Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Visit From the Goon Squad

By HoraceClarke66

Dr. Odu and Dr. Ogu beamed down from the flight deck of the Oumuamu together, as was their wont. They materialized simultaneously next to the seemingly abandoned warehouse near the Bronx River, where there was only a homeless wino who had been there since the 2004 Debacle to scare witless.

The two of them proceeded in lockstep to the inner sanctum of the “warehouse,” where of course Juju Enterprises, Inc., was now in full operation, all “working from home” exemptions having long ago been canceled with a sneer and a threat.


The chief Juju imp rose tremulously from his control console to greet the visitors, while the rest of his staff hung back amidst the piles of accumulated fast-food wrappers and empty Cel-ray soda bottles, dreading what was to come next.


No one liked a visit from the doctors, with their strangely nondescript faces, their matching gray suits and ties, and slim briefcases. It usually meant that heads were going to roll. Literally.


“We have returned from headquarters after a full briefing on your activities,” said Dr. Odu.


“And after much consultation, we have reached a conclusion,” said Dr. Ogu.


“Yesssss?” asked the chief imp, though he feared that his soul might be ripped from his body if he so dared to open his mouth.


Dr. Odu smiled. So did Dr. Ogu. It was a bizarre sight, one that caused much of the console glass to shatter, and milk to curdle throughout the greater Tri-state area.


“Congratulations!” said Dr. Odu.




“Congratulations! Headquarters was unanimous. Never have we seen a fan base so brilliantly played as you did with the New York Yankees’ slavish followers this season!”


“Congratulations!” added Dr. Ogu.


“The Big Guy was almost in tears, it was so beautiful,” Dr. Odu said, removing his glasses for the first time in that last four millennia to wipe away a tear of his own.


“First, you have a team predicted to excel, even make the World Series, by the many foolish mortals on this planet,” Dr. Ogu recapitulated.


“Then, they stink for the first half of the season, losing one heartbreaking game after another. What a set-up!” added Dr. Odu.


“Then, they start to win. Cashman, our evil thrall for all eternity, seems to make some savvy deals at the trade deadline!”


“The fans, they-they start to believe! Even the hardened cynics who have endured so many years of Cashman!  They think it’s really possible that this team can win something!”


“They start to compare it to 1996, the poor saps!”


“They win 13 in a row. Thirteen!  The devil’s number!”


“Which should have told them something. But it didn’t,” chuckled Dr. Ogu. “Believe me, though, the Big Guy appreciated the tribute!”


“But it’s how you have crushed their hopes that contains the real stroke of genius!” gushed Dr. Odu. “Not through some simple, Black Swan intervention, satisfying as that always is.”


“No! Rather than have players get injured, you have them get well!”


“Just in time to have the Yankees play their last month like it’s spring training! Brilliant!” 


The doctors actually high-fived, which made a sound like a cat being gutted with a rusty spoon.


“So I guess that’s that, then, huh?” asked Dr. Ogu. “You’re not going to let them make the playoffs, are you? Or do you have something in mind for the big finale?”


“Well, we-we do have something up our sleeves—” stuttered the chief imp.


“Wait, wait, don’t spoil it!” cried Dr. Odu. “We’re going to be circling this neck of the galaxy for a couple months still aboard the Oumuamua, and I can’t wait to see how you pull this off live!”


“And from the Big Guy himself, all of us at headquarters can only say: ‘You complete us.’ ”


The doctors dematerialized. Down in the warehouse, nobody moved or breathed for the next ten seconds. Then the chief imp slumped back in his chair and swallowed half a bottle of Maalox in one long gulp.


“Where is it?” he asked threateningly, getting up again and sweeping away the accumulated Kit-Kat wrappers and day-old burritos that covered the relevant part of the console. “Holy hell, where is it?!”


“You gotta believe us, chief, we just got distracted working on that Mets program!”


“You’ll see, it’s a doozy we got goin’, chief!”


The chief imp ignored them, staring down at the controls—set as they had not been for 25 years on “Miracle Win.” With a grin that would make a saint vomit, he clicked the switch off.


“I’ll deal with you two moaxes later. Let’s just say we got lucky. Now—how do we bring this baby home?”

In With The Old Out With The New

 I gotta admit, I saw this coming.

And I am not the only one.  Most of you did as well.

The sudden excitement, the "back-to-the-wall" mentality and grit are gone.

For a while....a hugely ( and surprisingly ) successful effort was put together by a bunch of no names.  Our AAA and AAAA guys were shining in the big leagues. 

We saw Gil and Ridings.  Velazquez and Wade.  Allen and Florial.  Even Abreu looked good. And Johnny " no hit" Davis made catches no one else makes. 

We saw speed and daring.  We saw brilliance..

Their energy and productivity affected everyone.  Fans were thrilled.   Sluggers began to hit against the shift.  Rizzo and Judge stole bases. Sanchez hit with runners in scoring position. 

And then, " THEY" started coming back.   

The BIG STARS.  The guys who are paid fortunes and have endless contracts in the eight figure range.  All the Yankees from that miserable start.

The last nail in this hard oak meat wagon will soon be back at short stop. 

Suddenly,, and inevitably,   everyone is wearing heavy boots.  Games are 4  hours and laden with strikeouts.  Balls became just out of reach, and land as double, not outs. 

Boone has started to look dumb again.  Inexplicable decisions abound. 

And we are eating the same old boring shit.

Why is it that only we noticed what winning baseball looked like?

What baseball looked like.

Boone IS "The Cooler" and other thoughts


Parson Tom nailed it in the comments of the previous post when he very succinctly and accurately stated, that Boone is "The Cooler.”  This comes back to the analytics vs. what’s going on in front of him debate.

I guess the thing I don't understand about following the analytics slavishly is...

While I have no doubt that it is accurate over the course of a longer period of time for some reason it doesn't seem to take into account that the concept of, "reverting to the mean" includes periods of both high and low achievement. It includes the data from "hot streaks".

Which means that "hot streaks" exist. So keep the guy in while he's hot!

All people have good and bad days. No matter what your profession there are times when you are locked in. I believe the scientific term is, “peak flow.” When a player is in that zone it’s foolish (and infuriating) to not let him ride that out.

As a writer I never dropped out of a piece when I was on a roll because, traditionally I write for an hour and a half and then my attention and the quality of what I’m writing goes down. That may be true over the course of my career but stopping, because it’s 10:30 and I started writing at 9, when I’m cranking would be stupid.

Billy Beane’s A’s underperform in the playoffs.  I guess the Rays have figured out the regular season. Let’s see what happens.

