Monday, October 25, 2021

It's time for Food Stamps Hal to tell us what he intends to do in 2022.

Last week, the comedy team of Boonie & Cash took to the YES airwaves to perform some of their greatest routines: 

They are not satisfied with the 2021 away-team AL wild card berth! (Laughter.) They want the Yankees to improve in 2022! (Laughter.) They're thinking about next year! (Laughter, applause.)  

Mother's milk for our ears.  

Sadly, it doesn't matter what Boonie & Cash say. Especially Boonie, who plays the Marty Allen "HELLO DARE!" roll. My guess is that Boonie is so grateful for keeping his job, that his pacemaker flutters and the punch lines fly out like candy from a pinata.  

As for Cashman, he spanks that silence. He's Penn - not Teller. By golly, he's gonna address those weaknesses, he's gonna shore up the offense and defense, and boy o boy, and I would NOT wanna be in the AL East next year, no siree, not with the changes in store for Yankee baseball! Right, Boonie? HELLO DARE! (Laughter, applause.)

So, Boonie & Cash have done their 15-minutes. Right now, they're on vacay - somewhere between The White Lotus and cruise ship Hokey Pokey. Don't expect to hear from them for the next week. The last thing they'll do is watch Houston play Atlanta. There must be a class in basket weaving with a few openings.

Which leads us to the one Yankee voice we have yet to experience: 

Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner. 

In every respect, his is the only voice that matters. 

In recent days, news outlets and blogs have coagulated with suggestions for what the Yankees should do this winter. It's a parlor game. Unfortunately, none of these carry a whit of reality, because Hal has not yet spoken.

Will he increase the Yankee payroll, so Cash can chase free agents? Or will Hal hold the line at $200 million, emphasizing the need to escape luxury taxes?

And then there is the possibility of a lockout or strike. 

Cash recently told CBS: 

“I have yet to have the conversation yet with what potentials, acknowledging that we have budget commitments already in play and depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement works out over the course of time, hopefully sooner than later.”

Hilarious, right?

You can't predict baseball, Suzyn. At least not until Hal okays the money. 

Of course, Cash will try a few things. He will try to trade Gary Sanchez, who became our Sam Darnold before Sam Darnold became Sam Darnold. He'll try to get something for Clint Frazier and/or Miguel Andujar - well beyond their sell-by dates. He'll try to figure out a plan for Joey Gallo, because - dear God - the thought of watching Gallo for an entire year makes me yearn to write about Pro Cornhole. 

This hurts to say, but what else is there? Everything hinges on Hal. At some point - maybe it's already happened, and they've instituted a gag order - Hal will summon Cash into his office and point to a number on a chalkboard. That figure - the Yankee payroll - will dictate what the Death Barge will do in 2022. 

There is a wistfulness among us that the Yankees would follow the lead of Tampa - or even Boston - who have eaten our lunches in this millennium. In every conversation, we are sooooo tired of watching overhyped underachievers proudly finish second, and then, going through a winter of speculation that links the team - fruitlessly - to every free agent on the market. I get more uplifted watching Squid Game.

The Yankees are on a treadmill, and Boonie & Cash can barely keep up. The only question is how much Hal will spend, and he hasn't yet spoken. Until then... blah blah blah. (Laughter.) Blah blah. (Laughter, applause.) Goodnight everybody! (Applause, shouts, applause.)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fox gets its Halloween nightmare match-up

Houston v. Atlanta. 

A team known for cheating vs a team known for the Tomahawk Chop.

Professional Cornhole, anyone?

The Knicks are going to rule the back-pages.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Boston's out. Hooray... because there's no historical proof that a Redsock championship would have embarrassed the Yankees into an off-season splurge

So... after all the pain, all the frustration, all the deadening Ks and GIDPs... it's Houston vs. Somebody.  I'll root for somebody, anybody. But before we dispense with the 2021 ALCS - the American League Cheater Series (which had a cameo appearance via a mystery CF light) - one final rant on the potential impact that Boston's success has on Food Stamps Hal and his Death Barge.

It doesn't exist.  

There is a slightly bonkers theory out there that a Redsock championship embarrasses the Yankee owner - who, at 51, will live forever -  into opening his precious fanny pack and spending Whatever It Fucking Takes to bring the universe back into kilter. 

Sadly, there is no historical record of Hal Steinbrenner ginning up the Yankee spending machine following a Redsock world series ring. (His late brother, Hank, on the other hand, seemed to take Boston championships personally. R.I.P. Hank: In the end, we needed you.) 

Here is the fossil record. The Redsocks won rings in: 

2004. Boston broke the Curse and humiliated the Yankees so profoundly that the rivalry has never been the same. Old George, thoroughly embarrassed, signed Carl Pavano (then a positive), Jaret Wright and trading for Randy Johnson. The Yankees won the 2005 AL East but fell in the playoffs to the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles California. 

2007: George's health was failing, and it didn't help that A-Rod pulled out of his contract during the world series. Hank told him to go to hell - perhaps the greatest single moment of Yankee pride in this millennium. A-Rod glubbed an apology, and the Yankees stupidly gave him a long-term deal. They resigned their players and, as far as I'm concerned, their premier free agent signing was Billy Crystal. The 2008 Yankees missed the playoffs.

2013. The following winter, Hal was in control. He let Joggy Cano walk to Seattle and signed Jacoby Ellsbury - arguably the owner's two most disastrous moves of this millennium. (There's also Yoan Moncada.) Hal signed Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Didn't matter. They finished second in the AL East and missed the playoffs for their second straight year.

