Friday, May 7, 2021

After yesterday, it's hard to gin up "Yankee team of destiny" hopes, but at least we learned a lesson

We had 'em - I mean we had 'em! - just survive the eighth, tack on a run, unleash El Chapo, cue The Chairman, and wake up in the city that never sleeps, I mean, we fukking had 'em!  Three-game sweep, six-game win streak, three coming against the stumbling Nats, leapfrog Toronto by Sunday, king of the hill, top of the heeeep... WE GODDAMM HAD 'EM!

Yeah. We had them, until we didn't. 

Today, make no mistake: We don't have them. 

I'm not talking about Houston. Fuck the Astros. I'm talking about the juju gods. I'm talking about the mystical, fantastical, hallucinatory pervs who occupy our minds like bad song lyrics, lowlife deities with nothing better to do than fix sporting events and make honest Yankee fans miserable. 

Yesterday, we suffered the most deflating and paralyzing home run - by fukking Jose Altuve, of all people - since, well, the last home run by Altuve. 

Ashes to Ashes, Altuve to Altuve... 

In between, nearly 600,000 Americans have died, the democratic system was attacked, A-Rod and J-Lo united and dissolved, and there we were - back at square one, with that simpering little cheat high-fiving his teammates at home plate. 

Here we are, as if nothing has changed. 

Not only did we blow the game, we squandered:

1. Another terrific outing by Gerrit Cole. What must this guy do, pitch complete games?

2. A baserunning adventure for the ages by Gleyber Torres, who stole second, third and home on one play. I've seen a lot of things in my life, Suzyn, but never that...

3.  Injuries to Aaron Hicks and Gio Urshela. Naturally, it came after Hicks went three-for-three. 

4. A wild, jubilant, roaring, unified fan base. 

For a moment, let us ponder No. 4. 

Today, we sit at the most polarized political standoff since Appomattox. Not to minimize the deaths, but one of the worst parts of the pandemic was the shutdown of sports, which stole our spirit and our joy. For months now, the Yankiverse has been a volcano spewing anger and frustration. But this week, something happened. This week - against Houston, the proven cheaters - we had no cause to boo Yankee underachievers. We faced a common enemy - a real one, not just something conjured by those who push our buttons - and we came together, and by God, it was magnificent! For three games, we were uplifted, we were together, and it made me a believer and - dammit, WE FUKKING HAD THEM... until we didn't.

Now and then, life brings moments so deflating that you wonder why you bothered to care. The horseshit under the tree? It does not mean a pony in the yard. That good Samaritan on the road? He has ulterior motives. That prime time truth-teller? He's a TV phony. Live long enough, and someone will break your heart. The key is to get up in the morning, check the standings, and tell yourself, "It's Cory Kluber today, and he's back!"

We had them, and we lost 'em. For a moment, I was ready to believe. I was seeing destiny in the '21 Yankees. Now, I'll take a baby step backwards. I touched the electric fence and got a shock. But at least I didn't piss on it. It's a long way to September 30. But we learned yesterday that the juju gods are bastards, and they are not our friends. Boston remains in first. They've gotten cozy with the juju gods. At least, we know better. We learned a lesson. You don't have them... until you have them. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Sweepy time game thread


The Wonks weigh in on a fundamental Yankee problem...

 From Buhner's Ghost in Seattle, who adds...

"How about those Mariners! Have not ventured back to the yard yet, but certainly following on TV and radio with the ever-optimistic Rick Rizzs! Added bonus--Billy Graham Ministries has joined Union Gospel Mission as a regular sponsor, meaning I have to suffer through Franklin Graham claptrap 2-3 times per game (including pre- and post-game shows). Ugh. That's why there's a mute button, I guess."

Soon from Scranton: A rearranged Yankee outfield? And - gulp - a poem.

Farm News: Miguel Andujar homered last night for the Scranton Railriders. 

Miggy went 2-for-4 - (also a single)- against Syracuse; he is now 2-for-8 in this fledgling Triple A season. 

If Andujar keeps hitting, and his hand doesn't bark, he should soon receive the Cosmic Cashman Cattle Call: "Quick, take an Uber to NY, because [Insert Name Here] slipped in the buffet line, and you're playing tonight." It's been two years since  Miggy finished No. 2 as AL Rookie of the Year - (a rigged election for Shohei Ohtani; we are hiring Florida's Cyber Ninjas company for the recount audit) - he remains the coolest Joker in the Yankee deck. At some point, Andujar needs MLB playing time - 100 games or so - and his presence will explode the current lineup. 

Along with Miggy last night, Luke Voit played 1b for Scranton and homered. Any day now, Luke will join the Yankees and reshuffle the infield, currently stressed by the sprained knee of Rougned Odor.

So, with a little peyote and gin creative thinking, let's imagine the Death Barge lineup on Memorial Day.

1b Voit. (Mike Ford will be in Scranton, hopefully learning to hit to the opposite field.  His current MLB average - .103 - gave us no lefty bat.)

2b DJ LeMahieu. (Odor still be healing. But he was hitting just .164, not enough to hold the position.)

ss Gleyber Torres. (His throws to first have improved - thank you, DJ and Ford- and his average stands at .240. Next: some power?)