The Squid or The Squint

In a way this relates to the above. Andrew Velazquez, fired up over getting to play for the Yankees, overperformed. This doesn’t mean that he’s not good enough to hold down the position. I think he is. 

So even though analytics would say that Gleyber has the higher ceiling Andrew brings a set of intangibles…

Hey, intangibles! Those qualities that can’t be quantified. Hmmnn… Do intangibles really exist? If only we could quantify them.

All of the above said, you know Gleyber gets his job back. Hopefully with a fire under his ass. It worked for Luke. Maybe having a fire under his ass will make him... Hot. 

As to Gleyber long term... I think he's toast. 

What I find interesting is that in the photo that they always use of him on YES he is squinting and scowling (as opposed to Andrew’s broad “happy to be here” smile.) 

As anyone who has studied the dark arts of using the media to influence knows, there are pictures of Gleyber that are more flattering but they choose to go with the Squint and the Scowl making him less likeable. 

So, he’ll get his job back but if he doesn’t play with greater intensity and focus who is to say. That photo isn’t doing him any favors. Really they should have left him at second but our GM stinks.

I’d write more but I’m at one hour and twenty nine minutes and I wouldn’t want to

As they hit the final stretch, the Yankees' greatest fear might just be Newton's Third Law

Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Baseball states:

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, a hot streak will provoke an equal and opposite cold streak, unless it happens to an over-the-hill star, who will then either tweak something and miss six months, or struggle through with occasional glimpses of hope, while undermining the team, which really pisses me off."

We have blown three in a row, just as Newton could have predicted. With 31 games left, the chances of the Death Barge catching Tampa are up there with Britney's dad winning "Father of the Year." Even if we somehow rattled off another 13 game orgasm, the Rays would have to crumble, and they show no signs of being such a Met-like organization. 

Thus, the Yankees are now competing for Bud Selig's final revenge on us - the one-game Wild Card playoff, which will determine whether our deadline trade blitz will prove to be a brilliant move... or a blight upon this decade. For 13 wonderous games, the Yankiverse praised Brian Cashman's guts and guile, as he emptied our farm system for four players, whose previous teams were itching to move. 

Now, we confront the ultimate glitch in the 2021 Yankees: Their inability to beat Newton's Third. Thus far, every sign of hope has begotten an equally soul-crushing defeat. I'm recalling the July 11 game in Houston - last game before the all-star break - when the Yankees stood three outs from a three-game sweep, leading by five in the ninth. John and Suzyn were absolutely jubilant. John was doing the math on the AL pennant race. Life was grand! Then the Astros scored six on a walk off HR by, gulp, Jose Altuve. And the message from the juju gods was quite clear: 

Newton's Third Law has not been revoked.

I don't believe the Yankees will lose 13 in a row. All said and done, the Angels are a tomato can. But we will soon learn whether the big streak represented a new level of Yankee competence -or it was just a hot stretch, which means we'll soon start feeling chilly. 

Note: There is also Aaron Boone's management. WTF? Why, why, why... does he leave Corey Kluber for the fourth, when his rehab games in the minors only lasted three innings? Was it because Kluber had not given up a hit? Yeesh. The no-hitter may have killed Kluber this year. He threw too many pitches and hasn't been the same.

We've all seen it. When the first guy gets on, you say, "There goes the perfect game!" When the next guy gets a hit, you say, "There goes the no-hitter!" Then, "There goes the shutout!" Then, "There goes the game!" 

For the '21 Yankees, a few more doinks, and we might be saying, "There goes the season!" And then... dear god... "There goes the decade?" 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Suddenly sparkless, the Yanks blow two and face a reality check.

During that luxurious 13-game victory cruise, something happened across the Yankiverse: 

According to the YES-controlled hive mind, the Yankees once again became the "Death Star," fully operational and living up to expectations. We came to expect the big defensive play and/or key hit. Brian Cashman became the tactical genius, the GM who saw a wild card where his critics - us - feared 4th place in the AL East.

Then, beginning Saturday in Oakland, poof: Back to the tired barge of strikeouts, flubbed flies and double-play grounders. 

No problem, we told ourselves. Can't win 'em all. 

Still, last night, you could sense the limpness, like a flashlight with a dimming bulb. WTF? 

I hate to blame Gio Urshela, a fine hitter, a solid 3B and - by all accounts - a great teammate.  But since returning from a tweaked hammy, he's 1-for-13 - the lone hit a single - and showing rust, including a botched grounder last night. 

In two rehab games for the Double A Somerset Patriots, Urshela went 4-f0r-8 with a double. And that was that. Two games. He flew to Oakland, benching the trio - Tyler Wade, Andrew Velasquez and Rougned Odor - who manned 3B during the streak.  

Sunday, Urshela gave Velasquez - the tabloids' Bronx fairy tale -"a Sunday off," according to the YES announcers, as if he'd complained about overuse. In his role as the Phil Linz of 2021, Velazquez hit .255 - 11 points below Urshela, though his speed and hunger brought a dimension we've not seen all year. With Urshela back, all three players will be marginalized.  

As the Yankees were losing Sunday, Gleyber Torres was launching another rehab assignment in Somerset, homering once in three at bats. He's expected to join the team Friday, pushing Velasquez farther onto the depth chart - an occasional pinch runner, not much else.

I get it that Urshela and Torres should keep their starting roles. It's an axiom of the game: The injured player doesn't lose his job. But one certainty has dogged the Yankees this season: Most players return with an ugly slump. They crush the minors for two or three games, then show up in the Bronx to look overmatched. 

Listen: I'm returning from four days of partying with old friends. And frankly, I think we all got drunk during that 13-game streak. So here's a little reality check:

1. We gained no ground on Tampa. Nothing. The Rays have won 7 in a row. And Wander Franco looks like a looming star, if not an MVP. This is bad. This is really bad.

2. We remain a wild card team, which means a one-game, all-or-nothing post-season. For all the despondency among Redsock fans, they are secretly smirking with the notion that Chris Sale could pitch that game. Be afraid. Be really afraid.

3. We just gave Oakland a huge spiritual victory, letting them believe they can beat us. 

4. We still have no closer. Aroldis Chapman goes from intimidator to basket case. Nobody else looks ready to claim the role.

5. The bullpen may be cracking. Jonathan Loaisiga has now thrown 65 innings - more than twice the workload of any other season in his career. (He threw 31 innings in 2019.) Mean Chad Green has struggled for a month. The rest are erratic. 

