Monday, January 31, 2022

Signifying Nothing


How ABOUT those NFL playoffs???

Two weekends in a row of scintillating football, all decided in the last couple minutes or even seconds of play. You can't quibble: pro football puts on a helluva show...much more so than a certain other, venerable sport I could name.  

So the Super Bowl will be those upstart, Cincinnati Bengals, led by the great Joe Burrow, against the surprising Los Angeles Rams. Personally, I gotta pull for Cincinnati (and hey, for no dollars in the championship round, can anyone tell me the Ohio connection between these two teams?).

Well, hey, what's not to love? Didn't see these two teams coming, did we?

Which is...sort of the problem. 

Hate to be a buzzkill here (actually, as I'm sure most of you have cottoned to, I LOVE being a buzzkill), but winning America's national holiday game will mean exactly what?

Does anyone REALLY think these are the two best teams in pro football?

The NFL has already devalued their champions by extending the league's regular season to an outrageous 17 games. Why, just in the lifetimes of most of us on this blog, the NFL's regular season was still 12 games, with 1 playoff contest. Not long before that, as late as 1945, teams played only 10 games.

This is as if MLB had extended the regular season to about 215—maybe even 255—games, plus more playoff rounds, with all the attendant injuries and exhaustion that would entail.  

Let's face it, your average NFL champion now is really just the last team standing—or at best, just the one that got hot at the right time.  How much does it even mean to win it all?

MLB got headed down this same road to nothingness when it started including "wild card" teams. For the first time, you could win the World Series without finishing first, even in some risky-dink division—a terrible travesty, and something that devalued one of the supreme joys and virtues of baseball, the Long Season.

Now, in the dawdling negotiations between millionaires and billionaires, it is reported that MLB is pressing for seven—count 'em, 7!—teams in each league's playoffs, just like the NFL it so dearly loves to imitate. 

In other words, about half the teams in baseball would have a shot at the brass ring. Think of what that means.

In 1968, your New York Yankees set the all-time, post-1900 record for lowest batting average by a major-league team, at .214.  

BUT...the Yanks actually finished in the first division of the 10-team American League, with a winning record. This was mostly because of its terrific starting pitching, headed by Mel Stottlemyre, Fritz Peterson, and this guy here, Stan Bahnsen, rookie of the year with 17 wins and a 2.06 ERA.

Under the rules MLB would like to see implemented, the equivalent of those Yankees would be in the playoffs. And with that pitching, they would actually have a chance, despite finishing 20 games behind the eventual world champion, Detroit Tigers.

(True fact: that Yankees team actually swept the Bengals in four, late-August games at Yankee Stadium, with Bahnsen winning a 2-1 game and Stottlemyre beating 31-game winner Denny McLain by the same score.)

Would I have loved that as a Yankees fan? Of course I would! 

And when it comes to what big-leagues sports really cares about, it would have made a great "story"—Mickey Mantle, in his last year, getting one more ring!—and a lot of long-shot betting opportunities. Hurrah.

But where would have been the reward for sustained excellence? Where would the real accomplishment have been?

What would it have been, but the sound and the fury, signifying nothing?

Suggestions that the Yankees will sign Freddie Freeman are throwbacks to another era and another owner

Every now and then, someone on the Al Gore Information Superhighway posts a story suggesting that, once this consarned lockout ends, the Yankees will go hog wild on free agents, starting with Freddie Freeman.

To be sure, Freddie is exactly what the Yankees need: A great fielding, lefty-hitting, playoffs-tested, team-oriented 1B. Stick him between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and the batting order would be set for five years.

This conjecture reminds me of Hemmingway's final scene in The Sun Also Rises: In the back of a cab, Lady Brett leans into Jake and says, "We could have had such a damned good time together." His bleary response, "Yes, isn't it pretty to think so."

To me, that sums up the chances of Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner signing Freeman: It sure is fun to imagine. Who brought the edibles? I need another brownie. Or two.  

Hal hasn't gone all-in on spending since the winter of 2013-14, when he signed Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka and Brian McCann. The Yankees that year finished second - to, gulp, Baltimore. 

Ever since, Hal's great obsession - and achievement - has been to keep the Yankee payroll at or below the luxury tax threshold. Considering that he voted in November to maintain the current tax structure - (that is, he voted against the Yankees' self-interest) -why would anyone think he'll suddenly start writing checks, as his father once did? 

The Yankees exist as a means to increase the Steinbrenner family's wealth. Hal's got sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, trust-funds, horses, dogs, cats, boats and waterfront renovations - all counting on him. Yeah, it would be nice if the team also wins - (sort of like the sun also rising..., no?) 

The way Hal talks, you'd think he is the only billionaire on the planet who did not practically double his wealth during the pandemic. 

I cannot find any statement, anywhere, where he or Brian Cashman have suggested the Yankees would join a bidding war over Freeman.

Now and then, let's close our eyes and imagine the old Yankees springing to life. We could have a great season, a damned good time together. 

Isn't it pretty to think so?

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Buffalo is rolling Golden Snowballs, Luke Voit is abandoning kettle balls, and January is slipping out the back door

Still recovering from last week's torturous Bills' loss - the unlucky 13 seconds - the city of Buffalo continues to dominate the 2021-22 Golden Snowball competition, for most snowfall in the upstate New York megalopolis.

Perennial champ Syracuse looks uninspired and unplowed. "No-exCuse" lost ground in what should have been a pivotal East Coast storm week. Still, there's the month of February left to be shoveled. Here's the latest. 

Speaking of slush, I saw a report yesterday claiming that Luke Voit has changed his weight-lifting schedule. He seeks to become a lithe, rock-ribbed Olympian, rather than the circus strongman we've come to know.

