Thursday, December 31, 2020

Beards

In reading today's New York Post Sports Section I came across this tidbit:

J.D. Martinez: "I’ll join the Yankees when they let me keep my beard" 

Taking the click bait, it turns out that it was a quick, flip answer to a fan asking when he would join the Yankees. 

However, as humor frequently speaks to a hidden truth, there's something worth looking at here. Not a potential addition of J.D. Martinez but how quickly he went to the facial hair issue. 

Baseball is a sport that embraces its iconoclasts. It is a team sport in the sense that all the players work toward a common goal but unlike football or basket ball or, I suppose soccer (except for the goal part - I've never seen one. Just a lot of back and forth around mid-field until I remember that Maverick is on ME TV.)  baseball's players are not really that reliant on each other in the moment of performance. 

On offense the hitter, much like the cheese, stands alone. The outfielders are separated, the infielders are separated. There's no blocking. No passing, except for the passing of balls (INSERT GARY SANCHEZ JOKE HERE), and I'm sure, no shortage of the passing of wind in the bullpen.

(There are only so many packages of seeds one can eat without their natural cleansing ability coming to to the fore, or in this case the back...)

But to my point, because baseball players don't rely on each other in a more traditional way, the teams can integrate the aforementioned iconoclasts more easily.  

So what does this have to do with JD Martinez's comment?

How many players view coming to the Yankees through the filter of "I will need to change who I am to accommodate their rules?" Rules that don't exist anywhere else in the sport. 

This is a real phenomenon.  Part of my personal journey is a spiritual one and there are a number of religions that were non-starters simply because I couldn't see my self in a bow tie or having to wear button down shirts. 

There will always be players who will shave for money. The article mentioned Johnny Damon, a notorious mercenary, for one. Joe Namath shaved to make a commercial. He also put on panty hose for another. I suspect he would do one for adult diapers at his point. Hey! No disrespect to Joe. A man's gotta eat. 

It's pretty well documented how many Ex-Yankees start growing a beard the day they are traded or sign elsewhere so it seems fair to ask what players are the Yankees not getting because their dress policy is anachronistic at best and fascistic at worse? 

Just as a side note, perhaps the best thing we've got going for us in our negotiations with DJ is how ridiculous he would look in a beard.   

So a couple of questions... 

Do we care? 

Should it change? What if we could get players like Clayton Kershaw?

and 

How much money would it take to shave your beard? (This is for those of us sporting facial hair. If you have other things you would shave for money please keep it to your selves.)

Just askin'.

If the Yankees impose austerity, let's rank the worst destinations for D.J. LeMahieu

'Scuse me, but I'm starting to think this elevator is stalled. We don't seem to be moving. We've been standing here now - well, by my count - two months, and I gotta pee real bad...

Yep. Starting to think something's wrong. The Death Barge has been negotiating with D.J. LeMahiue - our stated top priority - since November. Supposedly, the two sides remain millions of dollars apart. This is not exactly Operation: Warp Speed. (Then again, neither is Operation: Warp Speed.) 

Listen: I get it that brinksmanship only works if there is a brink. You hold the gun to the puppy's head, cock the trigger and start counting down from ten. But something's screwy here, and I think it's the uncertainty within the Yankee brain trust on whether Hal Steinbrenner is actually going Full Poormouth on the off-season. If "Food Stamps Hal" really plans to impose an austerity tourniquet on the 2021 Yankee payroll, adding a $25 million LeMahiue might create as many problems as it solves. I mean... somebody's gotta pitch.

Also, a sick sense: If LeMahieu were all-in on returning, wouldn't he have done it by now? The fact that he's still mulling proposals means some teams are offering more dough than Halligator Arms Hal wants to pay. 

So, it might come down to one final intangible: 

Can the Yankees stomach seeing LeMahieu in certain rival uniforms? (And how much would LeMahieu be willing to piss on his otherwise pristine Yankee legacy?) At some point, rival destinations become the bargaining chip. 

So today, here is our final depressing post of 2020 - aka Shit-a-Plenty Twenty Twenty. Beginning tomorrow, nothing but hope and positivity! (Gary will hit 40!) So, today... here are the Worst Case Scenarios for D.J.

1. Toronto. By far. This is flat-out terrifying. The Jays have the money. They also have a young, exploding lineup of rising stars. LeMahiue would make them faves in the AL East. They nearly beat us last year. Add D.J., and they'll win the division by 10 games.

2. Mets. This would flip the switch on our NYC tabloid back page domination. The Mets would become Gotham's No. 1 team.  

3. Redsocks. Don't think it can't happen. Just... don't.

4. Tampa. Nope. This can't happen... um, I think. But this talk about the Rays being losers this winter? You know, trading Blake Snell, letting Charlie Morton go? Screw dat. They're doing what they always do. And if Randy Arozarena is the real deal - I mean, the 2nd Coming of Hank Aaron - watch out. They just freed up a lot of money. Could they? No... they couldn't... impossible... they wouldn't... would they?

5. Any AL team. The Yanks would hope a west coast team signs him. Late games. Outa sight, outa mind.

6. Any NL team but the Dodgers. If it's LA, we'd have to watch him in the playoffs. (From home, possibly.) Do we want the Dodgers launching a dynasty? 

7. Japan. Hey, you never know...

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

At what point does waiting on LeMahieu become a problem?

Thus far this winter - along with the earth-shaking, Yuletide signing of Nestor "Octavio" Cortes Jr. - the Yankees have made one major proclamation: 

They proclaimed a ban on proclamations until D.J. LeMahieu proclaims his intentions for 2021.

