Friday, June 30, 2017

Looking ahead

I want to follow up on some observations El Duque has offered in the wake of last evening's horrible injury to Dustin Fowler.

In particular, his take on Joe Girardi.

When that kid hit the wall, I could tell it was bad. When Fowler took a step and crumpled in a heap on the ground, I knew it was likely season over. It felt like it must have felt when Mickey tripped over the sprinkler head. And when Joe got down there, anyone with a pulse could feel in an instant just how heartbreaking this injury was.

You all know the details. I don't need to repeat them. But El Duque's assessment of just how much Joe cares about these players has caused me to re-evaluate how I feel about the manager. Sure, the binders drive me nuts. His insistence on continuing to throw Clippard out there is maddening. (Another reminder that these are human beings out there; Clippard has left the team because his grandmother passed away).

We put so much into rooting and caring for this team. We are not alone. White Socks fans do it. Giants fans do it.  NBA, NHL, college football, you name it. Fantatics, fans for short. Multiply that by the intensity people put into their endeavors around the globe: Soccer, music, art, war, politics, whatever. It all adds up to the human condition.

But bring it back home to the Bronx. These are not only people. They are OUR people. We are them. They is us, as Pogo might have exclaimed.

I feel understanding that makes it easier and more fun to root for Our Boys.

But damn, that kid. Ugh. And today, Joe called a closed-door meeting so the team could face-time with Fowler. All class. And what a great attitude Dustin has. Look up the quotes. I'm not in the cut and paste biz. He will be back. And apparently it's not as bad as an ACL, so we've got that going.

I say Joe and Co. should just hang in there. What were our expectations heading into the season? Certainly not high enough to rail at the gods now that we've hit a rough patch. Don't sell out these kids to pick up a rental in the pen. Things will straighten out. There are SO many strong kids coming up. You guys who have the benefit of watching Scranton and/or Trenton know this better than me.

I say hang in there. Let's see what they do tonight, after the last 24 hours. It'd be great to see the Bombers come out and then just beat the bejabbers out of Houston.

There Are No Words.

Tonight will decide whether the Yankees or Mets won the first half of 2017 in the tabloids

Tomorrow, we will learn which baseball team "owned" New York City through the first half of 2017.

It's the covers of the tabloids  - the Post and Daily News - that George Steinbrenner so famously coveted during his reign of errors. Over the last six months, if you followed our daily tabs cover watch, you realized that bad news attracts the most ink. What else could explain the Knicks' third place finish?

Through injuries and underachievement, the Mets have endured a brutal six months. If they lose tonight, or do something horrible, they will win the First Half Tabloid Crown. But I believe the Yankees are poised to take the year.

And that, by the way, won't necessarily be good news.

Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again...

They shouldn't have played the game. Assholes. They waited nearly three hours, three fucking hours, until hardly anybody remained in the shit hole known as Guaranteed Rate Field. They did it to save money, obviously. It's always about money.  When you play in a place called Guaranteed Rate Field, can there be any other consideration than money? 

They shouldn't have played the game... 

I still feel sick this morning. And I'm pissed. It ain't right. Dustin Fowler didn't deserve this. Who the hell is running this universe? Is this somebody's idea of a joke? Bring up an innocent young player, mire him in traffic for 90 minutes while racing to the game, make him wait for nearly three hours for the most exciting moment of his life and then... this? He never even comes to bat? No. It ain't right. I tell you, if anybody is running this show, it just ain't right. 

I keep thinking of Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams, denied for eternity his one shot at glory, or Roy Hobbs in The Natural. It's like that opening scene where Hobbs strikes out The Whammer on three pitches... and then pays the price. Make no mistake: This is one of the cruelest acts ever perpetrated by the juju fates who run the baseball universe. They should be ashamed of themselves. Dustin Fowler didn't deserve this. 

They shouldn't have played the game...

How could they leave electrical boxes so exposed, so perfectly situated to wreck an outfielder's knee? Didn't the designers receive a guaranteed rate of pay? The Yankees should hire Trump's lawyers and sue the city of Chicago down to the mayor's porn stash. Surely, White Sox outfielders get warned about the danger. But a youngster barely 20 minutes into the most memorable game of his life - what chance did Dustin Fowler have? Goddamm. It's just so wrong, folks. It's just so fucking wrong!

Joe Girardi cried. Right there, on the Guaranteed Rate grass, for the world to see... a grown man wept. And in that moment, I remembered why I love the guy. Yeah, Joe's had some bad seasons, made some lousy decisions, but listen: His heart has always been pure. He's still the guy who, while driving home from a World Series celebration, stopped to help a desperate motorist on the side of a busy highway outside White Plains. Last night, for the universe to see, Joe cried like a baby, and I am thankful that he is our manager. I'm glad he was out there, because it meant that every Yankee fan in the world did not have to cry alone. 

In two days, we have lost two young players - Tyler Austin and now Fowler. It's as the Fates are testing us. And make no mistake: The Fates are fucking assholes. They couldn't make it as legitimate gods, so they sit around, fixing baseball games and thinking they're important. I hope they face an Attica riot in heaven, or hell, or wherever they are. It ain't right. Greg Bird, James Kaprelian, Glyber Torres, Tyler and now Fowler. To make matters worse, Rob Refsnyder stank out the joint last night. He muffed a fly that allowed two runs - the final margin of loss. And this morning, things are so nuts that we're actually summoning back Chris Carter from the Netherworld. Apparently, even with the Yankees eating his salary, nobody else in baseball wanted him. It's that bad. When I look outside my window, I expect to see Rod Serling making a speech into a camera.

They shouldn't have played the game...

Have I said that this really, reallly sucks? That's not the most poetic way of putting it, I guess. And let's be real here: Nobody died, right? Dustin Fowler should be back for spring training, starting over - (though he may never have the same speed, the same abilities, the same golden future.) This just sucks! This is why players receive such ridiculous gobs of money - and why owners should be horsewhipped and dragged through the streets. For the players, nothing in baseball is ever guaranteed - except, of course, Guaranteed Rate Field. That's guaranteed to make money. That's guaranteed to suck.