The story reminds me of what we should be reading this time of year: Crapola about players showing up in "the greatest shape" of their lives - awing the pencil-necked Gammonites, as they strut into camp. 

I believe I speak for the Yankiverse is wishing Luke the best, though I doubt he'll play a game for the Death Barge in 2022. If the NL adopts the DH rule - said to be a likelihood in the ongoing talks - Luke's trade market would double. And if we learned anything last August, it's that the Yankees need lefty bats. When you think about it, there's no place for Luke in the lineup. Even if the Yankees don't sign a LH firstbaseman, he's blocked by the better fielding DJ LeMahieu. 

Basically, time stood still for baseball in January. The snowball is starting to roll downhill. Come February, it's going to start picking up steam.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Carlos Beltran will have 36 games to explain to Yankee fans his role in the 2018 cheating scandal

Yesterday, the Yankees once again surprised us. They announced that Carlos Beltran - a central villain in the 2017-18 Astros cheating scandal - will join the happy YES broadcast booth in 2022. 

He'll replace David Cone, whose migration to ESPN will mean fewer games on YES.

Surely, Beltran will be informative, funny and congenial. Surely, the brain trust auditioned him and presented audio stool samples to focus groups. Like Coney, he can draw upon a vast experiential base from time in KC, Houston, NY, St. Louis, Texas and SF. (The days of a lifetime Yankee hooking up with YES may have ended with Bobby Murcer, and even he did a stint in SF. Wait... Brett Gardner?) 

So... here's the question: Where does the 800-pound elephant in the room shit in the forest? 

Let's not expect Michael Kay to immediately confront Beltran about the sign-stealing scandal. But it's hard to imagine going an entire season as a Voldemort situation, never raising the issue. Were Beltran still playing, he'd be booed in Yankee Stadium. The scandal still seems to haunt Aroldis Chapman, and at some point, Jose Altuve or Mike Fiers will appear - demanding that somebody asks, "So, Carlos... what the fuck?" 

Will Beltran own up to his role as a cheater? (Some still argue that if you're not cheating, you're not trying.) Or, will he argue to his dying day that the matter was overblown? 

At some point, we should hear Beltran's side of the story. How well he presents it, and how believable he is, will determine his future with the Yankees. Should be interesting. 

Friday, January 28, 2022

Anybody Can Coach the New York Yankees


So the Yankees brought in The Sage of Many Cities to coach our tremendous hitters. So what?

It just doesn't matter!—as a great man once said. Anybody can coach your New York Yankees.

This was established long ago, in the mid-1960s, when the Yanks had what were considered probably the best pitching coach and the best hitting coach in the business, respectively, Johnny Sain and Wally Moses.

Somewhere around the time the Yankees took their 46th million pennant or so in row, these wiseacres decided to go hat in hand and ask owners Del Webb and Dan Topping for a raise.

Moses soon found himself demoted to scout.

Sain was told to hit the road—which he did, building great staffs around the majors for another 20 years or so.

What did it matter?


These were your New York Yankees! They were going to do great no matter who was in charge of anything!

The team had already learned that when they canned Casey Stengel and George Weiss, the most successful  manager and general manager in baseball history, and replaced them with Ralph Houk and the immortal Roy Hamey.

All those accumulated decades of baseball knowledge? Who cared??!! And just to show it didn't matter, the Yanks soon tripled down on this brilliant strategy by jettisoning Yogi Berra, too—after he'd just won a pennant. In favor of the great Johnny Keane.

Well la-de-dah. Bigg-o deal-o.

I mean, any baseball team is just a collection of algorithms, right? What does it matter who's doing the instructing or the constructing?

What could possibly go wrong with bringing in some random bushes to tell major leaguers they need to hit strikes hard?

What went wrong in the 1960s? I mean, it's not like a 45-year-old dynasty COLLAPSED or anything!



"Stop!" yells the Babe. "Whaddaya mean keeping these boys in here, when there's baseball to be played."

Today's Lockout Theatre features Babe Ruth in PERFECT CONTROL, a 1956 short film that has been cavorting on social media lately. 

In it, George Herman does his best Nicholas Cage, as the King of Swat crashes the most tedious class lesson since Roger Waters concluded, "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control..."

"ARITHMETIC?" The Babe scolds. "Four times four is sixteen. Three strikes you're out... That's all you need!"

If only...

This weekend convenes the last big NFL Sunday of the 2021-22 season. (Super Sunday doesn't count.) 

Next week, the sports-industrial complex will plummet into the February abyss - a cesspit of basketball blowouts, hockey brawls and awards shows -which would normally be brightened by the anticipation of spring training. 

I'm becoming a broken record here, but the billionaires of baseball chose the worst time imaginable to stage their lockout. 

Today, we sit in the throes of a global pandemic, rising inflation, supply chain issues, an exploding climate, a polarized electorate and a looming war in Europe, with consequences we cannot begin to fathom. 

And no baseball, not even a wisp, to take us briefly away.

At some point, this impasse will end. And when it does, we will feel a vast longing to welcome the game back into our lives. 

But there's an old saying, "Trust is gained in teaspoons and lost in buckets." 

There must be consequences for what the owners - and, yes, the players, too - have done. 

In the meantime, let the Babe whisk you away to a happier time. Quickly, now... six times nine is what? 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

So, the Yankees have a new coach, with a new hitting philosophy... uh-huh...

In case you missed it, the Yankees have a new hitting coach, a fellow named Dillon Lawson. (Actually, I think I read somewhere that they now have three.) This is big news. 

