Friday, November 30, 2018

As Winter Descends...

The Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley returns:

" .....And on the pedestal these words appear:  My name is Brian Cashman, king of kings:  Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair !"

" Nothing beside remains:  round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away."

- The world of Humanity ( sans Boston) awaits.

The shifting sands on Gary Sanchez suggest the earth is getting ready to move

Scientists are still trying to discern the mystery seismic waves that were recorded worldwide three weeks ago, figuring they could be an underwater volcano, a small asteroid or the unleashing of a prehistoric monster with atomic breath and an unmistakable wail. I propose that they emanated from the failing New York Times Yankees headquarters in Tampa. Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman was huddling with the boy owner, Hal Steinbrenner, and merging of the two minds disrupted the earth's magnetic core.

Today, according to the Internet, we should anticipate more waves. Cooperstown is said to be talking with Derek Jeter, the Miami Marlins functioning spirit animal, about J.T. Realmuto, generally considered the best young catcher in baseball. 

To pull off such a deal, the Yankee GM would almost surely trade Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and a busload of 20-year-old Latinos to the ever-tanking Marlins. It would also require Cooperstown to pull a complete reversal of his earlier winter comments that the Yankees were doubling down on Sanchez.

As a rule, I try not to shriek about trade rumors because a) they're always bogus, b) you can't measure a deal until it's done and c) life is too short. (I make exceptions for certain possible catastrophes, such as Jogginson Cano.) But today, several outlets have the failing New York Times Yankees "talking" about Realmuto, and - considering how quickly Giancarlo Stanton came aboard last winter - let's face the new reality: 

Anything can happen.

Should the Yankees stick with Sanchez? FukifIknow. I think Gary is a fine candidate for a bounce-back season at the plate. But can someone tell me why we'd think he'll conquer the passed ball thing, when he's failed to do so in the last two seasons? Is he going to work harder? Because that notion implies that he didn't apply himself to the problem thus far, and if you think about it, that's pretty damning.

There is a moral here, which we should never ignore: Like a certain president, Cashman clearly feels no obligation to be held to his previous public statements. If a good deal comes around, all he has said in the past means nothing. 

A common thread this winter is that Sonny Gray is half-way out the door, as Cashman takes bids. But are we really thinking of CC Sabathia as our fifth starter? Why would we believe CC - giant as he is - can last 100 innings with anything below a 5.00 ERA? Let's remember: When he speaks about a player, Cashman isn't talking to us. He is baiting a hook in hopes that some GM on another team will make a call. And these days, Cashman is talking to everyone about everything.

The Yankees won 100 games last year and still finished a million miles behind Boston. Something tells me the waves of Nov. 11 were just an omen. A massive Yankee explosion is about to happen. It will start with Patrick Corbin - either he signs with us or goes elsewhere - and detonate across the Yankiverse. Winter is here, folks. Write this down: 

By this time next week, the Yankees will be exploding with change. Brace yourselves. It's coming.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

TV Guide

Merry Christmas everybody, let's sing: Manny M is Coming to Town!

From the ghost of Christmas past, Doug K. 

Manny M. Is Coming to Town
You’d better just run
And no dirty slides
For 30+ Mil
You’d best turn the tide
Manny M. is coming to town.

Just stay away from ice cream
And don’t speak to the press
For the love of G-d
Avoid the shift 
Or we’ll all get quite depressed. 

Oh, you better just run
And no dirty slides
Hit in the clutch
Restore Yankee Pride 
Manny M. is coming
AnDUjar is bumming
Manny M. is coming to town! 

Today in news described by Yankee analogies

On why it was wrong for Paul Manafort's lawyers to convey confidential prosecution info to the Trump team, from today's Washington Post.

"As former U.S. attorney Chuck Rosenberg put it, having signed with the Yankees, he couldn’t give scouting reports to the Red Sox."

See? If you follow the Yankees, all eventually becomes clear.

Let's go Christmas caroling! Stanton's Night, O-fer Night

From the substantial yule log of Doug K.

Stanton’s Night (O fer night)

Stanton’s Night. 
O-o-fer night
Swing and miss, 
There’s no fight. 
Low and outside 
He strikes out again 
Doesn’t adjust 
Just swings for the fence.
Please, just let it go by-eye.
Plea-ease just let it go by.

The Yankees just jettisoned a guy who hit .344 with runners in scoring position last year

So long, Ronald "Big Toe" Torreyes. All you did was come through for us.

(In case you're wondering, in RISP last season, Giancarlo Stanton hit .241. And everybody's fave Yank, Mr. Grit himself - Brett Gardner - hit .208. 

Let's face it: "Big Toe" Torreyes was always the last kid picked on the sandlot. And with the Yankees, no matter what he did, it was never enough. He was never viewed as a starter, and the most attention he ever received came from standing next to Aaron Judge, so he could look like a carnival dwarf.  Last September, when the infield was banged-up, the Yankees traded for Adeiny Hechavarria to play SS and 3B. (And last year, with runners in scoring position, Hech hit .221. You could look it up.)

Okay, am I cherry-picking a stat to make Big Toe look good? Of course! The bg bad truth is that Torreyes slumped in August and that his glove could never compare with Hechavarria's. But over his entire career, Torreyes's batting average with runners in scoring position is .303. And that's why the fans loved him. He. Came. Through. 

Tuesday, the Yankees waived Big Toe to sign Parker Bridwell, a 27 RH power starter who was cut loose by the Angels. That last phrase is troubling. He was cut loose by, gulp, the Angels. 

