Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sweeny Murti is Standing In for Suzyn

Suzyn is away because her mother died. She's expected back for the Baltimore series. I don't have a joke for this, because I'm not a monster. I just thought you should know.

Aaron, Tyler, & Tim

After last night's unexpected win ( I thought the rains had killed us ), it is time for a bit of reflection:

1.  I saw Aaron hit his homer.  If ever a pitcher threw a mistake pitch, that was it.  The entire world knows not to throw this guy a fastball down the middle, or pretty much anywhere on the plate below the " letters."

2.  When Aaron came up with men on second and third, one out, it was even a bigger moment.  Those runs meant a lot.  A single or a sacrifice fly could spell the difference between a "W" and an "L."

 Giving Aaron some credit, he worked a 3-1 count; then 3-2.  Once it went to 3-2, I said to
myself, " there is no way he doesn't swing at the next pitch, pretty much regardless of where that pitch is."  You could see it in his eyes.  He forgot that first base was open, that he had homered earlier, and that KC knew he was a rookie, vulnerable to breaking balls and off-speed pitches.

Strike three on ball four. Take a seat, Aaron.  Great to give you a big moment in a big game.

 I knew he was going to strike out..  And it pissed me off that I knew it.  I need these guys to prove themselves better than I think they are.  That's what Sanchez does every day.

3.  Tyler was up next.  No chance now for a sac fly, but a timely single ( I think he was on a 2-23 run, and a batting average below the Mendoza line ) would be a game changer, and a huge boost for his confidence.

Nothing.  great to give you a big moment in a big game.

 In fact, when he was 0-2, I turned off the tv.  I knew he would fail, and it pissed me off that I knew it.  I need these guys....etc.

As a meaningless aside,  Tyler did make a great stretch on that bare-handed throw from Headley.  How the hell did he not rip every groin muscle in his body?  He looked like the gold winning US gymnastics team on that one  ( I refer to the women, but cast no sexist aspersion on
Tyler in so saying ).

4.  The really fun story of the day is that Mr. Faith and Godliness, Tim Tebow, is refusing to give up his dream of becoming a professional athlete.  Since he won't consider playing " tight end, " he will consider pro baseball.   In High school, he was a super star at 6'3" and 235 pounds.

And he had a nationally televised tryout.  Scouts from all but two teams ( Jets and Broncos?).  He does not have a right field arm, apparently, but otherwise scored worthy of a tryout for some loser.  Which team is closest to Heaven?  At 29, he is actually older than some of the Yankee's outfield prospects, like Mason Williams.

What I await, and I mean no disrespect, is when he sees the baseball dream end, and the basketball dream begin.  I want to see him at an NBA camp, draining threes, and picking pockets on defense.

If that fails, get this.......the NHL.  He could start as a defenseman and, if that fails, take up a lot of space as goaltender.  What could be more fun than gunning snapshots at Tim Tebow?

Finally, I saw a photo of Venus Williams winning a round one match yesterday in the US Open Tennis.  She looked like a grandmother, no disrespect.  But Tim could probably become her mixed doubles partner.

Aren't sports great?

Redemption night for Chasen Shreve, could anything be crazier?

When we talk about Yankee redemption, we start with Billy. (Do I need to use his last name?) Nobody was ever banished to eternal Hell more times than Billy, yet he kept returning, like a killer doll in a Twilight Zone episode. Even at the end, when his car soared into that ravine near Binghamton, Billy was plotting one more resurrection, one more tour of duty. The only thing that could stop him was death. Those are the rules of The Twilight Zone: At the end of the episode, the killer doll always wins.

Last night, when Chasen Shreve entered in the 10th with the bases loaded and one out - well - we were befucked. I felt the killer doll under the couch. It was time for a Juju Snap-Off: Shreve in, game over, grab remote, click "POWER," go to bed, strangle pillow. "Shreve" is secret Yankee code for "Swarzak," which recently became the scariest word in the Yankiverse.

And yet... somehow, Shreve saved his Yankee soul. He recorded two incredibly tough outs, holding the runner at third. Someday, in the final ledger, when we've healed from the pains of 2016, we'll forget the poundings, the hanging sliders that crushed Shreve for most of a year, and we'll remember Redemption Night in Kansas City. It was the best of wins. It was the worst of wins. But just like Billy, we get to plot one more resurrection, one more miracle fantasy, as we head toward our ravine.

Thanks to Chasen Shreve, we picked up four games - one each on Boston, Toronto, Seattle and - of course - KC. Losing would have been a dagger in our heart. And that's exactly what it was for the Royals. If we beat them tonight, we take the series, we leapfrog them in the standings, and we can see Baltimore off in the distance, with the ghost of Billy - or is it the killer doll? - beckoning for us to hurry.

At midnight, the rosters expand, and the entire population of Scranton, Pennsylvania, will board an arc and float down the Susquehanna River to Baltimore. We'll have Severino in the pen. We'll have Refsynder on the bench and Ben Gamel to pinch run.We'll have three - maybe four - catchers, an outfield larger than the cast of Glee, and we might even see Diedrich Enns.

And we will have Chasen Shreve, reanimated from the dead. Until last night, I thought him banished forever. Weird things happen on Redemption Night, eh?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

As the Yankees situation turns dire, David Cone spits the bit

Last night, the Redsocks, Tigers Royals and Astros won, each team gaining precious ground. One Yankee defeat equaled four losses in the Last Chance to Make Deadspin MLB Wild Card race. So stressful is the Yankee plight that it's showing up in the YES booth.

I'm referring to David Cone, heretofore most famous in broadcasting for once yelling, "ICHIRO'S SWINGING CHOPSTICKS OUT THERE!" and whom - in my opinion - has shown a tendency to parrot the company line. Last night, Coney twice veered from the corporate manifesto, no longer picking cotton, and both times he was dead-on right.

The first followed one of those 30-second Meredith Marakovits field-level diatribes, where she chimes in about injuries or candid clubhouse conversations she's had with players. It's crapola, of course. Her job is crapola, equivalent to the woman who flags cars on a highway construction crew. For starters, most of her reports are bogus, though it's not her fault. The Yankees never disclose meaningful information about injuries - no reason to - and everybody knows it. Secondarily, Yankees are coached to never say anything in interviews. (See JETER, DEREK) They could simply speak gibberish - go "gabba-gabba-gabba" - and we'd get the message. So Marakovits pretends to be Edward R. Murrow, reporting from the front, and good night and good luck with that.

Last night, she described her conversation with Aaron Hicks, on why he started hitting recently, following five crappy months below .200. She said Hicks explained that he's had to learn how to be mentally ready for coming off the bench and not playing every day. She went on about how he's finally mastered the rhythm and "gabba-gabba-gabba..." - that's all I heard; she might as well have been explaining why Anthony Weiner sends text photos of his dick - it was Excuse No. 391 in the "Reasons I've Slumped" catalog, straight from the book.

But after a moment of cud-chewing silence, Coney said, "I DON'T GET IT... Since when is Aaron Hicks been an everyday starter in the majors?" True dat. Hicks has been in the majors for three years, and he's always been either platooned or riding the bench, and furthermore, this year he's played more than ever, because Brian Cashman traded for him. Hicks' excuse simply didn't hold water.

It's rare to have someone simply call, "Bullshit." Good for Coney.

In the seventh, he did it again. This time it happened while our "New Big Three" bullpen - Layne, Parker and Yates - aka Many Runs DMC - turned a 3-1 cliffhanger into a sickening blowout. One strategic pitch and - who knows, we could have won that game. Not with those guys. (Hey, don't get me wrong: I'm still down with the trades of August 1. We will be rewarded in the afterlife, which begins next April.) But as the Royals kept rounding the bases, Mt. Coney erupted - mentioning the pitcher not there - Luis Severino, now toiling in the mines of Scranton, so he can learn the change-up.

Coney invoked the memory of Phil Hughes in 2009. That year, Hughes switched to the bullpen and became a critical lug nut, and Coney went so far as to say that the Yankees best potential bullpen arm was not on the team. Good for him. Criticism of management - even thinly veiled - doesn't generally sit well with management. Last night, Coney spoke for all of us.

