Monday, August 31, 2020

2020 Highlights

This is what we got yesterday.

 Two amazing wins.

One amazing comeback, and one amazing start from an overly hyped phenom.

There is hope.

Now we need the vaccine.

Hicks, Sanchez, Garcia, Scylla and Charybdis, reflect a Yankee season on the brink of everywhere

What drama. What a plot twist. Aaron Hicks' heroic, two-out blast yesterday saved the Death Star from blowing another Game One, even raising the possibility that he could yet salvage a crapola season. (Fun fact: he's hitting .209.) Then, in Game Two, Hicksie reminded us of what always seems to happen after his bat heats up: 

He strained something. Tightness in both legs, they say. Huh, I say. The team says Hicks won't miss much time. Huh, I say. We've heard that before... 

What drama. What resurrection. Gary Sanchez's heroic, bases-loaded blast in Game Two followed his epic earlier failure, which ignited dark cynicism across the usually hopeful Yankee Radio Network, driven by Jeep. "I just don't get it," grumbled Suzyn, bitterly, after Gary in Game One hit a first-pitch pop fly to left, failing to move the runner to third in a critical situation. Even The Master chimed in darkly, lamenting the lack of discipline - or diligence - or something even worse. This was quickly forgotten after Gio Urshela singled in the winning run. And several hours later, in the nightcap, our two bellwethers of the booth expressed jubilation over Gary's grand slam, both suggesting his season from Hell is about to change. Suzyn, who adopts every Yankee as a biological son, noted giddily that the first guy to greet Gary was Eric Kratz, whom he replaced. A happy family, that's all she wants. And no mother can be happy unless all her children are safe.

And then there was Deivi Garcia who - (yes, I'll say it) - looked every bit like "Little Pedro," as the Gammonites love to suggest. Of course, they said the same of Luis Severino and Manny Banuelos. Little Deivi ripped through the first nine Mets so quickly that his name couldn't even trend on Twitter. He just threw strikes. And for the first time, this godforsaken mini-season might work to our advantage: It's perfect for a young pitcher like Garcia, who would normally face an innings limit by mid-September. Even if he goes the rest of the season - which is unlikely, frankly - he'll have a hard time racking up more than 50 MLB innings. At the worst, he looks like a bullpen asset, leading to Britton and/or the ever-morphing El Chapo.

So, today, we face Scylla and Charybdis - the trade deadline and the Tampa Rays, in that order. Long ago, I gave up predicting Cooperstown Cashman's deals. He never follows the rumors. But I couldn't help but notice this weekend that Tampa - the best run organization in baseball - dealt 32-year-old Jose Martinez to the Cubs for young prospects, even in a pennant slog. The Rays never stop rebuilding. They always look to trade a player with a past for a player with a future. The Yankees would be smart to do the same. How many more salary dumps do we need? 

Every day, Boston jettisons another oldster. Yesterday, it was Mitch Moreland. Today, Jackie Bradely Jr. will be gone by dinner time. Next year, they will rebound. Let's just hope Cash doesn't do something incredibly stupid. (Yesterday's effort probably made it impossible for him to trade Garcia, but Clarke Schmidt is still out there.) It's one thing to watch Tampa cruise past us, but I'd hate to see Boston win another ring before we even make it a world series.

Hey, was yesterday the fulcrum point of 2020? Dare we believe?

Mutiny In the Sunoco Broadcast Booth!

It had been weeks since I'd had the chance to get out for a run or to listen to The Master and Margarita, so I was glad to take the opportunity on this splendid Sunday in New York.

True, after so much time off, I felt like various parts of my body were terribly strained and cramped, and that I might have to go on the 10-day IL.  But then I rubbed some dirt into the boo-boos, and the pain disappeared.  I mean to recommend this revolutionary healing method to the Yanks' training staff.

And hey, what a game!  Before the Yankees' crazy rally, Michael Kay had called it "an absolute slog" (yes, I watched the YES replay, I said yes, I said yes I watched YES—for that seventh-inning rally, at least), while The Master said outright that it was "a pretty ugly game."

They both had a point.  If the soulless corporate entity that is MLB thinks it has used The Plague Year to develop a winner on the field, it has another think coming.  The game—which only lasted an out short of 8 full innings, went 3 hours and 22 minutes.

It featured 17 strikeouts, 11 walks,  3 wild pitches, 2 batters hit at crucial moments, and two entire teams that seemed to be sleep-walking through the proceedings.

The Mets made one official error, and really 4-5 awful plays in the field, all of which cost them (Can't we play the Mets everyday?  Please?).  The Yankees repeatedly tried their darnedest to run into outs.

The Yanks really won the game by rope-a-doping Rick Porcello, allowing 3 runs in a sixth inning so absolutely excruciating—walking four batters in the frame and hitting another—that the Mets decided to pull their starter after only five innings and 85 pitches, even though he had been dominating the Yankees.

This set off the inevitable train of events that finally led to Edwin "The Definition of Insanity" Diaz getting into the game, and at that point anything was possible.

But what most amazed me was the outright mutiny in the radio booth—utterly absent among the YESmen—as Suzy Q. and The Master called the sabermetricious out by name—"the metrics man"—and openly questioned both Ma Boone's decisions, and Brain Cashman's work in constructing this wondrous team.

To wit:

—How was it possible to have 15 pitchers on the roster and not 1 lefthanded reliever?

—Really, Luis Cessa could not be used unless they at least tied the game?  Cessa?

—Brooks Kriske?  Even as he walked the bases full in his third inning of walk?

—The Yankees had only 4 players on their bench?  But no loopy?

—Even with the contrived device of putting a runner on second to start each "extra inning"—in this case, the 8th—the Yanks would make NO effort to move him over to third?   No departure ever, at all, from swing for the fences on every pitch?

—No one is EVER going to hit around a shift?

And so it went.  Ah, it was glorious.  Most likely, it will cost them their jobs.  But it was so good to hear.

At least someone is saying that the emperor has no clothes.

At least someone recognizes that, thanks to the way the game is being taught it is often a long, slow bore of endless walks and strikeouts, and sloppy play by a generation of players unschooled in the fundamentals.

Virtual Baseball: Napoleons Overrun German in Cleveland! Yanks Fall Two Back Again.

The virtual Cleveland Napoleons smashed through Domingo German's defenses, sending the Yanks to their Waterloo in the weekend series, with a 9-6 victory.

German's every strategy was quickly overwhelmed by the Tummy-Scratchers' offensive jabs.  Marshaling the Cleveland attack was all-star shortstop Francisco Lindor, with a three-run homer, and DH Franmil Reyes, with a two-run dinger.

The Yanks rallied on homers by Kyle Higashioka and the Oft-Injured Hicks, and cut the Cleveland lead to 7-6 at one point, on a pinch-hit roundtripper by Gary Sanchez.  But a crucial error by Gleyber Torres gave the Imperial Ones some breathing room, and they hung on for the victory.

In other baseball action, the New York Mets moved into a tie for first place in the National League East, with Washington.  Most experts have attributed the rise of the former Flushing doormats to their spark plug of a centerfielder, Brett Gardner, who has not only batted .351 since moving over to the senior circuit, but who also seems to have straightened out the Mets' new closer, Dellin Betances.

"When Gardy came over, he reminded me what it felt like to win again," Betances told reporters.  "Here in Queens, I had almost forgotten."

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The losing streak ends with a gift from Dellin and the absence of Gary

 The quirkiest debate in 
yesterday's gifted victory from the Mets came moments before the bearded Dellin Betances - (in our hearts, still a clean-shaven Yankee!) - practically fired a fastball into the Hudson River, letting Clint Frazier score the winning run. 

As Yankee backup catcher Eric Kratz solemnly marched to the plate, the vaunted YES team of Michael Kay, David Cone and Paul O'Neill pondered whether the Yankees should pinch hit for him... and bring in Gary Sanchez. 

Kay seemed particularly adamant that Sanchez - the official starting catcher of the New York Yankees - should get a shot. After all, the 2020 season seemed to be balancing on a pebble, and Sanchez was the undisputed better hitter, right? Why not use the better hitter? Neither Cone nor O'Neill disagreed, though both seemed strangely muted.

