Friday, May 31, 2019

Big Game Tonight


As stated above, 
Big game tonight.

The Yankee season could hinge on what happens with Frazier and Estrada

If MLB position players peak between ages 28 and 30, the Yankee River has yet to reach full crest. 

Check out our current top nine hitters: Only two - DJ LeMahieu (30) and Cameron Maybin (32)- have blown out the candles on a Big Three-Oh. The average - 26.5 years - won't even change much with the return of Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton, both 29. Also, now and then, for whatever it's worth, we should remind ourselves that Greg Bird is only 26, and Tyler Wade, 24.

For at least the next two years, the Death Star's front nine is jammed up with 20-somethings. If this were a Toyota dealership, Brian Cashman would be shouting, "Come on down! Our inventories are overstocked! Everything must go!" And though it hurts to say this, the Yankees next month will be wasting a hu-u-u-ge! opportunity if the looming flood forces Thairo Estrada and Clint Frazier back to Scranton.

In such a scenario, everyone will lose. The returns of Didi, Judge and Stanton will likely come with post-rehab slumps - each batter smack in the center of the lineup. But the worst impacts could be on Frazier and Estrada. Demoted and demoralized, both would likely go ice cold in Triple A, their value diminishing by the day. 

Both have become fan faves, in part because we don't yet know their ceilings. Can Estrada really hit .300? Does Frazier have 30 HR power? (I say yes on both.) But barring more injuries, both appear fated to celebrate July 4th in Moosic. 

Or not. Listen: Trades are coming to Winterfell. We can dream of a franchise that consistently renews itself by dealing age for youth - (if someone offered big prospects for Stanton, who wouldn't bite?) -  but that's fantasy stuff. We will trade young for old. It's our thing. And we will trade for pitching.

Unlike our starting nine, the staff looks ancient: eight pitchers over age 30: Sabathia (38), Happ (36), Ottavino (33),Chapman (31), Britton (31) Hale (31), Paxton (30), Tanaka (30). Sabathia can't go a month without needing his knee drained. Paxton has a history. Tanaka pitches with a slightly torn shoulder. Neither Dellin Betances (31) nor Luis Severino (25) is a sure thing. Domingo German? He's a bad outing from being shut down. We have no ace. 

There is no point in adding a Lance Lynn or Gio Gonzalez. The Yankees don't need another creaky vet. Nor is some young stud right now rocketing  through the farm system. Jonathan Loaisiga is hurt - again, and Chance Adams is our best Chance. (Get it? That's a joke. Ha ha?) 

I've pitched the signing of Dallas Keuchel. He's smart, he's competitive, he won't cost us a player, and we'd keep him from killing us in October. (He's done it before.) All he'll cost is Hal's money, and trust me, Hal has a fake leg full of gold coins. 

Keuchel is 31 and, yeah, another guy who can't remember puberty. As a result, I doubt Cooperstown Cashman sees him as the complete solution. Throughout his career, Cash has always chased the Holy Grail: Pitchers below age 28, still rising. Generally - from Jeff Weaver to Javier Vazquez to Michael Pineda to Sonny Gray - it's a horror show. But this we know: The Cash Man gonna do what the Cash Man gonna do. 

I don't look forward to June. I doubt it can top our month of May, the month of Gio and Thairo and Clint. We've been here before, leading the AL East on June 1. It doesn't always end well. Trades are coming. I gotta believe both Frazier and Estrada are deadline goners. What we get in return will dictate the season. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Rainout


Turns out, there is crying in baseball

It's both sad and refreshingly honest.


Now eight up in the loss column, Yanks have no excuses against big-spending Boston

It's not even June, so I cannot fathom the words I'm about to type:

This weekend could settle the AL East. 

More or less, anyway.

Yes, yes, yes, of course I'm overstating this. Commonly, a week after one of these "historic clashes," everything's been forgotten. The team that won the big weekend flies to KC and loses three straight, negating the gains that seemed so critical. It's a long season. And it's May. But let's think of extremes:

A Death Star sweep would knock the big-spending Bosocks back below .500, where they'd feel the hot Labatt's breath of Toronto on their pimply necks. Their bullpen problem would prod the front office to take action, though the easiest solution - signing Craig Kimbrel - would unleash the talk radio hounds of hell upon management.  

But a sweep by Bitcoin Boston would kick us squarely in the billiards, stripping the veneer from our Cinderella lineup, and reminding everyone, once and for all, that they remain the best team money can buy. We would still have a raft of returning stars, and a four-game lead in the division, but how would we ignore a sense that the no-names, who carried us throughout April-May, have reached their sell-by dates in June? 

Of course, a 2-2 split will unleash the forceful certainty of a Robert Mueller address following Pear Harbor ("Yesterday, December 7, a date that will live in infamy, something happened that I'm not at liberty to disclose, because it wasn't in my job description...") Everyone will claim victory, except the Baltimore Orioles. Among Republicans and Democrats, they'll remain America's lone unifying subject: They stink. 

But let's be clear: We have no excuse to settle for anything less than a 3-1 beat-down. We are streaking (8-2 over the last 10). We are healthy (if you view our regulars as Gio Urshela, Clint Frazier and Thairo Maybin, which I do.) Our bullpen is rested (thanks to Jonathan Holder and Nestor Octavio-Cortes Jr.) We are home, where Luke Voit yesterday notched his first MLB triple. Look at that happy man, standing at third.

Big-spending Boston, on the other hand, just put Mitch Moreland, their leading HR hitter, on the IL. They have no bullpen, running a closer-by-committee. Out of pride - and the public humiliation it would bring their front office - they cannot re-sign Kimbrel. A setback this weekend won't push them out of the pennant race, but it could force their hand in the upcoming trade wars, which will make Trump's tariff feud with China look like a salt water taffy weekend in Cape May. 

It's easy to overstate the significance of these confrontations. But I was wrong upstairs. This weekend begins in April-May. It ends in June-July. The war is upon us.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The season begins tomorrow

The big-spending Redsocks have spotted us (and the Rays) seven games in the loss column.

In return, we'll play with five all-stars - Judge, Stanton, Severino, Gregorius, Betances - tied behind our backs.

After four games with big-spending Boston, we play the Blue Jays, Indians, Mets, White Sox, Rays and Astros. Only one tomato can (Toronto) in sight. 

Everything starts tomorrow. 



The algorithm eats itself.

One of my favorite epithets flung around by the sabremeretricious is, "small sample size."  This is usually unleashed whenever one makes a prediction about any event, with the implication that anything short of a twenty-year chunk of day-in, day-out action is too small to draw any conclusions.

