Yankees hadn't gone an off-season since 1990 without signing a major free agent, yet look, they could contend! - conveniently ignores the expanded Wild Card playoff system. These days, any team playing .500 ball in late June is a contender. Last year, Texas and Toronto were huge disappointments until loading up at the trade deadline, while Detroit cut and ran. Of course, the Yankees can contend! Unless the team bus crashes, everybody stays in the race.

I was going to bloviate hard about that... then this caught my red-ringed eyes.

OK, take your blood pressure medicine. Breathe...

This was confirmed yesterday by Hal Steinbrenner during "Food Stamp"s pilgrimage to the Great Man Summit, aka the owner's meetings. We're actually going to do this.

Insert barf here.

Of course, you should not be surprised. The Yankees would retire Rupert Murdock's home defibrillator if it guaranteed a sellout. (Let's hope Jerry Hall knows how to run it.) And honoring Big Papi is karmic payback, right? After all, Boston played nice with Mariano and Jeter, right? We know how "rivalries" work, right?

Well, I'm not buying it. Throughout his career, David Ortiz has never been a Mariano or a Jeter. He's been a foul, completely disagreeable human being, spun into a smiling Shrek figure by a Boston media machine that desperately wanted a popular, black-Latino star, so it could ignore the Redsocks' dismal history on race relations. When Ortiz was caught juicing - (and when, beyond any quick look at the NFL, was there been a more obvious lab-created humanoid in sports?) - Boston sluffed it off, conveniently forgetting the things its frat boy fans screamed at Roger Clemens and A-Rod, and anybody in a Yankee uniform. When Big Papi said "fuck" on opening day a few years ago, it was just the happy uncle in the attic, bringing mirth to the world. Great hitter, granted. Great player, are you kidding me? A full-time DH for 15 years.

I greatly fear that Boston will rise this season. A recent Fangraphs analysis - if anybody gives a damn - projected them to be baseball's second best team (after the Cubs.) (The Yankees are middle of the pack, which means - you guessed it - Wild Card race!) They come to NYC in late September, their last road trip of the season. If they have clinched the AL East, our transition to a small market, meaninglessness franchise - our Padres-ization - will be complete. We'll be groveling midgets, shrinking before our conquerors and honoring Big Papi at the same time. If that happens, I only hope we make it a embarrassment trifecta. Let's trade for Howie Kendrick!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Behind closed doors, the future of the Yankees will be (sort of) decided today

Yesterday, the League of Extraordinarily Rich White Men - aka the MLB owners cartel - gathered in a Florida fortress to drink martinis, compare pacemakers, and opine about who Jose Canseco will endorse in the Presidential race. For several hours, they listened to the top muckity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who arrived in a seven-car motorcade (surely with air, ground and water support), and outlined ways to make games safer next year - (such as eliminating food and food service workers - yep, fire the help! Good luck on that, folks!)

I don't mean to belittle attempts to improve ballpark security. (Full-body strip-frisks, at times, can be quite titillating.) But today, the owners get down to the nitty.

First, they must write a "Chase Utley Rule," aka "Save our Shortstops," - making it tougher for Shelley Duncans to spike Ray guys in the balls, after one of Joe Madden thugs has done a home plate cheap shot on Frankie Cervelli, affecting his Yankee career, but that's another story.

Then, the old codgers will start divvying up the future.

The meetings, which end Thursday, are the last before the likely start of collective bargaining with the players’ association for a labor contract to replace the deal that expires next Dec. 1. Even before talks with the union, owners have to determine their bargaining positions on key economic issues such revenue-sharing, the luxury tax threshold and rates, and whether management wants to push harder for an international amateur draft.

Yes, today, the future of baseball will take shape. If the owners continue their seismic moves toward full-revenue sharing via luxury taxes - in other words, if they follow the NFL and NBA on a socialistic bent toward parity - it'll be great news for Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner's bottom line... and awful news for every ticket-buying, YES-subscribing, Little Debbie Snack Cake-eating Yankee fan.

If MLB makes every franchise equal in the amount of money it can spend on payroll, then NYC teams are in for some tough decades. If everything is equal, the NYC players face traffic jams, subway rides, doggy-poo, and distractions that range from brutal carjackings to Times Square transvestite hookers. Meanwhile, the small market team drives to work in 15 minutes and only has to worry about how to order his prized Kansas City steak - or Denver sour diesel.

If the big market teams can't use their extra money, the small market teams will dominate. Look at the NFL. Look at the NBA.

The toughest place for pro athletes to play will always be New York City.

Today, Hal Steinbrenner either goes in, guns blazing, and tells the old-timers that baseball needs the New York Fucking Yankees... not the NY Padres or Devil Rays - not another team that looks to build by coming in last for the next five years.

Today, Hal either tells them he's not a comfortable, boot-licking son of old money - or he'll just click his heels, whine about the help, and order the squab.

Listen: I write nasty things about Hal way too often. I'd love to cut him slack. I'd love to see him as a great owner of the Yankees. All he has to do is win. Believe me, I'll praise him to the heights.

But today, he's gotta fight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weekly Enshrines El Duque

Brian Cashman outlines the Yankees' longtime strategy: the Perpetual Wild Card

Yesterday, Brian Cashman explained what differentiates the dynastic New York Yankees from the rest of modern professional sports.