I believe they were hearing fans across the vast Yankiverse collectively shrieking at their TVs: NO, NO, NO, NOOOOO SANCHEZ!

You can't predict baseball, Suzyn, but here's one, anyway: Had the Yankees pinch-hit Sanchez, he would have fanned for the 38th time this season, leaving Frazier to likely die on third. Maybe we would have won later. Maybe not. But Sanchez ranks 14th in the AL for strikeouts, despite coming to the plate far fewer times than any of the leaders. The Yankees needed a ball put into play, and Sanchez was the least likely hitter on this team to do so. 

Thus, the most important at bat of the season thus far was relegated to the 40-year-old Kratz, who was signed off the scrap heap last month.

Across the Yankiverse, and maybe in the dark pits of the Yankee brain trust, I believe a decision has been quietly made on our future catcher. And it's not Gary Sanchez.

For three years now, the Yankees have sought to solve Sanchez's fielding issues. It hasn't worked. He remains a stone-handed obelisk. At times, they discussed moving him to 1B, keeping his bat in the order. Now, with his a strike zone that spans two area codes, that's no longer an option.

This winter, J.T. Realmuto, baseball's best catcher, will become a free agent. The Phillies - currently treading water at .500 - are not expected to re-sign him. (There is even a rumor that they'll trade him tomorrow, though it's probably crapola.) For the last several years, the Yankees have selected catchers with their first round draft picks. They remain in the lower minors, and this will have been a lost year for their development. 

This weekend, Cooperstown Cashman spake the obvious: Sanchez remains "our best option on both sides of the ball, and we look forward to him finding his groove sooner than later, because we need it."

The words of a terrified man.

Before I kick Sanchez harder, a few thoughts: He seems a fine teammate. I've seen him on the mound with his arm around a rattled pitcher, and the world stands still. And he was never going to meet the expectations raised by his incredible rookie season. He's played with injuries, which at times made him look like he wasn't hustling. I get it. And like Cashman, I want him to turn it around. 

But I remember years ago, when the Yankees obtained John Mayberry, the former slugger, in the gruesome twilight of his career. He couldn't hit, and as the season went down the drain, I began rooting for him to strikeout, so the team could move on. If Mayberry homered, it re-set the clock on his demise, and he'd get another 100 at-bats. It was like having a good day in hospice: You'd celebrate, but why kid yourself?  

I'm starting to get that feeling about Sanchez. And we won yesterday by keeping him on the bench.

Virtual Baseball: Yanks Rally, Top Cleveland. Tiffany Turns State's.

In virtual baseball today, the almost-real, almost-blue New York Yankees rallied with three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to top the Tribes Great Dictators, 9-8.

Masahiro Tanaka tried to gut out his start, after giving up four runs in the first two innings, but had to leave after six, trailing 6-3.  The Naps extended that lead against relievers Chad Green and "Mr. Zero," Adam Ottavino.  

But in the bottom of the 8th, recovered slugger Aaron Judge, feeling better after someone dropped a house on him, slugged a three-run homer, and the other Aaron, the Oft-Injured Hicks, blasted a two-run shot in the ninth to win it for the Yanks.

Zach(k) Britton got the win, and Cool Hand Chapman the save.  Earlier home runs by Luke Voit and Gio Urshela had kept the Yanks in the ballgame.

In news beyond the surly bounds of sports, it was being reported that Tiffany Trump had turned state's witness against her father.  President Trump blasted the rumors, claiming that Tiffany did not know anything, and had never known anything.

Saturday, August 29, 2020


While our guitars gently weep, it's worthwhile to take a look, I think, at what was supposed to be the core of The Yankees Dynasty That Never Was.

You've heard a lot about the "Core of Four" that charged the last (10th) Yankees dynasty:  Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and The Great Rivera.

That's true enough if you go all the way through the last of the five rings they brought home, in 2009.  But really, for most of that team's championships, it was more like, "The Magnificent Seven"—adding in Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, and Tino Martinez (Duque missed the first championship.  Curse you, Fidel!).

Looking back, you can come up with a similar Power 7 for most of the Yankees' dynasties.  Ruth, Gehrig, Earl Combs, Long Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, Schoolboy Hoyt, and Herb Pennock, "the Squire of Kennett Square," for the 1920s, say.  Or maybe Reggie, Munson, Chambliss, Randolph, Nettles, Mick the Quick, and Guidry for the 1970s.

So what was supposed to be the Big 7 for The Dynasty That Never Was?

I'd say it was Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Luis Severino, and Aaron Judge.

Many other first-rate prospects who quickly capsized for whatever reason aside, that was going to be the power core.  All are—or would be—now in their 4th, 5th, or even 6th year with the big club.  By the time all of the 1990s Magnificent Seven were that far along in their Yankee tenures they were, to a man, all-stars who had at least one World Series win, and more often several rings to their credit.

So how are our contemporary Big 7 faring?

Greg Bird—After some early promise, went up in a puff of smoke like some bad genie, thanks to injuries and an inexplicable drop in play.  Out of baseball.

Gary Sanchez—Looked like Johnny Bench when he first came up.  Now he looks like some johnny at the end of the bench.  In Double-A.  Injuries seemed to sap not just his skills but his desire.  He's millimeters away from doing Greg Bird's Irish goodbye.

Miguel Andujar—Impossible to say if he can come back, but injuries have already robbed him of two key years, and the organization's messing with his head can't be helping.  Could easily end up as yet another Bird.

Luis Severino—One of the very best pitchers in the game for a year-and-a-half.  Just how much the Yankees ignoring his arm injury halfway through the 2018 season has hurt him we will never know.  But coming back from major arm surgery isn't even up to the level of a crapshoot, and the years are speeding away.  A comeback in 2022?  Would love to see it.  Am not putting any cash money on it.

Gleyber Torres—Considered the true, can't-miss star out of the whole group, the man Theo Epstein himself, a real general manager, bitterly regretted dealing.  But the injuries started early, taking him out for a regular 20 games a season, and much more of this season.  Plus he can't play the position he was slated for—not an unusual problem on this Yankees team, which seems as devoid of instruction as it is of medical care.

Aaron Judge—This is the one to really make you cry.  The man who not only the Yankees but MLB saw as the face of the game's future.  Already so banged up and so deprived of consistent play that it's unlikely he'll ever regain the form he showed in the first half of 2017.  Judge turned 28 this April, meaning that, chronologically at least, he's on the downhill slide from here on in.  Sad, sad.

Clint Frazier—"But the cat came back, the very next day..."  Weirdly enough, the only one who has some potential left.  If only from happenstance, the Yankees have been unable to break his body or his spirit.  May be the winner of the "Zelda Fitzgerald Emotional Maturity Contest," but when they put him in, coach, he hits.

So there you have it.  What does it all add up to?  Nothing, sadly enough.

As a great man once said, "It gets late early around here."  Sanchez also turns 28 in December, and Sevvy will be that old when he is pitching regularly again—if he ever does—in 2022.  Torres, Andujar, and Frazier may—may—still be young enough to form the core of a winning team, but for the rest of The Dynasty That Never Was, the bell has already tolled.

Point of Emphasis

There is some appropriate chatter buried in the comments which deserves headlines.

The Yankees are on a non-covid, "normalized" version of a 19 game losing streak ( 2.7 x 7 ).

In any world with which I am familiar, fans would be so boisterous and angry that even the dull and mutant ownership of this franchise would be forced to respond. 

Specifically, the question must be raised: 

 Have Cashman and Boone done a good enough job acquiring, developing and utilizing talent to make this a world class, competitive franchise?  To win number 27 or 28?

Clearly, they have not.

 Soon, we shall begin hearing excuses that a short season, and seven inning double headers, are the reason.  (the Yankees have now lost more double headers in one week than they lost all of last season).

Cashman has skated for years, on the basis of finding scrap heap players like Urshela, Tauchman and Voit.  He gets credit for "no brainers" like Gerrit Cole. and DJ LeMahieu.

 But he is still trotting out underperforming relics like Sanchez, Hicks and more recently Gardy.  Even Gleyber Torres was looking like a failure at shortstop, and it took away his hitting. The team is saddled with Stanton forever, and likely Judge will be the same. And they won't even think of dealing them.

