Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Game 131: Kinks until we lose

The Big Fella Takes Flight


Best thing about this benighted season, it seems to me, is going to be seeing whether or not Aaron Judge can set the home run record.

I'm not going to say "the Yankees' club record" or any of that other folderol. The only players who ever surpassed Roger Maris' mark of 61 home runs in a 162-game season were known or confessed juicers, which to me invalidates what they did.

Hell, it's bad enough that we have to hear all about the thrilling question of whether Albert Pujols—yet another, obvious cheater—can "pass" the all-time home run mark of A-Rod, still another, known juicer, forcibly retired by the Yankees and MLB, lest he pass the all-time record of the all-time cheater, Barry Bonds. 

Nonsense, all of that—and when major-league baseball is eventually reduced to something that draws lower ratings than pickleball, you will be able to trace the start of its demise to when it began to degrade and besmirch its own records and traditions.

It won't surprise many of you here, I'm sure, to know that I am, for that matter, a pro-asterisk man. Not that the asterisk on Roger Maris' record—the one that so many sportswriters bewailed as so outrageous for so long—ever actually existed. 

There was simply a ruling by Commissioner Ford Frick that there be two lines in the record book, one stating the record for home runs in a 154-game season, the other for home runs in 162 games. As 162 games is just over 5 percent longer than 154 games, I never understood why this was widely regarded as a war crime.

Obviously, it seems to me, more games in a season, different record. Where would all those sportswriters have drawn the line? Ten percent more games? Twenty percent?

If you want to get into the weeds, you can raise all kinds of other reasons why this or that record is more impressive over time. Were endless train trips or flights across two-to-three time zones more disruptive to players? What's tougher: relief pitching, or awful woolen uniforms and no air conditioning? Etc. There's one obsessed chronicler of the Babe who claims that he would have hit 104 home runs in the 1921 season—instead of 59—playing with the fences and rules as they are today.

But that way, madness lies. As far as I'm concerned, if Aaron Judge hits 62 home runs in 162 games, he breaks ROGER MARIS' single-season, major-league home run record. Period. Breaking a 61-year-old sports record...that ain't nothin'. When did we see that last?

But if Judge hits 61 in 154 or fewer games...well then, he's broken the Babe's 1927 record. A 95-year-old sports record. It boggles the mind.

Right now, according to the good people at YES, Judge is even with Maris—and seven games AHEAD of the Babe. 

That is deceptive. While Maris had a strong September/October, finishing with 10 home runs in that month, Ruth's 1927 finish was staggering—these being the games in which many would-be contenders to the record fall by the wayside.

The Babe hit 17 home runs in September, 1927, 16 of them in the last 27 games of the season. 

It all started with a doubleheader split up in Fenway, on September 6. Up until then, Ruth was actually still tied with his young teammate, Lou Gehrig, who had been a little ahead of him all season in the very first, home-run race.

Gehrig homered once in those two games, to bring his season total to 45—a number exceeded by no one in the game to that time save for Ruth himself. The Babe—hit three, moving up to 47. He was never headed.

Ruth hit two more the next day in Boston, numbers 48 and 49, including the game-winner in the 8th inning, as the Yanks rallied from an 8-1 deficit to win, 12-10. He also had a double, and drove in five runs. 

From September 11-13, he hit home runs in three straight games, against the St. Louis Browns and the Cleveland Indians Traffic Statues, bringing him up to 52. But nobody was terribly excited. Ruth had already hit 54 and 59 home runs in a season, and there were just 15 games left to play. (The Yanks that year would play 155 games in total, because of a called game. Ruth played in 151.)

Only one home run followed over the next five games. 

Then there was another little string. A home run in three more, straight games, one against the White Sox and two against Detroit.

His home run in the second Tigers game came in the bottom of the ninth, after the Yankees had blown a 6-3 lead, even without Aroldis Chapman. Not to fear. In their last ups, Mark Koenig led off with a single, and Ruth homered "deep to right field." (Nearly all of his home runs are described as "deep to" somewhere, maybe Yonkers.)

The Babe now had 56 homers in 151 games. Still, 60? It seemed a tall order, four more in as many games.

Next came perhaps Ruth's most impressive feat in the whole skein. On September 27th, he belted what proved to be a game-winning, grand-slam in the seventh inning off the Philadelphia Athletics' Robert Moses "Lefty" Grove, the greatest pitcher of his era; 

according to some, the greatest pitcher who ever lived. The ball was hit "to deep right-center" in the Stadium.

(Ruth, incidentally, hit .311 lifetime against Lefty, tying Gehrig and Hank Greenberg for most home runs against Grove with 9, while his 33 RBI against the pitcher were topped only by Lou's 45. Thanks to Baseball Roundtable's "Who's Your Daddy?" series for those stats.)

Game 153 on the season, and the Yanks started a season-ending series against the Washington Senators. The Nats were not the tomato cans they usually were, in the midst of their one run of success which would see them take three pennants and a World Series in ten years, 1924-1933. In 1927, they were third in the AL with an 85-69 record.

