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Friday, December 31, 2021

Top Seven Moments That Make Being A Yankee Fan Kinda Suck

Happy New Year! 

Before I start, I need to take care of some business...

Woke up this AM with two more for the “Yankee Bathroom Experience”   

Add great radio moments.  Flush and hear…  

“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”  

And of course…  “It is High. It is Far. It is Gone!”

---

I’ve been reading a lot of year end Top Ten Lists and it got me to thinking… What do we consider the Top Yankee Moments of 2021?  But here’s the thing… It seems like every Top Moment was associated with disaster that nullified it.

So, here are my Top Seven Moments That Make Being A Yankee Fan Kinda Suck.

1) The Field of Dreams Game

Marketing bullshit or not it was so, so cool to see them come out of the cornfield.

They lost.

2)  The 13 Game Winning Streak

For two weeks it really looked like we had the best team in baseball. 

The losing streak that followed.

3)  THREE GAME ENDING TRIPLE PLAYS!!!!!!

Only possible because El Chapo put the first two guys on.

4) Kluber’s No-Hitter

Then his arm fell off.

5)  Yanks Get Rizzo!

A real first baseman. A gamer.  I loved what he brought to the team. Unfortunately, that included Covid. Dickhead was “still doing research”

6) Yanks demote Heaney!

Yes, this was a top moment for me!  Of course, the Yanks acquired Heaney first.  

7) Yankees Lose Play In Game To Red Sox!

This one is kind of weird, but any reader of this blog knows there was a part of us that was happy because it meant they HAD to get rid of Boone right? Right? I mean his contract was up. There was no reason to keep this inferior game tactician. This mealy mouth namby pamby uninspiring poor excuse for a manager. We were eliminated by the Red Sox! Blown out! Good!

He was re-signed for three years.

--

That’s it. Please add any that I’ve missed and again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Reading this site with all its contributors and commenters is really one of the great joys in my day.  This has been such a weird couple of years and having a place to park my mind, even for a few minutes has really made a difference in my day.  Thank you all.


Happy New Year from IIHIIFIIc


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Urine Line For The Bathroom Anyway…

Off of 13Bit’s suggestion… 

“I think the Yankees should sell naming rights to individual urinals in the Stadium. Pay 5 grand and people can read your name on a plaque while they are pissing."

This is a great idea but why stop there?  Create The “Yankee Bathroom Experience” (YBE) and charge $5 just to use the restroom.

Or, as the Yankee Quarterly Financial Report will justify it, “Providing a new revenue stream by turning a stream into revenue.”

For example, they could rebrand the urinals as “Reliver’s Row”

As a special treat the urinals would have urine cakes modelled after the gloves of famous Yankee Catchers. Munson, Berra, and Dickey.  

NOTE: They shouldn’t use cakes modeled after Gary Sanchez’s mitt. It’s hard enough to keep the bathrooms clean without having half the piss miss the urinal and hit the wall.

Each urinal would be outfitted with a small speaker with a recording of 3B Coach Luis Rojas yelling, “Go! Go! Go!”

Bathroom stalls could be “The Booths”. Toilet handles could resemble radio microphones. Flush the toilet and hear Phil Rizzuto say, “Holy Cow!” or John Sterling say, “You can’t predict baseball.”

The sinks become “Clean Up Stations” each one honoring the great clean up hitters in Yankee History. Gehrig… Jackson… Gallo.  Note: The Gallo one will be out of order, but they promise it will be fixed by next season.

As patrons exit the YBE they hear a recording of Aaron Boone talking about what a good job they did. Even if they didn’t wash their hands.  

And don’t get me started on the merch…

Where things stand, heading into this winter

 Talkin' Golden Snowball, of course. 

Perennial bliz-champ Syracuse sits right where we should be, tail-gating Rochester. Binghamton won't repeat, and Buffalo is all Mafia, no Bills. 

Go, 'Cuse! And happy New Year! 


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Happy Birthday, Alphonso

 



The world's greatest master of negative Rizzutonic juju.


Twilight of the Gods: John Madden leaves, and the Boss cashes out

Many years ago, I collaborated with a buddy on an article for an in-flight airline mag, in which we ranked Super Bowl coaches, based on their records against each other. The leaders were John Madden and Chuck Noll. We sought interviews, and Madden responded. 

We phoned him at home. He talked for an hour, all while two large dogs barked around him. They never quit, but it didn't phase Madden. He talked and talked - yeesh - we  practically couldn't get rid of him. In the end, one conclusion became obvious: He was the same guy as seen on TV. 

I believe that was Madden's gift. He loved football with a child's passion and never stopped marveling over his incredible luck - being paid to watch games. He would talk football with anybody, at any time, and be happy.

In that way, he reminded me more of Phil Rizzuto than any other broadcaster. 

In an industry of plastic personalities, nobody was ever more authentic, more real, than they. 

For boomers, these are perilous times, twilight of the gods. Charlie Watts. Michael Nesmith. Joan Didion. Yeesh. It's a generational "Proceed to checkout." Last week, Bruce Springsteen sold his music catalogue for $500 million - more money than he'll have time to spend it. I don't blame him. What does he need with old songs, when he can buy another boat? 

Still, it will mean weathering strange advertising jingles. Steel yourself for: 

"It aint no sin to be glad you use Dial.”

“Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night. You’re sure a beauty when I’m drinkin’ Coors Light.”

“Cramps like ours… Baby, they’ll be gone with Tums!”

And others...

Bob Dylan: “Come all without, come all within! You’ll not stay nowhere like the Comfort Inn.”

“When backache hurts you to the bone, EVERYBODY MUST GET DOAN’S!”

 Mick Jagger: “Pleased to scratch you! Hope you guess my name! ‘Cuz what’s itchin’ you soon be gone with Lanacane.”

