Countdown to the end of 2023 Season

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Clutch performance by storm keeps Yankee hopes alive!


Today, maybe an earthquake? Or the asteroid? 

Meanwhile, the state of hitting in the AL is pathetic. 
Four batters over .300.
The top 10 extends all the way down to .279

And the Death Barge can't even tank properly.
Fortunately, NYC has the Jets and Giants...

Saturday, September 23, 2023

On the final home weekend of 2023, the Top Ten hopes for Yank fans

On the last homestand, this is what we  have to root for: 

1. Gerrit Cole to win the Cy Young. 

2. Aaron Judge (35 HRs) to beat Luis Robert (37) and Adolis Garcia (35) for 2nd place among AL HR leaders. (Shohei Ohtani (44) will finish first.)

3. John Sterling to manage. (This would require the Yankees to show a slight sense of self-awareness, mischief, showmanship and humility. Thus, it will never happen.)

4. That the cyclone doesn't hit until Monday. 

5. Hal sells the team. (Hey, Elon...) 

6. A front office housecleaning (never happen.)

7. Somebody, anybody, who can win in NYC sports. (That's you, Stewie...) 

8. End to the writers' strike. (The lack of new shows in development has dangerously dwindled my "Intend to Watch Someday" list to below 500.)  

9. Mitch McConnell gets an answer to the question, "Why am I standing here, and how did all these reporters get into my bedroom?"

10. Fourth place in the AL East and a finish above .500. (Woopie.) 

Friday, September 22, 2023

Game thread so we don't tarnish Doug's story


Veteran of the Game

My soon to be ninety-eight-year-old uncle, my late father’s twin brother was the “Veteran of the Game” last night at Yankee Stadium.

It was the culmination of a five-year effort 
that began with a letter written to Joe Girardi by a family friend. 

He thought it would be great if the Yankees honored both my Uncle Dick and my father, both Army Air Corps WW2 vets who flew in the European Theater. 

Both Bronx guys. 

They grew up in Hunts Point. Starting backcourt for Monroe HS. Both played freshman ball for NYU. 

My uncle played varsity and put NYU into the finals of the NIT with a buzzer beater against Texas back when the NIT was THE national basketball tournament.

The two of them stayed together through basic training, gunnery school, and were stationed together. They never really spoke a lot about what their experiences were like during their bombing runs. About what it must have felt like at eighteen to head into a box of flying shrapnel to get the job done.

One day my uncle let it slip that he kept a diary, and I asked him what he wrote about, and he said, “Oh like how I felt when your dad didn’t come home from his mission.” Apparently, he was shot down. First I’d heard about it.  

If you asked them about the war, they talked about playing basketball on the base teams.

After the war they both became educators. My Pop at Theodore Roosevelt HS on Fordham Road and my uncle at DeWitt Clinton and later becoming a Professor and a Dean at Bronx Community College. 

Bronx guys.

Before any meaningful action could be taken my dad passed away. Uncle Dick is still going strong.  And, last night, he was the "Veteran of The Game."

Just as a side note: This column isn’t turning out anything like what I thought I would it would. Generally, as you know, I’m looking for the humor. Talking to one of the remaining beer vendors who had been there since 1971 and may or may not have sold me a loose joint in the upper deck in the mid-seventies. Realizing that my uncle at 97 was still faster than Giancarlo Stanton. That sort of thing. 

But, I have to tell you I was so moved and so grateful to the Yankee Organization for honoring veterans in general and my uncle in specific and for giving them what was an absolutely wonderful experience...

Let me put it this way, we can rip on Hal all we want, and deservedly so, but the Yankees do not have to do this and let me tell you, they do it well. With class and dignity, and most importantly, with sincerity.

So here is some of what I saw and experienced...

Uncle Dick’s favorite player was Lou Gehrig and that’s whose t-shirt he had on when he arrived.

The night turned into a family reunion. His grandchildren came in from Wisconsin, his daughters and their husbands from North Carolina, A Nephew from Massachusetts, me, a de facto daughter from Ireland...  All of us there to honor this man and, not coincidentally, all Yankee fans.

Representatives from the Yankees came by a number of times to make sure everything was going well and give him various gifts and commemoratives, such as a special Yankee coin made just for the veterans, the best one however was…

In the bottom of the sixth it was time to head to the field.