Didn't matter. Ruth hit two home runs and a triple and drove in six runs, as the Yanks coasted to a 15-4 win over Washington. (In what must qualify as a contender for Most Great Pitchers' Names in a single game, the Nats' pitchers included Firpo Marberry and Hod Lisenbee, while Urban Shocker, who would soon die of heart disease, won his last game for the Yankees.)

Friday, September 30th. Next-to-last-game of the season. Washington pitched Tom Zachary, a good pitcher who spent much of his career with wretched teams (Traded to the Yankees the next season, he would win a World Series game, then go 12-0 in 1929.). 

Bottom of the eighth inning, Mark Koenig on third with a triple, the Babe hit a drive "deep" down the right field line, that just stayed fair. Ballgame, as it turned out. And sixty.

No one was all that excited, as the attendance suggested. (For that matter, only 23,154 fans came out to see Maris hit number 61, in the last game of 1961. Hey, they wanted The Mick to do it.)

As one sportswriter said, it was the Babe. For all they knew, he would come back the next year and hit 70. (No—only 54.)

Ruth himself quite enjoyed it, sitting around the locker room with a cigar, exclaiming, "Sixty! I'd like to see some son-of-a-bitch top that!"

Well, some son-of-a-bitch might just do that this year. Judge would be perfect, a good-natured, hard-playing individual who—at least as far as we know—is not cheating in an era of cheaters. 

It would be great to see him do it—if just for the look on Brian Cashman's face.

The projected projections for the 2022 Yankees, and the rejected injections of Toronto's fanbase


Yankee magic number for winning the AL East: 


Yank magic number for making 2022 postseason: 


Aaron Judge projected regular season HR total:


Judge's projected salary next year:

Somewhere north of $40 million

Judge's projected team next year:

Somewhere north of San Diego 

Yankee projected owner next year: 

Is this a trick? Are you taunting me?

Tonight's projected pitcher: 

Gerrit Cole, entire bullpen, including Chi Chi Gonzalez, if necessary.

Projected strategy for beating Tampa Bay this weekend:

Have Judge hit four HRs per game.

(Essay questions) Projected reasons for personal rage:

1. Whatever happens tonight, the Death Barge has squandered its last string of sub-.500 tomato cans, crapping their West Coast beds against two teams ready to phone in the month of September. What does it say when our pitching can't keep Mike Ford in the ballpark?

2. Who believes Boone's claim that Jameson Tailion's "contusion" won't cause him to miss a start, or maybe two? Whenever somebody gets hurt, Boone low-balls the severity and the expected time missed. He does this again and again. This isn't optimism. It's denial. Why doesn't the media call him out?

3. Don't you feel a growing belief that, in a season that was supposed to be magical, all other fan bases are having more fun than we are?

4. The world has grown bull-goose loony, we are staring into The Abyss, and the 2022 Yankees are doomed... which launches the final essay question:

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Game 130: Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy

Yanks sign Chi Chi Gonzalez: "The 2022 season has not gone well for Gonzalez, as he has an elevated 6.87 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and 12/4 K/BB ratio over 18 1/3 innings (six appearances, four starts) between the Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers."


Three Montas Quotes That Show Just How Screwed We Are

The guy may not be what we needed.

(Quotes pulled from the NY Post)

On the Otani HR: "“He’s a really good hitter and I probably shouldn’t have thrown the same four pitches in a row."

On his overall performance: “I thought I threw the ball well,” Montas said. “I just couldn’t keep the ball in the park.”

On how he's been since coming over to the Yankees: “I don’t know. I keep throwing the same pitches. I think it’s a little bit of luck.”


Watching the apocalypse: Yankee loss column lead now down to SIX

Someday - when the wounds have healed and we can again snicker at The Abyss - we might remember the 2022 Yankees for two polar opposite concepts. 

Whether he beats Maris or not, Aaron Judge's historic HR chase should conjure both a smile and grimace: The latter resulting from the most painful collapse in Yankee history, a meltdown of such proportions that Judge would surely leave next winter.  

In fact, the Yankees are delivering a message to America, if not the world: Nothing is guaranteed. Anything can be toppled. It can happen here. 

Last night, as you surely know by now, the Death Barge lost again to a team that fails to make the expanded list of wild card contenders. It was their third straight loss after a brief winning streak that seemed to suggest all was well. 

Well, all is not. We still cannot drive in a run. We still wait for Judge to hit his HRs, which increasing come with nobody on base, and no protection from behind. Our bullpen remains a turnstile of unfamiliar names seemingly plucked from the ozone of analytic data that frames Brian Cashman's existence. And the injuries just keep coming.   

Are there hopeful signs? Maybe.

1. Back from the injured list, Clay Holmes pitched a scoreless seventh, actually recording four outs after Gleyber flubbed a DP relay. If Holmes is truly back - we'll need a few outings to know  - it would boost a bullpen of tired arms that, come October, will depend upon Luetge and Bard, rather than Tramp Stamp Chapman and Buttocks Britton.

2. Oswaldo Cabrera keeps pushing on, though still without a HR. Last night, he went 1-4 with two Ks and a game-ending shot that died at the track. Cabrera is 12-for-46, batting .261 in his cup of coffee. He hit 9 HRs this season at Scranton (batting .269 over 197 ABs.) Does he have power? He seems to put the barrel on balls, but they don't leave the park. 