Elton John: “It seems to me, you lived your life like a candle in the wind… ever glowin’, lookin’ healthy… takin’ Ultra Slim.”

Michael Stipe:  (for AAMCO) “That’s me at the corner. That’s me at the stop light, losin’ my transmission…”

Helen Reddy: “I am strong. I am invincible. I am Garman.”

RIP, everybody. Yeah, it's dark. But the days are getting longer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Flying Buck-man


One of my favorite nautical legends is that of "The Flying Dutchman," the story of a Dutch sea captain who, for some ill-defined offense of the ever-touchy juju gods or their ilk, was damned to circumnavigate the world forever in his 17th-century East Indiaman.

For many years, this ghost ship, glowing with an unworldly light, would be sighted by other navigators, who saw it as a sign of approaching doom. 

The legend is so alluring that it became a Wagner opera—not to mention the inspiration of many, truly awful Hollywood movies, stills or posters from which can be seen here. For years, Hofstra even called its teams, "The Flying Dutchmen," an all-time great team nickname, which they changed to "Pride" a few years ago, the previous moniker no doubt having been too Dutch and too men.  

Instead, they went with the sin that preceedeth a fall. Sounds like another curse in the offing. 

But I digress. 

It strikes me that Buck Showalter is the Flying Dutchman of our time, a brilliant, defiant mind, forced to wander the baseball world because he played fast and loose with the fates.

What was Buck's fatal flaw? His failure to bring Mariano Rivera into the awful Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS. 

It was during that series, you'll recall, that Mariano first emerged, hurling 5 1/3 scoreless innings and striking out 8. With an overworked David Cone flailing in the 8th inning of that fateful last game, Buck chose to let him pitch to Doug Strange with the bases loaded and two out. Cone walked in the tying run.

Contrary to popular belief, Buck did NOT bring in Black Jack McDowell then. Instead, he went with The Great One, who struck out Mike Blowers to end the inning. But as with many cursed characters in history, it was too late. The Yanks went on to lose in 11—and Buck was forced to move on by Mad King George.








Some have looked at Buck's not-overly-impressive managerial record—1,551-1,517—and sneered that this was no great loss. And it is true that Showalter, a man as testy and tightly wrapped as your average Dutch sea captain from the Golden Age of Sail, tends to alienate all around him in the clubhouse.

But his real value is as a baseball mind. On leaving the Yankees after 1995, he was immediately snatched up by the still a-borning Arizona franchise. There, he won 100 games in the Snakes' second season and had 2 winning seasons out of 3—for an expansion team.

Nobody had ever done anything like that. But Buck was forced to move on, thereby missing his team's win in the 2001 World Series over you-know-who—a Series in which Buck was even responsible for the dirt path to the pitcher's mound that would play such a tragic role in Game 7.

On to Texas, where Buck reorganized the team and directed the Rangers to their first winning season in 5 years. 

Not good enough. Always the juju gods pushed him on, on, for his one, terrible mistake! 

After Texas it was Baltimore, where Buck turned around an awful Orioles team. He led the O's to 3 playoff appearances in 5 years, including the Birds' one and only first-place finish since 1997—scaring the hell out of our boys in the 2012 ALDS.

It wasn't enough to placate the furies. Even worse—again, like so many cursed characters in classical literature, such as Gene Mauch—Buck repeated his original sin, losing the 2016 Wild Card play-in game when he refused to bring in his ace closer, the Britton then known as Zack, saving him—saving him for what???—while the Orioles lost in 11.

Now this briny old salt has washed up on the shores of Flushing Bay. What doom does this portend?

Only in New York, of course, would a pro franchise take a man whose greatest successes were in the front office and make him...a field manager. 

(See Knicks, NY, who decided that the NBA's all-time best floor coach should be...a general manager.)

The Mets, being Mets, are classically underutilizing Buck. But if the history of four, very different franchises is any indication, just having Showalter in the mix of decision-making should mean a dramatic, positive turn in the team's fortunes.  

And what will that mean for your New York Yankees, the nemesis he hates above 

The Flying Buck-man has come home. Be afraid. Be very afraid.











"I don't know exactly how I'm going to report this while doing a ballgame, but I'll try..." John Sterling announces a turning point in Yankee history, the suspension of George Steinbrenner

This popped up recently on Reddit. I'm appropriating it to add historical context. 

This is arguably the most important moment in modern Yankee history, and it's captured by a young(ish) John Sterling in real time during a game.

The date is July 30, 1990, and the Yankees - under Bucky Dent and Stump Merrill - are destined to finish 7th in the AL with 95 losses. They are already 15 games out and facing mighty Detroit, with Alan Trammel, Travis Fryman and Chet Lemon. It's the bottom of the fourth, 1-to-nothing, and Dave LaPoint is starting for the Yankees. (I suspect it predates his famous "La Lob.") Cecil Fielder is batting for the Tigers. 

The news comes over the wire, and John is flat-out stunned. The Commissioner of Baseball has suspended the owner of the Yankees for his illegal political contributions. His broadcast partner, Jay Johnson, can only say, "Wow."

"George Steinbrenner - the pitch to Fielder is down low, isn't this amazing? - but it is that George Steinbrenner will step down as the managing general partner and stay on as a limited partner."

Folks, this is the Yankee Big Bang, Noah's flood, the asteroid that kills off the dinosaurs...  

Caught red-handed, Steinbrenner is about to disappear for a few years, turning the franchise over to Stick Michael, Dallas Green, Bob Watson and people who actually know the game of baseball. 

This is the moment when everything changes, when future Yankee championships take shape. Without this moment - this action by Fay Vincent - there might be no Core Four, no Canyon of Heroes, no Torre, no late 90s resurgence. 