Yes, the "H" word. (Which he didn't use. In the Yankiverse, "hubris" is nearly as banned as "Kei Igawa," a naughty word that results in children being sent to bed without supper.)

Cashman said this, of the Mets:

“They have an amazing collection of talent right now, but what they had to do to get there, we can’t do that. We can’t take seven years or whatever and pick in the top 12 of the draft. That’s not part of our ownership’s culture. I’ve had those discussions. … We can’t do what the Red Sox do and gut the team. I’m not allowed to do that.”

In one way, you cannot help but appreciate this noble utilitarian gesture. A burgeoning sickness in modern pro sports is that the path to success has become horribly simple and cynical: Finish last for two or three years, cut your budget, screw your fans and draft a couple future superstars. Then, when your team is a powerhouse, you can threaten to move unless you get a new stadium.

Nope, the Yankees won't do that, (they have a new stadium) so let's appreciate their old-school, seat-of-their-pants, up-from-their-bootstraps, don't-cry-for-me-Argentina philosophy. But, unfortunately, that's where their new-found nobility ends.

Once upon a time - not long ago - the Yankee ownership didn't go along with the happy white crowd. The team spent outrageously to sign the best talent. If an internation star emerged on the horizon, even if he was a crap shot, the Yankees would get him. If a star on another team expressed admiration for the Yankees - and many did, because they saw the team as always playing to win - it was just a matter of time before he'd be wearing midnight blue.

(By the way, that franchise is now the Dodgers - the team that betrayed New York more than any other in history.)

So let's appreciate this amazing dedication to hubris. Rather than a controlled meltdown, we will chase the Perpetual Wild Card. If we can be six wins above .500 - we can always contend for the one-game playoff. And this will come with the same edict as all corporate structures demand from the paid staff:

Simply do more with less.

You see, the Yankees won't spend more. They won't win more. They''ll just contend more. Maybe they'll get lucky. Hey, they're the Yankees. They have 27 world championships, including two in this millennium! Why spend more money, when you have hubris? And we have our share. We have a rich vein of the green blood that connects Wall Street to the Kansas City Koch brothers, that runs from Trump to Soros to Murdoch and now to Jerry Hall, that flows from Goldman Sachs to Nabisco in South America and to the Chinese currency - we have wonderful, golden hubris. And whether the Yankees win or lose, one thing will be sure: The owner will make more money. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Let's face it: In 2016, the only Yankee that really matters is Aaron Judge

You've surely heard about the Scrantonians who will be patrolling our outfield in July, after the starters self-immolate. Nobody within radio contact of a Little Debbie's Snack Cake ad expects a full year from Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and/or Carlos Beltran. Such things do not exist. And having only one 4th outfielder - Aaron Hicks, the Cashman "steal" from Minnesota - isn't enough. We'll need five 4th outfielders, maybe six. We need the cast of "Glee."

But wait: There is genuine hope: The Yankiverse can feel hopeful about the futures of Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams and Ben Gamel - each a worthy potential 5th outfielder and 24th man on the roster. (No. 25 always belongs to some bullpen rag arm.) We've had far worse depth in Triple A, and if you don't believe me, think Melky Mesa.

That said, forgetaboutem. Likewise, forget A-Rod, Tex, CC and every other Yankee over 30, because if Food Stamps Steinbrenner is merely biding time until they're all off the books, why shouldn't we, as well? Ah, if it were only so simple! Unlike Shallow Hal, who puts a price on Yankee victories, we fans have no choice but to march along. But I believe only one guy in the Yankiverse really matters this year, and for all the discussion he generates, most bloggers aren't talking about him this winter, because they're terrified that he'll turn out to be a bust.

He is, of course, Aaron Judge. Three years ago, he was a first round pick. He is the size of an NFL defensive end or an NBA power forward: Six feet seven, two hundred and seventy five pounds. He'll be the biggest OF in Yankee history, bigger than Dave Winfield, bigger than Shelley Duncan, bigger than Henry Cotto and Alvaro Espino on piggyback. He'll turn 24 in late April. He blasted through the low minors like a hollow-point bullet and reached Scranton last July. Six feet seven, two hundred and seventy five pounds. Does that give you an erection? Six feet seven, two hundred and seventy five pounds. Do you feel it? Six feet seven, two hundred and seventy five pounds. Yep, you read that right. Six feet seven, two hundred and seventy five pounds. And then, you know what he did in Scranton?

He sucked.

Yes. Six feet seven, two hundred and seventy five pounds of suck. Judge played in 61 games at Scranton and hit a measly .224. with eight HRs. He had blown through Trenton - 12 HRs and .284 - causing everybody to assume he'd do the same at Triple A. Well, didn't happen. So now what?

Wait... let me type it again. Six feet seven, two hundred and seventy five pounds. That's him. He bats RH, strikes out too much, has a strike zone bigger than Tom Cruise (so does everyone, btw, the guy is short) and he hasn't begun to touch his power potential. But Judge has the highest ceiling in the Yankee system. Six feet seven inches tall. He will be a great star or great disappointment. It's that simple.

So let's dream. If Judge is the real deal, the bacon, the buttered toast, we can fantasize a 2020 Yankee lineup featuring baseball's two greatest sluggers - Bryce Harper in CF and Judge in RF. It would be the Second Coming of Mantle and Maris, Mickey and Roger, the two Yankee sluggers who brought me into this world. If Harper and Judge could play to age 40, they might outlast my lifetime. So be it. Ashes to ashes, bats to bats.