3. Frankie Montas went six innings, gave up four earned runs. That won't cut it. If the playoffs began tomorrow, our rotation would probably be Cole, Severino, Cortez and repeat. Like Sonny Gray before him, Montas would be a candidate to miss the postseason. In five games with St. Louis, Jordan Montgomery is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.76. His overall ERA - 3.29 - is better than Cole's. 

What a disastrous trade deadline we had. And now, with six games left against us, Tampa doesn't need help from anybody else. Yikes.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Game 129: It’s a good life

"But what are you?"


Poor Ma Boone. 

If the Yankees' meltdown ends up being as complete and record-setting as we fear it will be—"No, no! Live, Tink, live!!!"—then the Yankees manager might well serve as scapegoat, even as The Brain That Wouldn't Die goes on to run the Yankees for another 3 or 4 (or 5 or 10 or 20) seasons.

We all know that the real culprit for the Yanks' continuing failure even to get back to the World Series, lo these 13 years, is one Brian Cashman. Or, in a more meta sense, HAL Steinbrenner, the guy who just won't fire him. 

And yet...I have to say, Boone getting chucked under the bus won't be all that undeserved. 

For the latest, soap operatic turn in this most annoying of all Yankees seasons—and most unwatchable of all Yankees teams—we must turn to yet another movie analogy. (Yes, we must!)

This was Big Night, a 1996 indie with an incredible cast—Isabella Rossellini, Minnie Driver, and Alison Janney are also in it, among others—and a subtly intelligent screenplay.

The plot revolves around two brothers from Italy, trying to keep their American restaurant alive, lest they have to go back to the home country. The brothers are played by Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub, which is extraordinary, mostly because it's amazing they weren't always required to play brothers.

Shalhoub plays the restaurant's master chef, a temperamental genius at his art, who despises his ignorant, American suburban customers, and would just as soon go back to Rome. Tucci is the business side of the partnership, someone who loves the U.S. and wants to stay, but is more than a bit of a finagler, cheating pretty much everyone on the side.

I won't spoil the plot, but at a big moment, Ian Holm, a rival restauranteur (I think; been awhile!) who is trying to steal away Shalhoub and shut them down, tells Tucci that his brother is a real artist, while he, Holm, "is a businessman. I have to be whatever I'm needed to be, every two minutes." Or something like that.

But then Holm, looking at Tucci, asks him. "But what are you?" Neither businessman nor craftsman, Tucci looks miserable.

In the same vein, there are great field managers and great clubhouse managers. Buck Showalter, for instance, is an outstanding field manager. Joe Torre was a poor field manager—but maybe the greatest clubhouse manager of all time, considering all he had to do to handle Mad King George, the New York press, and put the Yankees back together again.

Occasionally—very occasionally—as with Casey Stengel or his mentor, Muggsy McGraw, you get someone who is both a great field manager and a great clubhouse manager.

I don't think anyone believes that Ma Boone is an outstanding field manager. But hey, who really could be under Brian Cashman? Forced, as any manager inevitably would be, to play along with Cashman's body-wrecking, sport-killing version of Three True Outs Outcomes baseball. (Though disturbingly, Ma seems to be a true believer, too.)

That leaves clubhouse manager. Which, in some ways—in these days of runaway salaries, union arbitration, and the like—is harder than ever to be good at. 

The days of overturning postgame buffet tables, obscenity-filled tongue lashings, and punitive fines and benchings by managers are long gone. As Phil Jackson demonstrated, while coaching his team of stars through six championships, skippers today often have to resort to some whacky, Zen shit (my new garage band name!), to keep a team going. This is especially true in baseball, during the dog days of August.

I try not to be naive. I understand that there will be untold temptations for young men, unduly burdened by riches and testosterone, venturing into the lush folds of California. Maybe, during their stay by the Bay, our boys got into some especially fine jeroboams of Napa Valley Zinfandel. Maybe Giancarlo introduced them to one of Priscilla Quintana's highly pressable posses of models/actresses.

Hey, it happens! But no matter what the excuse for this weekend's abominable play by the Bay, it's up to a good clubhouse manager to keep his team focused and winning.  

Not even our "Hit Strikes Hard" philosophy—not even the garbage truck full of washed-up, broken-down ballplayers that Brian Cashman has once again dumped on us—can account for how horribly this Yankees team played, Friday-Sunday, against maybe the worst team in baseball. 

The one-hit-in-11-innings extravaganza on Saturday night. Performances nearly as bad, against pitchers who are some of the very worst in the majors, the day before and after. Combined, as usual, with bone-headed base running blunders, bad clutch pitching, and some terrible fielding at key moments.

Nor is this some aberration. We have been seeing this sort of play from these knuckleheads, on and off, for months now. It is indicative, I think, that after weeks and weeks of slumping, this Yankees team is still leading the AL in run differential. When they feel like concentrating, these Yanks can hand out a beating. 

When they don't—which is more and more and more often—their play is lackadaisical. It is indifferent. It is insulting.

