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Sunday, October 31, 2021

A Modest Proposal





 Many have felt a certain reluctance to root for the Atlanta Braves even over the “Yer Cheatin’ Heart” Astros of Houston, thanks to the Atlanta squad’s continuing use of a Native American team nickname and “tomahawk chop” 

I, for one, have fond memories of chanting, “F___ the Braves!” to the tune of the tomahawk chop at Yankee Stadium, during our boys’ delirious upset of the Atlantans—a chant that even made into The New Yorker, thanks to the embrace of the great Roger Angell.

(Norman Mailer was wrong. You can write “fuck” in The New Yorker—just as long as you get the greatest baseball writer ever to do it.)

As I explained earlier in this space, though—really is nobody reading my endless exegeses?—the “Braves” of Atlanta is a reference not to the original inhabitants of this great land of ours, but to Tammany Hall.

Therefore, it seems to me that the solution to this entire tempest in a teapot is to replace the tomahawk chop with Tammany’s song—one that also happens to be, in my humble opinion, also the greatest tune ever written about New York City. 

That is, of course, “The Sidewalks of New York,” a.k.a., “East Side, West Side.” (Music by Charles B. Lawlor, words by Lawlor and James W. Blake.)

Here is an actual picture of the great Al Smith—endorsed for president by Babe Ruth!—singing it, and a link to the sound:


 https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/video/new-york-governor-al-smith-sings-the-sidewalks-of-new-news-footage/665147121




 


Imagine thousands of Braves fans, every year, bellowing out this great tribute to the City of New York. And who could possibly object?

Why, I don’t see any reason why the good people of Atlanta wouldn’t rally behind this idea immediately. I say, “Stop the chop! Hit the sidewalks!”  

It's high time that baseball faces its hateful, mocking, anti-barnyard mentality... and erases "bullpen" from our vernacular

A sharp-eyed reader, RichieAllen, flagged this idea from the advocacy group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


PETA is pitching Major League Baseball to retire the term "bullpen" and use "arm barn" instead. The animal rights group says "bullpen" mocks the misery of animals and devalues players.

Do I like this idea. 

Absolutely, not.

I LOVE IT!

Yes, yes, yes! This is soooo overdue. For decades, I've silently struggled with the hidden mockery of our barnyard beefcakes - not only the bulls who ejaculate unto us their herd-sustaining semen, but the baseball relievers who - despite turning the game into a succession of walks and strikeouts - are viewed as expendables, the lowest of the low on MLB rosters. 

While the rest of the team sits in luxurious dugout comfort, our relief pitchers are exiled - physically and psychologically - to a mud-laden shithole, a "pen" rife with disease, and commanded to "warm" their arm - the lone appendage for which they are valued. It's demeaning. It's wrong. It's unacceptable. It is verbal rape - not only of animals, but of the human condition. 

Worse, we often shorten it to the "pen," as in pigpen. Have we no concern for the feelings of our bovine buddies and porcine pals, traditional staples of the American barnyard? Will puppies and Shetland ponies be next?

Bullpen? 

I call "bullshit!"

That said, I'm not 200 percent sold on "Arm Barn." 

As stated above, human beings are more than mere "arms." We are hips, legs, breasts, heads, penises and/or vulvas. We are tongues, toes, ligaments, kidneys, earlobes and nipples. And we don't like to have them grabbed. 

To me, the fastest way to demean a relief pitcher is by calling him - or her - a "live arm," which suggests that he - or she - is mentally and spiritually deceased. I appreciate that PETA has suggested a replacement. Obviously, the organizational brain trust spent considerable time and effort attempting to craft the perfect word or phrase that adheres to the game's pastoral roots. For me, "Arm Barn" sounds too much like "Pottery Barn" - as in a china shop - which is the last place you want to house beings who only recently were considered "bulls." 

How about...

Pitch Paddock
Hurl Hut
Toss Trough
Curve Coop
Slider Silo
Scherzer Shithouse (named for the greatest pitcher today)

Or, in memory of a great reliever, the Thigpen. 