Until then, Team Austerity will sit on its hands (and wallet), and patiently doom-scroll, hold Zoom parties, and binge-watch episodes of Centerstage with Michael Kay. The Yankee brain trust will invoke this Zen-baked version of Absolute Nothingness in honor of LeMahieu, whom the Yankees covet more than life itself, (notwithstanding the outrageous asking price from his agent.) They won't make a move until D.J. decides.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is not joining in. 

This week, humanity watched the exodus of Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and a Korean SS named Kim - (aren't they all?) - to San Diego, a city desperately seeking to overcome the loss of its NFL franchise. 

The Snell deal didn't matter. The Rays would never have traded him to the Yankees, whom they hate with the torch fire of a billion suns. But Darvish might have been worth making an offer and - depending on LeMahieu- the Death Barge might have even taken a flier on the Korean shortstop. 

This week, the citizens of Earth weighed in: They will not wait for the Yankees, while they wait for LeMahieu.

Probably, no proclamation will come this week, as LeMahieu and Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman are frozen with hopes over their $2,000 U.S. government stimulus checks. But if LeMahieu hits an impasse, and it stretches into mid-January, it will start crushing Yankee alternatives. 

Two could happen soon: 

The Cubs are said to be actively shopping two-time all star catcher Wilson Contreras, age 28. Not only would he be a clear defensive upgrade over Gary Sanchez - (big deal, so would Zsa Zsa Gabor) - but Contreras would allow the Yankees to do the right thing with Gary Sanchez... that is, send him to a city where he can start over. 

The recent flap over Gary not being told why he was benched in the playoffs - (assuming it really happened that way) - ignores one mottled truth: Somebody should have sat down with him in August and warned that his job was on the line. The day when Kyle Higashioka hit three HRs, Aaron Boone should have taken Gary aside and said, "Listen, pally, either you improve, or this guy replaces you." 

Listen: I have no grudge about Sanchez. One of the most reassuring images of the last few years was Sanchez out at the mound, draping his arm over a pitcher who just got whacked. He's a hulk, a monster, looks scary in the dugout. But somewhere along the line, his game started regressing. For a catcher, that's career death. The Yankees need a gritty, defensive, Joe Girardi-type of catcher. Their offense can carry a .147 hitter, but only if he plays solid defense. Sanchez needs a new start. Can he ever really do it with the Yankees?  

Then there is Francisco Lindor, whom the future Cleveland Indians Football Team intends to trade this winter, rather than lose next year in free agency. It would be a blockbuster deal, bringing Lindor to NY. We'd start with Clint Frazier and Deivi Garcia, and go from there. You'd think Cleveland would wait for the Yankees to join the bidding - the more the merrier, right? - but as we saw this week, the world won't put itself on hold for the mighty, do-nothing Yankees.

Soon, D.J. must make his move. With him or without him, the Yankees have work to do.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

When giants walked the earth

 

The World According to Sanchez

So Gary gave an interview to ESPN. And these are verbatims I took from the interview.

If anyone thinks he "gets it," I would challenge that idea. Like he said in one part of the piece, when he was benched in the playoffs, he couldn't understand why and nothing like that had ever happened to him before. Ever.

And maybe that's how you get to where he is, which is in limbo. You're so good that when you stink, you don't understand why anyone would want you collecting splinters. I think that's called entitlement. Maybe not. I don't know what to call it.

Herewith, Sanchez speaks:

"I know that I can play and help the team on both sides of the ball every day." (You just don't. Glad you know you can, though.)

"I always kept supporting my team. But the reality is, they never told me why I was benched. I didn't know why I wasn't playing." (Because you sucked? Just an idea.)

"I struck out three times, but I felt like I was taking good cuts, good swings. I felt so much better. But I didn't play. And I said to myself, 'What happened here?'" (Sanchez obviously has a future as a YES announcer.)

"Everyone knows how difficult our pitchers are, but I've gotten used to it. I'm not going to tell you it's easy to frame someone like [Aroldis] Chapman or [Zack] Britton with those sinkers. It is not easy." (It's those darn pitchers, dontcha know. The fact that Higgy and Romine can do it, well, I mean, come on.)

"And towards the end of the season, I was seeing the strike zone better and I started working in some walks." (Padding his YES resume...)

Once again, the Rays trade the past for the future. Will the Yankees ever get it?

Well, them dirty, cheapskate, fleabag Tampa Bay Rays done did it again! 

Yesterday, them damn fools traded Blake Snell for nothing, an empty pile of no-name, no-account nobodies! - as they did with David Price (Drew Smyly & Willy Adames.) And Aubrey Huff (Ben Zobrist.) And Victor Zambrono (Scott Kazmir.) And James Shields (Wil Meyers & Jake Ororizzi.) And Delmon Young (Matt Garza & Jason Bartlett). And Matt Garza (Chris Archer.)  And Chris Archer (Austin Meadows & Tyler Glasnow.) 

Don't they never learn nothing? 

Worst part: It ain't fair - them always trading the past for the future. There oughta be a law, especially considering how the Gammonites always fawn over the other team, saying how they won the trade. And then, sure as hell, the Rays shoot right past the Yankees - we're a fully functional Death Star, haven't you heard? - en route to the world series. Sheeeeee-it. Last year, the Rays team payroll ($29 million) came in below what Giancarlo "The Wheelchair" Stanton banks in a normal moon. 

So, yesterday Tampa traded Blake Snell. Says some Gammonite-wannabee on Bleacher Report, "In the American League East, the Rays' rivals ought to be smelling blood in the water." 

Yeah, right.  If the Yankee pool water has a scent, I know what it is: Urine. The franchise front office cannot its pee. It doesn't have the discipline to do what Tampa  does almost every winter: Trade yesterday for tomorrow. 