Tonight, we hand the ball to Cory Kluber, up from two rehab outings where he didn't really look dominant. Is he ready, or did he just not enjoy the accommodations in Double A? 

We better not let this losing streak grow.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

It's a dedicated game thread for those dedicated to the game

From DickAllen: THE WAGER

From DickAllen...

 Many of you may not know this, but Carl and I started a bet many moons ago. He believed Sevy would come back and make at least two starts in September, a prospect I scoffed at.

Then came the wager.

A case of beer on the line.

Then Carl generously (knowing full well that he would lose the bet) opened up the wager to a broader audience (since all of you are considered, at least to some degree, broad-minded) with an added stipulation: whoever can predict the number of Yankees wins would get both cases of beer and then some (apparently Carl owns a brewery or at least knows a way in through the back door at night).

So, here is the open thread on the bet: the Yankees are currently 76-52 which means there are 33 games left to play, not including today's game. Anyone on this blog may guess the number going forward, providing your guess is in the books before the start of tomorrow's game and it must be posted in this thread ONLY.

If there is a tie (which I fully expect) please add a second number to your guess: add in the number of runs you think the Yankees will score over the remaining 34 games. Whoever comes closest to that number, gets the suds.

Carl, am I forgetting anything? Anything you'd like to add to this?

(Runk Blogge Concludes) All things end.

 Thirteen proved unlucky. The end. 

Win today, and we won the series. That's all. 
Win today, and we took the series.

Friday, August 27, 2021


 cAP kEY iS mESSED uP. 


(Drunke Blogge contiunes) Aaron Judge is turning into a gamer

 For all his talent, he wasn't always the guy you wanted up with two outs and the game on the line. Lately, that's changed. I don't have stats to prove this. I DON'T NEED STATS TO PROVE THIS. I HAVE MY EYEBALLS, AND THEY TELL ME THAT JUDGE IS DOIING IT. 


Drunke Blogge (Continuede)

 Twelve. Watched through the eighth. Figured we'd blown it. Couldn't bear to watch El Chapo. Heart attack, waiting to happen. 

Please drink responsibily. 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Drunk Blog (continued): Nicknaming Luke Voit

Deep thought: Voit runs seriously hot and cold. Always extremes. 

Thus, we must rule out "Cool Hand Luke" and/or "Luke Warm," the easy possibilities. 


I need a beer.

The Yankees need a shortstop who can play the harmonica

 Thanks to Buhner's Ghost. 

Me? I got nuthing. Doing a four-day Bukowski. 

Drunk, el Duque, drunk... 

Drunk Blog (launch): Whah happened?

 Heat advisory over upstate New York. Dropping like flies. Like being stuck in a Calgon Beauty Bath.

Still, Eleven.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The New Closer

 I agree that the "dripper" is no longer worthy of our trust in the open air.

The replacement suggestions vary from Nasty Nestor ( great thought, actually ) to Gil or Savvy ( I prefer Gil).

 I might have added Ridings to the list, but I see he is recently put on the Scranton IL ( which means he is likely headed to the Hospital For Special Surgery on the upper east side of Manhattan).

Why the photo?

Because my recommendation has a different objective from winning a new banner. 

I am out to make a pile of dough on the back of these Yankees.  Toilet paper has become precious and so has spending money.

So, I am recommending a " secret Santa" as our new playoff closer.  A guy who will allow me to

place " sure thing bets," at good odds in Vegas. 

I want to be sure the Yankees blow the lead every time out. Sequential failures are like hitting a tri-fecta. 

I recommend Nick Nelson.

 He throws strikes.  Fastballs down the middle at about 95-97, with no wiggle at all.

 He is home grown.  

If he gets Covid, we can go with the re-habbing Mike King. He throws " meat" just as well.

We may not win the World Series, but I will be able to afford box seats.  

Who's with me?

It's time we had a talk about Aroldis Chapman, because something is dreadfully wrong

Sadly, this we know: 

There is no realistic path to a 2021 Yankee world championship with Aroldis Chapman as closer. 

Nope. Ainta gonna happen. You might as well believe in leprechauns, or QAnons.

Listen: I'm not here to demean El Chapo. The evil that men do lives long after them; the good is oft interred with their ERAs. Chapman can help the '21 Yankees, maybe even play a pivotal role. But if the Yankees think they can ride him through an October - they've ingested too many edibles. We'll see the same finale as in the last two seasons - another walk-off meltdown. 

At this point in his career - pushing 34 - Aroldis has become a nightly roll of the dice, a waterfall hallucination, capable of imploding at any moment. No lead is safe, and a one-run lead looks especially dire. Going forth, Aaron Boone's rules for engaging Chapman should go this way:

When he goes 3-0 on a batter, start warming his replacement.

If he's not showing 100 mph velocity with control - regardless of how he's doing - start warming someone. 

If a runner reaches base - regardless of the reason - take him out.

Once the sweat droplets start rolling off his cap like a quart jug of Mountain Dew, take him out. 

Throughout his career, El Chapo has been a dominating, fearsome presence, a powerhouse on the mound. Right now, he's a giant inflatable, holding up a porcupine. On any given night, he might look superhuman - or go poof. And he won't correct everything in time to win a world series. 

Last night, we learned our other former all-star closer, Zack Britton, is likely done for the year. With trade restrictions choking the waiver wire, the Yankees must promote someone from within to pitch the ninth. 

We have two de facto closers - Jonathan Loaisiga and Mean Chad Green. Both have struggled, including some absolutely disastrous losses that, at the times, seemed to define the '21 Yankees. Last night, Wandy Peralta came through, surviving an incredible pressure cooker. But whatever it's worth, I lean toward the most interesting player on the Yankees - of course... Nasty Nestor. 

Though it would hurt to drop him from the rotation, here's why Nestor Octavio-Cortez can close. (And for whatever it's worth, if El Chapo doesn't like being demoted, "Tough titty" said the kitty with the milk so warm.) 

1. Throughout his career, Nestor has been a reliever. He's used to getting entering games on short notice. 

2. He's actually a better reliever than starter. In eight relief appearances this year, opposing batters are hitting only .197 against him. His 2.29 ERA in relief beats his 2.70 as a starter.

3. Nestor gets the leadoff batter. This year, the first batters he face are hitting a meager .143 against him. In his first inning, they are hitting .192 - an on base percentage of .222. He's not one of those pitchers who doesn't figure out his stuff until the fourth inning.

4. Nestor's problem this season has been the third time around in a batting order, when hitters are .342 against him. As closer, he never has to deal with this.