Are you with me?

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Is there any reason in this world for Yankee fans to root for Houston?

In response to the above question: 

No. Nada. None.

The Houston Astros are a slimy, fraudulent, criminal franchise, built by tanking for six straight years -  from 2009 to 2014 - in a city without drainage, in a state without compassion, which is run by a self-righteous prick without feeling in his dick, with a power grid held together by rubber bands, and whose best food is a knock-off of Mexico. 

It's a state that hounded Janis Joplin to her death, which celebrates the odious Jerry Jones, which killed JFK and then covered up the murder, which swindled Anna Nicole Smith out of her inheritance, and which elected George W. Bush, who gave this world a war that killed 601,027 people, and which was based on crime-against-humanity-grade bullshit.

The Astros are run by cheaters who wear buzzers on their tits, who play in the weakest division in baseball, whose GMs harass female sportswriters, whose sporting legacy is a fake grass known for rug-burns and turf-toe, and whose jerseys are the color of pumpkin puke. 

The Atlanta Braves have never hurt us. Ever. Whatever Milwaukee did to us in the 1950s, they were absolved by their gracious collapse in the 1996 world series. In his entire 23-year career, Hank Aaron hit only 1 HR against the Yankees, drove in a mere 10 runs and batted .203. (No lie, I looked it up.) Yes, he did beat Babe Ruth's HR record, but it was going to fall to somebody, eventually, so we'll give Henry a Mulligan, compared to the transgressions of the gnome, Li'l Jose Al-Tooth-Ache. 

Last week, I may have mistakenly intimated that nobody should give a rat's behind  about this world series and that - without the Yankees playing - America should turn to its pastimes of drunk driving and shooting each other in the streets. But the more I watch this detestable Houston team, the more I realize that I was wrong. 

Yes, I was wrong.

Apologies to the Braves players and their families. And to the juju gods who own the dice that we roll - madams and sirs, please, please, please... fuck those fucking Astros.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Is Gary Sanchez the Yankee version of Michael Meyers?

"You can't kill the boogeyman," Jamie Lee Curtis slobbered at the end of Halloween, the 1978 movie that birthed the slasher genre. 

Were Jamie a modern Yankee fan, she'd say, "You can't trade the boogeyman."

She'd be referring to Gary Sanchez.

For the last three winters of our discontent, the Death Barge has talked about trading Sanchez, the prime target for fan rage and wrath. But Brian Cashman never pulls the trigger. He checks the market for catchers, quantifies what other GMs will give up, and weighs this against the horrifying fear that Sanchez - once free of the stress-filled doghouse Cashman has built - would have a breakout, MVP year. And so Cashman does nothing.

Say what you wish about Cash, he is not stupid. He knows a potentially career-killing trade when he sees it.

But but BUT... Sanchez must go, right? I mean, if Gary is our catcher on April 1, Yank fans will unleash a Rudy Giuliani capitol insurrection, right?  

When the Yankees lost to Boston in the wild card - the most important game of the year - Kyle Higashioka started at catcher. (Officially, this is because Gerrit Cole pitched, and Higgy is his personal caddy.) Sanchez pinch hit for him in the seventh, with the Yankees down 6-1. He swung at the first pitch, a Gary-like thing to do. He lashed a liner to center, where the over-shift was positioned.   

We assumed that was it - Gary's last dance in pinstripes. Surely, Cashman won't bring him back, right? 

Well, I wonder. The closer we get to November, the uglier the catcher market looks. And the more that Yank fans target Sanchez with their tomatoes, the less Cashman can seek in return. Last winter, Sanchez's .146 average made him virtually untradeable. He's not as rancid as he was in 2020, but he's no Mookie Betts. As for free agents, grab your cowboy hat, because it's Slim Pickens. Here are the top free agent catchers. (Keep in mind, red salaries mean the clubs still have options.)


Buster Posey isn't going anywhere. Ditch the team options, and you've got a geriatrics center. What's more, the lefty bat that the Yankees so desperately need is not to be found. And though Higgy had his moments in 2021, his game deteriorated when he played every day. 