I heard the demons in my head shrieking this last night, when they announced that The General was 0-8 with 5 strikeouts against old friend Kirby Yates.  No, no:  small sample size!

But sure enough, LeMahieu then grounded into the ever thrilling, delayed-video-replay game-ending double-play.

Hey, this is not to bad mouth either The General or Ma Boone.  Of course you had to bat him there.

But what occurred to me was that, if you really make pitchers completely interchangeable, you'll kill the algorithm.

EVERYTHING will be "small sample size."  No pitchers will ever face batters often enough to get a really good grip on how they fare against one other.

Out go the algorithms.

Which is probably exactly what baseball owners want.

Lately, we're seeing serious signs that the old cartel system of professional sports leagues—which originated in the United States, with baseball—is starting to break down.  Our leagues/cartels are always trying to establish parity.  But the harder they try these days, the more that goal seems to elude them.

The draft, as Duque and Will Leitch have pointed out, is more and more an ineffectual anachronism.

Beyond that, the leagues are now just too big for many teams to get even a whiff of a championship for 30, 40, 50 years (Yes, I'm looking at you, New York Knicks!).  There are too many ownership groups just free-riding on the backs of teams that are actually trying (And yes, I'm looking at you, Wilpons!).

Rather than more parity, we see team after team running up huge win totals, while everybody else festers.  Franchises resort to tanking—but with what these owners want to charge, fans just aren't willing to sit through that for 4-5 years at a stretch anymore.

Throw in the diminishment of the pitcher, the increasingly one-dimensional nature of the current game, the constant injuries to superstars (whose accomplishments are often achieved under a cloud of PED suspicions to begin with), the general mistreatment of the fans, and the whole societal shift to entertainment through social media...and you have the reasons for all those empty seats we're seeing this spring, on the road and even in the Bronx.

So what to do?

Seriously reassess how to keep players healthy and playing?  Teach pitchers how to pitch without destroying their bodies and batters how to hit to the opposite field?  Find every way we can to go back to the old ways of playing that everyone prefers?  Maybe even...charge less money???

Nah.

What baseball owners would probably prefer to do is go to the "Rollerball" model:  nobody is above the game.  Nobody is anything more than an interchangeable cog in the machine.  No superstars means no super salaries.

Or put it in medical terms:  faced with a sick patient, the owners aren't interested in curing him, so much as altering his genetic structure.

If you can't achieve parity through everyone trying hard to build the best team they possibly can, you try to achieve it by making each at-bat as random as possible.

It will be more like a crude video game than a traditional fan experience.  With the only problem being that people prefer to actively play video games, and can do that almost for free.  Hmm...








With Boston on the horizon, a pivotal game looms

Like most self-loathing fan sites, we are a Chicken Little blog: When the Yankees lose, the sky's crashing, tornado sirens are blaring, the beer tap's sputtering, Wolf Blitzer appears in a hood with a scythe, and that's Chinatown, Jake! 

Last night, we died from a thousand cuts, squandering a late-inning rally and going belly-up in the 9th on a DP grounder from the one player - DJ LeMahieu - whose heroism seemed his destiny. Screw Chinatown, Jake. How the eff could we lose this game, how? 

Well, as they say these days in Tornado Alley, conditions look ripe for more. The Yankees face San Diego's ace, as we launch James Paxton's rehab from a Gayle Sayers knee. If we've seen anything from our returning stars, it's that they often need a few games to acclimate. So be it. We need Paxton, knee and all. 

But a loss today could officially end the "no-name" Yankee hot streak of April-May, the game's most Disneyesque narrative of 2019. We would lose 2 of 3 to the Padres, at home - and three of our last four - with big-spending Boston hitting town for four. (Game one: Chris Sale v. TBD. Ugh.) 

It's stupid and naive to read too much into one game. But baseball can be chaos. Now and then, one inning, one at-bat, one play - hell, even one pitch - seems to dictate the course of a team. 

Sherman, set the Wayback to the night of April 21. Wow. We're here: The Yankees have finally climbed above .500, and are hosting KC. Clint Frazier hits a three-run HR, giving us a 5-run lead, which Chad Green and Adam Ottavino blow. In the 10th, with the score 6-6, their Hunter Dozier leads off with a single. The Royals bring in their secret weapon, speedster Terrance Gore, to pinch run. He's swiped 4 bases this season, been caught once. Meanwhile, Gary Sanchez has been flinging balls into the Hudson, and the whisperers suggest it's a thing. Immediately, Gore takes off on Zack Britton. Sanchez throws a rifle strike. Gore out. Threat over. A few plays later, Austin Romine smacks a walk-off single. Yankees win, thuuuugh Yankees win. 

They take the next six of seven, rising to lead the AL East. They have not lost a series since May 1 in Arizona. But this afternoon, conditions look ripe. A loss today, and we've crapped three out of four. With Boston coming. 

Before leaving, I want to address the Bronx greeting that's been given to Manny Machado this week. At every turn, Yankee fans have booed him. 

Fine. I'm all for booing opposing players, especially guys who have killed us over the years, as Machado has done. Fans pay the money, and they have the right to boo. Now THAT, Jake, is Chinatown. 

Still, I cannot escape the feeling that fans are booing Machado because he didn't sign with the Yankees. That, I don't get. The fact is, Manny never had the chance to sign with the Yankees. The ownership never made him an offer. They took him out to dinner one night, and they posed for pictures, but no contract offer ever came. Machado's wife wanted New York, and he waited weeks for an offer that was never going to come.

Again, if fans want to boo, fine. Boo him because he's a Padre, because he was an Oriole, because he makes too much money, or that he said something stupid about jogging, or that he wears A-Rod's old number. Any reason works. 

But Machado didn't scorn the Yankees. They scorned him. And while we love Gio Urshela at 3B, and LeMahieu has been great, and Miguel Andujar will return next year... all of the above... my guess is that, by year's end, Machado will have outhit them all. It's a long season. And winds change quickly.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Pitcher, Yes

So the dreaded idea of "the opener" advances, now promulgated not just by the Tampa Bay Tuckwilligers but by our own mighty Yankees.

Hurrah.

One argument for this is, of course, that it will save wear and tear on the pitchers.  Probably so—though full-time relievers have a dicey track record on endurance, too, their effectiveness often oscillating from year to year.

Another is that pitchers tend to do less well against a lineup the third time around.  Sure.  There are only so many pitches, and only so many ways of throwing them.

But so what?

I'm sure you could also prove that most marathoners run slower times on the last third of their races.  Maybe we should just make it 15 miles.  I'm sure the marathoners would "improve."

And boy, those decathlon guys sure look tired at the end of their event.  What say we cut it down to seven events?  They'll probably "improve."

