Sunday, September 30, 2018

We must not get caught up with winning today's game.

Today, the Yankees chase their one-hundred and first victory in 2018, the year of homer hell. 

They enter today's game as the power-wielding lineup since Attila the Hun, and the Hunster never had to replace a key warrior with Shane Robinson. By almost any measurement, the 2018 Yankees should be rousing fan erections until the oceans rise; we welcomed Miggy and Gleyber, discovered Luke Voit, watched in awe as Didi Gregorius achieved Monument Park status... we won 100 games.

And yet, here we are... one bad Wednesday night from shooting up the flat-screen... one sour inning, one Betances horror show, from crushing everything hopeful that happened in the last 12 months. Much of this is because the Redsocks won the division without a beer fart in the hot tub. But there is something else. 

We suffer from Ohio State Traumatic Loss Syndrome.

Every year, Ohio State chases the college football national championship. In a bad, terrible, very no-good season - a year when the coach's house gets painted with feces - the Buckeyes might lose three. Most teams would celebrate a 9-3 season. For Ohio State, it is a personal insult and cause for tar and feathers. 

We had our hopes raised last October. Over the winter, we looked at the addition of the National League's MVP to a team that came within a hit of reaching the World Series, and we saw the first in a string of championships. And then we couldn't even win the measly division.

It's amazing, how painful this team could be. Some losses came with Biblical proportions - thinking of our last visit to Fenway. At times, John and Suzyn have never reached their limit of human suffering, unable to handle the Yankees' inability to plate a runner. Those 60 losses will haunt them forever, as they will all of us. 

On Wednesday, we will field "the greatest home run hitting lineup in history." 

On Thursday, that phrase might be used to mock us.

It's the calm before the storm, folks. But make no mistake: Our fight today might look like Boston, but it's not the Redsocks we need to beat. Everything is Oakland now. Everything is Oakland. Everything is Wednesday, and everything is Oakland.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Gary Sanchez gets a chance to clear his name, and Gardy to say goodbye

Gary Sanchez homered last night. No. 18. You don't need to hear his batting average. Let's just say it's two Espinosas below Mendoza. And while we're at it, let's not recount his bucket of passed balls, and the way he trotted to first base to end perhaps the most infuriating loss of the season. Let's just say that if either Joe Torre or Joe Gerardi were still running this team, Sanchez would be buried in bench detritus or mopping floors at a 7-Eleven in Scranton. But he's still here, and they say he's really trying. (Though they've said before, and the jury remains out.) 

Over the last seven days, the YES team has reported an uptick in Sanchez's hitting. He's not exactly Carlton Fisk. In the last week, he's hitting .217, with two homers and an on-base percentage of .308. He's also drawn a few walks. Baby steps, right? Just close your eyes and imagine 2016.

It looks as though the Yankees will start Sanchez in the Wild Card, and then onward throughout the playoffs, if there are any. That gives Sanchez the kind of chance at redemption few Yankees ever get. (Last year, Greg Bird received such a chance, and it won him a starting job for most of 2018.) If Sanchez hits in the post-season, if he shows a spark, if he doesn't botch a game behind the plate or jog out a season-ending grounder, he could return next season with his future intact. 

A month ago, I couldn't have imagined such a thing.

And then there is Brett Gardner, the de facto Yankee captain, and the favorite Yankee for most fans. It's been a horrible year for Gardy, who is hitting .239, with 12 homers, and that just won't cut it. 

Here's the deal: If Oakland throws a lefty against us in the Wild Card, it would be hard to imagine Gardy starting that game. Which means we might see the last of his Yankee career this weekend. (Of course, he might come into the Wild Card as a defensive replacement or pinch runner. And if the Yankees are down by a ton, Gardy would probably come to bat just for the fans to say good-bye.) 

It's been a long year for Gardy. Next August, he'll turn 36. The Yankees will not pick up his $12 million option. And with them being contractually bound to Jacoby Ellsbury, like Ahab to the whale, it's hard to imagine them even bringing Gardy back at a low price. His greatest value would be a role model on a young, ascending team, and that doesn't sound like the Yankees. 

But, lo and behold, here comes the Wild Card. Last October saved Greg Bird. Could it save Gary or Gardy? Cross your fingers, everybody. It will soon be time to use our juju.

Friday, September 28, 2018

One more victory...

Oakland won last night.


I hereby speak for the entire Yankiverse via the following layered-and-nuanced-with-fact stream-of-consciousness white paper. You will not find the kind of trenchant, expert, scientific analysis anywhere else on the Internet or in the mainstream media. This morning, I am tearing off the shackles that heretofore bound this site to the dismal, overly cleaved diatribes that have been required by the police state. Today, I speak truth to power, power to truth, power to power, truth to truth, and poop to trousers. To gauge the full import of what I am about to say, imagine me yelling the following words at a Senate subcommittee... 

What we need: 

To win. Tonight.  

We need to clinch this home field thingy, dammit, and we need to water our everyday horses tomorrow and Sunday, and we need to force into using the devil's disciple, Stephen Wright, which used to be the name of a funny comic.

We need to see the knuckleball, and we need to adjust our swings when a knuckleballer comes in. We need to knock around a few of their middle innings relievers, and we cannot allow them to hide Wright until the playoff series - assuming we make it - because he is a bastard.

What we do not need: 

A tie with Oakland going into the 162nd game of the season. 

"So long, it's been good to know ya..."

Don't mean to be that melodramatic, actually.

It's just that I am heading out to the desert to search for Alphonso.

No, really, Mrs. Calabash and I got a rare opportunity to join a couple friends on their junket to sunny Portugal!  Fado, roast pork, gigantic sardines, and all the port we can port, await.  We head out late tomorrow.

I consider this to be a far, far better JuJu sacrifice than I have ever made before.  I will voluntarily absent myself from the beginning of the Yankees' stunning, wild card run to a World Series triumph, and thereby boost the team to victory.

Either that, or it's craven, abject cowardice on my part, arranging to miss their almost certain, Wild Card Play-In loss to the Philadelphia Kansas City Athletics.

As it happens, I will also miss the team's final, regular-season series in Boston.  But don't worry.  If by some miracle they should survive the mighty A's, I will be back in time to see the Red Sox complete the Beantown Beatdown by giddily celebrating their ALDS sweep on our field.

All this leaves so much for me to worry over in sunny Portugal.

—Having broken the Yankees' single-season record, can Giancarlo Stanton accumulate the 15 more he needs to break the major-league record?  THREE Golden Sombreros in Fenway?  Not bloody likely.

—Will ICS manage to sink below the Sub-Mendoza—subsequently to be known as the Sanchez—Line?  Entirely possible.

—Will the Yankees manage to win two more games, and thereby become the 20th and most annoying 100-win team in the club's history?  Possible, but I doubt it.

—Will the Yanks manage another five dingers to break the all-time, single-season team home-run record?  Maybe—but I'm sure it will be broken in turn in another year or two.

—Will another key player get injured in Boston?  You can bank on it.

See you later, alligator!  As they say in sunny Portugal.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Personal Weakness Revealed

I want to go to Baltimore for any reason whatsoever.

The Comical introduction of the new AHOY product line leads the list.  Beers with Duque and Mustang lead the list.  Seeing a new thing leads the list.  Laughter and hunger lead the list.  Lust leads the list.  Even brunch with Bucky and his Birds lead the list.