The Yankees have several catchers in the low minors. One might be ready by, say, next September. Or maybe never. 

Halloween came out in 1978, the year the Yankees beat the Dodgers 4-2 in the World Series. Our catcher was Thurman, who still isn't in the Hall. (Isn't it time for Yankee fans to start breaking things over this?)  We had Jorge Posada in the 1990s, and - well - not much since. (Remember Jesus Montero?) Gary was supposed to be our next great catcher... 

Well, it's Halloween, time to be horrified. And here's the most horrifying thing I can write: Maybe, just maybe... you can't trade the boogeyman.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

October 24, 2019: Boone, Cashman on the Yankee season, future...

Mem'ries,
Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were...


Sherman, set the Wayback to October 24, 2019...

Oct. 24, 2019.

By Bob Klapsich

It has been almost a week since Jose Altuve’s monster home run ended the Yankees’ season, and yet Aaron Boone hasn’t moved on. Images from Game 6 of the American League Championship Series are stuck in a painful loop in the manager’s memory bank: Aroldis Chapman’s hanging slider, Altuve sending it over the left-field wall and the Astros mobbing him at home plate, kicking off a party on Saturday that made it that much tougher for the Yankees to accept the stunning 6-4 loss.

Boone is no stranger to walk-off home runs in October. As a player, he sent the Yankees to the World Series in 2003 after connecting in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the A.L.C.S. against the Red Sox. Of such moments, Boone said, “I’ve been on the other side” before adding, “The other side is better.”

His smile didn’t quite mask the pain.

Whenever a nearby television has replayed Altuve’s blast, Boone said, “I’ve walked away.” And the World Series broadcasts are no easier. Seeing the Astros in the Series, Boone said he could not help but think: A break here or there, and that could have been us.

That was the theme of the Yankees’ season-ending news conference on Thursday, during which Boone and General Manager Brian Cashman offered their post-playoff perspectives. While Boone reflected the emotions of his players — Aaron Judge was close to tears in the clubhouse Saturday night — Cashman was far more clinical, his focus already on the construction of the 2020 roster.

"
Was this roster championship-caliber?" he said of the 2019 team. "The answer to that is yes, and I'm not going to lose sight of that in my discussions with ownership and my recommendations of where we need to continue to go."

Before taking questions, Cashman read off a list of medical updates: Masahiro Tanaka, Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks would all be having surgery in the next few days. Tanaka is scheduled to have bone chips removed from his right elbow. Voit’s procedure will address his late-summer core muscle injuries. Both he and Tanaka will be ready for spring training, Cashman said.

Hicks’s condition is more serious: He will have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow and will need eight to 10 months to recover. That leaves open the possibility, if not the likelihood, that Brett Gardner, who is eligible for free agency next month, will return as the Yankees’ center fielder.

Re-signing the 36-year-old Gardner could be one of several ways that Cashman stays the course this winter, despite another frustrating finish. The 2010s are the first decade since the 1910s in which the Yankees have not appeared in a World Series, but the general manager made it clear the team’s personnel plan would be no different from the one in recent years.

“We failed in our final game, but it wasn’t a failed season,” Cashman said of the Yankees’ 103 regular-season victories, adding later: “It’s very important not to get emotional. Most teams would love to be in the position we put ourselves in and the roster we have.”

Cashman long ago adopted the philosophy of his close friend Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, who coined the phrase, “The playoffs are a crapshoot.”

In Cashman’s mind, the Yankees’ regular season was nothing short of magnificent, especially in light of their major league record of 30 players spending time on the injured list.
 But in the postseason, even the best clubs are at the mercy of baseball’s randomness. As Cashman pointed out, the wild-card Nationals are up two games to none in the World Series against the heavily favored Astros, having won both games in Houston’s home park.

“It just shows you how difficult it is to navigate through October,” he said.

With no investment in the outcome of the Series, Cashman said he would get down to business next week, when the Yankees hold their pro scouts meeting. The talent evaluators will convene to discuss who stays and who goes in 2020, as well as which free agents to pursue.