An athletic challenge is an athletic challenge. To reduce that challenge is not to "improve" anything.

And whose arms are we saving, and for what?

The Knights of the Press Box like to point out that it helps teams like Tampa Bay to compete with their lower payrolls.  Is this our goal?  To increase the profit margins of undercapitalized hustlers in other cities?

Yeah, I know that will get ME out to the ballpark.

If every pitcher is going to throw 100-120 innings a year, then pitchers will be completely interchangeable.  Who will care if they get hurt or not?  How will we even know who the best pitchers are?

Really, why not replace them all with a pitching machine, or maybe someone's dad, or have everybody hit off a tee?  That will really save those old white greedheads we call major-league owners some moola.

It's the same logic with "improving" performance.

Guys get hurt throwing the baseball?  They also get hurt running into fences.  Let's get rid of them.  They get hurt BY thrown baseballs.  Let's ban inside pitching.  Throw a close pitch, and it's an automatic ejection.

They get hurt running the base paths.  Let's cut down the distance between those bags to 60 feet.  Hey, it's what they do in softball.

The pitcher is the hero of the ballfield.  You diminish him at your peril.

Picture football with a different quarterback on every set of downs.  Picture hockey where everybody is required to play goalie for five minutes (actually, that could be fun).  Picture basketball as a 48-minute layup contest.

The pitcher is the guy we all fantasized about when we started playing the game.  He's the wraith-like figure out there in the distance, who we want to take deep.  Or we are him, arm weary, bottom of the ninth inning, last game of the World Series with everything on the line.

The pitcher is indomitable success—and tragic failure.

It's the Polo Grounds rising as one as Matty walks down from the clubhouse and begins his walk to the mound in his distinctive white duster.  It's Pedro getting the same reception—with a few more catcalls—when he walked out to the pen one early summer evening I recall in Yankee Stadium, with storm clouds rolling in overhead.

It's The Great One striding in to "Enter Sandman."  It's Bob Gibson looking like death his own self out on the mound, Juan Marichal kicking his foot to the sky, Sandy Koufax dealing bullets.

It's old Pete Alexander, gassed in the war, telling Rogers Hornsby yes I am drunk but I can get this guy.  It's Dazzy Vance with his white tee-shirt sleeve flapping, the ball coming out of the white laundry drying on the rooftops of Flatbush.

The pitcher is the Great Rivera beaten by a wet field and a dumb play and a juicing fraud in Arizona, beaten like a knight pulled from his horse and butchered by peasants, but still walking off the mound with his quiet, impenetrable dignity.  It's Mathewson beaten by his catcher letting a pop foul drop and being taunted by a literal Klansman, but still holding his head up.  It's Walter Johnson losing his last big game while his fielders slopped around behind him in the rain and the mud.

The pitcher is Satchel Paige on tour, telling all his fielders to sit down behind him, because he's going to strike out the side.  The pitcher is Jack Morris hanging in to shut out the Cards in ten, and Bill Bevens losing everything, World Series no-hitter, shot at immortality, the lead, on the very last pitch of the game.

You want to get rid of the pitcher?  Go ahead.  I'd just as soon play Strat-O-Matic.











The Yankees "Next Man Up" phenomena has moved to pitching, and we must be looking for the next Kirby Yates

In yesterday's Daily News fifth inning, I did something that not long ago was unimaginable: I screamed obscenities at my TV because the Yankees had taken out David Hale. (I'm not proud of this; she has treated me well, and I realize it was not her fault.) 

Yes, I hollered because of David Hale. He had pitched four innings, yielded two, and retired the last 10 Padres. Of the Yankee staff, he was yesterday's Iron Man McGinnity, throwing 61 pitches, nearly five times that of anyone else. At 31, Hale recorded his 11th MLB win - first since 2015, with the Rockies of Psilocybin City. Today, he's probably on a Greyhound to Scranton. 

Hale replaced - take your pick: James Paxton, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances or maybe even Jonathan Loaisiga. He has pitched twice for us this season, both four inning stints in winning causes. (He saved a game against Baltimore.) 

Last week, when Hale was unavailable, we promoted Chance Adams. Twice, Adams gave us decent outings, a total of 7 innings, 3 earned runs. I see Adams, 24, as a second-half wild card. He lost 2018 due to complications after elbow surgery. Maybe he'll reclaim his prospect status.

If not, there is Nestor (Ocasio)-Cortes Jr., also 24. In his last outing, against KC, he threw four scoreless innings. Had he pitched five - instead of being replaced by Jonathan Holder - we might have won. Going forward, Cortes looks like a cool LH spot-starter; when the next wave of injuries hits, who knows? 

After these three, the Scranton cupboard isn't exactly the waiting line at Mount Everest. Loaisiga is either being hammered or getting hurt. We have Drew Hutchinson, 28, with an ERA over 6.00), 26-year-old Daniel Camarena (4.98 ERA) and 24-year-old Adonis Rosa, who has streaked through the Yankee system, but has stumbled at Triple A (5.11 ERA)

It's easy to treat these guys like nickel bottle deposits. But this week, the Padres will probably use their closer, the one with the funny name. You'll surely remember it: Kirby Yates. He spent 2016 - at age 29 - with Scranton and the big team. Last year, he threw 65 games for SD with a 2.65 ERA and became their closer. This year, with a 1.13 ERA and 20 saves, he'll probably make the All Star Game. 

Yates? Who knew? Hale, Adams and (Ocasio)-Cortes? Who knows?

By George, I've got it!

I was mulling over two ominous future events today.

No, not war with Iran or the planet's temperature increasing by another three degrees.

Much more ominous than that.  Namely:

—Giancarlo Stanton will return to the active roster.

—Some Yankee will be dragooned into playing the Home Run Derby at the All-Star break.

Suddenly, the answer to both looming catastrophes presented itself to me:  this one solves itself!

We insist on Stanton representing us in this dubious endeavor.  Even if he's not off the DL yet, due to his having stubbed a toe or developed a nasty hangnail.

He's our guy, and we send him out there.  A few ferocious swings and...presto!  Problem solved!  If somehow that doesn't work, we insist that he play the field as well.  Back to the DL.

Speaking of which, watching the SNY rodeo clowns, er, baseball experts tonight, they finally conceded that maybe, just maybe Clint Frazier is looking so good he can't be trade bait.

Instead, they turned their attentions to...Thairo Estrada.

Sigh.

Yeah, I guess getting shot, miraculously absorbing the bullet into your blood stream and emerging as the next superhero isn't enough for them.

Thairo is my Pharaoh!



Monday, May 27, 2019

Reasons #543 to #545 to sign Dallas Keuchel... and other forms of altered communication

Continuing list of reasons to sign Keuchel...

