DEAR NEW YORK TABLOIDS

BOYCOTT MLB ON YOUR BACK PAGES UNTIL THE LOCKOUT ENDS!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Plague Theater: Bernie and Jeet on Seinfeld



Admit it: You've been waiting for this.

"The Winning Team"

By the by, TCM is showing all-baseball movies and shorts through 8 p.m.

Coming up are "The Babe Ruth Story," "The Jackie Robinson Story," and the old-timey, 19th-century baseball flick, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Esther Williams.

Just watched a fun Babe Ruth short, and some of "The Winning Team," which was Ronald Reagan and Doris Day in the Grover Cleveland Alexander story ("The great Alexander is pitching again in Washington...")

The move is basically dreck, and only remotely related to Pete Alexander's real story.  Among other things, the events in the famous game in which he struck out Tony "Poosh-em-up" Lazzeri are largely altered (and the guy playing Rogers Hornsby is a balding, pot-bellied character actor who looks to be at least 55).

BUT...great clips of the Original Stadium at full capacity during the World Series, and great clips of New Yorkers watching the giant scoreboards set up in Times Square.

Also, Robert Benchley in the short, "Opening Day," coming up at 4:45.

Virtual Game 5: Yanks Fall to Unique Strategy. Stanton Found!

The ever-innovative Tampa Bay Rays unleashed a brand-new strategy against the New York Yankees, starting a lineup of nine pitchers, and bringing in a different hurler for every single pitch thrown.  Thanks to a solo home run by Tampa Bay DH Ji-Man Choi, the Rays handed star free-agent acquisition, Gerrit Cole his first loss as a Yankee, 1-0.

With a new pitcher trotting to the mound for every single pitch, the game lasted 11 hours and 35 minutes.  Cole was removed from the game after the sixth inning, when he fell asleep on the bench, and could not be awakened.

Yankees manager Ma Boone protested that the Rays' strategy violated baseball's new rule that relief pitchers must be used for at least three innings.  Tampa Bay skipper Kevin Cash argued that since all of the pitchers used were already in and stayed in the lineup and on the field, this did not constitute true substitutions.

When the umpires appealed to the MLB home office in New York, they were only able to get through to a spoken message that told them:  "If one of the team's involved in your dispute is from New York, the decision will go against them.  If both teams are from New York, the decision will go against the New York Yankees."

"It was crazy out there," fumed Yanks' first sacker, Luke Voit.  "You had no way to make adjustments.  Everybody was throwing at different speeds, and to different locations, and from different angles, with the lefty and the righty, and the fastball and the curveball and the forkball and the screwball and HEY LADY!"

The loss dropped the Yankees to 3-2 on the season.

In some good news, Yankees superstar Giancarlo Stanton was found alive and well, roaming the streets of Tampico, Mexico, while munching on a chorizo.  He still believed himself to be in Tampa, and had noticed no difference between the violence-devastated Mexican city, and the popular Florida tourist destination.

"Tampa, Tampico—I thought it was the same thing," shrugged Stanton, when he was discovered by the Yankees' private investigators.

He added:  "Look, the traveling secretary usually takes care of these things, and I never leave the hotel, anyway.  I must say, however, that I have been fascinated to learn about the ancient roots of this community dating back to the surprisingly advanced but still little-known Huastec people of the pre-Columbian era.  Maybe I'll come back here to work with one of the archaeological teams over the winter, instead of just going to Cabo again."





Plague Theater: "DEREK JETER... YOU SUCK!"



From the era of Nomar. Before the crash. 

Imagining a June-to-October baseball season

For the sake of killing five minutes...

Let's say the virus runs its course by late May, allowing MLB to launch the 2020 season around June 15. 

The country will rejoice over a return to normalcy - to the great diversion of sports - but health officials might still be leery of massive crowds, and a grieving, still-recovering nation might not be ready, anyway.  

Thus, a revamped 81-game season might have to take place in empty stadiums, a made-for-TV league. And some cities might simply have to cancel. 

By June, New York and Seattle should have passed through the snake - with case loads declining and under control - but who knows where St. Louis or Kansas City will be? Thus, some franchises might call off the year. MLB might field a 12-or 16 team league. Disappointing, but better than nothing.

If so, players from canceled franchises might sign short term deals with the remaining teams. (This would require massive negotiations between owners and the players union, but both sides would have an interest in striking a deal.) The condensed league could feature veritable all-star teams, though this would undermine old-time rivalries. How would Yankee fans feel if, say, the Redsocks unveiled their new short-term second-baseman: Didi Gregorius? A bit manipulated, maybe? (Well, we could sign Jose Altuve, right?)

The shortened, made-for-TV league might have to take place in far-flung minor league cities, such as Boise or Batavia. Hopefully, some small metropolitan centers will escape the ravages of the virus. For network purposes, a stadium in Montana would be no different from one in Houston. 

It's hard to imagine the playoff structure. It might more resemble the Olympics than a regular post-season. If it rolls into November, it would have to take place in southern cities, on neutral fields - and that would be a shame. 

By October, maybe we will have a vaccine, a 15-minute test (maybe we already do) and a prescription drug that turns the virus into a flu. If so, a world series could be played in actual home cities, like Boston or New York. 

Wouldn't it be the greatest feeling, to survive this abyss, and have an old-fashioned, barn-burner of a world series? It's up to you, scientists. Baseball fever, save it? 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Plague Theater: The Joe Franklin Show with guest Andy Devine (1976)

Plague Theater: "CUZ YA SHOT DEREK JETER!"

From "The Other Guys," considered Jeet's greatest acting achievement.


"SHOULDA SHOT A-ROD!"

(Star-studded cast, by the way.) 

Hope, Diamond

A hundred bucks for an obstructed seat
Cold in the shadow, then blistering heat
The pushy stat-head who needs a shower
Nine inning games that last six hours
Fans in my row with tiny bladders
The $30 million .240 batter
Ear-blistering rock soundtrack
Fourteen dollar Cracker Jacks
Security lines that go on for days
Video reviews, endless delays
Wasted bankers on company plastic
Knucklehead experts so bombastic
Lazy players, greedy owners
Chatterboxes, needy loners
Pina colada spilled down my back--

Goddamnit, I want baseball back!

A-Rod: The future host of CENTERSTAGE? Or maybe even a voice driven by Jeep?

Yesterday, the renowned epidemiologist Dr. Alex Rodriguez did an Instagram Live Chat with Met slugger Pete Alonzo from Dr. J-Lo's Florida mansion mini-pool and perhaps - judging from the angle - while lying on his back. (Bulging disk?)