To recap the trade, which is being widely characterized as a steal by San Diego - a ridiculous notion, considering the Rays track record - Blake Snell goes to the Padres. In side deals, they also yesterday signed a Korean SS and 34-year-old Yu Darvish, who no team wants to be holding when the music stops. This has brought comparisons to none other than George Steinbrenner - the George of the 1980s ("worst team money can buy") rather than the owner of the Jeter/Mariano era. But where was I? Oh, yeah, the trade...

Snell goes to San Diego. He is 28, two years away from 2018, his Cy Young season, when he went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA. That year, he threw 180 innings. He's never been the same. In fact, over the last two years, he's thrown 160 innings combined. This year, the short season, he threw 50 with a ERA of 3.24. The Rays are trading him at peak of his remaining value. 

They receive four prospects, most notably 21-year-old Luis Patino, the No. 23rd ranked prospect in the game by MLB.com. Also, a 25-year-old catcher - a former top 100 prospect - and a 21-year-old pitcher (No. 7 in San Diego's strong farm system) and a 22-year-old catcher (No. 14 in their system.) If this were the Yankees, they would gotten Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt and probably that kid we call "The Martian."  

Every year, the Rays put on display what the Yankee front office does not have: The balls to trade a big name. 

For three years now, the Yankees have diddled around with Gary Sanchez. His game has deteriorated to the point where, right now, they couldn't trade him for Ethel Merman's pool boy. But in 2018 and 2019, he might have brought us a couple young players.  

We're almost in the same boat with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Aaron Hicks and - of course - Stanton. We are not prospect-huggers. We are worse:  Contract-huggers. The Yankees seem to value players by how much they are paid, rather than what they'll do next year. We are always trading for other teams' pasts. Damn. There oughta be a law.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Year in Review - Because Hindsight is 2020

Ah,  those last precious few days before the calendar changes.

A time of reflection, of looking back over what turned out to be, as future historians will no doubt call it, the beginning of the end, or, as it will be more commonly known by those of us who survived, The Great Fuckening.

Here are some of the things I failed to notice this year and some of what I learned. 

Carboard Cutouts

While I actually enjoyed the cardboard cutout fans, particularly when the crowds contained Easter Eggs like Connie Mack and Ben Franklin in the stands at Phillies games, (and I can’t believe no one tried to slip Waldo anywhere) I failed to notice that Gary Sanchez had been replaced by a cardboard cut out at mid-season.  Passed balls, strike three looking, how did I miss that?

How Much I Require Watching Sports On TV

I have always loved sports. I think part of its appeal is that it is non-contrived drama. There is no writer, no editor, no guiding hand. If the best player on the team hits a home run it is because he did. If he strikes out in a big moment, ditto.

We just don’t know until it happens.

For me it’s an opportunity to turn that part of me off that tries to guess endings or figure out how I might have done it differently. Or just that sense of dis-ease I get when the math is off. Sports is what it is, and I love it for it.

I just never realized how much until it was taken away. Suddenly I had three-hour gaps in my day. No point on the clock to look forward to.  No reason to be home by four PM. (PST). 

I started filling the gaps with stuff I normally wouldn’t watch like Boxing on Showtime, or reruns of North Carolina HS basketball tournaments from 2006 on Stadium. 

Just for the record, I never got so desperate as to watch the Masked Singer. I want to make that PERFECTLY CLEAR.  Ok, once. 

So, when we got baseball back, even with its seven inning games, or starting a runner on second in extra innings, or pretty much every single fourth inning of a Yankee game when the starter, who was pitching a no hitter, goes walk, single, double, three run HR. I was happy.

A respite from politics. A respite from Covid. A respite from myself.  

The Yankees Are Boring

Not the team. The entity.

I don’t mean this as heresy. I am a Yankee Fan. My faddah was a Yankee Fan. My son… not so much.

As I wrote above, watching them is part of the fabric of my being but, if there is anything that can be learned from this blog, aside from (CONTENT REMOVED BY AUTHOR) it’s that the team is owned by a soulless corporate entity and not by a fan.

I get it. It’s a business. But I don’t root for Burger King to beat McDonalds. I don’t root for Disney Plus to out subscribe Netflix.  The closest I come is wanting Rachel Maddow to beat out Hannity in that all important 35-50 demographic.  

But I do root for the Yankees.

The last few weeks I’ve been reading articles about the Mets. Let’s face it having an owner that cares is a lot more interesting and a lot more fun than having an owner that doesn’t.  It’s why I can watch the NY Giants even though I enjoy virtually NONE of the games.

I know that the Maras and the Tischs care. They just suck at it. But I’m willing to forgive that and take small joys when… wow were they bad yesterday… I can’t even think of anything they… I don’t think Daniel Jones fumbled… I sort of spaced out towards the end.  

You get the point. So, back to the Yankees.

Yes, they will sign someone, hopefully DJ, but in the end, as we often say here, it will be just enough to make the playoffs (and because it’s a crap shoot – maybe a championship every once in a while) but there is no passion for winning.

As Duque pointed out, the Dodgers are the new Yankees. The Mets have the new George Steinbrenner. The San Diego Padres just traded for Blake Snell, and we wait for the Yankees to get a bargain when they re-sign Gardner for $4M (a savings of 6M over last year!!!).  Brain has turned us all into accountants.

---

I’m sure there are other things I learned this year, how much I took my lungs for granted comes to mind, but I’ll save them for another post, or maybe I'll just write something along the lines of “Ten Candidates for Yankee Third Base Coach.”  Candidate Four will blow your mind!”  

Either way, just in case I don't...

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!!!!!!