This season, we will probably learn the future of Aaron Judge. We'll know if he is to be a star, or if he will disappear into the firmament. Get a good seat. It should be interesting.

Monday, January 18, 2016

As baseball morphs into the NBA, with teams seeking to lose, some folks (not owners, of course) are actually starting to worry

Last week, without saying it in so many words, the venerable Gammonite Jason Stark pondered how Major League Baseball is morphing into the NBA. Technically, he wrote about imbalances in the National League.

On one side of that divide we have eight teams, maybe nine. We're talking about clubs like the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals. We could classify them as the teams that are actually, you know, trying to win. But on the other side of that divide, we have the Phillies, Reds, Brewers and Braves. And we can find some execs out there who would throw the Rockies and Padres into that mix, too.
Stark was describing what are generously called "teardowns." Basically, they are intentional catastrophes. Baseball has finally created identical replicas of the Knicks and 76ers, teams that go an entire season, striving to come in last and, thus, draft first. Stark's real concern: That MLB's six worst teams next year will play in the NL, settling playoffs races by mid-July. (Of course, with a few tweaked gonads, the Yanks can join them, but that's another story.) And some people - those nameless sources that populate sports reporting and Donald Trump anecdotes - are concerned.

"I think it's a problem for the sport," said an executive of an American League contender, looking at the state of the NL from afar. "I think the whole system is screwed up, because I think it actually incentivizes not winning. And that's a big issue going forward." 

Wait a minute... Teams want to lose? How can this be? The horror, Mr. Kurtz, the horror!

Frankly, as revelations go, this one is up there with saying the Atlantic Ocean is moist. Right now, two elements characterize American pro sports:

1) Leagues use salary caps (or de facto caps, via the luxury tax, in MLB) to undermine and eliminate free market bidding for players. A few stars make obscene money, but for the most part, free agents face a controlled market with limits arbitrarily set by the owners. Aside from a handful of exceptions, the billionaires are happy to sit back, poor-mouth and bank the money.

2. The tried-and-true way to build a winning franchise is to simply be awful for three to five years, accumulate young stars via the drafts, bank your revenue-sharing checks, and then - when the time is right - make your run. Once on top, you can squeeze the city for tax breaks or a new stadium. No politician lets a championship team walk out the door. Just wait your turn. Clear eyes, thick wallet, can't lose.

Look at the Royals. Look at the Astros. Look at the Rays. Look at the Mets. And this year, quite probably, we can look at the Redsocks - who are being projected to win the AL East. Yes, we've loved watching Boston collapse under its own hubris - (they are second only to the Yankees in hubris) - but they can't fall apart forever. This looks like their year.

Which brings us to the perpetual mediocrity known as the New York Yankees. Here we are, in the middle of yet another winter of nothingness, as the "Evil Empire" - (what a joke) - claims career minor leaguers off waivers, while other teams sign stars. Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner - (my new name for him, btw) - says he can't sign anybody until the long term contracts expire. That's a sweet way to blame the players for management's stupidity - (He's copying how Wall Street managed to blame school teachers for the financial crash of 2007). It's not his fault. Those damn greedy players!

Rooting for the Yankees used to be one of a great, secret pleasures in American sports. Even when the team sucked - and we sure did for vast periods of the 1980s - they still had a swagger. But today, the worst team to follow in MLB may not be the Reds or Braves, as Jason Stark contends. Nope, the saddest franchise is the toothless and boring Yankees under a regime in which the owner pulls out his pockets and cuts corners.

Here's a prediction: The 2016 Yankees won't come in first or last. They'll just subsist, chasing the Wild Card slot, like a dog with a sausage tied to its tail. Winners? Losers? Five games above .500, the Yankees are technically neither. But I can tell you how it feels to be a Yankee fan:

It feels like we are the biggest losers of all.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's time to acknowledge the Yankees' 2015 "post-season" hitting leaders

The Yankees and their ever-enabling, courtier press steadfastly maintain that last year's team played in the "2015 post-season."

Some of us disagree. We say they lost the game that would have propelled them past Oct. 4. But who cares what mealy-mouthed, bootless and unhorsed Yankee fans think?

The famous "Evil Empire" is now entering its fourth straight spring, projected by most independent analyses to be a 2nd or 3th place team. While other franchises court big name free agents, the new Yankee swagger - percolating down from Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner - involves picking career unknowns from the waiver wire, and suggesting to gullible (or paid) Yankiversers that the players might just become the next Jose Batista. (Do we still have Super Soldier Serum?)

But enough mealy-mouthed cynicism! Let's accept that Food Stamp's club made the 2015 post-season.

It's time to acknowledge the...

Yankee Batting Leaders in 2015 Post-Season Play.

1. Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, Carlos Beltran... 1.
2. 22 players tied with 0

1. 25 players tied with 0.

1. 25 players tied with 0.

1. Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird... .333.
2. Carlos Beltran... .250
3. 22 players tied with .000

Congrats to the Yankees 2015 Post-Season Statistical All-Stars!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Is it a bad sign when the Yankees are picking up table scraps?

Last month, the Yankees lost two prospects in the annual MLB Rule 5 draft, an event that rivals the infield fly rule for its complexity. One of the players was Jake Cave, a promising CF who looked good last year in both Scranton and Wilkes Barre. When we lost Cave, the general pitter-patter across the Yankiverse went this way:

The Yankee farm is so flush with tomatoes that other teams are snapping up our leftover beefsteaks.