543. See what he looks like without beard.

544. Bitcoins jingling too loudly in Hal's pockets.

545. Domingo German may have just splattered against wall...

Continuing signs of apocalypse... 


(BTW: Did any of you hear Suzyn call play-by-play to open the bottom of the fifth? The Master must have been out taking a pee. On the first pitch, Whit Merrifield lined out to Aaron Hicks, and Suzyn shouted, paraphrasing: A FLY BALL TO CENTER FIELD... AND... HE CATCHES IT.)  

Postscript to horror...

Finally, did John Sterling unveil a new secondary Gleyber Torres homer holler yesterday? After Torres homered, The Master gave the usual, "It's Gleyber Day" call, then added (which I had never heard before): "AND LIKE A GOOD GLEYBER, TORRES IS THERE."

This is the worst secondary homer holler since "You're on the Mark, Teixeira."  

Sunday, May 26, 2019

"Never save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it might rain."

With thanks to Leo Durocher.

A quote that is all the more relevant considering that it now seems to rain every day and every hour with our new, 21st century climate here in New York.

I've said this before, and I know it is becoming old hat.  But still.

How can it be that Aaron "Mad Monk" Boone does not try to sneak off with that game today?

None of his 45 different relievers had been worked overly hard.  Nobody pitched more than once in Saturday's twinbill (Don't you just love baseball words like "twinbill"?).  There was no game on Friday.

Why not try at least an inning from each of Britton, Ottavino, and Chapman?  You really think you're not going to be able to break through again on the Royals—a team you've already scored 7 runs against on the afternoon and that has resorted to pitching Joe Kennedy III—until the 13th?

Even Green would've been a better choice, since he would not have been "opening."

Tomorrow it might not rain.  But tomorrow you're playing the San Diego Padres, at home.  Tomorrow you might be winning 10-1 in the 6th inning.  You can pitch Jonathan Surrenderer then.  Or you might be losing 10-1 in the 6th.  Same thing.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you again:  why keep 8 relief pitchers on your staff—is it technically 9 now, with CC and The Ace, James Paxton, on the DL?—if you're not going to use them?  Why put out your least effective, most frightened looking sacrificial offering in a game you have a real chance to win?

After his recent, theology awakening, this was Mad Monk Boone reverting to the worst of conventional baseball dogma:  "Oh, we don't have a lead on the road, so I can't use my best relievers!"

Balderdash, I say.  Balderdash and poppycock.


Could Yankee no-names make the All Star Game?

Soon, the All-Star Game voting will begin, and with the second-best record in baseball (one game behind the mighty Twins), the Yankees surely warrant a few slots on the AL dream team. Obviously, the big vote-getters should be Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Ser Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances, right? 

Hmmm. Something tells me the big names aren't going to make that game.

So who on the Castoff Yankees' daily lineup could play? 

I hereby submit that Luke Voit needs your vote. Check his numbers.


Second in RBIs, among the top in HRs, with a serviceable BA and an improving glove. (Lately, much better.) A hot month of June could do it. Say this quickly: VOTE VOIT!VOTE VOIT!VOTE VOIT!VOTE VOIT!VOTE VOIT!VOTE VOIT!

Okay, what about Gio "Urshquake" Urshela, who threw out a guy yesterday from his butt.  
A few more plays like this will win a primary, and once he accumulates enough ABs to qualify, he'd be leading AL 3Bs in hitting. 


Truth be told, power numbers would probably sink Urshela's shot, (and Rafael Devers will get an avalanche of votes from the big-spending Redsock multinational corporate Goliath's rigged election machinery.)

Okay, here's an even bigger long shot: What about Red Thunder? 


Nah, won't happen. Forgetaboutit. But, hmmm, if Frazier heated up in June - I mean, he hits for power and average, as he did before spraining his ankle and missing 10 days, he could actually vault into the mix. His HR and RBI totals are low because of the lack of ABs. Considering Stanton's recent setback, Frazier should get a full shot. Who knows? Crazy, huh?

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. Rainy and overcast in Syracuse. Hope you're dry in the Midwest. It'll get better in June. Remember: The days are still growing longer.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Meanwhile, in the Tone-deaf Yankee Promotions Department...


I was having a hard time avoiding several chores on my to-do list so I took a few moments to look at Facebook.  As soon as I logged on, an announcement for "Giancarlo Stanton Bobblehead Night" appeared on my feed.  Really...no joke.


I wasted NO time zooming straight to the comments.  I was not disappointed.


Please note that, by dumb luck, I must have seen the Yankees post just a few moments after it appeared.  By the time I opened my screen capture/editing program, etc., approximately 15 minutes had passed.  Discerning IIH readers will see that all the comments below were made within 18 minutes of the initial Facebook post. 




It seems that there are others who share the view of many here on IIHIIFIIc...


It's almost game time.  Enjoy this weekend, friends.



UPDATE

I walked away, avoided some other chores, and then refreshed my Facebook page.  The fun continues.



I wonder how long it will take before the Yankees delete this post.

Also: We need to recruit some of these guys to be commenters on IIHIIFIIc.  Some of these are WAY inspired.



Whether now or after the MLB draft, the Yankees must sign Dallas Keuchel

Nine days from now, the old, white, billionaire owners of our national pastime will once again hold the unscrupulous and exploitative cattle auction known as the MLB Draft. These lords of "capitalism" will select prime talent from a national menu, bestow millions of dollars upon a chosen few - so working Americans will shake their heads over what appears to be a giveaway - and then short-ball everybody else with "take-it-or-leave-it" offers, based on rules the owners imposed upon themselves to keep down costs. They will own the players for six years. The system spares them from ever having to bid on young talent. (That's why one of the premier prospects will go to Japan, rather than the draft.) 

In this contemptible celebration of institutional control, the Yankees will draft 30th, a place dictated by last year's wild card finish. They will then draft eight picks later in a "sandwich" round, a choice received from the Reds in the Sonny Gray trade. 

Apparently, that pick is why the Yankees have sat on the curb for the last four months, rattling a cup rather than signing the pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Because Keuchel last winter received a qualifying offer from the Astros, any successful team that signed him would forfeit their highest pick after the first round, and that's what the Yankees would lose: Pick No. 38. 

Yesterday, the great website Fangraphs published a team-by-team assessment of the costs of signing Keuchel right now. For Death Star fans, it's infuriating. If we thought the newly revised CBA between the owners and the Players Union would lessen the shackles on us, we were wrong. Even though the Yankees no longer lead baseball in payroll, or success - or stature, for that matter - if we had signed Keuchel, we'd face a higher cost than anybody else in baseball. Go figure.