Of course, it's punctuated with a blast, called by John without a homer-holler or even an IT IS HIGH...

"And this ball is way gone... a humungus home run by Cecil Fielder!"

Close your eyes and listen. This is golden. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

With the Giants and Jets "Tankathons" in full bloom, can't MLB find a way to avoid rewarding teams for losing?

Yesterday, I watched the NY "Football" Giants phone in one of their most dismal performances since the days of Rocky Thompson and Vernon Vanoy. They lost 34-10 to Philadelphia, though the score is misleading. If the Eagles could catch a football, it would have been 48-3.  

The Giants are now 4-11, and I curse each of their four threadbare victories. They cost us not only a higher draft position, but they apparently ensure another season of a coaching staff that, around this time next December, will be getting canned. Actually, though, I don't blame the players, coach or even the water boy. It's the owners - John Mara and Steve Tisch - for whom the phrase "nepotistic rich pissants" just isn't enough. The Giants' horror show is so bad, so top-down, that I now refuse to watch movies with Rooney or Kate Mara. I see their faces and want to yell, "FIRE GETTLEMAN, YOU CONNECTICUT TRAMP!"

The worst part of fanhood is having to root against your team, because it's the only way to find hope. 

With the Giants, tanking is a Christmas tradition. Four games into 2021-22, fans read the handwriting. Now, with two games left, there is no reason to win. None. Thus, I can guarantee the Giants will win their final games. Management will claim it gives "momentum" into next year. What a crock. 

According to the internet, the next MLB players union agreement will include the establishment of a draft lottery, similar to the NBA's. Long ago, pro basketball recognized the rampant willingness of franchises to "tank,"-so it imposed a lottery on the draft. It's sad that baseball needs one, but at least its honest. At least MLB will be quietly acknowledging how corrupt its system has become.

I have a plan to end the Tankathons: Postseason playoffs for the bottom eight. 

Let the teams with the worst records face off in best-of-seven series (no days off.) Winners get to go home. The losers must continually play. And the worst of the worst has to tour Afghanistan, Burma and the Middle East. 

Don't reward shitty franchises. The Tankathon World Series.

May the worst team lose!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The baseball void has no end in sight, and this needs to be the year when everything changes

Across the Yankiverse, the rumor mill is not grinding, the hot stove not percolating, the off-season not offing...

Aside from the eternal march of entropy toward chaos - (speaking on the cosmic level, of course) - nothing is happening... nor will it, soon. 

The lockout is a lockdown. Time has ceased, rosters frozen. 

My guess - (no better as yours) - is this:

The owners will sit on their cans until mid-January. With Omicron surging, they won't meet with the union, and Zoom calls get nowhere. Their strategy was always simple: The longer they wait, the more pinched the players feel, and the better deal they think they'll get.  

Around Jan. 15, the owners will seek to relaunch talks. At that point, the union will walk out. Why? To show the owners it can't be pushed around.  

Around Feb. 1, the two sides will start talking. Maybe a secret committee of owners and players. Everybody loves a secret committee.

Around Feb. 15 - the time when pitchers and catchers would report - they will start negotiating. Both sides will feel pressure, if only to make it seem as though they're earnest.

Around March 1, they'll reach a tentative deal. But critics on each side will trash it.

Around March 15, both sides will approve the deal. 

That will give teams a month to sign and trade players, and prepare for opening day, which will be delayed a couple weeks. 

As for the Yankees, Cooperstown Cashman is clearly playing the waiting game. So are the Redsocks, Giants, Dodgers and most big market teams. One difference: The Yankees need an extensive makeover. They have huge holes, which require signings and trades.

Between now and then, there is little to say without feeling abused. 

I get it that big money is at stake. But as this lockdown continues, the rest of us should grow angrier and angrier. 

This needs to be the year when fan protests make their mark. 

It's time for us to fight back. More on that in the coming weeks.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Friday, December 24, 2021

"Have you all been good? That's not many, that's not many!" Join The Boss and The Master in welcoming Santa


 

Seasons Greetings from Happy Holidays

All is quiet across the Yankiverse. 

Nobody's going to get traded. 

Nobody's going to get released. 

Have another eggnog. 


Thursday, December 23, 2021

All-time Christmas villains, ranked

What an asshole.
1. Hans Gruber
2. Scrooge
3. Grinch
4. Old Man Potter 
5. Krampus
6. Oogie Boogie
7. Home Alone Burglars
8. Ovaltine
9. White-spotted Gremlin
10. Jeffrey Epstein


Sing along with The Master in "HALLELUJAH"


 

Merry Christmas, everybody. Sports in America are broken

 (Note: Reprinted from December 23, 2020. Read it and weep. Nothing has changed.)

As a fan, here's how I view pro sports in America:


Ah, yet another existential crisis! What brings this one on, you ask? 

Well, Sunday, the lowly, miserable Jets might have blown their one shot at perfection. They won a meaningless game. It could cost them next year's top draft pick, Trevor Lawrence. For Jets fans, watching Sunday's event  was a horrible, ridiculous conundrum - they even tank when trying to tank - and one that Giants' fans know well. 

As the "G-Men" lumber towards the end of another losing season, their fans have no recourse but to root for losses. Last year, right around now, the Giants beat the then-Redskins in a wretched, meaningless game that cost them the draft rights to one of the game's best young players, Chase Young. And now the Washington Football Team looks headed to the playoffs. 

Okay, so, the Yankees... Obviously, it's far too early to give up on the 2021 baseball season. (There will be plenty of time for that, later.) But who can ignore the lingering sense that the Death Barge - with a clearly inadequate pitching staff - is headed towards the precipice? 

Last year, the Redsocks chose to tank. This winter, they have money. In this millennium, they have orchestrated three tankings. Each one eventually resulted in a ring. They are playing the game, according to a successful strategy. And they are outsmarting us. 