2018. Super Hal's response: We signed J.A. Happ, Troy Tulowitski, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and DJ LeMahieu, and chained ourselves to Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks for eternity. 2019 was going to be our year, until the cheating Astros' Jose Altuve homered against El Chapo. 

Listen: I'm not saying Hal doesn't want to win. Of course, he does. But there is no sign that a Boston championship triggers any special urgency from the top. You know who feels the real embarrassment? Yankee fans. Ownership just banks the cash and moves on. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

A Few Superlatives for Perusal :


Despite the listing of team mediocrities and failures posted by El Duque ( generating boredom ), the Yankees did have some notable achievements......

1.  Stanton had " top exit velocity on a single."

2.  The team led the majors in runners thrown out at home ( 22 or 23).

3.  The team led majors in runners thrown out on the basepaths ( ties into #2, above ).

4.  The team led league in fewest assists from the outfield. 

5.  The team led majors in games with multiple errors.

6.  The team led the league in total golden and platinum sombreros. 

7.  A Yankee had the "worst game pitched " in majors ( S. Heaney).

8.  A Yankee pitcher had" league best closer meltdown" ( see El Chappy; sweaty hat and three HRs).


How boring and tedious were the 2021 Yankees? The numbers paint a dreary picture

It's Friday, a day to contemplate what the 2021 Yankees didn't do (along with winning a post-season game.) 

Here's a short list of our team's personal unachievements:

Nobody hit .300. Among qualifying hitters, team leader Aaron Judge batted .287, ranking 25th in MLB. (Trea Turner led with .328.) Of all Yankees, including cups of coffee, Estevan Florial hiccupped 6-for-20, batting exactly .300. So, there's that.

Nobody drove in 100 runs. Judge had 98 RBIs - ranking 25th in MLB. Giancarlo Stanton had 97. (MLB leader was Salvador Perez with 121. Can we even imagine such output?) 

Nobody stole 20 bases. Our ballyhooed speed demon, Tyler Wade, stole 17 - tied for 23rd overall. (Sterling Marte had 47.) As a team, the Yankees finished 19th out of 30.

Nobody hit 40 HRs. Judge had 39, ranking 6th in MLB. (Vladimir Guerrero and Salvador Perez both hit 48.) 

Nobody walked 100 times. Judge drew 75 BBs, ranking 19th. (Juan Soto walked 146 times, nearly twice that of our leader.)

Nobody scored 100 runs. Judge had 89, tied for 40th. Joey Gallo, adding totals from Texas and NY, tallied 90. Which shows how bad Gallo was in NY. (Vlad Guerrero scored 123 times.)

Nobody came remotely close to 200 hits. DJ LeMahieu had 158 - ranked 23rd in MLB. (The days of Ichiro are gone: nobody in MLB had 200 hits. Trea Turner had 195.)

Nobody threw 200 innings. Gerrit Cole threw 181, finishing 14th overall. (The Phillies Zack Wheeler did 213, one of four pitchers - all in the NL - with more than 200 IP.)

Nobody won 20 games. Cole had 16, tied for 3rd overall. (In MLB, only the Dodgers' Julio Urias won 20.) Our runner-up in wins was - gulp -Chad Green, with 10.

The closest we came to a meaningful leadership: Gerrit Cole finished with 243 strikeouts, just behind Robbie Ray, 248, and Zack Wheeler, 247.

As a team, the Yankees finished 23rd in batting, with an average of .237. 

They hit 222 HRs, 6th overall. 

They struck out 1,482 times, 6th overall.

They drew the most walks in baseball - 621. 

By my count, considering the infamous three true outcomes, the 2021 Yankees were the second most-boring team in baseball, just behind the Rays. 

Their walks/whiffs/homers totaled 2,325 - just behind Tampa, with 2,349. (The SF Giants had 2,304.)  

It wasn't just us. They really were a tiresome team to watch. If you consider that Tampa and San Francisco both won divisions - something to show for it - there is a solid statistical case to be made that the Yankees were the most tedious, deadening, wearisome and unrewarding sports team on the planet.  

Thursday, October 21, 2021

That wailing sound you hear...

It's the sound of Fox Sports executives pondering a World Series between Houston and Atlanta.

They Didn't Even Bother "Putting on an Act.."


 Many of us on this blog predicted exactly what happened.  Only we got some of the details wrong.

I, for one, thought there would be some "agonizing" over what to do about Boone.  And, perhaps, Cashman by implication. I thought Hal would put some crap in the press about how disappointed he was.   How we need to get this right, etc. Maybe even allow the media to float some ideas about capable replacements. 

But they didn't bother.  Not because they feared we would see through it anyway, but because it took too much away from Hal's golf game and dinners on the yacht. 

The primary justification for this easy choice seemed to be, " that Boone is respected in the clubhouse."

Let me point out that everyone loves a boss who holds you accountable for nothing, praises you when the lights go dim, and lavishes you with money.  My favorite teacher was always the one who let me get away with everything. 

So, it is true.  The players love Boone.  They can do nothing but fail, and he will say nice things about them.  Lead the league in golden sombreros, hitting into double plays and being thrown out on the base paths, and Boone will still talk of the championship elements in your exit velocity.

The Yankees, as a result, will continue pretty much the same.  There will be some "smokescreens" to make you hope differently ( e.g. they will buy a shortstop...think Jacoby Ellsbury in the infield ).  But we will continue to ignore the players we have drafted and developed.  

No rookies will shine for the Yankees.  There will be no " buzz" about anybody.  The big news will be the " sleek new body" of Aaron Hicks and the increased foot speed of Luke Voit.