First on the agenda is the future of Chapman, the closer who can opt out of the five-year, $86 million contract he signed before the 2017 season. He has two years and $34 million left on his contract and has offered no clues about whether he wants to return to the Bronx.

Cashman was similarly vague as to whether the Yankees would renegotiate the back end of Chapman’s deal. Despite his failure in Game 6, the left-hander anchored the bullpen with
 37 saves, his highest total since 2013, and posted a 2.21 earned run average, his lowest since 2016.

As for whether there will be a major upgrade to the starting rotation and a pursuit of the Astros ace Gerrit Cole, also a free-agent-to-be, Cashman gave a boilerplate answer: The team owner Hal Steinbrenner will do everything possible to ensure a strong roster in 2020.

But Cashman may have tipped his hand with one comment, saying he believed the Yankees did not fall short of their ultimate goal because of pitching. If Cole expects a blank check, he may have to look elsewhere.

Oct. 14, 2020: Cashman and Boone on the Yankees future

The world series - Nobody vs. Anybody Else Please - is now tied. It would have been nice to see Houston swept - with four blowouts, three rainouts and a couple blown calls, just to turn the knife edge. But after watching last night, I've given up hope. 

I fear the Astros will rally, and we'll spend the winter hearing their version of The Big Lie - that they weren't caught cheating, that the scandal never happened, and they are legitimate champs, the closest MLB has to a modern dynasty. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

But I woke up this morning with a bizarre thought clanging in my head: What did Cashman and Boone tell us last year, around now, after we fell to Tampa? So, here it is... the good, the bad, the ugly -because those who cannot remember the past are - wait, how does that go?

Occasional boldface is mine.

BOONE, CASHMAN ON YANKEES SEASON, FUTURE
Oct. 14, 2020

By Bryan Hoch

Yankees manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman spent more than two hours fielding questions on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, expressing their frustration following the team’s elimination in a five-game American League Division Series.

“Every series is a prize fight,” Cashman said. “You’re going to have someone who’s standing at the end of that fight. We went five games with the Tampa Bay Rays and the loser got knocked out. All the blood that comes with that knockout comes our way, which is also the criticism of not being good enough. That comes with the territory.”

One day after managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner apologized to the fan base for falling short in a year that they were favored as World Series contenders, Boone and Cashman said that they believe the Yankees are closer to celebrating a championship than it might appear.

Here are five key takeaways from the news conference:

1. The Game 2 decision
There were numerous questions asked concerning the decision to use Deivi García as an opener in ALDS Game 2 against the Rays, with J.A. Happ following as a bulk reliever. Boone said that the decision was made after the AL Wild Card Series victory over the Indians, nodding to Happ’s significant OPS advantage over the last three years against left-handed hitters.

“We were trying to exploit that a little bit, knowing that laying in the weeds was Gerrit [Cole] for a potential Game 5,” Boone said. “It was trying to creatively use our pitchers to try and get them in the best situations, to give us a chance to be successful in a game when you know we’re up against [Tyler] Glasnow. It evolved over a two-day period … we talked to J.A. about it and told him our thinking and our thought process.”

A social-media lurker, Cashman blamed himself for putting Boone in the position of having to mix and match with a rotation that he described as “at risk.” Cashman bristled at the suggestion that Boone has served as a “puppet” for the front office and analytics team; while many have a voice and contribute information to the team’s decision-making process, Boone said his decisions are final when it comes to filling out the lineup card or deciding which pitchers to call upon.

“I know there’s that narrative,” Cashman said. “It’s been asked several times about the manager being a puppet and all that. None of that is true. I’ve never ordered a manager to do anything specifically. Aaron would be able to testify to that, as well as Joe Girardi and Joe Torre. They’ve never been directed at any time by me or my front office to do something that they didn’t want to do.”

2. Gary Sánchezs future
Sánchez was on the bench for five of the Yankees’ seven postseason games, losing playing time to Kyle Higashioka after batting .147 with 10 homers in 49 regular-season games. Cashman said that Sánchez’s subpar performance would be a discussion point during the upcoming pro scouting meetings, and he could not guarantee that Sánchez will enter 2021 as the team’s starting catcher.