3b Gio Urshela. (Yanks best player? Can he actually play SS?)

c Kyle Higashioka. (Plays three out of every five. Demoralized Gary continues decline. Wait, is that even possible?)

lf Crapshoot I. (Unless Brett Gardner or Clint Frazier start hitting, Andujar deserves an everyday role. )

cf Crapshoot II. (Aaron Hicks is awful from the left side. A Gardy platoon? Estevan Florial, up from Double A? Something has to give, at least as a LH. This isn't working.) 

rf Aaron Judge. (Until he gets hurt. Which he will. Then... Frazier to right? Outside possibility: Socrates Brito, a lefty, who homered Wednesday for Scranton. 

dh Giancarlo Stanton. (Let us all be reminded of how quickly a lost cause in April can can turn things around in May, and how one slugger can carry a team. In a way, it's nice that Judge is slumping - platinum sombrero last night - because one of these days, he'll get hot and take over. Until he gets hurt. Which he will...) 

One continuing issue: The Yankees still tilt horribly to the right. In late inning confrontations, when opposing teams bring in their side-arm specialists, we have no countermove. Something's gotta give. In the meantime, okay, you've waited long enough...


Luke and Miggy.
And three days of Higgy...
With Gio and Stanton.
And Ford in Scranton...
A hint of Odor,
Judge always so sore.
Memorial Day.
Will Red Thunder play?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Railriders Report: First Night in Syracuse, which rhymes with "No Excuse"

Last night, the Syracuse Chiefs, Skychiefs, Your Name Heres, Mets entertained the Railriders of Scranton - aka "the Yankees of the future" - (Note: That's a joke.) As is customary, our IT IS HIGH Forensic Prospects Evaluation Team received nothing less than the finest seats in the house. 

That's Cool Healed Luke Voit preparing to launch the 2021 season. And launch he did, on the first pitch, a 400 -foot moon beam to center, for a jogging double. (Luke went 2-3 on the night.) He looks ready at the plate, but played DH, which means no current path to Gotham. 

Last night, the Scrantonian lineup featured no legitimate, up-and-coming, hot prospect. Not one. You might argue that 1B Chris Gittens (age 27) and SS Kyle Holder (26) are still "rising" - neither has yet played in the majors. That's as close as we'll get to ascending youth. (Deivi Garcia is in the rotation, so there's that.) From top to bottom, the Railriders feature spare parts, aging hopefuls and rehabs. 

A few observations...

1. Holder, the well-touted defensive whiz, booted his first grounder of the year. He also went 0-4. But but but... before you say Zolio Almonte!, I can see why people who are not publicists talk up his glove. He plays a graceful SS, charging nubbers and ranging left and right. He made several nice plays, not highlight reels, but enough to show something. If Gleyber fails at SS, Holder can provide defense. For whatever it's worth, he bats LH. 

2. The night's hardest blast came from Socrates Brito - a liner that never rose higher than 30 feet before clearing the right-center all. The CF barely turned around. Brito went 2-4 and provided the only Railrider offense. He too bats left. Something tells me that we'll see him in the Bronx before this year is over.

3. Great to see Miguel Andujar in LF. Not much happened out there; he wasn't challenged - and Miggy went 0-4. But in his first at bat, he lashed a liner at the SS - so hard they nearly doubled Luke off second base. Let's hope...

4. The Yankee starter was 31-year-old Mike Montgomery, a lefty lug nut, who will probably spot-start for us at some point this summer. (Two Montgomerys in the rotation.) He lasted into the fifth, gave up three and basically survived on guile. He peaked in 2017 but has pitched in the majors for six years. He's a moose, 6'5".

5. Nick Goody has returned home. He finished in the ninth. Two strike outs and a pop-up. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...

And then there was the Yankee game, which Alphonso monitored from his orbiting pod-bar in outer space. All night, I received updates, ranging from troubling to outright fury.  

To receive Alphonsian updates is to believe the Yankees are losing by 12. This is my world. 

Final note: Did the juju gods screw us? Just as Yankee fans were starting to accept Roogie Odor, he gets hurt? That stinks. Hope Ody is okay. 

Final note: Can't help but get excited over this picture of Stanton and Judge confronting Lil Jose Altuve.

ADVANCED STAT ALERT: Will Wednesday be the day Giancarlo breaks .300?


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tonight... Scranton invades Syracuse, and the world will be slightly better than it was

Top 10 reasons why last year didn't count.

10. We never played the goddam cheater Astros, not once.

9. No All-Star Game.

8. From the git-go, Boston tanked.

7. YES announcers on Zoom, from home.

6. Games called due to Covid.

5. Lost months of April, May, June and July.

4. The extra-innings rule with the fake runner on second.

3. Piped-in crowd noise.

2. Cardboard cut-outs of fans.

1. The absence of minor league baseball. 

After tonight, all but one - that wretched extra-innings rule - will have rightfully disappeared into the ash pit of history. America will be a little bit more like it was before the boogieman came.

Tonight, if the weather obliges, the Scranton Railriders will play the Syracuse Mets, and I shall be in attendance - vaxxed, wrapped in a parka, and socially distanced - in the cold rafters of the upper deck. The winds will swirl, the air will freeze, and hot dogs will congeal in their buns, while we clap gloved hands and beg the political oilcans to keep their speeches short.  

Of course, I'll be there to gather stool samples for IIHIIFIIc's prospect analyses. (I wonder how so-called "scientific" sites can evaluate players without stool samples, and I regret no longer being allowed to administer the standardized Myer-Briggs Type Indicator tests in the Scranton clubhouse. People, this is government suppression! First, they take away our personality tests. Next, they will come for your urine! We are becoming Communist China. Those who would trade their poop for security... SHALL HAVE NEITHER!)  