The kids you want to see....that you have heard so much about....will be trade bait.  When we are pushing again for that wild-card play-in game, Volpe, Gil and everyone except Jessica Dominguez, will be sent away (Jessica remains untouchable as an illusion.  Once the excuses run out, he will fade into the darkness of Jackson Melion ). 

My wish is that the media, the fan blogs, everyone....simply ignore all Yankee news. None of it matters now. Just provide silence. Hear no evil and see no evil. 

In the end, no one at the top really cares.  And they are certain the money will flow in.  They don't believe for a second that the Yankee fan base may say "fuck you" to the mirage of this team.

We all got sucked in to the promise of 2021.

 Not this year.


If it's time for Hal to sign another free agent trifecta, who might they be?

Last time the Death Barge rated a parade, it required signing the three best free agents in captivity: CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixiera. 

It's time for Food Stamps Hal to unzip his fanny pack and re-establish the Yankees as the franchise his pa meant them to be. 

Look, I don't wanna hear all your crapola on why this can't/won't happen: We don't need no Joe Manchin Yank fans. Our team may be shattered, but our dreams still live.

Here's the list of prospective MLB free agents. It includes players with opt-out clauses and some who will surely stick with their current teams. Nevertheless, pick three, damn the money and explain why.  

My choices are circled...



As you see, my choices are:

Max Scherzer - yeah, he's old, but a year or two left. Reduced innings and sage presence.

Freddie Freeman - the 1B glove we need and lefty bat. Hits between Judge/Stanton, with 120 RBIs. 

Carlos Correa - a showboat but the best/youngest SS available.

We use everybody else - Urshela, LeMahieu, Sanchez, et al - to trade for a catcher and pitching. 

Runners up:

Kyle Schwarber - passable defense at 1B and LH bat.

Justin Verlander - see Scherzer, above. 

Buster Posey - the catcher we need for 80 games (but let's face it, the Giants won't let him go.

So... pick three, any three. Yeah, it won't happen. Hal loves his coins too much. Still, it's "BREAK GLASS IF EMERGENCY" time, and let's not let him ruin our fantasies. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

As abysmal a Mickmas as we have ever witnessed.


Yes, folks, almost forgot it, didn’t you? Today is Mickmas. The 90th anniversary of the birth of the Commerce Comet, Mickey Mantle, and traditionally one of the holiest days on the Yankee calendar.





 

Historically, like many Christian and pagan holidays, Mickmas comes at a time of year when things are their darkest—that is to say, at the end of the baseball season. They will only get better as we rise, slowly but surely, toward another season.

 

But not this year.

 

This year, the Cashman-Boone regime has been pasted fully into place for at least another three years, in Hal’s Green Book of Big League Foodstamps.

 

There is no hope in sight, nothing like the prophesied births of our holy Yankees trinity, The Babe, and Joltin’ Joe, and The Mick. Three great, transformative players, from three ends of the country—East Coast, West Coast, and dabsmack in the middle—passing on the mighty Yankee tradition almost hand-to-hand.

 

And followed by so many others. Reggie and Thurman and Gator and Goose. Jeter and The Great One and the Core of Four.  

 

On and on, world without end, amen.

 

Except it has ended.

 

Our chosen one now is supposed to be “The Martian,” Jasson Dominguez, a nickname better suited to how he looks in a batting helmet than any sign of “otherworldly” ability. 






More like the Martian in a Bugs Bunny cartoon than the kick-ass Martians of War of the Worlds.

 













Or even Matt Damon in The Martian.


 

As noted here, Dominguez batted all of .252 this year at the very lowest levels of the minors.

 

C’mon, I hear you say. The kid’s only 18.

 

That’s true. 

 

At 18, Babe Ruth was still in an orphanage. But at 19, he won 20 games in the highest minor league in the land and made the Red Sox’ roster, winning 2 more.


 

At 18, Joe Joe DiMaggio was batting .340 in the Triple-A-plus PCL, and setting a league record by hitting in 61 consecutive straight games. Not to mention playing a spectacular centerfield.

 


At 18, The Mick was hitting .383 in Class C Joplin. At 19, he was starting in the World Series.

 

Anyone project a similar ascent by The Martian? The talk now is that he should maybe become a 5-foot-10 first baseman, and the comparisons run more along the lines of Jackson Melian.





 

But hey, not to take the Yanks’ sad plight out on poor Jasson, who will at least have $5 million to console him when he returns to the Red Planet.  

 

Right now, the entire postseason is dominated by our most hated rivals and the teams we loathe the most. It’s the hated vs. the loathed.

 

Right now, we have absolutely nothing to look forward to for years to come, save more pronouncements by Brian Cashman about how all this team has to do is play up to its potential.

 

Right now, we are facing years—years!—of Aaron Boone allowing that there is room for improvement.

To quote our Nobel laureate, it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting’ there. 





And the living shall envy the dead...

 Houston 9, Boston 1



From RichieAllen: Reggie jumps ship.

From the tortured mind of our own RichieAllen:

Buried down in the lower left hand corner of the New York Times Sports section (such as it is) was an article that made my heart sink. The headline read: “Mr. October Traded His Pinstripes for an Astros Cap”

I rarely read the sports pages of this particular rag owing to their undeniable Boston bias (they seldom report on baseball and it's been decades since they deigned to publish a box score), so this hidden gem was of interest to me because: a) the Yankees aren't playing baseball, and b) when that happens I become desperate for any baseball news at all, and c) I am a pathetic old man who dreams of close plays at home.

There it was. The stark and disturbing news that one of our own had jumped ship and made a home for himself amidst a team that I will always hate for all the reasons we are all too familiar with. And now here he was proclaiming his allegiance to a team of cheaters, allied to a man who helped usher in the era of tanking. And worst of all, in a roundabout way, he had damning things to say about his former employer.