At 6'4", Bridwell definitely looks better coming off the bus. He looked promising in 2017, going 10-3 with a 3.64 ERA, then missed almost all of last season due to elbow inflammation. Who knows? My guess is that Cashman is still smarting from the resurrection of Nathan Eovaldi, and he's on the prowl for a similar pitcher. And maybe it'll turn out well. But I cannot let Ronald Torreyes leave without a proper sendoff. Pound for pound, inch for inch, and when the chips were down, he was one of our best. And now he's a Cub.

Here's to the great Yankee Big Toe! Stand up, everybody. We won't see many like him come our way again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hey, it's time for another Yankee Christmas carol: Boonie the Robot Skipper

From the holly jolly Doug K.

Boonie The Robot Skipper 
Boonie The Robot Skipper 
Is calm no matter how it goes.
He never shows emotion.
Chewing gum is all that blows.

We watched him in the dugout 
Manage sabermetrically 
Not watching the ballgame 
Substitute automatically 

Then one day while in the Bronx
The pennant on the line.
Kept AnDUjar on the bench
Thinking Walker would do fine.
Boonie the robot skipper
Failed to change the course that day.
Still the front office loves him 
We want him to go away. 

Yuletide cheer

Doug K. inspired me. So herewith, some additional Christmas carols rewritten for It Is High fans. 
I hope they live up to the standard he's set.

(To the tune of "Christmas Bells Are Ringing")

Larrity, Larrity, to the mound
Sevvy is in trouble
Larrity, Larrity, turn him 'round
Fix him on the double

He's been doing this so long
Why does he still get it wrong?

Ding dong, ding dong
Larry is a ding dong

(To the tune of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town")

You better not bunt
You better not try
Hit into the shift, I'm telling you why
Brian C is coming to town

With hollowed out eyes
And shiny bald dome
Rappelling rope
And Randy the gnome
Brian C is coming to town

He see when you're in rehab
He knows when you can't hit
He's gonna call your agent up
With a contract not worth spit

So, swing for the fence
And never ask why
Who cares if you whiff
And make the fans cry?
Brian C is coming to town

(To the tune of "Good King Wenceslas")

Good King Hal the Poor looked out
With his chauffeur, Steven
All free agents knew his clout
Though is 'twas uneven

Brightly shone our hopes that night
Though the tax was cru-el
But our good king just sat tight
Laughing at us foo--oo--ls

(To the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas")

We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
And a new ring this year

Good signings to you
From Corbin to Bryce
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
Come on, let's roll the dice

We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
We wish you a Merry Hot Stove
And a twelve dol-lar be-e-e-r

The Sports Equivalent of New Coke

I don't want to set off a political discussion here.  But speaking in a general way, all specific policies aside, MLB's decision to go big on gambling is one more example of why this country is rapidly going to hell in a hand basket.

It is yet another example of neglecting what has worked well for 150 years, and throwing it in the trash for a quick boost in profits.

You have this business, this product—for this is how MLB's padrones think of it, I'm not expecting them to be actual, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed BASEBALL fans, for cryin' out loud—and it's deteriorating steadily in popularity.


Because it's too long, it's too slow, it's too expensive and inconvenient, it's too uncomfortable at your places of business.  And because it's now being conducted in ways that are radically different from the ways it generally has been done in the past—ways that have had a remarkably long run of popularity.

Baseball has become the New Coke of sports.

So, what's your answer?  Go back to the original Coke formula?

Why, you go for the quick money fix!  You go for it even though you KNOW that this very "improvement" has nearly capsized your entire business before.

You go for it despite the fact that you know it will only serve to increase the level of human misery in the world, corrupting and drawing more adults—and even kids!—into a painful and ruinous addiction.

Fuck gambling.  Why not hand out free syringes of heroin, or crack pipes at the stadium gates?  "Groove on baseball!"  Why not just attach hoses to each seat so for a low, low package price you can just suck up beer all game long?  (BeerHoze patent pending.)

Why not do anything and everything you can to maximize revenue, right here, right now, without ever addressing what all of your customers are most turned off by?

In America today, the customer isn't always right.  He's a sucker, waiting to be played.

I'm Dreaming of Bill White's Christmas

By Doug K...  first in a series....

I'm Dreaming of Bill White's Christmas.
I'm dreaming of Bill White’s Christmas,
Just like the ones we used to know.
Where the Yanks don’t stumble
The Red Sox crumble 
And the owner cared less about the dough.

I’m dreaming of Bill White’s Christmas 
Back with the booth I used to like. 
When Frank Messer bought his wife a trike 
And, of course, with Scooter at the mike.

I'm dreaming of Bill White’s Christmas
Just like the ones we used to know.
With Ron Guidry sliders 
And Bill Lee fighters
Before Billy Martin hit the snow.

I’m dreaming of Bill White’s Christmas 
Back with the booth I used to like 
When the off season would get us psyched
And, of course, with Scooter at the mike.

"In some ways, baseball seems better positioned than other sports to draw in gamblers because of the deliberate pace, with its built-in breaks between pitches. Those pauses, far less frequent in other sports, could allow fans additional opportunities to place bets during a game. For example, a fan could bet on whether Boston’s Mookie Betts hits a single, double, home run, a groundout or a strikeout in his next at-bat."

I can hear already imagine The Master's new calls...

It is high, it is far, it is... BLACKJACK!

Ballgame over. Yankees cover! THUUUUH YANKEES COVER!

You can't predict baseball, Suzyn, but something tells me CC's next pitch will be a strike. Here it comes. PAPA NEEDS A NEW PAIR A SHOES!

And so it goes.

Yesterday, the Major League Baseball company won a doubleheader. 