5. Can you imagine batters - after facing Cole, Green, Loasiga and maybe even El Chapo, fireballer after fireballer - and then, in comes this ballsy, kewpie doll slinging frisbees.

One other possibility, in a Disney fantasy sort of way: Could Luis Severino return to resume the one-inning role that began his career? Don't hold your breath. But seriously, folks, we need a unicorn. And it's time for a ninth inning intervention.




Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Could the Yankees, by playing Giancarlo in the outfield, have spared us the miserable first half? And how many HRs would Luke have this year, if not for the injuries?

Here's to the 10-game streak, a veritable two-week orgasm in a tub full of Calgon Bath Oil Beads - the longest Yankee winning spell since - well, um - last year...

I like to believe that you - the seasoned, thoughtful, Jedi masters of fanhood who visit this blog - understand the need to maintain strict negativity, and to avoid outwardly positive thoughts about the Yankees.

Remember: Nothing good comes from talking hopefully. If you see the Yankee glass half full, you'll only end up feeling thirsty. Predict calamity, and at the worst, you have been proven right. 

That said, we must be wise enough to know a good thing when it show up, wrapped in bacon, on our doorstep. A 10-game streak is luxurious. Sure, it will rile us when it ends; nobody wants to leave the hot tub. So enjoy this while we can - WHILE MAINTAINING NEGATIVITY. 

After all, we know how last year's 10-game winning streak turned out, right? (See, juju gods? Nothing but neg...)

Today, two metaphysical questions about the 2021 Yankees.

1. Were the Yankees undermining Giancarlo Stanton all this time by not letting him play the outfield?

Last night, Stanton played his 11th game in the OF this year. He started July 30, in his old Miami pasture. Until then, he had only played DH, this year and last. 

Since 2019, the Yankees have bubble-wrapped Stanton - almost marginalizing him - as if he were a defensive abomination. In fact, he's looked rather nimble out there. Also, keep in mind that they played both Clint Frazier - the 2019 version, anyway - and Miguel Andujar in the outfield, when both played horrible defense. 

You'd think Stanton was 39 and fat - not 31 and a yoga guy (he took it up last winter.)  

In August, since he started playing defense, he's hitting .325 with five HRs - his best month in the last three years. (In 2019, he batted .462 in the 10 games that he played in LF.)

Moreover, the Yankees look much better by using the DH as an open slot, so various hitters can rest. Without Stanton playing OF, Luke Voit would have sat most of last week, instead of being named AL Player of the Week. 

Don Imus used to say, "Let the big dogs run!" The Yankees should have taken that to heart with Stanton. So, yeah, it looks as though coddling him was a bad idea.  

2. What if Luke Voit had not suffered so many injuries this season? Would he be among the HR leaders?

The top 10 HR leaders in MLB average about 430 at bats. (Shohei Ohtani, with 40, has come to bat 422 times.)

Last year's HR leader, Luke, has 7 this season - in 158 at bats. 

Doing a little fourth-grade math, we can see that, if Luke came up 430 times, he'd have 19 HRs - tied for 36th in the AL, with Matt Chapman, Carlos Correa and Eric Haase. 

He seems to be heating up, and you can argue Small Sample Size. But thus far, he's not the world-leading slugger of 2020. 

By the way, using the same calculations, if they came to bat, say, 430 times...

Gary Sanchez would have 26 HRs - tied for 14th in the AL with Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino. 

Stanton would have 25, Rougned Odor would have 21, and Kyle Higashioka - our own Higgy - would have 24 dingers. Twenty four. Aint math fun?

Monday, August 23, 2021

Tp Pass The Time....

 A few things I like about the Yankees:

1.  Velazquez

2.  Wade

3.  Rizzo ( and Voit in his angry, but productive, response.).

4.  Higgy's defense; Odor's petulance and grit ( And he is showing useful versatility ) 

5.  Nasty Nestor - how many people know that this guy is young?

6. Luis Gil

7.  The emergence of Johnny Lasagna, Abreu and Ridings ( both were " disappeared for a stretch ).

8.  Judge in center; Gallo in left, Giancarlo in right

9.  Some names in the minors ( Volpe, Preraza, Florial, Allen)

10.  Urshela ( I always love a great glove at third ).

11.  The solid guys ( Cole, Taillon, Greene, Montgomery, DJ)

12.  Gary - quietly improving at everything. 

Let's drink to that !

Dismantling the myths of 2021 (with apologies to Dick Allen)

I'm a regular guy, pretty even keeled, put my socks on three at a time like everyone else. (What? You don't?)

So after a day off yesterday with Henri Sleeping Syndrome, I finally caught up to Dick Allen's post from yesterday. Don't get me wrong: I like Dick Allen. I respect him. I value his opinion. But I kinda sorta have to disagree with him on a couple of points. 

First, there's the myth of "we're only winning a lot because this was a stretch of tomato cans," otherwise known as a "soft spot in the schedule." The Twins, the Royals...yeah, Hunt's or Il Pomadoro, take your pick. One game against the Angels, not a great team there, either.

Three against the Red Sox, all wins. Yes, they have gone into a tailspin, but they were still in second place when we beat them, and had led the division for most of the summer. Sorry, no way can I call those guys a "soft spot." They are dangerous, and always are when we play them.

The White Sox? First-place team, so far ahead in their division that everyone else has gone home to finish the season on Nintendo...and we woulda beat them all three games without another stellar Boone choice for the game's "closer." Hint: he didn't close nothin'.

The Mariners? Not great, but if they were in the NL East, they'd be battling for the title. Take away the three out of four we beat them and they'd be leading. If you go back a bit further into July, we also went 4-4 against the Red Sox, took two of three against the Rays, and took two of two from the Phillies. Just before the break, we took two of three from Seattle and two of three from Houston.

Then there's the idea that "we sucked in the first half and now we're great in the second half, in large part thanks to the moves at the trade deadline." Well, we had stretches of suck in the first half and could look moribund, yes. But we also had a stretch or two of looking like a champ and winning a lot. It was the sudden and jarring switch from one to the other that sent the brain reeling.* We were in no way consistently awful.

Also, we started winning in early July. We were winning quite a bit, in fact, before the trade deadline. Are we better with Gallo and Rizzo? Yes. Heaney may even work out. Too small a sample size so far, to be honest. But the moves by Genius Boy came in the midst of winning, they didn't start the ball rolling.

