Saturday, August 31, 2019

This is the model—I guess

So:  a good (if only five-inning start), followed by everyone into the pool (7 relievers!).

4 solo homers, a great all-around game by Judge (he even had a base stolen, but Didi fouled off the pitch), some sparkling plays in the field (looking at you, Mr. Dutch Knight!), more heroics from The General, and an invaluable stint by Cory Gearrin, the very model of a modern journeyman.

This is likely how the Yanks will have to win in the postseason, and good on them.  I'm feeling so good I'm even willing to give props to Coops for his dumpster diving.  And to Ma Boone, putting Johnny Lasagna in at a key moment...well, as they always say, better to be lucky than good.

But let's keep in mind that your Oakland Athletics, feisty and opportunistic as they are, are likely to be the lowest level we'll have to get past.

A certain, gloomy dread was audible in the voices of Ma and Pa Yankee from the moment I turned on my Walkman today—so much so I figured the Yanks were down about 9-0 or so.  (It was actually 2-1, Oakland, bottom of the fourth.)

The Master did have an interesting point, though, which was this:  should the Yanks really be so interested in compiling the best record in the AL?

Right now, this would mean facing the winner of an A's-Lungers series, a proposition about as enticing as having to pull a wounded badger out of a drainage pipe.  Houston would get Minnesota.  Hmmm...

On CC and the need to persist

CC has plenty of money for his family. So what's the deal with him?

Yes, I assume he loves the game, loves to play, loves to win. But especially loves to play. Overall, trying to maintain a rotation spot when you're this old, this heavy, with a knee this unable to consistently hold up underneath you, is simply a selfish exercise in prolonging your obviously finished career.

We saw the same thing with Jeter. The egos these guys have are enormous. They say it's all about the team and wanting to contribute, to help, but their ability to do so is, aside from a brief flash or two, gone. So it's not really about that at all.

I like the big guy, and I like him a lot more than I ever liked Robojete, with his morning-after baskets and bland corporatism. But when you get past the humble proclamations and self-rationalizations, CC is not helping the team at this point. I realize he wants to pitch in another World Series and get one more ring, and I can't say he doesn't deserve that shot. But at the least, he should keep himself on the IL as long as possible without losing his postseason qualification.

See that? I'm doing it now, that's how likable this guy is. We all know he should just quit, today. Seriously, do we need another potential David Wells walking off the field in a big game?

The question does remain: who takes his place? That's a tough one. But we must have someone else who's just as inconsistent yet still ambulatory. I know that basically describes our entire rotation, though. That's what makes the situation so hard to deal with.

Hey, big guy. Sit down, already.

It Is All Very Simple

The reason we can't beat Oakland is.......

.... they can hit crappy pitching and we can't.

Also, we messed with a winning formula ( inserting Luke; missing Gio; sitting Ford; pitching CC ), and it cost us.

Back to our two run limit.  No clutch hits for us; no clutch outs for them.

I think the broom is out.


We are Oakland's Baltimore.

Is losing to Oakland going to become "a thing?"

Yeesh. We get every break in the book - (umps trying to make amends for LA?) - but still lose by six. At home. Six. At home. Six...

I'm not gonna go Chicken Little on you. Not on a hungover opening to Gleyber Day Weekend. But we better not get swept. At home. Swept... 

I'd like to think we're using a rope-a-dope: Let them punch themselves out, so we can take them in October. But it's been a while since anybody knocked around Tommy Kahnle. And their guy, Anderson, threw the perfect pitch every time he needed one.

We better not get swept. At home. Nope. 

Friday, August 30, 2019


The Mets may have grabbed two more tabloid back pages but—AMAZE-ingly—their loss last night wasn't even covered in the Paper of Record.  Not even by wire service copy.

There was, instead, only a line under the standings—Chicago Cubs 4, Mets 1—and the box score.

That was it.  Not one written word.

Instead the Grey Lady went with a feature on how Todd Frazier is in a baffling slump, which is really not all that baffling, considering:

a—He's old.

b—He never could hit that much anyway.

It seemed more as if the poor fellows in the NY Times sports department—those who aren't preoccupied with soccer, extreme diving, or hiking, anyway—were just too depressed to write anything.

Still, it is remarkable:  a six-game losing streak at home, after a run that got the team into third place in the Bud Selig, Wild-Card Play-in Standing, just two games out of a slot.  And after sweeping a tough Indians team that gave us all we could handle.

Going into the last two games of the Cubs' series, still, the Mets seemed to have a reasonable chance to recoup, especially with their two best starters, Thor and Leg Room (how my computer insists on styling "deGrom") set to go.  

Instead, Syndegaard threw his worst game EVER, while Leg Room surrendered the most earned runs he'd given up in a start in, well, a long, long time.

The team couldn't even hit Craig Kimbrel, falling into the full Stanton.  They have now fallen back to 5th place in the Wild Card rally, 5 games behind the Cubbies in the No. 2 spot.

How did this happen?  Thor was actually mumbling something about how he'd managed "eight straight quality starts"—I'm not making this up; boy, did we dodge a bullet with that one!—before coming up with...nothing.

Leg Room, to be fair, was betrayed once again by a terrible Mets defense, which flubbed two, eminently playable balls—though he did promptly surrender his second homer of the night to Carrot Top Caratini, a Cubs newbie filling in for the injured Anthony Rizzo.

The sudden reversion to awful fielding, particularly by Rosario, who seemed to have turned it around, was, well, amazing.  So has been the disappearance of clutch hitting, and not just by the Toddfather.  Conforto seems to have turned back into a pumpkin—or maybe a white mouse.

Who knows why these things happen?

I like to say it's because the Mets—unlike a certain franchise to the north of here, known for racism and endless whining—really do have the worst luck in baseball.  But this is beyond freakish injuries and underperformance.

(And speaking of underperformance, the Mets' unfaithful once again failed to reach 40,000 in attendance.)

I guess the only explanation that can be given is...METS.

Gio Urshela is going to the most dangerous place to be for a Yankee

He's going onto the 10-day injury list with a strained watermelon rind. 

Used to be, we'd say, "Well, at least he can't get hurt while on the injury list."

Then came Pavano. And Ellsbury. And Stanton. And Sevy. And Bird. And Dellin...

These days... 

If the Yankees could bio-engineer the post-season, who should we soothe, and who should we stab?

If the season ended today... (O!, how I hate that phrase!)... we'd face the Wild Card winner in a best-of-five series. 

That said, our measly one-game home field advantage over Houston is like a presidential poll a year before the election. As they'd say on Game of Thrones: You know NOTHING, John Sterling.

Still, it's never too early to comb our personal vendetta lists and ask the essential question: Given the choice, who would we like to face in October, and who do we most want to see go up like a Putin missile test?

Here are the Top 10 potential Death Star adversaries, ranked scientifically, according to on-field talent, psychological stress points, body odor and existential threat.  