They discussed Tiger King, a Netflix documentary so daffy that you must keep reminding yourself that it's not a parody. (I've only watched the first two episodes, so no spoilers in the comments, okay?) It's possible that, someday, no chronicle of the Great Quarantine will be complete without mention of Joe Exotic.  


Glad A-Rod is keeping busy. Maybe I've gone soft, but I've come to see the guy as a benign character - a former future deity, now rapidly aging and struggling desperately - (and fruitlessly) - to stay relevant. He surely realizes that, no matter what he says or does, half the baseball world will always hate him. I did. There was a time when I went to bed at night hating him, dreamed of hating him, then woke up next morning hating him. I don't mind saying that, either. The bozo deserved it. 

These days, considering the darkness engulfing this world, I'm cutting people slack. I just hope he doesn't jump into politics. That could rouse a lot of demons. In the meantime, he's planning to do these chats on a weekly basis. Good for him. Future voice of the Yankees? That's hard to imagine, but here's something that isn't: The looming possibility that we may never hear another John Sterling Win Warble, or even another 15-second Geiko game insert from Suzyn. 

If you were taking odds on who'll be the next Voice of the Yankees Radio Network, driven by Jeep, the shortlist of candidates would be... any of the YES characters - Kay, Cone, Flaherty, O'Neill, etc. - some of the garden variety announcers, and - if he pursued it - A-Rod. For now, though, the greatest return to normalcy in the Yankiverse would be the sound of The Master's soothing voice, saying, "Thuhhhhhhhhhhh pitch..."  

Virtual Game 4: Monty Outfoxed in Tampa, Yanks Lose First. Stanton Missing.

The Yankees' first effort to develop a No. 4 starter for the 2020 season fell flat today, as the Tampa Bay Rays spoiled the return of Jordan Montgomery from Tommy John surgery.

The little-known Rays unleashed a blitzkrieg of base hits and stolen bases, running rings around Monty, and routing the Yanks by a final score of 14-2.  The big blow was a monstrous, grand-slam home run from rookie J.E.E. "Tank" Rommel, to the farthest part of the ballpark.  The ball was not retrieved, as no one was sitting there and none of the eight Tampa fans in attendance bothered to chase after it.

"We still have some work to do, but I was encouraged," said Montgomery, never a hard thrower, whose fastball topped out today at 45.  "Sure, I have a small ache in my shoulder, and my elbow is kinda sore, but just gimme a few minutes in the whirlpool."

Several reporters asked Manager Ma Boone if his team had not been distracted by the search for Giancarlo Stanton, who checked out of his Baltimore hotel last night, but did not make the team flight to Florida.

"Who's that now?" asked Boone, who looked befuddle.  "Oh, right, that guy.  Is he still on the roster? I mean, I'm sure he'd be ready to go, if we could find him."

Both Yankee runs were driven in by D.J. LeMahieu, on a hard roundball and a sacrifice fly.  He also made an outstanding play in the field.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Plague Theater: The Babe Ruth Story (1948)

Plague Theater: Actual Yankee rain delay music



Imagine listening to this for the next three months. 

Looking at timelines of a possible baseball season

On Dec. 21, 2019, China disclosed to the world a scary coronavirus in the province of Wuhan. (Here's the timeline.)

About 60 days later, Wuhan's number of cases peaked. 

On March 24, about 100 days following the outbreak, China said the epidemic was under control, and life could begin returning to normal.

We can be wary of anything China tells us (as you can, of me.) But for our simple-minded task of pondering the 2020 Yankees, let's assume America follows the Wuhan timeline. Thus, this outbreak would run about 100 days. (Even a wonder drug would take time to test and mass-distribute.)

On Jan. 21, the first U.S. case popped near Seattle. On March 1, a case turned up outside of NYC. Ever since, the numbers have exploded. Today, NY's "apex peak" in cases is probably 15-to-20 days away. From there, lesser outbreaks will roll across America. 

Bottom line, it will probably be about 100 days - from March 1 to late May - before America starts returning to normal. One hundred really awful, terrible, horrible, truly shitty, rotten, wicked-bad days.

Assuming we're still here (which I prefer to do), let's say baseball camps could open around mid-May. (No fans allowed in.) The goal could be to open on Memorial Day, or June 1. Some games might be played in empty stadiums. 

MLB would have lost about about 60 games. By canceling the All Star break, filling in off-days, playing seven-inning double-headers and adding an extra week in October, MLB could maybe play 100 games. (Question to the Peanut Gallery: Do any of you really want the World Series played in late November on neutral fields? I don't.) For the sake of pitchers' elbows alone, MLB might cut its losses and play a half-season, 80 games. Come September, we could enjoy a normal pennant race.


Coronavirus expert to replace Fauci?
Listen: I have no crystal ball. The shit storm to come might include hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest, invasions from Mars - and with limited sheets of toilet paper at our disposal. But if we can make it to Memorial Day, we might yet get to see Gerrit Cole achieve his lifelong dream. When the four walls start closing in, that's worth holding on for.

So... stay safe, be kind, wash your hands, and you heard it here first: 

There will be a baseball season. Think: July.

Virtual Game Three: Yanks Wide-Net, Bludgeon, Behead, Pluck, Devour Birds. Stanton Sits but Injures Coccyx.

The New York Yankees, off to a flying start in the world of virtual baseball this season, crushed the Orioles again in Camden Yards, by a score of 10-2.

Gleyber Torres once again excelled in his favorite ballpark, hitting for the cycle, adding another home run, knocking manager Brandon Hyde unconscious with a foul ball, and reducing the Orioles broadcast team to hysterical weeping.

Yankees starter J.A. Happ was reportedly incensed by the 14 actual Orioles fans in attendance, who at one point formed a chorus line atop the Baltimore dugout, and chanted:

"Happ, Happ,
He's got no sap!"

Happ responded with seven shutout innings, which delighted the 38,140 Yankees fans who had come down from New York to see the game.

Manager Aaron Boone decided to once again sit slugger Giancarlo Stanton, "just as a precautionary measure," but soon after Stanton emerged from the clubhouse and took his seat in the dugout, he began to complain of a sharp pain in his coccyx.  He was sent to a local hospital for tests.

For the third consecutive game, D.J. LeMahieu did everything right.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Plague Theater: "Hey guys, we got a new Yankee wife."