But the difference maker is my favorite meal of all time:

If I hear that Duque and Mustang return without having been at the paper covered table, with pitchers of beers, and barrels of these ( see above ) there will be war.

Even proxy eating is better than unrestrained envy.

Epitaph of the 2018 Yankees: They always pissed us off

Last night, as the Rays were taking command, Suzyn Waldman blew a gasket. Once again, she said, this Yankee team cannot sustain a winning streak. She'd thought winning the first two in Tampa would launch something, a charge that  captured the Wild Card home field. After all, the Rays no longer cared. They were phoning it in. Sweep the series, and the Yanks could sleepwalk through Boston this weekend, knowing the games didn't matter.

Nope, didn't happen. Not our style. 

Instead, the Yankees pissed a game away in the eighth, and then gave their fans a pineapple colonoscopy in the ninth, losing by one. Oakland won on the West Coast, and our magic number remains stuck at two with four games to go. We can still lose that advantage. And, frankly, nothing in the 2018 Yankee fossil record suggests this team is above such a Met-like collapse.

If I were the A's, Redsocks - or anybody, for that matter - to beat the Yankees in October, I would simply do the following:

1. Never give Miguel Andujar a first-pitch strike. Throw them in the dirt. He loves to swing at the first pitch. Last night, with the Rays' closer looking wild as a dingo, Andjuar popped up the first pitch, which was well off the plate. He is a great hitting talent. He is not a smart player.

2. Add a base-stealer to your roster. Want to wreck the Yankee bullpen closers? Replace a man on first with a speed demon, a David Roberts. It blows the mind of Dellin Betances. Frankly, it does everyone's. Gary Sanchez won't call sliders in the dirt. You can launch a huge inning. One runner, that's all.

3. Run out every grounder. Andujar double-clutches on routine plays, sometimes throwing late to first. With the exception of Didi, the infield is weak, defensively. Any ball can be kicked, any throw short-hopped. 

4. Don't be afraid to walk Aaron Judge. The batters behind him, especially Giancarlo Stanton, are a train wreck. (And Didi will be hitting with a bad wrist.) For some reason, the Yankees hope this will magically change, that the 3-4-5 in the order will start producing. But last night, it was stunning to see Luke Voit batting third. It's as if Boone were throwing in the towel, going with whomever is hot. Not long ago, Voit was hitting eighth. Now, third? Amazing.

5. Bring in fresh pitchers constantly. The Yankees don't do well against the Tampa model. For the Redsocks, simply bring in Stephen Wright, the knuckleballer. The Yankees cannot touch him, and they will not change their swings to accommodate the change. He can throw multiple innings, multiple games. His very presence will change a game.

Listen: It's been a decent year, in wins and losses. Trouble is, this was supposed to be something more. This was going to be the season that launched a Yankee resurgence, maybe even a dynasty. All that young talent - Judge, Sanchez, Bird, Frazier, Torres - they were going to be cresting. Now... I dunno. I guess we could still get hot, but the omens are everywhere. And Suzyn had it right:

The single most consistent aspect of the 2018 Yankees is that whenever they seem to jell, they leave us unfulfilled. And the greatest disappointment is probably yet to come.

(Both Mustang and I will be exhibiting at the Baltimore ComicCon this weekend. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, look for the AHOY Comics table and say hello. Also, forgive me in advance if my posts look a bit ragged. Hangovers can do that to you.) 

I have seen the future, and it stinks

Now that was one for the ages, huh?

Thanks to their last minute, fairly hopeless rally, the Yanks managed 10 hits—and still 12 strikeouts.  They also managed two errors, another passed ball (you-know-who), and generally played the infield as if they were in some bizarre Alexandre Dumas novel:  The Men in the Iron Gloves. 

Stanton managed to miss breaking the team's single-season strikeout record, and a late single did get his average back up to .260.  But he also grounded into a career-high 17th DP, left five guys on base, and overall has an OPS nearly 200 points below what he managed last year.

At 28, as Yogi might say, he is declining even before he is in his declining years.

In general, the game was a masterpiece of sloppy disinterest, played before an alleged 11,325 fans who for all the noise they made could have been playing pick-up jai alai games around the concession stands.

Even better, though, was the preview we got of what baseball is likely to become under the Tampa Bay Plan of minimizing ballplayers.

I should have seen this coming, of course, because which individuals are most likely to take over any sport when they are given half a chance?

Why, it's the coaches—or managers—of course, and we got a world-class display of their egotism tonight.

The most egregious offender was Kevin Cash of the Rays, who always seem to have some irritating individual at the helm, determined to show us what a genius he is.  (Unsurprisingly, the very first of these was our own Larry Rothschild.)

Tonight, in a meaningless game for his team, The Great Cash managed to trot out no fewer than eight pitchers, three of whom worked less than an inning.  Nonetheless, he almost dropped this one, first when his "opener" blew up in his face and then in the 9th, when he suddenly stopped his peripatetic trips to the mound and decided to leave his "closer" out there to give up five hits, a walk, and four runs.

Our Ma Boone was little better, announcing Greg Bird—then pulling him back (something that must have done wonders for Bird's already vanishing confidence), throwing in his own top relievers as if he were in a do-or-die playoff game, then winding up with Tyler Wade pinch-hitting with the potential tying and winning runs on base in the 9th.

The point is, we can expect many more of these senseless feats of managerial derring-do once the starting pitcher has been fully eliminated, along with all situational hitting in the new, Powerball game of the future.

These guys will posture and preen, endlessly running pitchers in and out of games until they are reduced to a crawl.

Triumphant, they will wave sheets of statistics at us to prove how brilliant they are.  Defeated, they will tell us that hey, how were they to know that Pitcher-Bot No. 4 would not have good control of his curve tonight?

Yes, there's a great day a-comin' can't ya see, can't ya see?  Uh, can't ya stay awake?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Most of you know, from experience and evidence, that I am close to infallible when it comes to predictions.

I said we would win 85 games this year, for example, and we did.

So here is gist for the mill :

Our rookie manager will name Luis Severino as the Yankees starting pitcher in the one-game play-in against Oakland.

My reasoning derives from Mr. Boone's pre-designation logic for naming Gary Sanchez as the starting catcher.

Here it is:  Luis is our ace.  Boone has designated him as our ace.  As such, he will start the game and pitch at a high level of efficiency.  That's what aces are for and that's what aces do.

He believes, similarly, that Sanchez is a great hitter, and a great catcher, waiting to break free.  So he supports Gary.

 And he will support Severino in the same manner.  " He is our Ace !"

Listen to the music.

Anyone who wishes to discuss may reach our help line at; 1-800-IDIOYT ( note minor misspelling).

If last night's outing was supposed to reassure us about Severino, I'll pass

Last night, when the Yankees rubbed up a 7-0 lead in the third, I figured to switch to Netflix and watch Ozark: Jason Bateman & Laura Linney vs Mexican drug cartel, mountain rednecks and wacko FBI agent. Screw the game. We had a big lead with our "ace" on the mound. I planned a quick 1-2-3, then on to Jason! 

Yeah, right.

Today, the box score says Luis Severino went five innings, gave up two runs - a quality start, I suppose. Still, I shudder to imagine him pitching the one-game season, because of what happened in the third, when I should have been elsewhere. In case you missed it...

