Saturday, August 4, 2018

Reasons to Be Cheerful

As some of you may have gleaned, I'm not really a "glass half-full" kind of guy.

It runs in the family.

On Armistice Day, when everyone was throwing confetti and drinking moonshine whiskey from a boot, my great-grandfather said, "Ah, we're just going to have to go back to Europe and fight the whole war all over again."

When TV came in, my grandmother said, "Ah, another 60 years or so and the kids'll just be projecting movies on their walls again, mark my words."

When they started the internet, my father told me, "Ah, it'll just become an excuse for lazy no-accounts to get drunk and blubber about their favorite baseball team."

You see what I'm getting at here.  The thing is, it's generally pretty easy to be right by being as pessimistic as possible in this vale of tears.  That's why I was so angry at myself, in an uncharacteristic fit of optimism, to have looked at this stacked Yankees team and its eager new manager in the spring and said, "They're gonna win 112 games!"

"Stuggotz!" my sister said, slapping my head and throwing me out of the house when my family disowned me.  "What, you think Cashman suddenly grew brains?  You think he went anywhere?"

What was I thinking?

BUT, in another, uncharacteristic bout of runaway optimism, I will say this about the game today:  there were signs of life.  Reasons, maybe, even to have hope.  Which is like wishing for reasons to have plague.

But I'm bringing in the shade of Rod Serling now, to submit the following for your approval:

—Under the most trying conditions possible, Chance Adams did not suck. In fact, he was actually quite respectable.

Sure, part of his performance only makes you wonder why he didn't get a shot last season, when Coops was throwing prospects at GMs right and left for the likes of Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia. And it makes you wonder about our entire, nimrod front office's ability to judge talent.

But...maybe we actually have another young pitcher. Fingers crossed.

—The bullpen looked solid.  First clean outing for Chad Green in a long time. Another decent outing for A.J. Cole, who may yet prove to be one of Cashy's genuine dumpster diving finds.

—A little fire. Sure, it took awhile. Cora mouthing off about our best pitcher, that home plate ump who had a reservation at the No Name Fish Restaurant tonight punching out Walker and Gardner in the ninth on close calls. Kimbrel putting one under Stanton's chin.

BUT...that seemed to finally do it. There were signs of life, of concentration. Of clutchness, even.

All unfulfilled, of course, thanks to yet another big fail from Greg Bird, whose time on this team should also start winding down.


It was something Leo Durocher used to say, according to, I think, Roger Angell: You let sleeping dogs lie. You don't ever rile up sleepwalking, second-division teams. That's what the Yankees were.

But this Red Sox team, which now seems to have become as churlish and cocky as its fans, couldn't leave well enough alone. They chose to take offense at what was a perfectly fine, tit-for-tat, Sevvy brushing Betts back after they plunked Gardner exchange.

They chose to make it World War Z...and they woke up the zombies, in the end. Kimberly's purpose pitch to Stanton—with a 4-0 lead, the Yanks almost finished with another somnolent effort, and much of the lineup showing how well it had absorbed the inane franchise dogma of, "Dare to take a called third strike"—was a tactical error.

It's not a coincidence that back-to-back doubles and two walks followed. That these Yankees looked fully focused for the first time in over a week, at least, and actually mad for the first time in over a month.

You go out of your way to humiliate an opponent that is already mailing it in, and you haven't done yourself any favors. Kimbrel got to put 32 more pitches on his arm, and look pretty vulnerable. The Yankees looked mad.

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but this suddenly seemed like a team that might even be interested in trying to win ballgames again.


Anonymous said...

I felt the same, Hoss-Man - - maybe that brush-back with two outs in the ninth could be the pitch that finally woke this team from their somnolence.

Not that they could hear me, but I was sitting there, begging them to show some fight. I didn't want them to lose, of course, but I AM glad they put a brisson or two of fear into that cocky Kim-dull - - he of the absurd pre-pitch posturing.

As you, I am proud of our "rookie" pitcher; I thought he showed considerable presence & composure out there. If he had pitched the first game of this series, EVERYTHING might have been different. As it is, we have dug a helluva hole for ourselves to climb out from, with not a lot of time remaining to do so.

I just hope that Cash-Puss & Ma can take a lesson from this game. LB (No J)

Anonymous said...





Anonymous said...

Yeah no. No reasons for optimism here but glad you will sleep better. Kimbrell hadn't pitched in a week and was rusty as hell, Yankees sleep-walked through another one, the "homerun or strikeout" philosophy is biting them in the arse. No fire. And no execution. Beer leavue team fetting its comeuppance from an actual baseball team.

Unsustainable BABIP said...