“It could very well be a change. It could very well be a competition,” Cashman said. “We haven’t had those conversations, but I know Gary is capable of a lot. There’s no question in my mind about that. I’m sure he’s as disappointed in this season as anybody, but I know he cares and he’s committed. His career will continue and better days will be ahead for him.”

Boone said Higashioka earned the increased playing time that he saw in September and October, but the manager still has “a ton of confidence” in Sánchez, who will turn 28 in December and has batted .200/.296/.453 with 62 homers and 154 RBIs (99 OPS+) over the past three seasons.

“In Gary’s case, I do feel like his ceiling is really, really special,” Boone said. “It’s incumbent upon all of us to continue to work alongside him and help him realize that great potential that I feel like he still has.”

3. Injuries
The Yankees have no significant injury concerns as they enter the offseason.
Their most prominent issue is the status of first baseman Luke Voit, who limped through much of the campaign with plantar fasciitis, as an MRI taken on Sunday revealed. Voit received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left foot and will wear a walking boot for one week, which is expected to resolve the issue.

Third baseman Gio Urshela had his right elbow checked after being sidelined during the season with a bone spur; no surgery has been recommended. 

Right-hander Luis Severino is continuing to progress in his return from Tommy John surgery and has been throwing at distances of 90 feet for about three weeks. Cashman said that Severino is expected to return to the Majors in June or July.

4. Money matters
Steinbrenner said that the Yankees incurred significant financial losses during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season as a result of playing in front of no fans -- “more so than any other team in baseball.” Cashman said that could impact the club’s spending during this offseason -- an important note as DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka approach free agency.

“This global pandemic has affected everybody in a horrific way in a business setting,” Cashman said. “[Steinbrenner] was just shining a light on the reality that I don’t think would be a surprise to anybody, or shouldn’t be. … Clearly, these are real constraints that exist throughout all industries and households. It will be clearly something that factors into how we approach the future.”

Boone and Cashman spoke effusively of LeMahieu and Tanaka. Cashman said that Tanaka “has been fantastic every step of the way” throughout his seven-year contract. Boone said that he spotted LeMahieu, the Majors’ leading hitter this past season, at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

“I think if you take a snapshot of the last two years, you can probably count on one hand how many players have been as good as DJ LeMahieu,” Boone said. “We’ll see what happens. All I can tell you is he’s been a pleasure to manage, to watch him go out and prepare the way he does, perform the way he does, lead the way he does. He’s a special player, a special person. We’d love to have him back.”

5. Mission 28
Voit was one of the more emotional players to speak after the ALDS Game 5 loss, saying that it was his third year in a row experiencing the pain of a playoff loss. The Yanks lost the 2018 ALDS to the Red Sox, fell in the '19 ALCS to the Astros and now are watching as the Rays hope to advance to the World Series.

Despite those heartbreaks, Boone said that he believes the differences between the Yankees and the eventual 2020 champion is “razor-thin,” and Cashman said that he believes the team will soon be in position to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.

“The commitment of trying to be a champion is always going to be there,” Cashman said. “I’m proud of that championship-caliber intent and effort. We’ll keep working at it, I promise you. That’s our commitment to our fans.”

Aside from the stats and the Deivi Garcia controversy - ah, remember Deivi? - you could practically run the same quotes this October. The more things change, the more they - how did that go?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

So Everyones Got A New Idea......


 ....so here is mine:

Duque correctly surmises that the new baseball contract will, somehow, find a way to allow more teams into the playoffs ($$$$).

Here is my idea;  

One notch below the one game play-in ( the game the yankees strive for and lose ), there will be a seven  game series to determine who gets a shot at the eventual one-game, play-in winner (e.g. Boston this year ). 

This seven game "marathon" is designed to give the winner of the one game play-in game an "edge".....e.g. being more well-rested.....because they had a better season to begin with. 