Jesus, we need to win tonight.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Baseball fever is fatal

This was posted yesterday to the Twitter account of analyst Mike Petriello:

Jesus. By the time a player is ready for the majors, his body is already deteriorating. They're like mayflies. Death is real. I need a drink.

The Yankees' looming existential crisis

O to be young! (Or as Chris Berman once said, "Oddibe Young McDowell!") If the Shakespearean truth about romance and reproduction is that youth always prevails... here's a question for the Yankee brain trust on this grand morning after Tyler Wade's and Miguel Andujar's first MLB hits:

Why did it take most of the last two decades for the Yankees to figure out what every other team in baseball intrinsically understood?

Today, as the franchise is being hailed for its fully revved farm system - and I too stand in the Judge's Chambers, clapping along - maybe we should take a quick look back. Of course, it's easy to look at history with 20-20 vision, but in a quick glance, I can identify at least three crucial points over the last 10 years when the Yankees could have launched a rebuilding program similar to last July's. And I might add, there were voices calling for such moves. Last summer, it looked so easy, so effortless - and the fans loved it - when we traded Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Aroldis Chapman for a future. But why did we wait so long?

The three fulcrum points:

1. In mid-2008, en route to a third place finish, eight games out of first, they could have moved the aging Johnny Damon and the wall-weary Bobby Abreu - both 34 - for a future that wouldn't require us the following winter to spend a zillion dollars on CC, AJ and Tex - and cripple our resources for nearly a decade. Our shot at a post-season ended with Joggy Cano nonchalantly waving his glove at a roller into right, launching winter rumors that he should go. But that summer, instead of cutting bait, we larded up with Xavier Nady, Ivan Rodriguez, Sidney Ponson, Morgan Ensberg, et al... because, as our ownership loved to say, the Yankees never rebuild.

2. In mid-2013, en route to finishing third, 12 games out, they could have traded Joggy for a chorus line of prospects, including maybe a 2B who would spare us from the likes of Brian Roberts, Stephen Drew and the cast of "Lost." In fact, trading Cano to some Stygian death hole like Seattle might have made him realize how much he'd miss NYC, and the following winter, as a free agent, he might have told Jay-Z to go for location rather than the Almighty Dollar. Would he have pulled an Aroldis and come home? Oh well, instead, that July, we traded for Alfonso Soriano, because, as our ownership said, the Yankees never rebuild.

3. In mid-2014, en route to finishing second, 12 games out, they could have forsaken their pathetic assemblage of old age - bringing in Chase Headley, Martin Prado, Stephen Drew, Brandon McCarthy et al - and offered to the market Hiroki Kurodi, David Robertson and/or Ichiro. Teams desperate for pitching could have shot their wad with Kurodi, and the funny thing about no-trade clauses is that when teams let a player know he's being shopped to a contender, they often just don't matter. Oh well, we chose to get older, because, as our ownership said, the Yankees never rebuild.

Again...  it's easy to pick apart the things we didn't do. I can assure you that humankind will never invent a time machine, because otherwise, some enraged Yankee fan would have come back and prevented the re-signing of A-Rod after his opt-out. What's done is done, and while critical voices were raised, a joyous chorus of Gammonites always cheered every move. We get one shot at life. (That's why I became a Yankee fan, by the way.) 

I would simply like to point out, however, that as the Yankees today enjoy a surge in youth and in hope, part of the reason for this newfound popularity is that our ownership kept its head stuck deeply in the sand for most of this Millennium. And here's the killer: There is no guarantee Hal Steinbrenner has learned his lesson. The question remains whether the Yankees next month will suddenly start sending young players in every direction to obtain new versions of Sori and Sidney, of I-Rod and Xavier.

Will we stick with youth or go back to our old ways?

Oh, one other thing: I have a bone to pick with Tyler Wade and Tyler Austin. How can a ballplayer christened "Tyler" not call himself "Ty?"

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ten best lines from Times story on how the Yankees' charity has ignored the Bronx neighborhood it was supposed to help

1. "[A]n examination of the fund’s public financial records and interviews... show that it has operated with little oversight or public accountability, neglecting those who live near the stadium and instead sending money to other, often wealthier parts of the Bronx."

2. "[A]lthough the Yankees provide $35,000 a year to cover operating expenses, the fund in 2011 began to allocate 10 percent of the grants it awards to cover its own “additional administrative costs.” Those costs have never been publicly explained."

3. "Of the $6.8 million distributed by the fund between 2008 and 2015... only 30 percent — $2 million — went to charities occupying the same ZIP code as Yankee Stadium or four bordering ZIP codes."

4. Fund officials did not respond to numerous detailed email and phone messages seeking comment over the course of four months. 

5. “All the other nonprofits that I know of who have grants for community organizations are very proactive in terms of alerting the community,” said Joyce Hogi, who is on the board of the Bronx Museum... The Yankee Stadium fund, she said, is “like a deep, dark secret.”

6. "Michael Drezin, a former administrator of the fund who unsuccessfully sued it for mismanagement in 2009, said (fund) board members were chosen because of their connections to elected officials."

7. "You could tell right away it was basically a slush fund,” said Lukas Herbert, who was ousted from the local community board in 2006... and now works as a city planner in Westchester. “The Bronx delegation got to choose who to administer the fund they created. No person who cared about good governance would come up with a system like that.”

8. "In 2009, the fund contributed $20,000 to the New York Botanical Garden, where Mr. Mariel, the Yankee Stadium fund’s chairman, is on the board of trustees."

9. "Just as the fund’s annual report has never been publicly released, neither have details about who receives the 15,000 game tickets that are said to be distributed every year.

10. "In 2014, the fund sent $8,500 to the New York City Cat Coalition, a group of women helping feral cats in Eastchester, seven miles from the stadium."

Time For Q & A.....

Duque's post begs the questions, so I shall answer them.

1.  Austin may or may not have tweaked a gonad.  In any case, he is slow as Holliday, not a natural first baseman, and can't hit a lick.  Color him gone.

2.  Refsnyder is here only because Aaron Judge likes to kid with him on the bench.  Color him gone.

3. In the list of emerging rookie (or young ) talent, Duque always forgets one Jordan Montgomery.  Check out his last 5 Yankee starts, and color him our ace ( scary ).