Boone is doing nothing right.  Tanking no chances.  Trying no new approaches. And losing.  Day after day after day.

We have no depth at first, short, third, center, catcher or on the mound.  King is wrong. Schmidt is right.  And yet, who pitches? 

And Cashman has his trigger on sending away more untested young guys for old failures. 

Cashman and Boone need to be replaced.  Monday morning.  First light. 

Am I Being Too Hard on the Guy?

 I'll be the first to admit that I know far from everything there is to know about baseball.  I was a decent athlete back in the day and a good football player, but I was never the first guy picked when choosing up sides for a sandlot baseball game.

That said, I did play organized sports for 12 years, all the way through college.  I know something about being a good teammate and having your head in the game.

Gary Sánchez has neither.

In one of last night's games, nchez was at the plate when Wacha served up a wild pitch on Ball 3.  Clint Frazier, standing on third, alertly broke for home.

And what did Sanchez do?  Did he flash his the-catcher-is-the-game-runner leadership skills and face the plate and coach the runner as to whether he should slide or not?  No, he didn't.

Watch for yourself: nchez looked at Frazier, looked to see where the ball ended up, apparently concluded that Frazier would score with no issues, and then .... he did nothing else.

He didn't help out his teammate by coaching him.  He didn't stay for a moment to congratulate his teammate on scoring a run.  Gary nchez concluded that no further effort was required on his part so he simply waddled up the first base line to earn his base on balls.  Think about what someone like Brett Gardner or Didi Gregorius would have done in the same situation.  They would have been excited for the run and for their teammate and would have helped him out to finish the play.

Look, I know this isn't the biggest on-field gaffe ever committed in the history of baseball (e.g., "Merkle's Boner"), but I do know that nchez could have gotten involved, could have kept his head in the game, could have offered encouragement and congratulations in the form of a hearty clap-clap-clap.  As the video shows, he didn't do any of those things.


He's not a great teammate but at least we've got his bat.



One day later, same situation: Frazier is on third, the catcher is at bat, and a wild pitch is thrown.  Only this time, watch how Kratz locates the ball and then assists the runner.

That's what a guy whose head is in the game does.

No lead is safe, and the Yankees are in a free-fall

Admit it: Last night's best Yankee hope vanished around 7 p.m., when it stopped raining. At that point, with the tarp re-rolled and no push for a protest cancellation, the Death Star had no choice but to trot out another dead lineup for a dead journey in this increasingly dead season. We are head-down in the water, as Tampa disappears on the horizon, and the hot young, pool boy breaths of Toronto tickle our cold, dead butt sores. And I mean that, literally.

Last night, our third and fourth batters - the comedy team of Hicks and Sanchez - were both hitting below .200. The bottom five featured aging cast-offs - the singer-songwriters Mercer and Kratz - and former future stars - Andujar/Wade/Estrada. Then there is the bullpen - dear God, wasn't this supposed to be a strength? - waiting like the Babadook to pop out of the bushes and shank any lead that somehow came our way. Oh, the humanity!

The Yankees have now lost seven straight - nearly 12 percent of this mini-Cooper season. In an honest year, we would be facing the statistical equivalent of a 19-game losing streak - the kind of meltdown from which few teams escape. Normally, such a fiasco would provoke a human cry to throw in the towel and tank the season, to chase future prospects and high draft picks - you know, like Boston is doing. But we know that won't happen. Nope. The worst is yet to come.

In past seasons, the Yankees have often floundered in May, the painful second month, as their veteran inner tubes slowly adjusted to the league. Often, they would right the leaky ship by July-August, in time for the stretch. Consider the case of Chad Green, who last year was savaged so wickedly in May that he needed a month in Scranton to rework his psyche. Yesterday, Green gave up three towering homers along with a three-run lead. This week, he has no Scranton option. There is no International League. There is only the Mets, licking their chops for another go.

Last night, the YES propagandists cheered news that DJ LeMahieu and Kyle Higashioka will soon return from injuries. Excuse me if I fart. LeMahieu raises hope, but Higashioka is another nope... and all the positives added together are still crushed by the bad news: Aaron Judge will likely miss two weeks - returning with a handful of games left - and Gleyber Torres - our most critical cog - will miss three to six weeks. In other words, he's probably done.

Hey, did I mention that we have no closer? Well, we have no closer. Did anybody last night think Aroldis Chapman - after missing 10 days - would hold a one-run lead? When he walked the lead-off batter, the game was over. (Oh, and by the way, did you notice that the Mets have a base-stealing specialist, Billy Hamilton? With a 28-man roster, it's quite doable. But not for the Yankees, though. They need 15 pitchers - for a seven inning game.) El Chapo proved himself to be in withering, October walk-off form. We have him for two more years, at $16 million per. Did I mention that we have no closer? Well, we have no closer.

So, here we are: 

We have the sixth best record in the American League. If the post-season started today, we would face either the White Sox or Indians - currently tied - in a best of three series. Worst of all, the trade deadline - the ultimate death star - is approaching. Does anyone not think we were showcasing Estavan Florial yesterday? We are preparing to trade our future for somebody else's past. 

In other words, we have learned nothing from the last 11 years.

Pray for rain.

Virtual Baseball: Cole Train Derailed! Yanks Lose to Naps! Could Use a Nap!

In Virtual Baseball today the Cleveland Napoleons managed to nudge no less than Gerrit Cole, and hold on for a 2-1 win.

The only run for the virtual Yankees came on a home run by Aaron Judge, back in the lineup after an extended twister-related injury.   For Judge, who has already injured every single bone and body part in his anatomy, this was not a great setback.

At times it looked like that was all the support that Cole would need, but a two-run homer by Naps  wonder shortstop Francisco Lindor brought it all back home, while Cleveland ace Shane "Justin" Bieber shut down the Yankees the rest of the way, for a rare complete game.

The loss dropped the Yankees two games behind the first-place Rays, but afterwards manager Ma Boone seemed hardly daunted.

"Hey, look, we're 91-43 on the season so far, and we've had remarkable luck with the injuries so far," Boone told the media.  "Except for that whole Giancarlo and the children of the corn thing.  I mean, it's not like we just dropped seven in a row or something.  Is it?"

Friday, August 28, 2020

One For The Books

 I find myself cachinnating at every trade rumor mentioned by Brian Cashman. 

(Seriously, how many humans have ever heard the word, " cachinnate ?")  

Does John Sterling ever use it in game coverage? Does Suzyn?

Probably Mustang and El Duque know it.....that will make me cachinnate.

Dodgers rally behind Mookie Betts, while Boston leaves Jackie Bradely Jr. hanging out to dry

 Two teams moving in different directions.  

Heading into the Subway Series and the halfway mark, the Yankee Death Star is attracting hope and despair

 1. Finally, the Yankees this week added a LH catcher: 31-year-old Rob Brantly, a lifetime .220 hitter, who can kick-save wild pitches and maybe give us a fighting chance against the RH bullpen specialists who own Gary Sanchez's soul. Best part of the deal: SF accepted cash. Platoon, anyone?

2. Maybe Brantly should hook up with Eric Kratz, our current backup, who is 4 for 11 on the season. Kratz has more doubles (2) than Sanchez, who has - drum roll, please - one... (the loneliest number that you ever know.) Gary is hitting .139 in 72 at-bats. He leads the team with 34 strikeouts, nine more than Luke Voit, who is second. Fun Fact: Gary also leads the team in Hit By Pitches, with three. (He not only can't catch wild pitches, he can't dodge them, either.) 

3. Aaron Judge's apparent re-injury is by far the most distressing Yankee event thus far in 2020. (Until this, the first was the notion that Trump was going to throw out a ceremonial pitch.) Judge has gotten off to a great start. This was going to be his year, the season he cemented his legacy as the face of the Yankees. Instead, he now looks like Giancarlo II - a career "what-if...?" If this sounds harsh and unfeeling, well, I don't know how else to put it: The guy did interviews last week, saying he was ready and raring to go, that he didn't need to be on the IL. Then he returns for five innings and pulls up lame. 