 Otherwise it is simply an unbalanced and capricious undertaking by MLB.  And there is the tv money, of course. 

The really fun thing is this;  the two contestants for the seven game, pre-play-in game series....will be drawn at random.  This will occur on a fully televised " draft night" held in Cleveland, Ohio. 

And get this...the teams can be National league, American League, or any team from the top Japanese baseball empire. 

 Every second year, the triple AAA team with the best "numerics" will also be in the " selection hat."

The drawing will be done by a prominent American...perhaps a Kardashian or an Olsen twin. 

Thoughts?



Fixing the Yankees Part Three: We Need To Fix Hal

The underwhelming response to my first two suggestions, (Hiring Marie Kondo as GM to clean all the crap out of the clubhouse and, since the Steinbrenner will never sell, marry one into another baseball family to improve the ownership bloodline) has left me battered but undaunted as I again attempt to look for unorthodox ways to turn this team around.

I toyed with having Hal join fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos and the Virgin Atlantic guy in space by developing the “Yankee Clipper” a sub orbital space dirigible. 

I figured that, given his track record running the Yankees, the ship would run on autopilot and then inexplicably head for home prematurely resulting in Hal being thrown out (of the spacecraft) thus solving our problem. 

But I don’t actually wish him harm. There’s nothing wrong with Hal being the owner per se. We do have one of the higher budgets in baseball. It’s just that his malaise towards the team is infectious and detrimental. Auto pilot.

Hal seems like a nice enough guy, I mean sure there are no photographs of him smiling, but as has been written on this site many times, he just doesn’t care about winning a World Series.

So, let’s figure out how to make him care.  

Well, the obvious one is to hit him in the bottom line but, MLB has all kinds of safeguards against that. While a drop in attendance isn’t a good look, the TV money keeps the Yankees in the black regardless.

There’s the rent a plane and have it tow a banner. It kinda worked for the NY Giants a while back but again, if Hal doesn’t care than there is no way of shaming him.

So, what’s the lever?

Three major motivators are money, sex, and power. Hal’s got money and power. So let's go with sex. We need to find a seductress. A Lola Getz. Someone to, shall we say, “put a smile on his face.” And then, cut him off! 



I think it might go, something like this...

“But baby please! I’ll do anything.”

“Anything? Buy me a ring.”

"Absolutely. Easily done. What kind of ring? Diamond? Sapphire?”

“Championship!”

"Soccer?"

"Baseball."

She wiggles around. (See photo)

"I'll get Brian on the phone. Sign Freddie Freeman and Carlos Correa."

She nods her head.

"And?"

"Scherzer and Gausman"

She nods her head and wiggles.

"And?"

"Rodon?"

She shakes her head no.

"And!!!"

"Fine, we'll fire Boone, I'll move Hal upstairs and his replacement can trade Sanchez. How about a little kiss?"

"Make the calls. Then we'll talk."




 

Cashman saw through that Charlie Morton.


Say what you want about Brain, but you have to admit he saw last night coming, with Braves’ starter Charlie Morton knocked out of the World Series with a broken leg.

Why, the last thing your New York Yankees are going to put up with is a namby-pamby weakling so injury-prone as to get knocked out of a game by a line drive! Okay, so he threw another 16 effective pitches after his leg was broken. But still!

Ol’ Cooperstown Cashman knew something like this was bound to happen. 







Back in the fall of 2016, Charlie Morton was a 32-year-old, career-long mediocrity who had been through three organizations. When Morton became a free agent that fall, Coops didn’t even glance in his direction.

Morton signed with Houston, where he went 29-10 over the next two years, with a 3.36 ERA, and a 2-1 record in the postseason—including the 2017 ALCS, where the Astros barely beat out your New York Yankees and went on to win the whole enchilada.

But hey! Morton cost the Astros all of $15 million for those two seasons. Money doesn’t grow on trees—just MLB cryptocurrencies.

Fool me once…

After 2018, Morton, now 34, was a free agent again. Cashman passed.

The Tampa Bay Rays signed Charlie for $30 million for two years. Well, maybe a big-market club like Tampa has that sort of money to throw around, but not the Yankees!