This next one makes me a little uncomfortable: "nobody here thought we could pull this off." I'm uncomfortable because I went to Catholic school and do not like to push positive views of myself, even to myself. But in June, if not before (I'm too lazy to look; I'm sure someone else will), I was saying that we had a streaky team. We could win a lot, we could lose a lot over any chosen period, but all we needed was a winning streak to be right back in it. And lo and behold, that's what we got. Even among all the Covid ILers and injuries, that's what we got. It was always a distinct possibility. I have a feeling I wasn't alone in thinking it, but Juju understandably precluded some from saying it out loud (and still does).

So there, I've said my peace and laid myself open to criticism for my nebulous reasoning and shoddy lack of research. But these things needed to be said. OK, I needed to say them. Shoot me.

Now, let's catch the goddamn Rays.

*Speaking of reeling, I've been watching a lot of British crime/cop/mystery shows, and was astounded by an old episode of one from the 80s or 90s where a character used a Popeil Pocket Fisherman. In Britain. Keeping alive the legacy of the recently no-longer-alive Ron Popeil. "And it really catches fish!" was one of my favorite lines from his string of commercials, along with "The problem with buttons is, they always fall off. The problem with buttons is, they always fall off." The repetition of the line, with emphasis, continues to tickle my ad-addled brain.

There is something strange about Tyler Wade

This is hard, because I don't wish to cast heavy-handed aspersions on any Yankee's authenticity.

It's just... wrong. Players, after all, are people - homo sapiens, like you and me - with our strengths and weaknesses, our zits and dimples, our ingrown toenails and our tooth decay, who, like all of us, take off their shoes to defecate. 

I believe the Yankiverse must strive for diversity and inclusiveness - welcoming all players, all types, and accept all their foibles.  

That said, it's time to stop ignoring the elephant in the elevator: 

The sudden rise of Tyler Wade - and the fact that he doesn't get hurt. 

I mean... WTF? He's now gone practically four years, and I cannot recall a single tweaked gonad or stubbed wart - nothing that causes him to vanish, as soon as he starts playing well. Because that, my friends, is the modern Yankee way: Get hot, get hurt. 

And it's why some of us remain wary about the 9-game winning streak: 

The Yankees are hot; thus, it's time for the ensuing wave of injuries.  

A nine game streak? Yikes. This could foretell an outfield collision or a mass shooting. Aaron Judge should have his own Iron Dome. Gerrit Cole should move to an underground lair. And that's why Wade is so important. Whomever gets hurt, he can probably replace them. (Fun fact: Rougned Odor would catch in an emergency shortage.) Over the years, Wade has often been jettisoned to Moosic just for the hell of it, so Aaron Boone could keep a bullpen the size of Britney's payroll. 

He was shipped out July 5, then returned four days later, after Michael King squashed a finger between two barbells. Since July 9, Wade has hit .322, played several positions, bunted to break over shifts, and stolen eight bases. For Wade, a single is practically a double. How long has it been since the Yankees had someone in their lineup with such capabilities? And he hasn't gotten hurt.

And here's another weird thing about Wade: He's still here.  

Under modern Yankee protocols, he should have been traded long ago for a fat SS or one-legged DH. Why is he here? Could the Yankees actually be showing patience with a young player? (Wade is only 26.) Have they changed their ways?

OF COURSE NOT. Somehow, Wade fell between the cracks - didn't get traded, hasn't been targeted by the juju gods - and here he is... best player on the team? Go figure.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

From our own DickAllen: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."


From the tortured desk of our own commenter, DickAllen:

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.

What are we to make of this season? Our illustrious GM saw fit to start the season with a pitching staff of cripples and nary a left-handed bat in the lineup. Then he added to the mess by hiring a nice guy with no coaching or managing experience at all. Hell of an interview though. They actually admitted that part in public.

We watched in horror (or at least I did) as an expensive, old, and rickety team lurched from tantalizing wins to horrific, last minute defeats made worse by my own belief that this team was capable, if everything went according to plan, of winning the division. I know. I know. Everyone else here thought it was a mediocrity at best and a dung heap at worst. And nothing went according to plan. The first half of the season had most of us considering homicide or suicide. The Yankees were a plodding, dull bunch who couldn't bunt, didn't have the first idea of how to run bases, stood around waiting for home runs that didn't materialize, and when they had a lead, couldn't hold it. In short, it was a mess.

Then, the unimaginable happened. The Office Boy who calls himself a General Manager (an ambiguous term in itself) made a series of bewildering, almost maniacal moves to improve the team and miraculously, improve the team it did, and thanks to a series of COVID-related IL stints, this misfit bunch started winning and has kept on winning much to our collective astonishment.

Some young upstarts who, much like in 2017, were forced into service began doing the kinds of things baseball players are supposed to do: they began to hit the ball, throw the ball, and catch the ball. They took the extra base. Stole some of them too! The turnaround was so sudden and unexpected that most of us are either still in shock or denial.

I myself am not falling for this Phoenix. My memory is not that short. Like all of you, I've watched in horror and indignation as Boooooone, who in spite of the New York Murdoch's insistence that the Yankees turnaround is due to his calming hand at the wheel (a complete load of festering turd), still needs to go find another job. And in spite of this miraculous turn of events, The Office Boy still needs to go too. For him to have hired a novice manager was a disaster waiting to happen (as it already has), and for the Yankees to start the season with no left-handed bats was unprecedented in the history of the New York Yankees. The first half of the season was a total failure. You know the old saying: you can't win a pennant in April, but you can lose one. And if this team doesn't win the division – which in theory it still could, they are currently four back and have three games with the Tampons to end the season – it is the failure of the GM to put together a balanced team during the off-season. The Yankees might very well have lost the division in April

As much as I hate to say this, I have to give The Office Boy some props for the trades he made to correct his glaring mistakes. But only some: trading for a guy like Andrew Heaney was a disaster of a move – no one is going to convince me that one good game covers all sins. Part of this resurgence is due to the fact that the team has been forced to dig down into the minors for help. There was no plan in that. Teams like Tampa and Oakland regularly replenish their rosters with youth while our prospects, such as they are, find the light of day in other cities. Cashman is an absolute disaster of a GM – he's still an intern as far as I'm concerned.

All in all, I don't know which team to believe in – the shit show that was the first half or the best team in the majors right now. The team is winning against a soft spot in the schedule, but I can't help but feel like it's peaking too soon. This gravy train won't last and the pennant race doesn't begin in earnest until Labor Day. Where will they be then?

I guess time will tell. As a victim of popular culture, my head is always swimming with useless trivia and memories of television shows past and the only thing I have left is this:

Will the real New York Yankees please stand up?