1. Its preferred candidate, Cindy Hyde-Whitelady, won election to the U.S. Senate from Mississippi. By sending Miss Cindy to Washington, the owners helped restore an old-fashioned, pearl-clutching, plantation-running oil can to the national interest - plus, they got back their original $5,000 donation - dip money - which they sort of had to request after the goddamm news media - the parts they don't own - reported on it. They were embarrassed by Miss Cindy's sidesplitting jokes about hangings and her smiling photograph while wearing  Confederate gear. So it goes.

(Side note: Neither SF Giants owner Charles Johnson nor his wife Peaches took back their maximum individual contributions of $2,700 each. Rest in Peace: Willie McCovey.)

2. The company announced a deal with MGM Resorts - aka Las Vegas - to allow betting on games, pitches, at bats - hell, if Miguel Andujar double-pumps on a throw to first, maybe they can squeeze in some wagers before he lets go - as a means of improving baseball's  popularity bottom line. 

Commissioner Rob Manifort Manfred told the failing New York Times, translated here:
“Our research is really strong on the idea that sports gaming can be an important source of fan engagement (revenue). We operate in a really competitive environment and we have to take advantage of every opportunity to drive engagement by  (squeeze money out of) our fans.”

So it goes. By the end of the day, MLB should start selling Black Sox jerseys, and plans should be made for Pete Rose's induction into the Hall of Fame. 

After a century of holding the line, MLB should start games not by yelling "Play ball," but, "Gentlemen, place your bets!" 

Of Cabbages and Kings and Second Sackers, Pt. III

There are a number of reasons why Bobby Richardson is thought of today as an all-time Yankees great, while Horace Clarke is considered a joke.

—One, the big one, is the respective teams they played on.

Bobby Richardson played in 7 World Series over just 8 seasons.  He got the reflected glory that even mediocre players on great teams often get—and in fairness, he generally played very well in those series, batting .305 in 36 games.

Richardson hit .367 in the 1960 World Series and achieved the unique honor (I think) of winning the Series MVP despite being on the losing team, as he drove in 12 runs.  He hit .391 in the 1961 World Series, and .406 in 1964—though that year his two crucial errors and several other miscues probably cost the Yankees the title (and Yogi Berra his job).

But generally, Richardson was playing out of his mind in the Fall Classic, and even when he didn't have a good Series—as in 1962—he was front and center, perfectly positioned to nab Willie McCovey's line drive.

Horace Clarke, of course, never saw a postseason.  His biggest clutch moments were a preternatural ability for breaking up no-hitters in the ninth inning, something he did four times.

—Two, presentation.

Richardson was highly articulate, a clean-living, off-season minister, who ended his career early to go back home and serve God.

Clarke was considered eccentric.  He didn't say a lot, and he continued to live in the once swank Grand Concourse Hotel even as it deteriorated into a welfare hotel.  Sportswriters also thought he looked funny, and of course he had a funny name, which tickled their Beavis and Butthead sensibilities.

—Three.  You know.

He looked funny?  Uh, yeah.  And he wasn't "courageous" enough on ground balls?  Hmm.

Look, I'm not saying the racism was overt.  But let's face it.  If the Yankees' second baseman from 1967-1973 had been a white minister with the name "Bill Clarke"—and the exact same game—would anyone have said a thing?

Well, here's to them both.  They both hustled all the time, and gave their all, whether their teams were in contention or not.  Which is more than can be said for some people.

Of Cabbages and Kings and Second-Sackers, Pt. II's where it really gets interesting.

Was Bobby Richardson a better fielding second baseman than Horace Clarke?  Not according to any evidence I can find.

Undeniably, Bobby Richardson was an outstanding fielder.  Baseball reference gives him a 4.9 dWAR.

He led the AL in assists by a second baseman in 1966—a year when he did NOT win a Gold Glove, a fact that might tell us something—in double-plays turned 4 times (1961-1964), in putouts twice (1961, 1964), in the new stat (don't ask), "Total Zone Runs" once (1963).

He also finished in the top five of range factor six times (once in an 8-team league, the rest in a 10-team league), and in fielding pct. six times (ditto).  Very impressive.

But no Hoss.

In pretty much every stat there is, Horace wins out.

Defensive WAR?  It's Clarke, 6.2-4.9 (despite less time in the majors)
Lifetime fielding pct. at second?  Clarke .983, Richardson .979
Assists at second?  Richardson has the edge, 3,445-3,179—but in 237 more games.
Errors?  Clarke 104—Richardson 143 (again, with those extra 237 games at second)

Year-by-year, Clarke was at the top of the AL, or close to it.

He led the AL in putouts 4 times (1968-1971) and was in the top 4 another three times.
He led the AL in assists by a second baseman six times (1967-1972), and was 3rd the next year.
He led the AL in double-plays turned twice (1969, 1972) and was was in the top 4 another five times.
Range factor?  First 4 times (1967-68, 1970, 1972), and was second twice, and fourth once.
Fielding pct.?  First in 1967, in the top five another four years.

Horace even finished in the top 5 in assists, period—all positions, in a league that included the likes of Mark Belanger, Brooks Robinson, and Luis Aparicio—four times, 1967-1971.

Now, I will be the first to say—hell, I HAVE been the first to say—that statistics simply cannot tell the whole story when it comes to fielding.

Writers who watched both men play, day-in and day-out for years, gave Bobby Richardson the highest fielding honor in the league, and never gave Horace Clarke anything.  Fair enough....though isn't this blog all about torching the Gammonites and other sportswriters for how little they know about this sport?

But what about his contemporaries, his teammates?