4.  Bird will not be back.  Color him Nick Johnson.  This guy is a plague and will require the Yankees to make a trade we do not want to make.

5.  Holliday may have something far worse than a DL stint.  Let's hope not.  He is an important Yankee.  You will notice that our offense pretty much groaned and stopped when he became unavailable.

6.  We have to hope for Wade and Anjuhar.  If we get lucky, some contender will be in desperate need of a veteran third baseman soon.  But to have both of these guys succeed right away is what is called, " a big ask."

7.  I like this dude, Domingo German.  He reminds me of Severino.

8.  I don't think Chappo will ever be as good as he once was.  I think that stint on the DL was a harbinger of future ills.

9.  There is too much ineffective baggage in our bullpen.  It starts with Clippard, but too many of those guys are lemons, awaiting final disposal.

10.  I like ( or have hopes for ) the new lefty who walked two straight the other night, but got out of the inning unscathed.  Mostly, I like him because he is not " them" ( Holder, Shreve, Clippard, etc. )

The good news is:  it does appear the Yankees are committed to youth and to our own " system " players.  The main problem is Greg Bird.  The horror that he represents to our future, means we will give up a lot to put some reliable first baseman into our line-up.  Very likely, it will be that White Sox guy.

Miguel Andujar is coming; should Headley change his name to "Wally Pippley?"

Twenty-two year old 3B Miguel Andujar - who supposedly can throw 90 mph to first, if he decides to - will join the plummeting Evils tonight. 

In a perfect world, he'll never leave. 

No matter what happens, this is getting interesting: the stodgy Yankees bringing up young players, and at least three - Judge, Sanchez and Severino - are becoming stars. (Plus, any day now, Refsnyder will break out.)

Not sure what Andujar's role will be. Did Headley tweak a gonad? Does Headley have a gonad? Is Holliday still sick with the mystery disease? (My guess: Shingles. Those ads where Terry Bradshaw knocks at your door, they terrify me.) Did Tyler Austin pull something? Will Greg Bird ever return? 

I know what The Master would say: We should make sure to listen to Suzyn's Clubhouse Report, because she'll answer all the questions.  

Yanks take two-game lead in race for AL Wild Card

I'm crapping bloody pineapple rinds this morning - opening day for the '17 Yankees' Single-Game Away-Field Rug Selig Memorial Wild Card derby - and, as you can see, it's a race among teams of Olympian gods. We're two up on the mighty Twins and Devil Rays, though nobody's counting out the always-scheming Seattletonians, just a doubleheader-sweep from that coveted, final, all-out lunge for the greasy brass ring. We're 75 games into 2017, and the worst team in the American League - (the one that beat us last night with a World Series walk-off style celebration) - is only 6-and-a-half games behind for that last wild card slot, the sports industry's Pia Zadora Golden Globe Award for ignominy. 

Last night, the team-wide suicide that the Yankees had been carefully foreshadowing for the last four weeks finally commenced. The angel of death mixed our Kool-Aid with Draino, and we happily drank it down. Sleep will be a relief - a word we haven't known recently. The Yankees have now suffered 11 excruciating losses in 14 games - including a few out-of-body, Nicholas Cage-chasing-an-Oscar collapses - against fundamentally bad teams. At this rate, the fates will soon be done with us, Netflix will beckon, and maybe we can trade a few veterans for handfuls of magic beans, and then see what the kids can do. Who knows? Last year, we expected to tank like Carly Fiorina after dumping the jinx casserole known as A-Rod; instead, we made it a race into mid-September. This year, with Tyler Wade, Chance Adams, Dustin Fowler and maybe Clint Frazier sprinkled into the lineup, who knows? At least we're not losing with Chris Carter anymore. Progress, right?

In some ways, last night's humiliating loss would have been easier to digest had the Yankees not rallied in the eighth, leading to yet another Syrian desert bullpen disaster. But actually, the final, horrible loss was sort of funny, in a Hannibal Lecter sense-of-irony way. Everybody knew Jose Quintana was pitching his heart out, auditioning for a Yankee trade. But the joke's on him: We don't need starting pitchers. It's the bullpen that's killing us, and he can't help. 

Also, for my money, we don't need anyone over age 27. Let the old-timers play in Old Timers Day. I'm becoming a pro-Millennial generational bigot. For me, it's the veterans who have sank this team. Last night, Chase Headley - inexplicably batting second - went 0-5 with three strikeouts, leaving four runners on base. Gardy failed with two men on, Betances couldn't hold the lead, and because Tyler Clippard didn't give up a grand slam, it's an encouraging sign? Hey, YES team, can we set the bar a little higher than walking in a run? It's disabled vets who populate the training room - from CC to Castro - each one is a giant hamstring waiting to be tweaked. It's not their fault that they're hurt. It's just that when you depend on oldsters, they're always healing from something. 

Today, we lead the 2017 Wild Card race. But unless Joe finds somebody to pitch the 7th, 8th and 9th innings - (currently, we have no one) - we will soon be looking up from behind Joggy Cano and/or the Royals from the great closed-schools/tax-cut-experiment of Kansas. It was a nice ride, while it lasted. But if you'll excuse me, I need another Fleet Enema. The worst of the pineapple is yet to come. 

Time To Get Real. Listen Up !

The winning streak didn't quite make it to two.

Tyler Wade struck out looking when he could have been an early Yankee hero.  His parents must be so proud.

 Here's a news flash;  anyone in the world, tomorrow, could put on a major league baseball uniform, stroll to the bat and watch strike three blow past.  Could be a 98 year old Russian woman from Siberia.  Anyone.  How does the Yankee hitting coach excuse this?  Yankee hitters won't bunt and they refuse to swing when they are down two strikes and the pitch is close.

Tyler Austin is hitting below .200 and striking out 66% of his at bats.  Yes, he hit one solo homer.  Chris Carter hit those also.  Chris Carter is better.  Sorry.  First base remains a wasteland.  I told you all early;  the demise of this season starts and ends with Greg Bird.

But I am not here for that.  I am here to review where we are at, so far in 2017.