I'm still wondering...  how the hell did we get all the way down to Layne, Parker and Yates? I follow the team, but those guys seem to have dropped in on Pizza Hut drones. We have interesting arms in Scranton - Diedrich Enns, Jonathan Holder and - yes - Severino. Why are we using scrap heap pick-ups? The Yankees started winning after going with youth. Now that they're technically in a Wild Card chase, must we revert to a tired, boring old team? Can Meredith explain that? Where the hell is Severino? And goddammit, play the kids!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Once again, the Yankees poor-mouth

The poor, sad, penniless, poverty-stricken Yankees are once again shaking the cup, begging to be saved from the street. Fans should hold a canned food day, so Hal Steinbrenner can feed his chitlins. It would terrible to see him and his family living in a homeless shelter.

As usual, the New York Post - the official carrier of billionaire water - today announces the Yankee plight. (Emphasis is mine.)

Yankees team owner Hal Steinbrenner is making a new pitch to return the team to profitability. With interest rates hovering near record lows, the team is seeking to refinance more than $1 billion in debt that went toward building Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009.
Shaving perhaps as much as $10 million annually from the stadium loans could make the team profitable, said a source familiar with the team’s finances...
The Yanks are roughly breaking even now. That’s just the team and doesn’t include other businesses, such as the YES Network or Legends Hospitality.
Wow. Some nameless Yankee lickspittle took time out to discuss how expensive it is to own a team. Dear God, it must be hell, paying the help all that money.  
The history of baseball is owners pleading poverty. They never have enough pitching, and they never make any money. Keep in mind that Yes Network has been valued at more than the Yankees. God knows how much money Hal Steinbrenner rakes in from that and Legends Hospitality. Even if the nameless source is telling the truth, he is conveniently burying the gold mines that exist for Food Stamps Hal.

From here on, it's all about the tomato cans

Latest wonk projections say it'll take 89 wins to snatch from Satan the final AL Wild Card Pizza Groupon berth, and that's sorta bad news for our heroes.

The Yankees have 33 games remaining and just 67 wins. To reach the magical "89" means - hmm, let's see here, carry the naught, three into two, no, that's not right, hmmm - the Yankees must go 22-11. Holy crap! That's two out of three, which we did this weekend. But even then, we gotta hope nobody else gets hot.

The paid talkers keep blathering that we're "in this thing" because we play Boston and Baltimore a shitload in September, but they're missing a key component to any successful month. Tomato Cans. Teams that are out of it. Some might be spiteful, but most have accepted their lowly fate, and they'll try out players you've never heard of and never will hear of again. These are the teams you sweep, negating the losses against real competition, vaulting you right back into the scrum.

So let's take a look at the Tomato Can Watch.

Detroit has 16 games with the Heinz Brigade (Chisox, Twins, Braves). But so does Kansas City (Twins, Chisox, A's) and Seattle (Angels, A's, Twins). That's a huge advantage.

Boston has 12 cans left (A's, Padres, Rays).

The Astros have 10 (Angels, A's.) So do the Orioles (D-Backs, Rays).

The Yankees? We have 7 tomatoes, all against the Rays, an organization comprised of trolls who base their entire existence upon hating us. The Rays go to bed at night scheming to hurt the Yankees, and the first thought they have upon rising is to stare ruefully at the dartboard photo of Derek Jeter and be reminded of how miserable their lives turned out, because Jeet and Hannah live outside town and still don't invite them to parties. You can think of how insignificant your life is as a fan, but it's still a thousand times more meaningful than being Evan Longoria. The guy isn't even the most famous Longoria. 

Yesterday, watching us squander chance after chance offered a grim reminder of how hot and cold this 2016 team functions. We beat the snot out of Baltimore for two games, then don our burkinis and head for the beach. A three-game losing streak could kill us - I don't care what the wonks say. We are close to the precipice, and it's a long way to 2017 spring training.

What's weird is how quickly everything can change. Two weeks ago, we could happily commit to playing Aaron Judge every day, because - hey, who gave a shit? Yesterday, I was receiving furious in-game texts from Alphonso, screaming about the guy. I still say let him play. He needs to ride this through. Tyler Austin needs more chances, too.

The turnaround came from an infusion of youth. The chorus keeps saying Tex is finally getting hot. Well, the guy is hitting .204. Until Gary Sanchez dropped from the sky, we didn't have a .300 hitter in the lineup. It's been a month since Carlos Beltran left, yet he still leads the team in home runs and RBIs. The veterans squandered their shot. We need fresh legs, not 30something hips and knees. If Chase Headley doesn't like it, too bad. Frankly, he's a tomato can.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Yankee comeback this far, this crazy, this unbelievable... It would rival 1978

From here on, it doesn't let up. Today is the biggest game of the year - until tomorrow, which is bigger. This is what happens when the fire alarm starts blaring six months into a season. If we lose today, Baltimore escapes with its scrotum in a National Public Radio tote bag, and some team, somewhere, passes us on the interstate. The NY dishrags can proclaim that we're only 2.5 games out, but the numbers have as much stability as Trump's deportation plans. We're in a seven-team scrum, and we've got to beat six of them.

Listen: We can sit here and sing campfire songs about rising to six games above .500, but that's not the style of swaggering, pig-hearted fans of the once Evil former Empire. We don't do Bronze Medals. We either win today, then tomorrow, then the day after, or this miniature uprising is just a burst of statistical phlegm on the sidewalk.

Still... deep, deep down, every victory gives us another day in La La Land. And the ultimate 2016 fantasy - yes, it's a drug hallucination, a flashback from my evenings in wicked and wild Elmira, 1969 - falls somewhere between Woodstock and Woody Harrelson.

Yes, I know that I sound insane. But I have to put these words into printable ether. It's a way to reflect upon the stakes of this mini-resurgence - to state concepts that five hours from now could be cringe-worthy, if not criminal. If the 2016 Yankees - after all the gloom and doom, the sell-offs, the waiting and whining - if this listless barge somehow steals the last American League Wild Card, and then runs the table - well - it would rival 1978, the greatest year ever to be a Yankee fan. It would be on par with the time when Bob Lemon took over for a booze-deranged Billy Martin, and Catfish Hunter somehow coaxed a month out of his rusty right elbow.

Most sports fans, in their entire lives, don't get two such years. And, yes, it's laughable to be sitting here and pondering the unponderable. But here we are. We have Ronald Torreyes playing third base, and our cleanup hitter still hauling a .190 batting average to the Jumbotron. Our bullpen consists of pitchers we never heard of, and our best player has hit more HRs in the last two weeks than he did all season at Scranton.

Make no mistake here: When we imagine this team chasing a Wild Card, we are deliriously thinking about perhaps the greatest comebacks in baseball history. It's ridiculous. It's absurd. Somebody should slap me. How can I even write this? If this were the Republican Convention, they would be chanting, "LOCK HIM UP. LOCK HIM UP."

For six months, we've been comparing 2016 to 1966. Were we 12 years off? I doubt it. But this morning, we've got another day to pretend. And if we win today, we've got another 24 hours in the mind machine. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dear Mets: We Feel Your Pain

From the article:
Granderson is batting .168 over his past 30 games. With runners in scoring position, Granderson is hitless in his past 19 at-bats. His 20 homers might look nice on paper, but his 34 RBIs do not.
Sounds familiar?

All thanks for the youth movement.  It's fun again over in our park.

Two months ago, I'd have something whiny and caustic to say about scoring 14 runs.

Last night brought the kind of Yankee thriller that demands white-knuckled scrutiny on every pitch. My motto has always been: Give me an eight-run lead, and you'll have my attention, sir! And when Aaron Judge fanned with the bases loaded, ending the six-run second, I knew it would ruin my night. I'm still Groundhog-Daying that moment. Fortunately, we survived.