If you read Philip Bashe's excellent book of this Yankee era, Dog Days, you'll find several Yankees pitchers trashing Hoss's ability to turn a double-play.

There are even comments from the great Curt Blefary questioning Clarke's courage in standing in on the DP.

And yet...I can't help but wonder if this isn't one of these impressions formed after the fact, in the face of what has calcified as the conventional wisdom.

Curt Blefary, for instance, was a lead-legged loudmouth with a drinking problem, whose game had already fallen apart by the time Hoss was playing second base regularly.  How many times he even got close enough to see if Clarke stood in is highly suspect.

As for the pitchers...well, exactly how much better was Clarke supposed to do than leading the league in DPs twice and coming close to doing so several other times?

You would think from their comments that the Yanks' big problem in the "Horace Clarke Years" was their pitchers' giving up all sorts of runs thanks to shoddy fielding.

Nothing could be further from the case.  In the seven years that Horace Clarke was their starting second baseman, the Yanks usually had one of the better team ERAs in the league, and usually ranked in the first half of total DPs, finishing first one year.

In fact, the teams weren't even really that bad.  In those seven years, the Yankees had a losing record three times, but a winning record four times, including a 93-win season in 1970.

Their main problem was that they did not hit enough.

So what's going on?  Why don't we remember the "Jerry Kenney Yankees" or the "jake Gibbs Yankees" instead of the "Horace Clarke Yankees"?


Of Cabbages and Kings and Second-Sackers, Pt. 1

It seems of late, in this dreariest of all postseasons, that the conversation has turned to second basemen, past and present.

Eighty-sixing the Toe is the JuJu equivalent of a war crime, and we will pay heavily for it.  Bringing back the Jogging Man would be almost as bad.

But John M. had an interesting query about Yankees second basemen of the more distant past, so I thought I would speak to that, in part to defend my avatar, Horace Clarke.

Okay, for starters, who do these lifetime hitting stats belong to?

5,780 PA  .266/.299/.335/.634  73 SB 48 CS, 34 HR, 390 RBI, 643 Runs, 262 BB 243 SO

5,242 PA  .256/.308/.313/.621 151 SB 58 CS, 27 HR, 304 RBI, 548 Runs, 357 BB 356 SO

The first guy is Bobby Richardson, beloved Gold Glove second baseman on many a Yankees championship team.

The second one is Horace Clarke, punch line for the Yankees of the bad old CBS days.

As you can see, they are nearly the same player when it comes to hitting.  Richardson had a little more power, Clarke was better at getting on base.

All in all, though, in the context of their eras, Clarke was really the better player on "offense."

Baseball reference gives Hoss a lifetime 14.0 OWAR, as opposed to just 8.3 for Bobby.

Richardson did hit over .300 twice, which always impresses sportswriters, and he led the AL in hits with 209, in 1962, his finest season at the plate.  Besides being a singles machine, as usual, Bobby had 38 doubles, 5 triples, and 8 homers that year.

Incredibly, though, despite spending almost his entire career hitting ahead of the likes of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, and Moose Skowron in their best years—and a still able Yogi Berra—Richardson NEVER scored as many as 100 runs in a season.

His top total was 99 runs, in that same 1962 season.  In 1961, hitting first in a lineup that belted a major-league record 240 homers, he somehow managed to score only 80 times.

How was that possible?

Well, walks, mostly—or the lack thereof.  Richardson never managed more than 37 in a season—something that used to frustrate the hell out of Casey Stengel, who delayed making him a full-time player for that very reason.  (Ralph Houk, on the other hand, never had any problem batting him first, which should tell you something about the two men as managers.)

Clarke, on the other hand, managed to score a high of 82 runs, in 1969, hitting ahead of the likes of Jerry Kenney and Jake Gibbs.

As a leadoff hitter, Clarke also failed to walk nearly as much as we would like today, but he did manage a career-high of 64 in 1971.  If you'll notice, Horace had nearly 100 more walks than Bobby, in some 500 fewer plate appearances.

Sure, Horace never hit over .285—but he was playing in the most pitcher-friendly years since the "live ball era" came in in 1920.

And when he reached base, Clarke knew what to do.  He was a much better base stealer than Richardson, particularly when you throw in the fact that Richardson stole 26 of 29 bases in 1963-64;.  Outside of those two years, he was almost even money to be caught, whereas Hoss succeeded in stealing at an almost 75 percent rate.

But hey, never mind.

Bobby Richardson's big, big advantage is in the field, right?  Where he was the five-time Gold Glove winner over poor, clumsy Horace?


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sign of the Yankee Future

Brian Cashman, future HOF -GM for the losers, has dropped the "Toe" from the roster, in order to acquire a pitcher who has an ERA in the 100's.

It is consistent with the Yankee strategy to avoid players who make contact ( via bat ) with the pitched baseball.  Hail to Giancarlo, may he miss them all.

Short guys, concludes our GM, simply cannot be good players.

Ask Phil Rizzuto.


A few years ago, after Robinson Cano turned his back on the Yankees and jogged off to Seattle for the sweet sound of coins rattling in a paper cup, Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show did a street skit on the matter. 

He encouraged Yankee fans to tell off a cardboard cutout of Cano, and when they finished, Robby stepped out of the trailer. Bad-a-boom. They hugged, and the basic message was that Yankee fans secretly still loved Cano, despite his greed and betrayal. 

Nice skit, but not true. Upon returning to Yankee Stadium, Cano was lustily booed, and he always will be. He turned down the chance to be a Yankee icon, a chance few players ever receive, (and which Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are both chasing, by the way.)