1.  First base - a sinkhole since day one.  Injuries and incompetence.

2.  Second base - just lost a principle player in the success-to-date of the team.

3.  Shortstop - had the starter out for a month.  Didi came back solid.  Torreyes solid.

4.  Third base - rock solid health here.  Headley 0-5 tonight.  Hot streak ended.  Now we endure a .158 July from him.

5. Left Field - Pretty solid work from Gardner.  Power diminishing.  Base running diminishing.  He needs a rest.

6.  Centerfield - took out your starter for an extended period, with concussion.  Now his back-up is out for an extended period.  Back-up was having a career year, living up to his expectations as a number one pick ( elsewhere, of course ).

7.  Right field - one player has do do it all now.  Won't work.  He'll walk 100 times with no one else able to help.

8.  Catcher - Starter out for an extended period.  Coming back now.  Only position with legitimate depth.

9.  DH -  Mysterious illness hits the most senior veteran leader.  Huge loss.  Not one else can hit.

10.  Starting Pitching -  most effective veteran starter out for unknown period.

11.  Closer - out for extended period.  Working his way back.  But is he the same?

12.  Best minor league position prospect - out for year.  Maybe career in jeopardy with surgery looming on throwing arm.

13.  Best minor league pitching prospect - out for year with surgery on throwing arm.

So the ship takes on water and is getting difficult to steer.  I just float around and honk to my friends.

Hope you enjoyed the game.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mark Feinsand Proposes Yankees/Mets Trades

If you have absolutely nothing else to do this afternoon, or you're avoiding a task you don't want to work on, take a look at Mark Feinsand's article over on  In the article, Feinsand proposes a variety of trades between the Yankees and Mets.

Most are dumb, none are going to happen, but one....

Curtis Granderson for Tyler Austin

....gave me this reaction:

If Mark Feinsand ever revisits John and Suzyn in the booth for the Daily News Fifth Inning, I hope they bust his chops but good on this one.

Go on, get outta here, we love ya, Marky Mark, ya big screwball....

I love the Yankees, but I have to admit: it's like rooting for Eric Trump

New York Times link


Vanity Fair link

I sat with a Redsock fan last night, watching Scranton play in Syracuse...

... And while he was still talking uppity-dippity about Chris Sale, the difference between the Scranton and Pawtucket lineups, which we saw last month, was night and day.

With Pawtucket, we were watching Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig, who looked like Leo DiCaprio after the bear scene. 

Last night, we watched Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler and Jake Cave, (who homered.) 

It's been a long time since Scranton looked loaded, and Pawtucket looked old.

Castro is hurt: Wait... no, Brendan Ryan? No Reid Brignac? No Brent Lilibridge? What gives?

Last night, before the mini-monsoon hit Syracuse, I had the chance to watch perhaps Tyler Wade's last-ever minor league plate appearance. He lashed a line drive single into right, igniting a small rally. Minutes later, as the temps were unfurling the infield tarp, the Yankees pulled Wade from the Scranton-Mudville lineup. Starlin Castro had tweaked a gonad, and Wade was headed to Chicago's Your Name Here Stadium to join the mother ship. If there is a God, Wade will be in tonight's starting lineup.

On this blog, you may occasionally encounter a rather vile or even unhinged comment directed toward our esteemed Yankee brain trust. And make no mistake: I'm not yet ready to absolve Cashman & Co. for the current six-year barf, which has netted us a total of three twaddling hits in one October Wild Card game. But today - hell, it's water under the Tappan Zee. Today, let's celebrate the bittersweet fact that a key Yankee infielder just got hurt, and we are not replacing him with a spare part culled from the Chad Moeller Memorial Scrap Heap. Nope. We are not turning to Luis Cruz, or Alberto Gonzalez, or Chris Nelson, or Jayson Nix, or Dean Anna, or Scott Sizemore... (I can keep going, huh? oh, you don't believe me? okay...) or Antoan Richardson, or Gregorio Petit, or Dustin Ackley, or Cole Figuroa... (please, somebody stop me)... or Casey McGehee- THAT'S IT, DAMMIT, NO MAAS, NO MAAS! 

For the first time in a thousand years, instead of driving to the junkyard outside Moosic and returning with a 29-year-old Pete Kozma retread, the Yankees are replacing Fidel with a player whose career is in front of him, not entombed in the fossil record. We don't know if Tyler Wade will be a quality Yankee, but listen: We'll get to see! And if he does make it, we will have raised the guy from a pup, developed a homegrown Yankee, and what's that thing they say about New York? "If I can make it there, I can make it... anywhere?" Because there is nothing like a player who grows up inside the cauldron. It's not like starting in Milwaukee and then coming here at 30. This is like that scene in The Lion King where they hold the tiny cub on the ledge for all to see. A new character is being unveiled on the Yankee TV series, and he's not being played by John McGiver or Bea Arthur. He's actually young!

Wade was a 2013 fourth round pick. He is 22 and has performed at every level. At Scranton, he was hitting .313 with 5 HR and 24 stolen bases, playing four positions - SS, 2B, 3B and OF. Occasionally, I will likely call him Tyler Webb, who is the 26-year-old lefty; ignore those mistakes, my meds will need adjustments. He is another piece to the vanguard of youth.

Last night, right around the time the Yanks pulled Wade in Syracuse, Tyler Austin homered in Chicago, a ray of hope for our troubled first base situation. Austin, you might remember, will forever be tied to Aaron Judge as the player who homered - back-to-back and belly-to-belly - with Judge in their first plate MLB plate appearances last August. It's no small metaphoric feat that Austin replaces the aging, creaky Chris Carter - another veteran bat that the Yankees found washed up on the beach, and who stank out the joint for three excruciating months before being stuffed into a bottle and put out with the Japanese tide.

In my frazzled mind, there is sharp line - a "BC" and an "AD" - in the ancient Yankee calendars on that day last August when Judge, Austin and Gary Sanchez arrived. From that moment on, we have been an organization with a plan, instead of a road map to the nearest bottle deposit redemption center. Last night was probably not Tyler Wade's last-ever MILB at bat; odds are, he'll go back to Scranton once Castro is healthy enough for sex again. But who knows? Maybe - just maybe - we're watching the birth of a Yankee hero. This isn't Reid Brignac, folks. This is the future, and tonight, it might just be playing 2B.