“Asked if it felt strange to be with them in October, and not with the Yankees, he paused.

It feels good,” he said. “It feels good. It’s the right person, the right guy for me to be with.”

Crane is not the blustery agitator George Steinbrenner was but Jackson said there were traces of the old Boss.

He’s very involved, very similar to George by being involved and making decisions to run the club, trying to make it better all the time,” Jackson said. “He’s got empathy and he’s got care.”

I am prone to reading between the lines everywhere in the world, because that is where true sentiment lies hidden, and in between these lines was a condemnation that Harold and The Intern, were NOT the right guy(s) to be with.

At the end of the article, it is noted that:

“Crane counts two other Hall of Famers, the former Astros Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, among his advisers, and said he was planning to expand their roles.

“We’re going to use them a little more on the drafting side before we draft guys, to get a better look from a player’s perspective...they can see what’s inside of guys sometimes or where he’s coming from, where it’s not all analytical.”

That's when my light bulb went off. Crane is surrounding himself with winners. Hall of Fame winners and he's using them along with any tool that can make his team better. Here in Yankeeland, who advises Harold? Who is The Intern surrounding himself with? The answer: nobody. Two guys making decisions in a vacuum. While the team playing for the World Series is surrounded by winners. When a guy like Reggie leaves the team whose cap he wore into the Hall, it is a telling and damning statement.

They weren't listening. And they never will. The man who cannot take advice or criticism is doomed to a life of mediocrity. Not failure. Mediocrity. Because if the man was a complete failure, he'd be gone. So he treads water, remaining forever stagnant in the same place he started out.

That is our real problem. Our beloved Yankees are run by people Mr. October turned his back on.

Chew on that for a while.

Fixing The Yankees Part Two: Put A Ring On It

The ill advised re-signing of Aaron Boone has showed us once and for all that nothing is going to change as long as the team remains in the hands of the House of Steinbrenner. And they aren't going to sell. (At least not in our lifetimes.) 

The best we can hope for is eventually Prince Hal "The Indifferent"  turns over the reins to another family member, and steps down. But who? 

Hank is dead.  And yes, there’s Jennifer and Jessica but the last time MLB had a female owner descended from Ohio/German stock it didn’t go well.  Besides, if Hal was going to turn the reins over to his sisters, he would have done so already.

Little Known Rumor:  George Steinbrenner’s father Henry Steinbrenner and Marge Schott were somewhat of an item back in 1938. They would sit by the banks of the Ohio River (and by banks, I mean The First National Bank of Cincinnati and the Third Federal Savings and Loan Association of Cleveland) and eat her home baked Bund cakes.

But I digress…

When it comes to saving the Yankees, the former shipbuilder’s children show no leadership or stewardship and cannot right this ship and provide a championship.  (Sorry, I wanted to see how many times I could work the word ship into a single sentence.)

Our barons of baseball are barren, so it is time to do what failing dynasties have done throughout history...  Attack a neighbor.  We should burn the City of Boston to the ground and then… no wait, that’s not what I’m trying to suggest... 

Oh yeah, it's this...

Let’s Marry A Steinbrenner Into Another Baseball Family

Since the business has to stay in the family, they need to expand the family.  It’s time to offer one of George’s grandchildren’s hand in marriage to the age-appropriate child of another team’s owner. 

Thomas Ricketts and his brother and sister are the owner of the Cubs I’ll bet they have kids. 

Speaking of Chicago, the Reindorf’s have kids. Plus, Jerry won championships and built sports dynasties (albeit with the Bulls).  There’s a good bloodline right there.

 Want new blood? Steve Cohn has two children.

How will marrying the child or grandchild of a team owner help?  Well, ideally the spouse will take over the team but even if they don't the Yankees will still benefit. 

How? Two words. Wedding Presents.  You know what would make a nice wedding present? Francisco Lindor and Noah Syndergaard.  

And then, after this infusion of new blood, new thinking, new stewardship, has restored the Yankees to their rightful place as the dominant team in baseball… We burn the City of  Boston to the ground!  


Boone sets sights on 2022 Wild Card Home Field Advantage: "There’s got to be tweaks. There’s got to be adjustments. Starting from my standpoint, and in our coaching staff, we’ve all got to get a little bit better."

Hold onto your beeswax, everybody!  If all goes according to plan, the 2022 Yanks shall once again taste the sweet champagne of - gasp, gulp - a Wild Card home field advantage! 

Moreover, no bigass roster overhaul is needed. They'll tweak their way to the single-game post-season. 

O, why o why did we doubt this franchise? What were we thinking? All this time, the answer was right in front of us: Just rearrange the batting order, recalibrate the rotation, click our heals together and chant, "For the Wild Card, there's no place like home..." 

Yank fans celebrate Boone announcement.
Instead of a whole new fictional narrative, let's do a speed rewrite of 2021: Move the last paragraph up top and finish with the old lead. Nobody will notice. A micro-tweak! That's all!

Maybe Joey Gallo can lead off? Quick: Run the computer model! If he comes up 200 more times, that means more HRs. Luke Voit - can he steal bases? And Gary? How about a new batting stance? And catching stance? And bench-sitting stance?  

Why did we think the Yankees need big changes? They won a Wild Card berth. If that awful, horrible, Covid-plagued Phil Nevin hadn't cost them the season - who knows? And wait - our dreams have been answered: Nevin is gone! There's your tweak, right there! Print the wild card home game tickets!

Insert sigh here...