Which brings us back to Ma Boone. If you're not a good field manager, then you have to be a good clubhouse manager. If you can't keep your team focused, even for a week at a time, then you're not a good clubhouse manager. 

But if you're not either, then...what are you?


Call 9-1-1: Yankee divisional lead in loss column now down to seven, with 18 AL East games left

Remember that euphoria we experienced - long ago, last week - when the Death Barge won five straight and still had two in the can against hapless Oakland? I mean, it was glorious: Tampa was faltering, Giancarlo was back, Oswaldo was performing miracles, and our spare parts bullpen was holding the line against that historic A's wrecking crew of Sheldon Neuse and Shea Langeliers. 

Yeahp. So much for that.

Well, folks, the Babadook is here, the wolf at the door. It's time to break glass, to call the Wagner Group, to run the Bat Signal and to shinny down the pole into the bunker and recheck the sell-by dates of our canned spaghetti. Somebody said you can't predict baseball. Screw dat. The 2022 Yankees are leaking everywhere, like that Ukrainian nuke plant, and getting shelled every day. The tattoo is infected, the dialythium crystals are cracking, the matter-antimatter pods are converging, and Captain, she's a-ready to blow. 

Remember those grinning assurances that the Yankees would surely win the home field advantage, that they would surely win the division, that they would surely make the postseason... well, with 36 games left, there is nothing assured about this team beyond its innate ability to crap the bed. 

And if we do reach October 4, what then? Can anyone reasonably have faith in this team? Please, I beg you: Tell me why we should expect anything more than a first-round exit? This team staggers from drought to drought, sandwiching a few wins here and there. We cannot score without HRs. We have baseball's best hitter and nobody to protect him. We have absolutely no bullpen; no lead safe. And if a starter falters, as Clarke Schmidt did yesterday, the game is over. You can feel the energy flowing out of the dugout, like fans leaving to beat the crowd.  

Yesterday, that 4-0 deficit felt like 10 runs. 

A four-game split against the worst team in the AL. 

Our lead in the loss column is now seven. We face the hate-filled Rays and Redsocks six more times, each. We'll play three against the BJs and Orioles, including the season-ending series with Baltimore that begins with Gerrit Cole Bobblehead Night. We needed an ace. What we got was a vertically integrated promotional opportunity. 

So, Suzyn, here's a prediction: The 2022 Yankees will be remembered as a snake-bitten team that somehow put together a great May and June, only to fall back to earth and be decimated by a string of trades that exposed its weaknesses rather than solve them. 

Are we really supposed to think everything will get better when Harrison Bader arrives? We just produced five hits in 18 innings. Will a good glove CF solve that problem?

Are we supposed to believe that Aroldis Chapman will ever return to form? The guy hasn't hit 102 mph since Russian invaded. 

Should we believe that Gleyber Torres will suddenly become the star infielder we once sought? Or that Josh Donaldson will start hitting? That Setback Sevy won't have another setback? We're supposed to buy all this? 

We should be running away with the division, so far ahead that nobody bothers to watch a scoreboard. Instead, we are bracing for the worst. And how can you not feel that sense of impending dread? 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Game Thread: Field of Screams


When was the last time they had a hit?

Ray, people will come, Ray.

The power of the catch.

Last week as part of my most recent sojourn across the country I found myself in Des Monies. My original Iowa adventure was going to be the 88,000 square foot “Largest Truck Stop in the World.” It boasts a miniature golf course, a water slide, and the most exotic collection of truck stop hookers in the Midwest… 

I never made it.

“They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past.”

Field of Dreams was a mere three hours out of my way.

“Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say. “It’s only twenty dollars per person.” They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it. For it is money they have and peace they lack.”

The parking lot was full. On a Tuesday. On a perfect summer day in the middle of nowhere. 

Admission was free. I paid the twenty dollar suggested donation. Not charging admission was a brilliant way to do it because it took money out of the equation and let you just “be there”. If they charged twenty dollars it would have felt like a rip off and you wouldn’t be able to settle into the genuine magic of the place.

And it is magical. There were over one hundred people milling around what is pretty much a HS baseball field with corn in the outfield. I saw fathers playing catch with sons. Fathers playing catch with daughters. Moms throwing underhand to T-Ball aged kids. Old men using canes to keep them from falling as they walked around the bases, lost in some distant memory of a playing the game.


I went to the merch store first, because I wanted to buy a baseball. I could have brought one from home but didn’t realize I would be here and you couldn’t not have a baseball in hand as you walked around.

I was wearing my late father’s favorite cap. I placed it in the outfield, moved off a few paces, and threw the ball at it. Then I started to cry.

The power of the catch.

There was a man with his wife mid-seventies who was watching and offered to toss the ball around and so there we both were. Throwing the ball back and forth, talking, enjoying the moment. He missed his twin brother, I missed my Dad. We loved where we were and what we doing in paying tribute to them both.


I spoke to lot of people there and it wasn’t about MLB. It was about baseball...

Memories of games they played, or attended or listened to.  Memories of watching their kids progress from T-Ball to little league to in some cases, the minors. These were all people who deeply loved the game.