Joey Wendle leads off with a liner over Aaron Judge, whacking the base of the wall. Man on second.

On an 1-0 count, Severino hits Tommy Phan on the arm. First and second.

Ji-Man Choi walks on five pitches, most of them high. Bases loaded. Larry "House of" Rothschild, wearing his ridiculous 2XL gray sweatshirt, saunters out to talk.

Brandon Lowe lashes a double to right, scoring two. Choi, inexplicably, tries to score and is thrown out. Huge break for Sevy. One out, runner on second. 

Chron hits a ball so hard that it nearly decapitates Hechavarria, at SS. He snares it, backpedaling. If it's two feet higher, it's a gapper. Two outs. David Cone notes that the Rays are bats have been "extremely loud."

Finally, Kiermaier smashes a ball directly at Luke Voit, who steps on first. A few feet to the left, and it's a single. Inning over, only two runs. But this is a hopeful sign? 

If a few balls were placed differently, and if the Rays ran the bases smartly, they're still batting with no outs. It becomes a 7-5 game, (or worse) and Sevy won't have lasted three. (Did I mention that he'd already pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the second?) That's hope?

Listen: After the game, the YESsirs happy-talked how Severino settled down, retired the last eight batters, and maybe sealed his selection to start the Wild Card. Jeez-Louise. I get it that they want to express blustery confidence in the guy. But if last night was supposed to sew hope, all I saw was a big lead, a demoralized Rays and some incredibly dumb luck. 

If he starts the Wild Card, we better keep people warm in the pen. The one game season does not forgive. Next month, I don't want to be watching Ozark. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"Because it is hard."

I remember reading some book about baseball in Japan—The Chrysanthemum and the Bat?—years ago.  There was a section in it about  how, at some point, terrific young pitchers over there got the title of "ace."  They were then used whenever and however the manager felt like it, both started regularly and brought in for key relief stints.

This was crazy, of course.  Guys would run up a couple 400, 500 inning seasons, and then their arms would fall off.

Once some wicked smart Americans came over and sized this up, they told the Japanese it had to go.

But you know, the Japanese liked the system.  It was just their way.

I found the debate about what the game is, and is becoming, very interesting.  But if the future is a game full of relievers, throwing to power hitters trying to do nothing but pull the ball into the teeth of shifts—count me out.

I'm glad to hear from Parson Tom that the Tampa Bay dome is a good experience for the fans on hand, because on TV it looks drab beyond belief.  And the game they played in there last night was just as dreary.

I have to side with LBJ and Doug K. on this.  A game devoid of real, individual effort is not one I particularly care about.  That really is soccer to me, at least to my untrained eye.

I want a game where, as they advocate, there is a real art to becoming an outstanding pitcher or hitter.

As LBJ noted, the age of the 60-120-inning pitcher and the universal, .235, 20-25 HRs hitter, will make every game into the All-Star Game, which will be terrible.

Yes, there is an element of luck in every sporting event, but now it will be all that.  The losing pitcher will be the one guy who is the rotten apple in the barrel that night.  The winning home run will be hit when someone happens to leave a pitch up.  All arbitrary, all the time.  And where is the skill?

Hey, I'm sure it's statistically more efficient.  And that counts for everything, doesn't it?

Why paint anymore beautiful paintings?  We have cameras.  For that matter, why do any spectacular, studio photography?  We all have phones.

Why build any beautiful cars?  I'm sure the sabermetricians of auto design have figured out that the current, indistinguishable mass of cars provide the most fuel-efficient models possible.

Why build any gorgeous skyscrapers?  I'm sure all the glass and concrete boxes are the easiest ones to build.

Why have leaders who can make eloquent, beautifully reasoned speeches to stir our hearts, and win our minds?  There's always twitter to zip out libels, boasts, and insults.

Why do anything at all that takes craft, skill, and persistence?  Why develop smart pitchers who know how to throw many pitches and last into the late innings?  Why teach batters to hit to all fields, and spoil close pitches, and even bunt?

Why not change everything to maximize dollars and stats?  How about adding three more wild card teams, so baseball can be like every other sport, with the regular season meaning less and less?  Or maybe seven more wild cards, so nearly everybody makes the postseason?

Why not put ads on the bases, as Bud Selig wanted to do a few years back?  And why stop there? Why not put them on the outfield grass, or the pitcher's mound, too, and on uniforms as they do in soccer?  Won't the pinstripes look all the more splendid with the Amazon logo spread across them, or maybe Emirates Airline?

Why not discard the whole"New York Game" which is what we play now for something like the "Massachusetts Game," in which there is no foul territory or baselines, and you get runners out by hitting them with a rubber ball?

Who knows, maybe the fans would like that better.  Let's take a vote, and if they want to switch, let's discard every single remaining tradition and continuity having to do with this sport.  Why not?

Learning something—particularly something complicated, or difficult—is how we improve as human beings.  It is our essence.  If we're going to discard all that, what is the point?

Or as President John F. Kennedy put it much better than I ever could, way back in the days of my youth, when he was talking about the space program:  "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..."

Baseball—professional baseball—is great because it is hard.  It is beautiful because it is hard.  To make it less so is to make it just more like everything else in the genial, mediocre, culturally rotten society all around us.

Letter To A Yankee Nation

Dear Mr. Boone,

I have been vacationing in Yemen and could not get any local newspapers that made sense to me.  Certainly, their coverage of Yankee games was limited.  Usually, I couldn't even find the box score.

So please forgive the intrusion at this critical moment, as the Yankees attempt to win 100 games and secure the home field advantage in the one game play-in tournament.

I did hear via satellite radio that last night was " bullpen night," and that it worked pretty well for a novelty debut ( though copied from your worthy opponent).

What no one highlighted was the performance of your " cast in stone" designation ( Gary Sanchez) as the Yankee's starting catcher for said playoff game.

How did he do last night?

Better defense?  Is he getting his batting eye back? I know you believe that there is a great hitter inside that sticky sweet desert consumer.  Did he come through in the clutch?  Our four runs resulted, largely, from his clutch hitting?

One final comment;  how is it that his batting average always appears as .181?

Usually, when a hitter goes on a hot streak, or a cold one, the BA is impacted.   And yet, with Gary, it always appears as .181.  Is this the new math?

In any case, I have you down was manager of the year in Yemen.

Yours truly.



Holder and the Holds, why not?

Against baseball's hottest team, inside a giant ping-pong ball where they have consistently failed, the Yankees last night completed a two-hitter - arguably their most dominant pitching performance of 2018. (The other: July 24, when Masahiro Tanaka pullled off a 3-hit shutout in that same Tampa outhouse.)

If you substitute CC Sabathia (or any actual starter) for the lame-duck disappointment known as Sonny Gray, and the Yankees last night might have spun a no-hitter. They struck out 13 Rays, overall. If you consider that Tampa wasn't playing via phone - they were part of the AL Wild Card race when the night began - the full-scale, root canal potential of the Yankee bullpen comes into view. 

All this was especially enjoyable because we were pissing Tampa's own ballyhooed strategy right back into the Rays' open mouths. For most of this season, they hypnotized our batters with waves of relievers, never letting us see the same pitcher twice. At times, it didn't seem fair. It was as if they were cheating, constantly switching pitchers while we used the old fashioned, tried-and-true ways - trotting out a sagging starter and hoping he lasts into the fifth. 