The Top Ten Worst Yankee Moments of 2020, a rotten year, all around

1. Aroldis Chapman surrendering season-ending, walk-off HR to Tampa.

2. Continual realization that fans were cardboard cutouts and cheers were fake.

3. Gary Sanchez marching to dugout after strikeout. (64 times)

4. Gary Sanchez turning to chase passed ball. (5 times, AL Leader)

5. Gary Sanchez swinging away, hopelessly, into over-shift. (Daily appreciation).

6. Injuries to Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Paxton, et al - proving 2019 was no anomaly. 

7. John Sterling forced to miss games due to illness.

8. Boone removing Deivi Garcia in 2nd inning of playoff v. Tampa, proving Yanks will never give youngsters a fair opportunity.

9. Demotions of Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar to Scranton netherworld, proving Yanks will never give youngsters a fair opportunity.

10. YES announcers praising Gary Sanchez for incredible Exit Velo.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

R.I.P. Phil Niekro

 


The sad reality of 2021: The Dodgers are the new Yankees

In today's Murdoch Mush, Joel Sherman traces the reasons why the LA Dodgers are quietly directing contract talks over Trevor Bauer and DJ LeMahieu: 

As defending champs and perennial NL poohbahs, they occupy the brocade throne much as the 1999 Yankees once did. They have baseball's best team. They have still-rising stars. They have the money. They have the owner. They have the farm system. They have the market. They have everything the Yankees once had - and still should - if we didn't keep punching ourselves in the Kushners. 

Sherman targets the ongoing LeMahiue crisis, asking:

Are the Yankees... re-signing LeMahieu regardless of cost, or do the Yanks — with the intention of going under the $210 million luxury-tax threshold — have a limit? If it is the latter, could the Dodgers step in? Has LeMahieu grown disenchanted/disrespected enough with the process that he will leave a place he likes? If so, the Dodgers offer the professional, winning environment that made him so enjoy his Yankee time.

Yep. He's basically saying the Dodgers the new Yankees. Or, actually, that they are even better off. In every comparison between the franchises, the massive fatberg dead ahead is Giancarlo Stanton's "from-here-to-Eternity" contract, to which Team Cashman is lashed like Mike Pence to the White Whale. Whatever they do, the Yankees will open new holes in their roster. Meanwhile, the Dodgers will simply add to their strength. 

The Dodgers have managed their payroll so well that Betts is their only guaranteed money beyond 2022... LeMahieu can fit within the Dodger salary structure and play third if Justin Turner is not re-signed, or second with Gavin Lux becoming a super-utility type.. Think of a lineup that begins Betts/LeMahieu. 

Or - gulp - one that begins with Aaron Hicks and his .225 batting average (which we are told, under the new metrics, doesn't matter? Gimme a break.)  The simple reality is that whatever the Yankees do - outbid everyone, or let DJ walk - they look like a team well past its "sell-by" date, and which will need to be remade by a series of trades (Frazier, Andujar, Voit, et al.) 

And we all know how opposing GMs just love to help the Yankees.

Everything hinges on how loudly Hal Steinbrenner wants to poormouth, and whether the Gammonites of NYC will buy it. Hal wants us to think he lost money in 2020. That would make him the only billionaire on the planet to do so. Will the Murdoch Mush rattle a cup on his behalf? 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Crapola year notwithstanding: The Top 10 most hopeful Yankee signs of 2020

10. Regular Spanish-language announcer Ricky Ricardo filled in for an ailing John Sterling and unveiled his Aaron Judge home run call:

AND THE VERDICT IS, AARON JUDGE IS... GUILTY... OF PUTTING THE YANKEES AHEAD, ONE TO NOTHING! 

9. Giancarlo Stanton, even with that odious contract, still hit when healthy.

8. Zack Britton remained a viable closer for the post-Chapman era.

7. Kyle Higashioka became a starter. (Did we dream that he hit three HRs in one game?) 

6. Though hardly deserving a Gold Glove, Clint Frazier did himself proud in the outfield. (And now and then, he even tried bunting!)

5. Aaron Judge, when healthy, remained a powerful force.

4. HR leader Luke Voit showed he is for real.

3. So did Gio Urshela. (Should have won the Gold Glove.)

2. D.J., of course. (But will he be back?)

1. Gerrit Cole, worth every nickel.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Lest We Forget...

Filed from the technically challenged computer of HoraceClark66

It’s been a turbulent year—how’s that for understatement? But really, between all the suffering and death, and the petite mort of our favorite baseball team, I fear we have forgotten a key piece of Yankees lore.

 


 

2020 marks the centennial of George Herman “Babe” Ruth’s arrival in New York City. It was 101 years ago, in fact—December 26, 1919—that the colonels, Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston (I just love writing that name) closed the deal with Red Sox owner and Broadway producer Harry Frazee, to bring the Big Man to the Big City.

 

Baseball—and all of professional sports, everywhere—would never be the same.

 


(Yes, that’s them. Huston was so devoted to that bowler that the writers nicknamed him “Cap,” and “The Man in the Iron Hat.”)

 

Ruppert and Huston first told the Lords of Baseball that they were interested in buying the New York Baseball Giants. They were haughtily informed that the Giants, then the most glamorous, profitable team in the sport, were not for sale. But if they minded their p’s and q’s, they might be allowed to purchase the Chicago Cubs.

 

The mind reels at how different the last century of baseball might have been if the colonels had meekly tugged their forelocks and accepted Baseball’s offer.

 

“Chicago is a long way from Broadway,” was Col. Ruppert’s chilly, German-accented reply. (Nobody could be chilly quite like Jake Ruppert.)

 

They were persuaded to settle for the Giants’ tenants, a forlorn American-League team renowned for their bad luck. Some thought the bad luck actually came from the fact that the team was owned by a couple of corrupt characters named Bill Devery—the most venal police commissioner in the history of New York, which is saying something—and Frank Farrell, probably the biggest gambler in the country. 

 

But I digress.