When Jeter hosted SNL. 

Plague Theater: Bogey on ball



Good looking dames, too. 

Apparently, Trump called A-Rod to talk about the coronavirus

The most definitive proof yet that our reality is, in fact, a computer simulation based on stories in The Onion: 

ABC News says President Trump this week reached out to the renowned epidemiologist, Dr. Alex Rodriguez, to discuss our nation's response to the coronavirus. Says today's Daily News...

The retired Yankees superstar, business mogul, and high school graduate was reportedly recruited by President Trump earlier this week for his thoughts on coronavirus, according to ABC News’ John Santucci and Katherine Faulders.

Okay, for those of you scoring at home... We've got thousands dead, a mad scramble for ventilators, millions out of work, a traumatized health system, a nation confined to homes... and Trump calls A-Rod to gobblegobblegobble about - what? - the National Defense Production Act? The legendary centaur painting supposedly hanging over A-Rod's bed? The run on everyday supplies that non-celebrities face? (Says a friend: America elected a President so full of shit that the nation nearly ran out of toilet paper.) I mean, could this get nuttier? Wait... why do I ask? We're talking about Trump here. Of course it could!

A-Rod’s fiancee, Jennifer Lopez, was also in on the call...

Yes, of course, yes! Imagine the inanity of that conversation. Did they give him their best, unbridled lick-spittle? Did they gush? Did they coo? O, sir, what an honor! O, how do you find the time? Actually, we do have suggestions - Jennifer has drawn up schematics for a new surgical mask, and I'm nearly finished on a vaccine... 

I've always believed that toads must worship frogs. 

This has to be up there with the moment that Elvis showed Nixon his FBI secret agent decoder ring. 

I must note that Trump called the report "fake news," his term for any news story that casts him in less than a Fox News/emissary-from-God, golden light. My guess is that Trump called to grub for money. He will recruit anybody - celebrity, dictator, or war criminal - that might help him get re-elected (and, yes, in that regard, he's no different than any other politician.)  

Trump’s call was part of his continued outreach across the country on handling the virus, which has broadened its scope to business leaders and apparently, retired baseball players... 

It will be interesting to see if A-Rod and J-Lo climb aboard the Trump Train. A-Rod seems the type who wants to be loved by everyone. His tryst with J-Lo was a destiny conceived in either heaven or hell... I've never figured out which. 

Sources close to Rodriguez described the call between the three-time MVP and 45th President to ABC as “pleasant.”

I hope somebody recorded the call. Historians will want it for the national archives. A ton of shit is about to fall from the skies. But who cares? We're just a simulation in The Onion and, really, we ought to learn to laugh: It's pretty damn hilarious. 

Virtual Game 2: Yanks Buckshot, Pluck and Devour Birds, 8-0. Stanton Stays Idle.

In virtual baseball today, the NewYork Yankees won their second straight, defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 8-0.

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka shut down the Birds for six innings, while Gleyber Torres hit two more home runs, two doubles, and a single.

Clint Frazier had three more hits for the Yanks, but frightened the crowd by running into the top of the dugout on his return from the field, and knocking himself out.

Giancarlo Stanton, who was expected to play today, instead remained sidelined after reporting back pains due to his bench pressing two models at the same time.

"Giancarlo could have played if it were the World Series," manager Ma Boone told the press.  "I mean, not if it were an important, September game, or a divisional series game.  But the World Series, sure.  As for the League Championship Series, I dunno.  It's too hard to say."

In other Yankees developments, D.J. LeMahieu did everything right.



Friday, March 27, 2020

Plague Theater: Perhaps the strangest Utica Club commercial ever



Now that is market penetration. 

Plague Theater: Yogi Berra on "What's My Line"



Go 20 minutes in. The crowd goes wild. It's July 2, 1961, the nation frothing over Mantle and Maris chasing Babe Ruth. On the second question, Bennett Cerf nails it. Did he peek? Did he hear something. Shoulda been an investigation. 

Plague Theater: Utica Club's "Schultz & Dooley" run for office



Pre-Trump Trump?

In a pinch, the Yankees come through for their stricken farmhands

Today's Murdoch Post reports some good deeds by the Yankees toward a group of minor leaguers who've been holed-up for weeks in Tampa. It's a hopeful message we all can use. Says the Post:

With GM Brian Cashman leading the effort, the Yankees handed out 300 meals per day to players and staff and gave roughly 160 players $75 per day until Thursday, when the players were scheduled to return to their offseason residences. The meals were dropped off to players staying in hotels. Players who lived in apartments picked up the meals at the complex.

About three weeks ago, after a few minor leaguers tested positive for the virus, the Yankees quarantined a large group at their Tampa complex. Today, they are closing the operation, in part due to Shelter-in-Place restrictions imposed by local government. (Tampa looms as a potential corona hot spot.) 

The players say the entire Yankee organization pitched in to help. This is from Josh Smith, a minor league infielder by way of LSU.

“I can honestly say that this is going to stick in my mind forever. Seeing Brian Cashman in flip-flops and gloves working his butt off to help the players shows true leadership....Along with Cashman, [senior director of player development] Kevin Reese and [director of player development] Eric Schmitt did the same each and every day when they could have been at home taking care of their families. You see them lead by example, and it shows how special this organization is."

Nobody knows where all of this is going. I thought we'd seen it all - the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK, the gas crisis, the World Trade Center, the great recession - but this is altogether different. With this one, the wolf is at our door. 

But I do believe that all of us, from the top to the bottom, will be remembered for our acts of selflessness - or selfishness - over the next several months. Apparently, the Yankees have been coming through for their players. Bravo. 

Virtual Off-Day: Giancarlo Stanton Pledges to Redouble His Model Pressing Efforts!

Yankees star Giancarlo Stanton, currently sidelined with a freak lace tip injury, vowed today to redouble his model-press efforts while he waits to take the field again.

During the Yanks' off-day in Baltimore, Giancarlo invited the press in to watch him bench press not only Adriana Lima, his favorite off-season lift, but also model Miranda Kerr.

Holding one model in each hand, Stanton lifted the lovely ladies effortlessly.  Afterwards, though, he reported feeling a strain in both of his buttocks, and requested the attention of the Yankees' medical staff.

Manager Aaron Boone denied that Stanton was seriously injured, and said, "You know, if there was game today, he could go.  A game of parcheesi, at least."

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Plague Theater: Watch Utica Club's "Schultz & Dooley" impersonate the stars of Hollywood



Fun fact: Alphonso once worked as a marketer for Utica Club.