When he first found out that he was going to be Veteran of the Game Uncle Dick asked me if I would go out on the field with him to stand in place of my dad. He really wanted it to be the two of them out there together. As it should have been. It was an honor.

Our guide, a man who asked my uncle about his service with genuine interest and appreciation, took us in an elevator and then down through parts of the stadium that were way above my pay grade. 

We went past stockbrokers and trust fund babies drinking and eating at a seriously appointed bar, oblivious to the fact that Cole was still pitching a no-hitter at the time and was dealing about as well as I’ve ever seen a pitcher deal. Half the screens in the bar were following the Giant game. It was still close at that point but not for long. The only blemish on a perfect night.  

We were seated behind home plate on the visitor’s dugout side while the Blue Jays went down in the top of the seventh.

Then it was time…

While I wasn’t able to, and should not have been, out on main part the filed during God Bless America (The Robert Merrill Version!) I did get to stand on the field but off to the side and sadly, off camera because I had my “Unwavering” Mini-Sign held against the bill of my cap. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Watching Uncle Dick soak, it all in, his face on the Jumbotron, the support of the crowd, all of it… thinking about him, about my dad, about all the WW Two Veterans… Just grateful. Awed really.

Despite that moment, heading back to the seat might have been the best part. Uncle Dick was now “The Veteran of the Game’ and people kept coming up to him to say hello and thank him for his service. Genuinely thank him. Kids too. 

Just a massive show of respect and appreciation. It was wonderful. Truly wonderful.

The ninth inning went on a little longer than it should have. Gleyberrrrrrr! But, after the final out my whole family joined Sinatra in singing “New York. New York". And we all meant it. We were home.

All of us... Bronx guys.

A storm is coming, and it's going to wash away this Yankee team

Potential Tropical Cyclone Number 16 is coming. It could hit this weekend. Heavy rain, brisk winds, sloppy armpits, flooded basements - an arterial firehose of cold, soggy reality. It won't change the Gotham skyline, but it could pressure wash Sunday afternoon's Yankee Stadium finale - right now, a game without a reason. 

I say, let it rain.

Bring it on, Mother Nature. Show what you can do. Let Potential Tropical Cyclone Number 16 - perhaps to be named Ophelia - show those slimy, grimy juju gods just how insignificant they are. Yeah, they can fix ballgames, a profitable skill in this age of legalized criminal gambling, but you're still the Big Dog. So bark, dammit. Bubble the sewers, flood the bullpens, turn the sky black and rattle the rafters with bolts of thunder so furious that they chase the rats across the Yankiverse. 

The 2023 season cannot end soon enough. 

In many ways, it ended in August, when this hapless team fell in the shower and wasn't wearing its First Alert. A rainout weekend would be a mercy killing. There is no reason to watch this sorry lineup, aside from the mocking reminder that - somehow - the crosstown Mets were even worse. 

I believe the problem is New York - a city drunk on its own hubris - and the obscene division of wealth that makes baseball owners impervious to discomfort. The Yankees have an owner who - when all is said and done - wants to win, sorta, but not so much that it might interfere with supper. As long as the money keeps flowing, that's the only flood that matters. The old, white country clubbers atop the Yankee pyramid can never lose. The game is fixed.

The remaining question is whether the meltdown of 2023 will last for another two or three more years. There seems no pathway out of this abyss. Consider...

1. The Yankees just squandered the greatest year of Gerrit Cole's career. He is truly an ace, and he should have won 22-24 games. (Last night was his 14th.) His achievements this season only make us gasp when trying to ponder how exquisitely bad this team was. Without Cole, we would have been a Top Five Tankathon team. 

2. The Yankees have no pathway or plan to deal with Giancarlo Stanton, aside from having him return next year for more abuse. In the end - maybe around 2027 - Hal Steinbrenner will pay him about $98 million in movie money, the Stanton Era will end, and we will all be better off. Hal will use Stanton as the reason not to spend on free agents, and the Yankees will continually draft 16th or 17th, maintaining their lock on mediocrity. 

3. Time will tell whether the Yankees undercut Anthony Volpe's development by elevating him to the majors too soon. Volpe is a stalwart, a goodhearted soul, and a work in progress. But the record for 2023 will show an average around .208, and I don't think the Yankees did him any favors by letting him get used to being so ineffective.