Monday, June 26, 2017

It's time to start thinking about the second Michael Pineda trade

Okay, because this is what we're all secretly thinking...

In 49 at bats for the Norfolk Tides this season, Jesus "Ice Cream" Montero hath zero home runs - yep, nada - and he's batting a crisp, small sample .143. Jesus was resurrected two weeks ago after being caught last fall turning water into testosterone-fortified wine. So, yeah, if you're still scoring at home, we won the famous Nothing Burger Trade of 2012; we pulled one over on those smart-mouthed Seattle Mariners. For the Yankees to lose that deal, Michael Pineda would have to betray humanity for a Martian invasion or bring a silencing heartache to national songbird Taylor Swift. Even then, I might still sign off in favor of the trade.

But we've celebrated long enough. It's time for an endgame Pineda strategy. Let's face it: We're not going to sign his sideways cap to a long term contract this winter. Some NL team - (the, cough, Pirates, cough) - will give him five years at $60 million, and of course he'll thrive next year against pillbox lineups where the piddling pitchers come to bat. On that fateful snowy day, we'll get nothing for our troubles, and we will once again trot out Jesus Montero's meager stats, just to assure ourselves that it wasn't just some West Virginia opioid hallucination.

Yesterday, Suzyn Waldman devoted the meat of her pregame analysis to wondering which Pineda would show up - the one with 15 strikeouts over six shutout innings, or the Great Dumpling, who gives up three-run blasts with two outs. Within the first eight batters, that question was answered with dull, throbbing thunderclaps, and yet Jovial Joe - hoping that Pineda could occupy space and time - left him in just long enough to give up the fateful runs that would ice the game. Now, the real question across the Yankiverse is this: What the hell can we get for this guy - if anything - on or about July 31?

Yes, I'm suggesting what two weeks ago would have been blaspheme: Pineda needs to go - especially if he seems to turn it around. Two or three consecutive quality starts would make him very attractive to an NL team such as Milwaukee, which is chasing the playoffs after a generation of Selig disease, and I would love to see us get two solid Single A prospects - even if they eventually turn into Jesus Monteros. I don't care. Pineda's whole Yankee career has been one false positive after another, always followed by a floating three-run turd. Before the cock crows on August 1, Brain Cashman must summon the strength of character to trade Pineda for whatever we can get, regardless of the short term pain.

The most terrifying aspect of the current Yankee malaise is that it's not just a cold streak, a team-wide slump that we need to keep calm and carry on - that it's the cold stark reality of 2017. This team has overachieved, far beyond preseason specs. No matter what happens this fall, we built the infrastructure for future division titles and maybe a ring or two. But 2017 will be remembered as the year Aaron Judge truly arrived, joining Gary Sanchez (and maybe Greg Bird ad Clint Frazier?) to anchor our lineup. This is the year Luis Severino came of age, and future keys (Chance Adams, Glyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade, Dustin Fowler) rose in the system. This could be the year of the Second Pineda Trade, and wouldn't it be neat if it turned out as fruitful as the first?

It's no longer relevant to start each game wondering which Pineda will show up. We know which Pineda showed up: The one we cannot count on. It's time for an endgame. I'm tired of looking up Jesus' stats. I only want to do it one more time - the night of July 31. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Win Streak Jumps Further Into The Red.....

I am trying to remain positive, so I am flashing only the number of games currently in our winning streak.

Today, for the better part of an inning's discussion, everyone thought we had lost Tyler Austin to injury , one day after joining the big club.  Then, like a game of Clue, Tyler Austin is discovered in the Library ( right field ) with a glove.

It is Aaron Hicks who had succumbed to injury, and left the game.

We learned this only by what I will call, " cameradic deduction."   That is, the camera focused on Austin Romine pounding the pocket of his first baseman's glove, and lurking around first base as though he was playing that spot.

Suddenly, the mathematicians took over and figured, by deduction and subtraction, that the missing player was Hicks.  One of our best.

Rumors are already flying that this is not a day-to-day malady.

And I'm not really sure how Tyler Austin is, either.  That slide into second has one of two possible outcomes:

1. He may have re-injured that fractured foot ( we'll know tomorrow ), or

2.  That injured foot withstood a real stress test, and survived.

So the angel of doom continues to swirl over this overachieving team.  The pitching has turned to dishwater.  The hitting is feisty but just not quite enough.  Seven runs are a lot to make-up .

Here We Go Again....

I had just sent a text about how I did not look forward to having to watch Pineda today.

My next thought:  "you know, it seems a light year since we haven't been trailing in the first inning."
So I turn on the tube to see we are already down 1 run; shortly to be followed by Beltran's 2 run homer.  Whoops; down 3-0.

Basically, we now see if Pineda can somehow struggle through 5-6 innings without giving up more than 5-6 runs.  Then Joe can say, " he settled in" and helped our bullpen.


This just sucks.  The game is over and everyone knows it.

Sure, Aaron may hit another solo homer, and maybe Tyler Austin will work a walk.

But the Rangers are going to score more and we are going to go down.

If we are down by 10, I say, " give Tyler Clippard another chance to find himself."

Meanwhile, I suggest everyone turn off their radios, tv's, and internet devices and go get drunk.

Watch Detroit or some iron man competition if you have to.

Don't bother with this useless team, now heading toward .500.

Oh right.  I forgot.  We were not supposed to have high expectations for this season, anyway.

Good.  I don't.One final question:  " what's for dinner in Rotterdam tonight?"

We need to talk about Tyler Clippard

If Trump were running the Yankees, he'd be talking about "a Second Amendment solution," and the crowd would chant, "LOCK HIM UP!" If Alphonso were running the team, it would be worse. Things got so bad last night for Tyler Clippard that he was trending on Twitter. It's a cruel world, the Yankiverse.