Did you know that the reason the team fanned 1,482 times last year - the sixth most in baseball - was the failed batting coach, Marcus Thames?

Yep. It was Thames' fault. And this new guy has created ripples in the Yankee Matrix with a stunning new philosophy: "Hit strikes hard." (Edit note: See comments.) 

Yep. That's it. "Hit strikes hard." This goes directly into the teeth of Thames' flawed philosophy, which was: "Miss strikes hard." 

This is big, a sea change. Instead of missing strikes, the Yankees will seek to hit them. Hard. 

Wow... I mean... WOW! Calgon Beauty Bath, take me away! 

Insert sigh here.

You know, while the players and owners dig their mutual grave, it's becoming difficult just to mock these assholes anymore. They transcend parody, even in a burlesque sort of way. And seriously... let's wish Lawson good luck. Here is his Wikipedia thumbnail, and I want to stress that this is real, not bad satire. 

Dillon Lawson is an American professional baseball hitting coach for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, beginning in 2022.

Lawson attended Transylvania University, where he played college baseball as a catcher and first baseman.[1] After graduating, he became a coach at Lindenwood University from 2007 to 2009, IMG Academy from 2010 through 2011, and Morehead State University from 2009 through 2012, and Southeast Missouri State University from 2012 through 2015.[2] In 2016, Lawson was the hitting coach for the Tri-City ValleyCats, and in 2017 he coached for the University of Missouri.[3] In 2018, he coached for the Quad Cities River Bandits.[1]

Yep. Transylvania... Lindenwood... IMG... Morehead State... Southeast Missouri State... the Tri-City ValleyCats... the Quad Cities River Bandits... and the New York fucking Yankees. He's a 1980's Dolly Parton movie. But now he'll face the ultimate ceiling, the huge existential question: 

When did multimillionaire sluggers ever listen to batting coaches? 

Will Joey Gallo change? Will Luke Voit - (yeah, he'll probably be 1B again) - start hitting to the opposite field, as he did as a rookie? We know the answers: No frickin' way. They made it this far, earned a shitload of money, and they won't alter their swing for this year's organizational chum.

I think the Yankees should hire a Defensive Coordinator to call each pitch, and an Offensive Coordinator to handle at-bat strategy. Aaron Boone should simply hold a clipboard and yell things like, "LET'S GET TWO!" We need an Outfield Coach, an Infield Coach, a Catcher Coach and at least four pitching coaches, depending on spin rates, mph and BABIPs. Maybe an Exit Velo Coach? 

Surely, we'll see an offensive surge in 2022. What were thinking with that old strategy, "Miss strikes hard?" Yeesh. I'm glad we straightened it out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Hall of Fame balloting has become baseball's version of the Golden Globes

Two years ago, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - maker of the Golden Globes - drew fire for its lack of diversity and love of bribes. Since the days of Pia Zadora, the first lady of stage and screen!, the Globes have functioned as a promotional ego boost for celebs and a boozy slush fund for "writers" between junkets. But this year, something happened: The world said "Fuck off." The Golden Globes weren't televised or even streamed on CompuServe, and civilization is the better for it.  

Which brings me to the BaseBall Writers Association of America - sports' version of the Foreign Press corps, which yesterday elected David Ortiz and nobody else to the so-called "Hall of Fame" in Cooperstown.

First, I have no issue with honoring Big Papi. Over the years, Ortiz killed us, and sportswriters value nothing more highly than Yankee torture. I still suffer PTSD from the mere thought of Papi coming up in the late innings. He deserves the honor. It's worth it, just to know he can never hurt me - ever again.

But the writers snubbed Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, by far two of the greatest players in our lifetimes, apparently due to some morality judgement that these giants of righteousness have chosen to impose. It's surely the charges of performance enhancing drugs - claims that rippled all around baseball in that era - and it's worth noting that Big Papi had his own questionable test results of glowing urine. Thus, the writers hold Bonds and Clemens accountable but drop their concerns with Ortiz? That's ridiculous. No, it's offensive.

What sucks here is that these guys - most are old, white guys - are imposing personal morality judgements in a sport that, for generations, rated great players by performance. If you want assholes, look no farther than the plaques in Cooperstown. Babe Ruth was a wild man. Ty Cobb was a monster. From Grover Cleveland's alcoholism to Wade Boggs' sex addiction, the Hall of Fame is a cavalcade of great players and lousy human beings - hailed and assembled by writers who, in many cases, had questionable personal issues of their own.  

I say we should pool our money and buy storefront property in Cooperstown, preferably within spitting distance of you-know-what. We'll open The People's Hall - a place dedicated to great players who, due to personal issues with writers, have been swept into a memory hole. 

They include: 

Roger Clemens
Barry Bonds
Alex Rodriguez
Don Mattingly
Bernie Williams
Sammy Sosa
Mark McGwire
Rafael Palmeiro
Lou Whitaker
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Curt Schilling
Dick Allen
Roger Maris
Thurman Munson
Tommy John
Luis Tiant
Andy Pettite
Jimmy Key
Dan Quisenberry 
Billy Wagner
Sparky Lyle
Bartolo Colon 
and of course, Pete Rose.

Listen: You might not like some of these guys, and you could quarrel over career stats of a few. But each devoted his career to not only to the game of baseball but to its fans. These guys deserve more than to be drop-kicked out the backdoor because they didn't talk to writers after a shellacking, or they succumbed to drugs or booze to handle pressures the rest of us cannot begin to imagine. 

Hooray for David Ortiz. And fuck the Hall of Fame. 