Not long ago, a 14-run blowout would still leave a bitter bile in my throat. The fat cat Yankee vets were simply buttressing their stat lines, and they wouldn't score another run for a week. Now, everything about the Yankees seems to have changed. For the first time in my addled memory, we are 5 games above .500. We won't face Baltimore's ace, Chris Tillman, in this series. Their CF, Adam Jones, might be injured. The Mets have graciously pissed away the NYC fan base to whomever wants to carry it. A month ago, we were mired in A-Rod's slump. Nobody could have imagined such positive vibes coming from the Bronx, as Labor Day looms. 

But we have to win all three. 

Swarzak one game (or Shreve it), and we blow the fantasy.   

And frankly, it can't last, right? Every Yankee fan knows that Gary Sanchez - "the Sanchise," according to John Sterling - will soon hit a slump. He won't hit .400. If he finishes at .300, we'll be ecstatic. That's no knock. He looks like the real deal. But he's hitting videogame numbers, and it won't last. When he tumbles, who steps into the void? Tex? Nah. Gardy? Don't think so. McCann? I'm sorry.

We have one hope, and his name is Aaron Judge. (I'd say two hopes, but apparently, we're not going to see Tyler Austin.) At every level of the minor leagues, Judge started slowly and then figured things out. Last year, when promoted to Scranton, he looked hopelessly over-matched - hit just .224 in 61 games. In fact, he looked so bad that Yankee neurotics feared another Trenton-ceiling washout. 

This year, Judge took over the International League - 19 HRs and .270 - though it's been on a Frank Sinatra roller-coaster - riding high in April, (.287), shot down in May (.183), but changed his tune, back on top in June (.343), then weak (and out for two weeks) in July (.160.) Over ten games in August, just before the call-up, he was on fire - .363. (I still think the Yankees should have given him number 13.) Clearly, the guy finds a rhythm, and look out. He's slumping now. If Judge can power through this mentally, maybe he'll take over when Sanchez cools.

But if we lose the next two, it won't matter. That's what happens when you squander a season, based on contracts. I'm just hoping for another white-knuckled game. How about 17-2? I'll watch every pitch.

Friday, August 26, 2016

News From the Shadow of Baseball's Luxury Cathedral

WORKER'S PARTY: The night Fidel Castro visited Jimmy's Bronx Cafe

LURKER'S PARTY: Bronx teens busted for allegedly stealing booze from Indonesian Consulate

JERKER'S PARTY: Bronx perv busted for allegedly masturbating on subway trains

TWERKER'S PARTY: Imperial Stormtroopers shed their alt-right roots

With Hot L Baltimore looming tonight, a recap of Scranton's visit this week to Syracuse

Six of our next nine games involve the pug, Buck Showalter, which means every night is the World Series. If we go 3-3 against the O's, not even YES Happy Talkers on ecstasy can formulate a realistic path to the 2016 Wild Card. Frankly, four out of six may not cut it. We need at least five wins, which means - well - tonight.

Such is the Yankee situation: dire, with a small "d."

The fact is, we must ponder the long game: Nobody on the Yankees over age 30 really matters. Our future is in Scranton, which has - no lie - the best goddamn team in Triple A by far - and that's even without Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge.

This week, the Railriders played twice in Syracuse. Mustang and I attended both games. The stool sample analyses soon should be back from the lab. Meanwhile, some Small Sample Size/non-expert opinionated observations:

Clint Frazier: Poster boy for the sell-off trades. Our number one prospect, on the rankings. Looks like the Michelin man, but with muscles. Totally jacked. Runs like a fullback. Last night, he hit one off the wall in right-center - that's a lonnnng shot in Syracuse - and legged out a triple. (His second in two games.) Also hit a few grounders to SS. He's clumsy in LF, botched a bouncer and took a poor route on a liner. His average on the scoreboard said .230. He seemed to be pressing. Hard to say what we have. But he's 21, and sometime next June or July, we'll know everything.

Jordan Montgomery: Lefty-starter. Going into the fifth inning last night, he was throwing a no-hitter. The liner dropped in front of Frazier, and Gardy would have had it. Oh, well. Didn't matter. Montgomery pitched out of a bases loaded jam. He threw 5.2 innings and gave up only 3 hits, lowering his ERA to - no typo - 0.58. Yep. Oh, point five eight. The guy is 23, from University of South Carolina. He's 6'6" and cuts loose. Minor-fake issue: He constantly fidgets and stretches his arm, as if feeling discomfort. These days, you expect TJ surgery, right? (Note: I'm mentioning this to NOT jinx him. What are the odds of my predictions EVER being right? See? I'm indemnifying him from elbow issues.)

Ben Gamel: Man, this guy is sooo ready for the bigs. WTF is he doing down here? The Railriders are now batting him cleanup - ridiculous, he's a lead-off hitter - so what happens? He jacks a moon shot to right-center, no easy feat in Syracuse. He was the International League Player of the Year LAST YEAR. He is being completely squandered in Scranton. Will Gardy or Ellsbury please get hurt? (No tear, just a tweak, that's all I ask.) How we be so mediocre in the MLB outfield and yet this kid doesn't even get a shot?

Rob Refsnyder: Line drive machine, both nights. He's hitting .330. Didn't look comfortable at third - his new position - he threw a ball into the dirt. He also should be in NYC. I recognize that, this weekend, Joe Girardi has no recourse but to play Gards and Ells, but as soon as the Yankees are out of it - they need to be sitting. The difference between young overachievers and old underachievers might be slight, mathematically, but if you're playing the long game, it is everything. I so much prefer to watch the rookies.

Giovanni Gallegos: I know what you're thinking: Who the hell is he? A reliever, previously off my grid. Never heard of him until Wednesday night. He's 25, up from Trenton a month ago, and his ERA in Triple A is 1.43 He was - purely and simply - lights out. In the ninth, he struck out the side, with Syracuse batters flailing, helplessly over-matched. This is his fifth year in the Yankee system, and he has quietly and steadily moved up, notch after notch, pitching effectively. Remember this name. He's not Mariano, and he's not a starter. But he might be a solid bullpen lug nut. The long game, folks. That's what we're playing.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Is Gary Sanchez toying with a Yankee curse?

For most of an inning yesterday, John and Suzyn painted a CertaPerfect portrait of next year's incredible Yankee lineup, when the mighty Greg Bird hits behind "Mr. Superlative," Gary Sanchez. Two immortal sluggers, back to back. It'll be Ruth-Gehrig... Mantle-Maris... Jackson-Munson... Giambino-Rodriguez... Sanchez-Bird... Yogi vu, all over again.

They didn't mention Kevin Maas. Nor did Shane Spencer's name pop up. Jesus Montero? Nope. And nobody discussed Bird's long road back. They rejoiced over two Ruthian small sample sizes. and I don't blame them. I'll drink that Kool-Aid, if it gets me through September.

But once again, we've seen this movie: Team meets boy, team falls in love, boy stops hitting, silhouettes hauntingly dance across hillside to the existential calling of Death. (It's a Bergman reference, deal with it, motherfucker.)

Let's go to the Internet. First, Kevin Maas, bro of Jason. In 1990 (at age 25) Maas hit 21 HRs in 79 games, becoming an immediate Yankee heart throb, a Rob Lowe lookalike. The next year, he hit 23, but batted just .220. (Today, those are Tex and McCann numbers on the Indian Point Power Report.) Three years later, Maas was gone. Over his career, he hit 65 HRs and batted .230. He's also remembered as the namesake for a great Yankee fan site, which ran between 2005 and 2014.

In 1998, Shane Spencer arrived (at age 26). He hit 10 HRs in 27 games - .373 average - then hit 2 more against Texas in the playoffs. Joe Buck gushingly compared him to Roy Hobbs in The Natural. Then came the market correction. In the following years, Shane hit 8, then 9, then 10. He kept getting hurt, and he partied too much. Over seven years, he hit 59 HRs, batted .262. He never got a website, but he'll always be remembered for one September.