Professional sports in America is broken. Each season, two races emerge - to the top and to the bottom. Whatever you do, don't get Malcom'ed in the middle. In fact, the Yankees' failure over the last 11 years stems from their insistence on challenging every season, while their rivals systematically rise, fall and rise again. 

How did this come to be? Billionaire owners want their industry run according to the purest ideals of capitalism: No regulations, the ability to relocate franchises, and absolute power over the hired help. But when it comes to actually running their business, they prefer socialism: Oppressive regulations (down to the shoes that players wear), massive luxury taxes (since when do billionaires like taxes?) and full-scale salary caps. Moreover, they reward the worst-run teams - (often the cheapest run, as well) - for their incompetence.

The media seems to accept the notion that Hal Steinbrenner lost a lot of money last year - (which would make him almost unique among billionaires) - thus, the 2021 Yankee payroll must shrink. The team cannot afford a huge luxury tax bill. Money doesn't grow on trees! If the Yanks are hamstrung among free agents this winter, well, we should blame D.J. LeMahieu! Why didn't he accept less money? 

I donno what'll happen with D.J. But if he does re-sign with us - probably for less money - the Yankees apparently won't have any coins left over for pitching. Thus, Brian Cashman will remake the roster... with, gulp, trades. If D.J. signs, he might be signing the papers for Luke Voit's move to Kansas City. Yeesh. 

Something tells me, around July 30, Yankee fans might find ourselves feeling the urge to destroy. So, on that note, merry fucking Christmas, everybody. 

The annual IT IS HIGH Festivus Airing of Grievances

 The 2021 IIHIIFIIc Festivus Shit List:

The virus (again.)
Gary Sanchez (again.)
Food Stamps Hal (again.)
Cooperstown Cashman (are we sensing a pattern?)
"Exit velo" (Coney, please take note.)
When Paul O'Neill gushes over Michael Kay's wit.
In-game commercials foisted upon John & Suzyn.
Tweaked gonads.
Houston Astros (lifetime achievement.)
Robert Kennedy Jr. (shot up heroin and now won't take a vaccine?) 
NY Football Giants (lifetime curse?)
The owners of the NY Football Giants. 
Influencers.
Ever-changing computer passwords.
Waking up at 3 a.m. to pee.
Pet peeves of old farts.
Reality TV (yeah, right.)
Angry talk show hosts who never debate the other side. (In other words, nearly all talk show hosts.)
Angry show hosts who sell health food supplements. (In other words, nearly all talk show hosts.)
The Marvel Universe (formulaic, reactionary, trendy.)
LATE ADDITION: Kyle Holder signing with Colorado. (Actually, good for him. Glad to see he's got a new life. Now, the Yankees will sign or trade for a defensive SS, while they've sat on Holder for four years. They never gave him a chance. I hope he does well for the Rockies, while we spend millions on some has-been... the Yankee "safe" strategy of management.)
The Yankee "safe" strategy of management. (See above.)

The Awarding of the 2021 IT IS HIGH Yankee Medal of Valor for Heroism

The IT IS HIGH 2021 YANKEE 

MEDAL OF HONOR FOR HEROISM

IS HEREBY AWARDED TO 

MR. RICKY RICARDO 



Whereby... on the night of Sept 1, Yankee Spanish-language announcer Ricky Ricardo risked his car and, arguably, his life by rescuing John Sterling, as streets and highways flooded across New Jersey. 

That night, after hearing reports of rising waters in the areas of Sterling's drive home, fellow radio announcer Suzyn Waldman phoned Ricardo, who was in his car, asking for help. Ricardo changed his route, driving into the torrential downpour, finding the 83-year-old Sterling stuck in traffic.

Though it took an hour of driving, Ricardo selflessly brought The Master to safety.

Whereby... this weekend, America moviegoers will watch a film dedicated to Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo, a great legacy of 1950s TV. 

Therefore.... we at IT IS HIGH want to acknowledge the REAL Ricky Ricardo... the true Yankee hero of 2021. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Sing along as The King and The Master welcome Santa


 

Yanks add coaches to coaching staff in hope of coaching uncoachable team

Hot scoop: The Yankees have added new coaches. 

Eric Chavez is one. Luis Rojas is another. I'd tell you the others, but it would mean googling their names, then cutting and pasting them into this post, and pretending to give a flying crap. Not worth it.

Listen: I love coaches. They yell at the umps. They warm up pitchers. They slap backsides. And I do believe batting, pitching, first base, third base, bullpen and bench coaches can have an impact on players - in 11th grade. Used to be they could affect low minor leaguers, though in this era of $5 million cabana boys, even that chestnut of tradition may have plummeted from the tree. At the MLB level? The coaches are the entourage. 

If I thought Coach Chavez could teach Joey Gallo how to bunt, or hit to left, or cut down on his Ks, news of these proud new mentors would elicit cheers from my upper deck, (whose halls have balls of holly.)  

But Gallo won't change. Why should he? Some voodoo stats suggest he is a productive corner outfielder, despite the whiffs - (numbers don't take into account how strikeouts embolden a pitcher) - and he has built a lucrative MLB career. Why jeopardize his livelihood by listening to a coach, who basically functions as a protective shell for management. 

The Yankees spent most of 2021 praising Phil Nevin as a throwback to old-time values, whose health issues united the team, and whose volatility filled the void that coexists with Aaron Boone. Nevin was a lion, a Zim, always poised to ignite the team. Then, after he blew the play at home plate in the wildcard game, the Yankees could barely clean out their lockers before firing him. 

Gallo won't change until he faces a career existential threat: With the Yankees, that probably means hitting below .100. 

