Saturday, September 30, 2017




Suzyn as bench coach! A-B-C ball! We'll work for each run! The talented Yankee kids will play!

Mrs. Peel, we're needed!

Big win today

Real big.

Tomorrow, we glimpse the future.

Entering the playoff, Dellin Betances looks like a wipe-out

Yesterday's line score says Dellin Betances gave up a single and a walk, and then was rudely pulled by an impatient Joe Girardi, who has no respect for the artistic process. That's not what happened, though.

Betances' second pitch to slugger Richard Urena - the Toronto SS, bating ninth and hitting .215 - was so juicy that, if it sat on your couch it would have left a stain. Urena slammed a line drive over Aaron Judge's head that hit the right field wall and bounced back to Judge, who held the speedy infielder to a single. If Urena had lifted the ball slightly, for his 2nd home run of the year, it would now be somewhere over the Atlantic, drifting with Puerto Rican pelicans in the remnant winds of Hurricane Maria.

To the next batter - the immortal Teoscar Hernandez! - Betances threw a ball in the dirt that was charitably ruled a passed ball by Austin Romine. Then he walked Hernandez on a three-two count, throwing a knuckle curve that wasn't close. This roused Joe, like the groundhog in February, to skip from his bunker, hand in the air. There was no conversation.  

A four-run lead in a meaningless game, and your All-Star reliever can't last three batters. Wow.

I suppose Betances might "find himself" today and tomorrow, giving Joe a glimpse of the dominating pitcher that occasionally shows up. That would give Joe reason to pitch him in, say, the ninth inning of a Wild Card blowout. But really, folks, in the one-game season, a guy this wild, this erratic - an outing can take a hairpin turn on every pitch - is not an option. And I wonder what to do about Betances, period. 

For the season, his ERA remains an all-star stat - 2.87. Numbers-wise, he's a valid, veteran closer candidate. And before yesterday, his previous three outings went relatively fine - no runs, but he beaned a batter. The one before those three, though, was a near disaster: two walks and a hit batsman, to be saved only by Chapman, who occupies his own personal Robert Louis Stevenson- themed universe. Good grief, will we ever again this year feel confident about a lead?

This winter, Betances turns 30 and is eligible for arbitration. Frankly, I don't care how much a player makes. There's nothing less appealing to the human condition than hearing the New York Yankees' owner poor-mouth about salaries. Boo-fucking-hoo. But Betances was a cost-effective $3 million per year. That's going to explode - like that ball off Urena's bat.

Maybe Betances needs a change of cities. Or could he be converted back to the starter he once was? I dunno. I hope he stays. I prefer homegrown Yankees to the mercenaries that never quite meet expectations. I believe homegrown Yankees are forged in a fire not found in smaller markets. But right now, Betances is being consumed in that fire. If we see him in the Wild Card, it probably means the game is over. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Big win this afternoon.


But Dellin Betances is scaring me. 

As games become blowouts, the Girardi Sequence looms

Around here, we like to compare a brutal Yankee loss to a fully awake colonoscopy performed with a pineapple by an angry god on bath salts. With that in mind, the vaunted 2017 Wild Card Yankees - in handing the AL East to Boston - proved to be mad geniuses in the art of torture porn. The great Marquis de Sade himself could learn a few pointers from our late-inning Tower of Torment, Aroldis de Chapman.

Some of the most painful Yankee defeats in memory came this summer. We watched our Olympian bullpen implode. We watched scores of runners stranded on base. We suffered walk-off defeats that were choked down like plates of bad clams.

But not lately. Over the last two weeks, as the regular season has given way to  the reality of a one-game Wild Card, Yankee games have turned into easily forgotten, half-hearted blowouts and/or clunkers. We either climb atop our opponent, MMA-style, and beat his skull for nine innings, or they get us in an elbow lock, and we yell "Uncle." Nothing goes to the wire because - seriously - nobody really cares. Sure, both teams want to win, but nobody needs a broken collarbone from going Adrian Peterson into a wall. Then there are the September pitching call-ups. Kids get their first tastes of MLB bats, and hilarity ensues. Or - like Jonathan Holder last night and Chasen Shreve in every September we've seen - a guy simply runs out of diesel. Holder pitched well back in April - a million years ago - but this is the longest season in his brief life, and he looks like one of those fried Hostess Twinkies they sell at the State Fair to drunk high school football players, who are trying to impress girls.

We haven't lost a heart-breaker in weeks, and everything now simply depends on one game. Which Yankee team will show up against Minnesota Tuesday? The blowout or the clunker. 

If you believe in biorhythms, or phases of the moon, or times of the month, or simple random numbers, consider  the Girardi Sequence - the skein of Yankee outcomes in the last 30 days. Frankly, I'm not sure what it shows. The Wild Card shall be a game unlike any other - a season in a game, a play within a play, "eternity in an hour," William Blake would say. But every Yankee and Twin will be on his own male menstrual calendar, and we've all seen the Yankee team that can do nothing right: the Judge who lunges at ball four, the Betances who hits the lead-off batter on an 0-2 count. If either shows up Tuesday, we're that plate of bad clams, topped off with the Twinkie.

Since September 1, here is the Girardi Sequence, current games in red/blue - and the next three extrapolated in gray:

Loss. Win. Blowout.  BlowoutLossWin. CLUNKERWin. Blowout. Blowout.  LossWin. Blowout. Blowout. Blowout. Blowout. LossWin. Win. Blowout. CLUNKER. Blowout. Blowout. Blowout. CLUNKER. Blowout? Blowout? Blowout? WILD CARD CLUNKER? 