4. The last five losses exposed glaring weaknesses - most notably our LACK of depth (formerly the team's great strength.) Last year's "Next Man Up" elevation of Urshela, Tauchman, Maybin and Voit now looks like a lucky, one-shot deal. This year, neither Wade (.185) nor Estrada (.222) nor Ford (.163) have stepped up. The bottom of the lineup is Death Valley, and every day, Cashman patrols the scrap heaps for still-pulsing cadavers.

5. Almost every MLB trade rumor in captivity has Miguel Andujar going somewhere, usually for a rag-armed bullpen inner tube. Miggy's two hits Wednesday raised his average to - gulp - .160. Two years ago, when he chased DiMaggio, who could have expected his stock to now be so low, so horrible? In this fractured market, we might receive pork and beans. His Yankeeography is a slow-motion disaster. 

6. When Aaron Boone mentions Michael King as a viable starting option this weekend, from where is he getting his information? The CDC? The FDA? Infowars? King's ERA is 6.59 - worse than JA Happ. In 13 innings pitched, he's given up 10 runs. If the Yankees blow this series, they could find themselves being tailgated by Toronto, trapped in a hole from which they cannot emerge. And they're turning to King? This is bad. This is real bad.

7. On the pitching staff, our most pleasant surprise - maybe the only one - is Jonathan Loaisiga. His ERA - 2.77 - is only behind Mean Chad Green, and the absent Zack Britton and Tommy Kahnle. But but but... in his second time around the order, Johnny Lasagna seems to lose a tick. He looks more like a closer than the starter we desperately need. Over his career, he's also been extremely fragile. How many innings should we pile on him? We might soon get an answer, and it won't be a pleasant surprise.

8. In comments to the Gammonites, Boone keeps ignoring Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia as starter options for this weekend. The only conclusion? Neither must be pitching well at the alt-site in Scranton, or is something else in play? Are the Yankees protecting them in anticipation of a trade? (God help us.) Or, I wonder if hamstrings have been popping in Moosic, as they are in NYC? If a gonad tweaks in the forest, does anybody yelp?

9. The canceled games in the aftermath of Kenosha remind us of how fragile this dark season remains. Any trade must take into account the very real chance that there will be no World Series, or that one infection could wipe out our post-season. Meanwhile, a large segment of the U.S. population is being told the pandemic is over, and that fans should return to the bleachers. (Considering the proposed Lysol cure, maybe some fans should be called "bleachers?") Wash your hands, everybody. We're barely halfway through the 2020 season. The rocky roads lie ahead, and I don't mean ice cream.

Virtual Off-Day: It's an Off Day.

The Virtual Yankees headed out to Cleveland—the only city to have the name of one president and serve as the burial place of another president—for a key, three-game set.  Much as the Yanks continue to chase the first-place Rays, the Napoleons are locked in a three-way race with the Twins and ChiSox.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Convention ended tonight in Charlotte, with a triumphant speech by President Donald J. Trump.

The only glitch in the proceedings came when the final, grand fireworks display that was suppose to spell out,"TRUMP" in the North Carolina sky...instead formed a picture of the face of Russian Prezidentzky-for-Lifesky, Vladimir Guerrero Putin.

Prezidentzky Putin sent an official apology to President Trump, but added, "Iz good joke, no?"

The prank was thought to have little effect on Mr. Trump's chances, though, as he still leads unpopular Democrat Joe Biden and professional wrestling politician Jesse Ventura in the polls, by 59-19-14, with 8 percent too bored to respond.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Great new book may save 2020 after all.


Welcome to The Abyss: The darkest days in the darkest year... and, damn, it's a Stygian place

Well, nobody was ever going to peg 2020 for a delightful, Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore romp. There's the pandemic, the death toll, the shutdown, the riots, the bread lines, the wild fires and now the hurricanes... Calgon Bath Oil Beads, take me away! As years go, 2020 is a turd. Yesterday, the Yankees joined the shit show and, frankly, they made losing look easy. 

Over 14 innings - the modern twin bill - I never once could shed the stark certainty that Atlanta would win. Scores didn't matter. You could feel it. The Yankees were destined to lose both games, and the only real question was whether we'd suffer a no-hitter. 

Truth be told, I didn't think Mean Chad Green would blow game two. (You can't predict baseball, Ivanka.) I figured that honor of Goat would go to Aroldis Chapman, who hasn't pitched since the political oil cans started bellowing at us. Anyone who has followed El Chapo's ongoing Yankeeography knows that he will return in a storm surge of sweat, walks and wild pitches. In this deluge, he is capable of blowing any lead. Our next brutal, out-of-body loss - surely against the Mets this weekend - will feature a hideous mental snapshot of The Water Cannon bursting with bodily fluids, as the winning run crosses the plate. Mark these words: The worst is yet to come.

Today, the Yankees possess the sixth best record in the AL. If the playoffs began this weekend, they would face the White Sox in a best of three series in Chicago. That would mean Lucas Giolito in game one. 

Fortunately, the Yankees are fading at such a rate that they will face the top-seeded As or miss the post-season altogether. See, everybody? I'm not all gloom and doom!

It's becoming almost impossible to imagine the 2020 Yankees winning anything substantial. The death of this team is its inability to score without the home run. We have a collection of free swingers that would make Becki Falwell flinch. They never modify their approach. They never go to the opposite field. They cannot bunt, probably because they never practice it. They do not move base runners. They cannot react to an over-shift - again, because they surely never practice it. And in the case of their star player, Aaron Judge, they represent a collection of athletes so tightly wound that they cannot stay on the field.

No horror show account of 2020 can be complete without mentioning Judge. The crowning achievement of yesterday's debacle - the worst Yankee day of 2020, thus far - was Judge's five-inning appearance, before tweaking a gonad while running to second base. The Yankees say he might go back on the IL. Why, why, why would we expect anything less?

Maybe I'm over-reacting. But right now, it wouldn't bother me if the Yankees, at this weekend's trade deadline, pulled a Mookie Betts. Some team with an actual shot might cough up a prospect or two for Judge, or - even better - take Giancarlo Stanton and his Ruthian contract off our hands. A week ago, such talk would be blaspheme. Now, why not? Does anyone feel that this team, this organization, is moving in the right direction? If we're going to flounder, let's do it with Cliff Frazier, Miguel Andujar, Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia. Let's see what happens. If we fail, at least 2020 will end in September, rather than October. 

Sooner the better. Calgon, where are you?

Virtual Baseball: Yanks Beat Down Birds Again, Look Ahead to Real Teams.

The Virtual New York Yankees blasted the virtually major-league Baltimore Orioles again tonight, 12-6, to move to within one game of those taunting, teasing Tampa Bay Rays.

Once again wanting to spare his real starters any innings against these boobs, manager Ma Boone started Mike King, who turned in what MLB has now designated a "Meh start," as opposed to a "quality start," pitching 5 innings and allowing four earned runs.

That was more than enough for the Yankees' usual, meat-grinder attack, however, as the Bombers bashed a variety of faceless Baltimore hurlers for 18 hits, including homers by Mike Ford, Gio Urshela, Walkie Tauchman, Clint Frazier, and...The Gleyber.

"People think walkovers like these are really easy," said Boone afterwards.  "But they're not.  Beating a team like Baltimore is a lot like slaughtering a pig, or maybe even a moose.  It takes time, it does a number on your body, all that hacking and running the bases."

In other Yankees news, phantom slugger Giancarlo Stanton was finally removed from the team roster today, and added to the little-used, "Missing, Presumed Dead or in Oz" reserve list.  The last player to be put on the list was Ed Delehanty, of the Washington Senators, who thought "had taken the Emerald Road" when he disappeared during the 1903 season.

To the relief of realists everywhere, though, it was found instead that he had simply got drunk and toppled into Niagara Falls.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Let's play five

I think it's time for a marathon. Let's play five against the Mets starting Saturday morning. 30 minutes between games. Play until all five are done.

That's 35 innings of baseball, pretty much non-stop.

There's no way Gary, Hicks, and Gardy could play more than one or two games each. That would give a lot of guys some at-bats and also chances to impress in the field. Hell, I bet Frazier and Miggy could play three or four out of five if called on. Tauchman, too. Not to mention the great opportunities for our young pitchers to come up and shine, before being sent back down in favor of someone older and more mediocre.