Lots of kids there. It gave me hope. 

Above all, it was the transfer of memories from one generation to the next.

“And they’ll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes.

And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”

People will come, Ray.

Field of Dreams has a palpable energy that has to be experienced to be understood. The closest feeling I can think of was when I stood in a circle of rocks in Sedona Arizona. Joyous. Ethereal. Yet at the same time real.  

I could have sat there for hours.


As an aside… yes I did the “walk out of the cornfield” and you can see the stadium that they built for their made for TV game in left field but a-ways off. 

They are tearing it down and building a bigger permanent one so they can increase attendance. I guess baseball can build a stadium without bilking the taxpayers. They plan to build several ball fields and a support complex so they can hold large baseball tournaments much like Cooperstown has done.

I’m actually OK with that.

Currently, Field of Dreams has only one sponsored area, the pitchers mound, brought to you by a company I won’t name and a picture I won’t show. 


As I left the parking lot I saw more cars pulling in.

The power of the catch.

Hey Matt Blake...

Last night the Yankees only got one hit off of a mediocre pitcher. I understand that they only struck out five times but...

Instead of just "hitting strikes hard" maybe the Yankees should take a look at this. 

(Picture taken at the  Hall of Fame)

Ouch. Aroldis Chapman wins the Henry Cotto Injury Award, Zack Britton's butt is barking, and the Yankees just lost to the worst team in the AL

Once upon a time, a fellow named Henry Cotto - then a 25-year-old, up-and-coming Yankee OF - unwrapped a Q-Tip swab and became a sporting legend. The story goes that Cotto was sitting on the bench, coaxing Shrek-like wax from his auditory canal and eustachian tube, when Ken Griffey - the father, not the son - accidentally bumped into him, rupturing his eardrum. 

This was the mid-1980s, a time measured in Mike Pagliarulo HRs and Matt Nokes passed balls, back when George Steinbrenner was hailed for building the worst team money could buy. Ever since, Henry Cotto has been a generational touchstone for idiotic baseball injuries, and there have been some great ones. (My fave, after Cotto, is John Smoltz, who supposedly burned himself while ironing his shirt - while wearing it.)

So, yesterday, former Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman joined this elite Darwin Club. Amid a career existential crisis, El Chapo got himself a brand new tramp stamp, yet another tattoo in his continuing quest to become a Ray Bradbury character. What was it, you wonder? A Yankee logo? A drawing of mom? Or maybe Jose Altuve, being clubbed in a garbage pail? Actually, it doesn't matter. The problem is that the tattoo became infected, sending Chapman to the Mystery Injury List, to rub Mazola onto his boiling sores for the next two weeks. We won't see him again until mid-September, when he might get a chance to make the postseason roster, though that looks increasingly dim. Cue the "Oh, shucks" tapes. That's Chinatown, Jake. You can't predict skin care, Suzyn.

For Yankee fans, the loss of Chapman is not the hideous, awful, terrible news it used to be. That's because El Chapo isn't the pitcher he used to be. I believe his next appearance was going to be after Wipeout Weissert had been used up, which would happen after Luke Bard was done, following Albert Abreu's return, with Josh Donaldson warming in the pen. In other words, a blowout game with absolutely nothing on the line beyond curiosity, for people to see what will happen.  

This would be tough news, if it weren't so comical. As it is, we must laugh. The juju gods must think we aren't on to them. It happened on a day when another once-great bullpen hope - Zack Britton - tweaked something in his 34-year-old butt during a minor league rehab assignment in Tampa. Britton was already a longshot to pitch in 2022. Now, he looks like a practical joke, as did the entire Yankee team last night. 

Last night, we lost to the worst team in the AL, unable to coax two hits out of the A's waxen eardrums. Well, maybe it doesn't matter. Tampa lost, so we still picked up ground within the division. But be careful, you clean-ear enthusiasts out there: Bad news comes in threes, we have no closer, and Henry Cotto lives. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Game Thread: The Magic Number is 28!


"It's only a movie."


I keep thinking over El Duque's fine soul search over whether or not we're too "negative" here, a perception that keeps some of his friends from visiting our hilarious selves.

What we offer, I think, is a pretty open, fact-based discussion of your New York Yankees, for all of the fun we manage to have with it. Save for one, notable exception, I can't think of anyone here who has ever abused anyone else for their takes on the team or the game.

Sure, okay, most of us respect the sacred precepts of JuJu, and the dark gods who presideth over it—but that's just common sense.  And, as Winnie justly reminds us, even our Peerless Leader has been given to occasional fits of optimism.  

Are we "negative"? I guess, though I'm not even sure what the word means in this context. We're critical when the team loses, less critical when they win. Okay?

It's not just Duque's friends. I noticed that, when the Yanks managed to salvage the last three games of an otherwise disastrous homestand, the NYC sporting press, reverting to its default posture of the Mocking Sneer, started to slip words such as "paranoia" and "overly critical" in their fawning questions to our heroes. (Hint: They were talking about us.)  

Again, I'm baffled. What does our being "negative" matter? We're not trying to bring Tinkerbell back to life here. It's more as if the very act of being critical, of booing even awful, indifferent play is considered somehow impolite or distasteful.  