Seriously, what do you say? When we discuss the Yankees, what do our words matter? The franchise faces no accountability from its fans. We can scream from the rooftops. They won't hear it, not over the sound of coins jingling. The media will follow their lead. 

O, sure... there will be critics. You can't go 12 years without a world series game - not if you're the Yankees - without a few bad apples on the monthly Zoom. But generally, nobody questions why the Yankee payroll has arbitrarily remained around $200 million for the last decade. Nobody questions the owner's self-imposed austerity. As long as the Yankees compete for wild cards, this is viewed as a successful franchise. Look at Kansas City, folks! At least we're not them, right? (Wait... I forgot... KC won a ring in 2015.) 

And for the record, I do believe Aaron Boone is a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny.

He is not the worst manager ever, and when Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner blames the players - of course, he has a point. But the core story of the Yankees over the last 20 years has been a fraudulent, self-inflicted cheapness, an overwhelming hubris that always demands scapegoats, and the pursuit of short-term gains over meaningful changes. Boone, with his constant excuses, rationalizes and enables this mediocrity. And so it goes. 

One last thing about yesterday's announcement: 

I don't think it matters that the Death Barge gave Boone a three-year deal. Brian Cashman's contract comes due next winter, and if the Yankees again fall short - a serious possibility, considering the huge problems on the current roster - I think Cashman will take the bullets and go. He'll get bumped upstairs to a ceremonial job, and somebody new will take over. (Say what you want, I cling to this belief, anyway.) The Yankees will buy out Boone's two extra years. They will become his golden parachute. That's how things are done in New York. 

If Cashman goes, so will Boone. Thus, every move Cashman makes this winter will be framed on short-term tweaks. The Yankees have laid down their goals: Next year, the want that Wild Card home field advantage! 

Calgon Bath Oil Beads, take me away!

A funny thing happened on the way to the Fenway fairy tale

 Oh, and by the way, the pitch was a ball.  


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Boone is renewed, and Yankee fans are crazy with delight!

 








Hang that 2021 Wild Card Away-Birth flag: Three more years of Aaron Boone!

 




Not long ago, we crushed Boston at Fenway. What happened? "The fault, dear Boonie, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings..."

Well, dear Caesar, how's this for 1,000 cuts... 

Boston is marching inexorably toward another ring - its fifth in this century - cementing the Redsocks' status as baseball's premier franchise. 

Let that sink in, folks:

Boston... baseball's premier franchise.
 

This month, if they take their fifth world championship, they will likely open a gap that cannot be bridged in our lifetimes. All this crap about 27 world championships? That will die with our generation. Our grandchildren will only know a world where the Redsocks own the Yankees.   

Make no mistake: We have fallen under a dark curse - one born of nepotism, led by a billionaire who covets nickels because they're bigger than dimes. 

For us, the result is a crushing sense of hopelessness and despair. 

Four weeks ago, we swept Boston in their own park and seemed poised to win the critical home field advantage in the wild card. Then everything fell apart. 

I believe it was fated all year. Why do I say this?

1. Weakness up the middle. Look at the difference? Boston shows quality from catcher to CF. The great Yankee teams of the 90's had Jorge, Jeter, Cano, Bernie. Look at what the Yankees sent out. Yikes. 

2. Without a LH slugger - not one - the Yankees were always a misfit in their own stadium. In spring training, they brought in Jay Bruce. At the trade deadline, it was Joey Gallo. Desperation seldom works.  

3. All season, the Yankees viewed Gerrit Cole as their insurance in a wild card game. Thus, they made the wild card a preposterous target. Cole faltered after the league cracked down on stick-um, and fell apart after a hamstring pull. Meanwhile, Nathan Eovaldi - the one that got away - became Boston's ace. 

4. We spent the year waiting on Corey Kluber and Luis Severino. Aside from a scattered moment, they never arrived. Meanwhile, Chris Sale returned to become a decent starter. 

5. Their manager, Alex Cora, seems a magician. Ours functioned as a front office lackey. The Yankees can never hold an Aaron Boone Bobblehead Night: It would be too painfully realistic. 

6. Somehow, the magnetic juju poles flipped in 2004, and we never recovered. The Yankees never took revenge upon Curt Schilling, Big Papi, Pedro, Jason Varitek, et al. Their comical attempts to co-opt Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, Kevin Youkilis, et al, backfired. Now it's Devers, Xander and JD Martinez. What are we gonna do? Sign them at age 40?

7. Boston helped usher in a new era of advanced analytics, and the copycat Yankees - though pouring mountains of money into it - have always come up short.

8. The Yankees wrongfully seemed to think 2020 mattered. They actually thought Luke Voit was a home run champion, and that DJ LeMahieu would really hit .364. The Redsocks rightfully saw 2020 as an outlier.   

Looking back, wasn't 2021 always doomed for us? From the beginning, Tampa, Boston and Toronto crushed us. In the end, it required a ridiculous infusion of players - at the expense of our farm system - just to secure the final wild card slot. (And the Yankees now claim they really didn't give up anything - wink wink - because they're smarter than the teams that gave us Gallo and Andrew Heaney. Sure they are...) 

So here we are, drowning in our own hubris. No, dear Brutus, the fault is not in our stars, not at all. It is so much worse.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Dear Mr. Steinbrenner: It's been a long time since your Yankee fanbase has been so demoralized, and there are a few things I'd like to say...

First, hi from IT IS HIGH. I assume some anonymous employee - the cleaning lady? the GM? - pushed this printout under your door? 

I suspect you generally avoid our site. Can't say I blame you. Here, we have a way of expressing ourselves with uncomfortable words, and we direct our anger toward those who run the Yankees - um, that's you - rather than the "overpaid players" narrative pushed by the media. Thus, yeah... we talk about you, sometimes unpleasantly.