That said, Fangraphs gauges the overall Yankee hit at a mere cost of about $10.6 million. And that's if we sign him before the June 3 draft. If we sign him, say, June 6, as far as I can tell, whatever punishments remain would roll over to next year, and who knows where we'll be? Maybe the Martians will attack, and there won't even be an MLB draft, okay? 

This we know: Barring an incredible collapse, the 2019 Yankees will either win the AL East or a Wild Card birth. Today, their biggest concern is - well, the usual one: pitching, pitching, pitching. 

Domingo German will soon exceed innings projections for the year. Masahiro Tananka and JA Happ run hot and cold. CC Sabathia will always be a sidestep away from knee surgery, James Paxton is proving as fragile as his reputation, Luis Severino's injuries are increasingly a troubling mystery, and it's a steep drop to what we have in Scranton: Chance Adams, Nestor Cortez Jr. and David Hale. Right now, there is no hot young pitcher rocketing up through the minors, a potential game-changer for September. The "Next Man Up" concept, which kept us in position players, does not necessarily apply to pitching. 

Sign Keuchel, and here's the rotation: German, Happ, Tanaka, Keuchel, Paxton, Sabathia and maybe Severino. Seven men for five slots. It's a plan that can win. It's a plan that lets us keep Clint Frazier, Thairo Estrada, Estevan Florial and whomever else is currently being coveted by opposing scouts. And if their destiny is to be trade chips, at least the deals can be made over the winner, when all sides are on equal footing.

The Yankees are currently financing the repurchase of YES Network, a deal that runs in billions. In comparison, the cost of Keuchel is a fried egg sandwich. 

Come next spring, our man in the old, white patriarchs club - Prince Hal Steinbrenner - could be launching the reacquired YES with the Yankees as reigning world champions. Or we could be once again looking up at Boston.

Mr. Steinbrenner, there can be no debate here. There are no excuses for inaction. The Yankees must sign Dallas Keuchel. 

You gotta be in it to win it

It's not like me to repeat the slogans of state lotteries, which I believe are generally an ill-conceived, immoral attempt to evade the true cost of running a decent society.

What was it that Richard Russo character called it?  "A tax on stupidity"?

But I gotta say, whoever came up with that slogan for the New York lottery was spouting something very relevant to our current discussions.

Time and again, I hear our more statistically inclined brethren and sistren talk about how I am underrating the wondritude of the all-or-nothing, home-run-or-strikeout kings, such as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

What can I say?  Judge, in particular, seems like a real mensch, a great teammate and an outstanding all-around player.  I even like those pathetic ads with the fake moustache.

And I admit that I am too hard on Stanton, who took the usual bear-baiting from the Knights of the Press Box in his first year without a whimper, and gave us a couple good months.

But who would win?

If you had, say, a season played out by Strat-o-matic or some such between a team of all Stantons or all Judges, versus one of all LeMahieus or all Urshelas, or even the wonderful mix we've had for the last few weeks?

Why, the LeMahieus, of course.  They would be at least 46-3 versus the Stantons, and 29-20 against the Judges.

Why?

BECAUSE THOSE PUMPED-UP SLUGGERS CAN'T STAY ON THE FIELD.  They would simply forfeit game after game, because an intrinsic part of their slugging technique is chronic injuries.

I came to the same revelation tonight with the news that James Paxton is still feeling pain and will, after having lost almost an entire month...miss still more time.

Was it Cone who called Paxton "Pettitte times five"?

No, he's not.

James Paxton is 30 years old, and has never thrown more than 160 1/3 innings in a major-league season—and he won't do it this season.  When Andy Pettitte was 30, he had already thrown more  innings than that 7 times in a season.  He would do it seven more times before he retired at 41, with 256 wins...and five rings.

Paxton has 44 lifetime wins.  If he gets to 100, it will be a major accomplishment.

Spare me your analysis of the two pitchers' FIP or WHIP or PIPP or QUIP.  If you're not out there, it don't mean a thing.

It's like saying Usain Bolt would win every marathon if he could run 26 miles and 385 yards at the speed with which he runs 100 meters.  Yeah, that's true.  But he can't.

The number two guy in Yankees history in games played, just behind Derek Jeter?

It's Mickey Mantle, who played 2,401 despite having osteomyelitis, a torn ACL in his rookie year that was never fully repaired, whatever crazy shit his body absorbed in what is, today, literally a fenced off Superfund site, and a major problem with alcohol.

I love Aaron Judge with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns.  But to reach Mantle's 2,401, he's going to have to play almost every game of every season for the next 13 years, until he is 40.

I have genuine admiration for Giancarlo Stanton.  But to get to that Mantle level, he will have to play almost 162 games a year for 8 years, until he is almost 38.

Which speaks to a real issue:  if you can't stay on the field, what does it say?  It doesn't matter how good you are if you're not in it.

If these guys cannot play anywhere near as often as the most constantly injured superstar in baseball history, what  are they doing?  How can you say their approach to the game is superior?  







Friday, May 24, 2019

Heresy! Blasphemy!

On October 31, 1517, a rather excitable monk named Martin Luther nailed his famous Ninety-Five Theses to the doors of All Saints Church in Wittenberg (and you think I'm long-winded!).

No, it wasn't some kind of Halloween trick-or-treat stunt.  Luther was attacking key elements of established Catholic doctrine, and the world would never be the same.  Welcome Protestant work ethic, restricted golf clubs, and drinking hard liquor as soon as the sun was over the yard arm.

In the same vein, Ma Boone—who henceforth shall be known as "Mad Monk Boone" (and no, it's nothing to do with the old Dodgers and Phillies hurler who surrendered The Mick's World Series grand salami).

What Boone did was to say—for publication!—that the key to the Yanks success was going from the third most strikeouts in the AL last year to only the 11th most this season:

"Contact is important; it matters.  It's something we talked about in spring training."

"We talk about controlling the strike zone over and over in the dugout," chimed in batting coach Marcus "Huldrych Zwingli" Thames.  "We talked about [it] in the spring and now in every meeting, before every series.  We keep stressing how important it is to get your pitch  We never stop having that conversation."

No doubt, those meetings are held deep in the catacombs of Yankee Stadium by torchlight, probably between the bones of Lou Gehrig and Earle Combes.

I'm sure there's some part of Pope Brian that would prefer to set up a lovely little auto-de-fé for the heretics somewhere near the pitcher's mound.  But the Pontiff is having too good a season himself to unleash the Inquisition.

Could it be the Reformation has arrived?  Yankees stealing bases, not trying to pull balls that can't be pulled, hitting into the yawning gaps left by shifts...Our season of miracles and wonders continues.






One person most of all has given us victory in 2019, and we should say his name

Hooray for us, dammit. 