(Inspired by JM)

"Oh, put me in coach..."

The best video of what is, in my humble opinion, the best baseball song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq3hEMUeBGQ






It's opening day, and tomorrow, the Yankee camp must close

Tomorrow, Florida's Hillsborough County - which includes Tampa - begins enforcing a "Safer at Home" rule, which means the handful of Yankees still working out daily at George Steinbrenner Field will probably need to disband.

We might consider baseball practices as "essential services," but authorities disagree.

Thus, the opening of the MLB season - once projected to be May 1 - is growing more distant, not less. 

The following are my napkin calculations - not to be confused with expert analysis. I'm not a statistician or scientist. I am a Yankee fan. But if we simply focus on baseball, here are some numbers to ponder.

Hillsborough County now has 123 corona cases, according to this widely viewed database. It is the hottest spot on Florida's Gulf Coast. The county reported its first infection on March 2. Thus, it's grown relatively slowly, nothing like NY or LA. Hopefully, the new restrictions will further flatten the curve. (And hopefully, they did not come too late.) 

Tampa might be a month behind other cities, in terms of the virus' spread. The next few weeks will determine whether it becomes a hot zone. But even if the policies succeed, it's hard to imagine the Yankees recalling players to camp before mid-April, to launch the season on May 1. And if the crackdown fails - well - let's not go there. 

Then there is the prospect of sending teams north to play games. 

Today, if MLB were a coronoavirus competition, here would be the gruesome standings. (Note: These numbers don't include suburban sprawls, so the actual totals of greater metropolitan areas would be much higher; in the cases of Atlanta and Miami, they would practically double. They should only be used for the sake of comparisons.) 

New York 2011
Chicago 1418
Seattle 1359
Detroit 1122
Los Angeles 812Miami 491
Boston 342
Cleveland 206
Atlanta 204

Even if the fates go our way, it's hard to imagine the Yankees or Mets playing games in New York City before June 1. And if this virus becomes a rolling, nationwide wave, starting to explode in other cities two or three weeks from now - well - you get the idea. 

I say this not to be a gremlin of doom. I believe there will be a baseball season, but like none that has ever been. It might not start until the All-Star break.

Most of all, I hope you and everyone who reads, writes for, and comments on this blog will be there to see it.

Dear God, it should be opening day




The fates place bets with loaded dice,
That all our earthly dreams betray,
While clowns dismiss all sound advice,
Dear God, it should be opening day.

The politicians scrounge for power,

With consequences we must pay.
And so we'll miss our finest hour,
Dear God, it should be opening day.

Our weary age is full of death,

The daily news brings dark dismay,
But I will shout 'til my last breath:
Dear God, it should be opening day.

Virtual Opening Day! Yanks Toast Birds, 12-1. Stanton Hurt.

Welcome to our Virtual Opening Day Recap.

Well, it was quite a Yankee debut for ace and proclaimed savior Gerrit Cole, who shut down the Orioles in Baltimore, as the Yanks thoroughly fricasseed the Birds, 12-1.

While Gleyber Torres hit his customary three home runs in Camden Yards, the big story was Cole, who in six innings of work struck out 10 and allowed only one hit, a broken-bat single by Orioles blowhard Chris Davis that Clint Frazier, filling in for an injured Aaron Judge, misplayed into an inside-the-park home run.

At the plate, Frazier lined three doubles off the wall, though afterwards Yankees GM Brian Cashman shook his head and asked reporters, "You really think that made up for it?  Really?  You are so dumb."

Other than that, Virtual Opening Day 2020 was a thoroughgoing romp for the pinstripers.  The one setback came after Manager Ma Boone announced that the little-seen Giancarlo Stanton would in fact lace up for today's game.

In so lacing up, however, Stanton lost control of a lace, and was struck in the cornea by a loose lace tip.  Boone announced that he would be held out of the lineup after all, as "a precautionary measure," but said that if it was a game that counted, he would be available to play.

Reminded that it WAS a game that counted, Boone looked perplexed for a moment, then replied, "You know what I mean."

Stanton is reported to be day-to-day.

In other highlights, first baseman Mike Ford drew three walks, hit two singles, and recorded eight putouts at first base, one of them while simultaneously eating a hot dog.  And D.J. LeMahieu did everything right.








Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Plague Theater: Mickey Mantle on "What's My Line?"



Scroll to the 20-minute mark. Bennett Cerf: "Did you ever hit a home run 562 feet against our friends in Washington?"

Are year-ending surgeries to Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard signs the 2020 season will be scrapped?

December and January brought unbridled hope to the Yankiverse. We signed Gerrit Cole. We saw Houston get spanked for cheating (with Boston apparently next to bend over.) We watched the Redsocks trade Mookie Betts (actually twice, after the first deal collapsed.) The fates promised us a championship. Then came February.

Since camp opened, it's been NBC: Nothing But Crapola. James Paxton's back - out until June. Luis Severino's elbow - out until 2021. Aaron Judge's ribs - out until May. Giancarlo Stanton's whatever - out until whenever. 

But now, thanks to the global medical-economic meltdown - (out until, wait a minute, is he serious? Easter? April 12?) - the Yankee outlook has again turned sorta rosy. Lately, it's been like the last reel of The Godfather, when Al Pacino settles scores, and the villains drop, one by one. 

Justin Verlander - groin surgery. 
Chris Sale - Tommy John surgery.
Noah Syndergaard - Tommy John surgery.

And get this: No Yankee injuries. From a distance, you'd think we were back to a healed and healing Yankiverse. Or... are we just like NYC before the explosion? Is the injury count reliable? Do we really know what's out there? Nobody has been seen hobbling off the baselines because a) there are no baselines, and b) there are no Gammonites there to see it. If a tree falls in the forest, does Tyler Kepner tweet? 

The Yankees have now gone two weeks without a reported injury, a count that roughly coincides with the stoppage of spring training. Well, I don't believe it. We are simply back to that blissful, ignorant, unaware, winter hibernation, and whatever gonadal tweaks our horses feel, they'll keep it to themselves, for now.

All three TJ candidates - Severino, Sale and Syndergaard - seemed poised for bounce-back years, until suddenly, they weren't. That's the Babadook about elbows: Teams hope rest will heal them - they wait and wait - and then, one day, they abruptly throw in the towel. A new MRI shows something. Or somebody looks at an old MRI differently.