As you can see, the Yankees have a recurring tendency to win two or three games, and then suffer a loss. It's as if they know they're not the Cleveland Indians, who can rattle off 20 in a row - as if they realize in private moments that for every two - or maybe three - wins, a clunker is coming. 

I certainly don't profess to know what will happen Tuesday. But the Yankees ought to lose one of the three final games this weekend - preferably Saturday or Sunday. We love to watch them sweep teams, especially at home, especially teams as vile as Toronto. But we need to lose one and be fresh from a bad outing. Otherwise, we will be ripe for a clunker - the last and most gruesome pineapple of 2017.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Does anybody really want an AL East playoff game?

To me, Bud Selig's rejiggered post-season format always resembled a bad hairpiece. After the one-game, nine-inning-season Wild Card, the craziest parts were the tie-breakers. It's bad enough to send a 162-game season into a nine-inning crap shoot, but let's remember that the Wild Card was supposed to hurt the chances of also-rans and boost divisional races. Yet if two teams end up tied for the AL East, they must then play a one-game divisional title playoff, with the loser heading to the Wild Card. And if two teams are tied for that last Wild Card slot, they must play a one-game pre-wild card Wild Card. If three or four-teams are tied for that last spot - (mark my words: live long enough, and we will see it) - baseball could end up with a ridiculous round-robin of one-game playoffs just to see who gets into the one-game playoff. And what if the winner is also tied for the division? Does anybody have a chalkboard? 

Today, we sit three back of the Fenway Fratboys with four games to play. Clearly, we're headed to the Wild Card. But in a strange way, the worst thing that could happen would be if Boston messes up, forcing us to play them in a one-game AL East pre-Wild Card Playoff... to then decide who must play in the one-game AL Wild Card. Even Joe Girardi's binders don't like the idea. Last night, he told the Gray Lady:

“If you do play in that game, you’re somewhat at a disadvantage in the wild-card game if you lose that game, because you might have to use your relievers and have to rely on them heavily and they may not be as effective the next day.”

Good thinking, Joe. The fact is, the Yankees beat Boston during the regular season. If the two teams were to end up tied, New York should have the advantage. (If Boston won the season, it would be theirs.) This is fair. Everyone would know this, and when we played Boston several weeks ago, the seasonal rivalry would have been another thing on the line. To hold yet another round of one-game playoffs - especially those that effectively punish both teams - only appeals to one group: The owners who sell TV rights.

Listen: We've entered the Twilight Zone. Hugh Hefner is dead, Anthony Weiner is going to jail, Bob Dylan is the reigning Nobel Laureate in literature, Kim Kardashian is the new face of motherhood, the world's newest Bond villain is known as "Little Rocket Man," and suddenly Puerto Rico is in the middle of a vast ocean. And we're supposed to care about chasing down Boston for a one-game divisional playoff... to then see who must play in the one-game wild card? Sorry, Charlie, Starkist only takes the best tuna.  

Yeah, it's fun to imagine Boston collapsing into the sea, but let's not waste our juju ejaculations. We are about to hit the one-game year with only two regulars - Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holliday - battle-tested from past post-seasons. (Okay, CC and El Chapo maybe, but if CC pitches, we're in big trouble, and all bets are off on Chapman.) Our "grizzled vets" - Chase Headley, Starlin Castro, Brett Gardner - have for the most part played entire careers on shit teams. You can argue that Minnesota is a cast of newborn babes, but here's where everything gets scary: Their one playoff-tested mercenary is named Ervin Santana. The more I look at Tuesday, the more I shudder to think of the catcalls we could be hearing Wednesday morning from Redsock fans. And we won't even have Hef to commiserate with.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In a nine-inning season, Yankee depth does no good

The good news last night was that Aaron Hicks is back, and even if he didn't get any hits, the guy still can draw walks - and he can leap like Lebron. The bad news? Well, Hicks is back, which leaves Jacoby Ellsbury - our autumn child - in a semi-limbo of the lost. In the nine-inning season, somebody must sit...

The good news last night was that Ronald Torreyes still does everything the Yankees ask. He's been a godsend, best Gotham utility lug nut since Cody Bellinger's old man. Bad news? Well, in the nine-inning season... insert sigh here... he's not a factor unless somebody goes down. 

The good news last night was that Joe has jimmied the rotation so our ace, Luis Severino, will pitch Tuesday. (Seriously, it must be Sevy.) Bad news? Well, the Twins - who last night did something we couldn't; they beat Cleveland - have tweaked their bowel movements so career-Yankee killer Ervin Santana will start the Wild Card. If we had one huge advantage over Minnesota, it was our rotation depth. The Twins have no one like Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. Trouble is, in the nine-inning season, they don't need them...

Yeah, one game. Santana is a righty, which means Joe could use Hicks or the Chief in center - the other as DH. He could play Chase Headley at third and use Greg Bird at first. He can use the hefty lefty lineup - Judge, Sanchez and Castro being exceptions - with Matt Holliday waiting if the Twins bring a southpaw. Why speculate? Joe's binders will decide. It's the nine-inning season...

In a perfect Yankiverse, we'd be pondering the six-inning affair - the fantasy world where we take the lead and shut the door with three continuous, all-star closers. That idea drifted out into the Atlantic two months ago. Dellin "Bean'em" Betances and Aroldis Chapman have become terrifying roller coaster rides - especially Dellin - and lately, David Robertson looks tired. Nobody inspires us like Chad Green, who simply isn't paid enough to close the nine-inning season. So he won't. 