Tonight, I will study these Players of Interest (POIs):

Chris Gittens. (If he hits in Triple A, a late-bloomer?)

Deivi Garcia. (Not sure if we'll see him.)

Brook "The Great" Krisge and Nick Nelson. (The Scranton Shuttle.) 

Adam Warren. (Listed on the roster, an old friend.)

Kyle Holder. (Is he really the best fielding SS in the minors? If so, how bad a hitter is he?)

Miguel Andujar. (The road back starts here. Wouldn't it be nice?) 

Socrates Brito. (Hear my cry: He shall play Yankee OF when Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.) 

After tonight, America will be slightly better than it was yesterday. (But only if we beat Houston.) 

Monday, May 3, 2021

HoraceClarke66: Lest we forget: May 2, 1939


The day Lou Gehrig took himself out of the lineup. 

We've been to the wars together;
We took our foes as they came;
And always you were the leader,
And ever you played the game.

Idol of cheering millions,
Records are yours by sheaves;
Iron of frame they hailed you
Decked you with laurel leaves.

But higher than that we hold you,
We who have known you best;
Knowing the way you came through
Every human test.

Let this be a silent token
Of lasting Friendship's gleam,
And all that we've left unspoken;
Your Pals of the Yankees Team. 

Those were the words longtime sportswriter John Kieran wrote for the trophy the Yankees gave to Lou on his “day” at Yankee Stadium, on July 4th, 1939. 


Kieran later recounted that he was asked to write the inscription by Bill Dickey, and that he felt it was “but a feeble interpretation of what the Yankee players felt about Lou Gehrig.” But when he turned it over to Dickey, the catcher read it and said quietly, “That’s okay. Thanks.”


Kieran was a neighbor of Gehrig’s up in Riverdale, and he would visit him at his home there.  After Lou’s death, he wrote that Gehrig told him:


“You know, some time when I get—well, sometimes I have that handed to me—and I read it—and I believe it—and I feel pretty good.”


Kieran concluded, “That’s the best pay this observer ever received for anything he ever wrote.”



Dear Yankees: It's time to beat an actual rival

Dear Madams or Sirs,

As stated above, it is time to defeat a team that doesn't feature... 

a) A winning percentage below .300.
b) The first pick in the upcoming June draft.
c) Akil Baddoo as the RBI leader. 
d) A fan base that includes Alice Cooper and Kid Rock.

Tomorrow, the Houston Astros come to Gotham. They are currently two games above .500, drafting the Mariners and A's in their traditional sinkhole, the AL West.  They are hot - sort of - having won seven of 10. Their rotation will be aligned: Zack Greinke throwing game one. 

It's still early in 2021 - too early for primal screams or panic trades. May is the  time for tweaks - not of gonads, mind you - but tiny adjustments, such as making Kyle Higashioka the starting catcher. Yesterday, we watched Cory Kluber - after making some adjustments - seemingly recapture his lost glory years, though it happened against the Tigers, currently the worst team in baseball. 

Tomorrow, the Astros. 

The most malevolent franchise in American sports.

A team that won the world series by cheating.

An organization that abused the basic laws of sportsmanship and then - when confronted about it - lied. 

A roster that has yet to face reckoning for its deeds.

Last year, you never played them. Not one boo was heard. Not one pitch was thrown. 

Some fans want pitches thrown at various Astros, such as Jose Altuve. I disagree. One beanball begets another, and somebody can get hurt. Secondarily, beanballs are for teams or pitchers swirling the drain. It puts runners on base. It can upend the rhythm of a game. We do not need a beanball war.

Instead, I'm thinking all-out, bench-clearing, bullpen-charging brawl! Spiked bats, lead pipes and tasers. Can we resurrect Shelley Duncan, forever remembered as the Yankee who stood up for Francisco Cervelli, after the Rays' cheap-shot? Let's sign a couple MMA fighters for the bullpen. And let's get Rougned Odor in there, so he can pretend Jose Bautista is playing.  

One other thing: 

It's time to beat a good team. It's time to beat a rival. 

It's time to learn if this is a Yankee year, or one for primal screams and panic.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Look who is at the bottom of the AL East


When it comes to old-fashioned, flame-roasted, Putin-grade, bull-goose hatred of the Yankees, nobody - I mean nobody - beats the Tampa Devil Rays. 

I know, I know... Redsock fans think their hatred of us throbs like Ben Affleck's heart at a J-Lo show, but ever since the Curse of the Bambino turned into A-Rod's forgotten past,  Boston fans don't crackle with the usual, self-righteous bile. They have more rings than we do, and deep down inside, they know that they have become us. Meanwhile, the Rays fan remains a treacherous and malignant cave dweller - a mix of Gollum and Florida Man, who hates the Yankees because: 

1. We our hold our spring training in their back yard.

2. We broadcast our games into their media space.

3. They must play games in a giant ping pong ball.

4. For most of the summer, it's just too hot to watch baseball. 

The Rays have still never won a world series, Evan Longoria is in his fifth year with the San Francisco Giants, their city's most famous sports icon plays quarterback and - for reasons that probably extend back to Ponce de Leon - their fans blame the Yankees. 

Well, okay... so be it. If hating the Yankees gives you definition, have at it. But when your personally selected rival falls into a funk, as the Yankees did in the month of April, what happens? This was a perfect time for Tampa to put space between themselves and the Yankees, to take command of the AL East. And they've blown it. 