With the latest news though, I've begun to wonder if something else is afoot. Could the Redsocks and Mets know something that we don't? Could the 2020 season, like the 2020 Olympics, be postponed or even canceled?

Think this through with me.

From a civic, "League of Their Own" standpoint, the notion of teams playing in empty stadiums for home-bound fans feels nice. But owners won't want to pay their players for an entire year without gate revenues. When players are making $35 million a season, and payrolls run north of $200 million, TV ratings alone just won't cut it. 

For some time now, MLB has been heading toward a huge, ugly labor dispute between the owners and players union. Both sides have been bracing for a fight. Frankly, I believe the owners had been colluding for the last three years, causing the union to be more riled up than ever before. Now, the old line, "Never let a crisis go to waste," could serve the owners well.

A completely scrapped 2020 season - cloaked by the virus - would be a shot across the bow by the owners, withering the players' coffers and their ability to go on strike next spring. Of course, this is a worst-case scenario, and who knows what's going to happen: Every day is now a week, and weeks are months. But I wonder: Are the Mets and Redsocks throwing in the towel because they know something? 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Oh, That Phil!

Have the "Yankees Classic" of Righetti's no-hitter on.  It occurred on July 4th, 1983, near the All-Star game, so Phil Rizzuto and Bill White got to jawing about the game.

Bill White:  Did you ever play in an all-star game, Phil?

Scooter:  Yes, I did.  I was in one and I remember Ralph Kiner banged into the scoreboard and broke his elbow.

In fact, Rizzuto was referring to the 1950 All-Star Game, one of five he was named to, in which Kiner hit the game-tying home run in the ninth, and Ted Williams broke his elbow going after a flyball.

Oh, Phil.  How much other misinformation did you fill our heads with?  And yet, we miss you still.

Breaking: Noah Syndergaard.

Out with TJ surgery.


So, it would've been another lost Mets season anyway.   Much like all the others.

Plague Theater: The Clampetts and the Dodgers



Leo Durocher - is there a show he wasn't on? - appears at the 3:40 minute mark, trying to woo a pitching prospect from the Giants for - gulp - fifty thousand dollars!!! He mentions a bank president named Drysdale. 

"Don Drysdale's a bank president?" 

"No, but being a Dodger pitcher is like being a bank president."

A drumbeat begins for The Master to win the Frick Award


Giancarlo Stanton has healed and is preparing for his next injury

BREAKING NEWS: Aaron Boone says that if the season began Thursday, as it was originally planned, Yankee mainstay Giancarlo Stanton could have possibly played.

REPEATING, BREATHLESSLY: If the season started this week, as was planned, Yankee superstar Giancarlo Stanton could have possibly played, assuming conditions warranted and he avoided another injury. Yankee officials tell IIHIIFIIc that not only could Stanton have possibly worked, but he could have maybe, possibly, we-got-a-great-feeling-about-this belted a home run.

IIHIIFIIc hereby is naming Stanton Comeback Player of 2020 Spring Training, for proving potential doubters possibly wrong. Stanton has recovered from a muscle strain, characterized by Boone as "the invisible scourge."

Some had suggested Stanton would miss opening day. Today, their faces are covered in yoke. They are fake news, lies told by people who seek to hurt Yankee workers. 

Some of you may wonder why regular team doctors are not part of today's announcement. That's because the Yankees have upgraded their medical staff to include Dr. Judge Jeanine Pirro. Speaking of judges, stay tuned for updates on Aaron, who soon might have been able to play on May 1. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Even as we brood, The Master prepares.

Coronavirus-related calls now being considered by our hero:


"Talk about flattening the curve!  He crushed it!"

"You want social distancing?  That ball wasn't within six feet of the plate!"

"Back to back!  Belly to belly!  In theory!"

"You'd better put him in quarantine!  He won't get over that home run for at least two weeks!"

"Shelter in place!  He hit a bomb!"

"He ventilated that pitch!"


What, too soon?



For Your VCRs

Your YES recommendations coming up late tonight and tomorrow:

2 AM: "Farewell to the Captain."  Jeter's last game.  Three stars.

8:30 AM:  Dave Righetti's No-Hitter.  Three-and-a-half.

12 Noon:  1998 World Series, Game 1.  Fun game, Tony Bennett sings the National Anthem.  Four stars.

7 PM:  Yanks vs. Blue Jays, 8/11/19.  One star.

10 PM:  Yanks vs. A's, 9/1/19.  One star.  We are not the Mets.

Plague Theater: Herman Munster tries out for the Dodgers



"I don't know whether to sign him for the Dodgers or send him to Vietnam."

Plague Theater: "SLIDE, ED, SLIDE! "The greatest at-bat in baseball history.



Mr. Ed takes on Sandy Koufax.  

When you feel stressed out...

Close your eyes and think of this:

LeMahieu, 20 HR, .310
Judge, 40 HR, .285
Torres, 40 HR, .290
Stanton, 40 HR, .285
Andujar, 30 HR, .305
Sanchez, 40 HR, .245

Voit, 25 HR, .265
Urshela, 20 HR, .290
Gardner, 20 HR, .260


Dare to dream.

When 12 days seem like 12 months

Twelve days ago, MLB pulled the plug on the Yankee injury machine spring training. Back then - winter of 2020 - the new Bond movie was coming, Biden and Bernie were still debating, and Syracuse University pinned hopes on winning the Atlantic Coast Conference tourney and stealing a ticket to March Madness.

Interesting phrase... "March Madness." Today, I believe it deserves a new entry in the dictionary:

March Mad'-nes: 

Noun

1. To work out in the U.S. Senate gym while awaiting results of the coronavirus test you took this morning. 

2. To cluster in public places with strangers who can never be contacted if you turn out infected. 

3. To watching cable news voices that only two weeks ago were calling the pandemic a hoax. 

4. To hoard toilet paper as if it is solid gold.

Insert your definitions here...

Sunday, March 22, 2020

YES. No.



 

It's times like these, in our assorted confinements—and with the promise of that wonderful array of radio games ahead, thank you Mustang—that we realize just how truly wretched the YES Network is at fulfilling our Yankee entertainment needs.

Tonight, for those of you willing and able to shell out the required lucre for this station, YES is running, back-to-back, three of its best Yankees Classics:  The Bucky Dent Game, Game Six of the 1978 World Series (not per se a great game, but great in that it clinched the World Series for our buckos, and then Game 7 of the ALCS.  Tape 'em and weep.