In fact, it was reminiscent of the early days of the over-shift, when Tampa's re-assembled defenses turned the likes of Mark Teixeira and Stephen Drew into expensive mediocrities. We hated it. We condemned it. And then, after the analytics came in, we ended up becoming one of the most over-shifting teams in baseball. Last night, the Yankees struck back, giving Tampa a taste of its own puke.

So... that's that? Now, we'll return to the ways of the tribe, using middling starters until they've thrown at least one too many pitches? Why? By this time next year, based on stats alone, bullpen games could be the norm. Like it or hate it, what the Yankees saw last night could well be the future. So... why not now? 

The one-game season is almost here. It likely will happen in Yankee Stadium. (Oakland won last night, so...) Aaron Boone has yet to name his starter. And let's not kid ourselves: There is no way that Boone would go with the full bullpen. He will designate a starter - Happ, Sevy or Masahiro - and rest assured that Boone won't remove him until the damage is done. 

Listen: I'm not suggesting we go full bullpen in the month of October. (If we're lucky enough to make it.) This is about one game. One game. And yes, there are mine fields: Betances and El Chapo can be very good or very bad; neither should close. All we need from the "starter" are three innings. They don't have to be the first three. We can mix and match. We don't need a formula. 

Holder and the Holds. Damn, it sounds like a prog-rock band from the eighties.Holder and the Holds! By this time next year, we won't think twice about it. What if, just for once, we got out ahead of the curve? Could we maybe steal a game or two? Could we maybe steal a ring? 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Moneyball Has Wrecked the Team With the Most Money

Anybody have a sense of deja vu watching Didi's hideous, season-ending slide on Saturday?

It could have been an exact replay of The Gleyber wrecking his wrist, sliding across home in some vital RailRiders game last season.

Look, I know that injuries are a part of the game, and they can happen anytime and anywhere.  The Yankees in their long history have had not one but two centerfielders—in two different parks—who seriously injured themselves stepping into sprinkler holes.  They had a manager who ended his season punching out a marshmallow salesman, and Kevin "The Idiot" Brown who ruined our 2004 season punching out a wall.

It happens.

But this now makes two vital players hurt in as many seasons because they don't know how to slide, feet first, across home plate.

But why would they?  Sliding—and running in general—doesn't matter.  Neither does fielding.  Or situational hitting.

This I know, because the Moneyball Bible tells me so.

Rob Neyer, the baseball writer—and now commissioner of a summer college league out west—was in the Paper of Record this weekend, promoting his new book, Power Ball:  Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game, and kvelling on and on about the New Baseball:

"So much of baseball now, far more than any previous era, is about power.  It's about power hitting, power pitching, and power in the front office as well.  The front office staffs are immensely larger than they were 20 or 30 years ago, with dozens and dozens of more employees, because the money's so much bigger and the data's so much more powerful."

Stop right there.

I can well believe "the money's so much bigger."  The Big Money—the title of a John Dos Passos book, many years ago—is everywhere, and it's what's killing so much of America, and has been for a long time.  Money for its own self, money not from any worthy labor but just money gained through the constant manipulation of money, and the exploitation of those who have the least of it.

I'm also not surprised that a class of bureaucrats has seized an opportunity to multiply itself.  I read somewhere recently that the California university system—once the cheapest, and one of the best higher education systems in the world—has the same number of faculty members it did 40 years ago.  But the number of administrators has increased something like fourfold, until there are now more bureaucrats than teachers.

But I digress (Moi?)

The power, and the money, are also killing the game I love.  You can see it everyday, in every way, getting worse and worse.

The essence of the game of baseball is so incredible that it cannot be just about power.  In every other sport, sure, the fact that human beings are just so much bigger, faster, and more muscled than ever before has inevitably distorted them.

You literally cannot run the old Lombardi sweeps anymore in football, for instance.  The linemen are just too damned big to do it.  In basketball, the players have outgrown the court, and in hockey they have outgrown the ice.  (Soccer remains much the same...because it's soccer.)

But in baseball there always were, and there still remain, ways around the power game.  Someday, if we're lucky, we'll discover that again.

I was thinking, with that one-game play-in in Oakland staring us in the face, about how the old Moneyball A's came up short, again and again and again.

Moneyball, of course, always was more of a book-and-movie pitch than a reality.  The Athletics teams at the turn of the new century really revolved around a great starting pitching staff, and a terrific left side of the infield, including a shortstop who was probably juicing to the gills (and for awhile, a first baseman who was doing the same, as we discovered to our great dismay).

But there was something to be said for it.  People such as Rob Neyer and Billy Beane and many others really did discover many things about the game that should have been obvious all along—things about how much power and getting on base really do matter.

(Well, all right, so Earl Weaver discovered the power part a generation before.  He was Earl Weaver!)

But the dictum that—

—Baserunning doesn't matter

—Fielding doesn't matter

—proved to be, well, a Dictum Disaster.  They do matter.  And they brought the A's down again and again:

2000—A Yankees team that had stumbled all through September, finds itself with its back to the wall, in Oakland for a Game Five in the ALDS.  But Terrence Long, the A's centerfielder, loses a ball in the sun—in his own park—and the Yanks go on to score 5 runs in the first inning, hang on for a 7-5 win, and eventually win the World Series.

But remember:  fielding doesn't matter.

2001—The Flip!  But of course, it wouldn't have mattered where the hell Jeter was or what he did, if Jeremy Giambi had only slid.

Fielding doesn't matter.  Baserunning doesn't matter.

2003—Back-to-back, idiotic mistakes lead to both Eric Byrnes and Erubiel Durazo being tagged out at home plate in Game Three of the ALDS against Boston—Byrnes missing home, then trying to start a fight with Varitek, and Durazo protesting before he finishes running.  Instead of Oakland sweeping the series, they lose in 11, then drop the whole shebang thanks in part to another idiotic blunder on the bases in Game Five.

Baserunning doesn't matter.

Fundamentals DO matter.  Knowing how to play the game—not just the power game—matters.  When you don't know how to do that, you get hurt.  In more ways than one.

I had a talk with a Redsock fan Sunday; their boundless malevolence and fury is a cause for worry

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of meeting up with a Redsock fan at an otherwise enjoyable street festival. He carried a half-gallon jug full of tequila, apple juice and jalapenos, from which he suckled greedily. He wore a camouflage cap with a red "B." Before I could flee, he leaped upon me like Brett Cavanaugh, and had me in his pincers.

Had I seen the standings lately? Had I been following the pennant race? Who did I think should be MVP, Mookie or Martinez? Had I been watching?

I pivoted coolly and brought out my best card:

"So," I asked, "who pitches game one? David Price? 

He glared at me. 

"Game one, David Price," he said. "He will shut down the Yankees, and from that point on, it will be over."

Listen: These Boston blowhards... they don't want to beat us. They want to humiliate us. They want to drag our carcass through the streets. They want to parade through the Bronx, waiving our soiled underwear like a pennant flag. They don't want us dead. They want to keep our brains charged with electricity, so we can watch them dance on our gravestones.  