Brutal, indeed. So this is how it's done, the modern day tar-and-feathering. The guy gets booed off the mound, pecked apart by the locker room media, then he becomes a Twitterverse pinata - en route to Scranton, or Tampa, or his home town, Lexington, Kentucky. My guess is that soon - this week or next - Tyler "the Yankee" Clippard will throw his final pitches in New York, if not in MLB. Not even the unmovable Girardi can simply continue to run him out there to get bombed, humiliated and mocked. His ERA in the last seven outings - according to somebody on Twitter - is 21.21. Frankly, I figured it would be worse - closer to infinity than zero. 

Well, it's time for a tired arm, or a mystery ailment. Clippard needs 10 days on the DL - time off for bad behavior. He needs to read "Gravity's Rainbow," do a paint-and-sip, get laid, climb a small mountain, binge watch House of Cards - get his head straight. He needs time away from the grist mill. Nobody needs to hear boos that loudly, that incessantly, even if they are that well deserved. We're watching a guy self-immolate... in frame-by-frame YES-Mo replays. We're seeing the Tyler Clippard story - tragic for the Yankees since he was traded 10 years ago for Jonathan Albaladejo - play out to its logical conclusion. The Diamondbacks knew it last year, when they traded him for a scrap heap prospect. The guy is 32. In another universe, we kept him, and he's a beloved Yankee bullpen lug nut. But in this one, he's Kyle Farnsworth, and he's about to say "Farewell."

Brutal, yeah. The worst part of being the team that collects old guys is watching them struggle to the final destination. We saw it with Chris Carter, and I swear, up to the final strikeout, I was still holding my breath, hoping for a miracle. But over means over. Now it's Clippard. And it will soon be over.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

And The One Game Winning Streak Hits A ......

In the last two games, the Yankee offense has posted, on average, 1.5 runs per game.

Do we still have a hitting coach, by the way?

I see our new man, our first base savior ( though it is not his natural position ), Tyler Austin, only struck out 66% of his at bats.

But he is still hitting 200 points behind the guy we jettisoned.

Progress such as this can cause wars.

Now let's fast forward to the ninth inning.

Joe Girardi was at it again, eh?  He put on his thinking cap.

Our "favorite failure" is called upon to hold the Rangers in check, because there is still a remote chance of a Yankee rally ( the odds of coming back, down three runs in the ninth , is about 17% ).

Before any of us can re-fresh our mint julep, a giant 8 appears in the Texas run total.  Game over,  The odds of coming back from that deficit, with only three outs available, plummet to .007.

What does it take for the Yankees to catch on?

 Tyler Clippard is done.

Time for him to be traded for a ladyfinger, or put on the bus with Chris Carter.

These one game winning streaks are painful.  You start to get headaches.

Pithy Little Sayings...

So , believe it or not, when Bush came into the game for the Rangers, I said to myself :

 " Just a dang minute.  The Texas Rangers have a pitcher named Bush?"

Have another swig of that Crown Royal, boy.

Methinks;  " Bush can only leave them with a disaster, for someone else to try and clean up."

Then the announcer mentions, as part of this Bush's Curriculum Vitae, that he only made it to MLB at  age 30 , after extensive jail time.

" No problemo, I howl.  MLB is an equal opportunity employer."

But, just as I start to ponder the reason for his jail time, I keep thinking: GBH,  GBH.  You know, from a Dutch film.  Or maybe it was English.

It has to be English I think.  The Dutch use some form of hieroglyphics in their alphabet, don't they?  So there would not be any GBH's.  Although....Good Beer, Heineken  does work.

GBH in the UK is: Grievous Bodily Harm.  So, this could be some badass on the mound.

I have another Crown Royal.

Here is exactly what I wrote down when Gardy came up, with one out and no one on base, down a run:

" This guy ( Bush ) does not have the character to be successful in this moment."

Cue the re-run:  Gardner catches an inside fastball and cranks one into into the right field seats.  Tie Game.  Bush rages on the mound. Pulls out several imaginary weapons and slashes the resin bag.

 Later, one of his bullpen mates tears off a finger nail and breaks a bone near the tip of his finger in what is labeled, " a hotel room accident."

I had the pineapple ready.  Didn't need it.

Had another Crown Royal instead.

We have started a new winning streak.

Had another Crown Royal.

Chris Carter is no more

Let history show that the last time we saw Chris Carter in Yankee stirrups, he remained true to the Chris Carter Eternal Legacy: 

With the winning run on third, he struck out swinging on four pitches. It was Chris being Chris. Good grief, one more strikeout? That wasn't even a bug bite. That's a grain of sand in the Sahara, a dead wildebeest in the Serengeti, a strain of Chlamydia in Justin Bieber's - oh hell, you get the picture, it happens a lot. 

If you're into numbers - and who isn't! - it was Carter's 70th strikeout this year, tying him for second on the team. I looked it up. He fanned 6 out of every 10 at bats. He struck out 51 times against RH pitchers, hitting .219 - but was worse against lefties, batting only .170. On full counts, he walked 8 times and struck out 14. I looked it up.

Oh, here's a stat to make you pucker: With pitchers ahead in the count, Carter struck out 36 times, with no walks - not once did he outlast a pitcher and draw one of those soul-crushing bases on balls . Also, behind in the count, he hit .200.

But wait, there's more: With men on base, he struck out 36 times. And with runners in scoring position, he produced 22 strikeouts. I looked it up.

With two outs and a runner in scoring position - crunch time for veteran sluggers - he struck out 11 times and hit .130.

O!, here's one: In one-run game situations, when - you know, the Yankees figured he might hit that big homer - he struck out 37 times. Thirty. Seven. Times. 

I can't back this with stats, but I estimate that Carter hit 10 foul ball homers and at least 20 jeeeeeeeeeeeust misses - you know, like Jesse Barfield in his final incarnation - that became towering popups. If he wasn't striking out, Carter was belting Ruthian popups.  

Weird, but in this year of the strikeout, you could argue that Carter wasn't the worst 1B in baseball.  That distinction probably belongs to Mike Napoli, batting .200 with 74 strikeouts. Or Chris Davis of the Orioles, (.226 with 95 Ks.) But whenever Carter strode complacently back to his warm dugout cushion, I had to wonder, how did we get here? 