The other day, desperate to shed the $120 million millstone that Cano has become - as everyone knew he would be - the Mariners recently called the Yankees and suggested a deal. Hey, ol' buddy ol' pal, how about you give us that miserable, broken down Jacoby Ellsbury, and we'll actually give you a great, shiny Robinson Cano! Win-win! Everybody happy!

They must have thought we were in a skit on the Tonight Show. 

Sorry, folks. No on Cano. 

You know, I really loved the guy, before he walked out on us. Mostly, I remember John Sterling at the end, assuring Yankee fans with all his might that Cano would stay a Yankee, that the two sides would certainly find a compromise, that nothing else made sense. And then, kaboom, Cano walked.

Nope. No on Cano. He's running out of games at 2B, and his jog is slowing to a crawl. He'll probably have one decent year in the next five, and you better believe that Seattle will be offering him around. Soon, he'll be a DH soon. And soon, just you wait, he'll be running out grounders. He'll be doing head-first slides and barreling down the line, desperate for a hit. 

We have Ellsbury for two years at $47 million. Yeah, it's a waste of money. And you know what? If Fallon recreated that skit, and Yankee fans told off a cardboard version of Ellsbury, they would keep yelling at him when he stepped out. But I don't ever recall the Chief jogging to first, not once. And I'll take it.

No on Cano. No, no, no. 

Dubious Achievement Awards, Parte de Deux

All right, in the wake of an avalanche of depressing news this last gray, soggy day—no Yonkers Raceway, no Toe but Cano, etc.—I think we need to get to the cheery business of handing out more end of the season awards.

Today's question:  what was The Worst Pineapple Loss of the 2018 Campaign?

Sure, the obvious choices all involve Boston:

—The agonizing, final game of the season, in which a ninth-inning rally fell just short as our best hitter all season sat on the bench and our supposed best hitter swung at pitches like a maddened English explorer swatting at tse-tse flies;

—The awful, 10-inning, August 5th loss in Fenway, in which our closer gave up 3 runs in the 9th, the final one on a throw that Greg Bird dropped at first, thereby completing a four-game sweep and effectively ending the regular season for us.

—The penultimate game of the season, the 16-1 loss in the ALDS to Nathan Eovaldi, for which our starter could not even be bothered to show up on time.  Technically not a pineapple loss at all, I know, but one so gruesomely awful that I don't think the franchise will ever recover from it.

My pick, though, would be another one.

That is, our prickly, 12-10 loss in Texas, on May 23rd.

It wasn't like this game was all that significant in its own right.  The Yanks had been playing great ball leading up to it, coming into the game with a 31-15 record (after that dreary, 9-9 start), and after it was over they would go on another 19-6 spurt, leaving them at their pinnacle for the season—and for this stillborn dynasty, I'm afraid—with a 50-22 record.

It was more everything that the game presaged.  A CC rapidly nearing the glue factory, a relief staff that would not be the impregnable fortress again that it was in the second half of 2017.  An inability to hit in the clutch, the collapse of Sanchez, the idiocy of our new manager, the dedication of our GM to the great cause of getting Neil Walker more at-bats.

It was all there, if only we had been able to read the tea leaves.

Our boys jumped off to a quick, 4-0 lead, despite leaving 6 men on base in the first 4 innings (an ominous note right there).  CC then gave it all up in a hurry, being pounded by Ranger nonentities for 5 runs in the bottom of the 4th.

We brushed it off, scoring six more runs of our own on homers by Judge and The Gleyber.  We were cruising again, up 10-5.

Inexplicably, CC, who had already thrown 77 pitches and surrendered 3 walks and 3 hits—including homers to the likes of Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman—came back out for the fifth.  Three more hits later, it was 10-7, and Chasen Shreve and Dave Robertson gave away the rest an inning later.

Meanwhile, we stopped hitting completely.  Sanchez, who had not started the game, came in in the 9th to pinch hit against the immortal Keone Kela, the last king of Hawaii, and struck out.

Neil Walker, who entered the game batting .210, hit a single and a solo homer, thereby guaranteeing him another five months of work.

Sure, there were other games.

Those Boston monstrosities.  Aaron Boone's various insistences on pitching to Justin Smoak, no matter what.  Any number of other Shreve or Robertson or Betances beauties.

We are open to any and all suggestions here.  But for my money, our Pineapple of the Year should have a distinctly Texan burn to it.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Line of the day

"Cano? No way. If we sign him and Machado plus Sanchez we might as well move the franchise to Yonkers because all we'll have are trotters." 
- Anonymous -


Repeating for the hard-of-hearing:


I mean it. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO, NO-NO-NO-NO, ABSOLUTELY NO. 

NO. And peek-a-boo!

Fun Fact Trivia: What do the Braves, Twins, Padres, Rangers, A's and Mariners have in common?

According to the Internet, they're all in on Small Market Sonny Gray.

The Braves and A's are stocked with talent and gunning for a pennant; presumably, they would offer us prospects, and it would be nice to restock our farm system for a change. The Twins and Padres are perpetually rebuilding, and would likely try to give us a salary dump. The Rangers have IF Jurickson Profar, whom the Yankees have reportedly sought in the past; Texas could basically be offering to match Sonny with a comparable disappointment of their own. 

As always, 1) the devil will be in the details, and 2) Cashman almost never plays his hand publicly, so the rumors usually mean nothing.

But but BUT... This new public campaign to trade Sonny - now with daily rumors of trade partners - represents an evolution of sorts for Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman. Usually, when our mustached-GM is smitten by a "power arm," the baseball equivalent of Hollywood's Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Cash remains in love for the length of the contract. (Think of Michael Pineda, who returned year after year, always with a new reason to jilt us.) 