Fine. So be it. When we find other teams scuba diving in our dumpster, the Yankees must be doing something right.

So what do we make of two obscure, atomic-level transactions last week, which basically involve the outer rings of our 40-person roster?

Yesterday, we claimed OF Lane Adams off waivers from the KC Royals. He's 26, bats RH, and hit .281 last year between AA and AAA. He stole 31 bases. In simple terms, he looks destined for the Scranton coal yard.

I don't mean to belittle Adams, who may yet have a fine career. But at this point in time, he doesn't exactly look like a barn-burner. Also, he replaces Ronald Torreyes, an obscure OF we obtained three days earlier in a minor league deal that was most memorable for its lack of consequence.

A month after losing prospects, the Yankees are signing 26-year-old warm bodies. I doff my cap to Brian Cashman's relentlessness in combing the waiver wires - (the guy must have a phone ap that makes a bugle call whenever somebody is let go.) But there is no way the Yankee courtiers can spin these moves as hopeful signs. For all the talk about our revived farm system - revived when compared to our former system, not to other teams - we sure are hungry for table scraps. And that is not a good sign.

Friday, January 15, 2016

In the memory of Yo-Yo Arroyo and QuanGoMo: What should the Yankees name their three-headed bullpen hydra?

Yesterday, outposts across the Yankiverse declared a moment of silence to recall the Original Mariano, a portly Cuban screwballer named Luis "Yo-Yo" Arroyo, who died of cancer at age 88. In 1961, Luis Arroyo showed boomer NY fans what it was like to have a pitcher who could literally reduce the number of innings in a game. Arroyo was the First Coming of Mariano; he arrived before Sparky, before Rags, before Goose, before Wetteland - even before Dooley and Lee (Guetterman, that is, 21 career saves, baby!) - and he was the Yankee closer back when closers were called stoppers, and a blown save was something a wayward priest might achieve on Bleeker Street.

Rest in peace, Luis.

One of the all-time greats.

Which brings us to 2016, the year of Trump and Food Stamps Hal, a time when the Yankees hope to reduce every game to six innings. (Keep in mind that Boston, with Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara, plan to cut games to seven, so sixth-inning leads might be precious this year.) The last three-headed NY bullpen behemoth was "QuanGoMo" - a Michael Kay-created mash-up of Paul Quantril, Flash Gordon and Marinano - back in 2004, a year that will live forever in infamy. QuanGoMo lasted about three months, before collapsing into a pile of Tanyon Sturtzes. Its last days are too painful to recall, not on a day dedicated to the great Arroyo.

Still, life goes on.

Lately, Yankee fans have pondered Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman - three all-star closers, who could form the most potent three-headed emergency response team in the franchise's history. Forget the batting lineup; right now, our bullpen is, by far and away, the pride of the Yankees.

But this collection of pitchers needs a name. They cannot be The Three Amigos or The Three Musketeers. This is New York, people. No Three Little Pigs. In the spirit of QuanGoMo, this trio needs something hip and bizarre.

So... here are some possibilities:







I am open for suggestions. I say we take nominations and have a vote.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A way to save the NFL from its poverty

This is a comment from LOCAL BARGAIN JERK, and it's absolutely right-on. The NFL needs help, desperately, and food stamps simply won't be enough. Here's LBJ...

Here is my proposal to restore order to the universe:

1) Rams move to LA (already done)

2) Chargers stay put in San Diego

3) Arizona Cardinals move to St. Louis and keep the same name and colors

4) Houston Texans rename themselves as the Houston Oilers and change their colors (including restoring the cool oil rig logo on their helmets)

5) Baltimore Ravens rename themselves as the Baltimore Colts and change their colors.

6) Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Arizona duke it out for the Titans and dress however they like and rename themselves to whatever they feel like (e.g., the Indianapolis Fast Foodies, Arizona Fence Climbers, Tennessee Who Really Carers, etc.). If this is too difficult, we could make use of the fact that there is no need for 3 football teams in the State of Florida. We could throw in the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have a 5-city scrum for the 3 teams.

Regardless, once 1-5 are complete, we can all sleep at night. 

This is exactly what needs to happen. I would add that the Raiders should stay in Oakland and - most importantly - the Gints would move to the new Yankee Stadium, so Food Stamps Hal can get some badly needed rental money. 

Apparently, Aroldis Chapman is a specialist, capable only of closing

Yesterday, Brian Cashman took time out of his busy, 25/8 schedule of combing Blue Jays recycling dumpsters for nickel bottle deposits, in order to explain the thought process behind Joe Girardi's recent statement that Aroldis Chapman shall enter 2016 as the anointed Yankee Bullpen Bull Goose Closer.

It's an experience thing.

In his career, Chapman has only worked one job: Pitching the ninth. He wouldn't know what to do in the eighth or seventh inning, when the sun hangs high and batters' beards have yet to shade their jawlines. Chapman is a closer, a 9th inning artiste. If you were to, say, bring him into the eighth, who knows what would happen?

The Yankees' other aces, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, have both pitched in earlier innings. They can use that valuable experience to advantage. They will be like "Jungleland" and "Glory Road" at the Springsteen show. Chapman will be "Born To Run," the final crescendo before "New York, New York."  