Your fan base - aks "the Yankiverse" - has now endured two years of a pandemic and 12 of a world championship drought. We are on the verge of the least successful period in Yankee history. On your watch. 

Sir... the Yankees cannot go on this way. 

This policy of spending just enough each year to chase the wild card... it's not working. 

We're now watching Boston chase another championship - (or it will be Houston, which is almost as bad) - while Yankee fans ponder a roster full of disappointments and medical excuses, and wonder if Aaron Boone will return?  

Listen: THIS ISN'T ABOUT BOONE. IT'S ABOUT YOU AND YOUR POLICIES.  THEY ARE NOT WORKING. THE YANKEES CANNOT SIMPLY CHASE THE WILD CARD EVERY OCTOBER. IT'S TIME TO EITHER GO BIG OR GO HOME.

Sorry. Apologize for the caps. I lost myself.

Twice in your time as Yankee owner, you pushed the nuclear panic button. In 2009, you shelled out for the three best free agents available - CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera and AJ Burnett. We won the World Series, and I suspect you came to think it was too easy. You started regularly saying that a $200 million payroll was enough -and maybe, back in 2009, it was. But it sure isn't now.

You pushed the spending button again in 2014, following an embarrassing season, which was characterized by a lineup of Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Pronk. The Yankees didn't even make the wild card. The following winter, you signed Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury - plus Masahiro Tanaka from Japan. (You let Robbie Cano walk.) The Yankees opened as favorites, then collapsed under the weight of injuries - an excuse that still prevails. You never since touched the nuclear button.

In the summer of 2016, you tried a new tactic: A limited, controlled tanking. The Yankees traded Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and Beltran for the likes of Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier - players we're still waiting on. Ever since, you've let luxury taxes dictate Yankee spending, while the team chases the wild card. 

Enough. 

Go big, or go home. 

The Dodgers opened 2021 with a payroll near $250. They are what the Yankees once were - America's dominant baseball franchise. Frankly, the Yankees aren't even runners-up. The Redsocks and Rays regularly eat our lunches, Houston owns us, and Toronto is almost there. Baltimore has the game's top ranked farm system; they won't be down forever. Meanwhile, the Yankees are coming off a summer where they traded 10 top prospects for the away-game birth in the wild card, which they promptly lost. Frankly, next year looks gruesome.   

I can't tell you who to trade and who to get. But it's time to either push the panic button - sign a slew of top free agents - or call for a rebuilding - a "tanking," as Boston regularly does.  

Have you been following the news? Have you heard about the worker shortage? Economists are calling this "the Great Resignation:" Underpaid workers standing up to big corporations, big government and billionaires with unchecked powers and out-of-control egos. 

Sir, I offer a friendly warning: 

Do not think Yankee fans are incapable of finding a new obsession. 

And if we do, do not think we will automatically return to the Yankees next spring.    

We are at a crossroads.

Go big, or go home. 

Your friend,

El Duque

Saturday, October 16, 2021

What if the Yankees did something absolutely crazy...

Lately, the "WHAT IF...?" concept has been revolutionizing the Marvel Universe, which is a cultural hiccup above pro wrestling's universe and  whatever reality QAnon inhabits. 

The "WHAT IF ...?" series asks incredibly creative questions such as, "WHAT IF... Captain America was a woman?" Or "WHAT IF... Spiderman was a woman?"

There is no reason why this artistic conceit cannot be applied to the Yankiverse. 

For example: WHAT IF... instead of selecting Cito Culver in the first round of the 2010 draft, the Yankees had taken Noah Syndergaard (who was chosen six slots later?)

WHAT IF... in game four of the 2004 ALCS against Boston, up 3-0 in the series, instead of Joe Torre sending Mariano out for a two-inning save, he used Tom Gordon, who had been unhittable?

WHAT IF... Carl Pavano was a woman?

You get the picture.

So here's a "WHAT IF... ?" for 2022?

WHAT IF... the Yankees thank Aaron Boone for his service and replace him with an old school, firebrand manager, such as Joe Melvin or Buck Showalter?

What if... instead of signing a free agent SS, the Yankees hold a competition in spring training and turn over the position to the best performing rookie?

What if the Yankees jettison Gary Sanchez and sign or trade for a defensive catcher?

What if the Yankees turn over CF to Estevan Florial? 

What if the Yankees start 2022 with a younger team and the understanding that it's time for a long-term rebuilding? 

Insane, eh? 

A blown third strike call ends the Giants' season and advances the inevitability of automated umps

One argument against automated strike zones goes this way: Without a soul, without the human touch, a lifeless machine cannot "manage" the game. 

Thus, if the score is 12-0 in the seventh, the fat guy behind home plate recognizes that this game is basically over, and that everybody wants to go home.  Thus, he widens the strike zone, a mercy-killing, and the stadium staff will thank him. 

A machine cannot change its diabolical ways, to the detriment of all.

Which brings me to the brutal, final call in Thursday night's game between the Dodgers and Giants. If you haven't seen it by now - "the checked swing heard round the world" - you probably don't give a fuck about baseball, so - I mean - why do I bother? What are you doing here? Did you get lost? WTF?  It's all over the interweb. Google it. Or go here.  


Having watched the replay about 10 times, I believe it's obvious that umpire Gabe Morales blew the call. At best, it was a 60-40 choice, and he chose the 40. Awful. 

So it goes, right? Human error. Blown calls - like the kissing bandit and rally monkeys - are part of the game, right? 