It's as if we're guilty of caring too much.

I have a friend, a great director who is also a fanatical Yankees fan. (No, I am NOT sending your head shots to him, Bitty. Get that RIGHT out of your head, right now!).

My friend occasionally goes to movies by other directors with friends, who ask what he thought about the flick afterwards. Sometimes, my friend will say he didn't like it. The writing stunk, the pacing was off, it was badly directed, acted, thought out—whatever. 

"Hey, it's only a movie!" his friends will say. As if to argue that, 'Hey, we were only turning off our brains for a couple hours. What's the big deal?'

We speak about things in such weird ways nowadays. If "it's only a movie," why go? If you don't much care about the ballgame, why watch? It has no intrinsic meaning—ONLY what we give to it.

Strangest of all, we're not supposed to care...but we are supposed to "believe."

Brian Cashman was talking about his team in this way again the other day—how much he "believed" in it. Say what?

Believe in God, Mr. Cashman. Believe in your loved ones or the hope of democracy, or the essential goodness of mankind. Don't "believe" in the Yankees. Apply your cold-eyed analysis to making them better.

Another curious feature of this criticism of criticism? The Yankees—and pretty much all of MLB—approach us with nothing but demands for money.

Prices for seats, souvenirs, ballpark food go up constantly, all the time. Thousands of affordable seats are eliminated in favor of luxury boxes. Even luxury seats are now so expensive that the Yanks cannot fill them behind the plate—and moat them off so that none of the hoi pollo can sit there, either.

Want to talk to your friends between innings? Good luck! Time to amp up the ballpark ads a few dozen decibels.

For our viewing pleasure, the games are shifted around from one media site to another, so they can dig even more money out of our pockets for watching at home—something that used to be entirely free, not that long ago. 

For those who don't choose to "believe" in baseball? Too bad. Your local team regularly extorts enormous public subsidies—billions of dollars in taxpayers' money, not to mention the beloved, century-old public park or two—from our elected officials. (The Steinbrenner family alone is now on their second, subsidized Stadium.)

But we're not supposed to be critical—or even critique, it seems. 

I don't want to make it seem like this is all about money, because it's not. After all, we freely shell out the bucks. (Save for the massive public subsidies.)

But for us not even to be allowed to utter a peep when the product on the field is decidedly poor, slovenly, or uninterested—for us to not even be allowed to object when it seems obvious the team owner is colluding with other owners in his cartel to NOT have the team be as successful as it could be..?

It's a creeping plague in our society, this demand for our devoted inattention. You see it on Broadway, where it seems that every play today now gets a standing ovation—followed by the audience rushing out of the theatre as soon as possible. 

Show up, pay your money, applaud nicely, and leave. Thanks for coming! 

No. While movies can be art, for baseball to have any meaning, we have to invest it with same. If "it's only baseball," why pay any attention at all?


Five in a row. Crisis averted? Or is it too soon to pull the straw from the hot dog?

Magic number to win AL East: 29. 

Five straight, and five more to go against the finest tomatoes the West Coast has to can. I cannot remember when a Cali road trip seemed so inviting. Hon joo, Hollywood! I'll take the 405 to Sepulveda...

Takeaways from last night: 

1. In the buildup to Harrison Bader's looming first walk on Planet Earth - (a small step for man, a giant leap for Brian Cashman) - here's yet another reason to fling our feces at that trade. 

Oswaldo Cabrera might just hit his way into the starting lineup, forcing another dilemma. Would Cash force the playing of a high-profile acquisition - Bader - over a rookie? (Why am I asking. Of course he would.)  

Last night, the switch-hitting Oswaldo - (he's already earned First Name Status; sorry Oswald Peraza) - delivered three hits, including a triple. When/If Mister Bader returns, Cabrera will presumably march to the bench and disappear. Was he really even here? It reminds me of Croninberg's 1986 rendition of The Fly, when Jeff Goldblum says, "I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over." That movie didn't turn out well, eh? Let's hope Bader doesn't start dissolving his food with spittle. 

2. If the Yankees were to lose adorable sparkplug catcher Jose Trevino, who rolled around in agony last night after fouling a ball off his big toe, along with the abject sense that the universe is toying with us, it would pose an interesting possibility. 

Presumably, the Yankees would turn to Ben Rortvedt - the 24-year-old, defense-first catcher who was a linchpin in last winter's Gary Sanchez trade. Rortvedt - dubbed Benny Biceps for his weight room curls, has gotten to know Scranton this year, following multiple tweaks of gristle and sinew. It's not as if he's broken down fences: He's hitting .188 with two HRs in 96 at bats. But Rortvedt brings one advantage: He hits left-handed. 

Considering the lack of production from Kyle Higashioka - spring training's Babe Ruth and the regular season's Ruth Buzzi - it might be fun to see Rortvedt at the MLB level. (Don't get me wrong: Not suggesting the Yankees drop Higgy. But if Trevino needed a two-week breather, we'd at least get to see what Benny's biceps have to offer. And he's supposed to be solid behind the plate.)