Today, let's simply note that Tampa, which took four out of five from the Yankees, cannot seem to beat anybody else. They're 0-3 against Boston, 1-2 against Toronto. If you delete the Yankee games, Tampa would be 8-14, leading only the Twins and Tigers. 

Imagine how frustrating it must be: sweep the Yanks, then lose three out of four to Texas. 

Today, the Yankees face baseball's worst team. Beat Detroit, and we reach .500, with the days growing longer, the virus diminishing and the weather improving. But down in the Sunshine State, the Rays can't seem to climb out of their sinkhole. It's just getting hotter, with those African pythons slithering around, the local Hooters running out of chicken wings, and hurricane season just around the bend.

This isn't to crow over their misfortune. The Rays have yet to play Baltimore or Detroit, dominoes to be pushed over. They will get hot. They remain the team to beat. But while we lament the troublesome month of April, take a look at who is below us in the standings. This was the Rays' big chance. Thus far, they've botched it.  

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Yanks clobber and torture the worst team in baseball, conjuring cries for the "T-word."

I don't like invoking the T-word. It's dehumanizing, it's anti-sportsmanship and - frankly - it's wrong. It overlooks the chance of happenstance, that in a random contest or athletic event, any team can defeat another team... even if one group warrants usage of the T-word. 

No, you won't catch me slapping the T-word on anyone, willy-nilly, or without painstaking deliberation. I am a T-word denier. Deal with it, T-worders. I refrain out of love - for people, for institutions, for righteousness and for liberty. When times are hard, when the chips are down, when the rubber meets the road and the mayonnaise is on the windshield, well, that's when I prefer to be a bridge over troubled water. I will lay me down. 

When possible, I avoid the T-word.

That said, we at this blog are truth-tellers, fundamental conduits of reality, and we cannot shirk our love for terminology. Words are the fabric of our chrysalis, metaphorically, and it doesn't matter if the Yankees win or lose. We still rely on words, rather than grunts and gestures.

Therefore, this is a time for the T-word. It arose last night in our 10-0 victory over Detroit, and hopefully will continue today and tomorrow afternoons.

Tomato can. 

We are playing a tomato can.

(Note: Some claim the T-word is actually two words; these people - who may include Strunk and White - are generally Redsock fans.) 

Today, the Tigers stand at 8-and-19, with baseball's worst record, a whopping 10 games down in the loss column at the bottom of baseball's weakest division. 

Their leading RBI man - outfielder Akil Baddoo - was a Rule 5 pick in December. He's hitting .222, with an on base percentage of .242. That's no misprint. This season, the Baddoobadook has two walks. 

Friends, this is a can of Del Monte, Hunts, Cento's, Topps, Price Choppers, ACME... peeled, crushed, fire-roasted, name your style. This a can of tomatoes.

As the month of May commences, the Yankees are 12-14, four losses behind Boston. By Sunday evening,  we need to be at .500, in advance of the visiting Houston Astros, when for the first time this season, the booing will not be for underperforming Yankees.

Anything less than a sweep, today and tomorrow, and we will qualify for the T-word. Ask not for whom the T-word applies, for it may just be thee. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Tigers Game Thread... they're GRRRRRRRRRRRRReat!


The IIHIIFIIC Alternate Universe Yankees Challenge

We’re all pissed. Clearly we need a new GM and manager.

So here's the challenge... Our collective is now the GM. We can fire Boone. OK, let’s be honest… we WILL fire Boone. But replace with who? The person has to be available. And, if possible I’d like to know why the new guy?

Do we try to do all the fixes at once? Tank and set us up for free agency next year? Understand that Hal is still the owner. So, think one free agent next year not five. Try to stay under the luxury tax this year as well but a great trade could be approved.

I just realized that I’m setting my self up to be Hal for this exercise. Don’t mean to. We can be "Collective Hal" too. 

Let’s really try and fix the team.  

The only caveat is, our suggestions have to be realistic. So, no trading Station and 100% of his salary to Kansas City for their ace because, that’s not happening because 1) He has a "no trade" and won’t go to KC. 2) They’re not taking the salary 3) No one trades an ace.

The whole organization is ours. You want to trade The Martian. Go ahead. Sanchez for a bag of balls? If it means that much to you. Do it.  

I’m interested in seeing what our solutions are. I also secretly hope that our readership includes someone in the front office.

If possible, maybe one of us with a good baseball program can make the trades and run a season sim and let us know how we did. 

Let’s see what we’ve got.

PROGRAMMING NOTE:  This is my last post for a while (or not). I’m heading out on Sunday to drive cross country to see my Mom. I’m fully vaccinated, got new tires, and a case of wanderlust. I plan on hitting a few ball parks along the way. Denver, KC, and Pittsburgh.  

I will be in NYC sometime towards the end of May if anyone wants to hang out. I’m up for an early June trip to the Stadium (unless we are boycotting). I’d do the Duchess County team as well.   

That said, I’ll probably keep commenting and if anything of note comes up I’ll write it.  

As to the challenge... I'll try to announce our roster before I leave unless the conversation is going strong. If that's the case I'll post from the road sometime next week. 


Question to the Yankiverse

 Why, why, WHY... didn't Aaron Boone in the tenth yesterday load the bases with walks to create a force at home with two RH batters facing Jonathan Loaisiga?