Nine innings. Can Sanchez block bouncers in the dirt? Can anybody bunt? Can we manufacture a run, rather than wait for homers? Can the right Judge show up? Can we get to their bullpen? Nine innings. It will start around 8:17 p.m. and be over by midnight. And all that's come thus far - none of it will matter. It's the nine-inning season, folks. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Next year, and then the year after... watch out

Friends, Romans, Yankeefans, lend me your ears;
I come to praise Cashman, not to bury him;
The trades that men make live after them,
The wild card is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Cashman… 

Okay, big announcement here: I, el Duque, solemnly swear that - regardless of what happens next Tuesday - there shall be no further complaints whatsoever about Cashman's deadline deals - not a whimper, not a whisper, not a whelp, not a whinny! Radio silence. I shan't lash out or belch bile. I'll be proper and respectful. I'll kneel and pledge fealty. 

Oh... okay, if we lose, perhaps I'll mention the trades now and then, in passing. Casual references. And if Blake Rutherford wins the MVP someday, maybe I'll feel compelled to note that he brought us a .205 hitter who peaked in the Toms River Little League. Okay, if we lose Tuesday, I might say something - you know, a gentle, good-faith ribbing between us sunlit fans.  

But today, nothing. Unlike the Gotham Gammonites and paid YES cheerleaders, who seem determined to jinx this team, I'm staying hushed. Still, if I read another story about how the Yankees could "surprise" everyone in the post-season - (people, it's not a "surprise" if you're predicting it) - I'll personally pie Rupert Murdoch the next time he emerges from his underground crypt. These writers keep suggesting there is reason and justice - something beyond happenstance - in the nine-inning season that is about to take place. The truth is, we could play the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in a one game wild card and piss it away in the eighth with our two "closers" on the mound. But no matter what happens, we must remember this: A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is still a sigh, the fundamental things apply, as time goes by.

And here is a fundamental thing: It's been a good year. If any of us were offered a home field wild card and potential rookie-MVP, we'd have signed up without a hitch. And regardless of what happens next Tuesday, we are looking at a young team that is capable of winning multiple pennants, if not a handful of rings. 

We saw it yesterday in HRs by Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird, the threesome whose arrival this year was dented by injuries (Sanchez), nagging malignancies (Bird) and a tropical depression (Judge.) The Yankees possess three of the game's most promising sluggers - three, four and five in our batting order - through the next decade. (Note: If Bird's numbers over the last 30 days were projected over a season, he'd have 35 HRs and 105 RBIs.) Up the middle, we have Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro (who could even be traded) - and Aaron Hicks. Then come the intangibles: Clint Frazier, Glyber Torres (top prospect in baseball, according to one ranking), Miguel Andujar, Billy McKinney, and the Tylers - Austin and Wade - a group from which at least one solid regular should ascend. Two years from now... Hicks, Didi and Castro are 29; Judge is 27, Sanchez and Bird are 26, and Luis Severino? well, he's turning 25. Tell me this team doesn't win something. (And in case you were wondering: Two years from now, Manny Machado, is 27, and Bryce Harper, 26.)

I don't know WTF will happen Tuesday. But 2017 was a good year. We were never supposed to get this far. We are playing with house money, and the only "surprise" is that 2018 arrived early. Don't let the homer courtiers convince you that the Yankees are some secret team, a "wild card," so to speak. Let's enjoy this ride, even if it only lasts nine-innings. But next year, and the year after that, we should not have to play a one-game season. This is our last wild card, dammit, for a long, long time.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Poetry Fever: The Limerick edition

From Doug K.

There once was a man named Girardi
Whose binders decide who will starty.
Doesn’t matter who’s hot
Or what number’s their spot
If in Vaudeville, “Start Laurel. Sit Hardy.”

John Sterling has signature calls
When someone goes over the wall
They’re clever and fun
But I’m waiting for one
That’s sponsored by a local mall.

A. Judge and Sanchez and Bird
Hit HRs at a pace that’s absurd
They reach the top deck
Till the balls just a speck
And the carom can scarcely be heard.

El Chapo can hit one-oh-two
And there’s not much a batter can do
Still it’s over the plate
And the ball comes in straight
So, it goes out at 122.

So the Bombers can print playoff tix.
Cause we’re well on the way to be fixed.
Yet it’s Cashman we’ll blame
If we lose the one game.
I’m not ready to root for the Knicks.

When Aaron Judge gets hot

Thar's many a way to judge the Yanks
To love them or to not,

But trust me, boy, thar's hell to pay
When Aaron Judge gets hot.

It might not happen in July,
And August oft brings rot,
But son, you'll kiss ten balls goodbye
When Aaron Judge gets hot.

We cannot know the final frame,
Uncertainty? A lot!

But bet the Yankees in the game
When Aaron Judge gets hot.

It looks like we'll face a well-rested Minnesota

Okay, let's just say it: Screw the AL East. Boston won. We won't overtake them. From now on - as it's been for the last month - everything hinges on what happens a week from tomorrow, Oct. 3. 