For the last three years, I'd been whining about why Mark Teixeira couldn't shorten his swing, go to the opposite field now and then, or simply learn to bunt? But he didn't. Or he couldn't. I'd wonder why these guys just don't choke up with two strikes and put the fucking bat on the ball? Yes, I know it's harder than it sounds, but none of them ever seemed to try. Carter's third strike swing was a carbon copy of his first - that long, looping swish. Was there no coach in the clubhouse, no voice in the organization, to take the guy aside and say, "Hey, buddy, this ain't working, you gotta adjust your swing, or you're gonna be gone..."

Today, Chris is gone. Today, we unwrap Tyler Austin - (as you know, we can never have too many Austins, Tylers and Aarons.) Last night, Carter received his walking papers and bus fare to Omaha. Austin is getting called up from Scranton, where he was 6 for 15 with three HRs in his last four games. Supposedly, the Yankees are concerned that Austin strikes out too frequently. For the record, I have no such worries. I hearken back to Trump's stump speech: Seriously, folks, whaddaya got to lose? 

I wish Carter well. He seems like a nice man, almost a gentle soul. But we've just been spared another 100 heart-bursting strikeouts. And last night, we won! The next batter, Ronald Torreyes, singled, driving in the winning run. That final strikeout, Carter's last preserved-in-amber memory, cost us nothing. We don't have to live with it seared into our consciousness.

Okay, now... Chase Headley?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Let's All Stand Up And....

Sing Happy Birthday to El Duque.

Raise a glass to El Duque.

Buy a gift for El Duque,

Give a gift to El Duque.

Cook a paella for El Duque.

Raise another glass to El Duque.

Buy a book ( Ju-Ju Rules!) for El Duque.

Fine a third baseman for el Duque.

Find a first baseman for El Duque.

Find three capable starters for El Duque.

Find three capable relievers for El Duque.

Get a new manager for El Duque.

Get a new GM for el Duque.

Raise another glass to El Duque.

Cheer El Duque for being about the same age as Chris Carter.

Buy the team for El Duque.

Close a bar for El Duque.

Make this day of his ordination on earth a happy one.

Steak and Sirloin, baby!

A bad week becomes a bad month and starts to suggest - gulp - a bad team?

Today, I believe the Gray Lady said it best..

Over the course of a baseball season, about a half-dozen games will vie for the dubious honor of being a team’s worst setback of the year.
Mark down Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels as the early leader in the Yankees’ clubhouse — a game that was so bad on so many levels that it would be difficult to list them all.

How doth we lose? Let me counteth th ways: Castro buckner's a DP ball, Severino butchers a four-run lead, Betances flings balls straight to the backstop, Sanchez sails them into the outfield, and everything goes blooey before Binders Joe can even think of bringing in baseball's current version of Red Klotz, Mr. Tyler "No Lead Is Safe" Clippard. 

Okay... we dropped a stinker. Everybody has them, right? We remain tied for first in the AL East, actually one game up in the loss column. So... why do I feel the ground squirming beneath me?

Sorry, folks, but I cannot escape the notion that this is no longer just a crapola road trip in a turd-pie week. It is now a rotten month on the verge of becoming another clunker season. Two weeks ago, such thoughts seemed impossible - the idea we could add to our lineup the game's top slugger and yet remain a mediocrity - but now, I dunno.  

Of course, the answer is simple: As always, it's pitching, pitching pitching...

Last winter, the consensus was that we didn't have it. Today, nothing has changed. 

Tonight, for example, we can count on - nobody. Tanaka has been awful. CC is hot-tubbing until late July. Severino and Montgomery are morphing back into pumpkins. Pineda is, well, Pineda. Our bullpen looks shot, with or without El Chapo, who has yet to be tested since has return. Today, the famous unnamed Yankee scouts are even questioning whether Chance Adams - our best pitching prospect, who threw six shutout innings for Scranton last night - will be doomed in the majors because he doesn't throw enough grounders. Et tu, Chance?

In May, we viewed our bullpen one of the best in baseball. Today, we are tied for 2nd in blown saves, with 13. In save percentage - that is, the likelihood of succeeding in save situations - we rank 25th... at 53.57 percent. That's right: When the 9th inning arrives, we are only slightly more likely to preserve the lead. No team wins anything meaningful with a 54 percent chance of holding saves. 

One other thing, and yes, I'm a broken record here: I never imagined the Yankees could win and yet become boring. But it's starting to happen. There's debate over whether Aaron Judge should compete in the Home Run Derby. I don't see why it would affect him: Isn't that what Yankee games have devolved into? We are tied (with Tampa) for second - behind Houston - with 115 home runs. Yet we have 120 more strikeouts than the Astros. Our poster boy is the well-mannered Chris Carter, whom I can no longer watch. When he marches to bat, I leave the room. Now and then, he runs into one. But how much longer do we watch this guy swing and miss, swing and miss, swing and miss? 

Okay, we had a bad night. Now... what? 

I say, prepare yourselves, everybody. Because we are about to learn the truth about the 2017 Yanklees, and it might not be pleasant.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Zen Fails. Is replaced by Clown College.

Misplayed ground balls.

Throws from the catcher into centerfield ( albeit, from his knees ).

A dropped ( lame ) pick-off attempt ( no damage ).

A wild pitch that looked to clear the mezzanine ( with runners advancing).

An avalanche of clutch hits by them.

Our hitters slumping to their knees to flail at third strikes, in the dirt, a yard wide of the plate.

Girardi's press conference after this one has to top them all.

I stopped watching after the national anthem ( " Trump on Parade").

Send me a message by pony express if we come back to win this one.

Where are my duck feet?

The Zen Win

Last night, a voice emerged for "calm."

To watch the game without JU-JU, false idols, or rage.

Simply take what comes and enjoy it.

Nothing else was working, so a number of us signed up.

I give you below some of my in -game texts to Duque and Mustang ;

" Thrill to the moment;  the colors, the spirit of the crowd."

"Ebbing and flowing.  Energy.  Mother earth.  Balletic movements."

" Failing with dignity.  Watching the ball. Trying not to hurt it."

" The ball in flight, arcing its way north, passes through the yellow light of early evening."