If we start at 8:00 a.m., we should be finished by midnight. Maybe 1:00 or 2:00 on Sunday morning. And then everybody gets a nice rest until Tuesday, or whenever it's not raining and the other team hasn't tested positively for Covid. 

Whaddya say, sports fans?

Ernie would be so proud.

As we near the cliff, the Yankee pitching staff is about to get shredded

Crazy Fred Nietzsche once said, "W
hen you gaze into The Abyss, The Abyss gazes back into you."

Comrades, The Abyss is licking its chops.

Three double-headers in five days. Twenty-two games in 19 days. A dead reckoning in Tampa. The trade deadline. 

Yep. The Abyss sees us, and it's rubbing its tummy.

Today, we pitch Gerrit Cole and, I believe, Masahiro Tanaka. Friday, Jordan Montgomery and Whomever. Saturday, it's either JA Happ or the cast of "This Is Us." Sunday, it's John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur, who are working to bring about a more just and verdant world. Monday, we press REPEAT.

Somewhere in between, we might promote Clarke Schmidt and/or Deivi Garcia from the Scranton refugee camp. Or we might sign Dopey Dildox from the Korean Beach League. Monday - the dreaded annual trade deadline - everything culminates with a showdown in Timbuktu - yes, Tampa - a team that recently mocked us in our own stadium. Yes, The Abyss has a knife and fork in hand, a napkin on its lap, and a Nicholas Sandmann smirk. A week from now, the fog will have lifted. 

The next few days will either set us on course toward the playoffs, allowing us to keep our farm system intact. Or it will crush our pitching staff and push Cooperstown Cashman into trading for other teams' mistakes, binding our next few seasons into bloated contracts and aging spare tires. Every year, we go through the same tired exercise, looking for saviors that do not exist. We spend five years nurturing a young prospect, then trade him and assure ourselves that he was never any good.    

This is surely the last site on the Internet to invoke Yankee hyperbole. There is no cooler set of heads in the Yankiverse, no more astute gathering of scientific minds, than those who meet here to empirically discuss our chances. Other sites get nervous. Not here. We maintain that steady hand on the till, never getting rattled, always assessing reality with cool, clear eyes.

That's why it's so critical to recognize that, if we flop this week, we are fucking dead - I mean dish-rag dead, I mean soiled and slurped, done and dug, fling the dirt on us, hit the the "Cremation" button and fling us into the ocean - and I'm talking about the 2020 decade, not this Tom Thumb of a season. 

The next week, folks. Three doubleheaders and a trade deadline. 

The Abyss awaits us.

Virtual Baseball: Splish-Splash, Birds Take a Bath!

The Virtual Yankees managed to hang on for a seven-hour win in the Bronx tonight, once again roughing up the bumbling Birds of Baltimore, 15-10.

It looks like the game would be a breeze at first, with Clarke Schmidt holding a 12-0 lead through five innings, thanks to two home runs by Gleyber Torres and shots from Luke Voit, Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Hicks.

But then the rains came, and after an hour-long delay Schmidt hit the showers and the Orioles began to hit in-cessantly.  Off Luis Cessa.  Get it?

In his four innings of work, Cessa threw 130 pitches and gave up ten runs, but the Yankees held on thanks to yet another homer by The Gleyber.  When the soggy marathon finally ended in the wee small hours of the morning, Manager Ma Boone leapt up from his seat in the dugout, exclaiming, "YES!  He did it!"

Boone then collected $200 from every man on the bench, all of whom had wagered that Cessa could not get through the rest of the game.

"Oh, yeah, Laura needs a new pair of shoes!" Boone said, though he admitted after the game that his wife already has, in fact, 400 pairs of shoes.

Ace Gerrit Cole had been scheduled to pitch tonight, but Boone told him to get some more rest, telling the press, "Frankly, I don't want to waste someone as good as Cole on garbage like these Orioles.  No offense!"

Yankee Aaron "The Glass Gavel" Judge also volunteered to play, having now sat out all the days required under MLB's Otherworldly Twister Injury Protocol.  But Boone waved him off, as well.

"Get hurt against a real team," he told the fragile giant.  "Just sayin'."

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Is, gulp, Jordy Mercer our next shortstop?

Normally, I'd cheer the acquisition of another Mercer, a great Yankee name, regardless of the spelling. But yesterday's news that Cooperstown Cashman signed the 34-year old SS grows the fever pit in my gut. Here we go again, spackling over our woes with another beyond-his-sell-date veteran, and - by the way - shortstop is a dangerous place for late-stage experiments. I'm not sure Trump's FDA would approve this trial, and they're on the verge of shaking beads.

Don't get me wrong: Mercer - having played nearly 900 games over a nine-year career - could be a valuable infield piece, in a Luis Sojo kinda way. He'll cover the right base and make the routine plays. Can he bunt over a runner? We sure can use such a guy. There might also be some contractual voodoo at work: Mercer, who was waived by the Tigers last week and elected free agency, is a pure transaction. Once Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu return - (assuming that they will; remember the words of Al Franken: When you assume, you make an "ass " out of Uma Thurman) - Mercer can disappear, no strings attached, no hard feelings. Sometimes, that's a nice way to go.

But the Yankees have two young shortstops - Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada - both with special talents. Wade can run. Estrada can hit HRs. Both have unexplored ceilings. Both need a chance. And here is the question: In the eyes of the Yankees, are neither better than Mercer? 

Listen: Mercer is no slouch. Last year, in 74 games with Detroit, he hit .274 with 9 HRs. On the Yankees, that would have been a godsend. But last year was Mercer's best season since 2013, when he hit .285 for Pittsburgh. This year, he had appeared in three games, sentenced to back-up duty on a team going nowhere. So they waived him. Mercy killing.

Mercer hits RH. That pits him especially against Estrada. Considering the epidemic of injuries faced by the Yankees, they can use every warm body they can find. In that regard, Cashman was smart to sign Mercer. 

Still, if we see him at SS, it will be hard to dispel the mounting dread that this year - as different as it has been - is turning out to be like all the others. And it will probably end that way, too. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Virtual Baseball Off-Day: Yanks Rest. But Where Is Giancarlo?

The Virtual Yankees, two games behind Tampa Bay, got a much-needed off-day following four knockdown, drag-out contests against Toronto.

But the questions remains:  where is Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankee man of knowledge?

In what is fast becoming the nation's fastest growing new superfast conspiracy theory, many speculate that Stanton has somehow fallen prey to a Deep State plot, or perhaps been eaten by some QAnon predators.  Others continue to hold that he has gone over to the Children of the Corn or—more diabolical yet—the Red Sox.

"Where is Giancarlo?" asked even some signs at President Trump's triumphant Republican convention in Charlotte.

"The question is really whether Giancarlo ever existed at all, or if he is just more of a concept," speculated Prof. Janosz Poha of Hudson University.  "After all, he is said to be a baseball player on the New York Yankees team.  But do we ever see him play baseball?  Is he ever in any games?  The answer is no."

"I thought even in the playoffs last year, that the best analogy to Stanton is Schrodinger's cat," interposed Prof. Poha's colleague, Dr. Peter Venkman.  "He was on the roster, but he was not able to play.  Was he dead?  Was he alive?  Was he...Giancarlo?"

Others, such as Dr. Raymond Stantz, hold that the entire idea of a "Giancarlo Stanton" was all a mass delusion in the first place,"like UFO sightings, or the Lawrence Welk Show.  I think it has to do in good part with the end of the Cold War, and the need Americans have for some new, lurking, unseen menace."

For all of the certainty in the Yankees organization that the slugger is no more, residents of Dyersville, Iowa, home of the Field of Shattered Dreams, have reported rutabagas mysteriously gone missing from their gardens, and the disappearance of the occasional blueberry pie, left on the windowsill for cooling.


 The Yankees have got to be a bit worn down aftter a trying weekend.

And MLB, right on top of things, has seen fit to schedule them with a day off today.  How did they know?

Making up missed games this year will be a walk in the park.

So it is good to be rested.

My concern is that some burned-out hurricane will work its way up the east coast and cause more postponements.

At least we didn't drop down to third place and, we think, no one got injured.

With the trade deadline approaching, the growing fear over a decade-defining bad deal

Okay, before we again wail about the injuries - the unfairness of the juju gods -  imagine this lineup...