The heat wave will have ended. That night, it will be cool and clear - the low near 48, says AccuWeather. We will almost certainly play the Twinkies, a team we recently routed in a three-game sweep. See in that whatever you wish. It doesn't matter. If we win - and thus make the post-season - Brian Cashman's deadline team face-lift worked. If we lose, it didn't - though if any of Kaprielian, Rutherford, Fowler, Littell or Mateo develop into a great star - well - we'll have plenty of rage time to revisit that assessment.

So here's a moment: I stand here today with nothing to say - no seethe in my cabbage basket, no sputter in my bile. What difference does it make, even to one who believes in juju, as I do. Our whole season is about to come down to one fucking single four-hour event. Every pitch, every batted ball, every ump's call, will be magnified by 162. The year could hinge on a nubber towards third, or a pitch that grazes the plate but gets called outside. Apparently, Luis Severino will start for us. It looks as though the Twins will not have to stave off Los Angeles - the Angels conveniently collapsed on their own - and thus can bring out past Yankee-killer Ervin Santana. Which pitcher will gain from having recently seen the other team? I have no clue. 

Of course, baseball often comes down to the one-night climax. It's called Game Seven of the World Series, an event that, by then, has been already defined by unforgettable heroes and goats. The Wild Card is different. The Wild Card is the battle of also-rans, a speed-dating session with destiny. Last time we played in one, Dallas Keuchel pitched 6 innings of 3-hit ball, and Chris Carter - you remember Chris? - walked three times for Houston. Masahiro Tanaka gave up a run early, and the game was over, just like that. (Writer snaps fingers, spits on floor, shakes head wearily.) One night. Gone.

Which Aaron Judge will show up? Which Chapman? Which bullpen? Which set of juju gods? The ones who guided Rafael Devers' bat to smash a two-strike El Chapo fastball into the left-field bullpen? Or the ones who fanned Hanley Ramirez with the winning runs on base? Which Yankee team will we see? The ones who swept the Twins, or the ones who were run out of their home park by Cleveland? They say hurricanes are unpredictable, but I'd say we've gotten quite good at projecting where the sledge hammer of nature will fall. But The Master is right: You cannot predict baseball, Suzyn. And with the nine-inning eight days away, there is nothing to be said, and I am helpless to say it. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Deciphering the Girardi Sequence

This we know: The past is prelude. Stocks rise, then collapse. Taylor Swift falls in love, then blows up. You take a good dump, and a day later, your constipated again. This time of year, it may be sunny and pleasant, but out there in the Atlantic, a tropical depression is eating steroids. 

Over the last month, the Yankees have regularly interspersed short winning streaks with a loss - and sometimes a full-scale, Grade F, pungently ripened clunker. You know a Yankee clunker: Our opponent takes an early lead. We load the bases several times without scoring. Our bullpen implodes. We go three innings without a hit. They shut the door. In the ninth, we bring the tying run to the plate. He strikes out. Clunkerola. 

So the question is, based on what has happened thus far, what will the One Game Season - aka the Wild Card - serve up?

Since September 1, here is the Girardi Sequence:

Loss. Win. Blowout.  BlowoutLoss. Win. CLUNKER. Win. Blowout. Blowout.  Loss. Win. Blowout. Blowout. Blowout. Blowout. Loss. Win. Win. Blowout. Loss. Win...

Under the sequence, here is how the rest of the season, beginning today in Toronto, will unfold.

Blowout. Blowout. 
Loss. Win. Blowout. CLUNKER. Win. Blowout. 

Wild Card game... Blowout! 

Yes, as you see, we currently hold a proper trajectory entering the Nine Inning Season. But here's the rub: A loss today or tomorrow would dramatically alter the sequence, perhaps sending us into the "Selig Series" at the tail end of a mini-streak - ripe for a loss. 

The real key will be losing a clunker - I mean, an all-out shit show - to Toronto on the final weekend. We need to get the clunker out of our system. And regardless of how good it feels, we must NOT go into the Wild Card on a little mini-winning streak. We need to win the final game, but not the final three.

Next up: How long will the GOP go before the next try at health care?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This is now a Bruce Maxwell fan blog

San Francisco Chronicle story

Last night's game reminds us of the randomized danger and chaos of the Wild Card

Entering last night, I felt total, Schwarzenegger-level confidence in our 2017 wild card-bound juggernaut. Sure, we knew the Blue Jays would play hard; that's because they're poor sports. But Hurricane Jose Bautista is 35, going on Betty White, their sickly lineup has too many Goins on not enough Gomes, and - hell - those health care-crazy Canadians are already tailgating for the hockey season. We were on a Calgary stampede, roaring to the finish line, ready to clinch the prestigious, limited edition, wild card home field advantage crown of bronze.

Then comes a well-delivered pineapple, a colonoscopic reminder of all the shit that can roll our way in one single, measly, stupid game.

After six months of daily grind, the notion that your team's fate shall boil down to one rotten, stinking game - one dice roll, one stiff breeze, one cutting of the cards - shrinks my gonads to the size of a Doanes pill. If our pitcher gets cramps while theirs eats his "Wheaties"... if the home plate umpire stretches our strike zones and squeezes theirs to the size of Hitler's heart... if our home run misses the foul pole and theirs grazes the paint... so many variables. What if in the third inning, young Byron Buxton's testicles finally drop, turning him into a Reggie? Jeez... one game.   

Now, I can imagine one game deciding a football or basketball season, because over 60 punishing minutes, the raw, brute force of hunger will usually prevail. But there is a reason why the lords of baseball went nearly 100 years requiring five or seven game series to decide a championship - why they scorned the one-game, winner-take-all. And last night, we received yet another glimpse of how fast things can go south in a nine-inning season.