And they are so gassy with hubris that if we wave a bottle opener at them, they might explode into a thousand parts. They think this is the greatest team in Boston history, and the World Series will be theirs...  

As long as Joe Kelly doesn't have to pitch. 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Boston version of Sonny Gray. His name is Joe. And if we can somehow get to his "hundred mile per hour fastball" - (it would mean avoiding Stephen Wright) - all bets are off. The lone smirk to be wiped off the Boston fan's face... it was Joe Kelly.

Still, this conversation came while Boone's Buffoons were losing to the Buck's Clucks, with the worst Yankee news yet to come: Didi Gregorius has a slightly torn cartilage in his wrist.  

When a star goes down, great teams rally. By that measurement, the 2018 Yankees don't qualify. 

Earlier in the season, Boston lost Mookie Betts for a couple weeks. They never skipped a beat. Then it was Chris Sales. Nothing. Players stepped up. That's why they now have the final week to rest their horses.

When Aaron Judge went down, the Yankees installed Shane Robinson in RF. When Didi bruised his heel, Gleyber Torres moved to SS and made 5 errors in 19 games. And nobody, not even El Chapo himself, has replaced Aroldis Chapman as a competent Yankee closer. 

Now comes Didi's wrist, which with other teams would mean an immediate shutdown. The Yankees will wait and see. But if we've learned anything, it's that the Yankees lie about injuries. Judge was supposed to return in three weeks. It won't matter how much Didi and the Yankees are in denial. Nobody hits with a bum wrist. The Yankees hope to play the entire month of October. Didi will never make a month. It's over, at least for him.

For that, let's thank the 2018 Yankee Game Template: We score a few runs early, then take the rest of the game off. It's what happened Saturday, forcing Didi into the headfirst, game-winning slide that wrecked his wrist. It's what happened Sunday, while I was being mocked and catcalled, like a liberal on Fox & Friends. Watch out for the Wild Card, folks: If we score a quick two runs, it might be all we see. 

And make no mistake here: Boston doesn't want to just beat us. They want to drink our blood and eat our livers. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Bad Luck Is Bad Luck

There Yankees were at full strength for about 14 hours.

That slide into home reminded me of when Gleyber slid into home at AAA.


Cortisone is not magic.

Swans don't have the facility of language so I cannot curse the gods.

But I do a mean honk.

Do not expect a miracle, but hope for one.

You, Too, Can Be A YANKEES Manager!!!

Do I contradict myself?  Very well then I contradict myself.
—Walt Whitman

Just pass this SIMPLE TEST and YOU may be qualified to become the manager of the NEW YORK YANKEES!

All you have to do is answer "Yes" or "No" to each of the following statements

—Today's game was important for winning home-field advantage in the Bud Selig One-Game Wild Card Play-In, so we should have kept in one of our leading starters to throw 107 pitches.

—Today's game was one more in a strong of unimportant games to play out the string, so it was a good idea to bring in the likes of A.J. Cole, Tommy Kahnle, and Luis Cessa with the game still in the balance.

—Today's game was not in the least important, so it is just as well that we rested our two Aarons, Judge and Hicks.

—Today's game was very important, so it is good that we pinch-hit both Judge and Hicks.

—Today's game was what it by all means, Neil Walker should be in the lineup.

If you answered "YES!" to all of the above, you are qualified to manage the NEW YORK YANKEES!

Congratulations, and be sure to tell ALL your friends and relatives.  Because chances are, THEY TOO are qualified to manages the NEW YORK YANKEES!!

Why It Will Get Tougher

Take a look sometime at the interleague game results this year.  It looks as though, for the first time ever, I believe, the NL will win the competition.

That's right.  After 21 straight seasons of AL dominance since interleague play began back in 1997, the NL is set to win.

How can that be? I hear you whine.  After all, the AL not only won the All-Star Game again, but has the top 3-4 teams considered favorites to win the World Series.  The best record in the NL belongs to the Chicago Cubs, who only just broke the 90-win mark.


This should tell us something important about this season.  Namely:  most of the American League just wasn't trying this year.

Really, aside from the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, and Indians, every single team was in one stage or another of tearing down and rebuilding.

That's 11 out of 15 teams that were tanking—a higher percentage of the league that is barely competing even than the 3-4 undercapitalized teams that were perennially non-competitive back in the days of the eight-team league.

That was another reason why this year was so ripe for the taking.  We won't see its like again for some time to come.

Expect Tampa Bay and Oakland to build off their surprisingly good seasons in 2019.  Possibly, the White Sox and Mariners will be able to compete as well.  By 2020, don't be surprised to see the likes of the Twins, Blue Jays, and Angels back in it, and maybe a couple of others.

The Yankees passed a lot of time this year giving us half-assed, distracted efforts against really, really bad teams.  They won't be so bad again.

The Six-Second Ad

Think J.A. Happ works quickly and efficiently (even when he's getting hit hard, as he is this afternoon)?

Not quickly enough, apparently.

Saw my first six-second ad, courtesy of Smirnoff and Ted Danson, whose fictional avatar, Sam "May Day" Malone is perhaps the only relief pitcher NOT in the Yankees' bullpen just now.

It came right after a fly out, and before Happ could pitch to the next hitter.

Oh, what joys we have to look forward to from the YES Network in the years ahead!

I suggest renaming it as, ELD, for "Every Last Dollar."

Yo, Aaron, the 7th American League Wild Card Game birth in Yankee history is ours!

Congratulations to the 2018 Yankees, now a slotted contestant in the American League One Game, Winner-Take-All Wild Card Series. 

It's been a long, challenging year, a roller coaster ride between joy and despair, and its place in history remains unknown. 

But with eight games left, here we are... 

A three-game lead over Oakland for the home field advantage. (If the A's run the table and take them all, we need to win four.) 

The third best record in baseball, behind Boston and Houston. (If we played in the AL Central, we would be leading Cleveland by 9 games.)

A solid batting order from top to bottom. (That is, if you believe Gary Sanchez is capable of redemption.) 

Three relatively dependable starters, plus CC Sabathia.

One of the game's great rising hitters. (Miguel Andujar.)

A veteran star who has never seen a postseason. (Giancarlo Stanton.)

Several players in now-or-never career crossroads. (Sanchez, Greg Bird, Sonny Gray, maybe Luis Severino.) 

A complete unknown. (Luke Voit.)

A roll-of-the-dice bullpen with, for now, no certain closer.

A rookie manager.

Well, folks, here we are. We will have at least one extra night of baseball before the curtain closes. We still have a shot at the Redsocks. And aside from Houston, perhaps, we still represent the greatest threat to their sense of well-being, and - by far - the most disastrous outcome they can imagine. So, celebrate. Yo, Yankiverse! We did it!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Boone And Idiot Have The Same Number of Letters

Sipping crown royal manhattans from a straw, inserted into a family heirloom crystal water pitcher, I had a flash:

Boone has already committed to Gary Sanchez as the starting catcher in whatever playoff game we get, and wherever it is.

I thought of this as I watched Gary, in sequence:

1.  Bring his .181 batting average to the plate
2.  Strike out looking.
3.  Ring up another passed ball.
4.  Pick up a nubber in front of the plate and sail his throw into right field.

Does this mean that Boone is betting on the playoff game to come?  Taking the odds against the Yankees?