I raise this because - hey - James Paxton! It's interesting how quickly Paxton has become a "steal," and how soon it took the Gammonites to realize that Justus Sheffield has deep set control issues and will fail in the majors. I'm not trying to diss the deal, merely to remind us that, two weeks ago, Sheffield was our treasured top prospect and a potential impact rookie for 2019. And strength of farm system was supposedly our last big advantage over Boston. (Remember when it used to be money? Remember being accused of buying pennants? Them was the days.)

Listen: We all hope Paxton will be our Josh Beckett, our Justin Verlander, our Chris Sales, our Cliff Lee... the big game pitcher that Cashman, throughout his career, has consistently sought and never landed. This year, we're doing something new. We're jettisoning Sonny Gray while his "sell by" date remains viable. Interesting. That's all. I wonder what we'll get?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

"The contribution was made in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend"

Image result for cindy hyde-smith confederate

These are the inspiring words MLB used to explain its $5000 contribution to Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Confederacy-praising segregation academy graduate whose quips and wisecracks made her famous. MLB bravely asked her campaign to return the donation just hours after the politics newsletter Popular Information made it public. To be fair, it's not as if Commissioner Manfred's team did anything wrong, because "The contribution was made in connection with an event that MLB lobbyists were asked to attend" and were clearly helpless to decline.

Now THESE are real fans

We can talk a good game, but how attacking the Redsock team bus? Do we have any takers? Let's go! Who's with me? 


That's what I thought. 

This winter, the Yankees must choose between fizz and buzz

Q: How do you improve the Yankees, which won 100 games last year? It's actually quite simple. Pitching, pitching, pitching.

Sign Patrick Corbin, sign JA Happ (or Dallas Keuchel), re-sign Zach Britton and David Robertson, and trade Sonny Gray for a slick-fielding shortstop. Leave the rest of the team in place. Fill with prospects from Scranton and the recycling bin. Imagine the pitching staff: Severino, Paxton, Corbin, Happ, Tanaka, Green, Holder, Britton, Betances, Robertson, Chapman. 

Q: How do you restore the Yankees to their rightful status as the marquee franchise in American sports? It's actually quite simple. Ka-boom, ka-boom, ka-boom.

Sign Bryce Harper, sign Manny Machado, trade Sonny Gray for an equally suspect starter, promote young arms from Scranton, and bludgeon your way to the pennant through sheer power of the lineup. Imagine the batting order: Hicks, Judge, Harper, Machado, Stanton, Andujar, Sanchez, Torres, Gardner. (And if Gardy doesn't hit, we'll find somebody who can.)

Q: Can there be a compromise?

Sign Machado or Harper, sign Corbin or Keuchel, trade Sonny Gray for pitching. Fill with Scrantonians, minor trades and five-cent bottle deposits. Imagine... I dunno... happy dolphins in casinos.   

Q: What do we know about these plans?
Not much. But by trading for James Paxton, the Yankees suggested they intend to go for broke in 2019. Though you hate to give up Justus Sheffield, we can understand this decision. The Redsocks are poised to win several straight championships, unless the Yankees stop them. 

Q: What do we know about the Yankee budget?

Still nothing. Now come the hard decisions. Over the next two weeks, we should have a sense of whether Hal Steinbrenner is willing to spend his money. 

Q: What if Hal Steinbrenner doesn't want to spend?

Well, maybe the New York Giants can win the next six and roll to the Super Bowl! Because that's NYC's best bet. If Hal is not all in - that is, if he's still clinging to the idea that the richest team in baseball should be outspent by its rival to the tune of $40 million - none of the above scenarios matter. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

If Hal meets with Manny Machado, we'll finally know for sure if he was adopted

Two days ago, owner Hal Steinbrenner said he's willing to sit with Manny Machado - aka the Slugging Slacker of Sloth - to discuss the rise and fall of civilization, man's inhumanity to man, and that nasty little matter about hustling during the World Series. 

The mere chance of such an intergalactic summit should dramatically increase the chance of Manny becoming a Yankee. For starters, it shows the franchise has not flatly rejected Machado and his huge price tag. (Interesting: There is no talk - yet - of a meeting with Bryce Harper.) Secondly, it would give Manny a chance to address the slivers of DNA that still link the House of Stein crown prince to his all-or-nothing father. 

In the previous millennium, a meeting between Old George and a free agent - be it Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Hideki Irabu, Jason Giambi or even Carl Pavano - inevitably led to a signing. The session had the effect on George that the Saudis' souped-up Radio Shack electro globe had on Trump. It made him believe. (Whether the players delivered, well, that's another story.) George was always a sucker for any player who wanted to be a Yankee.

This winter, there are six such free agents.

Machado's Yankee desires were outlined last summer by a cousin. Growing up, Harper made no secret about his goal of playing in the Bronx. Same with Patrick Corbin, who grew up in North Syracuse, a Yankee hotbed. JA Happ has said he wants to return, as did Zach Britton and David Robertson, who recently upped the ante, suggesting he will play near his Rhode Island home. Translation: the Yanks, Redsocks or Mets. 

Food Stamps Hal won't meet with all of them. But if he's truly planning a sit-down with Manny, we will learn once and for all if he is his father's son. Because all Machado will have to do is hang his head, say that his anti-hustle statements were misquoted, or misconstrued, and - if he can keep from cracking a smile - all will be forgiven. It's the Steinbrenner way... that is, if Hal is really a Steinbrenner.

Friday, November 23, 2018

It's time for Hal to step up, and first on our list should be Corbin

It's Black Friday: Time for Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner to show his hand. Is he his father's son, or was he abandoned in the wild and raised by a pack of feral Bud Seligs? 