10. Braves. (tied) Young team in a football town. Facing them would mean we're in the World Series, and they're two weeks beyond Sell Date. Haven't followed them. Does Jane Fonda still lead fans in the Tomahawk Chop? 

10. Cardinals. (tied) Another Beyond Meat Burger. Bob Gibson is dead, and Tim McCarver is probably playing with Leggos. We'd face a vengeful Giovanni Gallegos, but - hey - they'd have to deal with Hot Hand Luke Voit. I'll take it. Mitigating factor: My wife is from St. Louis; if we lose to them, a year of shit. 

9. Cubs. It would be sweet to beat them with El Chapo closing. Plus, we still have unfinished business with Theo Epstein. (Isn't he related to Jeff Epstein? If we face the Cubs, this becomes our rallying cry: "Beat them out of respect for all the young girls that Epstein abused.") 

8. Dodgers. Best team in the NL, plus all the Kim & Kanye, Hollywood bullshit. Still, facing them means we're in the Series, and Aaron Judge likes hitting in LA. I'll take my chances.

7. Indians. Without Jose Ramirez - (broken meathook) - they don't look so scary. First contender to be kicked in the nuts by the juju gods. Would rather face them in a seven-game series than a five. 

6. Twins. Homer-happy - seven guys with more than 20 HRs. But as far as pitching is concerned "ace" is just a place with a helpful hardware man. Over the years, we've beaten them like a throw rug. Nothing lasts forever. Still, I'll take it. 

5. A's. They handled us in Oakland, but we were jet-lagged, right? That's all. Wrong time zone. But if they do it again this weekend, I'll start feeling a gonadal twinge.  

4. Rays. They hate us - more than they hate life itself. Every year, they distill this unadulterated hatred into 90 wins. We must always fear them, a little. Also, if a hurricane levels Florida, they'll become media darlings from the most obnoxiously self-serving lie in American culture: That a pro sports team can "heal" a city. If we face them with that raining down on us, just shoot me. 

3. Astros. Clearly, the team to be feared the most. Three Yankee-killer starters. Playoff tested. Deep as Seneca Lake. (Note to non-Upstaters: Seneca Lake is very deep, Loch Ness without the monster.) They will keep us honed through October, because we need the home field advantage. Frankly, I'd be delighted to never see them again... until next year.

2. Mets. I'm not saying this will happen. It's just - you know - GAAAAAH!  If they somehow regroup and reach the World Series, they'd be baseball's hottest team, they would own New York, and to win another tabloid back page, we would need to move to Montreal before the Rays do.

1. Redsocks. We can never again sleep peacefully on them. Remember: In this millennium, they are the windshield and we are the bug. Next weekend, we play four in Fenway. In recent years, they've owned us in September confrontations. This time, we can effectively kill their season. And we better do it. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The ultimate Yankee-centric news headline

Reminds me of...


As if Greg Bird needed another reason to be expendable, then Mike Ford arrived

It's been a while since Greg Bird popped up in my jumbled noggin, like a bad dream without any discernible meaning. He's like one of those ancillary characters on The Sopranos: You wonder WTF happened to him? Did he die? Was he arrested? The years have wiped clean your memory. So, you either IMDB-him, or forget him all over again. Usually, the latter. After all, he was just an imaginary character, a zephyr of the mind. 

But it lingers. WTF did happen to Bird? How did he end up rooming with Jacoby Ellsbury (and Giancarlo Stanton on weekends?) A Google search shows the last mention of Bird came two weeks ago, when Aaron Boone - himself scratching his head - said Bird's troublesome foot was "in and out of a boot," and he was "on a treadmill." That sums it up, eh? A treadmill. Going nowhere.

Listen: I don't mean to rip Bird. Surely, the poor guy is stuck in Hell. In April, he tore his left plantar fascia, the injury that killed Chien-Ming Wang's career, the kind I wouldn't even wish on that asshole Brazilian dictator who's letting the rain forest burn. (Actually, maybe I would wish that on him.) Back in April, Bird was platooning at 1B and getting most of the time because a) we didn't trust Luke Voit's glove and b) the Yankees needed lefty hitters. Also, Bird still had delivered the greatest Yankee moment (not counting tear-filled goodbyes) of this decade: His pivotal 2016 playoff HR against Andrew Miller of the Indians. From there, it's been all downhill.

But let's face it: The story of Greg Bird has gone its last circle around the campfire. And it wasn't a faulty barker that did him in. Bird's death knell has come in the form of Mike Ford, who is the Bird of 2015, without the Henry-Cotto-with-a-Q-tip injury history. In his MLB unveiling, Bird hit 11 HRs in 157 at bats. This year, thus far, Ford has 9 in 105. It's worth noting that Bird - at 26 - is still a year younger than Ford. But the last four seasons have drained his MLB service time to the point where the Yankees will either trade him (for next to nothing) or stuff him in a bottle and put him out with the tide. He's making $1.2 million - which is dip money for Food Stamps Hal - but we know he'll be gone. The only question is what single-A lottery ticket the Yankees will receive in a trade. Can we get back Juan Then? I always loved that name.

Whatever happens, I hope it works out for Bird. These days, he occupies a perch in the Yankiverse that I wouldn't wish on anybody - except for maybe that Brazilian shithead. He's a failed former prospect, which puts him on the chopping block of every furious, indignant Yank fan - ourselves included. It's not his fault. The juju gods screwed him. But Yogi Berra once said he'd rather be lucky than good. Bird may turn out to have been neither. Or worse, we'll never know. 

He'll surely get another ride from another team. Maybe he'll have a month. But he'll always be one misstep away from an MRI. So now, he's just fodder for an off-day. WTF ever happened to Greg Bird? Was it a dream? Yeah, actually, I guess it was.

Off-Day Happy Fun Pack!

I don't think we've had one of these yet, so here goes, inspired by our recent conversations about who is the best, all-time Yankees second baseman.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:  name your all-time Yankees team.

The rules?  It must be a 25-man roster.  And every player must have played more games for your New York Yankees than for any other single team.

Leaving aside known or suspected juicing—going just by what they tell us is the statistical truth—my selections would look something like this (all stats from their Yankees days only):

Starting Team

1B: Lou Gehrig.  Also on the all-time greatest of all teams.

2B: Robinson Cano.  Hey, as a Yankee, the guy slashed .309/.355/.504/.860, won 2 Gold Gloves, and probably deserved 3-4 more.  By contrast, Flash Gordon was .271/.358/.467/.825, was the 1942 MVP, and missed playing at 29 and 30 because of the war.  Tony "Poosh-'em Up" Lazzeri?  .293/.379/.467/.846—but ranks a distant third as a fielder.  Oddly, none of the 3 was a particularly good postseason player (though Cano was especially wretched, with many more at-bats).

SS: Derek Jeter.  Nuff ced.