3. Yank fans have always been elite influencers, godlike entities who stand as vanguards of major cultural movements. But last night, in a dizzying phone call that I'm not sure he'll remember, Alphonso followed up on the recent beer-straw-hot dog incident by vowing to drink his brewery nectar via a straw inserted into - gulp - a hamburger. 

Somebody, anybody, do something. (But don't wake me up while we're winning. Let me keep dreaming I'm a man.) 

Friday, August 26, 2022

Game 126: The day after Weissert


And the legend begins of Wipeout Weissert, the Bay Shore Beaner...

Magic Number for Division: 31
For Wild Card: 29
Well, at least nobody saw it. There's that. 

It happened in the 7th inning of a 10-1 laugher on the West Coast, when most Yankee diehards were dry-humping their memory foams. Greg Weissert - the Fordham Flayer and still current save-leader at Scranton - made his MLB debut.

I hope Weissert has a sick sense of humor, because for the rest of his baseball life, he'll need one.

On his first two pitches, he hit Oakland batters, though it must be noted that he sandwiched this feat with a balk. 

Here's how it unfolded:

At this point, Boone brought in Cool Hand Lucas Luetge, and the few Yankee fans still watching surely achieved their greatest "Happy to see Luetge" epiphany. 

The game showcased the disparity between an AL contender and the 80-loss A's, worst record in the league, who started James Kaprelian - whom  we once surrendered to get Sonny Gray. He gave up 8 runs in 2.2 innings, running his ERA to nearly 5.00. (Turns out, Baltimore SS Jose Mateo might be the one that got away in that trade, though Mateo will soon likely be replaced by Gunnar Henderson, a 21-year-old considered the 2nd best prospect in baseball.)

One other thing happened yesterday: 

The Yankees lost Nasty Nestor to - wait for it - a tweaked gonad! Yep, he pulled his cabbage basket. I have a theory based on absolutely no evidence, but nowadays, who needs proof, so I'm running with it. (And yes, this theory does reflect the Viagra optimism of a four-game win streak:)

With three wins and an Oakland trip looming, I think the Yankee brain trust recognized that Cortez has been dangerously overpitched this season, and it wanted him to take a two-week tequila break before the playoffs. Barring a setback, they'll soon return Setback Severino. We're a shell of the powerhouse that roared through May and June, but with Giancarlo back, every slot in the lineup looks different. 

Any pitching injury that does not involve an elbow, shoulder or muscle tear is a weekend with Rudy at Mar a Lago. 

Besides, without Nestor's grumbling gonad, we wouldn't have gotten to hear about Wipeout Weissert, and still be smiling. Go forth and prosper, sir. It can only get better from here.   

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Our story so far:


So as yet another Yankees pitcher falls, predictably, by the wayside, here is where we are in pitching in the weeks since the trade deadline:

Gone But Not Forgotten:

Jordan Montgomery: 

4-0, 0.35  4 starts, 1 complete game, 1 shutout, 25 2/3 innings, 13 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 24 Ks

J.P. Sears (who we should see tomorrow night):

2-0, 1.76  3 starts, 15 1/3 innings, 13 hits, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 Ks

Coulda Woulda Shoulda:

David Robertson (obtainable for a song):

0-1, 1.86 9 games, 5 games finished, 4 saves, 1 BS, 9 2/3 innings, 6 hits,  2 ER, 4 BB, 12 Ks


Frankie Montas (but hey, next start at "home"!):

0-1, 7.32, 4 starts, 19 2/3 innings, 24 hits, 16 ER, 7 BB, 14 Ks

Lou Trivino (maybe he is fixed):

1-1, 1.00, 11 games, 5 games finished, 9 innings, 7 hits, 1 ER, 5 BB, 1 HBP, 7 Ks.

Scott Effross (on DL):

0-0, 3.24, 8 games, 2 games finished, 1 save, 8 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks.

Jordy, we barely knew thee.

Nestor to the IL

We're done. 

A note to readers on this site's ever-shifting, unabating love-hate for the Yankees

Lately, a few friends have confided that they've avoided this site due to our wild, boundless, over-the-top negativity. The Yankees sat 14 games up in the AL East, yet we would be howling from the rafters - so darkly and depressingly that some even questioned my allegiance. How could I write so angrily, so viciously, about the Yankees and still claim to root for them?

Then - to ice this shit cake - the Yankees win three straight, and I go barefoot-babbling about Magic Numbers, as if the last six weeks never happened. Have I no spine? Have I lost my mind? Is everyone on this site just, like me, a bipolar Yankee toadie?

The short answer: Yes, what of it? 

Listen: I view IT IS HIGH as the chinless, monkeypoxed face of a feral, rudderless, ratlike and reptilian Yankee Id. When we win, all is Lady Gaga with the universe. When we lose, we are plunged balls-first into a Stygian existential grief, best described by Freddie Nietzsche as "the Abyss." I make no apologies for this insane conundrum. There are too many generational trip-wires for me to explain, though I suggest that most of you, dear readers, know exactly what I'm talking about.  