But what's so infuriating is that - well - this is exactly why humans are supposed to be preferable:  In key situations, people are supposed to show discretion. 

In a close call - (I don't believe this was close, but let's not belabor it) - the thoughtful choice should have been to error on the side of the game - to let the players determine the outcome.  That's what Morales did not do. Instead of using discretion, he threw up his thumb and literally chose the winner. Horrible way to end the game, the series, the season.

As fans, I feel we see this often - especially in the NFL, where last-minute holding or pass interference penalties regularly determine the outcome. In part, this is because of TV's ability to dissect each singular play, each movement. Still, time and again, we see what's obvious: At the point where discretion should be applied, none is given. The pass might have soared over the receiver's head, but the flag is thrown, the ball is moved within FG range, and the game is over.

San Francisco - no less than the world headquarters of Big Tech - will be screaming about Thursday's call for the rest of our lives. I believe Morales just advanced the end of his profession by about five years. The inevitable march toward automated strike zones - (even though this came from a first-base ump) - just got its poster boy. 

As Yankee fans, let's be grateful that our team sucked so badly that we won't be forever haunted by a blown call. Little victories, I suppose.

Friday, October 15, 2021

All across the Yankiverse, folks are offering suggestions on what to do this winter. But first, one hard question needs to be asked

Hal Steinbrenner regularly claims that a $200 million Yankee payroll is enough, and that the key to success is spending his money wisely. 

And frankly, the Yankee owner is right. 

The Death Barge annually spends three times the payroll of the Tampa Rays - who have dominated us since 2020, and which likely will again next year. When you look at how much Hal regularly spends - and what he gets for his money, it's a troubling trade-off.  

Here are the 2021 opening day payrolls for this year's post-season teams, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. 

Tampa: $67 million.
Milwaukee: $99 million.
Chicago White Sox: $129 million
Atlanta: $131 million.
San Francisco: $150 million.
St. Louis: 
$164 million.
Boston: $180 million.
Houston: $187 million.
Yankees: $197 million.
LA Dodgers: $248 million.
 
So... quickie question: By Hal's criteria, has the Yankee front office spent wisely? 

Now, I recognize that reaching the wild card is not nothing.  The Yankees have now played in five - (5!) - wild cards in the last seven years. The brain trust has learned how to spackle-over roster holes through mid-season cash infusions and by trading prospects. 

Thus, the Yankees have achieved the new normal: They fall apart in April/May - either through injuries or dismal performances. Then, at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, they acquire a new wave of underachievers, headcases and looming free agents. They suck up bad contracts and stars past their sell-by dates - and mount a drive for that final wild card birth.  

Then, next spring, we do it all over again.

So... here we are, everybody. 

Looking at the Yankee roster, I cannot recall a bigger abomination, an airplane with six propellers and one wing. Everywhere, the Yankee front office has painted itself into a corner.

They must deal Gary Sanchez at the low ebb of his trade value. 

They'll need to move Clint Frazier and/or Miguel Andujar - though they'll bring next to nothing.

They must decide what to do with Joey Gallo, who is on the verge of replacing Sanchez as the symbol of Yankee malaise. 

They must replace Aroldis Chapman, which means watching him blow saves until he accepts the move. 

They face the very real possibility that, without stick-um on his fingers, Gerrit Cole is far less the ace than they hoped for. 

Who's on first? Who plays SS? Who's in CF? Dear God, there are so many holes, where do you even start?

Well, here's a suggestion. I would ask one question of Hal: 

Sir... Is this a well run team? Are the Yankees spending their $200 million wisely? Under what set of metrics is the Yankee front office succeeding? 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Yanks find first scapegoat

Hitting coach Marcus Thames is out. 

Reasons: 

His trades for Joey Gallo and Andrew Heaney.

His ill-fated move of Gleyber Torres to shortstop. 

His inability to make Clint Frazier hit.

His failure to help Gerrit Cole pitch in the wild card game.

His unwillingness to solve Aroldis Chapman's wildness.

His refusal to keep Aaron Hicks from getting hurt.

Garret Whitlock.

Rudy Giuliani's leaking hair gel. 


UPDATE: Phil "Go for it!" Nevin is out, along with PJ "Who? Pilittere.

Meanwhile, in a small upstate city...


"Minor League Baseball announced a three-year partnership with Marvel Entertainment on Wednesday called “Marvel’s Defenders of the Diamond.” The Mets and 95 other MiLB teams will host at least one Marvel superhero-themed game during the 2022, 2023 and 2024 seasons; teams will wear special edition Marvel-branded jerseys on the field as other Marvel-themed activities and promotions take place throughout the game."

It's slobberin' time. 

Tanks For The Memories

(With Apologies to Bob Hope)

Tanks, for the memories.

Another season done.

We’re still not number one.  

Or two or three or four or five.

We also aren’t fun…

 

So thanks, Hal very much.

 

Tanks for the memories

The losing streaks of eight

Our comebacks were too late.

The team’s all stiffs, they always whiff

Hey Gary, block the plate!

 

So thanks Brain, very much.

 

We had a lot of hope when the season started.

Now all of us here,

we are broken hearted.

All we can hope, is Boone’s departed.

 

And take Gleyber too.

And also Luuuuuuuu (k)

 

So tanks, for the memories.

 

Watching Heaney pitch

Just proves that life’s a bitch.

Another year without much cheer

But at least Hal’s still rich

 

He thanks you, oh so very much.

 

(LAST ONE)

 

Thanks for “It is High”

A place to moan and vent.

A home for discontent.

In paragraphs, we shared some laughs

With people who are bent.

 

So thanks, Hart. Ve-ry much.