4. The Yankees must ask themselves why Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson - two horrible ghosts from the past - went to other teams and improved so dramatically. Hicks hit .188 for us. In Baltimore, over nearly 200 ABs, he's batting .293. WTF? Donaldson hit .142 for us. In a few ABs in Milwaukee, he's .219. Small sample, but still... WTF?

5. The Yankees have one superpower - an awesome P.R. department that could make Emily in Paris look good. They sold a month of tickets by bringing Jasson Dominguez to the majors, and he tore out his elbow, trying to impress everyone. We will learn next year how badly the injury affects his future. But the bullshit machine will keep revving. It will tell us everything is fine, and a sizeable chunk of the NYC fan base will believe it.  

As with every fallen empire, the culprit is hubris. So, let it rain. Let Potential Tropic Cyclone Number 16 be the one that matters. Wash us clean, Ophelia. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

"That character should never have been entrusted with something that fine."


Pistol Pete Reiser was still something of an urban legend when I was growing up. He was going to be Brooklyn's answer to Joe DiMaggio, a five-tool star in centerfield, who burst on the scene in 1940. 

Reiser could also play shortstop and third base pretty well. It seemed like there wasn't anything he couldn't do on a ballfield. A St. Louis boy, he'd originally been signed by The Mahatma back when Branch Rickey, the Greatest General Manager What Ever Was, was still running the Cardinals.

Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, in one of his periodic fits about trying to liberate the minor leagues, ordered that Reiser had to be cut loose, and Rickey reluctantly handed him over to the Dodgers, though he hated to do so. Once in Brooklyn, Reiser settled into centerfield, and then the magic began.

In his first full season, 1941—that haunted summer before we entered the war—Pistol Pete led the NL in runs, doubles, triples, batting average, slugging, and OPS, and played a reckless, jaw-dropping CF. The sportswriters had him second in the MVP race, behind Brooklyn first sacker Dolph Camilli, a .285 hitter, but there's no accounting for stupid.

Reiser picked up right where he left off in 1942, batting .350 through July 19th, and adding a new weapon—stolen bases—to his game. He swiped a league-leading 20 in 21 attempts, a testament to his speed and know-how. But he never learned to pay much attention to where the walls were at, and in a critical game in St. Louis—not all THAT critical, it was only July 19th and Brooklyn was up 6 on the Cards—Reiser chased an 11th-inning flyball in Sportsman's Park right into the centerfield fence.

"It felt like a hand grenade went off inside my head," Pete said later.

He had a fractured skull. But six days later—less than a week—manager Leo Durocher had him back in the starting lineup.

What could you expect from Durocher? As Dick Young once wrote of him:

"You're on a raft with Leo in the middle of the ocean. Leo falls overboard. You leap in and save him, but a shark comes along and takes your leg. The next day, you and Leo start out even."

Over the years to come, Pete Reiser kept running into walls, and kept getting injured in other ways. He would be hauled off the field a total of nine times. Between all the injuries and three lost war years, Pistol Pete was essentially done by 28, never playing more than 84 games in a year after the 1947 season. 

Reiser never blamed anyone but himself. But Rickey did, saying about Leo the swinging dick:

"That character should never have been entrusted with something that fine."

But that was baseball back in the bad old days, right?

The Yankees were a constant culprit, too. Joe DiMaggio was repeatedly butchered by the hacks the Bombers retained as a training staff. 

Joe D. missed the first month of his long-awaited Yankees career due to some quack burning his heel with a new-fangled medical device. 

The Yankees blamed it...on Joe. Said he had too much sugar in his blood.

Similar malpractice would continue throughout his career. At one point, the Yankees actually had maggots sewn up in his heel, as if he'd just paid a visit to Theodoric, medieval barber of York.

But that was back when we didn't know any better. Right?

Mickey Mantle came up in the spring of 1951 and amazed everyone, particularly with his speed. Clocked at 3.1 seconds going home to first—fastest ever recorded, to this day.

In the second game of the World Series that year—ironically, on a ball hit by Willie Mays—Mantle's spike caught on a sprinkler head that had been left open, and he blew out a knee. He still had an amazing career...playing on a torn ACL that was never properly repaired. 

Many blamed DiMaggio for not having called him off the ball sooner, and The Mick later said that, when he was writhing on the ground in pain, it was the first time Joe had talked to him all year. 