The Yankees plan for moving runners: Hit a homer

The incredibly miserable 2021 Yankees have now played four extra inning games, losing three.  In their lone victory over Tampa, Rays pitcher Colin McHugh dissolved into goo after our pinch-hitter, Mike Tauchman, laid down a sacrifice bunt. Tauchy was the Yankees best bunter - actually, their only bunter - before they traded him this week for a pitcher named Wandy Peralta. I wonder if he can bunt?  

With Tauchman gone, the Yankees have reverted to their main strategy for scoring under the new extra innings rule. It's the same strategy as always: Hit a home run. 

That's right. Imagine you're in a Calgon Bath Oil Beads commercial and.... SWING AWAY! The Yankees don't bother with "situational hitting." They value their freedom and liberty. Swing away!  When they start the 10th inning with a free runner on second, it's a chance for a 2-run homer, instead of the usual solo shot.

Solo shots. These days, that's the Yankees.  They hit seven homers against Baltimore this week. Six were solo shots. In fact, the Yankees have no more chance of scoring with a man on second than by starting with a clean slate. What matters is whether the opposing pitcher will toss a meatball, which a Yankee can bash over the fence. If so, the Yankees will score. It's actually quite simple.

Yesterday, in the 10th, the Yankees called upon Tyler Wade to bunt their free runner to third. He failed, horribly, in fact, so astonishingly ineptly that it begs a question: 

Could it really be that a career 26th man, a utility IF-OF, whose game is based on speed, hustle and the ability to play multiple positions, has never learned to bunt? 

Of course, it is possible. This is the Yankees! Why would anyone expect the fundamentals to be a thing? 

Last night, "Tyler Wade" was trending nationally on Twitter. I felt bad for the guy. I haven't seen such brutal comments since the Houston cheating scandal. The Yankiverse is angry. Still, I blame Aaron Boone for bringing in Aroldis Chapman too early. At least for now, when El Chapo looks unhittable, he should pitch the 10th, with a runner on second. 

The reason? Well, it's not fair. Other teams can bunt. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

"Tyler Wade" is trending on Twitter, and it's not pretty

 Normally, I would cut and paste some of the worst comments.

These are too harsh, even for me.


The Judge Situation

Reading El Duque this AM got me to thinking about what I am now calling, “The Judge Situation”. (Good title for a dramedy BTW.)

I think we’re looking at the wrong thing. It doesn’t matter to me what his injuries are or what their extent is. The real question is WHY? Why is this guy always hurt?  

In the past I blamed it on his girlfriend’s aggressive love making style but I think she’s in jail now so that can’t be it.   

Here are some possible explanations…

1) Aaron Judge Is Actually Over 60 Years Old

DickAllen asked, "Minor multiple things. WTF does that mean?”

I think he knows. I think we all know. Today it's my knees. Yesterday I was getting something off the top shelf and extended too far. A couple of days ago I slept poorly. Heartburn. Eczema. Seborrhea. Psoriasis. Did I mention my knees? Also, I think a LEGO I stepped on several years ago created some kind of heel damage… 

In other words, multiple minor things.  

2) The Cycle of Doom

Judge never fully recovered from his appearance at the first Home Run Derby. Too many hard swings. So he builds up, does his yoga, light weights, whatever. Then his mind says, “swing hard” and his body says, “OK… but you’re going to pay.” 

On the field it looks like this...

Phase One:  Lots of OK swings. Maybe a single or even a double.

Phase Two: Encouraged, he swings a little harder making better contact ending for the most part in deep fly outs.

Phase Three: He takes his “real” swing. Home Run.  

Phase Four: Injured.

Or it's entirely possible... 

3) She’s Out On Bail



Thursday matinee game thread

 (It's Jordan Montgomery v. Jorge Neverherdofim.) 

A laugher victory brings a few laughs... and concern over Aaron Judge

Last night, the Death Barge won its third Grade A, stock-issued, certified laugher of 2021 - all three over the hoary hosts of Baltimore. 

The other two came in our 4th and 5th games of the season - behind J. Montgomery (7-0) and G. Cole (7-2). The Yankees blitzed the O's, but managed to piss them off enough to win the final game of the series. This afternoon - with luck and J. Tallion - we can take this series 3-1 and skip town ahead of blowback. 

Hey, a laugher is a laugher. Last night, everybody chuckled. Clint Frazier made a stupid baserunning error, but could laugh about it, having homered for the first time this season. Kyle Higashioka went 0-4 with two strikeouts, but could laugh, because he's the starting catcher. (Higgy is tied for 8th among MLB catchers with 4 HRs, despite having played in only 12 games.) Aaron Hicks went 0-3, lowering his average to .147, second worst in the majors among CFs - (his once-vaunted On Base Percentage at .225) - but he could laugh, I suppose, because - well - it's called a laugher.

Unfunny, though, is the continuing bewilderment over how the Yankees handle questions about Aaron Judge. He sat out last night's game with "lower body soreness," whatever that means. He's listed "day to day," whatever that entails. Later, to clarify matters, Aaron Boone said.

“Because I think there’s multiple minor things that pop up that I don’t think it’s really necessary at times to go into — there’s times when it is absolutely clearly is specific - there are other times when it’s a little bit gray. It’s a little bit of wear and tear and that’s what I leave it at.”

Aaron Stengel. 