Today, there was a pretty good back-to-back showing of a half-hour on David Cone's perfect game, and then Cone, Wells, and Don Larsen, sitting around together, talking about what it was like to pitch a perfect game.

I doubt if that's ever happened before in the history of the sport.  And I KNOW it's never happened before with a guy who pitched a perfect game in the World Series.

Much too much of YES, though, is taken up by what can politely be called "filler":

A show on running.  Running.  

A show on money in sports.  Oh, joy.

CenterStage.  "The Best of Michael Kay."  Can you imagine being the poor bastard assigned to pick those out?  Probably it's one of the JuJu gods, which accounts for their bad mood.

Even shows that should be good, such as the Yankee Biographies, and the history of the team, are generally poor, just badly done all around.  The history of the team is so well planned out that it devotes one hour to the years, 2014-2017, and one hour to "Origins, 1903-1956."

Origins?  That's like putting on a show about the history of the world that goes, "Part I: The Big Bang Through the Fall of the Soviet Union.  Part II: Madonna."

Even the "Classics" are many too few and far between, and never seem to extend before 1976.  I'm sure there are copyright reasons for this, but now that we're all under house arrest, especially, the Steinbrenner boys should open up the vault and spend a few ducats on spending more for the rights of other games.

Instead, our "Classics" are getting diluted with episodes like "Farewell to the Boss," the game and ceremony played to honor Mad George.  Excuse me while I retch.  There is only one Boss, and his last name is Springsteen.

Or:  a fun game or two from last year where the team came from behind for a nice win.  Terrific—and what are we, the fucking Mets?  C'mon!  We want the big ones!  And going as far back as there is film, dammit!

Instead, YES is now running—I'm not making this up—shows such as "Nets Classics" and "NYCFC Classics."

There is no such thing as the former if it does not include Dr. J. (and hey, I wouldn't mind seeing some highlights from the old ABA with those enormous 'fros and the red-white-and-blue ball).

And the latter is an oxymoron.  Selected by morons, I am sure.  ("Tonight:  a scoreless tie to remember!")

We need more baseball.  Now.  Maybe, say The Master and Suzyn presenting one of their all-time favorites!

Sign the damned emergency war bill already that will force YES to play genuine Yankees classics!








We're saved!

The radio broadcasts of 500 baseball games from 1934-1973! All free to listen to (here) and download (here)!


Smoke Camels


Baseball's One True Cathedral, circa 1925.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor


I find it ironic that there's a soccer field where Prince Hal would later put another one.

Stay healthy, please.

Suddenly, a beacon of hope emerges in the Yankiverse: Boston might not skate on the cheating scandal after all

Along with the death of thousands, the collapse of the world economy and the end of sports, this last month has been covered in vomit and soaked in pee by one burning, soul-crushing, impending outrage: 

The notion that the Redsocks might skate in MLB's cheating probe. 

With each passing week, it seemed more likely that MLB's pooh-bahs would turn their heads and cough on punishing Boston for its duplicity in 2018, when it won the world series. I call these unseen Redsock sign-stealers "the invisible enemy," and have feared they would escape the hot, firm and righteous sword of Yankee justice.

Maybe not.

According to The Athletic - a site that is rapidly becoming the gold standard for investigative sports journalism) - lawyers from Boston and MLB squared off Friday in a judicial teleconference that the mainstream media overlooked. (Bravo, Athletic!)

When asked directly if the Redsocks broke the rules, Boston's mealymouthed, two-faced, beady-eyed. fork-tongued and maybe pajama-clad shyster-lawyer said no. But later in the proceedings, the lawyer -  - I think the name is Saul Goodman - is quoted as saying:

"Your Honor, I think that there are distinctions between what the Red Sox believe occurred and what the commissioner found. And I think that certainly they're entitled to disagree that that activity happened at the club level. " 

Hmm. Apparently, MLB found something, and the Redsocks are trying to wriggle off the hook. There may be hope after all. But listen: This is no time for Yankee optimism: Remember the cardinal rule of IT IS HIGH: Expect the worst, and you'll never be disappointed.

On the surface, it's been a horrible winter for Boston fans. They have lost Mookie Betts, Chris Sale and Tom Brady, arguably the Holy Trinity of their modern era. (Or add Gronk, and it's a foursome.) But now, with the virus, they might be looking at a canceled baseball season - nullifying the loss of Betts and Sale. And if the NFL does play, an aged-out Brady could fizzle in Tampa, making them feel lucky for running out on his tab. Damn. What have they got on God?

The question now is whether MLB will stand its ground against a potential Boston lawsuit, which I suspect might try to endlessly delay the matter in court, as Trump's lawyers have kept hidden his tax returns. We'll see. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

We Can Sue !!!


A number of us lost a shit boat of money betting on Astro games which, we now know, were fixed.

Okay, be technical...fixing a game is dimensionally different than sign stealing, but not in my book.

And not in the book of some judge somewhere. 

He just made it legal for gamblers to sue the bastards....to recoup losses.

I'm not entirely clear who can sue whom, but it sounds like a bonus for 2020, assume we all live. 

The Astros need to be sent on a cruise ship to Italy.

We shall never forget !!!

They are getting a coronavirus raincoat from the fall-out.

But when life resumes, and the tanks have been removed form the streets, we shall get our revenge. 

For Yankee fans, Chris Sale's injury just brings a hollow emptiness

Yesterday, the Redsocks said Chris Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2020 season. In normal times, this would provoke from us crocodile tears and snake dancing. We should be popping corks and leading conga lines. Where's the party? Why don't I hear the cheers?

The pandemic has done the impossible: 

It has stripped from us the unbridled joy of a Redsock setback. 

This blog should have balloons, buzzers, showgirls, champagne toasts. Boston's year just snapped like a Hershey bar. It was one thing to trade Mookie Betts; they got a young OF. But losing Sale? Good luck with that. In a shortened season, they can chase the wild card. But without a miracle emergence or two, they're done, and they know it. Sale is a $30 million millstone on their roster, and he'll weigh them down through 2025. He's 30. His Cy Young days are probably over. It's all downhill from here.

So... 

Listen: I harbor nothing personal against Sale - or for that matter, most Redsock players. I used to hate Big Papi and Pedro because of the pro-wrestling-style roles they played in the rivalry. These days, they often defend the Yankees on TV, having buried their past resentments. Then there is Curt Schilling who - beyond the politics - remains a boorish, self-righteous, hateful lout. Something happened to that guy; like Trump, he's his own worst enemy. I always secretly liked Betts, and until he beats us in a world series, I'll root for him, just knowing how much it burns Redsock fans. But Sale... whenever I see him, I have the same thought:

Shoulda been a Yankee.