I went to No Name from time to time when I lived in Boston. Used to be BYOB (maybe it still is). That whole area is a LOT different now.

Because talking about the 2018 Yankees is depressing, go to FanGraphs for an article about Thurman Munson and his Hall of Fame case (there’s a long no to a NY Times article from earlier in the week about the plane crash). It would help this iteration of team enormously to have a Munson, who was my favorite player when I was growing up.

On The Hardball Times site, there’s an article about the 1927 Yankees. No one remotely like anyone on that team on this year’s squad either.

Anonymous said...

Here's what Chance Adams's performance showed today: he's a very promising, talented young pitcher--promising and talented enough that trading valuable pieces for the likes of Happ and Lynn is just inexplicable. Promoting both Adams and Sheffield would have given better results at far less cost to the organization's future and its current morale. But Cashman has these dumabss quotas: an arbitrary ceiling on how many rookies are allowed to play in Yankee Stadium, and an arbtrary minimum on how many washed-up veteran castoffs from other teams must be put in pinstripes. For the latter quota we have this year's winner of the Chase Headley Mediocrity Medal, Neil Walker that thirty-something declining castoof most likely to act as an anchor on the team's offense and defense throughout the course of a long season in which no amount of extended failure will be sufficient to admit that Cashman has made a mistake.

Add to the mix the insistence on hiring a doofus manager who repeatedly and clearly costs the team victories with amateurish blunders, who has worn out its number-one starter by needlessly extending his pitch count in nearly every outing, who obviously hasn't bothered even to acquaint himself with the decades-old data on sacrifice bunting and run expectancy--and you have the picture of an organizational incompetence, from top to bottom, that leads precisely to these kinds of mid-season tailspins.

Sterling is no doubt certain that Cashman is a genius and that the Yankees are a cinch for the first wild card--those are the moments when he forgets that there are some aspects of baseball that you really can predict: not least among them, the unerring instinct for disaster at work among Cashman, Levine, and company.

Skip said...

Regarding your comment on sacrifice bunting:
I assume your are referring to the stats that show not bunting is usually a
better strategy than bunting. (thanks to Earl Weaver)

Anonymous said...

Yes, anonymnous, I suppose it IS just foolish fantasy to expect Cash-Puss & Ma to learn anything from these games (let alone Orange-man #2 - - aka, Randy - - not even worth considering that); perhaps only in my wildest dreams (wish I were dreaming now).

If only we could vote management off the island...they'd be long gone (Gammonsites nothwithstanding). LB (No J)

HoraceClarke66 said...

U.B.—there IS a case to be made for Munson in the Hall. All right, sure, it rests mainly on the idea that he would NOT have quickly declined...when in fact, it looked like he would quickly decline.

Munson was severely penalized by the park he played in, but hit well and was, until his last year or so when his arm was hurt, incredibly good at throwing out runners—44 percent, lifetime, better than Fisk.

BUT...before we put in Munson in, we ought to talk seriously about Jorge Posada which, alas, we never will. But the main reason Jorge will not get in is because he was considered the second-best catcher in the AL behind I-Rod, who is widely acknowledged to be a juicer. Whereas no one has put forward any evidence I've heard of that Posada was juicing.

Anonymous said...

Skip--Yes, I'm referring to run expectancy tables. They've been around for at least thirty years ago, and they show conclusively that with an average or better batter at the plate, a SUCCESSFUL sacrifice bunt reduces the probability of scoring in that inning.

Joe F said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe F said...

Went on to one of the other Yankee blgs to read a columnist chastising his readers suggesting we call out Sanchez for being a fat lazy bum becuae he's Latin and don't do the same for white player....NO U BIG IDIOT....WATH THE DAMN GAME.

As a fellow minority that's garbage, We call him out becuase he came to spring training as big as a house..blew up like a blimp some more, swings at anything anywhere is betting under .200, jogz out grounders, has 60 pb's and seems to have no interest in making adjustments, because his apathy and kethargy seems to have infected the whole team. All of which have NOTHING to do with ethnicity.

We do the same to Bonne, Cash, Sonny (acid reflux) Gray, BLP, Gardner, for crappy play.


HoraceClarke66 said...

I know, Joe—I read some of those other blogs, too, and they seem to be all about excoriating anyone who dares to say a negative word about the Yankees.

I don't know what universe these people are living in. Screaming, cursing, tearing of garments, and gnashing of teeth is half the fun of fandom.

It's a right we've earned, in part, by paying the staggering prices these teams charge now. And it's not as though we're screaming at Little League kids or high-school athletes. These guys have as little contact with the public as they can manage, and make more money every week than most of the country sees in a year.

They can and should be able to handle a few boos, or a harsh word on the internet.