I don't mean to pick on Gallo. Arguably, Yankee fans never saw the real Gallo last season, the one who wins Gold Gloves. I suspect he needs a shrink more than a coach. Does Chavez have a doctorate in psychology? Better yet, can he play left field?

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Lockout Theatre: The real Lucy and Desi in "THE LONG, LONG TRAILER" (1953)

 A relatively short, short trailer for The Long, Long Trailer." (With an appearance by Ma Kettle herself, Majorie Main.) Lucy and Desi travel across America. 'Nuff said.


The annual IT IS HIGH classic: John Sterling in "THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS"


 

It's time for 10 Yankee Christmas wishes

As the big night nears, you can feel energy draining from the Yankiverse. The Mets have become NYC's "It Girl," and Tampa is the dominant variant in the AL East.

It's not impossible to imagine the Yankees - hogtied by contracts, egos, austerity and hubris - finishing last in their division. 

So here are 10 Christmas wishes unto the juju gods, who - frankly - owe us for last year's debacle. If five come true, I'll call it a success. 

In 2022, I would like to see: 

1. Yankee batters reduce their strikeout totals by 10 percent. We cannot field a team that whiffs 10-to-15 times per game.

2. Hitters bunt when opposing defenses go into outlandish over-shifts. There can no longer be excuses for batters who hit .200 and yet refuse to bunt.

3. Aaron Boone smash a water cooler. Full-tilt Pauly O'Neill. At least once.

4. John Sterling manage a game. Suzyn as bench coach. Boone can do play by play.

5. The Yankees not drain their farms for a wildcard birth. If by July 30, they are not contending for the Division, they should start thinking about next year.

6. Hal Steinbrenner put the team up for sale. He needs a soccer club.

7. Brian Cashman get a Rolex, plaque and promotion upstairs; the team should hire a GM from outside the organization.

8. Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar start over in new cities. They need to escape NYC. 

9. Brett Gardner retire with a day honoring him at Yankee Stadium. He should be put on a fast-track to become our next manager.

10.  The pandemic end, and the Yankiverse return to crazed, hysterical normalcy.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Monday, December 20, 2021

By request: "Some days you can't get rid of a bomb!"

"They may be drinkers, Robin, but they're also human beings, and may be salvaged."

Lockout Theatre: THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST (1967)

A big budget bonanza for IT IS HIGH. 

Spies pursue the President's shrink (James Coburn) in this cult-classic black comedy about an all-powerful phone company run by robots. With Godfrey Cambridge, Pat Harrington, Will Geer, Arte Johnson and - drum roll, please - Barry "Eve of Destruction" McGuire!

The actual hippie band Clear Light plays a hippie band. Supposedly, the Grateful Dead turned down the role. This was the first movie greenlit by Paramount head Robert Evans, who later claimed to have been squeezed by the FBI for the way it was depicted. In fact, Evans changed "FBI" to "FBR." I bet that sure fooled 'em.

Here's the trailer.

Kudos to the owners: They scheduled their lockout to match the Omicron surge

Thanks to Covid, the American sports landscape is a mess: Players sidelined, coaches fired, stars called out for hypocrisy...  

Wait, no... that's normalcy. What's crazy are that major pro franchises - such as Duke, UCLA and North Carolina - are canceling games, leaving good money on the table... merely because of a global pandemic. 

Nevertheless, two crafty citadels of sportsmanship remain relatively untouched.  

1. MLB. Since December 2, the owners have practiced an airtight quarantine - aka a "lockout." By closing their facilities, these titans of science surely saved player lives. They don't allow athletes to congregate for workouts and news conferences, and they even canceled the front office getaway romps, also known as the Winter Meetings. 

I don't know what these scions of knowledge knew in advance, but their timing has been impeccable. 

2. NY football. I'm referring to the two wiliest sports franchises in America, the Jets and Giants. Somehow, these citadels of forethought recognized that 2021 would devolve into a tidal wave of viral mutations, and thus, they both executed near perfect tankings. 

If the NFL season were to end today - and it might - the Jets would draft 4th and 8th, while the Giants would hold picks numbers 5 and 6. That's what Joe Garagiola would call "a fine piece a' tankin.'"

Of course, either team might trade all its picks for a fading QB - the ghost of Craig Morton, if you're old enough to remember - but that's why we follow the teams: To see how they'll manage to muck it up. 

Remember: For Gilligan's Island to continue, the castaways always had to figure out some new and creative way to stay stranded. With two high picks, how will they do it? (I'm thinking they'll draft a big guy who turns out to be two midgets piggyback.) 

Anyway, congrats to all those who foresaw the utter meaninglessness of sports during crises of humanity. In the names of Ender Inciarte and Joe Don Looney, we salute you. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Lockout Theatre: PLAYGIRL KILLER (1965)

Billed as Canada's first color horror movie, yet never released in America. (Cronenberg was just a kid.) 

Struggling artist William Kirwin cannot make his models keep still, so he does what anybody would do: He kills 'em and freezes the bodies. 

I mean, it's art, right?  

Described as "inept hilarity," this flick during the 1980s grew a following on late night TV. A highlight: Neil Sedaka sings "If You Don't Wanna, You Don't Hafta."

Worth the price of staying up.  

It's should be a grand and austere Christmas for Scrooge McSteinbrenner.

Friday night, Hal Steinbrenner will be visited by three ghosts. 

One will whisk Hal back to the Yankees under Joe Torre, celebrating their latest world championship. 

One will show Buck Showalter in real time, toasting his new job with the Mets and strategizing for opening day. 

The final ghost will transport Hal into a cold, dark, empty clubhouse and point its boney finger at a terrifying sight: A 2022 lineup card with Gary Sanchez batting third.

At that point, Hal will wake up in bed, go take a piss and then return to sleep by counting money. 

