Sunday, May 9, 2021

CLAW... a Yankee threadhead afternoon


Make no mistake: The fate of the Yankees still hinges on Gleyber Torres

It seems weird to note, but yesterday's Yankee batting hero didn't belt a homer. Nope. Gleyber Torres went 2 for 5 with two singles and two RBIs. Both hits resounded: one tied the game, one won it, and neither was spanked. One floated to right-center, and one wobbled down the third base line. That's okay. As Horton the elephant would say, "A ribby's a ribby, no matter how small." And these days, one game above .500, the Death Barge will take whatever it can get.

We are now six weeks into the Great 2021 Gleyber Experiment, in which we sought to convert an all-star 2B into a formidable SS, creating the next Jeter. (Or you might say the next Didi, or even our response to the Mets' Francisco Lindor.) 

Here's where everything stands. Among MLB shortstops, Gleyber ranks:

18th in OPS with a meager .623. (Three slots below Didi Gregorius, and one ahead of Lindor, who has been booed.) 

21st in RBIs, with 7. (Didi has 22; Lindor 6.)

14th in batting average, at .241. (Didi at .234; Lindor at .190.)

30th in homers, having yet to hit one. (Didi has 4, Lindor 2.)

15th in errors, with four (Didi has 6, Lindor 2.)

14th in fielding percentage, at .969. (Didi ranks 25th, Lindor 10th.)

If you want a quickie comparison between the '21 Yanks and first-place Redsocks, consider the SS position. Boston's Xander Bogaerts is having an MVP season: 7 HRs, 20 RBIs and a .357 average, third among all MLB hitters. The Redsock offense has boiled behind him. (He bats cleanup behind Verdugo - .311 - and Martinez - .339. Ouch.)

So... where are we?  

1. The numbers don't lie: Thus far, Gleyber has been mediocre, like the Yankees. 

2. His fielding has improved after the retirement of Jay Bruce, who tried gamely but failed at 1B. 

3. Nothing suggests he is heating up. Over the last week, Gleyber is 4 for 18. In the month of May, six for 22. 

4. He had a rotten 2020: .243 with3 HRs and 16 RBIs. (The MLB leader, Jose Abreu, had 60.) The Yankees later pooh-poohed his troubles, blaming the pandemic and even suggesting that Gleyber arrived in camp out of shape. Weird.

5. The future of the Yankees hinges on their lone young, ascending everyday starter: Gleyber is 24.

6. It's time to ponder the possibility that this is not a slump but the new normal. 

So... have I completely depressed you? 

Because yesterday did bring a laser beam of hope. Two key hits, which helped the Yankees avoid a three-game losing streak and a lost series, as they prepare to hit Tampa, their new City of Death.  

I don't suggest that Aaron Boone benches Gleyber. Really, what option does he have? Tyler Wade cannot hit, Gio Urshela is having trouble enough staying healthy at 3B, and down in Scranton, Kyle Holder has yet to get a hit in 2021. We have one shortstop, one future, and it is Gleyber.

So... we wait and watch. But make no mistake: The player who matters most is not our DH or our RF, or even the all-purpose LeMahieu. It's the guy who plays Jeter's position, and thus far, he hasn't been very good. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Live... IT IS HIGH Threadheads unite


The evolving Yankee bullpen reckoning has begun

Et tu, bullpen? 

Damn. I'd almost forgotten the art of blowing late-inning games. We'd come to blissfully expect zeros - "best bullpen in the majors," they assured us. The 10th was troubling - we never figured out that free runner rule - but the 8th and 9th were ours, (as El Chapo remains perfect, a land mine that hasn't yet exploded.)

Thursday, Mean Chad Green entered the 8th with an ERA of 1.02. He exited at 2.50. Chad has now pitched 18 innings this year - on a projected course to throw 91. That's insane. Until now, the most Chad has ever thrown in one season - back in 2018 - is 75. Last year, he pitched 25 innings. In other words, we're going to run him into the ground. Tick-tick-tick...

Last night, Jonathan Loaisiga entered the hateful 8th with an ERA of 0.98. Today, he sits at 2.89. He also has thrown 18 innings this year. Insane. Until now, the most Loaisga has ever thrown in a season is 31 - thirty-one - back in 2019. Moreover, his four-year career is spackled with arm injuries. If anybody expects him to last the season at this pace - throw 90 innings in a year - I want what they're smoking.

(It must be noted the Loaisga suffered a spectacular collapse by the Yankee defense - betrayed by even Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu, normally our best gloves.)

Okay, we knew there'd come a reckoning for the miserable month of April, when we burned through bullpen arms the way televangelists do pool boys. Thus far, Lucas Luetge has thrown 17 innings, Luis Cessa, 15. By comparison, Washington's Tanner Rainey last night notched his 10th inning of 2021. No Nats reliever this year has more than 13.

It's happening, people. The reckoning...

From now on, no lead is safe. And five innings from a starter? That's not enough. April was when we needed Masahiro Tanaka. But our owner saved some money, so there's that.

Finally, for your entertainment - and disillusionment - last night's episodic and painful texts from Alphonso. Welcome to my world...

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.