Friday, June 11, 2021

The evil that closers do live after them. The good is oft interred with their bones. So be it with Aroldis Chapman.

Last few times Commander Boone trotted out El Chapo, I wondered if this would be it: 

The Unraveling. The Meltdown. The Implosion. The Cataclysm. The - um, (checks thesaurus) - the fiasco, the plunge, the Britney, the Fyre Fest, the presidential bid of George Pataki, the Deepwater Horizon, the 1996 Jets under Rich Kotite, The Adventures of Pluto Nash... Birnham Wood in Dunsinane...  

You know, Aroldis Chapman in post-season form.

You could feel it in the way he'd walk the leadoff batter, or get bailed out by a liner hit directly at someone, or how his eyes bugged out from beneath the flowing Chittenango Falls of his cap brim. (Note: Chittenango Falls is one of the secret gems of Upstate NY; and yes, you bastards, always capitalize Upstate!)  Thus far this season, Chapman had been unbeatable. Thus, we all knew what was coming. 

So, it finally happened. Nine pitches. Two sizzling liner singles and two tape measure bombs. If not for the upper decks, the Navy would be adding them to its UFO list. I've seen better stuff on the State Fair Midway. 

But but BUT... people, this is normalcy. 

He was always going to have such a night. Today - a rare open Friday when the Death Barge gets to marinate in its own juices - we might learn whether Chapman is healthy. Sometimes, after a debacle, it turns out he's not. In recent years, around now, Chapman has suffered either gonadal tweaks or spells of horror show ineffectiveness. Usually, this heals with rest. The only problems: 

Until he returns to form, no lead is safe. (Brooks Kriske - aka "Officer Kriske," "The Great Kriske" and "Kriske Kreme" - proved that Wednesday.)  

And also, cough, Chapman is, cough, 33.

This is not, by itself, a red flag. Four out of the top five current MLB saves leaders fall into Chapman's vintage. (I looked it up: San Diego's Mark Melancon - former Yankee - is 36, Liam Hendricks of the White Sox is 32, Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs and Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers are both 33.) Of course, the 2021 season is about 40 percent done. We'll see how this group holds up in October. My guess, the top five will be far different.  

Last year, Chapman missed the first 22 games, one-third of the mini-season, throwing only 11 innings. Our final glimpse of him was the gopher ball against Tampa, a repeat of our final glimpse of him in 2019, the gopher ball against Houston.

Aroldis Chapman may someday go down as the greatest pitcher in Yankee history that we cannot bear to remember. Let the record show  that Rich Kotite had some promising years as defensive coordinator of the Eagles. Now, what?


Anonymous said...

Allow me to introduce a depressing concept.

I'm not going to tell you that this is true. Because, how would I know? But, a lot of El Chapo's success this year is because he has developed great secondary pitches.

Uh oh... do you see where this is going?

This week will be known as "The Great Unsticking" as pitchers are forced to transition to their "original stuff" and re-learn how to throw their curve balls and sliders without assistance.

Could last night's melt down be the result of the above? Again, not saying it is. But I could understand it if it was.

Doug K.

Anonymous said...

Also, I'm re-posting this from yesterday's thread because it's an interesting conversation.

MLB says that the Yankees left 22 men on base yesterday. Hoss and Kevin like the old way of counting. This was my reply.

Figured it was worth putting it out there so more people could chime in...

Kevin and Hoss,

Not to be a contrarian but I like the new way they do LOB. I look at it like this...

Second and third no one out.

Sanchez strikes out. He left two.
Frazier strikes out. He left two too.
Gardy pops up. He left two too too.

That's six. I understand that the maximum runs that could have been scored is only two. So they left two guys on BUT the six number is more accurate in terms of ineptness.

Here's why just saying two doesn't cut it for me.

If the first two batters in the inning made out and then two guys get on and the next batter makes out there were two LOB.

In my initial example using the old style of accounting there were also two LOB. But the level of failure is NOT equal.

Saying six goes to just how inept the batters were in that inning.

In the two out example it's a failure but - hey that's baseball.

In the "six" example that's a much bigger failure and the higher number more accurately reflects that.