Tauchman lf  (Our SB threat.)
Judge rf (No-brainer.)
Voit 1b (No-brainer II.)
Urshela 3b (Still hitting.)
Frazier/Ford dh (Can one get hot?)
Hicks/Gardy cf (Both on downward trajectory; fingers crossed?)
Sanchez c (Is he really better than Kratch?)
Wade ss (No other choice.)
Estrada 2b (Ditto.)

The key here is Tauchman at the top. WTF not? Why do we insist that Hicks will suddenly start hitting, as he did for half a season in 2017? And though he's on fire right now, Voit is simply too slow a base-runner to lead off. Let him protect Judge in the order. This season is rapidly aging: If a player has not started hitting by now, should we reasonably think he will?

And then there is Miguel Andujar. Insert sigh here. Frankly, until somebody pops another gonad - probably tomorrow - we have no seat on this bus for the Migster. He can't play 3B. He can't play LF. He isn't hitting enough to DH. With the trade deadline approaching, his value continues to plummet. At this point, he might bring us little more than bullpen lug nut. And if we deal him, he could easily become the Voit/Urshela/Tauchman story for another team, a star player for the next decade. Still, short of an injury to Urshela, he has almost no path to real playing time. What a loss.

Thus, we should fear the worst: Andujar and a prospect for some overpriced inner tube, a Sidney Ponson who will contribute 15 to 25 lackluster innings and then disappear by Thanksgiving. Does the name Sonny Gray strike a familiar note?

We are entering the most terrifying week of this miniature season: The trade deadline - our annual Pearl Harbor. Here is when Cooperstown Cashman traditionally trades our future for someone else's past. Even if it seems like a good deal at the time, it generally levels off. In this case, no matter who we obtain, we could fall in the playoffs' first round, because there is no truth in a three-game set. There is only summary judgment, swift and final. 

One possible advantage: Right now, we should get back LeMahieu, Gleyber, Stanton and Paxton, or at least some of them. (You cannot trust what the Yankees say; they simply lie, and I seriously doubt Paxton will return.) Meanwhile, we need either Frazier, Ford, Hicks, Gardner or Sanchez to heat up. One or two might. That would make a huge difference. 

But be afraid. Cashman is working the phones. Be very afraid.

Virtual Baseball: The Killer D.Gs! Domingo, Deivi Hold Back Jays, as Yanks Split Series.

In Virtual Baseball this afternoon, the Yankees managed to salvage a split of their four-game set with the Toronto Virtual Blue Virtual Jays, 6-4.

Surprise starter Domingo German and pick-up man Deivi Garcia managed to (pretty much) stop the constant barrage of Toronto hits and home runs today at the Stadium.  German allowed three runs in his five innings of work, and Garcia gave up just one more, giving the bullpen a much-needed breather.

Sunday starters Mike Ford, Tyler Wade, and Kyle Higashioka all homered for the Yanks, with Higgy's two-run, opposite-field fly off the foul pole, again reliever Wilmer "Helvetica" Font deciding the issue.

Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk homered for the Bleu Jays.  But in the ninth, it all came down to Garcia trying to get the final out against Joe Panik, with the bases loaded.  With the sold-out Stadium crowd stamping and clapping, Deivi managed to push Panik's button by telling him his shoes were untied, then striking him out with a perfect, off-speed curve.

Meanwhile, joyous Republican delegates piled into Charlotte, North Carolina, for the start of their party's convention tomorrow.

Giddy with the fact that the Dow Jones average has remained near 60,000 despite ongoing revelations about secretly owned Russian finance companies—the latest,, was exposed today—and that President Trump is still drawing at least 55 percent of the vote in most polls, the delegates were expecting a four-day loveliest, with all that loving enhanced by copious amounts of liquor and barbecue.

Sunday, August 23, 2020


The Yankees have a few more days off.

Maybe more than a few.

At some point.....something might happen. 

Wake me when it does. 


This is it.

 The ultimate hedonistic mansion for the Jeff Bezos of chipmunks.  

If the season ended today...

 Luke Voit is the AL MVP.

We are the fourth seed in the AL.

And we have one reliable starting pitcher.
So it goes...

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Virtual Baseball: Tanaka Falls, Yanks Fall Two Back. Can Hell Be Far Behind?

Your Virtual New York Yankees took a second straight shellacking at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays today, falling to the Canadian Birds by 13-6.

Starter Masahiro Tanaka, insisting on taking the mound despite the visibly bulging thrombosis in his pitching arm, surrendered a bases-clearing, three-run triple to Billy McKinney, just returned from the DL, in the first.

Later, the Jays would add home runs by, as usual, Vlad, Jr., Bo "The Real" Bichette, and Lourdes "The Cure" Gurriel, Jr., piling on against the usual parade of anonymous Yankees relievers.

Walkie Tauchman, Thairo Estrada, and Luke Voit all homered for the American side, but that was not enough to keep Tanner Roark from gutting out a workmanlike win, with some sturdy relief work from Jacob Waguespack.

"Let's face it:  we're a names team.  We got names like nobody's business," B.J. manager Charlie Montoyo said afterwards.  "If people can't even pronounce 'em, I don't see how they beat 'em."

In other virtual Yankees news today, general manager Brian Cashman filed a $400 million claim with Suckers Lloyd's of London, asserting that Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees man of knowledge, must have surely expired in the sharknado that devastated The Field of Dreams after the Yankees win there nine days ago.

Asked if the claim was not premature, Cashman replied, "What, nine days?  You think any body goes undetected that long?  The stink alone would tell you where it is.  No, no, Stanton was probably ripped into tiny little pieces and scattered over half the Plains states.  No offense to his family, we hope he turns up okay.  But business is business."

Cheer up, Duque!

Jordy Mercer to the Rescue

Yep, that is the brilliant, Brian Cashman answer to the latest wave of injuries:  signing a completely anonymous, 33-year-old middle infielder who has recently been dumped by Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Boy, Kyle Holder must feel good about himself.

I just want to supplement our Peerless Leader's take on how of course Yankees get injured in droves in the Brian Cashman years, because that's all too often the sorts of players he is acquiring:  overaged guys trying to hang on.

That's certainly true.  But what's also remarkable are the number of guys who AREN'T all that old who now get hurt.

Stanton wasn't that old, but he was a guy with a long history of injuries.  Made no nevermind to our Brian.  James Paxton, in 6 major-league seasons as a starter, had averaged fewer than 100 innings a year.  Bring him on board!

Even worse are the number of downright young, budding stars who now get hurt.

Once upon a time, I would've heard about The Gleyber's injury, for instance, and told myself, Phew! So THAT explains why he's been sucking so badly:  he's been playing hurt.  Well, all we have to do is wait for him to get well, and I'm sure he'll be a star again.

No more.  Now the injuries and the failures seem to me to be one and the same, because they come from the same place.

The Gleyber, if you'll recall, tore up his arm sliding home in a big Scranton Railroaders game, an injury that might well have cost our boys in pinstripes a ring in 2017.

Not to worry.  Just a freak injury, right?  Then came some 20 games missed in 2018, another 18 in 2019—significant absences for such a young player.  And now this.

It has been the same with so many others:  The Sanchise, Sevvy, Andujar, Judge.

Pretty much a whole dynasty worth of young stars, who constantly get injured, and whose game starts to slide at the same time.  Chicken, egg?  Or chicken and egg salad—who cares, it is still an unsightly mishmash.

I don't know what it is, precisely:  The lost playing time?  PEDs?  Overtraining?  Over-compensation?

But it's always the same.  Players—even YOUNG, star players—come up to the Yankees, get hurt, and get worse.  Or they get worse and they get hurt.  It doesn't make a dime's worth of difference.

Training and instruction, top to bottom, needs to scrapped and rebuilt in this organization, starting with its constantly self-serving, self-promoting head of baseball operations.

And while I quite agree with El Duque about hating tanking, this would be a great moment to do a one-time only tank and start over—first and foremost with front office personnel.

The Mortimer Opening


The Yankees have shown what they can do when all their pieces are on the board.

We have also recently experienced some clear mis-moves leading to a sweeping failure. 

And it should by now be obvious that we can never keep all these pieces on the board. 