Does he really believe"positive steps" will cure Gary just in time for the big moments?

Will he play the ice cream sandwich imitation of Jesus Montero even if he, "shoots a citizen in plain site on 5th Avenue," as our President recently claimed he could do without losing voters?

What will it take to put a competent player behind the plate?

Why, then, isn't he declaring Bird as the starting first baseman?

And Sonny Gray as the starter?

Doesn't a little public support go a long way?

What evidence do we have that Boone's unflagging support of our great slugger has made an iota of difference in his performance?

It has been a year!

Call 1-800 IDIOT to register your responses.

Turn of Phrase for the Prurient

Remember when we all used to sit around the fire, and read the Farmer"s Almanac by candlelight?

Each section was headed, as I dimly recall, by a phrase of inspiration or wisdom.

For today's game, I return to page 33, which had to do with " outcomes."

Fill in the blank:

"A bird in the hand is worth  in the bush."

My version of the Almanac re-works the nouns and goes something like this;

"  A hand in the bush is worth two .

  Just keep your thinking caps on, and tell me if you agree.

We can win today with that as our mantra.

As Yankees inch toward the wild card, hope and disappointment embrace in a bizarre mating dance

And so it goes...

I keep telling myself, All that matters is the Wild Card; just win that game, get hot, ride a streak, get lucky, go from there...

Yeah. That's the ticket.

Yesterday, in just so many words, that was the strategy outlined by Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman, the Yankee chessmaster, whose name comes to mind whenever I hear the phrase "artificial intelligence." Cash said we should not worry about who'll pitch against Boston in the playoffs, but deal with the supreme reality of our current position.

We must beat lowly, disastrous Baltimore and then somehow survive four games with a Tampa machine that looks ready to shred us into animal bedding. Then comes the ho-hum, three-game tune-up at Fenway, with the "YANKEES SUCK" soundtrack playing around the clock. Then, if we remain upright - it's the nine-inning season against Oakland, which is the only thing that matters. 

Last night? It doesn't matter. We won. That's all. This weekend? Doesn't matter. As long as we win. And yet...

We can't un-see what's going on.

1. No Yankee lead is safe. Our holders can't hold; our closers can't close. We have no lights-out arm in the bullpen. It requires magical thinking and a bottle of Crown Royal to imagine Zach Britton suddenly reverting to 2015 form. Between now and Oct. 2, Aroldis Chapman will not become a sure thing. And let's face it: Dellin Betances will never be. At some point in the wild card, we will turn the game over to a pile of hand grenades, each of which is ready to blow. For the rest of 2018, we will never know a feeling of security. We have Yankee PTSD. We've seen too much.

2. We rely far too much on the home run. If good teams manufactures runs, the 2018 Yankees simply don't qualify. Our offense almost entirely depends on long balls, and post-season history offers little hope for such teams. Even if we go on a power binge and win a game or two, our sluggers can go into hibernation at a moment's notice. And solid pitchers will shut us down. More and more, last October's run looks like an anomaly. We are approaching the worst decade in Yankee history, yet the NYC press touts Cash for Cooperstown. WTF? Put Syd Thrift in the Hall!

3. Our defense is frightful. We rank 18th in MLB in errors. Of playoff-bound teams, only the Dodgers have committed more. Last night, I was thinking, when was the last time we saw a game-changing, great Yankee defensive play? I couldn't think of one. Yes, there's Didi at SS, and Aaron Judge could win a gold glove someday. But look at those holes: Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, even Gleyber Torres at 2B. On one key play against Boston the other night, the Yankees made two defensive lapses: Aaron Hicks gunned a ball that didn't need to thrown, and Andujar didn't come off third base to secure it. As a result, the Redsocks scored an extra run, and a huge game flew out the window. This is the Yankees' new normal, after the All Star break. Why should we think it will end in the post season?

4. Winter is coming to Winterfell. You can sense the Army of Darkness preparing to attack. When I think of December, the phrase "wholesale housecleaning" comes to mind. Personally, I wish the Yankees would give Andujar time to learn third base - he could be the best homegrown Yankee hitter since Don Mattingly. But seriously, who expects that to happen? Embarrassed by this team's early exit, (and perhaps by another Boston world championship), Hal will sign Manny Machado and then trade Miggy for a couple Tommy Johns. He might even go after Bryce Harper in an explosion of ink and money. By February, the Yankees could be a headline-grabbing airship with three wings and no propellers. We've seen this before. Those who cannot remember history...

Eat your oatmeal, folks, and hit that treadmill. If you're waiting for the next Yankee resurgence, you may to have to live a long time. In fact, we might see Cooperstown Cashman's induction ceremonies first. Wouldn't that be something?

Friday, September 21, 2018

But Can They Beat Us At Home?

I think not.

We have cats in the neighborhood and falcons in the rafters.

Well, they can beat us at home.

Nobody's perfect. Every manager makes crapola decisions, the kind that leave you punching the pillow. But last night, with a season near the breaking point, Aaron Boone set a new standard for malpractice. If he is someday being nominated for the Supreme Court, I personally will travel to Washington, ignore the death threats, and testify against him, based on what happened last night.

They can beat us at home...

Everybody knows...

They can beat us at home...

I realize that we, perched in our ejaculatory home pods, possess no real time knowledge of the psyches and situations that dictate a manager's moves. Surely, some non-paranormal force or logic will explain every Boonie Boner. It's insane to think that we mindless, weeping, barely cognitive fans in our Naugahyde outposts know more than the Yankee high command. I get that. Still, I have some questions about last night. 

Why did Boone leave Chad Green in for a second inning? Throughout the season, our key bullpen lug nuts have seldom been called upon to deliver a second inning - with a clear drop in effectiveness when they do. I understand why Boone went to David Robertson so early, in the fifth: This was a "must" game. But at that point, anyone doing second grade math could see that the Yankees were going to need a long man - Cole, Gray, somebody - as a bridge to our mainland closers. Green pitched well - for one inning. Then, kaboom.

What's even more maddening is that Boone had Dellin Betances warming in the pen. How do you have Betances warming, yet leave Green in? All season, a worst-case scenario is Betances with a runner on first. This is because he cannot hold runners. They gallop to second, and then he becomes really frazzled. Boone waited too long on Green, then brought in Betances with the go-ahead runner on base. Yow. Is that a strategy? What the hell was Boone doing? Sending death threats to Brett Kavanaugh? (Because that's about the same level of smartness.)

How do you bring in Aroldis Chapman, after weeks of inactivity, with a game on the line? The previous night, with a 9-run lead, Boone used Justus Sheffield. Fine. But that's when they should have called upon El Chapo. You can't just bring in a guy - especially one as potentially wild as Chapman - and expect him to pitch well under thermonuclear stress. If Chapman were rehabbing in the minors, he would have started a game, pitched one inning, and gotten a chance to hone his delivery. Did anybody think this was going to work? This was so unfair, almost cruel, not only to Chapman - but the Yankees. 

Why did no Yankees shorten their swings and adapt to the knuckleballer? Okay, this is technically not Boone's fault. This is the modern game. This is the 2018 Yankees, who live or die with John Sterling home run calls. But watching our batters take rollicking, beer-league swings against Stephen Wright, while the season swirled down the drain - it was like watching a river overflow into your yard. You could yell at it, but nothing was going to change.