Just my opinion.Either way they left too many men on base last night and blew the game because of it.

Doug K.

ranger_lp said...

Well, maybe both teams had proxy bets made on Draft Kings and they all took the over on the total runs scored. If that's the case...they certainly made it rain...

Celerino Sanchez said...

When is Florial coming up? He's batting around .160. He should be leading off. What about Sgt Garcia, he's tearing up AAA. Don't they have any more life long minor leaguers like Glittens and Ford, who can K in half their at bats. Finally Stanton has made his June numbers, so he'll be back to 3ks a game now.

JM said...

Britton was our backup in case Chapman broke down, and it looks like Chapman is breaking down but we don't have Britton. Even when we do have Britton, he likely won't be the Britton he used to be, at least not for some time, so we still won't have Britton in the sense that we used to have Britton.

Thank God we got Kriske.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Just to pervert the glass half full outlook, the good news is that we'll probably not have many games where we'll need a save,,, Urgg!

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Also, Hoss was right on the money last night with his breakdown analysis of the sliding into home plate Happ on his Ass FIASCO, beyond horrific in every sense!

Anonymous said...

A few other points about the first inning debacle...

We've been repeatedly reminded across several mediums lately how much Gary Sanchez has "improved." Surely true compared to last year, but is he worth being the 9th highest paid catcher in 2021? His defenders also never let it be forgotten that if his statistics from 2017-2019 are included he's been one of the "best offensive catchers in baseball." Except no one here disputes he was good then, but instead rightfully complain about his decline since. Anyway, his terrible strikeout with one out and Gio on 3rd paved the way for the play that followed. After seeing thousands of pitches by Happ, is Gary unable to simply put the bat-on-the-ball (a la Matsui) for a fly ball? Finally, clearly Urshela was having trouble running on the triple and by trying to come home took the bat out of the hand of one of the Yankees hottest hitters. All these little screwups cost runs (on both sides of the ball) that add up to cost games.


13bit said...


El Chapo

And Boone. You know when Torre lost me? During the infamous "Midge" game in Cleveland. I never saw him the same way after that. Boone has felt like that to me since the beginning.

I was kind of tired of Girardi by the end of his tenure, but I'd be beyond thrilled to have him back. Won't happen, though, because he won't be Brian's meat puppet. Joe G. will do what he wants to do and won't take orders from the towel boy via radiotelephone.

You can add more people to the above list, but that's it for now. I must go vomit a while.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, Ken, and good points, Mel...except that I think Gio was sort of confused by the situation as he got close to the plate. I have the somewhat queasy feeling that he slid the way he did because he didn't want to simply trample Happ. Back in the day, anyone who tried something like Happ did that would have got a knee to the head.

NOT recommending that! Warbler can fact-check me here, but I believe the human skull is much tougher than the knee, and Gio would have been more likely to hurt himself. But surely an aggressive, feet first slide was called for, followed by infuriated gesticulating by Gio, Ma Boone, and much of the Yankees bench.

The new rule is that you're not supposed to block the plate. A lot of teams cheat on that, I've noticed, so it's past time to establish what the protocol is.

Either you CAN block the plate—and risk getting run over—or you CAN'T, and the run counts if you do.

Would a furious protest have changed the minds of the umps last night?

Who knows? For many years, major-league umpires seem to have regarded baseball as something they invented, and can change as they please. (Hence everybody having their "own" strike zone.)

But at least a furious protest there would have forced the umps to acknowledge, maybe led to a defining of the rule, and perhaps even have earned the Yanks a gimme "payback" later in the game.

These are the nuances of the game that a third-genertion major leaguer such as Boone surely knows. The trouble is, as many here have noticed, that he has turned himself into the sock puppet of Brian Cashman.

HoraceClarke66 said...

As for the LOBs, yes, Doug, to continue our debate from the previous thread for the delectation of our eager compadres...

I think the basic problem here is that LOB has always been a TEAM stat, that certain sources have decided to turn into an individual one.

Sure, as such, an individual LOB can tell us something. And it's not as bad as I had feared it was; it seems that Torres did NOT get an LOB for merely singling with a man on first last night. (Though I still can't see, after perusing the boxscore and play-by-play, how the Yanks got 22 individual LOB, as opposed to 18.)