What did Morton do?

Only go 18-8, 3.33 (despite the Covid year), with a 5-1 record in the postseason. Including a win over the Yanks in 2020, as he helped the Rays to a World Series appearance.




Look, fool me twice, steal my identity, take all my money, walk off with my wife and kids and my motor home, sell my kidney to organ pirates, and…

After the 2020 season, Charlie Morton became a free agent again. Atlanta gave him the same $30 million for two years that the Rays did. 

The Yanks weren’t interested. 

Why should they have been, with all their starting pitching depth? Why sign a guy who keeps ending up in the World Series, when you can always sign someone who hasn’t pitched in two years?

In his first season back with the Braves, his original organization, all Morton did was go 14-6, 3.34. And wind up starting in the World Series. Again.

But then! The broken leg, and now he’s out for the year.

You can’t tell me Cashman didn’t know just that was going to occur. Why, just THINK of how much trouble the Yanks would be in if they were in the World Series now! 

Today in spinelessness: Goodell takes a 2-1 lead over Manfred

 


One throwaway line in a Times article might just signal another rotten Yankee decade

In today's Gray Lady, the esteemed Gammonite, Tyler Kepner, unfurls a bottomless thumbsucker on what it takes to win a world series, which - spoiler alert - nobody really knows (least of all, the Yankees.)  

He deftly notes that - despite the wails of certain cheapo billionaire owners - baseball has reached a parity well beyond those of the NFL, NBA and NHL. Baseball's last repeat champions were the New York Yankees of 1999-2000. Remember them? 

Now, I could start right now writing about what's gone wrong with the Yankees over the last 12 years, but I would be at this keyboard until opening day 2022, when a new cascade of reasons will be unveiled. Instead, let's hone in on one line in Kepner's story, which - as always - is worth a read. Around 15 inches into the narrative, he writes about the number of teams that qualify for the post-season: 

"Now there are five in each league, with more teams likely to be added as part of the next C.B.A."

Hmm... 

We've known about the impending labor war, which has festered since the first sign that the owners - including Hal Steinbrenner - would view Bud Selig's luxury tax as a de facto payroll cap, basically colluding to hold down player salaries and ruin our financial advantage. Remember how haters used to snarl at us, "Your damn Yankees buy their pennants!" Ahh, the good-old days. Does anybody ever bark at you, "Your damn Yankees buy their away-team wild card slots!" (Because, frankly, that's what we did this year.) 

But getting back to Kepner's throwaway: Part of the new labor agreement will probably - no, make it "surely" - add yet another team in each league to the already outstretched post-season. Will they finish up on Thanksgiving? Imagine a 162 game season that now allows 12 out of 30 teams to reach what Kepner calls the playoffs "lottery." 

In that impending new world, the Yankees will always challenge for some variation of the wild card. Because we can. Thus, every Aug. 1 trade deadline will bring an infusion of Joey Gallos, at the expense of our farm system. (And once more, I'd like to address this bizarre notion - pushed so heavily by the Yankee-owned media that it does not get challenged enough - that our farm system is soooo deep, and that we are soooo much smarter than other teams, thus, we never give away anything of quality. If our front office is sooooo smart, why have we won nothing in 12 years?) 

Tonight, the World Series continues, and - ya know what? I don't give a fuck who wins. We can fling feces at the Astros - why not! - but both Atlanta and Houston built their teams after suffering long lean periods. The Yankees will never do that, not as long as there are sellers at the deadline and some ridiculous final wild card berth to chase. Six playoff teams? Why not make it seven? Either way, come next October, we will be right here, wondering what went wrong?

The fault, dear Kepner, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Joey Gallo isn't the only Yankee who had a thing about his underwear...

 Repeated in honor of Joey Gallo's pregame uniform ritual.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Giambi's Golden Thong, a poem

On days when drives are flying long,
And pitchers wonder what’s gone wrong?
The Bronx winds sing this joyous song:
“Giambi’s in his golden thong!”
Each swing reveals Giambi’s might,
Each wince inspires his mates to fight,
They know too well his painful plight:
One ball hangs left, one ball hangs right.
He leads the veteran team attack,
True courage, he shall never lack!
He eyes the pitch, then takes his whack
As golden threads ascend his crack.