Maybe this is for the best: Maybe having seen Wright, our hitters will adapt. Right?

No. Of course not! What am I saying? They won't change one iota. The difference between the Yankees and Redsocks is not pitching, hitting, running or fielding. It is discipline, pure and simple. It is the ability to grind out each at bat, and to force the other team into making critical mistakes. They have it. We don't. 

And no matter how you slice it, or where you sit, that difference boils down to management. 

They can beat us at home, folks. They just did.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


The chant must begin as a whisper, maybe by a child in the upper deck. It's like the butterfly in China that births the Carolina hurricane. Someone picks up on it, and soon the entire section is saying it, softly... almost reverently...

They can't beat us at home... 

They can't beat us at home...

It must unfurl along with the game, growing steadily, until in the ninth - with victory assured and the Redsock champagne crates en route to Boston - the decibel levels shake the concrete mezzanines and echo throughout the Yankiverse. 


The Redsock '18 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM)... can't beat us in New York.

All of which will create an existential crisis within the rank and file of this Suffering Chosen Tribe of Celebrities and Understanding White Oh-Dears - the James Taylors, the Ben Afflecks, the Stephen Kings - who still feel put-upon because Uncle Wilmer's liver didn't make it to 2004. Their team spends $40 million more than the competition, yet they still cling to the Cinderella Syndrome, railing against the big money Yankees, as they sit their argyle socked toes onto the breakfast nook and ease warmly into the next cloudy snifter of scotch. 

And if we can lure these preening, self-indulgent fuckwads into a five-game blood match, all we need is one - one win, I say! - in Fenway. 

Eleven games remain in the reg. For the Sons of Anarchy - those merry A's - to overtake us and steal the home field Wild Card, they practically must win all 11. (They play the Angels, Twins, Mariners, then Angels again; I'm figuring 8-3.) After tonight, we have three no-excuse games at home against the worst O's team in history. If we beat Boston tonight, then sweep Buck onto his rightful pedestal within the Gene Mauch dust heap of baseball history - the long time manager who never won nothing - we'd be at least four up with seven to play. Anything can happen. But win tonight, and I like our chances... 

Tonight, it's Eduardo Rodriguez. We must be patient. Masahiro must throw zeroes. Aroldis Chapman needs to pitch an inning. Dellin Betances needs a 1-2-3. Giancarlo Stanton needs a homer. Gary Sanchez needs a hit. The defense needs to hold. And the chant needs to be heard.

They can't beat us at home.

They. Can't. Beat. Us. At. Home.

"Ballgame Over! Red Sox Challenge to the Yankees' Meta Win Record OVER! TH-UH-UH-UH-UH YANKEES WIN! TH-HUH-UH-UH YANKEES WIN!"

Yep.  It's all over.  My friends, the Boston Red Sox will NOT win 125 games, at least not this season.

Our meta, all-time sports record stands.

Terrific, all-around effort tonight.  Well, all right, except for ICS, still staggering backwards in the dust storm outside Mendoza.  And Stanton, now up to 203 strikeouts, just 20 short of the record.

But still.  Great to see.  Most of all...because we kept the record.


Also, it was fun to beat David Price.  It always is.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

El Chapo returns. Wouldn't it be the perfect time to adopt the Tampa model?

I have this terrifying fear that Aroldis Chapman will pitch the ninth inning tonight, attempting to close a three- or four-run lead. And instead of a series-winning, month-saving victory, we will suffer a soul-crushing defeat.

Wouldn't it be smart to do what major league relievers usually do when rehabbing in the minors? That is, start the game, pitch an inning, and go from there. Don't subject Chapman to a ninth inning pressure cooker. If he has control or command issues, let it happen in the first, with your actual starter warming in the pen.

It makes sense. Why do we all know that the Yankees will never do it?


Ladies and gentlemen, lads and lassies, children of all ages... 

As you know, I'm certainly the last person in the world to overstate the importance of one Yankee victory...

That said, I humbly suggest that last night, we reached the crossroads of the 2018 season, the future of human civilization, and the disillusion of the universe due to entropy - reversing the flow of time back toward the Big Bang, and its rightful days of Yankee dominance. Simply stated, for those of you who don't understand quantum theory, our long, gruesome descent into the kind of despair that I call "juju homelessness" may have ended. This morning, that light at the end of the tunnel is not necessarily honking its horn for us to get out of its way. Today, there is hope in the quarks. They're the Higgs bosons, not the Higgs Bostons. 

At Yankee Stadium this season, we are now 5-2 against the Redsock '18 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM). We can beat this team... at home.

If you discard that crippling final loss in the early August meltdown in Beantown - the one where Aroldis went crazy and Miggy threw the ball away - we'd be 7-7 on the season against this incredible, Olympian collection of superhuman achievement. We could be on the verge of beating this team for the season.

From now on, at least through Thursday, I say one great mantra should echo over the Bronx.

They can't beat us at home...
They can't beat us at home...

Their bullpen leaks. Their bats can disappear. They're not that great. 

Last night, they had us in kill range. To lose game one of this series - to let Boston clinch the division in NYC - would have been a psychic death blow to the Yankees. And they had us. Nobody was touching Nathan Eovaldi, a galling blow unto itself, considering his Yankee background. We'd reverted to the team that cannot score, the team that cannot make a big play in the field, the a team that cannot close. And then... it didn't happen.

They can't beat us at home.

Listen: There remain a million reasons to doubt the Yankees. This last month has been a rain forest of despair. Tonight, Luis Severino must beat David Price, or at least match him, inning for inning. But not long ago, we owned the bastard. Then, somehow, we yawned off to sleep, like the ghost of America, and let the Redsocks run roughshod over our historical name. 

Certainly, I can never be accused of putting too much emphasis on one Yankee victory. But last night, the juju gods rose from their dingy computer terminals, stood up in their cubicles and waved their velcro wrist supports at the overhead  TVs in their newsroom. Last night, the juju abruptly turned and began to flow in our direction. 

They can't beat us at home. And if we can just trap Boston into a five-game series, we can bloody well send them home and restore truth to the galaxy. 

All we need to do is win tonight. Did I mention that? We need to win tonight.

...But Not By This Much

...they should not be winning by this much.  Not by over 10 games, rolling merrily toward the division title for over a month now, ever since the Beantown Beatdown, virtually unchallenged.

The Yankees' main stress point going into the season was their starting pitching.  If it held up—and it largely has—they should have been able to at least seriously challenge even an extremely successful Boston club, and despite the disparity in injuries.

Take a look at the players.  Very few if any of Boston's starters have greatly exceeded expectations, and some have underperformed.  The Red Sox bench is very thin.  The Yankees' starters, at least coming into the season, were generally better, and their bench and bullpen were deeper.

Once the Yanks' two starting rookies proved they were more than major-league ready, this should have been a dogfight.

It was not.  And there were, I think, three main reasons why:

—The wholesale implosion, for whatever reason, of Bird and Sanchez.  I have discussed this ad nauseam, so I won't go into it again.  But suffice it to say, these were two positions where the Yanks seemed to have a significant advantage over the Sox going into the season.  As it turned out, they did not.

Almost every other position-by-position matchup has usually been offset.  For instance, Gardy's worst-ever year has been matched by yet another disappointing Jackie Bradley, Jr. season; Walker's follies by Rafael Devers' reversion to the mean, etc.