Of course, I blame Food Stamps Hal. In the trade that brought Sale to Boston, the Redsocks gave up - dare I say the name? - Yoan Moncada - What's that? Moncada? Moncada! MONCADA? NIIIIAAGGGRA FALLLLLLLS!  SLOOOOOOOWLY, I TURNED. STEP BY STEP, I CREPT UP TO HIM... yep, they got Sale for Moncada, who shoulda been ours. All that winter, the Yankees talked about signing Moncada, a free agent from Cuba. For weeks, they winked at us and stressed how much they would be involved in the bidding war. Our future hinged on signing Moncada, and when Boston outbid us, Hal sealed his reputation as a  poor-mouthing incompetent for the decade. (His other unforgivable sin was in refusing to give Russell Martin a two-year deal - two years! - even though we had no catcher. Two moments in the annals of billionaire cheapness.)  

Well, Sale is done, and Moncada is an emerging White Sox star. If we had signed Moncada and traded him for Sale - in that alt-universe - we would today be tearing out our hair, having lost our ace. Then again, we'd have that ring to cherish, instead of the most fruitless decade in Yankee history... now leading into, well, what?

No parties today. Just numbness.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Plague Theater: Honey West "The Swingin' Mrs. Jones"

Bevare!

Flattening the curve: A Yankee fan glossary of coronavirus terms

It's been eight days since baseball abruptly vanished. You can look it up. Eight. It seems like eight weeks. No... like eight years, like a historical period long ago, back before the surging floods took away our toilet paper. I vaguely remember awaiting daylight savings time, March Madness and the next Bond movie.The burning existential question concerned who in Tampa would win the fifth slot in our rotation. We had favorite bars and restaurants. We shook people's hands. And if they were close friends, we hugged. Remember? Eight days ago. You can look it up. 

Now, I wake up each morning and cruise the Internet for Yankee news. I might as well be searching for Bigfoot. The cupboard is bare. Of course, we lead MLB in the number of players testing positive. But both are minor leaguers, so maybe it doesn't count. Occasionally, you find an injury update. It now looks as though Giancarlo will be ready for opening day. The only question is whether opening day will happen before he hurts himself again. 

Last night, it was reported that Saints football coach Sean Payton has the virus. Twitter showed photos of him at a recent public event, standing in a scrum of people. Surely, he took a selfie with everyone. It's the trappings of celebrities, be they actors or athletes. It's going to wreak havoc with sports. I don't know how the Yankees will avoid infections, unless they live and play inside a giant glass dome.

Every day - (and yeah, I really need to quit this) - I watch cable news, the Presidential buffoonery, the endless intonations to wash my hands. Fuck them. I'm stuck in my house. I'll lick my hands clean, if I want. The Yankees seem long ago and far away. I'm almost starting to forget their faces. On that note, I've compiled a glossary of coronavirus catchphrases, each with a special Yankee meaning. When you hear them, think of the Yankees and try to smile. After all, today is Day 9, and you know what that means. Roger Maris, of course.

The glossary:

Flatten the curve. For the last decade, former pitching coach Larry Rothschild's philosophy for developing young hurlers. It didn't work. 

Shelter in home. Strategy for Giancarlo Stanton, hoping to stay healthy between injuries.

Social distancing. Brett Gardner's lead when looking to steal second. 

Out break. Anybody to came to bat between Kendrys Morales and Kyle Higashioka, the "break" between outs. 

At-risk group. Pitchers called up from Scranton on the day of a double-header.

Invisible enemy. The garbage can lid that somehow bangs on itself when a Yankee pitcher prepares to throw a curve. 

Soon, day 10. And we all know who that is...

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Plague Theater: "I'm Bill White!"

Submitted by I'm Bill White.


Could 2020 - the Yankees' great hope for resurgence - be a wipe-out?

Everybody's depressed. How can you not be? Right now, I'd trade the family quilt for a 24-rack of Charmin double-ply. Yesterday, roaming the grocery, I was pondering salt-bomb cans of Campbell's soup and post-doomsday Hostess Twinkies, while the store played a Muzak version of "Who'll Stop the Rain." Even for the Fates - (who are bastards, by the way) - that's a low blow. So today, I say we gin up some high-octane, slit-the-wrists, IT IS HIGH Yankee pessimism. By comparison, today's visit from god of death Wolf Blitzer will seem bubbly. 

The other day, Trump predicted normal life might return by July-August. He doesn't know. If he's off, then it's September-October. Even if they've been living at camp, MLB players will need several weeks to ramp up. An August opening day might mean a 40-game season, unless they move everything to Florida and Arizona. Fifty games? Sixty? Or maybe - gulp - the owners punt, cash in their insurance claims, and jettison the season entirely.

Yes, it's time to ponder the worst case scenario, the societal nuclear bomb... no baseball season at all. 

It hurts my head. My gums bleed. By September, this blog will be a cookbook. We'll have re-watched every Yankee Classic, binged every Netflix series, and I'll have re-read Gravity's Rainbow to the point of understanding 20 percent of it. And that's if I'm not hooked up to a steam calliope. 

No season at all? Wouldn't that be the ultimate lawn dart in the ass? We Yankee fans go 10 diddly-shit years, while Boston grabs two rings - one in which they probably cheated - and then, when we finally have an ace to lead us, the world becomes an episode of Twilight Zone, where we sit in fortified chicken coops, like Osama waiting for Seal Team 666 to call our numbers. Well, lemme tell you something: If that turns out to be my fate, the juju gods are going to get an earful. They may think they heard foul language when Rosemary Clooney reached her final gang-tackle, but if they deny Yankee fans our rightful opportunity to march one more time down the Canyon of Heroes... we riot. 

That's right. Sticks and stones. Ski masks. Whatever. This would be the worst thing foisted on us since bell-bottom jeans, and if the Universe thinks it can get away with it - well - I'm saving up my Purell hand soap for one last hearty, lathery fling. If the Fates cancel the season - I mean, scuttling an obvious Yankee world championship - ooooh, they're gonna get it! 