Then comes the time when life turns wrong,
When wins grow short, and losses long,
And Bronx winds sing their saddest song:
“Giambi’s lost his golden thong!”

Can Joey Gallo be saved?

Lo and behold: Yesterday's chatter wires brought not one but two Joey Gallo stories! And the birds cried Poo-Tee-Weet...

The first concerns Gallo's "quirky" - (I'd go with macabre) - pre-game ceremony of laying out his uniform, piece by piece, before putting it on... sort of like a serial killer admiring his collection of spleens. If anything intervenes, he undresses and starts over. Yikes. The ancient Jersey scribe, Bob Klapisch, wrote about this, suggesting via an anonymous know-it-all that the Yankees should have looked closer before bringing such a fussbudget to Gotham. Interestingly, Gallo clapped back on Twitter, asking who cares about his pre-game rituals? So... a bit touchy are we?

Well, the fuss is not that Gallo is "quirky." It's that he batted .160 and led MLB in strikeouts.

The second Gallo story concerns one of the four prospects we traded for him. In the Arizona Instructional League, 22-year-old Eziquel Duran, a 3B, yesterday finished a HR shy of the cycle, his third straight game with three hits. He's ripping it up. Of course, we know the Yankees gave up nothing in the Gallo trade: They told us so. Thus, no worries, right? No need to remember that name... Eziquel Duran. 

But here's my Essay Question: Is there a batting coach out there who can save Gallo from the impending Dave Kingman School of Extinction? Because I think he is one bad month of April away from becoming the face of Yankee Mediocrity, which means a ticket to scapegoat-hood.  

The Yankees have Gallo because the front office last spring fucked up and presented a team without lefty bats. At the last minute, they brought in Jay Bruce, who was done. As botches go, this was a doozy. For all their analytics, all their number-crunching, the big brains atop the Yankee larder made an incredible error, so when the Aug. 1 trade deadline neared, they had no choice but to chase whatever LH hitters were available, and Texas had seen enough of Gallo (as they had Rougned Odor before him.)  

Supposedly, a few teams still covet Gallo. Actually, I think it's one team: San Diego, which just shot its wad on a payroll that missed the wild card. I'd happily see Gallo go for a catcher, a SS or a bullpen lug nut. (Manny Machado in a salary dump? You heard it here first.) But there is a voice inside me that wonders: 

Is this guy redeemable? 

If Gallo shortened his swing with two strikes, if he learns to bunt or hit to left, could he save himself? This fall, he looked like a hockey goon, lunging for the fences on every pitch, regardless of the situation. Let's not forget that when Phil Nevin waved Aaron Judge around third in that fateful wild card debacle, the coach knew that Gallo was the next batter - (he'd hit an infield pop-up) - and so maybe our best shot was going for home?  

Gallo has one thing going for him. He draws a shitload of walks. (He finished 2nd this year, after Juan Soto.) If he could hit - say - .230 - look, we're not talking Rod Carew here - he could be an effective lefty presence. So, can he change? Who will be that Yankee hitting coach, the Anne Sullivan, who saves Gallo from himself?

Fuck if I know. But I do know this: If Gallo refuses to change, the Yankees should pay someone to mess up his uniform layout before each game. The guy needs a bucket of ice water thrown on him. Otherwise, his next stop won't be San Diego. It'll be Palookaville.

Monday, October 25, 2021

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

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

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

Mother's milk for our ears.  

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

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

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

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

Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner. 

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

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

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

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

Cash recently told CBS: 

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

Hilarious, right?

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fox gets its Halloween nightmare match-up

Houston v. Atlanta. 

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

Professional Cornhole, anyone?

The Knicks are going to rule the back-pages.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

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

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

It doesn't exist.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 22, 2021

A Few Superlatives for Perusal :


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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