3B: Alex Rodriguez.  Inescapable, if we accept the stats.  If not, it comes down to a battle between Graig Nettles (.253/.329/.433/.762) or Red Rolfe (.289/.360/.413/.773).  I gotta think Puff's prowess with the leather covers that 11-point OPS gap.

C: Yogi Berra. See Jeter, Derek.  Also likely on the all-times greatest of all teams.

OF: Babe Ruth
       Joe DiMaggio
       Mickey Mantle
Who'd play where?  Gee, I think they'd sort it out.  DiMag in center, and that's all you need.  Ruth, of course, is on the all-teams all-greatest.


Bill Dickey.  Nearly as great as Yogi, and a terrific tutor as well.

Jorge Posada.  Would have been considered top catcher in AL for 10 years and hence be Cooperstown-bound, save for the presence of a known juicer.  Disgrace, too, that Piazza is in, and Jorge never will be.  Just beats out Elston Howard, another convert to catching, who played in a more pitching-dominant era.  Honorable mention to Thurman.

Don Mattingly.  Too bad about the back...

Joe Gordon.  See above.  Could play short as well as second.

Graig Nettles.  The power just beats out Phil Rizzuto, who it would also be nice to have coming off the pine.

Bernie Williams.  Hard to pick the outfield reserves over so many outstanding candidates:  Earle Combs, Long Bob Meusel, George "Twinkletoes" Selkirk, Charlie "King Kong" Keller, Hank Bauer, Roger Maris, Bobby Murcer, Roy White, and Paul O'Neill.  (Reggie Reggie Reggie—and Rickey—put in too many years with the A's to qualify). But Bernie is the best all-around, along with...

Dave Winfield.  (9 years in the Bronx as opposed to 8 in San Diego!)


Whitey Ford.  The Chairman of the Board, and the only Yankee ever to do a TV commercial with Salvador Dali.  There's just one word for that...

Ron Guidry.  The overall stats are diminished a little bit by his hanging around too long, but oh, what a pitcher in his prime!

Mel Stottlemyre.  I may be prejudiced—and he played mostly in a pitcher's era—but with some of the great Yankees teams, Mel would've run up one 20-win season after another.  As it was, he got three, which ain't too shabby considering the teams he did play for.

Red Ruffing.  Also an outstanding hitter:  36 lifetime home runs.

Lefty Gomez.  He, like Ford, Guidry, and Ruffing, was a terrific October pitcher.  And hey, Stottlemyre beat Bob Gibson once.

Allie Reynolds.  The swing man.  Picked up 4 World Series saves, to go with a 7-2, 2.79 record.

Sparky Lyle.  141 saves in 7 years with the Yanks.

Dave Righetti.  224 saves in 11 years in the Bronx—and of course he could also start, and became an outstanding pitching coach.  He and Lyle bring it from the left...

Rich "Goose" Gossage.  ...while this fellow—151 saves—and...

Mariano Rivera.  ...bring it from the right.

Very honorable mention to:  "Happy Jack" Chesbro, Russ Ford, "Sailor Bob" Shawkey, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Monte Pearson, Joe Paige, Eddie Lopat, Vic Raschi, Bill Terry, Al Downing, Tommy John, Andy Pettitte, "The Original" El Duque, Mike Stanton, Mike Mussina, C.C., and "Tiger" Tanaka, among others.  (Catfish, Roger the Dodger, David Wells, "Bullet Joe" Bush, "Sad Sam" Jones, "Killer" Carl Mays, and the pitcher with my favorite name ever, Urban Shocker, don't qualify.) 

Happy to hear all dissents, corrections, better ideas, etc.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Seattle still must be punished for its festering hive of hatred

A confession: I don't like Seattle. Never liked Starbucks. Don't trust Microsoft. Sorta liked Pearl Jam, but hated Candlebox. Ugh. Never been to Seattle. Never will. Don't like the place.

A caveat: This has nothing to do with the people of Seattle. I have no personal animosity toward them. What pisses me off - and always will - is how they ruined Robbie Cano... and why.

Now, I'm not blaming Seattle for the vainglorious self-immolation of "Joginson" Cano. He brought down himself. But the Mariners in 2013 (corrected from earlier) made him an outlandish offer, so insane and unreasonable that he left an ideal situation in New York, where he stood poised to become an iconic, life-long Yankee. He chased a 10-year deal, one extra season, which - I believe, if he had an actual agent rather than a rap star (Jay-Z) looking to make a splash - would have been shown to be a bad idea. He chased the money. The rest is drunk history. 

Today, Cano is a mediocre, 36-year-old human anvil, who forgot how to hustle so long ago that - when he does run out a DP grounder - his gonads pop like Orville Redenbacher's Extra Butter Movie Mix. The dirty truth is that Cano squandered five years in Seattle, and had he stayed a Yankee, not only would today he be a surefire future fixture in Monument Park, but we might have won a ring. (I'm thinking of 2015, the season of Stephen Drew and Brigadoon Refsnyder. We sure could have used him.) 

Back in 2013, you looked at Cano's contract and had to shake your head. There was no way he'd ever be worth it. This year, he's making $24 million, an albatross figure the Mets will pay annually through 2023. 

He could never be worth that money, but here's the deal: 

Seattle didn't care.

Nope. They were sticking it to the Yankees. They were shaking off those "little town blues" and poking NYC square in the eye. Ha ha. And today, at 4:10 E.S.T., I hope we beat the living, yellow, rat-ejaculated snot right out of that pissy, un-balled, two-bit mosquito of a franchise - I'm talking five runs in the first, and then pour it on, until whatever fans remain are rooting for a Kaiju squid to attack the Space Needle, or whatever the hell they consider a landmark. 

They hate the Yankees. So be it. 

Let's give them something to remember us by. 

Not long ago, the assembled Gammonites of humankind were shocked - SHOCKED - that the Death Star didn't pull off a trade deadline deal for pitching - especially when Houston secured Zack Greinke. But the truth is, a bunch of teams in baseball simply would never allow themselves to be accused of the ultimate crime: Dealing with the Yankees. 

Let's face it: Cleveland was never going to send us Trevor Bauer, nor was Toronto going to deliver Marcus Stroman. No GM would survive the backlash from its hate-filled, anti-Yankee fan base. Thus, they made insulting demands - they wanted Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier - for the Robbie Rays they hoped to peddle. 

For reasons rooted in tribal emotions that extend back for generations, some cities simply hate the big bad Yankees. Seattle took its shot at us in 2013. They celebrated wildly after outbidding us for a player who jogs. They beat their chests and touted themselves as an emerging superpower in the AL West. 

They haven't played in a post-season game since.

And today, I hope we make them lick the toilet stall.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

"I want to see Red and there's no one there..."

It's August 27th.  Where is our Red Menace????

This is now officially ridiculous.  He'd better be up by Sept. 1, even if all Coops wants is to showcase him to other teams.

Oh, wait, of course!