But in general, this converts what was a slightly disappointing offensive night—5 runs scored, 8 LOB—to a horrendous one: 22 LOB.

13bit said...

LOB has been one of the defining Yankee stats in the 21st Century - seriously, my usual idiotic hyperbole aside. It's one of the first things I moan about when discussing the previous night's game to friends. Oh yeah, and lack of situational hitting, which is related to the LOB number.

Anonymous said...

Don't you guys worry so much!!

Lorna Boonie said that it is quite possible that Stanton WILLL appear in a game this weekend in Philly.
They are trying to save his quads, gluts, etc., so "he's not quite ready to play the field just yet, but it is on the horizon, possibly sometime in the future while under contract to the Yankees this decade."
He has also been instructed not to do anything to endanger his delicate muscles, so if he PH, the training staff has instructed him to either K, HBP [buttocks only] or Walk.
He has been using today's off day to prefect his Catcher's Interference swing, which he may use as long as the interference is not so intense as to rupture one of his hand tendons.
The ever watchful Archangel

Kevin said...

I never really gave any thought to the mechanics of figuring LOB. Has it changed? BTW, one of the great Yankee trades that people never talk about was the Melancon-Berkman debacle. He has a career 1.127 whip, 224 saves, and a career ERA of 2.76. As the Scooter would have said, "Not too shabby". I couldn't believe it at the time, and it still pisses me off. I normally don't like to do the 20/20 hindsight game, but come on!

Chapman with his new pitches. Splitters for a lot of pitchers are elbow rippers. I just hope... Why is Kriskie on the squad? The man should be getting reps down in AAA. He had not pitched in a month, wtf?

Anonymous said...

Well, the good feelings did not last long, did it? Not that we didn't know that this team sucked. They were bound to come back down to earth soon.

@Kevin, yeah, I was thinking the same thing about Chapman and his new splitter. I was hoping that he wouldn't blow a gasket before the end of the year. Suddenly diminished velocity on his fastball. Doesn't sound good. We'll just have to wait and see if he's all right.

The Hammer of God

Anonymous said...

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Antoine said...
LOB is a mirage stat, like "clutch." Given a sufficient sample size, it correlates with overall offensive performance, individual or collective.
So the issue is that the Yankees are not hitting well overall, so this naturally carries over to all situations. It's not a lack of character with guys on base; it's a lack of hitting ability.

13bit said...

"Clutch" is not a stat at all.

LOB is a data point. Teams that leave a lot of men on base usually lack clutch hitters. The late 90s Yanks was filled with guys who would salivate when they came up with men on base.

Despite the desire of some to quantify anything, "clutch" is not truly quantifiable. You can try to describe it: some kind of preternatural focus, maybe an adrenalin thing, possibly aided by rage or a chemical imbalance. But maybe not. Not necessarily the best athlete on a team, but a clutch player can somehow summon up better performance when it counts the most. That being said, you find more "clutch" players among the great ones, but it's something else that's going on.

"Clutch" is not a stat, but you can count the men left on base easily. Whether or not you think it's significant is something else and subject to opinion, but one of the hallmarks of the Yankees for the past 18 years or so has been a proclivity to leave men on base when it counts the most.

Only real morons such as I would argue about stats, though.

Kevin said...

IMO, "clutch" is something that comes and goes, and it can carry over into many human activities. Some people can tap into it more often than others, but some people can simply can't. As for "studies" that can't pin it down, well I say that not everything is subject to current methodology, or instruments needed for said studies.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I am outside the stadium at the bat.

Waiting for Archie to show up with those prized tickets.

I see the crowd is quite sparse. Don't know why.

As for clutch, that would be like Reggie seeing seven pitches in game 6. Four balls, following by three strikes, all by different pitchers. All of those non-clutch swings deposited the ball over the fence. The last nearly went to Pelham.

But, that's not clutch. Analytical metrics by ANALysts prove it.

Kevin said...

Rufus, Amen!

TheWinWarblist said...

I luv you all.