Heading into Memorial Day weekend - the MLB mud-run's traditional first bog - our "fully operational Death Star" has the game's second best record, below only the Minnesota (tick, tick, tick) Twins. 

We have succeeded despite an avalanche of gonadal tweaks that would have neutered most teams, with a Frankensteined lineup that has become talk (or "Tauch," in the case of Mike Tauchman) of the Gammonites.

As unrelentingly angry Yankee fans, we face a thorny dilemma: Should we maintain our furious venom, like cows chewing a bitter cud, or should we bow to a sinister force that has plagued us since the dawn of this millennium:  

Comrades: For better or worse, I am doffing my cap. 

Let us now praise the man behind our joy and success: Mr. Brian McGuire Cashman, the pride of Rockville Center, NY... yes, Cooperstown Cashman... THE KING OF THE NORTH! THE KING OF THE NORTH! THE KING OF THE NORTH!

I know, I know... after all the squawking, all the miscues - (Pavano, Igawa, Hafner, Vazquez I and II) - a near decade of ring-less despair, while the big-spending Redsocks replaced us on the food chain... today, it cannot be denied: Everywhere you look, Cashman's handiwork has saved this team. For example, the lineup:

1B. Luke Voit, a career minor leaguer snatched from St. Louis.
2B. DJ LeMahieu, a middling-but-strategic free agent.
SS. Gleyber Torres, stolen from the Cubs in the El Chapo switcheroo.
3B. Gio Urshella, picked from the scrap heap.
LF.  Brett Gardner, re-signed as a legacy.
CF. Aaron Hicks, stolen from Minnesota for JR Murphy.
RF. Clint Frazier, received for Andrew Miller.

C.  Gary Sanchez, signed at age 16, home-grown.

The roster is smeared with Cashmanic DNA. Consider the overlooked 2015 trade of LH reliever Justin Wilson to Detroit: for Chad Green and Luis Cessa. Green is a valued lug nut, Cessa a working sprocket. A great deal, no matter how you slice it. Or the trade for Ser Didi Gregorius (even though we gave up Shane Green, I'll take it.) 

On this blog, we regularly condemn Cashman. When it sorcery works, we must acknowledge it. 

Let's not ignore that this has been perhaps the most barren decade in Yankee history. But thus far in 2019, his record of trades and pick-ups is no less than astonishing. The only off-season clunker - thus far - seems to be banishing Sonny Gray to Cincinnati; he's pitching well (ERA: 3.78), and the kids we received in return are too far away to evaluate. 

Particularly, Cashman's brilliance has been in finding scrap yard tools. Cameron Maybin is everything we'd want in a 25th man. Tauchman hit some big home runs for us. Urshela might just be our long-term 3B. We got them for next to nothing. If we cannot praise his role in this season's success, we cannot truly enjoy this team... which would be a shame.

But but BUT... in the late innings yesterday, the YES wonks flashed an interesting stat: The Yankees' 2019 record matches that of last year's team at this time. You could say it's deja vu, all over again. 

Boston is six behind in the loss column. They are streaking, and we are running out of games against Baltimore. (We still have a full allotment against Toronto (20-30), though they might improve in the second half. The O's, on the other hand, are going nowhere.)

We have beaten the Tomato Cans. By the end of this weekend, we could have the best record in baseball... with Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton yet to be heard from. Mr. Cashman, take a bow. KING OF THE NORTH! ALL HAIL THE KING OF THE NORTH!

Be still, my heart!

I wouldn't call today's Bludgeoning of the Birds—the 12th in a row, in Baltimore—exactly a work of art.  But I have to admit, I loved the way we:

—Fielded the ball, especially in the infield.

—Scored runs.

Particularly the way we scored runs.

Sure, there were two more homers.  But there was also:

—Gio singling with two outs and the bases loaded in the 6th, for two runs.

—Thairo the Pharaoh singling, stealing second, then scoring on a single by Romine.

—Sanchez, pinch-hitting for Romine in the ninth, gently popping a ball into the vast open spaces of the right side when Baltimore put on one of the most extreme shifts I've ever seen.  It just kept the line moving, as the 1998-2000 Yankees liked to say.  Two batters later, Aaron Hicks drew that bases loaded walk to force in the winning run.

Guess he didn't read the manual on "Dare to Take a Called Third Strike."

Scrapping for runs, sizzling with the gloves.  Nice.  The only dubious moment?  (I mean, besides Jonathan Surrenderer once again giving it up.)  That triple over Hicks' head.  He not only looked baffled by the ball but jogged in a Canoesque fashion after it.

Are we going hear about another calf strain tomorrow?




Thursday, May 23, 2019

Draft beer, not athletes

Will Leitch of New York Mag lays out the case against professional sports drafts. And dammit, he's right. 




When Gleyber Torres comes up, John Sterling has Homer Holler competition from the O's Gary Thorne

"Unstoppable!" (The first one.)

And then the second one.


The threesome at third: The Yankees have maybe a month to sort out the infield

Last night, as the Death Star pleasured itself against Baltimore - (Note: After today, only seven games left against our generous, Showalter-less hosts) - a revelation burst from my YES-influence thought-sack: Come Oct., our 3B might just be Thairo Estrada.

Certainly, many predictions lie ahead. And you can't predict predictions. But when Ser Didi Gregorius returns next month - (a hopeful prediction) - he will create a three-way logjam at 3B by a trio of contestants worthy of the final weeks of The Voice. (It will remind us of last year's duel between Brandon "Migraines" Drury and the now-vanished Miguel Andujar.) Competition is good, unless Ryan Seacrest is nearby.

In recent weeks, Gio Urshela has become our rock at 3B, and he deserves our loyalty. Good grief, he's hitting .336. You don't bench a guy hitting .336. Of course, he's come to bat only 114 times, not enough to qualify among league leaders (if so, he'd be second in the AL.) And there's no sign of a slump. Over the last 30 days, he's hitting .355 - and over the last seven: .368. You could say he's heating up.

The problem? Urshela has never before hit like this. (Previous MLB peak: .233.) We cannot ignore the possibility that his stagecoach will revert to a pumpkin. August can be cruel to the stars of May. (If tomorrow, Urshela lapses into a 1-for-20 road slump, his average would still be .293.) We just don't know. You can't predict predictions.

But here's one: If Gio collapses, DJ "General Curtis" LeMahieu will be next man up, right? Right now, he's Reason No. 1 why Brian Cashman is 2019 MLB Executive of the Year. (Read it and weep, Cashman-haters.) It's hard to compare LeMahieu's glove with Urshela's; both are elite fielders. LeMahieu - currently third in the AL in hitting -  shows no sign of cooling. Over the last 30 days, he's at .355; over the last seven: .370. And like Gio, he's hit in the clutch.