Coops is hoping for yet another Governor's Cup, his favorite trophy, the shining symbol of Triple-A excellence.  How silly of me.

It's now a race against Houston

In the ever-spinning merry-go-round of hot stove-style crapola, there is a parlor game called, "If the season ended today..." 

Realistically, it's as meaningful as a Presidential poll or a lottery guess on when The Big One will hit California. In terms of relevance, it falls somewhere between Ben Carson and Rick Perry. That said, let us play:

If the season ended today... the Yankees would enjoy H.F.A. - Home Field Advantage - through the post-season. They would undress at their own lockers, bathe in their own Calgon-laced tubs, and sleep in their own beds, beside their own stuffed Teletubbies and singing purple dinosaurs. Better yet, they would play the winner of the one-game bloodbath between Oakland and Cleveland, hoping the game goes 18 innings with beanings and brawls. We could sit back and count the ambulances.

But - in fact - we might not sleep at all, due to one unsavory circumstance: Both wild card teams just proved themselves capable of beating us in a fiver. Both have deep rotations - superior to ours - with no Koufaxian super-ace that we would escape. Meanwhile, Houston would feast upon the homer-happy Twinkies, a post-season tomato can, if such a thing truly exists. 

In fact, the Yankees might be better off playing Minnesota - victors of the lowly AL Central - except for one terrifying side-effect: 

Home Field Advantage in the second round.

It's the ALCS HFA for which we are now battling. And let's not kid ourselves: Houston is the team to fear. The Astros will surely wipe out whomever they face in the first round. Their big three - Verlander, Cole and Grienke - will strangle the Twins, A's or Indians - whatever. And they will do us too, if we must play four times in Houston. The lack of H.F.A. killed us in 2016, and if we must win a 7-game set that involves strange beds, without Barney... nah. 

So... here is where everything stands:

We have a half-game lead over Houston, but they have the easier schedule.

The Yankees have 29 games remaining:

12 home, 17 away
9 against winning teams: Oakland, Boston, Tampa
9 against playoff contenders: Oakland, Boston, Tampa, 

The Astros have 30 games left:
16 home, 14 away
9 against winning teams: Tampa, Milwaukee, Oakland
9 against playoff contenders: Tampa, Milwaukee, Oakland

Most importantly: In the case of a season tie, they hold the tie-breaker over us.

So... we have the depth to rest players. We do not, though, have the luxury. And why... why... WHY does it always have to come down to four games in Fenway? 

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Mets Were MIA This Weekend. So Were Their Fans.

The New York Mets' in-house Paper of Record  today excused the team's play this weekend by saying that it was tired.


Just how tired it could be after a week at home and with a chance to play its first significant games all year is beyond me.  Perhaps they could use some Geritol.

Or perhaps—like Tinkerbell—they just didn't have much oomph because they didn't hear much clapping.

Big, three-game set at home against a hated rival, with a chance to move into a playoff spot and...Mets fans failed to show up.  Attendance was only 31,437; 38,300; and 30,170.

In other words, at least 3,000 seats were always available, and sometimes a full quarter of the Stadium Formerly Known As Shea.

Hey, we understand.  There was a lot going on this weekend.

The U.S. Open, last big week in the Hamptons.  Who stays in town?

Though aren't we always told what blue-collar, lunch-bucket folk Mets fans are?  Hmm, could that possibly be a silly stereotype sold by the sportswriters who love them so?

Never mind.  But the fact is, the Metsies are only 9th in NL attendance this year.  They have only cracked the 40,000 mark 9 times this year—and two of those games were against Guess Who.

By contrast, your New York Yankees cracked 40,000 fans 9 times in APRIL.  They have now done it 53 times, and that's despite a plethora of doubleheaders.

So far this season, the Yankees—first in the AL in fans—are outdrawing the Flushing Flashes by a cool million.  Guess it's not quite the Mets' town yet...

As the pre-postseason begins, the Yankees are uniquely poised to shrug off injuries

Yesterday, somebody in black pajamas, who looked like Sir Didi Gregorius, was pulled from the Yankee game after being drilled by Clayton Kershaw. In another year, another multiverse, such an event would signal a lengthy essay here on the death of God in American literature. The mere notion of losing Sir Didi - everyone's favorite Yankee - through the September-October vortex would have sent the Death Star plummeting from orbit. But last night, with alternative strangers in their hideous black pajamas, you hardly noticed him missing.

Listen closely, there are hidden messages being conveyed from the new reality of 2019:

1. The baseballs are juiced, and this year's HR totals will either be single-year outliers, or the game will precariously change into a slugging derby. 

2. Under the expanded pressures of money, second-guessing media and digital technology, human umpires are increasingly losing control of the game. 

3. Football-level injury rates have come to baseball, and a team is only as strong as its depth allows. 

It's No. 3 that matters to the Yankees, who this year have fielded the deepest roster in baseball - by light years. Even if Didi were to suddenly disappear - a horrible thought, for sure - the Yanks would merely shuffle Gleyber Torres to SS and solve the 1B opening with Mike Ford, or the soon-to-return Luke Voit (and then Edwin Encarnacion.) For injuries to crush this team, they would have to arrive in one concentrated juju wave, attacking one strategic position; even then, with Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade, the Yanks could heal quickly and surprise opponents.

I say this because yesterday, Cleveland lost Jose Ramirez for the rest of the season with a busted fore paw. They have no Gio Urshela to replace him. Last week, Boston said goodbye to Chris Sale. Even though he had been erratic, there was always the chance Sale would suddenly become lights out in October. Now, that's gone. We've reached the chapter in the season when a tweaked gonad is final. Roll an ankle? Might as well roll a joint; you're done, pal. 

But but BUT... nobody on the Yankees is irreplaceable. Sure, it would hurt like hell to lose Aaron Judge. But Mike Tauchman remains solid, Giancarlo Stanton might return, and who knows what Clint Frazier might do if given a second chance? Gary Sanchez? Yeah, he's a rock, but Austin Romine rises to every occasion, and Kyle Higashioka remains a pleasant surprise. Everywhere you look, the Yankees have back-ups, the kind that could bat third or fourth on many teams. Nobody else in baseball is so blessed. 

Listen: More injuries will come. They never stop, never rest. Supposedly, Didi has a minor bruise and will return. (If we've learned anything over the years, it's to never believe a word the Yankees say about injuries.) We have one incredible advantage over the rest of baseball: We are deeper than Marianne Williamson. Maybe, just maybe, this is how we build championships. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

This is getting old, fast.

No, I don't mean me, despite what the wife says.

I mean the way that major-league umpires—fully backed by "MLB"—have now taken to making stuff up in order to rip off your New York Yankees.

Refusing to recognize Aaron Judge's strike zone is bad enough.  But yesterday's 9th-inning shenanigans were a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of two travesties of a sham, as Woody Allen once said.