In 2011 (at age 21), Jesus Montero ascendeth unto NYC, following four years of nonstop hype. Jesus hit 4 HRs in 61 at bats, batting .328. They called him the savior, then traded him for Michael "Pine Tar" Pineda. In his first year in Seattle, Jesus hit 15 HRs and batted .260 - not terrible numbers, just not up to expectations. Next spring, Jesus showed up looking like a gerbil ball, 30 pounds overweight. He was demoted. During a minor league game, a Mariner scout - in an oft-told show of disrespect - sent him an ice cream sandwich. He's now in Toronto's system - still only 26 - with 11 HRs and a .321 average. He's not the next A-Rod, but he could be the next Steve Pearce.

Finally, we have Bird - the latest drug-replacement fantasy of John and Suzyn. Last year (age 22), he hit 11 HRs in 46 games. Then he went under the knife. To make up for lost time, they expect him to play in the Arizona Fall League, which he tore apart two years ago. He's certainly young enough to recover. But we should take nothing for granted.

And now, of course, Sanchez. He is 23. He is crushing the ball and throwing out runners. He has matured as a player, and he could finish the season among the Yankee HR leaders. (The current is still Beltran, with 22.) Damn, this guy sure looks like the real deal.

If something happens to him, if Sanchez turns into another disappointment, I'm calling out the juju gods. I'll be a curse, and we'll have to get on it. As Bojack Horseman once said, "Fool me twice, shame on me. Teach a man to fool me, and he'll fool me for the rest of my life." I'm not sure it applies, but I'm going with it. We need to protect Mr. Superlative.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"If you think the white-guy grievance movement will die after Donald Trump's likely landslide defeat this November, think again. There will be plenty of filterless, self-pitying dunces to carry the torch in Trump's place. (Curt) Schilling is a leading candidate."

The Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi dishes on Catsup Curt's plans to become the next Trump.

Schilling should wake up every morning and compose a five-page letter to God thanking him for the American white-guy lifestyle jackpot. Instead, he's consumed with bitterness over the raw deal he thinks people like him have gotten.

That the guy squandered $75 million of taxpayers money from Rhode Island doesn't even faze him. Amazing.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!


"RHP Anthony Swarzak, who took the loss after giving up Mike Zunino's go-ahead three-run homer in a 7-5 loss Monday, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation. RHP Ben Heller, acquired from Cleveland in the trade for Andrew Miller on July 31, was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre."

Ten reasons to still follow the (Not So) Evil (Not Much of An) Empire for the last month

In the menopausal dog days of a lost season, here is why we watch:

1. The Class of 2017: Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, et al. They won't all make it. But their Yankeeographies are still being written. It's refreshing to see new bands, rather than attend another oldies show.

2. To respectfully bid farewell to Mark Teixeira. Blink, and seven years go by. This has chosen to retire as a Yankee, and for all our squawking about over-shifts and batting averages, he remains a graceful and positive teammate. He's still a gold glove at first. One of these days, he'll be an immensely popular TV announcer on Fox or ESPN. It'll be good to a Yankee in the booth. (With A-Rod, we might have two. Could we be reversing the Redsock trend?)  

3. To watch the last Yankee incarnations of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann or others. Next winter, anybody could go. It's hard to see Ellsbury and Gardner in the 2017 lineup, and Sanchez is clearly our future catcher. (But McCann could find a role; Cashman shouldn't trade him for nothing.) But the housecleaning that started July 31 has just begun.

4. To prepare ourselves physically and mentally for the one remaining critical mission of 2016: The mooning of Big Papi. On occasion, Yankee fans are called upon to achieve greatness. Jeffrey Maier heard the call. So did the guy who shot Khadaffi. September 29th will be such a moment. If we moon Papi, we will send the world a message: Yes, there can be peace.

5. To piss all over Boston. This might sound hateful, negative and nasty. Nothing could be further from the truth. I simply love to watch those fucking frat boys sob over a Redsock loss. It makes me warm. It gives me hope. It tells the world: Yes, there can be peace.

6. To keep the wealthy, Yankee-fan-hating Joginson Cano from ever again playing in a post-season game. He needs to know that leaving New York for a few measly extra dimes was the worst thing he'll ever do.

7. To monitor the final games of Scranton, Trenton, Tampa et al. Today, the mighty Railriders come to Syracuse. I will be out there at Your Name Here Stadium, collecting stool samples. Tomorrow, with our lab analysis, we'll know who on track to become a Yankee star.

8. John and Suzyn. This site is dedicated to one notion: That nowhere else in the universe will anyone more celebrate a Yankee victory... and more mourn a Yankee loss. Truth is, there is such another place: In the vast, globally warmed hearts of John and Suzyn. We get angry at them. We mock them. But they truly love the Yankees, and those feelings emerge in every game. In post-game interviews, Suzyn at times cannot even ask a question: She is too fraught with pain over the loss, or too excited over the victory. These are her sons. Some fans loathe them. They believe every team deserves a homer announcer - except the Yankees. Someday, they might get their wish: We'll have some "professional" and impartial team that properly celebrates a Blue Jays walk-off victory over the Yankees. Mark my words: We will fucking hate it.

9. We no longer have to root against the Yankees. We lost the month of July - one of the most painful periods in the Yankee fossil record. Between mid-June and August 1, we actually found ourselves rooting against this team, fearing it would spur management to trade prospects for another round of Alphonso Sorianos. The crisis has passed. We have a future again. It's safe to root for the team. (BTW, I have a secret belief that Hal Steinbrenner is a perfect clone of his dad, though on a faster time line. We have been going through Hal's horrible 1980s. We're now in 1990, still bad, but turning the corner. His version of the 1996-200, Jeter-Mariano dynasty could arrive around 2020.)

10. Dietrich Enns. Huh? WTF? Yes, Dietrich Enns. He's a 25-year-old lefty starter at Scranton. Look him up. He's been our most effective minor league pitcher this season, if you go by results. (He is 7-2 with an ERA of 1.33 at Scranton - after going 7-2 and 1.93 at Trenton; yes, his 2016 record overall is 14-4.) But the nameless scouts don't rank him high on prospect lists. Will he get a chance? Will somebody vault out of nowhere to lead us? Probably not. But then again, who knows? Sometimes, you just gotta stick around to find out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hitting Coaches Hate This!

Your Jaw Will Absolutely Drop
When You See This One Weird Trick
Developed by Cambridge Scientists
for Raising Your Batting Average!

Eat This and Never Diet Again!

(...don't hit into the fucking shift, Einstein...)

Should Gary Sanchez have been called up in June?

Watching Gary Sanchez has been the most enjoyable part of 2016. In case you haven't heard, he hit two more dingers last night - his 7th and 8th, moving ahead of Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks on the Yankees/Indian Point Power Report. He also threw out another base-runner. He won't stay this hot, but it's becoming clear that he could have been our catcher two months ago, maybe three. We were wasting him in Scranton. Had we not released A-Rod and cleared house, he'd still be down there, toiling in the mines.

We've seen this movie before. If the Yankees were still blindly chasing the lost Wild Card, Sanchez would waited until September. Girardi would be reluctant to use him. He'd get maybe 50 at bats, play once a week, and poof - season over. Next spring, he'd need to prove himself. With McCann a fixture and Austin Romine a solid backup, they'd decide that Sanchez needs to play everyday, so he'd start 2017 in Scranton. Depressed and disillusioned, he'd go into a prolonged slump. Then we'd trade him, tell everybody he just isn't in our plans.

Yep, The Frankie Cervelli Story.

Which brings me to CF Ben Gamel, a lug nut of the Scranton arsenal. He homered last night (his fifth) for the Triple A Railriders. Gamel is on a 12-game hitting streak, batting .400 over that period, lifting his average to .313. Last year, he hit .300 at Scranton. Next year, unless the dead wood is cleared, he'll return. The guy is 24. He's a candidate to rot there.

Last night, Gamel's teammate Mason Williams went 2-3. He's hitting .311, though only in 74 at bats, recovering from an injury. The scouts seem to like Williams more than Gamel, who merely produces. At age 25, I guess you can say Williams has been successfully wasted in coal country. (To be fair, the injury cut his chances.) He's making his own movie: The Slade Heathcott Story.