In a normal time, with a normal player, against a normal tomato can, this would be no issue of consequence. Judge has played 21 games this season, a serviceable number, more than Mookie Betts, Michael Comforto, Adam Eaton and many other starting RFs. If the Yankees are resting him, fine. They've made a decision to rest Giancarlo Stanton - a fulltime DH at age 31 - for the next eight years. Without a DH spot, when Judge needs a rest, the bench beckons.

Here is where, in my opinion, the Yankees' continuing refusal to disclose or discuss injuries undermines the franchise. By playing mum, they leave the fans and the festering media to their imaginations, and here goes mine: At any time, a news release will announce that Judge shall miss the next [fill in the number] months due to a tweaked [fill in the body part], which has been hampering him. They didn't tell us he was playing in pain - subjecting him to criticism if he failed - and then he's gone. That's my dirty old imagination. And here's the scariest part: What are the odds that it won't prove to be right?  

I realize that the job of the Yankee front office is to win, not appease segments of the media. If the Yankees win, we fans will fall into line. Happily! I would add. (Seriously, Yankees, just win and you'll find the dark and dismal opinions on this fan site change dramatically.) I believe that, by being vague about injuries, they are seeking to protect their players from criticism; in this case, Judge's health record poses an existential threat to his popularity in Gotham. But saying nothing might work in a small market. In NYC, it just fuels more fear. 

And I can't help but wonder if that's not what they really want: More attention, more controversy, more media narrative. Never forget: Ink is ink, and the Yankees - for the first time since we began taking count - are not leading in the tabloids back pages race. Right now, the Mets are New York's top team.

I don't expect an itemized printout of Judge's aches and pains. I'd just like to see the Yankees more open to discussing such matters. As it is, when it comes to injuries, whatever the Yankees say, there's no reason to trust it. So whadda we think about Aaron Judge? Damned if I know.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Night of a hundred O's game thread...


Remembering Hal Steinbrenner on Broadway

HoraceClarke66: A Miller's Tale

 By HoraceClarke66...

Even though he was a lawyer, Yankees manager Miller Huggins was not always the sharpest tack on the bulletin board. In 1929, for instance, he became obsessed with the health benefits of tanning, and general exposure to the sun, or sun lamps.

Within a few weeks, Huggins had a mysterious black mole on his face. Within a few months, sadly, he was dead.


But whatever Huggins lacked in medical understanding, he made up for in baseball smarts. It didn’t take until August of 1925—the first year that Lou Gehrig had more than a cup of coffee with the team—for Hug to put Babe Ruth and Gehrig back-to-back in the Yankees’ lineup.


Didn’t matter how good a hitter Yankees outfielder Long Bob Meusel was—and he was a very, very good hitter. Didn’t matter that Long Bob was a righty, and that Ruth and Gehrig were lefties.


Miller Huggins, though shamefully deprived of algorithmic printouts, figured out that two of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen should be hitting back-to-back, belly-to-belly.


For your New York Yankees of the 21st century, it seems to have taken Aaron Boone and his boss three years to figure out that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton belong back-to-back in the lineup. Granted, this has often been impossible due to the fragile nature of both sluggers, who more often resemble Steve Kemp and Nick Johnson than Ruth and Gehrig. But still.


Last night, the YES men informed us that the Yanks are 9-0 in games in which both Judge and Stanton homered. This is, I realize, an awfully small sample size. But it’s hard to argue that we shouldn’t continue the experiment.


And speaking of sample sizes, we have a very large one in the case of Gary Sanchez. The YES men also informed us last night—at the behest of Brain? Who knows?—that Sancho is batting just .199 over the last four years, the lowest average by any player with at least 1,000 at-bats in that time. Even in this batting average-scorning age, that just won’t do.


I agree with our Peerless Leader that it’s time for a moratorium on the Sanchez piñata. And as I’ve written many times already, when Sanchez first came up—and right through the 2017 playoffs—I thought he looked like a young Johnny Bench. Great arm, great power, and even a prodigious ability to frame pitches. 


What happened? Maybe Sancho is the most stubborn or thickheaded player who ever lived—but I suspect the fault lies more with a coaching and training staff for whom he is not an outlier but par for the course. Something needs to be done about that.


In the meantime, I wish him well wherever he’ll be traded. Maybe the Brain will even insist on getting a player in return.

Comment of the Day (thus far)

 From Doug K...

Apologies in advance but your comment moratorium on Gary Sanchez left me more flat footed than Stanton rounding third.

What am I supposed to do with these?

What’s the safest place at Gary Sanchez’s birthday party?
Inside the piñata.

Knock Knock
Who’s There?
Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez who?

And last…

The night before the 2020 ALCS Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit walk into a bar. The bartender asks them, “What’ll you have?” Gleyber says, “Give me two shots of Cuervo Gold” and Luke Voit says, “An ice cold beer” and Gary Sanchez says, “Surprise me.” and the bartender says, “OK. You’re benched.”

I'm good now. I promise.

Doug K.

Can Corey Kluber's core keep kloobing? And can Higgy have a heavier holler?

Last night brought something totally unexpected: 

The Yank bullpen didn't get roused before the old Daily News 5th.

Imagine that? A starter, not named Gerrit, lasting into the 7th. The stuff of wizards and wild cards, of peyote dreams and Lotto commercials. Could Andrew Yang be mayor? Could Caitlin Jenner run California? Can the Death Barge find a No. 2?