I get that. Not sure it needed to be announced in mid-January, but I see the reasoning. In his five years at Cincinnati, the LH Chapman basically fanned two batters per inning and walked one in every two outings. He is scary, especially to LH batters. Last year, they hit .143 against him. (RHers only hit .194.) And let's face it: We can't want to see him fan Big Papi with a game on the line.

Right now, this is the only interesting part of the 2016 Yankees: Imagining our 7th, 8th, and 9th inning bullpen running the table in a close game. Boom, boom, boom - so long, game over. If all three are on top of their game, they could easily strike out the final nine batters. And if - say - Tanaka is pitching well, we can view his last batters in the six inning as a sign that the game is over.

All we have do is somehow get into the seventh inning with a lead. And that's why Cashman today is back to dumpster diving.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This is the season, churn, churn, churn: Tyler Olsen and Ronald Terreyes are now Yankees

Yesterday, Brian Cashman made one of his signature roster tweak-a-doodles, elevating the 2016 Yankees - according to the precise measurements in his super-Cashmanic index - by 0.0003 millionth of a parsnet. All you need to know is that we traded a 27-year-old career minor leaguer for two players, who had just been punted-on by the Dodgers. Both are now on our 40-man roster, although that will change as soon as some other team jettisons a new slab of meat that registers on Cashman's nano beef-hood improvement scale.

Basically, while other teams look for an Upton or a Cespedes, we are picking through the scrap pile for parts to the 1977 Fridgidare. 

I do not mean to besmirch Tyler Olsen or Ronald Terreyes, either of whom might become a useful lugnut for the Scranton Railriders of Wilkes Barre in Moosic. Nor is this the right moment to whip on Cashman, who is merely doing what cash men do. Nope. I won't fall into that trap. The man behind this insufferable churning of humanity is, of course, Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner, the zombie heir, who sits a top the not only the scrap pile but the crap pile.

And on this wretched day in sports history - when the NFL has turned its hammy back on San Diego and St. Louis, cities that have gave their souls to football - it's a fine time to celebrate the achievements of professional team owners everywhere.

It's not that Hal is cheap. He isn't cheap. He spends more on ties than we do on mortgage payments. And it's not that Hal doesn't want to win. He certainly does. In fact, he would really, really be glad - tickled, practically! - if the Yankees somehow win the 2016 World Series. It would be a fun ride. And what a wonderful surprise! That would really make Hal oh-so happy. So, rest assured, Hal would like to win.  Let's be clear. Yes. Given the choice between winning or losing, Hal wants the former, not the latter.

He just doesn't want to have to spend too much money. Come on, folks, it doesn't grow on trees. Somebody must pay the bills. Do you know the greedy ushers want overtime in extra-inning games? And for what? Everybody's already been seated, and half the crowd has gone home! But it costs money, people - that's right: cabbage, lettuce, ska-mootz, dineros, cleeban, grommulosa, bagga-boomba. So, today, the Yankees picked the pile and found nickle deposits on Tyler Olsen and Ronald Terreyes. Welcome to the Yankiverse, Ty and Terr.

The Los Angeles Chargers... Can't write any more. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie in 1999: "We couldn't be more pleased to be working with the premier team in all of sports. We hope to deal with one of the most profound unanswered questions in all of sports. Paul O'Neill can play drums, Bernie Williams can play guitar, but who's on bass?"

This may be a bigger shock than his cancer.

Girardi makes his first bad bullpen decision of 2016

Few people had a worse 2015 than Joe Girardi.

I mean, when you talk of crap years, you've got Bill Cosby and then everybody else. Of course, there's Brian Williams and Jeb Bush, and that Florida guy who went into the sinkhole - he definitely had a bad year - but Joe Girardi turned in a few stinker months.

Basically, Joe got swallowed by the sinkhole known as the Yankee middle-innings bullpen. He had two closers - Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances - and Justin Wilson, and after that, he was waving prayer beads at the opposition. By July, it was common to see Joe calling on Miller or Betances to finish games that should never have required a closer. We might have a seven run lead in the eighth when - bang, bing, zoom - suddenly Joe would be waving the white flag for Miller. By September, both Miller and Betances were creaking under the strain, and there was no cavalry to call, beyond speed-dialing Scranton to see what Nick Goody was doing.

I think Joe caught the Joe Torre Virus, which happens after a few wins get squandered, and a manager looses faith in humanity. Torre became famous for burning out Proctors, Sturtzes and Quantrills after a few traumatic involvements with a Buddy Groom or Colter Bean... and this happened en route to Mariano - often a bridge too far. For some reason, the Torre Virus keeps resurfacing in this franchise.

Yesterday, for unfathomable reasons, Girardi named Arodys Chapman as the Yankees 2016 closer. Why? Good luck in supplying an answer. Last year, Miller was baseball's best closer. This year, Betances should be reaching his peak. Why pick Chapman over them? For starters, the guy remains a human billboard on domestic violence, he might miss the first month due to a suspension. Then there's the fact that he's never dealt with the NYC media - (do they have Gammonites in Cincinnati?) - or pitched in a league with the DH.

Even if Girardi secretly intended for Chapman to evolve into the closer role, what's the benefit to anointing him in January, unless Joe is already experiencing PTSD, imagining the gasoline brigade squandering leads. Already, he's thinking like it's the one-game Wild Card.