(Slade is batting .231 for Triple A Charlotte. He's fallen from last year's output in Scranton, when he hit .267. Shows what happens when a guy has no hope.)  

Speaking of no hope... last night for Scranton, Rob Refsnyder went 2-5. Nobody wants to hear about him. Ref has no position, right? He's a Scranton icon, finishing his third season there. The first year, he hit .300. Last year, just .271. This year, he's at .333. Hell, nobody cares! He'll be in Scranton next year, or at least until we release him, right? He's 25. We have a raft of young OFs from the bullpen deals. None of these guys - throw in Jake Cave, too - will ever get a shot.

Last night, the mother ship lost in Seattle. The top-of-the-lineup Bobbsie Twins - Gardner and Ellsbury - went 2-8, with a run. The game ended with runners on second and third and one out. A single would tie the score and keep the season - theoretically - alive. Girardi pinch hit Teixeira for Tyler Austin. On a 3-1 count, Tex popped to left. Then Gardy grounded out to second. (If Gardy worked for CNN, his name could be Jake Tapper.) Game over. Wild Card race over. With runners in scoring position, Yankee batters went 0-4.

It was an especially hurtful defeat for reasons that are too painful to elaborate. Our bullpen lost the game, but why rail about Anthony Swarzak and Kirby Yates? They are merely the fodder we used to replace Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Four weeks ago, we had the best bullpen in baseball. We traded it for a future. Can't complain about the deals. You can't have your Chap and trade him too.

But while YES toasts the Yankees' sell-off, and while we celebrate Gary Sanchez, I can't help but wonder if Gamel should be playing CF and/or Refsnyder in left. As Trump would say, What the hell do you have to lose? Gardy is hitting .257. Ellsbury is hitting .262. Neither hits for power. Neither has more then 20 stolen bases. But none of this matters. Our team is dead, and some of our most interesting players are still in Scranton. Hooray for Gary Sanchez. Why did it take so long?

Monday, August 22, 2016

I Miss This Guy

We somehow missed Scott Brosius's 50th birthday one week ago today.

Brosius was a good, good guy who remains a personal favorite.  The low key earnestness and joy on his face after his biggest plays are all etched in my memory.  I'm happy they're there.

Bob Watson was in his last year as Yankee GM when he picked up Brosius from the A's in a trade for Kenny Rogers. Coincidentally, the Brosius/Rogers trade was Billy Beane's first trade as a major league GM.  The year before we got Brosius, he had hit three ticks above the Mendoza line and I'll be the first to admit that, although I was NOT a Kenny Rogers fan, I didn't get it when I read it in the paper.  I looked at it more as throwing in the towel on Rogers (and his $20MM salary) than getting anyone who might actually be useful.

But Brosius was a different player for us.

In his first year in the Bronx, Brosius hit .300 with 19 home runs and 98 RBIs. 98!  Can you imagine what this year would have been like if we'd gotten 98 RBIs from our third baseman?  On that team of teams, Brosius went on a tear in the World Series hitting .471 with two homers and six RBIs and winning the MVP.  

The next year, it was Brosius, of course, who caught Orlando Cabrera's popup for the final out of David Cone's perfect game.

The image of Brosius we'll all remember, however, was when he hit his two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series against the (friggin') Arizona Diamondbacks.  He tied the game which resulted, of course, in the extra-inning Yankees win.  Every Yankee fan alive remembers that, the previous night, Tino Martinez had hit his two-out, two-run home run to tie the game in the ninth.  When Brosius was walking up to the plate, I made a joke to my wife saying: "It's easy.  All we gotta do here is hit another 2-out home run in the bottom of the ninth.  Piece of cake."  I said this in a voice more strained and trembling than I intended.

If you're not doing anything for the next two minutes and thirty seven seconds, and you want to feel about as good as it's possible to feel, watch this:

When the ball left the yard -- off Yum Yum Kim, no less -- it was late at night on the east coast and our children were all still little and I didn't want to wake them up.  I put my face down on the carpet and slapped the floor
 with my open palm so hard that the palm still hurts on certain rainy days. 

Some fun things about the video:

  • Derek Jeter appears at about 0:25 with a full head of hair, looking like he's about 12.

  • The joy on Don Zimmer's face at 1:00 is perfect.  It's an escape all by itself.

  • Andy Pettite tilting his head back in delight is just beautiful.

  • I had forgotten that, after a home run, they used to play the final chords of The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again over the loudspeakers.  Fun.

  • It's also important to note that The Hit was so momentous, it shut Joe Buck up for one full minute.  Honest.  Go back and time it.
If anything, this was the moment that made that wanker Curt Schilling come up with his line about Mystique and Aura.  This was absolute magic.

I see and feel a hint of this positive and momentous feeling in some of the youngsters we've brought up recently.  I wish they could all watch this clip and understand what this team means to us all.  I wish they'd arrange for Brosius to be a special instructor at our next Spring Training so that we could reattach an important thread to a better time.

Anyway, a belated Happy Fiftieth Birthday to Scott Brosius.  Thanks.

What The Hell??

I am sick and tired of Girardi.

Tex is worthless at the plate, and every time he plays, Tyler Austin sits.

Tyler Austin needs to play every game.  So we can see if he is good enough to handle first base at the major league level.  I'm pretty sure the plan is for him to back-up Bird ( should he ever return ) , and to play outfield if Bird proves he can still play baseball.

Right now, the Yankees need to see if Austin can establish himself as a threat offensively,  and adjust to major league pitching.  We also need to see how good his defensive skills are.  Neither will happen when he plays once every four days.

Girardi makes out the line-up cards.  What is he thinking?  He wants to create another Refsnyder?  Another guy who performs well and then sits?  And then sits?

 Has Joe already put in his papers to leave, so he can disrespect the Yankee's need to re-build, to see what they have?   Girardi has to see Tex failing, adding zero to the team on offense.

As Some brilliant mind recently stated, " Tex should play one more time for the Yankees.  The last game of the season at the stadium."

If I can't get Girardi, I'll have to go for Tex.  Again.  He is an easy target.

I am sick of this tomfoolery.

How would John and Suzyn react to 50,000 Yankee fans mooning Big Papi?

"... And so, Suzyn, if you think about it, tomorrow will be a completely different game - because there are entirely different pitchers. That's unlike any other sport. In baseball, teams are always different because of the... wait... stepping up to plate is our old friend, Big Papi, David Ortiz and... huh? Look at this. LOOK AT THIS! Down the right field line, some guy just turned around and unveiled two giant refrigerated hams. Wow, that's gotta ... wait... HOW DO YA LIKE THAT?" 

"Jawn, that's not... oh-boy..." 

"He got all of that. IT IS WIDE, IT IS BARE, IT IS... A MOON SHOT!" 

"Oh-boy. This is a real magilla."

"Wait... there's more! Everybody's joining in! It's an upper deck full of lower dumpers! The whole stadium - you know, Suzyn, I've always said Yankee fans are by far the most knowledgeable in baseball - they're all bending over! IT'S BIG POOPERS FOR BIG PAPI! IT'S A BUTT BOMB... FOR THE BUTTERBALL! HEY, YOU REALLY TEASED THE OAR, ORTIZ! (Singing) OH, THE RANDY FANS' CANS, I SEE THE RANDY FANS' CANS..." 

"And I tawked with Joe before the game. He never mentioned this. It's very clear, though, that some of these fans have been working with Larry Rothschild. It really looks to have paid off."  

"I'm sure Suzyn will have the full inside scoop in her clubhouse report. But look... IT'S ONLY A PAPI MOON! LET'S HEAR IT FOR DAVID ORTIZ. HE DERRIERS TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BUNS!"

"This unbelievable portrait is being painted by CertaPro Painters, who remind you to color your behinds with only the best - Sherwin Williams paints."

"THEY'RE RAISING THEIR FANNY FLAGS! Somebody out there had the Lowe's home improvement idea: LET'S MOON SOMETHING TOGETHAHHHH..."

"This call to the moon pen is brought to you by Celino and Barnes, your injury attorneys. If you get mooned at home or on the job, don't wait. Butt dial eight."