Of course, we won't let Masahiro Tanaka near our wild card game. I'm not even sure he should see the playoffs, period. He is 12-12. His ERA is 4.94. If he pitched on the West Coast, home run balls would fly so far into the Pacific that we'd think Kim Jong Un was testing rockets. But it's not just Tanaka. What about Dellin Betances? If he cannot throw strikes, a three-run lead is a joke. And what if our defense decides to, as it does some nights, hold soccer practice on a few ground balls, or if our big hitters get flashbacks to the home run derby?

For years, I have argued that baseball should return to the 154-game schedule - giving pitchers more rest and resetting HR records back to the Ruth era. It would allow the wild carders to play a best-of-three series over the final weekend. That, or eliminate the final wild card slot. But hell... neither will happen. There's money involved.

So get ready, folks. One game. And last night, we saw just how bad one game can be. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Let's go there: The Yankees are one Trump tweet away from disharmony and distraction

This we know: Trump roots for the Yankees. We've seen him in the box seats, sipping Viagra-laced Ensure shakes with Bill O'Reilly. We've seen him in Ohio, waving perogies in front of Paul O'Neill. When Trump retires each night, Randy Levine brings him his slippers, tail wagging with delight. Trump loves Johnny Damon. Trump likes Hank Steinbrenner. The only Yank to draw Trump's ire was A-Rod, who the team pretends doesn't exist. And one of these days - possibly next week - Trump is going to tweet the Yankees into a Colin Kaepernick debate.

It'll will happen one morning, while Trump is Gorilla Gluing his headpiece into place. Fox & Friends will air some Joe Buck-infected playoffs-hyping segment, sending Trump to his tweeter, (the one without Spellcheck.) Maybe he'll retweet an altered GIF of Dellin Betances beaning Hillary Clinton. Maybe he'll pose over a plate of Chinese egg noodles to honor Masahiro Tanaka. Whatever he does, it will hit the next news cycle like a Caitlyn Jenner sex tape, and here's the rub: The Yanks will gain nothing. 

Immediately, millions of Yankee haters will find new reason to spew their home-brewed bile - and dangerous juju - against us. But among the tobacco-chewing 4 in 10 who live with Trump bumper-stickers attached to their foreheads, nobody - not one - will renounce his Yankee hatred. It just doesn't work that way. 

Yankee haters despise the Yankees with the heat of a billion suns. A positive Trump tweet will be a mosquito bite upon their infinite rage and fury, and yet it will thrust their freshly poisoned stickpins into our juju doll genitalia. Moreover, if Trump turns up in a luxury box with Rudy and Rupert, or Hannity and Colmes (R.I.P.) - hell, even if it's with Chuck and Lurch de Blasiio - he will create a cat-5 diversion beyond anything Joe Girardi has ever quelled by taking Meredith Marakovitz to a pizza parlor. 

Immediately, reporters will ask each Yankee his opinion on Trump. Some will Jeter it, saying nothing and looking completely ball-less. Some will bite. Either way, it's a lose-lose. We'd be better off if Kim Jung Un tweeted us; we'd condemn it and be done. This is a tear in the Yankiverse waiting to happen.

I know what you're thinking: Trump hasn't tweeted on us thus far, so why worry? Listen: Summer is over, and winter is coming to Winterfell. If the Yankees reach the actual playoffs - beyond the Wild Card - the long slumbering pro- and anti-Yankee forces will mobilize nationwide, like an army of the White Walkers. Most fans will fall in behind long-suffering Cleveland and flood-stricken Houston, the game's clear powerhouses. But Trump will not be "presidential" and wish good luck to all. He'll throw in with Hal and Randy, Hank and Lonn, and leave the rest of us sitting in that coal mine next to the dead canary. 

We don't need distractions. But a big one, an unforgiving one, could be just around the corner. Sad.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yankees Honor the Holidays

Sandy Koufax sent me this card today, and I was reminded that there was no game.

The Yankees kids are all home from school today ( maybe ), so they are cooking a meal together, for families and friends.

Brisket is at the top of the list.  Followed by noodle pudding ( Lokshen Kugel) , challah bread and plenty of wine from the Napa valley 9 in my case).

Tyler Wade needs a rest, anyway.

Enjoy the day.

What will it take to install safety netting? Now we know.

The answer was always there: 

It would take a little girl getting hit in the face by a 100-mph line drive and being carried from the stadium by a terrified grandfather. 

It would take two teams of grown men kneeling to cry into their hands, as paramedics swabbed blood from the seats.

It would take public anger.

Or... will it take something worse? 

Swept away, the miracle Twins lost no ground

Imagine how we'd be howling today if the Evil Empire just capped a critical, late-season, three-game sweep with a blowout loss? 

Right now, I'd be driving the sound truck through Joe Girardi's Westchester neighborhood, demanding he be deported to Chicago. Alphonso would be handing out Tiki torches. The Yankiverse would be mobilizing into a finely tuned strike force, and Hal Steinbrenner would be in hiding. 

But if we'd blown all three to the Twinkies, we'd still be a game up on them with less than 10 left. And that's where Minnesota stands this morning - one up on the wingless Angels, who lost to Cleveland, 6-5.

Here's a fact: A huge chasm exists between the AL's fourth and fifth best teams. It's possible the final Wild Card slot could go to a .500 team... though it won't help us in the one-game season.