It's time to start an alternative, and - you know what? - it doesn't even need to be in Cooperstown. How about Solvay!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Hall of Fame: Discrediting Itself for 83 Years and Counting!


I guess we shouldn't be surprised, but guess who made the baseball Hall of Fame Writers' Hall of Popularity today?  I'll give you a hint: he played most of his career in Boston, and his statistics are as inflated as his girth, and thanks to the same substance.

How inspiring.

Mind you, the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown was always a dubious institution.  

You know who's NOT in the Hall? I mean, besides Larry David? 

Abner Doubleday, that's who, the reason the Hall is there in the first place. Not even MLB could swallow that lie about itself. 

About the best thing to be said regarding the place is that its location was useful in helping to bail out a lovely little, upstate town at the nadir of the Great Depression. Since then, though, it's been largely run by the horsey set and other, pretentious local potentates who also know and care as little about the game as old Abner.

I'm not an HOF purist, and I think the debates about whether or not this individual or that one should be in there are kind of fun.

Was Rabbit Maranville a good enough fielder to make up for his powerless, .258 lifetime batting average? (No.) 

Should Phil Rizzuto be in when you consider not just his playing days, but also his long career as a beloved broadcaster—not to mention his poetry? (Yes!)

Let the arguments rage. This is baseball, not whether to go to war over Ukraine. 

But when it comes to putting in Big Juicy, while leaving out guys like Bonds and Clemens who had HOF careers before they ever juiced, it's absurd. Not to mention the wholly absurd decision to put Piazza in—after punishing him for five years.

Enough. It's not supposed to be the "Guys Who Weren't Dicks to Me Hall of Fame."

Putting in Ortiz makes a farce of the Hall of Fame—just as baseball writers helped make a farce of baseball itself over the last 30 years, by turning a blind eye to the steroid use that was all around them.  

This is one more nail in the coffin for objective truth, in a country where, increasingly, it just matters whose side you're on. 

It used to be said that Walter O'Malley bought off writers from New York's many papers with free meals and booze. Today, apparently, the price has gone down. What passes for sports media can now be bought for a nice smile and a sunny personality.

What a cheap date.



With only 23 days until MLB camps open... Baseball Fever is sweeping across the country

Hey, everybody, can you feel it: Baseball Fever! 

It's so contagious, the hospitals can't keep up! Everywhere you go, folks are testing positive - for hope!

Masks won't matter, unless you're the next Yankee catcher. (Are you under 40? Then you could be!) We're all gonna catch it by Feb. 17 - just three weeks and two days away - when MLB camps open. Surely, the owners and players will reach an agreement by then. They won't let such a silly thing as money stand in their way. 

Forget Pfizer. Think about Pfreddie Pfreeman, whom the Yanks will surely sign - along with a top CF, a glove-wiz SS and a No. 2 starter. Hal Steinbrenner won't accept anything less than a world championship... to keep up his father's legacy. 

By then, Vlad Putin will have come to his senses and realized that the world needs love, not war. We'll share a laugh, thinking about how things almost got out of hand on that Ukrainian border. In the end, it was just a game of RISK. 

By then, the Chinese Olympics will have reminded everyone about the need for global harmony, rekindling calls for peace. Superpower billionaires will meet for yacht parties in the South China Sea. 

By then, Covid numbers will be down to nothing. America will reach "herd immunity" through cannabis and over-the-counter medications favored by regular Joes, rather than the lab-coated needle-necks who have always hated drinking in bars, to begin with. Why did we ever listen to them? 

By then, movie houses will be full, as Oscar Fever sweeps the nation. (Don't sleep on "Ghostbusters: After Life," maintaining the momentum from "Ghostbusters II.") Kim and Ye will patch things up, and Pete Davidson will be dating Suzyn Waldman. Meanwhile, The Master will be rehearsing his homer holler: "Oh, Pfreddie, you are Ready!"

Come on, people, let's meet on the beaches to watch the icebergs float by. Wall Street is ready to bloom, Buffalo can win the Golden Snowball, and we'll always have Bitcoin. I can't remember being so optimistic - well, not since maybe October of 1962. It's all coming together. Sing us a song, Adele!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Buffalo has just replaced "Wide Right" with "Thirteen Seconds."

Last night, like most lunks across America, I rooted for the Buffalo Bills to exorcize the ghost of Scott "Wide Right" Norwood and go to the Super Bowl. 

When it was over, after witnessing one of the most excruciating losses in memory, my wife looked at me and whispered, "Those poor, poor people..." 

She didn't need to explain. 

For the emotionally abused souls of Western New York, another year has been summoned to the gates of hell. In the end, all Buffalo needed to do was keep KC from moving 44 yards in 13 seconds. Thirteen seconds... yeesh, a squib kick would have killed three. Now, they have an entire year - eight weeks of winter in a dark pandemic - to ponder the unponderable, as they descend into madness. 

Hence, an age-old question: 

With sports teams, is it better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?

Would they be better off as Giants fans? 

This year, the NY Giants stopped bothering me in mid-October. By then, it was clear they were toast. As a lifelong Gints fan, I knew exactly what to do: I flicked the switch and rooted for the team to lost, to tank, to cause mass firings and inflict pain on the owners... and I say this without the slightest pang of guilt. 

The Giants are a terrible franchise run by billionaire dicks who've never known an honest job and never will. When the team sucks - as it has now for practically a decade - it's easy to hate them, and frankly, it's fun! You never suffer, you never scream, you never experience the totality of pain... as Bills fans did last night.  

By the way, one of these days, the Yankees might just provoke a similar reaction from fans.

But I ask you: Which was worse... tanking by Oct. 15, or falling short by 13 seconds? 