I hate those fuckers so very much.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And how is it there's no game on a Friday night? Oh, right, the new baseball. It just gets better and better.

Anonymous said...

13bit states, ""Clutch" is not a stat at all, " whereas "LOB is a data point," implying that clutch is not quantifiable whereas LOB is. This is simply false. Go to Baseball-Reference sometime, and check out any players lifetime or season batting numbers. There you will find a category called "splits"--and among the split categories is--lo and behold--"Clutch Stats": so I guess someone has failed to inform the people at every major stat Web site that you can't quantify "clutch." Here are the clutch situations that are listed and indeed quantified, for every major offensive category: two outs; runners in scoring position; late and close; time game; plus seven more that I will not bother to list, but you can look them up. And what do we find for EVERY MLB player in history with enough plate appearances in each of these clutch categories to constitute a statistically significant sample? The numbers do not vary significantly from his OVERALL offensive numbers. So "clutch" is a mirage, as much as some people desperately wish to believe it's real. But it isn't, and never has been, and selected anecdotes about this or that isolated great game that this or that player had do not constitute an argument but an empirically void datum that must be viewed against the overall data. So Rufus's account of one Reggie Jackson game and Kevin's empirically arid generalizations--unsupported by any fact or example of any kind--cannot gainsay this simple factually verifiable reality.

People read about heroes in mythology and literature as children and as sports fans often ascribe these ineffable heroic qualities to their favorite players. But the players are athletes, not god or demigods or supermen, and their performance "in the clutch" averages out to whatever their overall abilities are. Sorry, but them's the facts.

Anonymous said...

A brief addendum to my post just above: If you want to pin your argument on a single game or at-bat instead of looking at all the relevant lifetime data, then you have to realize that the isolated anecdotes can cut both ways. Here, for example, is the day that Reggie Jackson evidently forgot to take his magic clutch pill before a World Series game and let his teammates down, proving that he is, alas, a mere mortal:

Anonymous said...

By the way--if current won-lost percentages are applied to a projected entire season, the Yankees will win 85 games this season, and the Rays will win 101. "Put your dreams away, for another day. . . ."

Kevin said...

I will just HAVE to tie "clutch" with "RBIs". Around thirty five years ago I recall Bill James stomping all over rbis as an important means to judge players performances. Bill James is a great writer, one of the founders of SABR, and I greatly admire his wit and intellect. It's been awhile since I have read the study, but I've read it a number of times, and I've seen it brought up by others. The kernel of the argument is that since ribbies are heavily dependent on where the batter hits, who's hitting in front and behind him. It seems pretty reasonable.

But, the argument (as I recall) harped on comparing players numbers by season (he didn't like players winning or losing MVPs because of (possibly inconsequential difference) a number out control of said player.

But played out over years the importance of ribbie numbers come out. Batters don't just randomly get placed into a optimal spot in the line-up (yes I am stating the obvious). Those choice line-up assignments go to those who can consistently drive the balls into the gaps, or over the wall, right? Until this recent blasphemy batters would look to hit the ball into holes in the defense. These are SKILLS honed with hard, smart training. Most of the best hitters had crazy low K figures. And when you look at the all-time RBI leaders, the accompanying stats show that driving in runs wasn't some voodoo, old-fashioned number that the masses could understand.

Over the years I've read many books on baseball, ranging from strategy and tactics, biographies, players and writers accounts of extraordinary seasons, old statistical approaches to understanding the game, and roughly forty years of SABR studies. Stats can't tease out if "clutch" is real or not. As a result, and not surprisingly, many of these intelligent and trained people sulk, or are hostile to the notion of "clutch". Many/most of you have read the arguments. Here's the thing, reading through either contemporary or books written decades later you will run into that "clutch" word. Lousy evidence, you say. If you and two other people had daily conversations with a ghost, but it carbs detected by experts, who do you believe?

I didn't go into my tirade about RIBBIES for nothing. As you climb the ladder the evidence for "clutch" is all over the place. I'm not saying that anyone can maintain "clutch" for every important AB, there is only so much that the mind can run at such high speed. If there's no such thing as clutch why are so heavily imbued with a sense of elation or dread during an important at bat in an important game? It's intuition talking to you, and only fools repress intuition.