Alas, it came against Baltimore - home to the musical team of Mountcastle and Mancini. Let's not count the teeth on this stallion. Still, for the first time in 2021, Corey Kluber transmitted a thin beam of hope through the Stygian black pandemic skies. The Yankees' most expensive free agent from last winter lasted into the seventh, the 7th!, where Jonathan Loasiga could take over.

Dare we believe the rotation has a No. 2?

Here are Kluber's 2021 game logs, last night at the top.

As you see, it hasn't been pretty. Still, last night was by far his best of 2021. The  Yanks took an early lead, steadily widened it, and  Kluber squashed the O's like a carny fat lady sitting on a heckler.

Tonight, it's Domingo German, whose last outing went six innings and gave up 2 earned runs. Thursday, it's "The River" Jordan Montgomery, who - well - has been Kluber in reverse. He started April like Whitey Ford. He's finishing like Whitey Bulger.

June and July are light years away. We could all be dead. But after basically missing two years, it's fair to think Kluber would need a month to regain command. He's like a stroke patient, relearning how to talk. He may never dominate, as he once did for Cleveland. But if he becomes a No. 2, that is a tumbler clicking into place. We'll still be three cards shy of a full house, but we won't go four days a week cringing at the cosmos. 

Secondary note: Kyle Higashioka is soooooo the starting Yankee catcher that it's no longer funny or pleasurable to badmouth on Gary Sanchez. I am hereby calling for an IT IS HIGH moratorium on ripping Gary unnecessarily  - (note the qualifier.) 

Traditionally, the Yankees go through a phased mating dance with diminishing sluggers, before they finally invoke the Scranton option. If the slugger accidentally leans into one - blasts it 500 feet - raising his average to .120, the YES announcers zestfully rejoice, proclaiming that this was just the hit he needed to snap out of the funk. Thus, he gets to go another 0-30. 

Gary Sanchez is deep into that sad cycle, so well into the drain that it will even be hard for Aaron Boone to claim rebirth and resurrection. He is now the backup catcher, and a hitter who needs to seriously rethink his game before it's too late. It's no longer worth treating him like the IT IS HIGH pinata. Frankly, we should worry. 

Meanwhile, John Sterling needs to upgrade the Higgy call, which is "Higashioka... the home run stroke-ah!" Many Yankees have a prefix and suffix HR holler - (Example: It's a Tex message... Oh, you're on the Mark, Texieira!") Did I  miss something? Has The Master created a suffix for Kyle? If not, I would like to submit one.

Higgy... comes up biggy!

That's all I got.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021



Babe Ruth is trending on Twitter, and we should be proud

 A true American hero.

The Maginot Line

 I jotted down these random rants after the game ended ( okay, a few during the fucking game ):

1.  The yankees cannot win if they give up two runs.  That is our Maginot Line.  And, I might note, just as effective as the real one.

2.  I am sick of hearing about Dievi Garcia as " the Yankees best pitching prospect."  If he is, we are so screwed.  Every time he pitches he gives up a quick homer, and then a few more runs. He was lucky it was the lead-off guy, or it would have been a 2, 3 run deficit immediately...just as in the playoffs, need I remind anyone.  

The " little Pedro" only lives up to the first part of that nickname.  Get used to it. 

3.  Did Mike King die?  He pitched the best 6 innings of any Yankee ( in relief ); then pitched another three shut out innings ( struggle, but still no runs ); then disappeared.  Who loaded him onto a fast bound freight to Mexico?

4.  How do we evaluate our Marcus Thames now?  Why isn't the " hitting " coach taking a fall?  He only gets credit when the hitters look good? No accountability for failure?  Thats the Yankee way.

5.  Kay and Cone made a big deal ( mostly Kay ) about how the Yankees had won 18 straight games at Camden...until the end of Covid season, when we lost three straight there.  Now it is four straight and counting....

6.  "Watching the Yankees is boring."  This came out of Cone more than once.  I found myself nodding in agreement, as I had been switching to 'Life Below Zero" re-runs as soon as the first Yankee swung and missed, each inning.

7.  Duque is right.  How can Frazier hit when he is balancing on one foot, looking backwards, and flipping his bat like a metronome?  Simple answer;  he can't. 

In the words of Bowie (David, not Kuhn), where are we now?

 Or more to the point, when? 

Comment of the day (thus far)


What do, the late Jay Bruce, Aaron Hicks, Mike Ford, Clint Frazier and "Roughy" Odor all have in common?

They all have batting averages below Whitey Ford's. You can look it up!!  Sanchez and Stanton still have a chance cuz they are hovering around the .173 mark needed.

That IS NOT the way to honor him this season.

For the Yanks this year, we should change it from the "Mendoza Line" to the "Whitey Line."

Bad teams find a way to lose, as proven once again by the 2021 Yankees

I feel like Dr. Rick, the guy in the TV ads who schools young people on how not to become their parents. Last night, when Aaron Judge was out at third, it was like when the kid passes with blue hair, and Dr. Rick says, "We all see it. We alllll see it."

So, let me blurt it out:

The Yankees are a bad team. 

We all see it. We allllll see it. 

We are weak at the following positions:

1. Catcher. I appreciate that Gary Sanchez is running out grounders, but has anybody detected an adjustment in his swing? It still starts in the Roman Empire and concludes around 2525, if man is still alive... He's hitting .182 with 15 strikeouts in 55 at bats. As for Higgy? He's a far better backup than starter.