Today, those poor, poor people of Western New York are a tortured, beaten tribe.  The Bills are done, the lakes are frozen, the wings are cold, and all that's left are comic book universes, online porn and the Golden Snowball contest - which, by the way - looks like Buffalo's year.

Good luck, Buffalo. (But don't sleep on Syracuse; a ton of snow can fall in 13 seconds.) And for all your pain and suffering, here's the best I can offer:

At least you don't have the Giants.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Nothing is happening between the owners and players, and the month of January is about to be wasted

Warning: The following post contains dreary and uninspiring content. Younger readers are cautioned...

Supposedly, the MLB player's union will send the owners a new proposal tomorrow in the continuing Lockout of the Damned.

Even if the plan offers significant changes - (and, who knows, it might not) - the fancy-paints owners will not accept it. 

With both sides playing a strategy of brinksmanship, talks won't truly heat up until opening day is threatened. That's another month away.

Until then, I cannot rationalize wasting energy to debate who will play 1B, or how the bullpen will look, no matter how desperate we become for a diversion from the daily news. 

Baseball does not deserve absolute loyalty from its fans. 

Once this thing is over - especially if it affects opening day - it will be time to register our anger. 

I'm not sure how. I'm not sure where. But the fans will need to be heard.

Just sayin'...

Saturday, January 22, 2022

He's no Rizzuto but still...

 Mel Allen raps.  Enjoy!

Paradise By the Scoreboard's Light: The day Mr. Loaf came to Yankee Stadium and met The Scooter

It was long ago, and it was far away... the first time I heard  Phil Rizzuto's allegorical play-by-play in "Paradise By the Dashboard Light."  

Know how some world events are indelibly chiseled into our memories? We recall hearing about JFK's assassination, or watching Lawrence Taylor break Joe Theisman's leg. For me, Paradise is one such moment.

I was a VISTA volunteer in Indianapolis, living on Meridian Street and  drinking in a bar once mentioned by Kurt Vonnegut. The song came on. I yelled for everybody to shut up, but nobody did. A friend said, "Haven't you heard Meat Loaf? Back where you live, he's the toast of the town!"

(They equated upstate New York with street-level Harlem, and, though it was plainly ridiculous, I believed that it elevated my status, so I let them. Yeesh, I was hopeless...) 

Well, today, after 24 hours of Bat Out of Hell on REPEAT, I believe Meat Loaf deserves recognition as one of the great Yankee fans of our generation. And here is a way to remember him...

A couple notes:

1. No, the NY Times did not call him "Mr. Loaf" on second reference. They could have. Maybe they should have. But that legend is false. Where is Snopes?

2. If Phil was truly shocked and angry about the meaning of his play-by-play call, he certainly didn't harbor a grudge. 

I use a sliding scale to rate Yankee fans. At the low end are the Hillary Clintons, who claim to root for the team as a way to advance.  

Then come the Fair Weatherers, who show up for the victory parades. They know there is a player named "Judge," but they think he was recently fired.  

There are the Passionates, who follow because of Mickey Mantle or Derek Jeter, or maybe because their dad or mom - or a favorite uncle - loved the Yankees. God bless them. 

There are the readers of IT IS HIGH - greatest Yank fans on earth, but for one supreme tier. 

There is the Anonymous fan who once put the nails on Ed Whitson's driveway. Whoever he/she is, wherever he/she is, they shall always reign. 

If I ever get to Monument Park, I will scatter some nails.

I recall hearing that Meat Loaf once claimed he wanted his ashes someday scattered in Yankee Stadium. Generally, this is just something people say and don't mean. (I tell folks I want my body donated to needy necrophiliacs.) I doubt it will happen. But he did meet the Scooter, and he did take batting practice.

Two out a three aint bad. 

Farewell, Mr. Loaf. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

MLB nixes the Tampontreal Exprays

A sad day for curmudgeons, everywhere.

MLB has rejected a proposal for the Tampa Devil Rays to split their summers with the good people of Montreal - creating Tampontreal - a fantastical, Brigadoon-like city that would periodically appear in the crevice between a soul-devouring hangover and the wrong time of the month.

Tampontreal... rolls off the tongue, no?

In case you missed it, MLB yesterday nixed the Tampa ownership's "sister city" plan, which would move half of the Rays' home games to Canada, theoretically shoring up attendance figures that have lagged for decades in the Lightning Capital of the World - home to Tom Brady - located at the western edge of the Tamiami Trail. 

Naturally, there is a subplot, which involves new stadiums.

It begins with Tropicana Field - John & Suzyn's least favorite stopover, due to the relentless, reverberating sound effects. The place is now 15 years old - ancient, by modern standards. For the last few of those years, the team's Brooklyn-born owner, Stuart Sternberg - a Wall Street, Goldman Sachs gasbag who secretly wanted to own the Mets -  has been rattling the cup for a new ballpark. His split-cities plan would conveniently push both tax bases to cough up for new stadiums - a breakthrough concept for billionaires in a time when the Children's Tax Credit cannot pass Congress. 

I cannot help but think baseball just dodged a bullet, or at least kicked it down the road. While Montreal might have embraced the arrival of a team that constantly humiliates the Yankees, it's hard to imagine this going over in Tampa, where home attendance practiced social distancing since long before Covid. Drop crowds by - say - 20 percent, and the Trop would pose a philosophical question: If a hockey horn blares in an empty stadium, does anybody hear it? (Aside from John & Suzyn; it would still flummox them.)

Basically, this would kill baseball in Tampa and encourage other owners to roam for the best half-season deals. The Rochester Royals, anyone? 