Yeesh. When did following the Yankees turn into doom-scrolling?

Whenever the Mets pull off a seemingly big move - as they did yesterday and have done since October - I'm temped to dismiss it by saying, "Yeah, but they're still the Mets." 

I'm not so sure any more. 

In 2004, the Redsocks and Yankees swapped positions in the celestial baseball juju incondibulum. Boston has owned us, ever since.  Nobody ever talks about the Yankees overtaking them at the season's end. That era is long gone.

Lately, the vibes surrounding the Mets and Yankees suggest another magnetic shifting of the poles. Under Showalter, the Mets shall be expected to win or else. Meanwhile, the Yankees seem incapable of change, regardless of the team's failure, because of contracts and old boy networks. They lack an owner who will hold management accountable.  

Those three ghosts Friday will get a surprise. After the visitations, Hal will think about his money, go take another piss and then return to sleep. The Kansas City-ification of the Yankees will continue.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

EXTRAVAGANT OWNER HIRES REAL MANAGER
Bronx disappears into black hole

Lockout Theatre: THE LAST WOMAN ON EARTH (1960)

The lucky lady is swimsuit model Betsy Jones-Moreland, one of three survivors of a global nuclear war. They go deep sea diving off the coast of Puerto Rico, then return to the surface to find everybody dead. 

Robert Towne - who later wrote Chinatown -is one of the two men left to fight over Betsy and repopulate the human species. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. (By the way, Towne used the name "Edward Wain" in the credits. Was he concerned about future critiques?) 

This is one of three movies that Roger "King of the B's" Corman made in five weeks during a trip to Puerto Rico. It's now in the public domain. 


Yanks ink Ender Inciarte, the new Socrates Brito?

Funny, the things that happen during a holiday, off-season pandemic/ongoing political insurrection/labor lockout. Also, did I mention that it's pre-Golden Globes Fever and run-up to a Marvel Universe blockbuster breakout? So much happening! And now this: 

The Death Barge has signed former - (that is, four years ago) - all-star CF Ender Inciarte to a minor league contract, signaling that:

1. Cooperstown Cashman is - or at least was on Thursday - still going in to work.

2. The Yankees are pondering the possibility of Aaron Hicks in CF this year.

3. With their current lineup, the Yankees would win the 2018 world series.

4. Scranton looks stacked this year in the triple A Whachamacallit League.

5. There is a player named Ender Inciarte.

At this point - were this a normal world of shows on Broadway and mass orgies in the Villages - we would devote the rest of the day to imagining John Sterling's new HR call. I propose:

YOU'RE NO DEAD-ENDER! YOU'VE GOT HEART-Y, INCIARTE!

So... what is Ender Inciarte? A 31-year-old OF, released by the Reds in August, who hasn't hit a lick since the secret global pitchers' conspiracy figured him out. 

Last year, around now, we signed Socrates Brito, who hit .251 while patrolling the OF for Scranton. Over the season, the Yankees promoted everybody BUT Brito, who homered on opening day and then hit only eight more the rest of the way. But we had fun, thinking of the homer-hollers, right? So, where's that orgy, and do I need a fake voter registration to get in?

Friday, December 17, 2021

Lockout Theatre: HOMESICK FOR ST. PAULI (1963)

Donno WTF they're saying in this clip, but doesn't Jayne Mansfield look like a female ubermensch? 

She sings in German, along with accordions and glockenspiels. Normally, you don't get around here. Co-star Freddy Quinn was an Elvis impersonator. This was one of Jayne's less successful projects after "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter," her 1957 smash hit. You might say she was heading for a crash.

RIP, Jayne. She were so much smarter than Hollywood wanted. 

Clint Frazier's sad story suggests a failed Yankee system of trust. Did they have no Ted Lasso?


Yesterday, former Yankee prodigal son Clint Frazier revealed he has struggled intermittently for four years with concussion symptoms, after hitting an outfield wall in early 2018. 

It's a grim and troubling postscript to Frazier's Yankee career, which once formed the bedrock of our fantasies. Yank fans foresaw Frazier as the longtime LF complement to Aaron Judge, a slugger who would also hit for average, and together they would propel this team through the 2020s. 

Instead - as we all know - Frazier struggled through a nightmare 2021, finally pulling the plug June 30 due to "dizzy spells." He's now a Cub, happily married, and - I fear - a future poster child for failed Yankee expectations, Exhibit A, whenever someone wants to justify trading prospects. (See GALLO, JOEY.)  

But here's the most distressing part of his story: 

Throughout much of his battle, Frazier didn't tell the Yankees what was going on inside his head. 

In the Short Porch podcast, to Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, Frazier paints a harrowing picture of his mental health after the first concussion. 

"I was severely symptomatic with some of these past issues that I was having. I was like, 'We gotta pick the pace up. I need help. I need serious fuckin' help.'"

When the symptoms returned in 2019, Frazier kept it to himself. 

“They weren’t aware, that was on me. I was trying to continue to play. So I didn’t tell them. And then I showed up to spring training and started to feel better, and then it kind of, like, came back, because I had an instance where I bumped the wall again. I went into the whole season feeling that exact way.”

Last I looked, the Yankees had two hitting coaches - (this year, they'll have three) - plus a battalion of scouts, trainers, shrinks, dealers, agents, hookers and hangers-on. They field a team of 25, a roster of 40, a front office roughly the size of Rhode Island, and an army of sycophants that would fill the Serengeti. And yet, there was no one Frazier could tell?

Wow. I mean... yikes. Is an MLB clubhouse that cutthroat? 

Here, you've got a guy literally falling apart, and he felt that he had to go it alone? I've always pictured Aaron Boone as a "players' manager." He never rips a Yankee in public, always sympathizes, talks up his troops. Now, I wonder. Frazier couldn't go to the manager, or anybody else in the dark tower?