2. Second base. The Irishman, Roogie O'Doar, has homered a few times lately, but I cannot shake the fatalism of a guy recently cut by one of baseball's worst teams, all to avoid giving an opportunity to Tyler Wade. Odor - hitting .159 - has a well defined ceiling: Last year, he batted .167 with a strikeout in every third plate appearance. Even if he gets hot - which, by the way, he hasn't - we all know his numbers will inevitably shrink. Especially galling is to see him batting fourth - dear God - due to the lack of LH hitters.

3. Centerfield. Aaron Hicks is beginning to look like one of the worst contracts on a roster full of them. He's ours, at about $10 million per season, until 2026. Today, if you look at the comparisons of Hicks' career to those of similar batters, Roger Repoz pops up. Roger Repoz. I swear I'm not making this up: Fifty five years after he last patrolled the Yankee outfield, Roger Repoz has returned to the Yankees, and his name is Aaron Hicks. 

4. Clint Frazier is starting to look like a guy with endless talent and a ridiculous swing. I watch him twirling the bat above his head, pretzeled into the batters' box, and I wonder how he's made it this far. I don't claim to know the mechanics of hitting, but there are many gurus out there, and I wonder what they think of Frazier? Maybe he'll pull out of this. But unless he starts hitting soon, he'll be back in Scranton, and I  wonder if he'll ever escape?

5. First base. Mike Ford? The over-shift's best friend. Soon, this will change. But if Luke Voit starts slowly, shaking off rust, we could be floundering into June. 

6. The rotation, numbers 3-5. I'm tempted to say everyone but Gerrit Cole, but one of the Floor Four manages to pitch into the fifth - the new Yankee bar of success! Imagine that: Anybody who lasts into the fifth is greeted like a hero.

7. The middle innings bullpen. I almost ignored this, because what team in baseball doesn't have firebombers in the fifth and sixth innings. Trouble is, our bullpen is starting to crack. It cannot continue at the current pace. 

These are not small problems. These are fault lines. And for now, the Yankees have no remedy but to keep playing the same lousy cards. Last night, we lost to Baltimore, the team we've tortured for a decade. People... this is bad.

We all see it. We allllll see it...

Monday, April 26, 2021

Lord Baltimore game thread

 With appreciation to Red Thunder

"The worst is yet come my friends…”

Hey, nothing like an April weekend in Cleveland to brighten one’s prospects, right? Three-out-of-four, and even if the last one was yet another of the severely mangy dogs your New York Yankees seem to specialize in this year, there were tiny green sprouts of hope, no?


The team winning percentage vaulted from .333 to .429! The Gleyber showed signs of life—which is to say that he raised his average from .186 to .213 and drove in a second run! (Still no homers, but what the hell do you want from a guy?)


Mike Ford came back up and homered, already matching Jay “Shoot me now” Bruce’s total for the month! Clint Frazier (.146, still no homers, 1 RBI) made a very nice catch!


Oh, all right. Perkiness only goes so far, even with a four-game set in Baltimore about to start. 


Fact is, these Yankees remain on a historic pace—for impotence. Currently, the team is hitting all of .206.


That puts it 8 points below the record-setting, 1968 Yanks’ batting average of .214. I don’t mean just record-setting for the Yankees: That was and is the lowest average by a major-league team since the start of the 20th century. 


But in 1968, we’re talking a year when there was no DH, pitchers threw from the top of foothills, shortstops were the size of jockeys, the only juice was at Southern Cal, and the only weight rooms were at your doctor’s office (Get it?). 


That ’68 team, in fact, finished in the first division with a winning record, thank to a pitching staff with a 2.79 ERA, a defense that ranked third in the league, and an offense that attempted to find in motion what it lacked in power (They stole 90 bases—and got caught 50 times.).


Our 2021 Yankees? 


What stands out most is how consistently bad the hitting has been. They have yet to score more than 8 runs in a game, and have run up double digits in hits only 4 times, and only once in their last 15 games. 


Steal a base? Why the Yankees of today have absorbed all the vital, algorithmic data about the futility of such larceny and run only when they know they can make it—they are stealing 1.000 percent! 


Of course, that means they have swiped only 4 bags on the entire season. For that matter, the 1968 team foolishly wasted 56 outs on sacrifice bunts (29 by their pitchers), and 30 on sacrifice flies. The 2021 team has, sagely, just 2 sacrifice bunts and not a single sac fly.


Hey, why waste an out moving runners along when you can always fan the breeze?


But don’t worry. This year’s Yankees have already walloped 26 homers—good for third in the league! And when it comes to the stats that really count, we know that the 2021 team is far ahead, with a line that reads .206/.302/.353/.655, to just .214/.292/.318/.609 for the 1968 Bombers.


Or is it so far ahead? Take away those hitting pitchers, and the 1968 team’s line is .224/.303/.333/.636. If they’d been able to slot in a DH, they’d likely be ahead of the 2021 Yanks in slugging percentage, too.


So far, our current Pinstripers have survived because of a pitching staff that is now second in the AL, thanks mostly to Gerrit Cole and a lights-out bullpen. The latter is almost certainly not going to continue.


Time to go to the “tag-team starters” some here have been suggesting, two starters throwing 4 innings each in the same game—but even that likely won’t be enough. Yes, the hitting will improve as the weather warms, but it won’t be that good, and at this rate the pen will be fizzling like so many roadside fireworks by the Fourth of July.


Take it from Tony: The worst is yet to come and babe, it won’t be fine…