It's time for Hal to pull out his fancy checkbook - I imagine it decorated with Disney barnyard animals - and start scribbling zeros in a meaningful way. 

Today, we should send a message to Boston. 

And it should come in the form of Patrick Corbin.

Of course, we all want a Manny or a Bryce. But neither can achieve a perfect fit. If we sign Manny, we've over-stacked with RH infielders. If Bryce, we're cluttered in the OF and maybe at 1B. Each deal would likely inspire a succession of follow-ups, and if we're going to remake the roster, we need to move slowly.

But there is no excuse in this world - other than cheapness - for not signing Patrick Corbin. He wants be a Yankee. He wants New York. Our rotation has two open slots, and Corbin fills one. The fifth could be salved by a Sonny Gray trade, or maybe the comedy team of Cessa & German.

Corbin should be a done deal. We'll worry about JA Happ or Dallas Keuchel later. Same with Didi's replacement. 

There is no reason to drag our heels on the best free agent pitcher available this winter. 

It's Black Friday, Mr. Steinbrenner. Unstrap your fanny pack. You're a billionaire. Start acting like one. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Many Of You Don"t Know " Voodoo."

I spent some time, during my graduate study years, in Haiti...interviewing, " les sorcières docteurs," or witch doctors for those of you who refuse to learn Haitian.

One of the certainties which ( like witch...only not ) stuck with me is;

"Coincidences don't lie."

I woke up this morning in a cold sweat.  It was supposed to be raining in Los Angeles.  But I knew that to be a lie.

What, then, was haunting me?

" Coincidences don't lie !"

I went to may chalkboard and wrote out the name; P-A-X-T-O-N.

Then I wrote out the name : P-A-V-A-N-O.

Look at the similarities:

1.  The first two letters of these names are identical.

2.  Each has a " forbidden letter;"  one has the "X" and one has the "V."

3.  The final two letters ( gasp ) are the inversion of one another.

4.  The one neutral element is a "T" in the first name, and an extra "A" in the second.

5.  Each name has SIX letters!

I can only assume that Cashman knew no Haitian when he made this deal.

We have acquired another Carl Pavano.

The chicken feathers, held over the candle, glowed reddish brown.

The color of doom.

A Thanksgiving rarity: Tim Locastro, the newest Yankee, is both a steal and a gift

See that headline? It's a pun. 

It sounds as though I believe the Yankees just ripped off the Dodgers in a trade. That's because utility man Tim Locastro, the newest Yankee, would likely play one role on the 2019 team: Stealing bases.

Supposedly, Locastro's super power is speed. Last year, in his Dodgers' cup of coffee, he played 12 games and stole 4 bases. Trouble is, he's mostly an OF and bats RH, and we're already top-heavy with both. He's 26, so it's now or never. He could become this year's Jabari Blash - the Yankee pickup in last year's Chase Headley dump - and vanish before spring training. (By the way, for Jabari fans out there, the Blashman came to bat 39 times for the Angels, notched four hits, drove in a run and stole two bases! And for you Jabari Sabermetrons, his WAR was a -0.8, yep a negative oh-point-eight. So don't say I never told you nuthin.') 

But here's where Brian Cashman did his good deed for 2018. (If he doesn't get into Cooperstown, maybe he'll still make Heaven.) Cash traded pitcher Drew Finley, a former third round pick who hasn't panned out, to the Dodgers, where his dad is an exec. This looks like a favor, cooked up at the GM meetings, and to get Locastro - whom LA wasn't going to protect in the Rule 5 draft - we kicked in a modest $75,000 for chips and dip. 

Hey, we reunited a father and his son! Today, while the kids are screaming, and evil uncle Gary is spewing racial epithets, take comfort in knowing that somewhere, far away, the Finley family is enjoying a happy Thanksgiving.

Have a good one. Today's holiday hint: Don't forget the bone saw!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

What a Difference a Year Makes

Ah, remember the halcyon days of last off-season?

Somehow, everything seemed to be breaking just right.

Sure, there were the nettlesome pick-ups of Brandon Drury and Neil Walker.  But the dreaded second shoe did not fall:  the Gleyber and Andujar were not traded away for pixie dust.

We didn't give away the farm for Gerrit Cole.  And everyday, there seemed to be another little gift coming our way:  Chase Headley—gone!  Todd Frazier—gone!

How often it has been this way.  I still remember so well being in college back in 1978, and reading about the Yanks' latest acquisitions.

The team had won two straight World Series, three straight pennants.  And yet here was Old George signing up every free agent pitcher in sight:  Tommy John, Luis Tiant (thereby further weakening an already shaky Red Sox staff).  Even, it was reported, Bruce Kison.

(Kison ended up backing out, leading George to blast him in the press.  Ah, remember when we had an owner who actually cared who was on the team?)

I don't wish to eulogize the Mad King too much.  Once he lost it, he was well-nigh unbearable, and squandered nearly everything.

But he did understand the need for redundancy, particularly when it comes to pitching.

Too many of the great baseball experts, even of the sabremetrical variety, rely on the past.  What they should understand is that ballplayers—and again, particularly pitchers—are like so any atomic particles, never sticking in one place for very long.

I remember all those magazine/newspaper covers, marveling over the six or seven or eight top starters George had supposedly lined up for an upcoming season.  The writers laughed or raved—but what they refused to ever learn, and what we knew, is that inevitably two or three or more of them would be hurt of ineffective.  It is always the way.

What Prince Hal needed to do was pile up the starters—and the position players—this off-season, particularly with Coops having now squandered most of the farm system for nothing.