 

The colonels were persuaded to go ahead and purchase the Yankees in good part because Ban Johnson, the president of the American League, gave them the old nudge-nudge, wink-wink that they would soon be allowed to acquire such stars as Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

 

Shoeless Joe on the Yankees? Again, the mind reels. (Hmm, maybe I should change my prescription…)

 

When that proved to be a lie, the colonels responded by running Johnson out of the league he had founded. They then sacked a Red Sox franchise that had sacked the Philadelphia Athletics a few years before.

 

When Charlie Stoneham and the other sleazy, Tammany hacks who ran the Giants tried to chase them out of New York by ending their lease, Jake Ruppert pointed out that among other things, the Yankees now held the mortgage on Fenway Park.

 

Again, the mind…well, you know.

 

Ruppert and the Yankees stayed in New York and built the biggest stadium in baseball. Babe Ruth changed the entire way baseball was played, and put pro sports on the map for the first time.


 (When Ruth came to New York, all of professional baseball brought in less money than the sheet music business.)

 The moral of my little Christmas story?

 

The Yankees have often been owned by ruthless (Get it? Ruth-less? You don't get this on other blogs!) and even brutal men. But at their best they threw out the rules and went their own way.

 

They were usually in the forefront of innovation and change in the sport. The Yankees were one of the first teams to build a farm system, one of the first to utilize relief pitching, and to start their own television network—the very first to go big on free agents.

 

There were some glaring exceptions. They got on radio and regular TV late, and—unforgivably—were late in signing Black and Hispanic ballplayers. When CBS owned them, they didn’t get the chance for “synergy” staring them in their bloated, corporate faces.

 

But the lesson is the same. Ignore the conventional wisdom, and pay no attention to what your fellow owners want you to do.

 

MLB wants to cut back on the minor leagues? The Yankees should step up and expand their minor-league system—instead of ripping off the taxpayers of New York by terminating the Staten Island Yankees.

 

All the rest of baseball lets itself be suckered by the sabremetricious into playing the dullest version of the game yet invented? The Yankees should hire on a coaching staff to bring back real baseball.

 

Right now, Hal Steinbrenner looks content to fall into line, play patty-cake with his fellow tycoons for the next 20 years, and let the Yankees keep drifting toward mediocrity. And, oh yeah, become an international soccer magnate.

 

That ain’t gonna cut it. He would be better off remembering 101 years ago, when a Babe came among us.

 

Happy Holidays, you wonderful savings-and-loan!

Happy Holidays from Seasons Greetings

All is quiet in the Yankiverse. Move on, there's nothing to see: Nobody's going to sign. Nobody's going to be released. Have an electric Kool-Aid acid nog.  And as you tear open each package, to find another pair of socks and boxer shorts, remember: 

Every moment is a gift. That's why it's called "the present."






Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Merry Goodby


Another fine and former Yankee bullpen arm has departed the Brian/Hal consortium, and the Yankee family.

Say goodbye to Tommy Kahnle.

He just moved on to another team. 

The bullpen needs grow deeper. 

Not to worry, mates; 

We have Giancarlo Stanton for seven more years!!!



Four Seasons greetings from IT IS HIGH, and the annual Festivus Airing of Grievances


The 2020 IIHIIFIIc Festivus Airing of Grievances:

Virus
Gary
Aroldis 
Hal 
Cashman
Exit velos
Tweaked gonads
Astros
Tampa
Football Giants
All NYC sports
Passwords
Pop-up ads
Bad plates of clams
Car repairs
Toilets that don't refill, so you have to stand there and jiggle the handle
Opinionated idiots on TV

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Yanks sign Lucas Luetge! Yanks sign Lucas Luetge! Yanks sign Lucas Luetge!

Festivus has come early! The Yankees have signed Lucas Luetge! The Yankees have signed Lucas Luetge! The war on Christmas is over! We just kicked its ass!


Yep. As stated above, the Yankees have signed Lucas Luetge. That's... something... all righty. Lucas Luetge. Didn't see it coming. That's why following the Yankees is so bountiful and mirthy. You never know when... um, hey, everybody: LUCAS LUETGE!

So... no need to theorize John Sterling's homer holler. Lucas Luetge pitches. 


So... Lucas Lester "Lucifer" Luetge hasn't pitched in the majors for five years. He had Tommy John surgery, missed 2017-18, trolled the minors in 2019 and spent this godforsaken year on the Oakland taxi squad. In his career, he has cashed checks from the Brewers, Mariners, Angels, Reds, Diamondbacks and A's. His Twitter account last night described him as a pitcher for the Yankees and a stay-at-home dad.


Okay, spoiler alert: He just won me over.

Obviously, most Yank fans have never heard of Lucas Luetge. But as New York Lotto says, Hey, ya' never know...  

No GM ever lost his job by stockpiling cheap, obscure lefties. Luetge is a bullpen lug nut, a LOOGY, following the hovesteps of Randy Choate. (In 2015, his last taste of MLB batters, lefty hitters batted .000 against him. That's right, critics... Zero! He faced one LH hitter and got him out. Perfection!) Signings like this can be the difference between third place and a wild card. At 33, Lucas Luetge has finally reached his summit. 

Welcome to the Yankiverse, Mr. L. Merry Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A hunka-hunka burnin' Christmas: Elvis and John Sterling sing along to Santa


 

The Jets, Giants, Yankees and Tankies: When losing becomes the objective, the professional sports model has failed

As a fan, here's how I view pro sports in America:


Ah, yet another existential crisis! What brings this one on, you ask? 

Well, Sunday, the lowly, miserable Jets might have blown their one shot at perfection. They won a meaningless game. It could cost them next year's top draft pick, Trevor Lawrence. For Jets fans, watching Sunday's event  was a horrible, ridiculous conundrum - they even tank when trying to tank - and one that Giants' fans know well. 