This is my 54th season of watching major-league baseball.  In all that time, I have never seen a live play stopped dead by an umpire—especially an umpire who was not at the scene of the play.  Especially when a player is in the midst of scoring the game-tying run in the 9th inning.

I have never heard of such a call in the past.  Anywhere, anytime.

This is juvenile.  What's next?

"I"m sorry, Mr. Boone, but I distinctly heard Cody Bellinger shout 'Do-over!' before the ball was struck."

If this had happened in reverse, with the Dodgers the victims, MLB would've ordered the run scored and an immediate replay from that point on, a la the notorious "Pine Tar Game" in 1983.

If this had happened to your Boston Red Sox in Fenway Pahk, the Fenway Faithful and attendant hangers-on would've been allowed to descend from the stands and physically attack Yankee players—as they've been allowed to do in the past when frustrated.

And THEN the call would've been reversed.

Also, the umpires, Aaron Boone, Brett Gardner, and Gleyber Torres would've been hauled over to The Hague for an international war crimes trial (which would at least have given us the chance to meet Urban Farmer).

Look, it doesn't much matter.  Even if this Yankees team does make the postseason—by no means a done deal—it's going out in the first round with a maximum of one win, guaranteed.

But it does say a lot about how useless our front office is.

Right now, Mad George would've been spread-eagled over the pitcher's mound at Dodger Stadium, refusing to let another game go on before justice was done.

For HAL, it's another day, another dollar.  Win, lose—that's all fan stuff.

Me?  If there aren't going to be rules, we might as well be playing "New Games."  Or just drinking.

This is the year the Yankees either restore competitiveness with Boston... or continue the sad new reality

Yesterday, watching the Yankees continually stumble - never once thinking we would win - I had an epiphany: 

This year, 2019, is the fulcrum point upon which we either restore Yankee domination... or cede our long-time rivalry to Boston, quite possibly for the rest of our lives. 

This is it, comrades. This is our shot. We have a chance to secure home field advantage through the ALCS - the best opportunity we've seen since our last world championship, 10 fucking years ago. Blow this, and we might go well into the next decade before we enjoy this catbird slot again.

This is our chance to restore order - not just in the Yankiverse - but in the universe of baseball.  

Since 2000, Boston has four world championships. The Yankees, one. We have some catching up to do. It will probably take a decade, and it needs to start now.

If we fail this October - if we blow this - odds are that many of us will not live long enough to ever again see the Yankees hold dominance over Boston. 

Certainly, the Yankees look like a looming power: Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez... Then again, so does Boston: Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi... and both Houston and the Dodgers could achieve a dynasty. Their owners show the willingness to spend whatever it takes when their teams close in on a ring. In July, had any of them been in our shoes - so desperate for a starting pitcher - I cannot imagine them sitting out the relatively cheap bidding war over Dallas Keuchel, as Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner did, choosing to save precious dimes for his billionaire siblings. The Yankees rank high in revenues and low in percentage going to payroll. That's the new reality.

It's wrong to say the Steinbrenners don't want to win. Of course, they do. But first and foremost, they are business people. They will have a sell-out October, and they own the New York tabloids. There is no incentive to improve this team by spending extra. 

Although I watch the Yankee farm system feverishly, I no longer believe any of its YES team infield chatter. Ours remains the most overly hyped system in baseball, if not in all of sports, with heavily touted prospects constantly floundering. (Estevan Florial, anyone? Dermis Garcia, anyone? Domingo Acevedo? Leonardo Molina?) Our draft success is horrible, and we piss away millions on 16-year-old Latinos, who seldom meet expectations. Our one management forte seems to be plucking veteran minor leaguers off the scrap heap - hence, "the Retrieval Empire." That helps, but it doesn't necessarily win championships. 

So here we are. This is our best year since 2009. We will soon enter a make-or-break October. The Yankees either win the World Series and restore at least a sense of balance to the Boston rivalry... or next winter, we will sit back and whine about all the money we cannot spend because of Jacoby Ellsbury and Giancarlo Stanton, while Boston reloads. 

Don't get me wrong. On this day, Yankee fans have much to celebrate. Our team will surely reach the post-season, and every other AL team would happily trade positions with. But the stress cracks of October are coming into view. And yesterday, for nine innings, I just knew we were not going to win. That's a bad sign, folks.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

In beer league uniforms, a beer league victory

So... we lived to see this... the New York Yankees, swaddled in black tights, the way a Death Star villain is supposed to look. If you hang around long enough, pigs will fly, the rain forests will burn, and Greenland will become the new Miami. And the New York fucking Yankees - winners of the 2009 World Championship! and owners of the most iconic uniform in sports - will dress like the bad ninjas in a Bruce Lee movie.

So much for tradition, eh? (By the way, you know what tops my bucket list? I hope to someday see the movie, "The Bucket List.") 

Today, I should be cooing contentedly over last night's 10-2 victory, and how it has salved the jangling nervous system of the Yankiverse, lessening our fear of a full-scale meltdown. We're still 1-3 on this West Coast hell-tour, but with every win, our hold on the AL East becomes more insurmountable. The Rays remain 8 games down in the loss column, with Boston 7 down in the Wild Card. For our enemies, Yankee wins are measured in dog's years. They are running out of time.

This morning, I should be lavishing praise upon Didi & company. But what the world witnessed last night was a beer league game played in suits worthy of Sluggo the Clown, a desecration of Yankee pinstripes that - were I a kid instead of a crinkly old codger - would surely drive me to the Mets. What disgrace. What humiliation. I mean, I get it that MLB isn't making enough money to cover its executive bar tab. I feel sorry for the owners and their fiercest brown-nosers, who surely are taking pay cuts - (or maybe they work as unpaid volunteers) - hence the "Players Weekend" excuse to sell surreal merchandise at kingly prices.  

This weekend, I don't see the Rockies or Astros flushing down the toilet any grand sartorial legacy. (Especially Houston, which used to offer the ugliest uniforms in pro sports; I still think Craig Biggio should have been denied Cooperstown simply because of his ridiculous jersey.) These teams change wardrobes like Cher at the Copa. But the Yankees are - were - supposed to hold the line. We weren't supposed to print names on jerseys, or compound the mockery by giving nicknames, like cabana boys on a beach club reality TV show.

Okay, I sound like a leaky-underwear geezer who hates all change, the type who listens to Rush while watching Fox News. Yeah, my TV is used to being yelled-at. But the Yankees and Dodgers - did it have to be them? The two best teams in baseball... a nationally televised weekend showdown, a prelude to October... and it looks like the Phoenix School for Morticians taking on Bingo Long's Traveling All Stars... all so MLB can sell jerseys and buy Hal Steinbrenner a new island. (I hear Epstein's is up for sale?) 

At least we won. And it happened late at night, when we didn't have to watch. Still, if we lose the next two, this indignity is going to stick with us. Live long enough, and worse things than pigs will soar overhead.