Generally, I don't put much stock into anything the Yankees say publicly. Cashman never telegraphs trades, and Girardi never discloses the full extent of injuries. They practice disinformation in a way that would make the CIA proud. But why, why, why install Chapman on the hot seat?

It looks like a long, long year. (But I still think Cosby's got him beat.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

On this sad, sad day, let's sing David Bowie's greatest songs about the Yankees

"Turn and face the strange... Beh-Beh-Betances/ Oh, look out you, rocking Royals..."

"Take a look at the Cashman/ Dealing for the wrong guy/ Oh, man, wonder if we'll ever know/ He's in the best-selling show/ Is there life in Gards?"

"Ground Control to Major Ivan/ Your curve is dead/ There's something wrong/ Can you hear me Major Ivan/ Can you hear me Major Ivan/ Can you hear me Major Ivan..."

"Young Sabathian, young Sabathian/ We want a young Sabathian/ Alllllll right/ We need a young Sabathian..."

 "There's a Chapman waiting in the sky/ He'd like to throw some innings/
But we think he'll beat our wives..."

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A 45-day double-secret probation for Aroldys Chapman could leave the Yankees "troubled" and smiling

It's A-Rold Day in NYC. The Gray Lady devotes 20 angry inches to the Yankees' "troubling trade" for Aroldys Chapman, even adding a dab of Jell-O...

... two days before the controversies surrounding Bill Cosby entered a new chapter, the Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman...

The article starts with Cosby, then adds Ray Rice, Pete Rose, a Harvard big-brain, a political oil can, women everywhere, and then finishes with the Yankees' Star Wars Holy Trinity: Gary Cooper, Lou Gehrig and Joe Torre, the immortals who had made the franchise a beacon of morality... until they jumped into bed with Cosby and Ray Rice. Listen: Nobody is going to defend a wife-beater, nobody, but Chapman isn't going to be the first tear in the Yankee bunting.

The best line is a description of the deal...

... a trade that cost the Yankees four minor-league players, an exchange roughly equivalent to swapping a Brooklyn brownstone for a few rooms in a high-rise in Weehawken.

Huh. Chapman's a Brooklyn brownstone?

Okay... sooooooooo...

Meanwhile, at River Ave, they're wondering if morally bankrupt Evil Emp fans should hope Chapman gets Shoeless Joed for more than 45-days, because that would mean his free agency rolls over another entire year. We'd have him through 2017, and we could use him like a tube of toothpaste.

Fun fact: This would be the second time since 2014 that the Yankee brass has sought a harsh penalty for one of its players. The Randy Levine party-of-four practically begged Rug Selig to ban A-Rod for life, back when he was Yankee Public Enemy No. 1. (Though nobody ever claimed he hit women.) Says Mike at River...

At this point, there’s nothing more the Yankees or fans can do other than wait. Hoping a player is suspended more than 46 days for a domestic violence incident so you can keep him another year is kinda icky. I’m hoping Chapman’s suspension will be short so the Yankees can get 60+ high-impact innings from him, then move on next winter.

I'll take icky. The worst case scenario would be 44 days, plus no spring training. And hopefully, no more Cosby comparisons. Seriously, that is icky.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

It's come to this: The Yankees just bought a guy for $78,000.

Seventy-eight thousand dollars.

That's $78,000.00.

No cents.

He's a pitcher. From the Indians.

Don't mean to mock the guy. I just didn't know you could buy a pitcher for $78,000.

Insert "I'm Not Cheap" jokes here...

The biggest football weekend of the year, and all we have are personal vendettas

Today starts NFL/NCAA Playoffs Weekend, the most violent 72-hours on the Gregorian calendar, and by far the most evil. (It's nice that the NCAA's "amateur" championship game nearly coincides with MLB's Hall of Fame vote; it gets the old hypocrisy juices flowing.) Ah, to hell with moralizing! Leave that for the Times. Today is for trench fighting, not hand-wringing over some wide-receiver's future memory loss. Gentlemen, start your stupors.

Once again, NY fans have no horse in this glue factory. The Giants, Jets and Bills - along with our most despised of nemeses, the Beagles and Jerry Jones Cowgirls - have gone into hibernation, and Bill Bilechick has a free week to figure out how to cheat. All we have is our pettiness. 

Here's my Bile Guide to the weekend.

Kansas City v. Houston: Who cares? Who are these teams? Seriously, who the fuck cares? Are the Royals playing? Does the Houston team really call itself the Texans? That is sooooo stupid. Maybe the Giants should change their name to the New Jersey New Yorkers? How about the Pittsburgh Pennsylvanians? Rent a movie.

Pittsburgh v. Cincinnati: Again, we should care? What's on the Kardashinan channel. Can somebody introduce them to Johnny Manzel?

Seattle v. Minnesota: This might be fun, because of the brutal weather. Minnesota! Outside! January! It's like Game of Thrones, when the Night's Watch goes beyond The Wall. Lots of gore. Bring it on.

Green Bay v. Washington: Might be enjoyable, because the lords of the NFL don't want the Redskins - (racist name, horrible owner, crap team) - advancing. Go D.C.!