Eight reasons - actually nine - why we should root for the Giants (I mean SF, of course; screw the football team)

1. The San Francisco Giants have never hurt me. (I wasn't aware in 1954.) We beat them in 1962 - McCovey's famous liner at Bobby Richardson. Throughout the  years, I've felt no pain or trauma from them. 

2. They are run by an ex-Yankee executive: Brian Sabean- aka "the Brian that Got Away." Their front office has included Dirt Tidrow, Dave Righetti and Bam Bam Meulens. In an alt-universe, these guys would be running the Yankees.

3. Willie Mays. Come on, who didn't love Willie Mays?

4. They instinctively hate the Dodgers. 

5. Rice-a-Roni. Underrated. 

6. Tony Bennett - one final appearance? For the ages? They say he can still sing.

7. If they reach the World Series against Boston, will be fun to see a Yastrzemski - Mike, that is - patrolling left field.

8. On that note: Somebody has to beat Houston or Boston. It's that simple. We can't trust Atlanta. The Giants are our best bet.

Alt-reason: In the mid-70s, I knew a guy who had once worked in a San Francisco laundry that cleaned the Giants uniforms. He did what anyone would have done: He stole Bobby Murcer's jersey and fled. 

It had Murcer's name on the back. This was long before you could buy anybody's jersey in a sports store. At times, we'd go out drinking, and he'd wear Murcer's jersey. In all my life, I never more felt in the company of a god. 

Go, Giants.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Yankees Post Mortem: Turns out, we were ALL right!




So for all of our learned treatises and caterwauling complaints about what was wrong with your New York Yankees these past six months, it turns out that…

 

We were all correct! Even Brian “Cooperstown” Cashman. Consider if you will:



There was too much analytics. As many have pointed out here—and as Tyler Kepner did in the Paper of (Occasional Baseball) Record—our Twin Towers, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, finally managed to stay in the lineup (most of the time) and had very good seasons. Nonetheless, neither got to 100 ribbies. 

 

Why? Nobody was on base ahead of them. And in our one, lowly play-in game, after Rizzo, Judge, and Stanton there was nobody who could actually drive in a run. A Yankees team in a do-or-die postseason game, with a .199 hitter in the cleanup spot? For shame!

 

We don’t know how to do analytics. True that, too! As has also been widely bandied about, while teams like the TB Rays and the Red Sox learned how to play stats ball to the max, we did not.

 

Case in point: that play-in game again, in which the Yanks managed to draw zero walks, and where Joey Gallo struck out on a check swing—two things that should never happen in Three True Outcomes Ball. This is a result of a Yanks’ stats wiz who—like everyone else in the front office—seems to enjoy lifetime employment despite his many, abject failures.

 

Pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain!

 

It was the hitting. As previously mentioned, the Yankees’ 1,266 hits on the year was the team’s lowest, full-season total in the DH era. It was the lowest since 1969. Forget the league-leading walk total—a number that has often been matched or exceeded in those previous years. 

 

If you can’t match a Jerry Kenney-Jake-Gibbs-Gene Michael team in hitting, you don’t have enough hitting. Period.




It was the pitching. To me, the pitching was actually a big surprise. Looking at the ragtag collection of ragged, injured ragamuffins that Cashman had assembled for a rotation at the start of the season, I predicted 77 wins for the team.

 

I was wrong. The starting rotation gave us a very strong…first half. Then it started to melt down, putting an ultimately unsustainable strain on the bullpen—something that had been Cashman’s biggest success story of the year. 

 

It was the injuries. To be fair, this excuse—which Cashman is sure to be spouting all about town—has some validity.

 

DJ’s hernia—which may well have affected his play all year—and Voit’s knee woes, meant that the AL’s batting champ and home run king from 2020 were ineffectual or on the DL much of the season. The Covid slump hurt—and Rizzo was never the same ballplayer afterwards—and injuries to Gio, Torres, Hicks, Kluber, Taillon German, Loisaiga, Britton, Sevvy, and more, predictable as most were, undoubtedly hurt the team at key moments.

 

The question of why the Yankees always have so many injuries, every season for the last five years now, remains unanswered. And always will.  



It was Ma Boone. Spare me his 98-win average. The push-button manager—that is, he is Brian Cashman’s button to push—failed spectacularly in basic baseball strategy and especially in using his bullpen to close out games, leading directly to at least 7-8 traumatic losses. 

 

Boone’s insistent defenses of third-base out machine Phil Nevin, his clueless remarks about how“the rest of the league is closing the gap,” were also indications of how oblivious he is. But worse than that, even, was how often the Yankees showed up this season completely flat, looking utterly unprepared to play and dropping games to teams such as the Orioles.

 

A bad field manager, a failing clubhouse manager—a nice guy. Sorry, not enough.

 

It was Cashman. Here we get to the heart of the matter. The Office Boy, Pete Campbell, Cooperstown, Brain—call him what you will. It was another season for The Intern just like all the other seasons.

 

A couple of decent midseason deals to rebuild the bullpen. Some useful dumpster diving. And a total fail when it comes to building a good farm system, assessing the talent on the field now, and having any idea of where this team is going.  

 

A Yankees lineup with no power lefties? After you have purposely built the new park with a porch just for them? The greatest office politician in baseball history is, sadly, an idiot.

 

It was HAL. And again—nothing will change until HAL does. I hesitate to say that he should sell the team to just anyone. Last time the Steinbrenners considered doing that, they nearly dealt the Yanks to the Dolans. But until he either hires a new front office or sells, none of the above will change—except to get even worse.

 

See? We were ALL right. Doesn’t that make you feel grand?