But last night, when Thairo Estrada homered to put the Yankees ahead, it hit me: Why not him? At 23, Thairo has hit at every level in the minors - aside from last year, when he was hobbled by a bullet wound from a bank robbery; he was an innocent bystander. He has recovered from the kind of adversity few players ever experience. That suggests a character trait the Yankees would be ill-advised to ignore or trade away.

Of course, Estrada has a mere 38 at bats, thus far. He's hitting .316, (three HRs, though.) Like Urshela and LeMahieu, he's hot. Let's not anoint anybody with oil just yet. But if Gio fades - as we should expect - the answer might not necessarily be LeMahieu, who was signed to be our all-purpose IF. Close your eyes, and you could Estrada as our starting 3B in October. THAIRO! 

Other scattered thoughts:

Giancarlo Stanton has hurt himself... again. Now, it's a leg thing. We must remind ourselves that injuries are injuries, and you can't blame a player for being hurt. Also, Stanton played much of last season with a bum hamstring, because Aaron Judge was out, and the Yankees needed somebody. So let's give him that, and not question character. Okay... so, that said, the guy is a freakin' rubber band stretched to its limit and left in the sun. How can we ever have faith in him staying healthy? At any time, this guy can retweak a retweaked tweak. It will never change. 

I can't recall a pitcher being hit so hard, and still stay in a game, as CC Sabathia was in the fifth, as the Yankees seemed to put his personal quest for win No. 249 over the potential outcome. If Gardy hadn't thrown a guy out at the plate - our five-run lead would have been cut to one, and it's hard not to imagine that the next batter would have hit one to Delaware. Now, they tell us CC's knee was barking, and he might hit the Injured List. If this isn't a wake-up call for the need to sign Dallas Keuchel, I don't know what is. You know how I said upstairs that Cashman is Exec of the Year? Well, he can cement his award by getting Keuchel's name on the dotted line. (And I'd love to see Dallas face Houston in the playoffs; something tells me he'd administer a nice form of cruelty.)  

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Right Injuries Continue

The news out of Baltimore was bad tonight despite the win.  CC's knee was barking again, and it showed.


So...we have no choice but to go out and sign Dallas Keuchel!  Right???

Any offer for Bumgarner should not go beyond Luis Cessa, Tyler Wade, and the $12 million we will take off the Giants' payroll.  Max Scherzer is probably owed too much for Hal to bite (love it when our own cheapness helps us.)

Keuchel—and maybe the seemingly recovered Chance Adams gets another start.  Or someone else.  

This has been the way things break—sometimes literally—all of this year.  We've made all the right moves in all the right places.  

All we are saying, is give kids a chance!  Every time the JuJu gods close a door, they open up a window for us to jump out of...and land in giant pile of money.  They gave us lemons and we made lemon gin fizzes out of them.  Or something.

Then there is the strange case of  Jacoby II, sorry, Giancarlo Stanton.  

This latest "injury" is of truly Pavanoesque/ Ellsburian/ Metsian proportions.  

Stanton suffered a "calf strain," from being hit by a ball on his calf?  How does that track, exactly?  Not a bone bruise or a break, or a contusion, but a "strain."

Say what?

But never mind.  We'll take it.  Stanton's "relapse" after two other injuries comes just as the vultures from the New York Post were circling over Clint Frazier.  Sorry, guys, he's staying.  Though I understand there's some very slow-moving carrion over in Flushing...









No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOOO!

How to ruin an otherwise wonderful day. Thank you, Rupert Murdoch.


By the way, I refuse to link to this horrible story.

Should we start worrying about what happens when the celebrity Yankees return?

Last night, in a minor league rehab game, "Lil" Dustin Pedroia went 1-for-5 with a single, waddling his way back to the big-spending Redsocks like a salmon swimming upstream to die. We wish him well. When the Pedo, 35, finally returns, big-spending Boston will bench rookie Michael Chavez, who since mid-April has hit .282 with seven home runs. Hooray for tradition! And good luck to the Pedo, who played three games in 2018. He and Troy Tulowitzki should go drinking, no?

So, the big-spending Bosocks face a question: What do you do with the returning celebrity, the saver of whales, the keystone of virtue, defender of the realm and beloved puppy face of yesteryear? My suggestion: Bat him third. 

But here's the deal: The Yankees will soon face Pedroia times six. Which means our clubhouse diva chemistry will soon go from Katy Perry to full-on, unmedicated, shears-in-hand Britney. In the locker room, where humble no-names once showered in peace, we will soon see gold chains and entourages. In the parking lots, jalopies will be replaced by jaguars - (not cars, but live jaguars, as in the Mel Hall mode.) The joy of rookies basking in their first spotlight will be replaced by the scowl of vets who are sick of banal questions. Change is coming - for the better, we assure each other - but the juju gods never give everything you want.

Over the next month, a wave of returning celebrity superstars will crush the DNA of the currently first-place Yankees. Some will help. Some will sting. Here's a list. (Isn't the internet for lists?)

Celebrity Returnee: James Paxton
Situation: Almost there.
ETA: Memorial Day?
Who he replaces: The start-via-bullpen. David Hale? Chance Adams? Nestor Cortez Jr.? Dopey Dildox? Whatever. (Or does he subvert our potential signing of Dallas Keuchel?)
Potential downside: None, really. As long he is healthy. (And we sign Keuchel.)


Celebrity Returnee: Giancarlo Stanton
Situation: Playing Single A games. (Sat out last night.)

ETA: Early June. Soon.
Who he replaces: Kendrys Morales. 
Potential downside: Little, if it's Morales: (Kendrys, we barely knew yee's,) The downside is if Stanton returns in a state of abject rust, or still secretly hurt, and thus he becomes a human sinkhole in the heart of the order, until they shoot him with lawn darts. That would suck. You'd think it can't happen. But knowing the Yankees, it could. 

Celebrity Returnee: Dellin Betances.
Situation: Throwing on 120-foot flat surfaces.

ETA: Late June?
Who he replaces: The weakest bullpen lug nut. The 25th man.
Potential downside: None, if he's the good Dellin. If the bad Dellin, well... David Hale could never do such damage.

Celebrity Returnee: Aaron Judge
Situation: He's running, planning to resume "baseball activities," whatever that means. Strat-O-Matic? APBA? 

ETA: They've set no timetable. All Star break?
Who he replaces: This could get sticky. Before hitting 2 HRs last night, Clint Frazier looked ticketed to Scranton, to play every day and presumably get hot. If Frazier is hitting, he could platoon with or replace Brett Gardner - an alteration of clubhouse chemistry we might not want to experience. Cameron Maybe would probably go. Let's face it: July is too far out there to project.
Potential downside: None. When healthy, Judge is our best player. But he might take a while to return to form.