Sign Corbin, sign Eovaldi, sign Happ, plan on giving a real shot to Sheffield and Mike King, and then hang on—knowing there's an excellent chance that by next April, Sevvy will be in rehab, CC's knee will be permanently blown out, and Tanaka will be Tommy John'ed.

Instead, we once again have last year's—or the year before's—ace from the Space (Needle).

I will tell you what is going to happen to Mr. Paxton.  If he gets through spring training unscathed (an iffy proposition), he will allow a bevy of home runs and wild pitches (working with Sancho), before making extended trips to the DL.

This will go on for two years or so, interspersed with the occasional good start that leads everyone to say that he's finally turned it around.

But hey, can't wait to see all the top talent we get for Sonny Gray!

On The Biggest Travel Day of The Year......

I wish you all a safe journey.

Without your fellowship, the Yankees would be just another stop on the train.

I hope you each have this on the  morrow:

And if there are those who don't like turkey, eat the stuffing and inhale the pie.

Drink the wine.

Toast your comrades.

Have a great day and a better off season.

Chekov's " dark winter" does not begin today.

Love to all.

Fivethirtyeight metawonk predicts Yanks will win Paxton deal by a landslide

Here's one you might have missed...

Along with Trump's approval ratings - (42.4%) - and the betting line on Pelosi, Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight stat-wonk blog claims the Yanks picked Seattle's hipster-black-denim pockets on this week's James Paxton deal. 

While he might not be a household name outside the Pacific Northwest, he (Paxton) offers the Yankees the potential for a second legit ace alongside Luis Severino.

This is metadata - aka mathematical juju. It's the secret sauce in all of Cooperstown Cashman's trade decisions, and along with boring Power Point presentations, it has a tendency to inspire lonnnnnng sentences.

Since his breakout 2017 season, Paxton ranks sixth in the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (11.1) among pitchers who have thrown at least 150 innings, sixth in strikeout percentage minus walk percentage (23.8 percent) and eighth in wins above replacement per 200 innings (5.7) — a rough measure of what a healthy starting pitcher might provide over a full season — trailing starters Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard and Severino, plus reliever Blake Treinen, who got a lot of work in last year.

Wow. You can start that sentence, go take a piss, answer some emails, eat a baloney sandwich, and still return for the finale. And let's give this guy credit: The argument is bolstered by statistical factados that most of us wouldn't bother to conceive, much less calculate. Bravo!

The Yankees starters were fifth in WAR last season and tied for ninth in ERA-, which accounts for park effects and the league run environment. Paxton provides a massive upgrade from New York’s weakest link in Sonny Gray (5.26 ERA). The Yankees’ staff was already good, and now it might be great. 

Well, I hope this guy is right. And I cannot dispute this avalanche of WAR and Statcast launch speeds. In the face of Fangraphs and Sabermetrics, civilian fans can only shake our heads and accept the naked ridicule of old age. You know nothing, Jon Snow. If I had a nickel for every time I'm mocked for noting a batting average instead of OBS+ or LIPS or VORP... 

Listen: I hate to be the doddering coot who was permanently traumatized by the 1980s, when trade after trade sent Yankee prospects out the door for the Jesse Barfields and Rick Rhodens of the world. That's mere anecdotal evidence, and it should have been buried with the Core Four. But like angry spirits in a haunted house, the corpses of bad trades refuse to stay buried, and when the best thing someone can say about a deal is that Jesus Montero turned out to be a bigger disappointment, well, that's still a long term ticket to mediocrity.

We all want this guy to be right. And if Paxton turns out to be a war horse, we'll come to love him. But the greatest enjoyment for a Yankee fan is watching a young player blossom, and no matter how you frame this, we just traded away our number one prospect. Right now, what I dread is what I see: That the Yankees - unhinged by Boston's success - are returning to the days of trading their future for a quick jolt. And once you climb into that dark hole, your only recourse is to keep trading. 

With Paxton, the Yankees appear to be all-in on 2019. But if Hal Steinbrenner still plans to stay within his self-imposed salary cap - while Boston spends $230 million to satisfy the Fenway Nation's cravings - these trades are just beginning. Clint Frazier will be next, and then Estevan Florial. And no wonky analyses will salve that feeling of horror if Justus Sheffield turns into Scott McGregor.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Let me take this moment to thank all who blog, who comment, and who just read this hellhole outpost and shake their fists at God. Let's all agree to hate bad Yankee deals but love ranting about them. I toast you all. 

All the right junk in all the right places

With apologies to Meghan Trainor and Kevin Kadish

You Know I'm All About Those Bucks—the Hal Steinbrenner song

Because you know I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
No pennants
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
No pennants
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks.

Yeah it's pretty clear
We goin' nowhere next year
But I can fake it, fake it
Like I'm supposed to do.
Cause we hit those boom-booms that all the fans like
And all the right press in all the right places
You know I won't be chasin' no silly World Series ring
So if that's what you're into then go out an' buy your own bling.

Because you know I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
No pennants
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
No pennants
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks.

Hey I'm bringin' CC back
And that Gardy, too
They'll win the pennant for us
No, I'm just playin'
The team I'm really makin'
Is the Pigeons that those sheikhs are payin'
It's the soccer that's the future and you know it always will be.

Yeah, my poppa he told me to make bucks you must get the wins
He said the fans won't keep comin' unless you keep winning those rings
But he didn't know what the new game would be
How you don't have to win anything to keep all of the money.

Because you know I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
No pennants
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks
No pennants
I'm all about those bucks
'Bout those bucks.