It's coming down to who do we want to face, Ervin Santana or Garrett Richards?

Against us this week, Santana went 5.2 with 7 hits and gave up 2 earned runs. It was by far the best Twins pitching performance in NY.

Richards returned from injury on September 5 and has started three games for the Angels. He has pitched 13.5 innings and given up 4 runs, an ERA of 2.00. In his last two outings, he went 5 innings each time, pulled for pitch counts. He's a veteran.

Treading water now... waiting to see who steps up... no outfield collisions... no foul tips off the ankle... waiting...

If it's bad, they're always "former Yankees"

Raul Mondesi is a former Yankee in the way that Paul McCartney is a former member of the Fireman. 

Behold, the "former Yankee's" career.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ten reasons why we don't want to face Minnesota in the Wild Card

1. You can't beat the same team every single time.

2. They smacked around Luis Severino today.

3. Next time, their rookies won't be awestruck by our hookers.

4. The winner must play Cleveland. (And remember what happens in Cleveland.)

5. Nobody expected them to be here; they have nothing to lose.

6. We still haven't figured out Ervin Santana.

7. Fearsome lineup with Allison, Oliva, Hrbek and Killebrew.

8. Loni Anderson is from Minnesota. (It's true!)

9. Do we really want to oppose Al Franken?

10. It's not like the Angels are any good.

Could lowly Texas still sneak in? The schedule gods could have a say

Many fans have come to believe the one-game, winner-take-all, Bud Selig-crafted Wild Card breathes life into the regular season. 

These people are fools.

I do get their argument: The Wild Card adds intrigue to September, almost guaranteeing a "race" to the end. And it provides a clear incentive to win your division, as opposed to settling for second place. Today, for example, without that final, away-field slot, the Yankees and Diamondbacks would sit securely as wild carders, and baseball would have no close race, whatsoever. 

In a nutshell, here is why I hate the rule, and why you should, too. 

If humanity lasts long enough, the Wild Card ensures that someday a sub-.500 team will win the World Series. 

Think it won't happen? I bet you didn't think Trump would happen. We've seen everything, but our World Champs always won more than they lost. Live long enough, folks, and it will happen. Pink Lady and Jeff happened. Vanilla Ice happened. This is nothing compared to them.

Statistically, the worst team to ever win a World Series is believed to be the 2006 Cardinals, who finished five games above .500 in the regular season. They were not a Wild Card team. They won the sickly NL Central, which is what makes wild cards even more terrifying.

To win a division, you simply must beat three worse teams. Add the two wild card slots, and - jeez, Louise - anything is possible. But the loser-champ probably won't come this year, at least not in the NL, where Milwaukee - 11 above .500 - is still a game behind the final slot. In the AL, well... it could.

Here are schedules of the three last AL wild card contenders. (Yes, I add Texas to this generously.)

Twins (5 games above .500): Yankees (1), Tigers away (3), Indians away (3), Tigers home (3).

Six patsy games v Detroit, and by late next week, Cleveland will be phoning them in. Likely record: 7-3 (assuming we beat their sorry asses tonight.)

Angels (2 above): Indians home (2), Astros away (3), White Sox away (4), Mariners home (3)

Gist: Seven pasties, five against contenders, too soon for phone-ins. Likely record: 6-4. They face Cleveland and Houston - tough. 

Rangers (2 below): Mariners away (2), A's away (3), Astros home (3), A's home (3).

Gist: Eight patsies, plus three last week phone-ins. Holy crap. They could go on a 9-2 run and push Minnesota down to the wire! 

Of course, any rotten team can play spoiler. Who knows what the Tigers and A's can do, especially with kids up from East Podunk. But if I could choose, I'd take the Rangers' greased schedule. 

As for us and them?

Redsocks: Orioles away (1), Reds away (3), Blue Jays home (3), Astros home (3.) 

Gist: Seven pasties, plus an intriguing three-game playoff prequel v Houston. If I were a Boston fan, I would hate that final weekend. You don't want the Astros coming in and leaving its scent on your dugouts. Still, watching Baltimore fold this week took the starch out of us. Two weeks ago, Buck mangled Boston, and I started feeling sorry for him. Now, this? He needs to win tonight, or he's back on my shit list.  

Yanks: Twins (1), Blue Jays away (3), Royals home (1), Rays home (3), Blue Jays home (3).

Gist: After the Twins... NBP - Nothing But Patsies! Unfortunately, the Rays and Jays are spiteful emissaries of hate, capable of launching bean ball wars. They will play us to the bitter end, maybe even ignite a brawl, if Dellin happens to accidentally behead someone. 

It sure would be nice to pressure Boston to that wipe-out weekend, forcing them to sweat. And if Buck coaxes a win tonight, they go to uncharted Cincy with Dustin Pedroia and his new nose job. But let's not kid ourselves: It's all about the one game wild card. Frankly, it always was.

And that's another reason to hate it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wild Card Magic Number

The Future We Hung Onto.......

The Yankees have traded a lot of prospects recently, including Seattle's top-hitting outfielder.

But we have kept two gems who are battling for ROTY.

As of this morning:

- Tyler wade has a higher batting average than Greg Bird.  

-  I am talking .148 to .147.

True, Tyler doesn't have the power.

Where does Cashman find these guys?

We may not catch Boston this season, but the future is ours.

The Yankees are keeping the hidden gems.

Mm-mm, a nice, mouth-watering plate of poached crow

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Wild Card preview: Victory

Five game lead for the Wild Card.