For those who want to turn statistics into an infallible religion I'd advise reading up on countless examples of statisticians having to walk back their truths. Anyone who thinks that they understand advanced statistics, or can follow the various theories,do this. Take all of your assets and play in the financial markets. It's very late at night, but the gauntlet forced this rebuttal. But feel, by all means to believe as you will.

Anonymous said...

"If there's no such thing as clutch why are so heavily imbued with a sense of elation or dread during an important at bat in an important game? It's intuition talking to you, and only fools repress intuition." You are talking about someone's subjective reactions to an at-bat--that is not an objective phenomenon or empirical evidence of anything except the person's emotional state--it says nothing about a pattern of player performance in the real world. And only "fools" would dispute your windy, meaningless, empirically unsupported declamations? That's the ad hominem fallacy writ large.

"For those who want to turn statistics into an infallible religion I'd advise reading up on countless examples of statisticians having to walk back their truths." That's a gross distortion and diversion. No one is turning statistics into a religious dogma of any kind--just citing the FACTS: in the case of EVERY PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL with a statistically meaningful lifetime accumulation of plate appearances in any "clutch" category, there is a convergence between his overall offensive numbers and his "clutch" numbers. That's a fact. You can take your obscurantist digressions and nasty personal attacks and shove them up your ass. You're a nasty person, a fourth-rate, befogged mind, and a chronic embarrassment to this blog. NOW--that's a truth, but an a priori truth, needing no further buttressing other than your last gasbag post--refuting no facts but launching your usual fusillade of personal invective in the place of logic and fact.

Anonymous said...

Moreover, you are conflating two entirely different things in your hopelessly confused post above. Bill James never questioned the EXISTENCE OR REALITY of RBIs--he, like many others, merely pointed out that it is essentially a TEAM STAT, not an individual stat, dependent on a number of variables--mainly how many of the batter's teammates are getting on base ahead of him, how fast they run, etc., etc.--so that it is not really a barometer of INDIVIDUAL offensive prowess.

The debate on "clutch" is an entirely different matter--it's a matter of whether clutch exists at all. The evidence shows that it doesn't. Scattered anecdotes to not constitute evidence: citing Jackson's three homeruns in the 1977 WS can be "refuted" by his strikeout in a "clutch" situation against Bob Welch in 1978. But the latter is not really a refutation--because the single game from 1977 says nothing about Jackson's overall "clutch" ability any more than the single game from 1978 does. They are isolated anecdotes, not evidence.

And you are so confused and dense and malevolent that it's not worth wasting any more time on you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about last night.
There was some confusion about the start time of the game. Plus, we were waiting for you at the new softball fields at the site of the Old Stadium.
I contacted Gina and she said that if your send me your SS # and the routing and account # for you checking account, we can reimburse you for your traveling expenses.
We will also hook you up with a Russia woman anxious to start a new life in America.

The Matchmaking Archangel

Rufus T. Firefly said...


It wasn't an entirely fruitless night. I did manage to buy a rolex for $20 outside the stadium. It is slightly used, so the gold is flaking off a bit (and sorta looks like paint). And it lost about 10 minutes overnight.

I think I have been in contact with Gina's cousin. Ever since I emailed that info, my bank cards no longer work. First thing Monday, I'm going to have to look into that. Maybe Gina can check for me.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Anonymous.... you make very valid points about clutch hitting. It's no surprise that almost all players are no more clutch than their average hitting statistics. They may be clutch in a particular game. Meaning that they did much better than what their normal abilities would suggest. Much like when a punch-and-Judy hitter belts 4 home runs in one game, no one would or should extrapolate that he is now a power hitter. Teams with better hitters for average and power will naturally appear to be more "clutch" than teams with inferior hitters.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Also, some might argue that some hitters are lucky. But much like performance in the clutch, luck is just a temporary and limited defiance of odds. They always even out over a protracted period of time. As most color analysts point out, hits will even out (relative to the batter's ability to hit) over the season. Hits smashed directly at a fielder or outs made on amazing plays will be offset by check swing hits or balls being lost in the sun and so on.

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