Still, the Tampontreal Exprays! I cannot help but feel the loss. 

And speaking of losses... RIP, Meatloaf. (A Yankee fan, by the way.) Nobody summed it up more cogently:

"It was long ago, and it was far away, and it was so much better than it is today..."

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Master awaits another season: "I have no plans to retire. I love it. The games are the easiest thing I do."

 A John Sterling Q&A, in which he swears twice. 

Fortunately, it's a transcript. 

I don't think the Yankiverse can handle hearing him say "bulls--t." 

Hooray! The Yankees have three prospects on Baseball America's Top 100! Trouble is, they're not keeping up with the neighbors

By now, you've probably heard the exciting (!) news that the Yankees (!) have placed three - (three!) - prospects on Baseball America's 2022 Top 100 list, the closest thing MLB has to Mel Kuiper's annual pig book. 

The Yankee Big Three are:

SS Anthony Volpe, #10.
SS Oswaldo Peraza, #55.
OF Jasson "The Jupiterian" Dominguez, #87.

(Note: We could debate the ever-expanding Dominguez's rank - up or down - which remains primarily a factor of his signing bonus and relentless hype. For now, let's leave that dog to rest. He made the cut. Where's the wet bar?)

Three prospects! Out of 30 MLB teams! Do the math. Not bad, eh?

Well, the only way to gauge such fantastical success is by comparing ours to the competition. So on that note, let's look around the AL East.

Perennial Tankathon superpower Baltimore places five on the list, starting with catcher Adley Rutschman, ranked BA's #1 prospect for the last two years. The O's also have RH Grayson Rodriguez, #6, considered the game's top pitching prospect. There is LH pitcher DL Hall, #52; IF Gunnar Henderson, #57, and OF Colton Cowser, #98. It's worth noting that the O's supposedly have a bunch of prospects who just missed the top 100. It's hard to imagine their day ever coming - yeesh, they are the O's - but their young talent far outdoes the Yankees. One of these days, we might wake up and find that they have turned into the 2016 Astros. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Okay, how about our "arch rival," Boston? Well, the Redsocks placed four on the list: SS Marcelo Mayer, #15; 1B Triston Casas, #19;  2B Nick Yorke, #31 and CF Jarren Duran, #91. I'm surprised that IF Jeter Downs missed the cut. Not a spectacular showing, but once again, Boston lands ahead of us. 

The Blue Jays placed just three: Catcher Gabriel Moreno, #6, RH pitcher Nate Pearson #62, and IF Orelvis Martinez, #75. I'd say we're keel with Toronto, though Moreno is supposed to be special. Catchers are hard to find, I hear.  

Then there is the Boogieman itself, Tampa. After eating our lunch again in 2021, they should be reaching the end of their talent curve, right? It's about time for their organization to start sputtering, am I right?

Well, the Rays have five on the list. (Seriously, did anybody think they wouldn't? Rather than trade four kids for a Joey Gallo, they constantly replenish their farm.) Their five include pitcher Shane Baez, #8, who finished last year in the rotation and looks like a future ace. There is OF Josh Rowe, #44; OF Vidal Brujan, #56; pitcher Taj Bradely, #58; and OF Curtis Mead, #97.

Listen: The Death Barge can certainly celebrate its Big Three, though none are expected to make an impact this year. More likely, Volpe or Peraza will get traded to patch some of the gaping holes on their roster, as Brian Cashman seeks to salvage the season. 

And you could say that Roderick Arias (edited), the Yankees newest signee, might end up on the list. Maybe Baseball America should designate an annual slot - say #50 - reserved for the latest Unnamed Yankee Bonus Teen. Every year, we'll have at least one breath of hope.

So, yeah, I suppose the Yankees do have reason to celebrate. Sort of. But they're not keeping up with the Joneses. And we're running out of youngsters to trade.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Buffalo soars to big lead in Golden Snowball; what is wrong with Syracuse?

 Upstate NY's perennial snow magnet can't seem to buy a decent blizzard. 

From the Golden Snowball.  (Donate here.

Oh, Syracuse, Theodoridas weeps for thee


Ladies and gentlemen, we are reaching the crossroads season for Luis Severino

On Feb. 15, 2019 - hours after news reports surfaced about Joe Jonas' surprise Valentine's Day party for Sophie Turner - the Yankees signed the young, ascending pitcher, Luis Severino, to a four-year, $40 million contract extension. 

Ten days later - as we were still digesting the sparks-filled appearance together of Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet at the Academy Awards - the Yankees signed the emerging centerfielder, Aaron Hicks, to a seven-year, $70 million extension. 

Ten days in Yankee/celebrity history. 

We celebrated these future marriages, even as we knew that you can't predict baseball, Suzyn.

And 2022 will define their careers in Gotham.

You can't hate a guy for getting hurt, Suzyn. But some people were not put on Earth to be Yankees. Jacoby Ellsbury comes to mind. Ji-Man Choi. Stephen Drew. The list grows every year, and it might someday include Hicks and Severino.

For now, though, let's table the Hicks discussion. Let's do Sevy.

In 2019, he looked like a future Monument Parker, if not a Cooperstowner. Then came the setbacks. He hurt his shoulder. Then his elbow. Then his shoulder. Then his groin. Today, Severino faces the final year of his contract, a season that will restore prominence or end his time in pinstripes.  

Considering his history, it's hard to imagine "Setback Sevy" pitching 150 innings. 

And unless he delivers, it's hard to imagine the Yankees picking up his $15 million club option next fall. One more injury - or spate of ineffectiveness - and they'll pay him the $2.75 million buyout, making him another Corey Kluber. How will we feel if Houston, or Boston, or - gulp - Tampa signs him next winter? Steel yourselves.