" Balance again.  Fairness."

I was totally Zen, as you can read, until Girardi brings in Tyler Clippard to close out the game in the ninth, with an 8-2 lead.

When he gave up a double and a home run, I bowed my way out of the incense ridden TV room, grabbed my 20 gauge shot-gun, went outside, and blasted two rounds into the cornfield.

Thanks, anyway, LBJ, you got me through 8 innings.

The secret key to the everlasting Yankiverse is named Austin Romine

Austin Romine grew up within the sacred orbit of the Baby Jesus. Obviously, I mean Montero - the former future Yankee superstar, to whom Romine always played homely backup singer. This was the case, even though a few Yankee scouts secretly recognized that Jeez was more comfortable with a fork and spoon than a catcher's mitt.

Drafted in the 2007 second round, Romine actually could catch. Ten years later - now nearly 29 - I can't help but think he could start for several MLB teams, yet we need him too much to let him go. 

Earlier this season, when Gary Sanchez pooched his wrist, Romine stepped up. In April, he hit .314 with 2 HRs and 10 RBIs, and I swear each one mattered. Last night, with the team facing a possible 8th straight loss, Romine delivered a critical double, driving in two runs. He went 3 for 4, lifting his average to .237. (It dropped in May, after Sanchez returned, and Romine semi-disappeared.)
Barring injuries to Sanchez, Romine will always be a Yankee backup. Thus, he gets overlooked. In many respects, he mirrors the evolution of Francisco Cervelli, a popular Pirate catcher with a .276 average over three seasons. Four years ago, we traded Cervelli for LH reliever Justin Wilson, who was later converted into Luis Cessa and Chad Green - last night's bullpen savior. It's a small world, the MLB.
I mention Romine because soon - within the next month - the Yankees must decide whether to be trade deadline buyers or flea market sellers. Should we trade for a starting pitcher or 1B... or stick with what we've got? I have argued for the latter, but let's face it: Not all youngsters succeed. One or two will become stars, one or two will be duds, and if we're lucky, we'll score a few Austin Romines.

Sherman, set the Wayback to 2012. Let's look at the Top 20 ranked Yankee prospects according to John Sickels, the self-appointed minor league guru. Five years ago, here's what Yoda Sickels had to say:
1. Gary Sanchez.  "Excellent power production in full-season ball at age 18; that is rare. His glove needs work and he needs to take his career more seriously, but he has time to outgrow emotional immaturity." Well, he got that one right, and so did we, by keeping him. MY SCORE: PLUS TWO.
2) Manny Banuelos, LHP: Now 26 in the Angels system and getting whacked (5.24 ERA) at Triple A. We traded him for Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter, (whom we traded for Tony Renda, who was then part of the deal for Aroldis Chapman. Like I say, small world, eh?) So, I'd say we won on Manny. PLUS ONE. 

3) Dellin Betances. "Ceiling is a tad higher than Banuelos, but I'm less confident that he'll reach it. Depending on what happens with his command, he could develop into anything from a number two starter to a disappointing mop-up man." Sickels got him right and wrong, eh? But we did well by keeping him. PLUS TWO.
4) Mason Williams, OF.  Stuck at Scranton. Not much hope, because of Ellsbury and Gardner. This would have been a guy to trade. MINUS ONE. 

5) Dante Bichette, Jr. 3b. Mired in Double A, not looking good. Still only 24. Long bypassed by a herd. We got nothing. MINUS ONE.
6) Juan Campos, RHP: Now Vincente Campos, 24, in the Angels system. Came to us in the Montero/Pineda deal. We traded him to Arizona for - gulp - Tyler Clippard, the current bogeyman. If we discard the last week, this was a successful conversion. PLUS ONE HALF.
7) David Phelps, RHP. Now 30, we traded him with Martin Prado for future injury Nathan Eovaldi, nothingburger Garret Jones and Domingo German - our newest bullpen flavor of the day. We did all right, I guess. PLUS ONE HALF. 
8) Ravel Santana, OF. Hurt ankle, lost speed, vanished. Nothing. MINUS ONE HALF. 

9) Tyler Austin, 3B-1B. Homered last night in Scranton. Recovering from broken foot. I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, "GET THIS GUY TO THE BRONX." PLUS ONE HALF.

10) Adam Warren, RHP. A true lug nut, who went to the Cubs (with Brendan Ryan) in the deal for Starlin Castro. A solid, positive return. PLUS ONE.

11) Austin Romine, C. "I don't like Romine as much as a lot of other people do. His bat is stagnating and his performance doesn't match his reputation behind the plate, at least in terms of throwing out runners. Still, he should have a long career and at age 23 he can improve much further." PLUS ONE.

12) J.R. Murphy, C. We traded him for Aaron Hicks. Big return. PLUS TWO.

13) Cito Culver, SS. At Scranton, poster boy for first round draft over-reach. MINUS ONE.

14) Brett Marshall, RHP. Nope. MINUS ONE HALF.
15) Slade Heathcott, OF. Another lost first round pick. Now hitting .268 with 11 HR in Triple A for the Giants. Was whispered to be head-case. I still root for him. He's 26. MINUS ONE.

16) Angelo Gumbs, 2B. Nope. Was high draft pick. MINUS ONE HALF.

17) Nik Turley, LHP.
 Finally made it, recently, with Twins. Pitched in two games, was rocked both times. MINUS ONE HALF.

18) Daniel Lopez, OF. No idea where he is. Might be drummer for Mudvane. MINUS ONE HALF.
19) David Adams, 2B: Lost two seasons to broken ankle. At one point was said to be key cog in possible trade for Cliff Lee, then went south.  MINUS ONE HALF.

20) Ramon Flores, OF. Another Angel (what's with it with all these Angels?) we traded him for Dustin Ackley. In the minors somewhere. Not looking good. MINUS ONE HALF.

Final arbitrary score: PLUS 3. Not bad. Actually, much more successful than I figured it would be.

Today, we have a stronger farm system than in 2012. We could have three or four stars. But here's the rub: Some probably will have to go. The key will be separating the John Ryan Murphys from the Austin Romines. And, of course, getting what we can for the next former future Yankee superstars.