Friday, August 23, 2019

It's official: This is a West Coast Swing from Hell

It's time, Katie: Bar the door, smash the dishes, toss the rooms, unplug the TV, delete all signs of life, and then burrow deep into the cellar, into the coal bin,  covering yourself in six inches of ash, with the loaded Luger square in your mouth. Get comfy. We'll be here six more nights. And if you hear voices outside, don't answer. Shhhh. It's You Know Who.

We play three in LA, then three in Seattle. Brace yourselves, everybody: 

We will lose at least four. We could even get swept... or Ryan McBroomed. 

It's here, folks: the late summer, doomsday, reality check that each of us secretly knew was coming, but nobody wanted to acknowledge. Let me describe our predicament in clinical, cold-hard science: The mind flayer has slipped through the inter-dimensional porthole from the upside-down world, he's building an army of zombie flesh-hosts, and he's coming to suck our brains with his snake-faced vacuum cleaners. We face six more nights on this west coast terror-scape, and - frankly - right now, I'm rooting for the earthquake, that Richter Scale chart-buster that puts to rest once and for all the nasty back-and-forth over why Miley Cyrus and Liam Hensworth are calling it quits. (By the way, that sweet little songbird, Miley, says she never cheated on the brother of Thor, but I dunno. All I remember is how Tanya Tucker destroyed the last good man on earth, Glen Campbell; the tendrils of love can strangle even the mightiest brother of an Olympian diety. Ah, but that's why God gave us Access: Hollywood.) 

I could write forever about Miley and Liam, but this is supposed to be about the Yankees, right? We still face an entire week on Pacific Coast Time, with three games against baseball's best team, and three against a tomato can that still hates us for failing to outbid them on Robbie Cano. We've had the audacity to label ourselves a "fully operational Death Star." Right now, we're the S.S. Minnow with Gilligan manning the helm.

But, alas, nobody can ever accuse this blog of negativity. In fact, we're happy-go-lucky, meadowlarks of good Yankee news. And here is some: 

No matter what happens on this trip - even if we lose all nine - when we return to New Mets City, we will still lead the AL East.

Okay, back to our internal terror... 

I cannot dispel a sense that our problems run deeper than imagined. We battered Baltimore so easily - Chris Davis, ha! - that it created a false sense of our power. Once we faced an actual contender - Cleveland - we were damn lucky to work a split. Now, we've hit a buzz-saw in Oakland, and it won't get easier with the Dodgers. We don't intimidate good teams - especially when we're down 3-0 after the first inning. More and more, we find ourselves reading updates on Luis Severino and Dellin Betances - they're drinking tea on flat ground and bathing with Calgon beads! - because nothing else brings hope. I mean, seriously, are we supposed to think J.A. Happ will turn it around? He is Sonny Gray 2.0.

Here's the pickle: No returning vets will save this team, because their replacements all performed arguably better than they did. Will Luke Voit out-hit LeMahieu and Mike Ford? Nope. Given his track record, Aaron Hicks will suck for two weeks until his timing returns. And Giancarlo Stanton? I don't even want to think of him. If we could freeze him with Jacoby Ellsbury in a cryogenic lab, then thaw them out in the year 2525, (if man is still alive,) that would be fine with me. 

Six more games, three of which (including tonight) will start too late to legitimately watch without drugs. Katie, bar the door. That tap tap sound outside... it's not the cavalry. It's You Know Who. Don't answer.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

All I Needed To Experience.....

So it is the top of the eight inning and the yankees are trailing by two runs.

The Yankees have been trailing the entire game.

Happ has been below mediocre the entire game.

The team is on a west coast swoon, determined to undo all the good we saw against the Orioles.

But here was the great hope;

Judge strolled to the plate with two runners on base.  A superstar ( a Mantle, a Ruth, a Maris, a Jeter ) delivers at this point.  He bangs out a tying double  or, more heroically hits a home run for the lead.  Even that guy on the Mets who was almost named after me ( Alonso?) would have come through in that spot.

When Judge got to a 3-2 count, I said ( screamed actually ) that he is " going to strike out." 

He did.

That was " it" for the Yankees.

No hero.  No Ruth.  No super star.  Just the same old crap.  Chew on the length of his meaningless, solo HR from the other day

I turned the TV off and had some Sativa.

Our larger than life players suck.  

We lose again today, folks. 

We knew there would be a stretch like this; now come the existential questions about this team

We all knew the Death Star would hit a rocky patch between August and October. This is not 1961. It might not even be 2009. As much as we probe and scrutinize this team, great mysteries remain across its roster. The next five weeks may solve a few, and we might not like the answers.

The existential questions... 

1. Who is Aaron Judge? The quick answer is that he is the Yankees' central marketing slogan, the brand that sells more $25 t-shirts than anybody since old Number 2. The tough one is that Judge might be a tin god, installed before his time. Last night, as you probably know already, he went 0-5 with two strikeouts, strangling the bubbly YES Network speculation that one tape-measure HR Tuesday night foreshadowed a volcanic hot streak. Apparently, the biggest position player in baseball simply walked into a fastball, the way countless other sluggers do in waning seasons. Judge's average has dropped to .260, yet Yankee management - waste deep in big muddy? - insists on batting him second, where strikeouts and DP grounders can strangle rallies.

If you deleted the first half of Judge's rookie season - when he hit 30 HRs and .329 before the all-star break - you'd have an injury-prone Brett Gardner - about 22 HRs per season, about .260, great glove - but with too many whiffs. He may have an excuse - he's recovering from a tweaked saddlebag - but we are still wondering who Judge is, and whether we may ever see him and Giancarlo Stanton - twin towers made of breakable china - hot at the same time. 

2. Who will pitch game three? Right now, the Gammonites are struggling to anoint a Yankee "ace," wondering who would start in the playoffs. But the answer is quite easy: Whomever is throwing well at the time. That's a crapola answer, but it fills the space. A far more terrifying question concerns the pivotal game three, often the most important contest in every post-season march. 

Right now, we'd likely choose Masahiro Tanaka for game one: he's throwing well - fingers crossed for tonight. And James Paxton would probably get the ball for game two. (Toes crossed.) But then what? It's a leap of faith to put Luis Severino into the playoffs, much less start him in the most important game of the season. When you reach game three, the Yankee ship looks much like those new shots of the Titantic, melting away at the bottom of the ocean. 

Last night, we hoped J.A. Happ would give us hope. Instead, we got five runs in four innings - what we've seen all year. Right now, game three would likely be Domingo German, 50 innings beyond his rookie sell-by date, or the earnest but horrifyingly slow C.C. Sabathia. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

3. Can the over-achievers keep over-achieving? We've seen enough of Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin and Luke Voit to recognize competent MLB players. But until a hitter goes once around the sun, you cannot be certain that he is the real deal. 