So here's a thought, which I'm sure somebody inside the Yankees is contemplating:

What if - instead of trying to drain 200 innings from Sevy's fragile metabolism, and to pitch him until he drops - what if they give him the eighth inning? He's done it before - his rookie year. Aroldis Chapman is no longer a sure thing. The Yankees might need a closer. In the past, they've shelled out for bullpen stoppers - Zack Britton comes to mind. If Severino becomes "Solid Sevy," he could make a difference... and maybe save that plaque in centerfield. 

Joe and Sophie are still together. Jason and Lisa? Kaputsville. Maybe the Yankees can still save this marriage. Maybe it's time to abandon this fantasy of Severino as a warhorse, as a staff ace. Could he be a closer? Sometimes, to make a union work, you have to change.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

There's one surefire great replacement in the booth for David Cone; would the Yankees have the guts to make it happen?

By now, you've surely heard that Mr. Exit-Velo himself, David Cone, will hit the Big Time this summer: Sunday night broadcasts on ESPN. 

Coney's YES appearances will drop from about 90 to 50 games. In his absence, Paul O'Neill will need an alt universe of new stories, and unless he reads directly from Moby Dick, it will mean vast stretches of dead air.

So who should replace Coney, whose tales - true or not - often served as the most interesting parts of the nightly, five-hour K/BB/HR marathon?

Please sit down for this. Take your hand off the mouse. 

Don't just click to Comments and hit caps lock. Hear me out. I've felt this way for years. It works on multiple levels, though some of you will react harshly. The fact is, we all need to be tasered out of our dullard, bovine-like, sleepwalking, fibbertigibbet existence. This would do it.


Yes, that Pedro. The guy who attacked Zim, who demanded to pitch in the Curse-breaker game (and almost screwed it up.) The "Who's Your Daddy?" guy, who spent his career hating the Yankees. Pedro Martinez. And here's why.

1. As a postgame analyst on TBS, he's funny, charming and gracious. 

2. Though he hated the Yankees as a player, in the broadcast booth, he regularly defers to his ex-rivals. If anything, he often goes out of his way to praise them, even when they don't deserve it.

3. He is a person of color, and Ken Singleton is edging towards retirement. It's not that they must sign a black or Latino voice, but it's well worth doing

4. Best reason: His hiring would drive a stake in the heart of Redsock fans. As the seasons progress, Pedro will go the route of all announcers: He'll root for the team that signs his paychecks. As he evolves into a Yankee homer, Boston will burn.

Okay, I know what you're saying. I'll turn on caps lock and do it for you:


Short answer: Because that's how you turn them. It's cheaper than killing their families.

Long answer: It's worked in the past. We wondered if Tom Seaver could call a Yankee game, but his moments with The Scooter became part of lore. Singleton played for Baltimore, John Flaherty worked everywhere, and Al Leiter - after we dealt him - had every reason to hold a lifetime grudge. 

Pedro. Yeah, the one and only. And think of his homer holler: HEY, VERLANDER, WHO'S YOUR DADDY? AARON JUDGE, THAT'S WHO!

Monday, January 17, 2022

A Time To Remember

When the Yankees first began informing us that their latest international signee, Jason Dominguez,  " is already as good as Mike trout," I had a revelation.

Wearing, one Sunday morning,  my full "Dragonfly Man" garb,  I saw this message in the mirror: "it isn't Jason, it is Jessica."

This is not a message intended to be demeaning to women.  It is a message to suggest that Jason will play more like "Jessica" than Mike Trout. And there are, as yet, no " Jessica's" in MLB.

And now we hear tales off over-eating, during the pandemic.  Lord knows I have done so.  I consumed more than 400,000 chocolate covered ants watching the Cowboys lose to the Niners. And loved every morsel.

So Jason has turned to triple cheese-burgers and large fries?  Accompanied by a quart-sized Grape soda? So what?  He is a rich teenager.  And he is a chubby .256 hitter against high school level pitching.  The focus this season will be on his diet and not his inability to play the game.  All diversions are protective of a stupid front office. 

Here is the takeaway for today;  The Yankees confidence in this young person is why the Yankees can't win a play-in game.  They think band-aids will heal their hernia. 

Let it be said, because things need to be said, that " I was among the first" ( probably the very first )  to predict that we did not have a new baseball sensation on our hands.

My " Jessica" is no Mike Trout.  Probably not even a Florial.  

Most likely, just another Koi for the big pond. 

Another fat swimmer with interesting coloration. 

In Defense of "The Martian"

Before we all start getting bent out of shape about Jasson being out of shape let's take a moment and look at the bigger picture. 

Here's the thing about his weight gain... 

Sure, it would be easy to say that if he keeps this up we will have to name him after a larger planet. That his gravitational field will start to attract space debris and that, forget championship rings, the only rings he's going to end up with are like the Rings of Saturn.

But you know what? That would be wrong. So I'm not going to do that. 

If we look at what's going on with a modicum of compassion... (Good name for a book of short stories BTW. "A Modicum of Compassion and Other Stories" I'd read it.)   

It's not sloth. It's stress. 

Imagine if any of us were proclaimed the next Mailer or Woody Allen, or even the next Bob Guccione at sixteen. That's a lot of weight to put on someone and can lead to a lot of weight being put on someone. 

Now imagine that you are constantly being observed and evaluated. No room for error. No room to grow. We're lucky he's too young to be a full blown alcoholic. 

New country. New Language. New foods! Lots of money! 

Oh, and he's just a kid! 