As the "G-Men" lumber towards the end of another losing season, their fans have no recourse but to root for losses. Last year, right around now, the Giants beat the then-Redskins in a wretched, meaningless game that cost them the draft rights to one of the game's best young players, Chase Young. And now the Washington Football Team looks headed to the playoffs. 

Okay, so, the Yankees... Obviously, it's far too early to give up on the 2021 baseball season. (There will be plenty of time for that, later.) But who can ignore the lingering sense that the Death Barge - with a clearly inadequate pitching staff - is headed towards the precipice? 

Last year, the Redsocks chose to tank. This winter, they have money. In this millennium, they have orchestrated three tankings. Each one eventually resulted in a ring. They are playing the game, according to a successful strategy. And they are outsmarting us. 

Professional sports in America is broken. Each season, two races emerge - to the top and to the bottom. Whatever you do, don't get Malcom'ed in the middle. In fact, the Yankees' failure over the last 11 years stems from their insistence on challenging every season, while their rivals systematically rise, fall and rise again. 

How did this come to be? Billionaire owners want their industry run according to the purest ideals of capitalism: No regulations, the ability to relocate franchises, and absolute power over the hired help. But when it comes to actually running their business, they prefer socialism: Oppressive regulations (down to the shoes that players wear), massive luxury taxes (since when do billionaires like taxes?) and full-scale salary caps. Moreover, they reward the worst-run teams - (often the cheapest run, as well) - for their incompetence.

The media seems to accept the notion that Hal Steinbrenner lost a lot of money last year - (which would make him almost unique among billionaires) - thus, the 2021 Yankee payroll must shrink. The team cannot afford a huge luxury tax bill. Money doesn't grow on trees! If the Yanks are hamstrung among free agents this winter, well, we should blame D.J. LeMahieu! Why didn't he accept less money? 

I donno what'll happen with D.J. But if he does re-sign with us - probably for less money - the Yankees apparently won't have any coins left over for pitching. Thus, Brian Cashman will remake the roster... with, gulp, trades. If D.J. signs, he might be signing the papers for Luke Voit's move to Kansas City. Yeesh. 

Something tells me, around July 30, Yankee fans might find ourselves feeling the urge to destroy. So, on that note, merry fucking Christmas, everybody. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

John Sterling welcomes Santa Claus in a moving musical tribute


 

Change of Pace: It's time to vote for the 2020 Headline of the Year

 


Cashman tries to talk himself into thinking Yankee pitching will hold up. It doesn't work.

One of the joys of any holiday season is watching Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman beam about the roster of Olympians he has assembled.

Yesterday, the GM went on SiriusXM pay radio to say, of Yankee pitching:

"If I can add to what I have sooner than later, all the better.  If I have to wait to do it in season, so be it.  But we also might have enough right here before us that’s just untested.”

In other words, "Hold off on the sandbags. The water is barely over our ankles." 

A quick recap on our pitching depth chart: For the rotation, the Yankees have... 

No. 1: Gerrit Cole.
No. 2: TBA
No. 3: TBA
No. 4: TBA
No. 5: Bullpen.

Yep. Cole and the Mysterians. Certainly, Deivi Garcia, Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German are hopefuls. In a regular year, they could be seen as viable mid-season replacements. But as frontrunners heading into a season? The water is at our knees. 

Look... I don't want to belabor this. We've discussed this for months. The only question now is whether Cashman is gaslighting Yankee fans - or himself. 

Hey, I'm all for magical thinking. It's fun to imagine Garcia as the next Pedro, Montgomery as the next Andy, German as the next - um - Ray Rice? While we're at it, maybe Trump can pardon Randy Levine for the last 11 Yankee seasons. Maybe the answer is to fantasize great pitchers emerging from the farms and not question the brain trust. 

For this holiday week, let us embrace the wise and comforting words of Bojack Horseman:

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, fiddle-dee-dee!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

John Sterling talks about two Jolly Old Saint Nicks


 

The Heart or the Brain: Would the Yankees actually be better off without signing LeMahiue?

In today's Murdoch Mildew, Joel Sherman - the paragon of paragraphs and begotten king of the Gammonites - outlines the arguments pro-and- con, nip-and-tuck, up-and-down, and higgety-piggety, for spending the Yankee war chest on D.J. LeMahieu. 

You don't need binoculars to read between the lines: 

That no matter how  great LeMahieu is, the Death Barge might be better off spending its money elsewhere. 

Sherman offers a whispery, backdoor analysis, one we've pondered since the rotation exploded in November, with James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka filing for freedom. For weeks, the tabloids have taken the easy route, simplistically crusading for the Yankees to re-sign their best player. Even today, Sherman doesn't come out and say otherwise. But questions trickle out.

... [I]f LeMahieu returns, he would play second. That means sticking with Gleyber Torres at short and Luke Voit at first. Still, even an in-shape Torres is going to be, at best, an ordinary shortstop. The Yankees are looking at ordinary or worse up the middle with Torres, Gary Sanchez at catcher and Aaron Hicks in center.

Then there is the batting order.

They also are pretty much committing again to a lineup oversaturated with righty hitters, with only the switch-hitting Hicks currently projected to play regularly and hit from the left side... The concern is about making the picture too easy for teams with good righty pitching.

We've discussed this all winter. Interesting that, with the holidays approaching - knowing that some players like to wrap things up by then - Sherman puts this into play. No conspiracy theories, but for months, I've believed Brian Cashman is merely paying lip service to LeMahieu, talking up the need to keep him, without scribbling the right numbers onto the napkin. 

If the Yankees absolutely wanted LeMahieu - above all else - they'd have signed him by now. In fact, they're clutching their fanny pack. This could backfire: If the Mets, Redsocks or Blue Jays jump in, they'll have to respond. 