Like scientists seeking a cure for ebola, opposing scouts and computer nerds are constantly trying new ways to pitch them. If anything succeeds, it immediately becomes the norm. (See Judge, above.) Right now, Urshela and Tauchman - and DJ LeMahieu - are the Yankees' toughest outs. Yet we all hold our breaths, wondering what happens with the "stars" return, and their playing time dwindles. These guys still haven't gone a year in the majors. Until then, they remain uncertain.

4. What about the main existential threats? One good thing about last night: Oakland won, and Boston lost. In their quest for the last wild card slot, the Redsocks are now 8 games in the loss column behind the A's, and seven behind Tampa, with about 35 to go. Do the math. They are one bad week away from annihilation.  

I'm sorry, but no matter how good Oakland or Cleveland looks, it's Boston that I fear. Even without Chris Sale, they have a potent lineup and a potentially dominant rotation. Until Boston is put to sleep, we should take nothing for granted.

Then there remains another, perhaps even greater existential threat: The Mets. More and more, they look like the magic wild card team, the young lineup that wins the heart and mind of NYC. This could be the first year since we began counting that the Yankees fail to walk away from all competitors in the race for tabloid back pages.

Already, Alonso has replaced Judge as NY's most exciting player. Meanwhile, the Yankees buried their own potential breakout star, Clint Frazier, even after he helped save the team in May. Cameron Maybin is nice. But he doesn't move the needle. 

Which raises the final question.

5. Who on this team gives us hope? I have no answer. But we will soon know.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

It's Not a Juggernaut. It's a Clown Bike.

In general, the local sporting press has tended to describe your 2019 New York Yankees as a "juggernaut."

Depicted below is a real, original "car of the juggernaut," the celebratory wagon named for the Hindu god Jagannātha, meaning "world lord" that was pulled out and hauled about on feast days...from time to time inadvertently crushing any individuals who happened to fall under its wheels or get pushed there as, let's say, a holiday prank by one of their friends.

Pretty scary, huh?  You sure as hell don't want to meet up with one of these going full-speed down the streets of the Bronx.

But that's not what this New York Yankees team is.  This New York Yankees team is, let's face it, a clown bike act, in all the best senses of the phrase.

Not quite so scary, huh?  But I don't mean to ridicule.

In the circus—back in the days when we were allowed to have circuses—a clown bike act was a thing of wonder.  There might easily be four or five professional, trained clowns piled onto one of these teeny tiny bicycles, all hanging on for dear life while simultaneously performing amazing acts of derring-do.

This is what your 2019 New York Yankees truly are.

Think of Ma Boone peddling away like crazy while, say, LeMahieu balances on one of his shoulders juggling chain saws, and Gio stands on the other shoulder swallowing flaming swords, and, say, Maybin and Tauchman are standing on their respective heads, twisting balloon unicorns into shape.

Don't get me wrong.  It's a helluv'n act.

But clown bike acts are built to end in ruin.  Right now, the wheels are getting wobbly, and the handlebars are loose, and that incredibly tricky, loop-de-loop is coming up just ahead.  Chances are it all goes splat.

Will it matter?

Well, that depends.  Going into tonight's action, the Yanks are 9 1/2 up on the Tampa Bay Witness Protection Rays, thanks to the Rays' two-run, bottom of the ninth rally against Seattle today.

Still if NYY goes just 17-18 the rest of the way, TB—a.k.a., the Consumptives—would have to go 26-8 just to catch up, which is a hard go indeed.

But say the Bombers go 10-25—far from the worst meltdown in baseball or even franchise history (see September, 2000, "The Heart Attack Month").

All the Lungers would have to do then is play 19-15 ball...not so hard at all.  20-14 would put them ahead.  It's quite likely that the other Wild Card "contenders"—Cleveland and Oakland would also buzz by us, leaving us home for the holidays.  (Halloween, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, etc.).

Hell, even the Carmine Hosiery could catch us then with a relatively mild, 26-9 revival.

Hey, chances are this Yankees team will surprise me, and bring home a big win tonight.  They've been surprising me all year long.

But the things about clown bike acts is...they're built to crash.  So is this one, now far from home, with no pitching, the hitters regressing, the replacements reverting to mean, and the wheels about to come off.

What makes me think that, in the end, we'll feel like we've been run over by a juggernaut?

A disturbing chart about Yankee draft failures

This long, depressing barf of data has been bouncing around Yankee forums lately. It purports to show the best (Cardinals) and worst (Yankees) teams in MLB draft success over the last quarter century, using the impossible-to-define WAR stat.

Yeah, that's the Yankees, way down on the far right. In last place. 

In any other franchise, somebody would walk the plank for such a horrible showing. Obviously, that won't happen here. The Yankees are making so much money that, really, there is no cause to hassle the good old boys at the top. 

And if you're wondering how to define the Yankee-Redsock rivalry over the last few decades, this chart explains everything. Boston ranks fifth. What a huge advantage... a scouting system.

I cooked up this list of the last 16 Yankee top picks. In terms of developing great Yankees, we are 1 for 16.

Andrew Brackman (bad idea: draft a guy who needs TJ surgery)
Gerrit Cole (didn't sign)
Jeremy Bleich (control issues)
Slade Heathcott (wild ride, now becoming a pilot; YOU GO, SLADE!)
Cito Culver (sigh... should've tried pitching)
Dante Bichette, Jr. (the wrong Bichette, shouldn't stuck to tennis)
Ty Hensley (worst luck ever, injury upon injury)
Eric Jagielo (traded for Aroldis, now out of baseball)
Aaron Judge (okay, we got one out of 16)
Ian Clarkin (traded to Cubs, mired in Double A)
James Kaprielian (hurt, traded to Oakland, mired in minors)
Kyle Holder (great glove, mired in Trenton)
Blake Rutherford (traded to White Sox, hitting .263 in Double A)
Clark Schmidt (viable, could reach Yankees in 2020)
Anthony Seigler (injured, but too young to discard)
Anthony Volpe (just starting)

Of course, we converted Jagielo, Clarkin, Kaprielian and Rutherford into some fine chess pieces... Chapman, Gleyber, Frazier (Clint), and others. At the same time, we had mixed results on International free-agents. Jesus Montero was a flop. Gary Sanchez, a success. The big, $30 million Latino class of 2014 - Dermis Garcia, Nelson Gomez, et al - has provided nothing yet. And all those "next man up" replacements who have played so heroically for the Yankees this season - Voit, Tauchman, Urshela, Maybin - none came up through our system. (But let's credit the scouts who picked them off the scrap heap.)

When you're 10-games up, bad draft picks don't seem like a problem. But we're always hearing how deep and great the Yankee farm system is. Strange, eh?

Has Anyone Noticed That....

The Mets are winning every day?

They have a rookie of the year  candidate who may be better than Judge?

They have several young guys who are blossoming?

They have great starting pitching?

They are winning the hearts and minds of NY?

They are better than us?

I missed it and I hope you did also.