Clemson v. Alabama: Two best teams playing. Someday, can we have the real Super Bowl? Let the NFL and NCAA champions duel. Don't laugh. Would you bet against Alabama?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Regarding Gardy: One look at the Yankee batting order, and you sense Brian Cashman isn't done

Let's go to the lineup card. On Opening Day, barring asteroid strike or earthquake - (looking at you, rolling hills of Oklahoma) - here's a likely 2016 Yankee batting order:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury (great when healthy, too pricy to bench when not)
2B Starlin Castro (need a RH bat, fingers crossed he'll hit)
1B Mark Teixeira (no-brainer)
DH Alex Rodriguez (could flip-flop with Tex)
RF Carlos Beltran (human equivalent of Lehman Brothers in 2008)
C   Brian McCann (let's hope he hits .250.)
3B Chase Headley (needs a comeback to justify contract)
SS Didi Gregorius (if hits like 2nd half of '15, bravo!)
LF Brett Gardner (wait... wtf is HE doing down here?)

Clearly, the Yankee 2016 wild card is Gardy, our half-season all-star. He should be up top, although two LH leadoff hitters, stuck together like refrigerator magnets, seems a bad strategy. There's always that moment in the eighth inning when the opposing team brings in its LOOGY, and all is lost. We need a RH bat high in the order.

Of course, Aaron Hicks, the switch hitting OF from the Twins, will take more ABs from Gardner. He could platoon against lefties, and due to - uhm, financial obligations - it won't be Ellsbury. One other issue: Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams - both speedy outfielders and LH bats - wait in the wings. The sum of all these situations leaves Gardy with no sure place in the lineup.

Finally, Gards is the one Yankee who might fetch something in a deal (especially if packaged with Ivan Nova and maybe the patron saint of lost Yankees, Rob Refsnyder - or even, aughh, Andrew Miller?)

One thing I never do is predict Cashman trades. As sure as Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift are true BFFs - (I read this somewhere; isn't the Internet great?) - Cashman lives to confound bloggers who speculate on his next move.

Injuries will decimate the '16 Yankees, just as they do any team with a median age pushing 35. The above lineup might not make it out of spring training. But no matter how you slice it, Gardner looks like the odd man out. And I cannot help but think that every time Cashman's phone rings, he opens his binder to the page that says, "Gardy: What we can get." One look at the lineup card tells you Cash hasn't not yet cashed out.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

It's official: The Yankees never won anything during the 1990s. At least, that's what you'll learn in Cooperstown

It's one thing to lose NYC to the Mets. Now, we've lost Cooperstown. too?

As you all know by now, the League of Extraordinary Gammonites - in their noblest anti-Yankee traditions - yesterday voted into the Hall of Fame a Mariner and a Met, both of whom made their bones by not being Yankees. Ken Griffey - who in his final 10 years never once drove in 100 runs - now holds the highest Hall of Fame vote percentage in history.

Apparently, those four Yankee World Championships in the late nineties happened all by themselves.

No Yankees made the cut. Obviously, winning the World Series is overrated.

Of course, everyone knows the Yankees are over-hyped and, thus, don't deserve the appreciation that needs to be bestowed on small market stars - like Mike Piazza. As a Met and Dodger, he played in obscurity. It's a tribute to his greatness that he helped the Mets get into a World Series. Same with Griffey. Wasn't he great, pushing his team in the playoffs?

Of course, Bernie, Cone, Pauly, Tino, Jorge, Clemens, et al  - they were Yankees, who already get too much attention. That's why Roger Maris isn't in the Hall. Or Ron Guidry. Or Thurman Munson. Or Graig Nettles.

Of course, Jeter will make it, and Mariano, too. But Giambi, Mussina and Damon may have irreparably clipped their Hall of Fame wings when they signed with the Yankees. Writers in other cities won't vote for them, and the Gammonites of NYC - well - there's a reason why we call them Gammonites.

Maybe we should cut our losses, just be thankful that they didn't add Curt Schilling, though his slighting yesterday suggests that Senator Warcraft won't need to be writing an acceptance speech any time soon.

Someday, when we're living on creamed corn and rec room bingo, young people will look back on the 1990s and see a team that won four world championships - Torre's Yankees - and they'll shake their heads. Four world championships, nearly in a row, in the three-tier playoffs era. How did that happen? they'll wonder. And on visits to Cooperstown, they sure won't find any answers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Baseball's hypocritical Hall of Fame is now becoming famous for those who are being rejected

Yahoo Sports says a poll of Gammonites suggests that Ken Griffey Jr. today will receive the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes in history, beating Tom Seaver's record. If so, the plaid-suits must be drinking so heavily that they are merging both Griffey with his dad. For the record, Junior Griffey, over his last 10 years, never once drove in more than 100 RBIs. Granted, 630 career HRs is Cooperstown grist - but the highest percentage in history? What a joke.

Cooperstown is becoming known for those who are being denied.

Today, odds are the voters will again reject history's greatest HR hitters (Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire), its greatest lead-off batter (Pete Rose) and one of its greatest competitors (Roger Clemens.) They will be judged not as players but as people - arbitrarily - by a bunch of self-righteous super-moralists who seek to punish a few culprits for an entire era of corruption. They call it justice. It is hypocrisy.

I recognize that many of you feel that A-Rod, Clemens, Bonds, Sosa - the whole bunch - should pay a price for using performance enhancing drugs. I think they have. I just don't think their guilt is that simple. Long ago, chemists found a way to skirt drug tests. As a result, some got caught while many others skated. And the Hall of Fame - which was always somewhat of a popularity contest - has evolved into a ridiculous test of moral turpitude.