I know what you're thinking... Duque, for God's sake, keep your big fat yap shut. You don't jabber about the jail break before the jail break. But this is supposed to be our fucking year. Sports Illustrated - what's left of it, anyway - recently picked the Yankees to win it all. And why wouldn't they? Look at that lineup: LeMahieu, Judge, Torres, Stanton, Andujar, Voit, Sanchez, Urshela, Gardner. With a little luck, it could be the best Yankee batting order in our lifetimes. I count seven guys who could hit 30 HRs. And now, we face the possibility that 2020 will be scrapped - the worst season in Yankee history - even worse than when we traded Al Leiter for Jesse Barfield, and I gotta tell you, that was pretty awful. 

A complete wipe-out? What are we supposed to do, starting hyping 2021? No. I refuse. Listen-up, Fates... you pull the rug on this season, and I'm coming for you. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The worst part of self-quarantines: The Yankees are probably self-injuring

Over the winter, when ball-players should be watching porn, the Yankees somehow managed to lose James Paxton, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge to injuries. I attribute this organizational knack to Jacoby Ellsbury, the master of free-time self-demolition. (Whither goest Jake, you asketh? In January, the Cubs supposedly were kicking his tires. That act probably broke three ribs, so he's probably out until 2021. Also, the Yankees lawyered up to screw him out of his $21 million, which should remind us that you don't become a billionaire by paying bills. Beyond that, I haven't heard through my one-page Google search sources. Hopefully, the Bury is home and watching porn.) 

So... um... how do we kill the next 12 weeks? Rubik's Cube? Jigsaw puzzle? Whittling? Anything's better than cable news. Wait... I got it: How about... long, drawn-out, time-consuming Yankee essay questions! 

Here's one: 

During the coronavirus hiatus, rather than watching porn, which Yankees are most likely to get hurt?

I hereby nominate Clint Frazier. (Note: This is not hoping Clint gets hurt. I wish him well. This is why I BELIEVE he'll get hurt.) Why? Because he was having a great spring, of course. Yankees don't tweak gonads during slumps. Nope. They hit a three-run dinger and feel a pop rounding third. This spring, Frazier was hitting .320 - after a slow start, no less. He was 8-25 with four doubles and a homer. Through injuries to Judge and Giancarlo Stanton - big surprises there, eh? - fate had granted Frazier an opportunity to avoid returning to Scranton for his FIFTH season, and he was making the most of it. Now, THIS is when Yankees get hurt. Poor guy. He's doomed. He might as well take up alligator wrestling.

Secondly, I nominate Rosell Herrera, this year's "Gio." In case you've forgotten, Herrera is a 27-year-old, switch-hitting former top 100 prospect, who has kicked around the fringes of MLB for the last three years, never hitting a lick, and who seems to have finally figured out how to lay off the breaking ball. He plays almost everywhere, and was 10-25 this spring, a lusty .400. Manager Aaron Boone was playing him every day, to see if the mirage was fading. Now, all that hard-earned momentum is lost. Wherever he is, Herrera is likely to break a toe on a coffee table. 

I nominate both players in the reverse-juju hope that - by mentioning them - it somehow protects them from actual injuries. I mean, what are the odds of my predictions coming true? (I thought Jesus Montero would someday end up in Monument Park, but not running a sweeper.) Someday, we'll look back on the first spring of 2020 - God, it seems like years ago - when Frazier and Herrera lit up our hopes? The fates were goofing on us. Did we fall for it, or what?  

So... what else are we supposed to do? Sit here for the next 12 weeks, watching Rachel and Sean? God... please... I beg of you... send a distraction. A sex scandal. A juicy murder. A 16-part Netflix series that doesn't suck. Anything to kill time, until it's safe to hit the bar. Oh, and maybe keep the Yankees from hurting themselves? Thank you and amen. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Plague Theater: The Tammy Grimes Show

Plague Theater: My Mother The Car

Talk about signs of the apocalypse: Rochester might win the Golden Snowball

It's awarded annually to the upstate New York city with the most winter snowfall.

Syracuse has won it 14 out of the last 17 years.

This year, maybe no...




Insider report from Tampa: Yesterday in alt-reality

Tampa _  Clint Frazier belted three home runs, and Gerrit Cole twirled four shutout innings, as the Yankees clobbered Boston 14-2 in Monday's Grapefruit League tune-up to next week's regular season opener.

Frazier, whose past arrogance generated the nickname "Red Thunder," has impressed reporters and coaches this spring with a nonstop, humble, bow-and-scrape persona, and is now known as "the Scarlet Cabana Boy." Aside from his three home runs, Frazier made three incredible defensive plays in right field, forestalling Redsock threats. He is hitting .444 this spring and leads the team in all offensive categories.

After the game, he was out-righted to Scranton. 

"He acts differently," manager Aaron Boone told reporters. "But still, when I see the guy, I still think of that time he grabbed the last Cheetos in the bowl, even though several players hadn't had any. We hope he gets the message."

In other spring news...

Getting healthy. Giancarlo Stanton occupied the team Jacuzzi for a record 132 minutes Monday, using full-blast jets and burning an estimated 240 calories. "One day at a time," Stanton told reporters, toweling off and heading for the massage. President Donald Trump told reporters he expected Stanton to return by July-August. 

Won't stop believin'. Observers have noticed that Miguel "Miggy" Andujar is not giving the Sign of the Cross gesture before stepping to the plate this spring. Andujar denied rumors that he's fed up with God and the church, saying he's simply saving his blessings for games that count. "If this were the regular season, I'd be out there praying," he said. 

Cold Hand Luke. Nobody has to tell earnest-but-Hulkian, human armored Humvee Luke Voit that he's having a crappy spring. It's been one setback after another for the linebackerish, Fred Flintstonian lug nut, who is wondering when it will end? Not only is Luke hitting a meager, nerdish .173, but Monday brought the news that his dog, Sadie, has ringworm. Get well, girl.

Siss-boom-bah. During Monday's brief rain delay, all-purpose bullpen pipe wrench Chad Green abruptly dazzled teammates in the clubhouse with an impromptu, semi-naked flag dance to the tune of Starship's "We Built This City on Rock'n Roll." The performance was so spirited that several players were said to pass out, while watching. "Chad continually takes it to a new level," manager Boone said. "But this... who knew?" 

Near miss. The Yanks dodged a bullet yesterday when lunch-pail iron man and de facto captain Brett Gardner was carted off the field, following an apparent bone-snapping slide into third base. The loud, resounding crack, which seemed to emanate from Gardy's femur, caused fans to break into tears. Entering the ambulance, the veteran centerfielder could be heard shrieking in pain. Good news, though, the Yankees say Gardy should miss only a day or two!