Of course, the Yankees can rightfully blame Frazier's problems on Frazier. (Frazier does, himself.) The guy always exuded an aura of confidence, almost arrogance - perhaps reading too many press clippings? When Frazier was standing on first after a single, his grin would fill the stadium. Maybe he just bought into our fantasies? I dunno. Sad, though. I really wanted him to be a star. Whenever he homers for the Cubs, I'm going to feel a mix of happiness and despair. 

And along with pitching, catching, centerfield, first base and a shortstop, could it be that the Yankees need a Ted Lasso? 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Lockout Theatre: HELL ON WHEELS (1967)

Ace grease monkey John Ashley tries to escape the shadow of his racecar driver bro, Marty Robbins - yes, THE Marty "Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl" Robbins - by opening his own chop shop. He gets mixed up with bootleggers and - surprise - it's a high-speed chase.

The Stoneman Family and Connie Smith play themselves. Marty sings "No Tears, Milady." It was shot in Nashville, where the gang got to meet Charlie Pride.

(Warning: This movie contains Gig Perreau.) 

“Next year, when you’re in the box in April and it’s cold and it’s 20 degrees, you go … ‘Hmm … I wonder if this is a dead ball or a juiced ball? What’s the league comin’ at us today with?"

Funny, the things that spill out of a lockout...

Free agent Andrew Rizzo recently went on a podcast rant about MLB owners' balls and -frankly - it's disgusting. 

Turns out, each owner has two balls: One dead, one juiced. And if you're the Players Union, which means sleeping with management, you never know which ball you're gonna get. Isn't that disgusting? And for the last two years, MLB has secretly altered the fabric of the game by using the widely divergent balls.

The players have noticed. Independent analysts have noticed. You'd need lead blinders to think the gambling industry - of which MLB is up to its eyeballs in sleaze - hasn't noticed. The perkiness of the ball affects every aspect of the game - from Gerrit Cole's spin rate to Gleyber Torres' HR power.

As scandals go, this one is as under-appreciated as Phil Lesh's bass work with the Grateful Dead. Remember back when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were caught deflating footballs? Remember the outrage surrounding his suspension? This is arguably worse, and it's just starting to bloom.  

Of course, the owners blame Covid. Viruses don't sue for libel. The owners say ballmaker Rawlings ran out of balls, so different balls were sourced, and hey, fans, whaddaya want - for games to be played with condom-encased Milk Duds? Nobody knew which ball was being used, so it was fair, right? And that's Chinatown, Jake. 

I suppose in a dystopian way - the world ending, democracy in peril, etc. - you get a few Mulligans, right? Still, we're not talking about Major League Cornhole. (Imagine the outcry if the beanbags were altered.) And now, here we have Honest Andrew Rizzo asking a fundamental question: 

Did the high-profile Yankees, staples of nationally televised games, face more juiced balls than others?

"Are we goin’ the Iowa game where the balls were flying out like they were golf balls, or are we gonna go Wrigley Field in April with the wind blowing in?’ … The big games, you know you’re getting the juiced balls, for sure.”

Hmm. Does Rizzo know something? I suspect he's not the lone conspiracist in the union ranks. Generally, the Yankees see more network games than anyone else - a vestige of their former glory. If that means a different ball, well, it's not fair. Not by a longshot. 

Funny, the things that spill out during a lockout. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Lockout Theatre: BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA (1966)

Seriously, do you need to know more?

John Carradine plays Drac for the first time in 21 years. Filmed in Shock-O-Rama, it was co-featured with Jesse James vs. Frankenstein's Daughter...  

I vaguely remember seeing this at the Capital Theater in Waverly, NY. Every kid in town turned out. Bedlam. As soon as the lights died and the curtains separated, we climbed onto our seats, threw candy at the screen and screamed with all our might for the next two hours. To that point, I'm not sure I ever felt so alive. (Afterwards, ran all the way home.) Here's the trailer.

Hal speaks on a subject he's passionate about. (Note: It's not the Yankees.)

This weekend, Hal Steinbrenner had one of his p.r. flunkies write up a quote to celebrate his recent moment of success in pro sports. It's worth studying. Said the man we call "Food Stamps..." 

 “The New York Yankees applaud the entire NYCFC organization for bringing the MLS Cup home to the great city of New York."

Of course, the sport is soccer. Forget baseball. The Yankees have not been bringing home any cups, belts, trophies, flasks, jugs, commemorative boots or cowbells.

"Since NYCFC’s founding, we have been extremely proud partners with City Football Group, which truly sets the standard in world football."

Basically, the Yankees rent out their stadium, a reminder that - despite all the public money that went into building Yankee Stadium - Hal owns it.

"We especially offer our heartfelt congratulations to City Football Group’s dedicated leadership team, including Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, CEO Ferran Soriano and Board Member Marty Edelman, who is also Vice Chairman of NYCFC, as well as all of the NYCFC staff members who contributed to this incredible group effort."

Hal congratulates the owners, his fellow billionaires, and mentions not one player. 

"As an NYCFC Board Member, I want to recognize my colleagues on the board for the roles they played in this tremendous accomplishment."