Will David Ortiz pay the price? Of course, not. Big Papi is a beacon of hope. Should Andy Pettite be condemned? Nope, he's very religious. Today, a report links Derek Jeter's trainer to Peyton Manning's somethingorother, who was caught on a hidden camera by an ex-employee, who denies it, at a company that no longer exists in Al Jazeera report, and who knows who is telling the truth? Should Jeter be tainted and, thus, kept out of Cooperstown? Of course, not. But where do you draw the line? If today's report came out five years ago - instead of the Biogenesis scandal - provoking a huge MLB investigation, would it have been Jeter who was banned from the game?

For about 10 years, the lords of baseball turned their heads and coughed on the use of PEDs, because home run hysteria coaxed the public into forgetting the sport's truly darkest period - when they provoked a strike, and the World Series was canceled.

I have to laugh when hearing about baseball's "steroid scandal," compared to the wink-wink normalcy of pro football. Take one look at the behemoths of the NFL, and everybody knows the truth: All sorts of crimes against nature are being committed. It's like the subprime housing bubble around 2006 - everybody denies it, even the ratings agencies, because they're making money - writers and media included. It's like the difference between Donnie Baseball and Johnny Football. Don Mattingly has never once embarrassed himself or the game. Johnny Manzell belongs in a halfway house. And yet we pretend pro football had no steroids problem, and that baseball's great stars are forever tarnished? What a joke. What a frickin' joke!

Seriously, why isn't everybody saying this? Am I insane? Am I the one who's nuts?

Hunter Thompson once said - paraphrasing - In the world where everyone is guilty, the crime is getting caught. So here we are. Today, Ken Griffey Jr. gets his ticket punched for Cooperstown. Fine. But maybe next week, will some ex-friend of an ex-employee link Junior to somebody who knew somebody? And then what? The crime is getting caught... and then judged.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Is Joe Girardi entering his "Tom Coughlin" year?

Yesterday, the NY Fruit Bowl Giants somehow coaxed Coach For Life Tom Coughlin to walk away from the job that has defined him for the last 12 years. My guess is they secured some pills from Bill Cosby and spiked Coughlin's chocolate milk. When he woke up, along with his walking papers, he had a numbness in his soul. It was the sudden realization that even two Super Bowl rings does not indemnify a coach, forever, from Judgement Day. In a league built around parity, the Giants went four straight years without making the playoffs, and - folks - that's a Cosby-level blackout. Even the iconic Coughlin - a red-faced fixture on the sidelines - had to go.

Which brings us to Joe Girardi, who - (and there is no other way to say this) - sucked last year. The YES Happy Marching Society will proclaim that the 2015 Yankees made the post-season, but that's like calling Billy Joel a rock'n'roller. The Yankees made a Wild Card game, which - had they won it - would have gotten them into the playoffs. They managed three hits. For my money, 2015 was Girardi's third straight year with no October, and right now, 2016 doesn't look much more promising. Four years as a mediocrity, and seven from their last World Series... would that do it? Would that cause the Yankees to mix up a Cosby home brew?

Of course, Girardi will get what Coughlin received - a discounted job appraisal, based on the hands he's been dealt. Frankly, I doubt a DNA meld of Don Shula and Vince Lombardi could have led the 2015 Giants to anything more meaningful than a Topps card convention at the Trenton airport Ramada. Likewise, Girardi's Yankee teams have been sabotaged by 10 years of farm system neglect and upper level mismanagement - a decade of Eduardo Nunezes and Lyle Overbays. Unfortunately, the owner won't fire himself.

But make no mistake: Giradi had a crappy 2015. Like Coughlin, his every move seemed to backfire. He channeled Captain Ahab in his obsessive support of Stephen Drew at 2B. He refused to see the alcoholic collapse of CC Sabathia until it erupted on the eve of the Wild Card. He consistently brought in Betances or Miller - sometimes with sizable leads, because the middle innings bullpen had traumatized him. He never seemed to realize that Brett Gardner was hopelessly out of gas, and that Jacoby Ellsbury doesn't hit with a tummy ache. The Yankees collapsed on Girardi's watch, as ugly a sight as anything done by M. Night Shyamalan in the last 10 years. Nevertheless, there's no talk - not even whispers - of his job being insecure.

Still, four years out of the playoffs - well - Danger, Will Robinson! We'd be facing the chance of a full decade without a World Series at bat. We could be midway through another 14-year barf - the 1980s relived - with the Mets owning NYC and nobody wanting to play for the Yankees. I've said this before, but it needs repeating: If a NYC team cannot outspend the team in Kansas City - and all things are equal - the Royals have the advantage. Fewer harpies, fewer bloggers, fewer carnal distractions.

Nobody thought Tom Coughlin would ever face judgement day by the wonderful, magical, all-loving Maras. As the perfect family, they simply adored the fellow. And who wouldn't? Coughlin was a true blue Giant and, from all accounts, one classy clamster. And I honestly think Girardi is his peer.

When I think of Girardi, I think of the night the Yankees won the World Series in 2009. Around 3 a.m., Joe was driving home toward White Plains, when he stopped to help a lady motorist whose car had broken down along the road. Here's a guy celebrating the greatest night of his managerial career - he surely smelled like old Dino - yet he stopped to help a stranger. Nobody can ever say Joe Girardi is not a good man. But four years out of the roses... that's the stuff of a Cosby cocktail. And even a beloved Coach For Life better watch what he sips.