Time to trap the AL East in a different way.  An unsuspecting way.

Time to make dramatic moves using unknown and, more importantly, unexpected players.

Some might say:  "out with the old, in with the new."  I say; lay the damn trap.

This is the time of year ( Aug 31 trade deadline ) when we have to fear Cashman.  He always exposes our Queen either short-term or long term.   This year he needs to "shock and awe" by trading unforeseen players for unforeseen players.  Lure the opposition into lethargy.

Get rid of Chapman; Hicks; Sanchez ;Paxton: Stanton; Happ and a few other of the "done and dusted. "  Take youth and speed. 

Attack with a new army.  Entice the enemy into blurry overconfidence, then surround and pierce the King. 

This is the moment for radical change. 

If not, it is going to be a frustrating and awful year.  Again.

Questions for the viral "All-Star break"

Around the midway mark of every season, baseball traditionally takes a few days off for the all-star game, the home run derby, and serious, morning-to-night drinking. 

This year, thanks to the doorknob-licking Mets - (in a pandemic, are strip clubs really worth it?) - the Death Star has a weekend to ponder several existential questions about life and society. Where the hell is Martin Buber when we need him? So, anyway, just wondering...

1. Why, why, WHY... WHY THE FUCK are we once again being carpet-bombed by injuries? Last winter, we changed trainers. We might as well have changed deodorants. For the last two years, we've seen rolling waves of players - like California blackouts - overwhelm the injured list. We thought it was a statistical aberration, the roll of cosmic dice, a practical joke played upon us by the juju gods. We thought it would end, you know, just go away one day, like a miracle, right? 

Well, Aurec Goldfinger wouldn't think so. As he told Bond: Once is happenstance, twice coincidence and three times, enemy action. This, my friends, is enemy action. So, you ask... who is the enemy? 

We are.  

I suggest this Picketts' Charge of injuries stems from the types of players the Yankees love to collect: Vets who were once all-stars, who have big contracts, and who are pushing their bodies to achieve skill levels that no longer exist. 

Some players extend their careers by redefining themselves, either by adding new pitches or adjusting their swings. And some players just try to throw harder or swing harder. And they hurt themselves. 

Jason Giambi once the New York experience to rock star status. He had one great year as a Yankee and then began to wilt. At the end, he was a dead pull swinger barely capable of hitting his weight - nothing like the power-to-all-fields slugger he'd been eight years earlier. Nobody ever accused him of not trying. His body simply couldn't do what it once had done.  

The Yankees keep collecting stars like Giambi. Their attempts to win every year are commendable. I hate franchises who purposely tank, who try to finish last, and who then congratulate themselves for rebuilding. But at some point, the Yankees must stop absorbing players in the twilight of their careers. You know their names: Stanton, Paxton, Chapman, Britton, etc., maybe Gardy, though he's a special case. 

At some point, the Yankees must do what every other team does: Trade aging players for youth.

Frankly, I was dismayed last winter when they re-signed Aroldis Chapman. I don't oppose Hal Steinbrenner spending money. But wouldn't we be better off finding and developing a young closer? Isn't it a sure thing that, in two years, Chapman will be regularly failing?

Next winter, a perfect place to start changing our ways: Gary Sanchez. 

2. Where, where, WHERE THE FUCK would we be without last year's scrap heap pickups: Luke Voit, Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman? 

Right now, the 2020 Yankees are their team. Our vaunted depth has dwindled down to Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada - two guys who deserve a month to show their stuff. But will they get a shot? Or will the Yankees - see above - trade for a veteran? 

Finding useful position players has been Cooperstown Cashman's greatest success. Unfortunately, this year, Yankee scouts cannot comb the minor leagues for spare parts. We need to find replacements on the taxi squad in Scranton. Do we have them?

3. Will these games even matter? The cancelled Mets series reminds us how fragile this season remains. As schools reopen across America, will the virus explode into a second wave? And if so, are the playoffs fundamentally doomed?

Obviously, we don't know the answers. But this we do know: The Yankees almost surely will qualify for the post season. They have too good a team to fall completely out of the race, which will probably allow a few sub-.500 teams to reach the post-season. 

Thus, come October, the Yankees will face a best-of-three playoff round. Repeat after me: "Ugh." And without fans in the seats, aside from the chance to sleep in their own beds, their home field advantage will be almost nothing.  

Anything can happen in a best-of-three. We can go in with baseball's best record and go out with 18 innings of hapless, free-swinging strikeouts and two bombed relievers. What happened in August won't matter. Best of three. Ugh.  

If players like LeMahieu and Gleyber can return with enough time to hone their bats, these games - and maybe these injuries - don't matter. 

Soon, we'll hit the point where a hamstring ends a player's season. We're not there yet, but it's coming. And if these injuries don't start disappearing, we're dead. We just don't know it yet. So... what was on the list for this weekend? Heavy, morning-to-night drinking? Sign me up.

Virtual Baseball: Happ Slapped By Vicious Birds Again, Yanks Fall Out of First!

It was Strong Blood Lines Night in the virtual Boogie-Down virtual Bronx tonight, as a host of genetically blessed Blue Jays plastered starter J.A. Happ, 15-7.

Happ was hit and hit hard, from the very beginning of the night, by the sons of sporting greats gone by.  Vlad Guerrero, Jr., Bo "The Right Bichette, Brian" Bichette, and Cavan Biggio all launched rockets blasts in the opening innings, to build an early, 11-1 lead for the Birds in Bleu.

(Brandon Drury, grandnephew of "Advise and Consent" author Allen Drury, fared less well, going 0-4 on the night, but did entertain reporters with his political prognostications before the game.)

Matt Shoemaker, the Blue Jays starter and grandson of the great jockey, Willie Shoemaker, baffled Yankees hitters at first, throwing knee-high strikes with impunity, thanks to a frame that matches his granddaddy's 4-foot-10, 91-pound physique.

But after the Yanks adjusted and Miguel Andujar, Gio Urshela, and Clint Frazier golfed balls out of the yard, Shoemaker was replaced by former Yank A.J. Cole.  In the end, A.J. got the win over J.A., the teammate of G. Cole, though he did surrender a solo homer to D.J. LeMahieu.  Got that?

The loss dropped the Yankees one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays, the Joe Biden of baseball.

But most of the public was no doubt distracted by the wild events of this week's Democratic convention in Milwaukee, which culminated when rogue congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and her Red Surfer Commandos, attempted to storm the convention center and forcibly have her declared the party nominee over Biden.

The coup attempt went awry after the Red Surfer Commandos broke into the convention hall's vodka cabinet and were soon incapacitated, but Gabbard was able to escape in a private jet piloted by James Mason out of Mount Rushmore National Park, and was reportedly on the way to Russian airspace.

After miraculously surviving the violent attack, Biden's popularity skyrocketed to a new high of 19 percent.

"Let Me Tell You How It Will Be."

With apologies to the Fab Four's classic complaint about the burdens of the progressive income tax, which has surely limited their collective wealth to a tad under $536 gazillion.

Gotta go against the usual perspicacity of our Dauntless Leader, Alphonso, for once.  I think the Yanks actually got a break, thanks to the Mets' Covid outbreak (and not that I would wish the disease on anyone).

The Metsies, of course, always treat their annual 4-6 games against our boys like their World Series.  Now, with the Polar Bear just starting to hit again, Jogginson C. obviously in possession of some great new PEDs, and a bullpen of former Yanks Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, and Chasen Shreve, they were all set up to rout us in at least 4-5 of our scheduled contests in this rump season.

The showdown against the team that Bernie Madoff built was to be 6 of the next 11 contests, with the others against Atlanta and our new nemesis,the Tampa Bay Witness Protection Program.  We were staring at a possible 14 straight losses, which must surely be a Bombers record of some kind.

The Met part of that may all be thrown off now, at least in that they get 3 days to lose their mojo.  When you're bad and hurting, you always want to be the team with days off, as opposed to when you've just finished thrashing those Miami Marlins, as our Flushing friends managed to do.

In any case, though, the last 24 games were against a perfect array of patsies:  the Orioles, the Blue Jays, the Red Sox, and a final 3 against Miami.