Celebrity Returnee: Didi Gregorius
Situation: Almost ready for a minor league rehab. 
ETA: Mid June.
Who he replaces: Ugh. This is a domino drop of overachievers. He'll knock Gleyber to 2B, which knocks LeMahieu to third, which knocks Urshela to the bench. Or maybe LeMahieu becomes utility man - all of which send the exciting, inspiring young Thairo Estrada to Scranton, or to another team in a trade. I hate this idea, but we can't keep everybody, and this SS, Hoy Jun Park, is possibly the breakout Yankee prospect of 2019. (Hitting .333 in Trenton.)

Potential downside: None, if Didi comes back strong. If he's rusty and slumpy, that's another story. We could ruin a perfectly good infield.

Celebrity Returnee: Troy Tulowitzki.
Situation: Keeps re-tweaking tweaks.
ETA: July? September's expanded roster?

Who he replaces: Damned if I know. They have him practicing at SS and 3B. Whatever. 
Potential downside: Honestly, I don't see an upside. The Yankees promised him a shot as an everyday player, at least until Didi returned. They love him. He's a future coach, maybe even a manager. Guy's in limbo. They'll probably have to waive him.  

Celebrity Returnee: Greg Bird
Situation: Foot in a boot.
ETA: August? September? Never?

Who he replaces: Ryan McBroom, in Scranton.
Potential downside: If Bird can come back, more power to him. But the days of him platooning with Voit are gone. He looks like a trade chip, and as long as he's on one paw, not a relevant one. He must heal, go to Scranton, bust down fences, and even then wait for a call that might never come. Nah. That dream of Yankee stardom? As Arya Stark would say, "NOT TODAY!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Yankees, Redsocks to play joke games in London next month

When I first heard the Yanks and Redsocks were targeted to play two games in London, I knew it was foreign marketing crapola, a leftover from the Bud Selig days. But I never fathomed this. 

The players union should file a protest. The injuries that occur on artificial turf are enough to rate OSHA violations. Routine grounders will fly through the infield, and bloopers will bounce over the heads of outfielders. God help any player who dives for a sinking liner. 

There's a reason why fake grass never made it in baseball. It subverts the game in dramatic fashion. Sad to think that we want to showcase the Pastime to European fans, and this is what they'll see.

Yanks v. O's paints a portrait of opposite worlds

Last night, the 2019 Yankees' 12th comeback win was also their third victory when trailing after eight innings.

Meanwhile, the Orioles lost their 8th game in the last 10 to maintain MLB's second worst record, a-half game ahead of the misery Marlins. 

Dear God, look at the lineups...

Our catcher, Gary Sanchez, projects a 30-HR comeback season. Theirs - Pedro "The Wrong Sevy" Severino - haplessly watched a routine pop foul drop 10 feet behind him. In the future, he should keep his mask on.

Our firstbaseman, Luke Voit, has successfully buried the first slump of his MLB career, (along with Greg Bird) and could lay claim to the position for years. Their regular 1B, the ghost of Chris Davis, is hitting .178 - eleven points higher than he hit last season in 470 at bats.

Our secondbaseman... oh, why bother? This is Comparison Porn. I feel dirty. It's excessive, it's hurtful, and I'll only piss off the juju gods by smart-mouthing further. But "Tomato Can" doesn't cut it. Baltimore has become baseball's version of the Knicks, and I cannot think of a worse thing to call a sports franchise, or for that matter, anything. (Example: "Donatella Versace is the Knicks of face-lifts"... "Broccoli is the Knicks of vegetables.")

Last night, as Baltimore's naked haplessness unveiled itself on my innocent TV, I wondered who on the O's might help the Yankees in August, if - say - we flipped them a Chance or a McBroom? The answer: Nada, nobody, nope. 

Their best hitter, Trey Mancini, couldn't break the current Yankee outfield, much less the one with Aaron Judge in right. Frankly, I'd prefer Hammerin' Cameron Maybin, whose single and mad dash to second last night on a pathetic throw set-up the comeback. "Maybe" might be a bit plate-challenged, but the things he does well - running, fielding, not lunging after bad pitches - sure come in handy. He fits. 

Their best pitcher? Ha. The have none, their staff merely an assortment of hard throwers who, if traded our way, would grow old on the I-80 shuttle to Scranton. Their best pitcher is whomever happens to be throwing well tonight, and we don't need that Ebola-like contagion festering on our roster. 

If we don't take three out of four in Baltimore, the juju gods will have intervened. But how did such a once-mighty franchise fall so far?  In the last 11 seasons, they have finished fifth in the AL East six times. Between 2008-11, they completed a full-scale "tank," with nothing to show for it. In some alternative universe, they selected Derek Jeter fourth in the 1992 draft, rather than Jeffrey Hammonds, racking up pennants and creating a great Ripken-Jeter tradition at SS, and there, nobody has ever heard the name "Jeffrey Maiers." Ah, but that world is far, far away - as distant as the O's are from the Yankees right now. 

Tonight, we send out our "ace," Domingo German. The crowd is practically a home game. The saying goes, "Make hay when the sun shines." Forget that line about three out of four. This needs to be a sweep. Calling Mr. McBroom...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Some Props, Please!

Okay, SPOILER ALERT.

But...did I or did I not call it on Sunday with GOT???

Let's review my predictions:

Danaerys, red-faced over having burned up everybody in that miserable pit of scheming nobles and religious fanatics, retreats to the Eastern Land of the Thundering Herds to get her act together.

Hey, I said she'd go back east.  I did not specify dead or alive.

Sansa is handed Westeros, and in celebration invents the Sansa Salsa.

All right, so she only got "The North."  In the end, this show was all about Brexit.

Jon Snow returns to the land beyond the wall, remembering—like Audrey Hepburn in Paris—that he was happy there once.

Check.  And yes, the man who introduced cunnilingus to The North was banished there, with the strict admonition that he never marry or have children.

This was a punishment?  What, did he also beg not to be tossed in the br'er patch?

"Sorry, ladies, I can't commit.  Westeros Council orders, you know, and those three-eyed ravens are everywhere!  But hey, let me show you a little something I learned down south..."
Arya moves to Brooklyn, where she changes her name to Kid Twist and starts a little outfit that becomes known as Murder, Inc.

Check and double check!  Last seen, she was on a ship going to the west of Westeros.  

That can only be one place.  Cue the Neil Diamond "America" tape!

On the boats and on dragons
They're comin' to America
Lookin' to kill
For one more thrill
Comin' to America!