I guess none of us were schmucks at nineteen. Some us are STILL schmucks. 

I hope than in addition to his swing coach, fitness coach, media coach, and three DVD set of the TV show "Coach", they give this kid a life coach because he's living in a goldfish bowl and right now the only castle he's seeking refuge in is White Castle.   

Much like the elastic in the waistband of his Yankee uniform, we need to cut him some slack. 

Is Jasson Dominiquez going down the Jesus Montero hole?

Latest sign of the Yankpocalypse: 

Jasson Dominiquez - the sleek, Olympian, 18-year-old centerfielder who was supposed to lead us from this Stygian darkness - may be eating too many French fries. This weekend, FanGraphs - one of the more credible sites for prospect analysis, support them here - dropped him from 1st (last year) to 4th among Yankee prospects, with this explanatory nugget:

... [H]e’s put on somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-plus pounds in the last 24 months, not all of which is muscle... 

Yikes. They could say the same for me. Wasn't an addiction to the ice cream sandwich the long ago kryptonite of Jesus (H.) Montero, the Dominiquez of another era? When you sign a 16-year-old, it's like bringing home a puppy from the pound: You don't quite know how big it'll grow. 

Lately, Dominiquez has generated a lot of ether, on the heels of: 

1. A relatively disappointing debut season in low-single A.

2. A pile of kind words about him by the groundbreaking minor league manager, Rachel B. 

3. The signing of a replacement future team hype-generator, Broderick Arias, a 17-year-old SS with similar post-puberty press clippings. 

I don't mean to belittle Dominiquez. He is what he is. It's worth noting that the Yankees constantly praise his character and work ethic and - even if right now he is snarfing down Happy Meals like Lucille Ball devouring chocolates on a demented assembly line - we must believe that he'll push harder on the Peloton later. We should worry less about his weight than his swing-and-miss ratio. 

Insert sigh here.

This is what happens when MLB shuts down, leaving fan sites to scavenge for tidbits of detritus.  

Oh, well, after 19 weeks, the NFL is finally down to eight teams, none of which are owned by Jerry Jones. And you know what? Watching those final seconds tick down last night, I almost felt sorry for the bum. It was the sports equivalent of waterboarding. Bravo, juju gods! 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

With apologies to Louie Armstrong...

Maintaining the day's musical lane... 

I see Cowboy fans
Of silver and blue,
I see them crying,
Their season's through,
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world...

I see Dallas players,
Both white and black,
They roll their eyes, yell,


And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world...


Another playoff loss,
So pretty in the light
Everyone in Texas...
A Giants fan tonight.

And old Jerry Jones yells,
"The clock still says one!"
But it doesn't really matter
Cause his season's all done.

I hear the sports books cry,

Their hearts full of dread,
Cause "America's team"
Couldn't cover the spread, 
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

I Signed At Seventeen

(With apologies to Frank Sinatra)

When I was seventeen…

I had a very good year.
I had a very good year. I hit .315
Got four mil from the Yanks.
And Jesus I thanked…
Montero, I mean.
I signed at seventeen...

When I was twenty-one...

It was a pretty good year.
It was a pretty good year. 
Crushed 32 Blasts and made AA
I’ll make the majors some day
Though it hurts when I run.
When I was twenty-one.

When I was twenty-five...

I once had much better years.
They found a hole in my swing. I’m all out of springs.
Go to Arby’s for meals.
And I am an add on in deals.
I knew I'd never arrive 

When I was twenty-five.

And now the days are short...

I’m in the autumn of my career.
But for work… baseball I played
And at least once was paid
So I can’t shed a tear
At least I had a career.

My whole life filled with green...

I signed at seventeen.


In Roderick Arias, the Yankees just signed the last of their future top-ranked international prospects

For better or worse, in recent years, the Yankees have played a strategy of outbidding everyone for the top Latino free agent teenager on the international market, searching for the next future star. Two years ago, it was CF Jasson Dominiquez, whose great looming achievement will be to soon turn 19. 

This weekend, they landed Roderick Arias. 

You can read a boatload of hype about Arias, a switch-hitting human YouTube channel, who plays SS. He checks all the boxes - speed, arm, power, bat, figure, legs, voice, singer-songwriter, etc. - at age 17. Of course, in the words of Janis Ian, "I learned the truth at seventeen, That love was meant for beauty queens, And high school girls with clear skinned smiles, Who married young and then retired."  Can anybody say Jesus "Ice Cream Sandwich" Montero?

Immediately, Arias will ascend to a high slot in the Yankiverse, ranked on the prospect Top 10 list - maybe the Top 5, depending on how much the hype machine consumes its own bullshit. Let's wish him luck. The Yankees invested $4 million in him. Let's hope the strategy works.

This will almost surely be the last time to play it. Next year, as part of the new Players Union agreement, MLB will probably set up an international draft. The owners hate bidding wars on 17-year-olds, and the players would prefer the money go their way. So a draft - which continues to lessen the financial advantages of big market franchises - will likely happen.

Unless they tank, the Yankees next year will sign the 15th or 16th top Latino teenager.  

It's worth noting that Hal Steinbrenner is one of the architects of these changes. In November, Hal voted to lower the MLB luxury tax threshold, which he has used as an excuse to spend less money. Thus, Hal voted to lessen his team's fiscal advantage. It's all about money; never forget that. 

The Yankees will pitch overboard tradition, fans, and the city that supports them - if the team can make more money. Those 27 world championships are becoming as about as relevant as the Boston Celtics' dynasty of the 1960s. But who knows, maybe Roderick Arias will be the savior that Jesus couldn't be. We learn the truths at seventeen...