Nine in a row, nine observations


1. For all the joy it's brought us, the nine-game winning streak has only gained two games on Tampa. 

2. We're four behind in the loss column, and we host them for the final three games of the season. 

3. Rougned Odor's time-out HR could become his signature moment as a Yankee, in the way that his haymaker to Jose Bautista is for his time with Texas.

4. Odor - with some big hits and clear support of his teammates - could become a "Beloved Yankee." On the Five Calamity Ex-Yankees Scale, there are 1. Disasters (ie Ellsbury, Pavano), 2. Mistakes (ie Jesus Montero, Ed Yarnell) 3. Future Old-Timers (ie Cessa, Denny Neagle), 4. Beloved  (ie Luis Sojo, Brosius) and 5. Greats (ie Andy, Reggie, Thurman.)

5. Odor is a much better player while clean-shaven. The beard, coupled with his bald head and oversized headband, made him look like a bad Disney genie.

6. Gerrit Cole is on the short list to win the 2021 Cy Young. He is now second in ERA, first in wins, and first in strikeouts. His main competition is Robbie Ray of Toronto and Chris Bassalt of Oakland. Right now, I think he beats both.

7. Where is Stephen Ridings? We haven't seen him since Chicago. All he's done is give up one run in five outings (ERA: 1.80.) 

8. Luke Voit's "Stone Cold" celebratory mashing of water bottles was hilarious, and - I suppose - that's just Luke being Luke. But I worry that he's becoming another Swish, and - for all the fun and hilarity of Jolly Old Saint Nick - we know how that turned out: Losing a catchable liner in the lights, and watching a post-season fly out the window.

9. The Yankees are leaving the door slightly open for Luis Severino to return. It's a longshot, but why not try? He might only be able to throw short stretches out of the bullpen. Wouldn't it be wild if he became the closer? 

Saturday, August 21, 2021



One of the commenters to Duque's post offered a really interesting idea;

Given that Hurricane Henri is likely to wipe out tomorrow's local baseball activity, why not play two today?  MLB lets baseball teams experience rainouts, and then schedules double headers to make up for the lost game. 

 Why not do the reverse?  Pre-empt the rainout.

That way, the Yankees might even make it out of town tonight so the Atlanta series doesn't have to be postponed. 

Great thinking ( by definition, beyond the capabilities of MLB ).

So what happens next?  The Yankees have had several catalyst lately, but one of them is named Velazquez.  He hit his first Yankee HR today. And continues to show exceptional range, glove, and arm on defense.

I know this is the kind of problem Boone loves to have ( too many really good players vying for too few spots), but watching Velazquez play makes watching the Yankees fun.

 It is been a long time since Gleyber evoked that response. 

I just hope that as " things work themselves out," Velazquez its a part of it. 

"Is this heaven?" "No, it's Minnesota."

Suddenly, it all seems easy.

Too easy?

Last night, in the late innings, with a sizeable lead, the Yankees faced Kyle Barraclough, who started 2021 in Scranton. Of course, they were going to score. Why wouldn't they? 

Then, in the ninth, with Brody Koerner on the mound, there he was - the ghost Yankee schooner from the long-lost past, Brigadoon Refsnyder - with a .292 batting average, striking out. 

So easy. So simple. Is this a dream? Or is it our old friends, the Twins? 

Today, the Yankees face a rich team's problem: Too many hitters. The Dodgers have endured it for three years. Suddenly, we have too many batters for two few slots. And down in Scranton, Miguel Andujar is rehabbing in LF... just in case. 

So, what to do? Frankly, every Yank fan in captivity knows the solution: Aaron Judge in CF.

Or is this a dream? Is there a secret trapdoor in CF, a wormhole leading directly to Dr. Andrews, and as soon as Judge sets foot out there, he disappears into The Void? Good grief, it's so simple: Judge is a Gold Glove RF. Move him to CF, rest him often as DH, and stick the surprisingly nimble Giancarlo Stanton in RF. Use Gardy as a defensive replacement and occasional platoon. Dear God, and you too, Boonie: It's obvious. Am I missing something? Here's the lineup.

DJ 2b
Judge cf
Gallo lf
Stanton rf
Rizzo 1b
Luuuuuuke dh
Gio 3b (when he's back)
Sanchez c
Gleyber ss (when he's back)

Don't sweat the batting order. We can toggle it. Who cares? The bench is Wade, Odor, Gardy, Higgy and maybe another speed-bunting OF, Jonathan Davis or Greg Allen?

Of course, this needs to happen. 

And, of course, it won't. 

By the time Urshela and Torres return, somebody will be hurt. That's the Yankee reality. Still, barring a double-wipeout at catcher, or a terrifying OF collision, the Yankees should have enough depth for the stretch. 

Also, I yearn to see how a Gold Glove 1B affects the play - and mindset - of Gleyber Torres. Luke is a trooper, but those bouncers fly past him. What if Gleyber no longer has to fear his defensive liabilities, because the Second Coming of Tino is on the other side of the diamond?

It all looks so easy. (Then again, who pitches the ninth in a nail-biter?)

Friday, August 20, 2021

It's time for the Yankees to ditch their outdated Star Wars identity

In case you've missed it, the Yankees recently unveiled a new stadium sound effect: A moaning industrial siren that occasionally blares when an opposing batter reaches two strikes. David Cone compared it to the bellowing of a pregnant whale, instantly inspiring a line of t-shirts. (Ain't capitalism great?) 

In fact, we're told it's the Death Star distress signal from
Star Wars. Apparently, it also references a chestnut from GM Brian Cashman, spoken in December of 2018, when he ludicrously described the Yankees as "a fully operational Death Star." 

As the '21 Yankees - turbocharged by Cashman's trade deadline overhaul - chase the obligatory wild card birth (and, maybe, the Rays),I believe I speak for not only the Yankiverse, but for the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas and a generation of graying cosplayers in saying... politely and earnestly:


As the Yankees chase what has become an all-too rare relevancy in October, it's time for the franchise to ditch the Star Wars imagery. Here's why:

1. We're identifying with the wrong side. Has anyone noted recently that the Death Star was part of the Evil Empire? That's evil - as in bad guys. Okay, I suppose the Yankees seek to portray themselves as a powerful entity, a team feared by all. Well, sad to say but...  we are not that team. The Dodgers are, by far. 

Their $263 million payroll dwarfs ours of $203 million. And if you're looking for true villains, what about the lying, cheating Astros ($191 million payroll) or the hedge-funded owned Mets ($197 million.) Why promote ourselves as bad guys?