"You know, Suzyn, I don't care what anybody says: You CANNOT predict moonings. You simply cannot. I wish the people at home could see this for themselves. Papi is calling for time, he looks really moved. And we're going to take a short break. You're listening to the Yankee Radio Network... christened by cheeks!"

(Make it happen. MOON BIG PAPI.)

(What other home run moon calls could John use?)

Every team above us lost yesterday... and we lost ground

Big changes yesterday in the AL Last Hope One Game Away Game Turkey Wild Card Scam Berth race: Both KC and Houston leapfrogged us, meaning six teams - up from four - now lead us.

You don't need me to blather - once again - how hopeless this is. Our pennant chances are murkier than Trump's mass deportation force. Still, let's close our eyes and imagine:

We sweep Seattle. Three games, boom.

If we sweep, we would:

a) Be tied with the Mariners in the loss column.

b) Destroy their faith in God. If anything, they might start believing they are on His shit-list. (They're on mine, BTW.)

c) Probably climb ahead of Detroit, Houston and KC, although the Astros are playing Minnesota, so they might maintain pace.

d) Probably gain on the O's, who face a brutal bragging rights series against the Nats, but not necessarily on Boston, (Rays) and Toronto (mighty Angels.)

e) Add to the chances that Robbie never jogs out a grounder in a Seattle post-season - cosmic payback to abandoning his TV family for gold. (He loves only gold. Only gold. ONLY gold. Only gold. He loves gold. He loves only gold. He loves GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD.)

So there we have it. One last chance to upend - or suspend - reality: We cannot "win the series." We would still be two behind Seattle, which has a breakfast buffet schedule full of Angels and A's. We must sweep. Michael Pineda must throw a vengeance shutout. Gary Sanchez must stay hot. And Aaron Judge needs to play, not rest.

This morning, the Gray Lady questioned with Yankee batting order. In the eighth, with two men on and one out, we sent up our "cleanup" hitter.

In years past, this would have started stomachs churning in the opposing dugout. But on Sunday, Angels reliever J. C. Ramirez was not facing vintage sluggers named Rodriguez, Teixeira, Beltran or McCann.
He was facing Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro.

True dat. But the truth is, Tex, A-Rod and McCann have failed us. We had better chances with Didi and Castro. But another truth is that neither belongs in a slugger's spot.

If there is anything to fear, it's that Didi decides he is supposed to hit HRs to justify batting fourth. All we need is another pull hitter reduced to nothingness by defensive over-shifts. The Yankees have a cleanup hitter. His name is Aaron Judge. I hope he has been properly rested, because the last fantasy of 2016 happens over the next three nights. Lose tonight, and we can rest throughout October.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Yankees beat Angels, featuring Gregorio Petit

Ma, they're doing it again. Make them stop. I'm trying to do homework. They're talking about the Wild Card. Will you tell them to go to bed?

They're saying the Yankees "have closed to" being just four games out of the Bud Selig Annual One Game Away Field Fake Playoff Last Chance Door Prize Wild Card Berth. They're even playing scoreboard ball, noting who won and lost, and pretending it matters.

As Bill Murray said in Meatballs, "IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER." Understand? "IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!"

Last night, the Yankees beat Gregorio Petit and the California Angels, arguably the worst team in baseball - did I mention they have Gregorio Petit? - for the second straight victory. Two wins against a Gregorio Petit-inspired tomato can is hardly a resurgence. It's not even a streak. It's just a - well - it's a glom. That's all. We're glomming onto California's collapse. Did I mention Gregorio Petit?

And they say we have "pulled within four" of the Wild Card.

Insert barnyard noises here.

OK, let's take out papers and pencils, and let's do our weekly math exercises. To win the AL Wild Card Potted Plant Kewpie Doll, a team will probably need at least 86 wins. Could be more. Let's go baseline and say "86." The Yankees have 39 games remaining. To reach the magical "eighty-six," Joe's Gemstones must go 23-16 over the last six weeks. Not impossible, right? In fact, doable, technically.

But here's the rub. We have four teams above us. Even if we glom to 23-16 - our best month of the season - it just doesn't matter.

Boston has 40 left. To reach 86, they merely have to win 17. They can tank and still finish ahead of us. Same with Baltimore; they could go 19-21. Seattle must win more games than they lose - but they lead us by three in the loss column. (Detroit is tied with us in losses. They are fading fast, losing to Boston again yesterday.)

Five teams, two slots.

Listen: This is a nice little talent show, especially if Chad Green and Luis Cessa keep pitching well. Kudos to Cashman for making the trade last winter. Let's hope it's the kind of deal the Yankees make more often - buying low and selling high. Gary Sanchez looks like a future Jorge. Aaron Judge could be our cleanup hitter. We have components of a future team. Next year, everything will matter.

Right now, no matter what they say, it just doesn't.

But we can still moon Big Papi. That will matter.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

And raise you a Quarter....

Everyone knows that I am highly negative in my views toward, well, everything.

So now I am concerned that Austin and Judge are done.  Last game, 0-4 and 0-5.   Judge struck out twice and Austin once.

Well, you say," first road trip; first west coast swing; they aren't going to hit .500.  No 7 days and 7 home runs."

I have a bad feeling that neither of them is going to see a fastball for a while.  That's what killed my major league aspirations...couldn't hit this breaking balls.  Never really saw a worthy knuckleball.

"  It's only one damn game, " you say again.  They will hit today."

"Austin tagged one last night, but right at somebody.  Right at the wall."

I know.  But just as that broken bat blooper appears as a hit in the box score the next day, so does the rocket shot appear as an out.

Everyone on the Yankees was going yard, last night, off Weaver.  Not Judge.  Not Austin.

And then there is Mr. Sanchez.

Strength up the middle is a formula for long term success.  Now we need a centerfielder who can rake and a few more Tanakas.

Why are they not bring up Gampel?  Is that his name?  The guy who always hits .300 and the Yankees ignore?  Not to mention the elephant in the room ( Refsnyder).

A major new theory of Yankee time and space: Does the short Yankee Stadium RF porch kill our offense?

For months, a universal theory of quantum Yankee gravity has been sloshing around in my brain. Yesterday, a mailbag item on River Ave triggered a glitch in my matrix, causing a eureka moment - (or urethra moment, not sure) - and sent me to the chalkboard of knowledge. Here goes, drum roll, please...

The short right field porch at Yankee Stadium is killing us.

OK, let's think this through.

The Yankee tradition - from Ruth to Maris to Giambi to McCann - is to lard the lineup with lefty slugging beef that - in the name of Curtis Granderson - can flick 35 home runs a year down the RF line, without wasting an erection. Thus, we signed lefty pull-hitting beef.

But in this era of defensive over-shifts, these lefty free-swingers lose 50 points off their batting averages - sliding into mediocrity. I believe it even reduces their HR totals, because they're stressed out, seeing these crapola batting averages on the Jumbotron.

Case in point: Brian McCann. When we signed him, the Yankees figured on 30 HRs per season with a batting average around .270. That short porch would become his Sean Hannity. But over-shifts turned McCann into a .220 butter cookie, and we'll be lucky to get 20 dings. He's a not a DH. He's not a 1B. He's not anything.

So, under my theory, McCann would hit more poorly at home, swinging for the porch and into the over-shift. Well, that's exactly what happens.

In Yankee Stadium, where you'd think McCann should be more productive, he's worse. He's batting .218 with 7 HRs. On the road, McCann hits .247 - with 8 HRs. The porch hasn't helped him. If anything, it's hurt him.

OK - let's look at Mark Teixeira, the switch-hitter. Under this theory, he should generally hit better from the right side, overall. And he does. Batting RH, he's at .228 with 9 HRs. From the left: just .182 with one ding. (At home, he's hitting slightly better .206, compared to .188, but frankly, both stats are so miserable - this guy is sooo done - what's there to compare?)

Let's do one more - Chase Headley: Overall, he hits with more power left-handed - .250 with 8 HRs - compared to .268 with 3 HRs from the right. But in Yankee Stadium, he's hitting only .227, compared to .286 on the road.