So, it all comes down to the Yankees needing J.A. Happ

Uh-oh... Once again, dear readers, we find our noble Sons of the Death Star grounded and abandoned in a terrifying, West Coast death-trip - the kind that could decimate us, even in our greatest years! Cut off from Eastern juju, and already facing their first loss, our heroes must turn to an old friend... 

In case you missed it, preferring a good night's sleep, two events last night curled my hammerhead toes. 

For Atlanta, Dallas Keuchel pitched six innings, giving up one run on six hits. Yep, the one that got away. Two months ago, Keuchel seemed a perfect fit for the Yankees, but - as you all know - Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner refused to emerge from his burrow, thus missed seeing his shadow, and guaranteed us four more months of a crapola rotation. So the Braves have Keuchel, and we are pushing the shoulder and elbow of Domingo German into an innings count where neither should be. But, hey, we have no choice.  

So, while you were sleeping last night, German got whacked around by the Oakland A's, raising once again the question of how many more innings we should expect from our quote -ace - unquote, and how in hell we'll fill the void? 

I'd love to write that tonight we'll get an answer from J.A. Happ. But why kid ourselves? They say you can't predict baseball, Suzyn, but we've all learned the First Law of Happ: You can predict utter chaos. And that's Our Man Happ: The human embodiment of randomness. Tonight, he might give us six innings.. or six batters. And next week, when he trots out again, it will be the same deal. Roll the dice, folks. When it's Happ, anything can HAPP-en.

Our big free agent acquisition last winter is now 10-7 with a 5.40 ERA. Considering that he'll turn 37 in mid-October - if we're still playing - we must abandon long term hope. He'll be worse next year. We signed him to win in 2019, and it hasn't HAPP-ened. Over his last seven starts, his ERA is 6.37. Only thrice this season has he pitched into the 7th inning; the last time was June 6. The prototypical Happ start is five innings, and between three and six runs, depending on how our first-responders bail him out. 

I guess it's possible that Happ will make an adjustment and improve down the stretch. Hell, maybe Trump will stop Tweeting, or dolphins will stop speaking Chinese. But when I see Happ, I see a walking monument to the new cheapo Yankees. Last winter, Patrick Corbin did everything but dance on our doorstep in a pinstriped teddy, but Hal hid under the bed, clutching his silken purse. And in June, Hal refused to increase his winter offer to Keuchel, simply prorating the previous stance, ensuring the outcome. 

Listen: Our ticket to the post-season is not in jeopardy. We'll be there. But the home field advantage is another matter. It's a long haul between now and Oct. 1, and nothing is settled. Boston - (who lost last night, first time in six games, thank you juju gods) - could still overtake the Rays and be shining a flashlight into our eyes in an ALCS best-of-seven nightmare. If that happens, we have nobody to pitch Game One, aside from whomever is throwing well at the time. Hell, that could even be Happ. That's how lost we are. 

But this we know: However he pitches tonight, it won't matter when he throws five days from now. With Happ, anything can HAPP-en. 

The problem is having to depend upon him. And that's where we are.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Great Brett Gardner Poetry Slam

From today's comments:

GARDY by Doug K

Gardy is Howard Bealeing.
He's banging on the ceiling.
Instead of bases stealing.
He's banging on the ceiling.

When Judge needs to be healing.
He's banging on the ceiling.
When starters all are reeling.
He's banging on the ceiling.

How is this appealing?
This banging on the ceiling.
This excessive zealing.
This banging on the ceiling.
Gardy Addenda by JM:
I just have a feeling
That banging on the ceiling
Is Gardy's way of dealing
Like Mo Rivera's kneeling.

Gardy Addenda Response by Doug K
So you’re saying he is healing.
By banging on the ceiling.
As opposed to keeling. 
He’s banging on the ceiling.

Emotion he’s unsealing.
By banging on the ceiling. 
Like someone singing “Feelings”
He’s banging on the ceiling. 

Better if concealing.
Not banging on the ceiling 
Then on the basepaths wheeling. 
Not banging on the ceiling.

Or fines he’ll be appealing 
From banging on the ceiling.

And finally, Yankee Long-term Player and Farm System Development Strategy Haiku by 13bit
Cash sits on corn cob.
He wears diaper and blinders.
There is no big plan.

This is now Brett Gardner's team

Look at that roof. Look, dammit! That's ridiculous! Mister Hal is going to have to pay good money to fix that! Dammit, money doesn't grow on trees.

You Yankees should be ashamed of yourselves.  This stadium is barely ten years old, and look at what you've done, look, don't you dare turn away... LOOK!

Can't we ever have something nice? We know who the problem is. It's that instigator, the one everybody calls "Gardy." He riles you up, banging that bat against the ceiling, and the next thing you know, everybody's breaking things like a bunch of hooligans...

Three days away from his 35th birthday, this is Brett Gardner's greatest hour. 

For starters, he's back in centerfield, where he always belonged. He's hitting - .316 over the last 30 days - when not being ejected from games for crimes against the dugout. The only thing he's not doing is stealing bases - only nine on the year. He has become the leader of the Yankees - the de facto captain - as evidenced by the team's new hand gesture after reaching base: They emulate Gardy's wrists jabbing his bat against the dugout roof, though it looks suspiciously like something else.

It's Gardy's team... for now. 

One of these days, Aaron Hicks - the hero of Minnesota - will return from elbow issues, clogging the lineup in ways we cannot fathom. He will bring his customary, "welcome-back" 1-for-30 slump, and Gardy will move back to LF, nudging the earnest Mike Tauchman and/or Cameron Maybin to the bench. (The Yankees call themselves the "Savages;" Considering Tauchman, Maybin, et al, I believe they should be the "Salvagers.") It will be September, so nobody will go to Scranton. And I'm not ragging on Hicks; he's a great CF when healthy, and you can't blame a guy for being injured. But Gardy's time will be compromised, even if his standing among teammates is untouched. When Gardner is hitting, the Yankee lineup explodes. And if he's hitting in October, we have the best chance among anyone of winning a ring. 

Next winter, the Yankees will have to make a tough decision on Gardy. It's probably that he'll return for 2020. It would be hard for the Yankees to turn away from a one-year deal, if Gardner requests one. It's also possible that - especially if the Yankees win it all - other teams in search of leadership would offer him a two-year gig. If that happens, we might see the unthinkable: Gardy playing for another team. 

For now, none of this matters. We have the month of September to sort everything out. If the 2019 Yankees go down in flames - losing to Houston or Los Angeles, or even to a wild card - I'm not sure Gardy returns under any circumstances. Miguel Andujar looks like a future outfielder, and then there is Clint Frazier, the forever prospect, plus Giancarlo Stanton, Tauchman and Maybin - even Estevan Florial. Yeesh.

But make no mistake: This is Gardy's team. He is a threat to dugouts everywhere. I hope he pokes a hole in the Oakland roof. This is his finest hour.