A long overdue, new avatar

From Doug K.

The worst trade of 2017 might be for Jaime Garcia

Tonight - as if to prove the Fates savor the sweet and spice taste of Yankee humiliation - Joe Girardi's binder will trot out Jaime Garcia to face his (brief) former employer, the Minnesota Twins. He will pitch against our likely 2017 One Game Wild Card opponent, Ervin Santana. Tonight's game won't matter much. We have a four game lead over Minnesota with 13 left. They can fluster us, embarrass us and maybe even spook us... but they won't overtake us.

Still, no matter what happens tonight, Twins fans can summon up a shit-eater grin on the subject of Jaime Garcia. 

In late July, as Oakland sought to squeeze us for Sonny Gray, we finagled Garcia from the Twins for minor league pitchers Dietrich Enns and Zach Littell. Garcia was supposed to give us a fallback, in case the A's kept Sonny (which, in retrospect, they were never going to do.) Basically, we obtained Garcia and then learned we didn't really need him, forcing the YES Pravda apparatus to push him especially hard. 

Since arriving, Garcia has - how do I put this? - well, he's stunk. In six starts, he is 0-2 with a 4.60 ERA. He was supposed to keep us from pissing away the farm for Sonny. As it turned out, we may have pissed away the system for him.

This year, Enns - recovering from a spring training injury -  pitched twice for Minnesota. In his first outing, Aug. 10, he went 5 innings and gave up one run. That equals Garcia's best start as a Yankee. In his second game, in relief, Enns gave up two runs in an inning. He's 26 and marginal, sort of an Aaron Small type, not a future power arm. He's probably - well - a Jaime Garcia type.

It's Littell about which we should be concerned. He has been - in a word - fuckingunbelievable. His record this season at Single and Double A: 19-1. Yep, nineteen and one. His ERA: 2.12. His age: 21. He could start next season at Triple A and be with the Twins by next June... at 22.

And we traded him for - gulp - Jaime Garcia, at whom the Twins took one fast look and punted - not only on him, but seemingly on the season. Moreover, by trading Garcia, they ended up keeping the guy they were dangling - Santana - (who, by the way, already has a rich history of killing us in the post-season.) So tonight, we'll see Santana, their ace, our likely Wild Card opponent, and they'll see the guy they converted into two nice young pitchers.

By the way, I don't mean to hurl bile at Cashman here. Two years ago, he traded Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two nice young pitchers, Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Tonight, when Garcia comes out in the fourth, ask yourself: Where would we be without Chad Green? I guess one moral of the story is simple: When you get a chance to trade for nice young pitchers, you should do it, regardless of current the Wild Card standings.

OK, I admit it: I am a "prospect hugger," a term derisively applied to any idiotic fan who wastes his time studying the farm system. It is right to ridicule us for thinking we know a goddamn thing, basing our "expertise" on minor league stats, or box scores, or an occasional game watched on MILB. I get it. We're dolts - certainly not pro scouts, and even the scouts don't always get it right. Being a "prospect hugger" is a sad satire of a knowledgeable fan.

But, dammit!... I do know this: For every three or four legitimate prospects you have, one might make it. The key is not to have one super-duper prospect some Glyber, in your system and think you can deal off all the rest. That only works for selling tickets. The key is to have a wave of youngsters, so that when one gets hurt or simply sucks, somebody else steps up. 

In August, the Yankees traded away eight top prospects for what will turn out to be the 2017 One Game Wild Card. Four were among our top 10 ranked. I shudder to think of the long term ramifications. And Littell - who was not in that elite foursome - might haunt us for a long, long time. 

And for him, we got Jaime Garcia.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

International Fame....Finally

Check this out, boys ( and cowgirls ):

Alphonso mangoes grow in India.  The world's largest democracy.

When they are ripe, like yours truly, they are so saturated with juice and perfume that people want to stand very close to them.  Not simply consume them.

Their skin color is like leaf-filtered sunlight and they have impossibly sweet, creamy flesh.

But they are not in season for long, a few months ( baseball season?), which means most of the time they are not around at all.

They must love these in Holland, as they are naturally the color of the Netherlands national "futbol" team.

Many of you have built fame and fortune on your own talents.  I'll take whatever I can get.

International acclaim from a special fruit.

- Guest 3479.

Game #149: Sonny one so true


We face Minnesota this week; should we actually want to knock them out?

In this millennium, few things have produced more enjoyable autumnal memories than our good friends, the Twinkies of Minnesota. Basically, they've served us cakewalk after cakewalk: 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010 in Octobers past - each series a stress-free whupping of those congenital patsies from the state that brought us the deceased celebrity formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince. Here's to 'Sota! The state fish is Walleye. The state drink is milk. The state bird: The Common Loon. I fucking love these people. (Please, stay off the bridges.) 

If there were such a thing as my fave rival - you know, in the way that Catwoman loosens a notch on Batman's utility belt - I hereby nominate our cousins from the land of 1,000 lakes: In the name of Bob Dylan and John Ryan Murphy, may they always play against us!

... And then there are those mean-spirited, celebrity-grubbing Hollywood back-stabbers, the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, California. The Golden State Warriors of baseball. I am gritting my teeth now, just pondering their greasy, stomach-turning existence. If Darren Aronofsky directed a baseball version of Human Centipede, it would be the Angels. Twice, they knocked us out of playoff competition, including the single-after-single, small blade wounds decimation of the 2002 post-season, which effectively ended Joe Torre's run of great teams and still leaves me fighting PTSD deliriums when I think of Scott Fucking Spezio.