The Yankees have vowed not to make a move until LeMahiue makes up his mind. It's a nice way to pay homage, without actually paying the player. At some point, the dominoes will start dropping. Then, watch out.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

For Hypothetical Saturday, here's a question you didn't see coming: Should A-Rod make the Mariners Hall of Fame?

There is a bizarre, supernatural relationship between the Yankees and Seattle Mariners. Geographically, they sit on the opposite edges of America. But like particles in quantum theory experiments, when one itches on the East, the counterpart on the West scratches. There's some sort of wormhole. Frankly, it's spooky. 

The Mariners greatest moment - the 1995 playoffs - came over the Yankees. Their greatest player, Ken Griffey Jr., grew up with his dad as a Yankee. Then there are the weird crosscurrents: Robinson Cano, Randy Johnson, Tino Martinez,  Ken Phelps, Raul Ibanez - should I go on? okay - Ichiro Suzuki, Jeff Nelson, Russ Davis, James Paxton - had enough? no? - Freddie Garcia, Miguel Cairo, Edwin Encarnacion, Ben Gamel, Michael Pineda, Justus Sheffield - don't make me do this -Jesus H. Montero... JAY BUHNER!

Memory Lane has potholes, eh? But I've neglected perhaps the most onerous and overwhelming Seattle-NY connection of all: Alex Rodrguez. 

Seattle launched his career. New York capped it - and killed it. 

Hence, one of the more enjoyable hikes along the Avenue of Pandemic Time-Killing: Lookout Landing asks whether A-Rod should make the Mariners Hall of Fame

I love this article because:

a) It conveys information. The Mariners have a Hall of Fame! Who knew?

b) It argues that, yes, A-Rod belongs. (It recently argued that Robbie Cano also belongs.) 

c) The writer nails it.

Alex Rodriguez was so, so, so good at playing baseball for the Seattle Mariners. The circumstances of his exit are messy at best and selfishly vindictive at worst, but for the five seasons when he was the M’s starting shortstop, there wasn’t a better player in the game.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: What about the steroids? Well, for starters, by all indications, A-Rod did not start popping pills until he moved to Texas, where everybody was doing it, and - frankly - when MLB had yet to ban it. He played SS, not a position for steroidal brutes. Then there is the broader philosophical question: How self-righteous should we be when judging old ball players?

I have a hard time assigning great moral debates to retired jocks. I know - it's complicated, and there is the old chestnut: Cheaters never win and winners never cheat. But the older these guys get, the more I realize that very few players ever get to be described as "great." And to deny their past seems rather foolish. 

I understand if folks simply hate A-Rod and his seemingly perfect, beautiful, golden, Minotaur-self-portrait-in-the-bedroom life. But something tells me that, up close, it's hell being married to an aging pop goddess. I wouldn't know from experience. Just imagining it, though. 

Which raises another question: Does he belong in Monument Park?

The answer, of course!

Here are the Yankees currently honored in Monument Park: Miller Huggins, Lou Gehrig, Jacob Rupert, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Thurman Munson, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Ali Reynolds, Don Mattingly, Mel Allen, Bob Sheppard, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Red Ruffing, Jackie Robinson, George Steinbrenner, Mariano Rivera, Tino Martinez, Goose Gossage, Paul O'Neill, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Willie Randolph, Mel Stottlemyre, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter. Yeah, it's a crowd.

I don't like to use the argument that, "If A is in, then B belongs." But with two MVP awards, A-Rod certainly passes the greatness test. He practically carried us to the 2009 world series. All these people are worthy. So is A-Rod. 

Yeesh, are we supposed to hate him forever? I reserve that distinction for Redsocks.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Did the Yankees last season waste the prime of their stars?

Breaking News: 2020 was a bastard. A flat tire. A canker sore. A plate of bad clams. Good riddance. Yeah, the Yankees arguably came within a few strategic plays from the World Series. Go ahead, torture yourself: Imagine the one surgical bunt, the great catch, the sac fly, that could have toppled Tampa. I believe the prophets when they say: Fuck dat. 

So, here's today's wish: What if we could somehow scan the Yankee roster and determine - using ages - what players were in line for career years? 

Well, through the miracle of birth certificates, we can! 

Before continuing, let's accept that Luke Voit - at 29 - had the best season of his life. He'll be a fine player; he will never again lead the majors in homers. Also, DJ LeMahieu - at 31 - probably won his last batting title. Each could have long careers, but their memories of 2020 - despite the shit show - will always bring smiles. A great year. Good for them. 

But that's two career seasons that won us, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, "doodilly squat."  

Generally, players reach peak foliage between 28 and 30. Thus, 2020 should have brought career bests from:

Luke Voit (was 29)
Geo Urshela (28)
Aaron Hicks (30)
Giancarlo Stanton (30)
Aaron Judge (28)
Mike Tauchman (29)
Kyle Higashioka (30)
Gerrit Cole (29)
Chad Green (29)
Luis Cessa (28)

That's 10 possible career seasons, including three by genuine, MVP-level "stars:" Stanton, Judge and Cole.  

The Tampa Rays also showed 10 potential career seasons, but none from their biggest forces of nature: Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows, Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and - dear god - Randy Arozarena - all of whom were younger than the threshold. The Dodgers had seven peak players. (Note: Mookie Betts was still 27; his peak is still coming.) The Blue Jays had seven, with their top talent also ascending.

What do we take from this? Well, you can blame the pandemic, blame the fates, blame the trainers, it doesn't matter... I offer these conclusions: 

The Yankees were primed to win everything last year, and they didn't.

They squandered potential peak seasons for Judge, Stanton and Cole.

Add another year to the Yankee roster, and it doesn't improve.

Add another to Tampa and Toronto, and they look even scarier.

So... MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY! 

But but BUT... this can change, depending on what happens with LeMahiue. The Yankees have rising talent, most notably Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar. Trouble is, they are often mentioned as  trade bait for pitchers, which the Yankees desperately need. 

No matter what happens with DJ, somehow, the Yankees must get younger. 

To think they can win with last year's lineup, one year older? That's delusional. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

John Sterling joins the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a sterling salute to Christmas


 

Is this Binghamton's year to win the Golden Snowball?

Every year, upstate NY's Five Nations of the Unclean compete to see which unfortunate city will plow and shovel the most snow. 

In 10 out of the last 11 years, the "Golden Snowball" has gone to Syracuse, (which is known locally to rhyme with "Sheer Abuse.")

Nevertheless... Today, Binghamton - (known locally as "Bingo Town") - has taken a clear lead. It reportedly received 40 inches yesterday, an all-time record. With partial scores in - (mail-in snow ballots will come later) - the city has vaulted into first. 

This could be Binghamton's first GoSno since the winter of 1982-83, and only its fourth in history. Let's hope it's not rigged. (Vane-stuffing?)

The stats (as of Thursday morn): 


.


Waiting for LeMahieu

CASHMAN: I am leaving. I cannot wait any longer on this cold, barren hilltop.

BOONE: No, we must stay.

CASHMAN: He is not coming. The night is as dark as our existence is devoid of meaning. 

BOONE: No, we must stay. He is coming, I tell you. 

(They stand silently, contemplating eternity.)

CASHMAN: At times, I wonder who we are even waiting for.

BOONE: You know who.

CASHMAN: At times, I am not sure. Is he a second-baseman? Does he play first? Does he lead off? Does he bat third? Do we trade Voit? Do we shop Gleyber? And is all of this merely a waste of time? Is he, right now, talking with the Mets? All of these things, I do not know.

BOONE: When he comes, he will bring answers.

CASHMAN: I am tired of waiting. I need a tall building to rappel down. 

(They stand silently for seven minutes, signifying the passage of seven years.)

BOONE: You waited for Ellsbury. 

CASHMAN: Do not speak that name!

BOONE: Igawa. Did you forget Igawa?

CASHMAN: Enough!

BOONE: Will we not wait forever on Stanton?

CASHMAN: Your mouth is possessed by demons. 

BOONE: What are demons, but truth that has copulated with Joel Sherman? 

(They stand silently, pondering the unponderable.) 

CASHMAN: The stars mock us, like bullets of reality fired into the garage door of an aging closer's wife.

BOONE: He will come. I am sure. 

CASHMAN: If he does not come...

BOONE: He will come.

CASHMAN: If he does not come...

BOONE: Do not say it!

CASHMAN: If he does not come...

BOONE: HE WILL, I SAY. HE WILL!

CASHMAN: Kyle Schwarber. And one of us will have to tell Michael Kay...

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

In a musical extravaganza, John Sterling and John Melencamp have seen someone kissing Santa Claus


 

Yanks talk a big game, but recent events whisper desperation

While you quarantine, Yank scouts are combing the globe for quality arms. Check out the spin-rate on this prospect! (And note how the catcher has adopted Gary Sanchez' blocking style.)

Bada-boom. But seriously, folks... don't dig in.

Between now and February, the earthquake is coming. Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman will unleash a series of trades, spinning the Yankiverse on its axis. It has to happen. In  their current incarnation - with or without DJ LeMahiue - the Yankees are an airplane with seven wings and one propeller. Recent events look like the minor tremors that foretell The Big One. 

Over the last 48 hours...

1. The Yanks signed Adam Warren. Yes, that Adam Warren. Our old pal, our prodigal son. He's now 33, speckled with salt, and hasn't pitched since June of 2019, back when Trump was kissing Kim Jung-un. He's had Tommy John surgery. (Hasn't everyone?) He'll be ready for spring training. It's like the return of Thanos: In the Yankiverse, does anybody ever die?

2. The Yanks signed Matt Bowman. He's a 29-year-old ex-Reds/Cardinals lug nut who also missed last year due to Dr. TJ. We signed him for two years - minor league deal, of course - because he won't be ready until August. Bowman's best year came in 2016, when he threw 67 innings with a 3.46 ERA. Why not? Remember Jon Lieber?

3. The Yanks signed Nestor (Octavio) Cortes Jr. Remember Nasty Nestor? He's back after a brutal sojourn through Seattle. He's 26, a lefty, and throws from a thousand trajectories. Over the years, he's been bombed like Beirut, but he's my Pick-6. Cortes is a Mysterio, a low arm-strength/high guile type who survives on deceptiveness. Did I mention he's a lefty? He's the one most likely to perfect a pitch and turn into Randy Choate. 

4. Aaron Boone talked up the staff. You know things are bad when Boone is saying otherwise. He said:

“I’m certainly excited about the people we have behind Gerrit Cole from a depth stand point from a number of young guys getting opportunities to pitch this year and showing promise...You’ve got to be prepared to go in with what you have, and we’re really excited with some of things we were able to see from the development.”

Baghdad Bob, right? Nothing screams "RUN FOR THE HILLS!" like the reassuring presence of the fatherly Boone. When done with baseball, he should get a cable TV show and predict the stock market. We'll all get rich, doing the opposite of what he says. 

So, whaddaya glean here? Well, it's not even Christmas, but Cashman is touring the garage sales, looking for anything with a pulse. And cheap. Did I mention cheap? Yep, cheap is the new normal. Our rotation is dismal, LeMahiue remains unsigned, and Hal Steinbrenner is already poor-mouthing. Cheap.

Soon, LeMahieu will make his choice. At that point, the earth will move. In the meantime, we'll search for guys who can throw the 85-mph penny-loafer.