Basically, he's applauding himself. Who'll ever forget the great plays those board members made in securing the Cup! It'd be like him congratulating Randy Levine and Rudy Giuliani for a Yankee world championship - (if, course, we ever win one again.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Apologies to Barry McGuire... Sing along to EVE OF CHRISTMAS


The Fox News tree, it is explodin.'
Tucker flairin’, Trump unloadin,’
They re-write laws just to keep us all from votin,’
You don't believe in science, but what’s that phone you’re totin?'
They say even the Jordan River’s got ballots floatin,’
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
How you don't believe we're on the eve...
     of Christmas…

#

Yeah, Bitcoin’s so high, I feel like celebratin’
I’m sitting here, self-vaccinatin.'
Podcast experts say we don’t need no protectin’
Handful of senators selling ivermectin,
Stockings hung with care, they bring no inspiration.
Bags full of goodies priced high from inflation,
This holiday scene is just too frustratin,’
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend

Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve...
of Christmas

 #

See this air fryer? It was made in Red China.
I bought it in a CVS in Selma, Alabama.
Jeff Bezos may go up for three hours in space
But when tax time comes, he won’t pay a trace,
The wavin’ of the guns, the playin’ to the base,

Meet your next baby-sitter, and hope it’s not Matt Gaetz.

And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve...
of Christmas.

Yankee Advent Calendar #1

Ho. Ho. Ho. It’s just twelve days until Christmas! I think. Close enough anyway, and time to open the first door of our 2021 Yankee Themed Advent Calendar!  

Each day there will be a link to a special Yankee Themed Treat! 

What could the first one be? Well, here's a hint.  Every generation puts forth a savior. One who looks to the heavens for inspiration and strength.  One who will lead us from this wilderness and into the promised land.    


Have we all been doing Brian Cashman a grave injustice???

 

Perusing our 2021 organizational statistics in these lockout days, searching for any last, stray vestige of hope, I came across this surprising fact:

In 2021, the combined record of your New York Yankees' farm teams was 388-264, .595—a higher percentage than that for the Yanks' system in any recent season and perhaps anytime, ever, though records are woefully incomplete.  

Of the club's 6 farm teams, every one had a winning record, and 4—the Somerset Patriots in the Double-A Northeast League, the Hudson Valley Renegades in the High-A East League, the unfortunately monikered Tampa Tarpons in the Low-A Southeast League (oh, the romance of these new minor leagues!), and the Florida Complex League Yankees, in the Florida It's Complicated League—all finished first. 

Could we have been unfair to our favorite rappelling, street-sleeping elf? Could Brian Cashman have quietly, cunningly built a cracker-jack farm system right under our noses? Could the Yanks really be loaded for bear, and Red Sock, and Ray, in the years just ahead?

OR...could it be that their record just looks better because the Yanks are playing older, more experienced guys in many of these minor-league affiliates?  

In other words, is it the real thing, or is it just fantasy? Is it live, or is it Memorex? 

Let's take a look!

In 2021, the average ages for position players first, then pitchers, were as follows at each Yankees farm club:

Scranton (AAA):  26.7  26.9

Somerset (AA):  23.5  24.6

Hudson Valley (High A): 22.6  23.6

Tampa (Low A): 21.6  22.4

FCL Yankees: 20.4  21.1

Dominican Summer League Yankees 1:  18.6  19.1

Dominican Summer League Yankees 2:  18.8  19.2


So, how does this compare with 2017, the recent gold standard, when not only our boys in the Bronx revived, but so did the whole system? Back when life was tender and no one wept except the willow, filling our heads (all right, my head), with thoughts of a dynasty in the borning? 

In 2017, of the Yanks' 9 farm teams com, 5—Scranton, Trenton, Tampa, Staten Island, and one of their Gulf Coast League teams—finished first, and one, Pulaski, grabbed a title in the playoffs.  

These were average ages:

Scranton (AAA):  25.1  25.2

Trenton (AA):  23.4  23.5

Tampa (High A):  23.0  23.3

Charleston (Low A):  20.4  22.1

Staten Island (Low A):  21.5  22.2

Pulaski (Rookie):  19.5  21.7

Gulf Coast League Yankees West:  19.2  20.6

Gulf Coast League Yankees East:  19.2  20.3

Dominican Summer League Yankees:  17.8  18.5


And there you have it. Sadly, it seems that this year's high-flying, over-achieving, Wonder Farm System is (yet another) Cashman mirage. Hell, the average age at Scranton got so high I suspect half the team was already checking into the best way to fill the Medicare hole that Joe Namath is always telling us about.

At almost every level in 2021, the Yankees got "better" by simply stocking the pond with older players, many of whom had already shot their bolt. 

Not to mention the fact, of course, that they once again followed the herd in MLB, by eliminating one-third of their farm teams, and doubling down on young players in the DR—although, if you'll note, even their Dominican players got older. Yet another economy designed almost wholly to fatten Steinbrenner bank accounts.

That 2017 system never did quite live up to its promise. But it did include the likes of Miggy, Higgy, Gleyber Torres, Nasty Nestor Cortes, Domingo German, Thairo Estrada, Mike Ford, Dustin Fowler, Clint Fowler, Chad Green, Loaisiga, McBroom(!), McKinney, Jordan Montgomery, Brigadoon Refsnyder, Justus Sheffield, Tyler Wade, and Garret Whitlock—among others.

It's amazing how many of these players we managed to squander or ruin. But hey, at least the talent was there.

Today? Well, we've got Volpe and the Oswalds (already patented for my garage-band name), Cabrera and Peraza, and that's about it, folks. Not a truly promising pitcher in the whole system. 

Back to wondering if there will be a season in 2022. Back to wondering if that will matter.


 


  

 

Lockout Theatre: INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957)

 The quintessential teen vs aliens movie, it's supposed to be a comedy. Few laughs, though.

The kids want to boink in their hot rods. The aliens have other plans. They inject - gasp! - alcohol into the youngsters, and nobody believes their claims of flying saucers. They're drunk. 

Con man Frank "The Riddler" Gorshin stashes a dead alien in the fridge. Bad idea. A dismembered hand with an eye on its back slashes tires, terrifying couples as they bang. 

This was released as a double-feature with I Was A Teenage Werewolf.  And what turns out to save humanity? Not the military. Not the cops. The teens - with their high-beam headlights.