I don't like the Angels. 

I don't trust the Angels. 

I never will. If the Big One hits California, I will mourn the catastrophe like every other American, but one side of me, deep down inside, will be saying, "Serves you right, la-la dandies." 

Clearly, the conventional wisdom says we should fear the Twinkies. In the last month, they have gone 18-12 - (Angels, 16-14) - with a lineup of emerging stars, most notably Byron Buxton. This week, if we can win - say - a mere three out of three against Minnesota, the Twins could slide into a tie, or even fall below Anaheim in the final wild card slot. That would force the two teams to wrestle down to the wire, perhaps burning their best pitchers on the final weekend. Not a bad plan.


Every October, one team stands out as the most fearsome opponent in the lot: The team that is hot.

We have 16 games left. Forget Boston. If they go 9-7, we'd need to win 12 of 16 just to force a divisional tie. We want to keep a steady, unrelenting pressure on the Redsocks and our potential first round foes. And certainly, we need to play Minnesota as if it's the first round of the playoffs. 

But be careful what we wish for. We might get the Angels, a team that never thought it could win, until now. I don't trust them. I never will.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Game #148: Cross the Jordan

I'm going to keep posting these chat windows for as long as the Yankees keep winning, whether you chat or not. 

If you weren't here last night--and, by God, you weren't, in droves--you missed a weird one. At various times one of us would be alone in the chat room; for me it was like waking up chained to the pipe in Saw. The best moment came when the discussion turned to The Dick Van Dyke Show, and the chat censorship filter rendered it as The **** Van **** Show. I turned the filter off, so swear away!

Not a slap on the wrist... more a kiss?

For bold-faced cheating, Redsocks placed on double-secret probation, forced to stay late and clap erasers, say ten "Hail Marys," then go to bed, without dessert. 

For Buck Showalter, the end of times may be near

Three in a row, baby, three! - and we're now the hottest team among playoff contenders - woo-woo, Cleeeeeveland. Plus, the last two wins may have permanently sketched the Buck Showalter dugout death scowl into concrete. This could be how we remember the guy, with the pineapple colonoscopy rising up his bungster. When we see Buck staring into the 2017 Orioles abyss - (and maybe his future, because in eight years now, he hasn't won squat) - what can he be thinking? 

My guess: Buck last night was pondering London's fearsome giant "fatberg" - a blob of disposable diapers, grease and turd - currently clogging the sewers and terrifying more Brits than ISIS will do with a thousand dumpster bombs. In Buck's mind, he was inside a hermetically sealed space suit and blasting the thing with laser jets of hot water. That's what caused the twitches. He was shooting the fatberg. Or maybe thinking about growing tomatoes, like Earl Weaver did.

He's managed 19 years now, and he's approaching Gene Mauch status for failure. No world championship, no World Series appearance, nothing. His career post-season record: 9-14. In his eight years with the O's... one division title (2014) which quickly went nowhere, and nothing since. And not this year, either.

I've had a love-hate thing with Showalter for many years. I remember him pulling his starters in a final regular season game, allowing the Angels to win and take home field advantage over the Yankees. I felt he was settling scores, because of his firing. But in recent years, he seems to have softened on the Yankees. There have been stories about acts of respect, courtesies toward the franchise. If he were to leave - well - beating Baltimore wouldn't be the same.

I wonder if there could be a final act with the Yankees? Could he come home, to where he started? Listen: Buck is just 61. (Joe Torre came to the Yankees at age 55; Joe Girardi is now 52.) Nobody has ever faulted his knowledge of baseball. Twice - with the Yankees and the Diamondbacks - he helped build World Series champions, but was fired the year before those teams won. My guess is that he would make a great general manager or - at least - an adviser to Cashman (if that's the only way Hal would bring him on.) 

But take his picture, folks. Eight years without a world series game - that's a long time in the AL East. And it might be coming to an end.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Game #147 Chat: He ain't Sevvy, he's my brother

The Yankees are 1.000 in games where we live-chat.

Ooooh...he makes me so MAD!!!

So Garcia is pissed about being lifted before getting the win and Betances is pissed about getting yanked in favor of Chapman. And Girardi says he's not about making players happy, he's out to win because it's not April or May or June or July, and he's glad to have pitchers pissed at him because that means they believe in their stuff.

What to make of this massive pile of bullshit?

In the first place, if Girardi had a few more brains he'd realize that those games in April or May or June or July count just as much as these do. And if he hadn't fucked up so many pitching situations in those months, we'd be cruising to the division title.

In the second place, the idea of Girardi being a big meanie and fine with it goes against numerous bad decisions he's made in order to protect his players' fragile psyches (hi, Arnoldis, how are ya?).

And in the third place, the reason he went to Green instead of letting Garcia get the potential win is because of the match up with the next batter. Binder Boy strikes again.

And in the fourth place, the reason he went to Chapman and took out Betances wasn't the "gut feeling" he claims to have gone with. It was crap statistics of such a small sample size they are absolutely meaningless. Souza, the next batter, was 3 for 9 against Dellin this year, but...wait for it...Souza was 0 for 3 against Chapman.

Really? That's pretty thin gruel (which is all Girardi obviously eats, which is why the skin on his head is pulled so incredibly fucking tight).

The stupid, it burns. How in the world can we get rid of this guy? Calgon bath oil beads are just not working anymore.