But frankly, screw the numbers. To prove my quantum theory, I go with boners - and mine tell me is this: Over the last 10 years, we've seen way too many LH hitters get homer-happy. Jason Giambi went from .320 to a one-dimensional pull hitter. The Grandyman became a 200-K season. Even Brett Gardner got bitten and - in my opinion - has not been the same. Will it happen to Didi? It's worth worrying about. (I thought Greg Bird last year, in his short time, began swinging for that porch.) With defensive over-shifts, dead pull hitters become liabilities. And the porch inspires dead pull hitters. Tex's inability to solve the over-shift ended his career prematurely. He still whacks hard line drives. Defenders wait for them.

In the over-shift era, is the porch killing us? I dunno. But it's worth considering. And I'm glad Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge all bat right-handed. Hopefully, when they see that porch, it will remind them to use the entire field.

Searching for meaning in a meaningless universe

Once, we had the Core Four.

Now, we have the Pre-Three. ("Austin, Sanchez and Judge, oh my.")

For whatever it's worth, the Yankees have climbed back to three games above .500, and five games out in the away-field one-game Wild Card playoff berth race.

Anybody stay up late to watch us cuff around the mighty Angels? Because I didn't. Yeah, I do a Yankee blog, but there's such a thing as self-respect.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Trump joins the Moon Big Papi movement

The first moonshot has arrived. But the real action begins September 29.

Moon Big Papi. 

Make America Moon Again.

Hope for the final month: Boston is pondering Papelbon

Be honest now: Wouldn't it be karma?Wouldn't it be Kerouac? Bringing the human Boston cream pie back home to Fenway, five years past its sell-date, to resurrect the Redsock magic of that final, fateful night of 2011?

That's what they're mulling.

Ahh, Boston. You're always there for us.

Yep, they're not pushing the panic button. They're stomping it, thanks to a bullpen with more holes than the DNC firewall. Right now, Boston looks as desperate as those two swimmers who are stuck in Brazil. (Wait: Can they swim home?)

Speaking on behalf of the Yankiverse, I hereby say:

GO FOR IT, BOSTON! Sign the blowhole. Bring home your prodigal turd.

(Actually, I can think of one reason why a team would want Papelbon: His fingers might still have leftover DNA from Bryce Harper's neck, which might work in a cloning lab.)

Listen: Over the last three miserable Yankee seasons, we've had one spray-painted boulder of joy on which to luxuriate: The ongoing Boston debacle. (Where are you, o, Kung Fu Panda?) Not even Trump would put a price tag on the look in a Redsock fan's eyes after his team blows a four-run lead. It's one of those images that lasts forever: (It's up there with Roger Ailes filming his mistress in the hotel, while barking sexual commands.) Unfortunately, Boston has won a couple of rings during our hiatus, and Yoan Moncada - (That name! SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOWLY I TURN...) should put a Maris-esque asterisk onto every happy-talk news article on how smart Hal Steinbrenner is, as the seasoned helmsman.

But make it so, Boston. Bring Papelbon home. We might have something to watch, after all.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Will John Visit Syracuse? Will We Get to Meet Him?

August 17th game v. Toronto, top of the sixth, Blue Jays lead 7-2, CC Sabathia pitching to Darrell Ceciliani, runner at first, nobody out, Michael Kay speaking:
John Sterling came in the other day and gave me some very serious advice. His first daughter is going to college. Syracuse.

He said, "Uh, Michael, I have a bit of advice for you."

"What's that?

"Save. Your. Money."

I said, "Why?"

He said, "I made out the first semester tuition check to Syracuse. I repeat. Save. Your. Money."

Want Some Help?

I have a few more weeks to inflict some ills on those who suck.

Get me Cashman and get me Girardi.

Duque is right the friggin" kids.   All the time.

Forget about egos and contracts.

Tex gets one more game ...the last of the season at the stadium.  For his farewell.
Gardy gets no more.
McCann gets no more.
Hicks gets sent down.
Jacoby gets no more.
Headley gets no more.

Do it right or I will bury you.

Take to Nathan if you doubt me.

The dugout has steps and Hal's suite has slippery floors.

I will get you if you don't do the right thing.

Six weeks left in this wretched season: A survival guide

It ended yesterday. The season. In less than 24 hours, it collapsed into a weightless, formless particle and vanished from the Yankiverse. Actually, the process began two nights ago in a game we had to win against a team we had to beat with a lead we had to hold... in an event we now have to forget.

Until now, I never had reason to own a gun. Now, I need one. That way, the next time some YES announcer breaks out the Wild Card standings, I can shoot my TV.

Yep, it's over, folks. We are back to two games above .500 - the Mason-Dixon line for crapola. I feel like Jeff Goldblum in the 1986 movie, The Fly.  After all the horror, he says, "I am just a fly who dreamed he was a man." Well, I am just a fly who dreamed the Yankees were in a Wild Card race.

We're done here, people. We should found a protest group: Blue Wins Don't Matter. We're even out of the race for 10 worst MLB records, which would let us sign free agents next winter without losing draft picks. We have six miserable weeks to kill. What to do?

The kids. They should play every game. Not just Sanchez, Judge and Austin, but Ben Gamel needs a shot. Good god, the poor guy has now hit over .300 in his last 900 minor league at bats. That's two years in Scranton. You can't just pretend he doesn't exist. Mason Williams, too. And the entire Scranton pitching staff. Give them a chance - unless they are on season inning counts, of course. If that's the case, it's the month of Kirby Yates.

Refsnyder. He needs his own category. I'm not sure where he projects as a major-leaguer. I know some of you aren't impressed. Clearly, he is not an OF prospect. He deserved a shot at 2B, but the Yankees traded for Starlin Castro - and - well... meh.

Castro has the worst on-base percentage of all second-basemen in the AL - .296. He has the second-worst batting average, is last among starters in stolen bases, and is 8th in HRs. (The fact is, 2B has become an offense position.) Yeah, he's hit a few HRs lately, but aside from a loud April, I think the Cubs knew what they were trading. (BTW, Headley, too, is a mediocre 3B. He ranks 10th among AL third-basemen in average - .256 - and is 11th in HRs. He's hit better lately, but yeesh.) I'd play Refsnyder over either, see what happens. (Of course, this will NOT happen. Some nameless Yankee scouts seem to be invested in Refsnyder not panning out; they'll never ditch Castro or Headley for him.)

Gardy and Ellsbury. Let them sit. Better, dangle them in trades. For the record: I am over Brett Gardner. He was once my favorite Yankee. Now, he comes to bat, I get a sandwich. Guy doesn't steal. Guy doesn't hit for power. Guy hasn't hit in the clutch. WTF? He'd be a decent defensive CF, but he plays a corner. Sadly, we'll never trade Ellsbury due to his A-Roddian contract. So sit them. We can say we're protecting their precious hamstrings.

CC and Tex. Give them Rolexes. Bring out a marching band. Of course, CC will return next year. I'd start transitioning him to the bullpen.

Aaron Hicks. Ummm, who cares? Play him. Release him? Turn him into a fly? Whatever. Doesn't matter to me. I'll just shoot the TV. Every year we are saddled with one Cashman personal project - last season brought us Stephen Drew - who must play every day, because the GM's ego is tethered to the guy's success. We have six more weeks of Hicks.

Watch for injuries on other teams. Of course, we don't root for anybody to get hurt. But if a contender happens to loses a catcher, hey! Brian McCann!

Beat Boston. We have seven games against them. Let's win four. And in that final home game, we need to MOON BIG PAPI.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Their future is all ahead of them

My esteemed colleague El Duque has waxed eloquent about the debacle of last evening. Nuff said there.

Like the Duke, I am here not to bury the Yankees, but to praise them.

I honor the post-fire sale Bombers for doing the alleged right thing and unloading whatever marketable pieces they could toss onto the bonfire, bringing up the kids, and ridding themselves of the Scourge of A-Rod once and for all (at least until they exhume Billy Martin's corpse for a return to the manager's seat -- I think that was the plot for the soon-to-be re-released anniversary edition of "Reanimator VII: The Reckoning," on VHS only, so start rummaging around the attic for your old Realistic video player).