2. Despite all its power, the Death Star got blown to smithereens. Hello-o-o? Do you realize that the giant colossus had one measly pressure point, where one well-directed bomb could light up the entire solar system? If anything, that's an image we should avoid. Because if the Yankees do reach the playoffs, our vaunted lineup will have at least one incredible vulnerability . (Hints: late-innings, bullpen, closers.) Do we really we want to go there?

3. Star Wars came out in 1977; it's 45 fucking years old. Have you seen Luke Skywalker lately? He could play Pa Kettle. Star Wars is so old that historians no longer debate the precise moment that everything turned to shit. Was it the Wookie puppet movie? Or Jar-Jar? I'd go with the Star Wars Holiday Special, possibly the worst Christmas show in history, beyond than anything even Kathy Lee Gifford could ejaculate. (The segment where Bea Arthur sings in a bar is for the ages. Fun fact: In the last episode of Maude, the governor of NY appoints her to the House of Representatives!) 

One of the first Star Wars references came in 2002, when Redsock president Larry Luccino lamented that old George Steinbrenner had signed Jose Contreras, calling them "the Evil Empire. " This was back when the Yankees dominated Boston every October, when the Curse of the Bambino haunted all of New England, and the Yankees seemed unbeatable. Those days ended long ago. If anything, the roles flipped in 2004, and ever since, Boston has been the superior franchise.

On top of everything, by culturally appropriating Star Wars, the Yankees are associating themselves with Disney - which now owns Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Fox. Evil Empire? Draw your own conclusions.

4. The roots of Cashman's original statement could soon haunt us. Sherman, set the Wayback to December of 2018, when the free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were both sort of campaigning to join the Yankees, or at least lure them into a bidding war. (In both cases though, I believe they were sincere: For years, Harper had made no secret of his desire to play for the Yankees, and Machado's wife - a native New Yorker - wanted to go home.) 

But Hal Steinbrenner - whose Daddy issues do resemble a certain Star Wars character - was poormouthing, saying the Yankees couldn't afford such a big expenditure. A writer asked Cashman why the Yankees weren't chasing Harper, and he replied: "All I can keep telling you is, you know where my current focuses are, but at the same time, we're a fully operational Death Star." And so it began.

True to form, our Death Star blew up spectacularly in the 2019 playoffs, thanks to Jose Altuve and some banging trash can lids. (By the way, that should be the stadium's two-out sound effect!)  And here's the current rub: Both Harper and Machado are having great seasons. (Harper with 22 HRs and .290, Machado with 21 HR and .278.) We could end up playing either guy, and he might just have something to prove.

5. By invoking Cashman's statement, the Yankees are referencing the owner's refusal to spend money. That's just wrong. Nobody ever accused the Evil Empire of being cheapo. As Jason Mewes (Jay) told Silent Bob in the 1994 movie Clerks, there had to be a lot of independent contractors working on that Death Star. The Yankee payroll hasn't budged in recent years, as Food Stamps Hal tries to limit his luxury taxes. Neither Palpatine nor Darth Vader would ever have skimped on quality.  

6. While we're discussing good guys/bad guys, how about the beard thing? In the movies, bad guys wear beards (yeah, it's changing, but face it, facial hair is still a bad guy thing.) These days, some baseball teams look like the Taliban. The clean-shaven Yankees should be the good guys. This notion that the Mets are loveable underdogs? That's ridiculous. They've been to the World Series more recently (2015) than we have. 

The Yankees should be America's team. They just blew up their farm system to bet everything on a wild card birth - a last-ditch shot at 2021. That's the stuff of Indiana Jones, or Captain America, or John Wick - they jumped from the airplane, and now, somehow, they've got to catch that parachutist. They are not Emperor Palpatine. They are Tom Cruise, and this is an impossible mission. And we should abandon the Dark Side.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

" Jesus, Mary, and Andrew....."

 If I had access to my bookie last night around 5 pm Pacific coast time, I would have lost my ass. 

Lucky for me, my I-phone found its way into a pitcher of freshly stirred manhattans. Old age fingers, I guess. 

I would have bet the farm on Heaney going down in flames.  I would have taken the over on four home runs and seven runs.  

Now I know what it is to be stunned.  To admit;  "I don't know shit" ( it won't keep me from bitching, mind you ). 

But Heaney was amazing. 

When I saw him come out to pitch the seventh, I said " this guy has grit."  Often, in my life, I would " take the money and run."  Meaning;  if I did something unexpectedly well, I would cut short my time in the limelight and gracefully take accolades. 

Heaney said, " I'm still good, Aaron.   Let me go another round. "  And it was another a strong inning after an exceptional game. He could have lost it all in taking on those last three outs. 

All season, we have had ( count them on your fingers ) few starts as good. Seven innings, one run, 2 hits, and against Boston, no less, in front of 40,000 fans ready to hang the guy. 

Thank God for manhattans. 

Holy Heaney.

The lone stain on a great Yankee sweep remains the closer who couldn't close... and who may kill us all.

Today, I cannot in good faith welcome my old friends, the IT IS HIGH regulars, Despair and Hopelessness. If last night's weather radar showed a crescent of rain over upstate New York, it was in fact the fading smirk of Boston fans, as they faced a three-game Ryan McBroom. Me? I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep. Let the morning time drop all its petals on me. Life I love you. All is groovy...

Except for one lingering malady and future heart attack:

Mr. Aroldis Chapman. 

In case you missed it, El Chapo came in last night hoping to close a four-run lead and he lasted about as long as the Afghani government. Before being pulled for Lucas Luetge - let that sink in: pulled for Luetge  - he nearly conjured up a catastrophic loss. I counted 13 stress points in 15 minutes. Listen: My blood pressure does not need 13 stressers in 15 minutes. At the risk of suffering PTSD, let's review them.

Stresser No. 1: Chapman's first pitch to Enrique Hernandez is a 97-mph fastball, sailing high and wide. Across the Yankiverse, you sense an immediate "Uh-oh." 

Stresser No. 2: He goes to a 3-2 count with Hernandez on another pitch well off the plate. Damn. Did we have to go to a full count?

Stresser No. 3: Hernandez strikes out swinging on a pitch that would have been ball four. Okay, I'll take it. Maybe he's back! Maybe this will be a one-two-three inning! Welcome home, Aroldis!

Stresser No. 4: Hunter Renfro hits a moon shot to left, second tier of the bleachers. Okay, it's NOT going to be a one-two-three. 

Stresser No. 5: As the YES team processes the magnitude of Renfro's blast - it's one of the longest balls ever hit off Chapman - we watch sweat droplets off El Chapo's chin turning into a flash flood warning. Another shudder across the Yankiverse.