Say the Yankees had somehow managed to pull out 4 of the Evil 11 games—which is saying a lot—and then gone 16-8 versus The Collected Hamburger Meats of the World, and we were talking a final record of 36-24.

Good enough to make the playoffs, maybe even good enough to win the division, and CERTAINLY good enough for the collected muddlebrains of the New York sporting press to proclaim again what a genius Brian Cashman is, and moan about all those bad-luck injuries when this team is, inevitably bounced in the first best-of-three series because—surprise, surprise—it has no starting pitching behind Gerrit Cole.

Well, que sera, sera, and that may still well happen depending on time and tide and aerially transmitted disease.  But this is what drives so many of us so crazy:  the insistence, year after year after year, that a team we all KNOW cannot win a World Series still has a genuine chance.

Friday, August 21, 2020

So Who Is Up Next?


We were supposed to recover from the Tampa horror by playing the Mets who, ordinarily, are at our level of incompetence. 

Now, Covid has shut that down.  Who went to the strip club and when?

So, instead of " getting right back on the horse " as they say, the Yankees get to stew for days and days over how Tampa has our number.  Gleybar can ice his leg and remember his bad throws  Others can remember striking out with the bases loaded.  Thoughts become nightmares. 

I think it is becoming clear why there is no help coming this year from our minor league system.:

 How is anyone going to get " major league " ready hitting wiffle balls off a tee in a public park down by the river in Scranton?  Seriously, it would be better if our " alternative site were in Japan somewhere. 

I think MLB should be flexible and let the Yanks play the Cardinals  They have about 20 games to catch up and we need the work.

Which reminds me:  in a Covid year is there a required minimum number of games a team must play to qualify for the year end tournament? If a team is 4-1 in mid-September ( best winning % ), do they still get a slot in the playoffs?

Baseball has already passed the date by which I predicted they would have to fold their tents ( 8/15) , so I give them credit. 

But with hot spots still flaring up, I continue to worry.

Once again, as they do every year, the Yankees have fallen into The Abyss

Okay - (sigh) - anybody out there? Can you hear me? If you can hear this, take a deep breath. Breathe in... breathe out. Ahh...

Now, a temperature check: Ninety-nine point two. Close enough. Finger in the Pulse Oximeter: Eighty eight. Hmm. Let's try later. Look, if you're reading this, let's assume you're alive. Okay? Breathe in... breathe out...

In this fart of a season, the Yanks have now played 26 games. 

In a normal year, 26 games puts us into late May. The kids are in school, the trees are budding, and we haven't even bought the beer for Memorial Day. And in a normal year, brace yourself: Because this is when the Yankees always collapse.

Yes, we get humiliated. We are blown out in Fenway, or on the West Coast, or anywhere but Baltimore. This prompts everyone on this blog to proclaim the season over, the Yankees dead, and to scream that Gary Sanchez must be traded for a can of Alpo. (The Sanchez thing is a rather new tradition, but you get the point.) 

But the truth is, in a normal year, the long grind ahead is our best buddy, because by mid-August, every team of over-achievers will be knuckle-dragging, and we'll be catching fire.

Normally, by late August, the Yankees have played 100 games, and the crises of mid-May are laughable, compared to the tough week ahead. By then, the Yankees would have dealt with a wave of injuries - yes, what we're seeing is normalcy - by promoting kids from Scranton or visiting the vast Triple A scrap heap. By now, the Yankees would be enjoying the fruits of a few "once-around-the-league" newcomers. 

But it's not mid-May. It's late August, and - get this: Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres lead the Yankees with 78 at-bats apiece. Seventy-eight. Yep, not one Yankee has yet come to the plate 100 times. How do you judge anybody on such a small sample size? (Miguel Andujar has three times been kicked back and forth, and he has - gulp - 21 at-bats.)   

Last year, the month of May began an amazing influx of no-name replacements, leading to a great narrative: Players seizing their one shot at glory, on the game's biggest stage. In many ways, we were spoiled.

This year? Well, we're probably fucked. This week brought our annual collapse: Dropping three at home, while losing several stars to injuries. Wanna see kids enjoying their first taste of the bigs? Look to Baltimore or Tampa, or anywhere but the Bronx.  

This year, the Yankees have no rookies, aside from rotating bullpen lug nuts who collectively make up the roster's last man. This year, the Yankees have fielded a veteran team, the kind that could shrug off a May crisis, knowing the long haul was in their favor. But the joke is on us. This year, there will be no 100th game in August. This year, the wheels won't necessarily fall off over-achieving teams. 

From now on, every Yankee injury is a season-killer. And every slump guarantees an off-year.

But if we are mentally in late May, the best part of 2020 might still be coming.

If James Paxton is out, we could soon see Clarke Schmidt, the former first-round pick. And if Schmidt isn't throwing well in Scranton, we might glimpse Deivi Garcia, the new next-Pedro. Will they succeed? Fuck if I know. But Tampa just gave us an old-fashioned whupping, and we never even heard of half their pitchers. Maybe it's time for a little less Ottavino and a little more Schmidt. 

If Gleyber goes down - God forbid - we might see Kyle Holder, reputed for years to be the best fielding SS in our system, and one of the finest in the minors. Could he go a month before pitchers find his flaws? Fuck if I know. But remember: this year, once-around-the-league goes a lonnnng way. 

If - no, when - Aaron Hicks tweaks something, could we see Estevan Florial, the former phenom, before he is dealt for a 30-something salary dump? Could he be a breath of fresh air? Fuck if I know. But it would be fun to see.

After winning, watching rookies has always been the best part of fandom. Maybe, just maybe, this week's collapse will bring some youngsters our way. Because only they can save us from The Abyss.

It's Better to Run to Toronto Than to Run to a Team You Don't Want to! Yanks Edge Jays, Remain Tied for First.

The virtual New York Yankees, wracked once more with injuries and running low on pitchers, got a sturdy six innings from Mike King, then hung on for 5-4 win in Toronto.

King allowed three runs and nine hits, but was able to repeatedly pitch in and out of trouble.  Adam Ottavino came on to allow a massive, upper-deck home run to massive, Vlad the Lad, Jr., but Aroldis "Cool Hand" Chapman managed to wriggle out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth inning, striking out Brandon Drury to end the game.

Home runs by Walkie Tauchman and Thairo Estada, and a pair of booming doubles by D.J. "Jazzy" LeMahieu provided all the runs the Yankees needed.

The Yankees arrival in Toronto was delayed when manager Ma Boone's luggage was searched, and he was detained and charged with attempting to smuggle rare indigenous artifacts across the border.  The object in question was later found to be simply one more of the incredibly popular, "Thairo the Pharaoh" Egyptian headdresses sold at the Stadium earlier this year.

"Sure, that's what it was," said Boone, his eyes darting around furtively at a press conference.  He also denied that, when apprehended, he had surreptitiously swallowed a sacred Egyptian scarab.

Informed that no one thought he had by a puzzled press, Boone walked off the podium, visibly glowing and with his irises turning a flaming red color.

"Well see that you DON'T!"  he snapped, before his head transformed into that of a jackal's.

Yankees trainers later confirmed that they were monitoring the situation, but would not provide any further information.

How Not to Run an Organization.

So when Brian Cashman was looking to replace Joe Girardi, who never did anything but win, he put all the managerial candidates through a test.  He gave them the Yankees' roster, with names removed but all the numbers included, and asked them to make up a lineup for a theoretical game.

The guy who did it the best—or rather, the guy who matched up best with how Cashman would've chosen that lineup?  Aaron Boone.

"He got 'em all right!"  exulted Cashman, like a father kvelling over a son who had just aced the SATs.

Because, of course, that's what you want:  everyone in your organization thinking alike, in lockstep with a philosophy devised by individuals who, almost to a man, never played the game.

No creative tension.  No challenging input.  Just someone who is a mental extension of yourself in the dugout.

I don't want to blame yet another Yankees meltdown on Boone, who seems to be a good clubhouse manager, which is often more important than being a great field manager.

But hiring people who think just like you—or, more likely, simply have sussed out exactly how you think—is not the way you ever get better, it's not the way you ever think out of the box when things go wrong.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

It's happening... the crash.

Britton out.

Gleyber out.

Paxton MRI.

Swept by Tampa.

Embarrassed at home.

Mets game called for COVID.