—J.D. Martinez's advantage over Giancarlo Stanton.  This is an unfair comparison in some ways.  Martinez has been able to simply DH, while Stanton has had to play constantly, and often in the outfield, thanks to Cashman's decision to get rid of most of our back-up outfielders just before the Judge injury.  G. has probably done at least some of this with a barking hammie.

However:  the fact remains that Stanton's stats have declined significantly from his terrific 2017 season, while Martinez's have not.

There's also this:  Stanton last night became only the 8th man in MLB history to strike out 200 or more times a season (some of them did it more than once).  He has an outside chance at setting the all-time, single-season strikeout record.

He is also the second Yankee in as many years to go over 200 whiffs, after Aaron Judge's 208 strikeouts last year.

Think of that:  one-quarter of the biggest strikeout totals in history, came from Yankees players in the last two years.

—The tangibles.  That is, things that are usually called "intangibles."  But obviously, we can see and calculate them.

Take our making one in three double-plays last night.  That was flukish—but the Yankees have turned the fewest double plays in the league this year, some 13 fewer than Boston.

We have also made more errors, stolen fewer bases, drawn fewer walks, collected fewer hits than the Red Sox.  Not a lot, in any one category.  But they add up.  We play a sloppier, more distracted game than they do.  Day in, and day out.

We do, as predicted, lead the AL in home runs.  I think the total is 242 after Neil "The Walker" Walker.  We are closing in on an all-time Yankees team high, and while it's unlikely we will break the MLB all-time record, we will probably finish as one of the top 5-6 teams in homers in a season—ever.

The teams ahead of us now:

1997 Seattle       264
2005 Texas         260
1996 Baltimore  257
2010 Toronto     250
2000 Houston    249
2012 Yankees    245
1996 Oakland    243

Notice a pattern?  None of those teams won a World Series.  None of them reached the World Series. Only two teams here even reached the league championship series.

I think the only conclusion from all this is, while the Yankees have been hampered by injuries this year,which would probably have "doomed" them to finish second in any case, much of the difference between them and the Red Sox is due to management's failures in instruction, personnel, and philosophy.

Yes, the Red Sox Should Be Better Than Us...

Looking at things from a distance and with perfect equanimity—not, I will admit, my forte—the Red Sox should be ahead of us.

Boston this year put together a starting staff with three recent Cy Young winners, still in the prime of their careers.

They pretty much have lived up to expectations.  Their back starters and their bullpen looked as if they might be the team's Achilles heel.  But they have exceeded expectations, and are among the league's best.

Throw in the fact that Boston has suffered remarkably few serious injuries this year.  They got little from Pedroia last season, and didn't expect much this year.  After that, they have not suffered a major, sustained injury.

The Yankees, by contrast, lost Judge, Frazier, Torres, Didi, Torreyes, Sanchez, Drury, Tanaka, Montgomery, Chapman, and several lesser pitchers for significant amounts of time.

Given all that, it's not surprising that the Red Sox are headed for the division title, and the Yankees are not.

Well, que sera, sera—that's how many a baseball season works out, often as not in our favor.

However (you knew there had to be a 'however' in there, didn't you)...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pre-Emptive Celebration, Anyone???

As the Warbler was good enough to point out, today's improbable win over the Carmine Hose reduced the Magic Number to 1.


One more Red Sox loss, and it will become mathematically impossible for them to match the Yankees' all-time, combined regular-season-and-playoffs-and-World Series record of 125 wins.

Which, when you consider how no sports plays so long a season as that in baseball, probably means that no other major league team, anywhere in the world, ever, has won so many games in a single season.

Tonight's loss, in fact, ensures that no matter what happens, the Red Sox CANNOT break that record, only tie it at the very most.


To keep the Sox from clinching the AL East and celebrating on our field, something they would dearly love to do, all they need to do is win one game in this series.  Something that, judging from our offensive output vs. Nathan Eovaldi tonight is, let's face it, all but inevitable.

So...I'm calling for a pre-emptive celebration.

If, somehow, we win Wednesday night's game—again, a massive "if," more formidable than the terrible island fortress and prison of the Chateau d'If—we will have clinched our record for another year.  And we should celebrate.

Just think of how puny this will make the Red Sox and their fans feel.

To see us celebrating this incredible meta record, before they even get a chance to revel in their all-but-insignificant division title.  Think of how much of the joy it will take out of that silly little outfield dance they do, and all their champagne popping in the clubhouse.

I know, I know:  what I'm proposing would not nearly be in the league of the incredible, "Moon Big Papi" protest which this site proudly pioneered.  (Was that LBJ?  Or LB no J?)

But still.  Think how it would flummox and annoy them if, after besting David "Steroid Chin" Price our whole team and everyone associated with it, including clubhouse boys and trainers, wives and favored annies, suits and cops, all went charging into a big pig pile in the middle of the field.

If there were fireworks, and cannon firing, and that trained eagle swooping around the field picking off Red Sox stragglers, and the groundskeepers formed a conga line around the stadium that one fan after another could join on to.

Saying to the Red Sox:  we are so far, far above your petty concerns that your passing triumph cannot even touch us!  We celebrate, again, being the greatest EVER!

Think about THAT!

The Days of Awe Are Over! ATONE!

Actually, we can still watch the Red Sox in awe.  Even while we atone by watching the Yankees.

God works in mysterious ways...

Can Aaron Judge save Aaron Boone?

In every great player's career, a few legendary moments stand out. Jeter had the flip, Reggie the three blasts, Mariano holding off the Redsocks in game seven, Thurman's Death Valley shot off KC's Doug Bird... 

We cannot assume that Aaron Judge will go someday be a Hall of Fame inductee or even hold a plaque in Monument Park. The juju gods are bastards. Too many bad things can happen and few are as potentially damaging as a broken wrist. But over the next few days, Judge will hold center stage in the Yankees' most critical stretch of 2018. We've seen what the Yankees look like without him, and the portrait of Dorian Grey looked less distressing. What Judge over the next few weeks - regardless of how compromised he is due to the injury - will define him for years to come. It's not fair, really. But it's baseball.

Of course, if Judge returns and cannot hit, he'll have a surefire excuse: He's got a bum wrist. We watched Mark Teixeira flounder for 18 months, and never reclaim his stardom, due to the same. The original prognosis that Judge would be back in three weeks now looks worthy a malpractice suit. If he goes 0-20, everyone will blame the wrist, as they should. But those 20 ABs will leave a shitload of runners on base, and each one will haunt Judge through the winter and beyond.

But if Judge can deliver - a few walks, a base hit here and there, maybe one or two towering shots - it could be the difference between life and death for this team. It could be the kind of week that someday is remembered in Cooperstown or wherever great Yankee memories live forever. 

Okay, yeah... I am Hollywooding... daydreaming of great Yankee victories, the kind that would make us someday look back on the last month and laugh at ourselves for being so morbid. It's a bad habit of mine, and it's why I go off the rail when the Yankees collapse. We are the franchise of the flip, Reggie's three blasts, the dying player who stands at home plate and calls himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. We are supposed to be the team of hope. 

It's not fair to Aaron Judge, expecting him to return and hit well. But hope has been shrinking for weeks, and right now, he's all we've got.