Stresser No. 6: YES shows us that nobody is warming in the bullpen. Thank you, YES, for doubling my blood pressure.

Stresser No. 7: After getting ahead of Xander Bogaerts with a 1-2 count - the stadium begins it's new two-strike sound effect, a Star Wars-based moaning that David Cone has earlier compared to a "pregnant whale" - Chapman throws three straight balls, none even closely emulating a strike. So... a runner on first. A million Yank fans have the same simultaneous thought: IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN!

Stresser No. 8: Up steps Rafael Devers, the league's best player and a living Yankee nightmare, prompting YES to replay the famous HR he blasted off Chapman several years ago, while a rookie, launching a hellish Yankee defeat. 

Stresser No. 9: Chapman - who has no fastball - throws two splitters to Devers and gets ahead 0-2 in the count. On the next pitch, Devers lashes a liner to right, which Andrew Rizzo knocks down and makes the out - the first of his two game-saving plays. (And by the way, Luke Voit should STFU, whining about playing time, because if he's playing 1B, that game flies out the window.)

Stresser No. 10: On the first pitch, a meaty fastball, JD Martinez lines a single to right, bringing the tying run to the plate. 

Stresser No. 11: Here comes Aaron Boone, ashen-faced, his Pacemaker working overtime. He pulls Chapman, who leaves to scattered boos and a rising creek bed of  perspiration. 

Stresser No. 12.  Luetge gets Kevin Plawecki on a great play by SS Andrew Vasquez, who bounces his long throw to first. Rizzo snags it on an in-between hop. (Again, if Luke is out there...) It's unbelievably close, and if Plawecki wasn't a catcher, it's a hit.

Stresser No. 13. The umps take their good old time with a video review of the call at first, and finally declare Plawecki out. Just to recap: If he's called safe - and he could have been called safe; it's that close - a run scores and Boston has two men on base, with Alex Verdugo coming up. By my count, that's at least three more stressers. 

So, what do we now have in the bullpen? Clearly, not Aroldis Chapman, the brand as formerly seen on TV.  The YES announcers chalked it off to "rust." Maybe they're right. That's a hopeful assessment. I would be terrified to see Chapman enter in a one-run game. My heart can't take it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Today's Trivia Q....

 What is the world record for home runs given up in a single outing?

This cannot have occurred prior to 1900 ( my rule ).

It cannot include some drunk who pitched both ends of a double header, either.

And, oh yes, it has to be on a Major League Baseball team. 

I would like to leave Haney ( Heaney?) in the game for the full nine innings, regardless of consequences. 

Because this is clearly a "give-away" game. we might as well put something in the record books. 

Related question ( which can be ignored ):  Since Heaney is going to give up 7-10 runs in 3-4 innings, isn't there some kid in AA or AAA who would benefit from the experience of pitching in Yankee stadium?  

I mean, I know it took the pandemic and the fall of Afghanistan to force the Yankees to give Luis Gil a start, but isn't this a similar situation?

Please send answers on the back of " black and white" cookies to our leader. 

Now, the real test: Beating Boston in a NINE inning game

 We all see it. We ALLLL see it...

Don't stare. No need to gloat. No posting of Mr. McBroom. It's just the wild card standings. Nothing big. In case you missed them...  

No celebrations. You hear that, juju gods? Nobody partying. Yesterday brought just a routine, doubleheader sweep over a team that's happened to own us since April. It came about because of two ho-hum miracles in the late innings, which should have been the middle innings. 

1. Jonathan Loaisiga somehow pitched out of bases loaded, no outs jam to save the first game. Have to give Aaron Boone credit: He never even warmed up a replacement, as Loaisiga drifted toward what could have been another catastrophic loss. He found his fastball and fanned the final two batters. Yeesh.

2. Wandy Peralta somehow threw out a baserunner on a comeback liner that bounced off him and landed between home plate and third - a certain base hit. I didn't think Peralta could move so quickly, or throw such a perfect strike to first. I could watch that play 100 times and still not believe it. Yeesh.

Tonight, the ultimate juju test: Andrew Heaney, whose outings have been brutal, takes the mound in a
nine-inning game. Yes, nine - with a good chance that our bullpen will be pitching by the fourth, and we'll be down by five. 
Of all the deadline deals orchestrated by Cashman, this one looks like a clunker, from the git-go. It could be (should be) Heaney's last Yankee start. The fact that they're using him speaks to the overworked staff. Or maybe there is a strategy we're not seeing.

Maybe this will be the blowout night, when the Yankees DON'T need a closer, when they'll be 10 runs behind - a night for Stephen Ridings, Nick Nelson, Lucas Luetge and the Amazing Kriske. This is a night when we play with house money. If we somehow win, Paul O'Neill will be chuckling, and the YES Fantasy Machine will be cackling in full force. 

Still, someone must pitch the ninth. Until the real Aroldis returns, not the heart attack version, calls to the Yankee pen won't be greeted by Cellino & Barnes, but by champagne... in the visiting dugout. Some other tidbits... 

1. Corey Kubler pitched three innings last night for Scranton.  He walked two, gave up three earned runs and surrendered a HR. His rehab ERA stinks - 9.00. The Yankees applied their usual lipstick: It was his best outing yet, and it didn't end with an MRI appointment. Still, stints like these don't inspire confidence. Two weeks ago, we were awaiting Setback Sevy and Comeback Corey. Now, it's all Nasty Nestor and the Gil-Man.   

2. Brett Gardner gets the most out of his speed, range and experience, but his arm looks shot. Last night, his throws from shallow centerfield were rolling to second base. We may cringe when Jonathan Davis comes to bat, but Boone almost has no other choice. But here's the question: Can Joey Gallo play CF? Can Aaron Judge? Once Andrew Rizzo returns, especially if Luke Voit's bat heats up, that's the full-tilt lineup. 

3. Down below nowhere, The Martian is not hitting. Jasson Dominiquez went 0-3 last night in low Single A, and while it's clearly too soon to sound any alarms, we are learning once again that big bonus prospects look their best when not playing. Dominiquez has struck out 41 times in 114 at bats. Of course, he'll play winter ball, and the Yanks have him on an aggressive schedule. He's only 18. Still, when you hype a player to the degree the Yankees have done, he gets watched. Right now, he's not hitting. Just sayin.'

4. So, who WILL pitch the eighth and ninth tonight? One advantage to having Heaney take the ball: If we're down by 10, Voit can pitch. Hmmm. Where's Mike Ford? Have we uncovered a plan?