But beyond that, I praise them because these moves have put a team (I almost said "product." Ugh. Please, like Livia Soprano once said, "Kill me now! Take the knife from the ham and stick it RIGHT HERE!") on the field that reminds me of my lovable Bronx Bumblers from 1965-1975.

I remember them like it was yesterday: Stick Michael, Hoss Clarke, Lindy McDaniel, Bill Monboquette, Steve Hamilton, Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich, Bobby Cox, Ruben Amaro, Steve Whitaker. I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I remember them. The only baseball cards that didn't wind up in the spokes of my Schwinn.

Sure, they were awful. That wasn't the point. They set the stage that made the 70's resurgence to power all the more sweet. I think we all understand that for us to return to the pinnacle, we had to sell off. And I don't worry about losing. It's only a couple more weeks and then the September call-ups will help us make that last Olympic-sized dive across the finish line to the second wild card.

Oh, and of course there's always September 29, a date which will live in Yankee lore for decades to come. Moon Big Papi Day is coming.

So life is good.

I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride but something touched me deep inside the day the music died...

Everyone take out a sheet of paper and a pencil. We're going to have a plop quiz:

What was the cruelest aspect of last night's debacle?

a) Two home runs by Russell Martin; reminding us once again of Hal Steinbrenner's original ownership sin: his cheap-ass refusal to negotiate a two-year deal, back when the boy owner was hell-bent on reducing Yankee payroll to skirt the luxury tax - a scheme that Sallow Hal promptly abandoned. Ever since, Martin has celebrated his freedom beard by destroying Yankee pitchers, whenever he gets the chance. He's not the one that got away. He's the one we sent away.

b) The end of Nathan Eovaldi, due to multiple surgeries - silencing the two-year celebration of Brian Cashman's great trade by the happy-tweet gerbils of the Yankee courtier press. Ever since that questionable deal was made - launching a progression of events that culminated with us signing Chase Headley for four years - the Yankee YES team has gobbled and gushed over the art of the deal. We traded Martin Prado and David Phelps for the kind of young starter you just don't find on the open market. Well, Prado is the best third baseman in the NL, and Phelps is - well - Phelps. Don't get me wrong: I loved Eovaldi, and I feel cheap here just whining at the fates, especially when a fine young fellow like him faces such a tough road back. But I'm sick of the hubris of this organization, whose well paid employees bubble and moo over every deal - always marveling about the genius of their bosses. It takes time to assess a deal, yet they announce their conclusions on Day One of spring training. Right now, well... it really hurts. Good luck, Nathan.

c) Another 0-for-4 for Mark Teixeira - batting fourth, no less. I don't get it. The team gives A-Rod movie money to leave - calls him an Uber and puts him on the 4 a.m. cow-catcher to Oswego. But Tex, who came five years after Alex, continues on in his role as the middle of the order rally-killer. We make a big announcement: Tyler Austin is coming up! He homers and then - poof - sits. Once again, we are choking on plumage, pecking orders, contractual obligations, marquee names, and known faces on the Jumbotron. Every time the Yankees get something going, here comes Tex or Brian McCann, lashing yet another line drive into the soft gloves of another over-shift. Last night, Ken Singleton mentioned how exciting it is to see Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge come to the plate, how it brings such anticipation. What he didn't say is it's because watching Tex, McCann, et al, is such a downer.

Final note: I truly believe that if Tex or McCann spent enough time adjusting to the shifts - that is, tapering their swings to the opposite field, or learning to bunt - they could extend their careers by two years. In Tex's case, he is literally choosing to retire rather than alter his style. Yes, I know it's not easy - old dog, new tricks, yaddayadda - but Tex isn't even hitting .200. Come on! That's unconscionable, and he doesn't deserve such a criticism-free ride. How many innings could a bunt base hit have extended?

d) It was the bullpen that got us - our pride and joy for most of the season. In that old formula, we would have seen No Runs DMC, (which the NY Post tried to sell us as the "three somethingorothers of smoke." Instead, we got Chasen Shreve and the cast of Glee. Don't get me wrong: I'd still make those deals. We were going nowhere. But last night, the chickens came home to roost.

e) Last night effectively choked out the few glimmers of hope that popped up after the sell-off. Yeah, we can win today and still take the series. But last night's loss is a turd that won't flush in a bowl that won't unclog. We're going to be smelling it for a long, long time.

The only way to get rid of such a thing is to moon Big Papi. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


For six innings, the newly revamped, 2016 Yankees were alive and kicking...

Eight Toronto runs in the eighth. I'm going to bed.

"I just can't stand that guy."Seattle based Joggie-loving podcasters attack The Master

Another unprovoked attack on John Sterling, the voice of the New York Yankees Radio Network, by three Seattle-based know-it-alls. The thing won't embed on this program, so I can only link to the "Danny, Dave and Moore" podcast. 

If you want hear three guys rip The Master, fast-forward to 36 minutes and 30 seconds. The conversation starts with A-Rod, but their hatred for John - hotter than a million suns - blots out all reason. Have at it.

What a difference a month makes

On July 17, I was still tracking our devolution toward the 1966 team, still thinking we could duplicate that sorry record in Yankee history.

But just a week later--fueled by the optimism that comes with a handful of wins, which is usually dashed by a losing streak of equal or greater length--I posted the following. For some reason, it seemed to me that it actually, really, maybe, sort of could be possible. My rather myopic vision didn't see why it would become possible, i.e., unloading our best players and then unceremoniously cutting A-Rod (in shameful fashion, I still say), but the Spidey sense was tingling.

I herewith take you back to July 23, almost a long, long month ago, and the starry-eyed dreaming of a fan who, for all his cynicism and bad attitudes, still carried a torch for this nutty team...which is now 5.5 games out of first with 44 games to go, with every team ahead of it crumbling under the weight of injury and imperfection...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The inversion fantasy

Last year, we sat on top of the world during the first half. In fact, we were doing great at the end of July, at 57-43. July was a good month.

And then came what seemed like The Collapse, ending the regular season lamely and culminating in the pathetic one-game display where everyone was on Xanax. 

On the other hand, we finished 87-75. So really, The Collapse wasn't exactly a collapse. We just went 30-32 in the second half. At the end of August we were 72-58, the same number of games over .500 as were were two months before. At the end of September we were 86-72, again 14 over. And we finished in October, 12 over, going 1-3 in four October games.

In essence, we didn't collapse in the last couple of months. We just were intensely mediocre. We were basically a .500 team. The plus side of the season record was all logged by the end of July.

Here we are in 2016, and so far it seems like an extension of those last two months plus. We have put in almost all of the first four months of the season, and we've basically been a .500 team.

And here's the fantasy. Somehow, for some weird reason, 2016 becomes a mathematical inversion of 2015. Instead of starting off like champions and then falling into mediocrity and rarely getting the key hits and exceptional performances down the stretch, we've spent four months in mediocrity, rarely getting the key hits and exceptional performances. OK, been there, done that.

Let's say that, counting today's game, we go 3-5 the rest of July. We end the month at 52-52.

Now, fantastically, let's say we spend the next two months semi-terrorizing the majors. During August, September and the few games in October, we go 14 games over .500, 36-22. We have a pretty tough schedule during that period, but instead of folding we play up to the standards of the competition and then some. (Which we've done on the downside, playing down to the standards of the supposedly easier teams in the first four months.) We end the regular season at 88-74.

That would be one game better than last year, but it would seem miraculous and we might even have a shot at the actual wild card and not the one-game crap shoot. We'd also be going into the playoffs with momentum, as a team that gelled in the last third of the season and got the timely hitting and pitching and plain good luck it needed. Does that team lie down and die against its playoff rivals? Probably not. Can it get to the World Series? Probably not, but maybe. Can it win the World Series if it gets there? More probably not. But, ya never know. Crazy things happen if a team is hot or lucky at the right time.

Remember, it's just a fantasy. The inversion season. Highly unlikely. 

Highly, highly, highly unlikely.