As for the last eight weeks, when we vaulted from hope to despair, I believe IT IS HIGH readers have been more keenly plugged into the Yankiverse than any other outpost on Al Gore's informational superhighway. We were carping about bullpen woes long before the MSM asked about Clay Holmes' spasms. The Yankees have run hot and cold in an unprecedented historical fashion, and we saw the looming collapse first, even with a 12-game lead.

Some say we have it out for Brian Cashman, that no matter what he does, we fling our feces at him out of spite and habit. And yeah, there is plenty of Cashman fatigue on this site. We've been married to the guy for 20 years, with season ending, throat-clearing sex just once -in 2009 - and that's a drought that makes California's wildfire season look like Water World. 

Some say we condemned Cashman's Aug. 2 deals out of habit. That's not entirely true. Though I am an unapologetic prospect-hugger - (Hey, why not invite Doug Drabek and Jay Buhner to Old-Timers day?) - I favored getting Andrew Benintendi (and, of course, trading Joey Gallo, no matter what he's done in LA - and, yeah, I'm rooting for him.) I was okay with Effross and Montas for one reason: You always need pitching, pitching, pitching, right? Everybody knows this. It's 90 percent pitching, right? And on that note, I fucking HATED the trade of Jordan Montgomery - HOW CAN YOU DEAL A HOMEGROWN YANKEE, TESTED IN NY, A YOUNG LEFTY STARTER? - even before learning the guy we got in return might not suit up in 2022. 

Cashman... how could you? 

Yes, we have said meanspirited things about Cashman, and at times, I cringe. Still... 20 years... one ring? Nah. No apologies. It's been too long. I want a fucking parade. I want the fucking Canyon of Heroes. At this point, I'll take a trip to the fucking world series where we don't get fucking swept. If we win it, I will - as Pedro said - lift my cap and call Cashman my daddy.

But it's been too long, and in the time since O'Neill transformed into a YES man, I became an old man. Before I'm gone, I would like to see the Yankees be the Yankees again, and I don't know if this ownership is willing or able to do it.

So, three wins in a row, Giancarlo returning, and even Zack Britton might make a cameo appearance, (much like a celebrity poking out of a window while Adam West's Batman rappels down a building) -all is right with the world - for now! 

But we are still walking a perilous cliff. We must beat both Oakland and Hell's Angels, and then avoid crucial series against our festering divisional enemies. And if we fail, don't come here looking for excuses.

Sporting obsessions are crazy. I view it like this: Few events in life can cause you to literally leap from the couch and scream for joy. Think about it: The birth of a child, maybe. Or winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, in the last week, Oswaldo Cabrera delivered two. So, no apologies for the insanity. We have the month of September, still to go. Strap yourself in. It's going to be a bumpy ride. We wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

MLB takes another, forward?


We don't need no stinking leagues. For the first time, everybody plays everybody.

It would make more sense to me if divisional and league byes and home field advantage were based on games played within your own league. Just what you'd expect a cranky old guy to say, I guess.

In search of breathing room, and with a magic number in mind, Yanks head West

According to my fingers and toes, the Yankee magic number for winning the AL East - (that's 162 Games plus one, minus 76 Yankee Wins and 55 Tampa Bay losses) - stands at 32. 

For clinching a postseason spot, 31. 

We're not there, but with our John & Suzyn rose binoculars, we can almost see it. And that's because of a few performances that belong as future Yankee keepsakes, regardless of how 2022 turns out. 

1. Clarke Schmidt. He couldn't quite put them away last night - thrice coming within one strike, so close  they stopped playing the distressed whale siren - but he heroically staved off the "Amazings" for three innings. At 26, barring injuries, he should be a Yankee lug nut for years. And 2022 will always be his unveiling.

2. Oswaldo. Already on a first-name basis. Somebody should write a song about this guy. Never has a Yankee rook made such an impact, despite not even hitting his weight. It's as if the juju gods installed a ball-magnet in that $29.99 Etsy necklace. And I believe he will hit, eventually; in his last two seasons, he started slowly and heated up. He reminds us of the joy of rookies, and 2022 will always be that beginning. 

3. Gleyber. I believe the rest of 2022 will be a referendum on his Yankee future. The franchise has not only Oswaldo, but our two top prospects play middle IF. If Gleyber flounders, or if the Yankees fall, he's a goner in any looming overhaul. Last night, he made a bonehead play in RF, then compensated with a brilliant DP relay. It will be nice to see Stanton reclaim the cleanup spot, where Torres just doesn't belong. He's a much better 7th spot in the lineup. 

4. Judge. Two HRs in two games ought to silence any festering, toxic drivel from fans of the Amazings, who wanted us to believe he's just a 16-oz can in a 12-oz bandbox. Last night's HR was a cannon shot Pete Alonzo only hits in dreams. And it put him back on track with Roger. And 2022 will be the Year of Judge.

5. Frankie "The Yankee" Montas. He needed last night, more than anyone. Imagine the boos if he hadn't squirmed out of those early jams. (Still a bit worrisome, those early jams?) If Montas comes through, and if Setback Sevy suffers no setbacks, the our playoff rotation should be formidable. 

Thanks to the last two games - and Andrew Benintendi, and the Amazings - maybe we can breathe easier?

Thirty two... and counting.