No doubt, Joltin' Joe could be a jerk. But where had he learned such callousness? The surprise is that he didn't tell Mantle, "Too much sugar in that knee, kid."

But hey, that was the bad old days again, right? What did we know from open sprinkler heads?

Except that, just 24 years later, Yankees centerfielder Elliott Maddox caught his foot on an open sprinkler head, blew out a knee, and was never close to the same player.

Sure, Maddox wasn't the superstar that Mantle, DiMaggio, and Reiser were. But he was a fine young player who played a terrific centerfield, hit over .300, and had a long career ahead of him. In 1974, he had finished 8th in the AL MVP voting.

But hey, the season he was hurt, 1975, the Yanks had to play in Shea Stadium, and anyway, that was then, this is now. Am I right?

(Maddox didn't quite see things that way, and had the presence of mind to sue the Yankees. I hope he took them for a bundle.)

Now, of course, we know all about how ballplayers have to be brought up, and how we can add five miles-an-hour to their fastballs, and 20 home runs—at record exit velocity—to their swings.

Don't we?

Last night and this morning, the media was all aglow with the news that Jasson Dominguez had come through his first Tommy John surgery—at 20—with flying colors. 

O joy.

I admit, I was a Martian Skeptic to start with. But seeing him in action—seeing him play, and seeing his attitude, and even seeing that shy, beatific smile on his face, I was enthralled.

I was filled again with the one emotion you must never, ever have in following Brian Cashman's Yankees: hope. 

And sure enough, a minute later it was gone. Dominguez was off to the operating table, with the promise that he will "only" be gone 9-10 months. An entire season—maybe his best season—wiped off the slate. Just like so many seasons have been wiped off so many slates already.  And who knows what we'll get after that?

(And who knows what will happen to poor Everyone Pereira, already out indefinitely because he slipped while walking down the dugout steps? Oh, no, it couldn't possibly be that his muscles were tightened to the breaking point by yet another ridiculous, Yankees' workout regimen. Just ask Giancarlo Stanton.)

I was going to run a pic of The Martian in his hospital togs, but I can't bear to. Enjoy this one instead—a pic we'll never see again, a face of pure joy and innocence, before the Yankees' crack staff welcomed him to the big leagues.

Sure, these things can happen to anybody, in any day and age. But it says here that Brian Cashman is not merely a fool, or a shallow, egotistical, self-aggrandizing incompetent, but also an active menace to every player under contract with the Yankees. To allow him to continue even a day longer in any capacity with the team is to throw away a generation's worth of hopes and dreams.

"That character should never have been entrusted with something that fine."

A sliver of hope for 2024 is named Michael King. He should not throw another pitch in 2023.

Current Tankathon odds for a draft pick
Wake up, Boonie, I think I got somepin' ta say to you. It's late September, and I really should be back at school... 

The Tankathon continues, and though the Death Starr Barge almost surely won't win the MLB draft lottery next July, any victories in these final 10 days will do nothing but save Brian Cashman's spongy pink buttolah. Hal should tell him it's over. The morning sun, when it's in your face, merely shows your age... 

For the record, there remains a chance - an exceedingly subatomic-level one, but a chance, nonetheless - that we could take a top pick next year. It's about the same odds as dolphins rising up to protest casino gambling, but - hey, you never know. More likely, Boston or the Mets will win it - the exquisitely perfect ending to a disastrous year. Right now, the Yankees should run the table with losses. Even then, there is little hope. All they did was wreck my bed, and in the morning kick me in the head...

Of course, we all want the best for Gerrit. To be precise, he deserves a Cy Young trophy. Tonight, let's hope he throws seven shutout innings, then we get smoked by the Railrider bullpen, featuring names we never heard before. Nothing shall be gained by beating hateful Toronto, aside from the chance to smirk at Vladimir "I'll never be a Yankee" Guerrero, who - spoiler alert: will be a Yankee at age 39, when he cannot run and has the revelation: You made a first-class fool out of me, but I'm as blind as a fool can be... I can't wait. 

Meanwhile, there is the draft lottery. Insert sigh here. Next July, the first six picks will distributed through a bizarre, weighted lottery system that looks like it was drawn up by Sam Bankman-Fried. It covers all non-playoff teams except Washington, because they snuck in last year. (Like I say, it's complicated.) Under the current standings, the Yankees have a 0.62 percent shot at a lottery pick - a smidgen's chance in hell. But if they, say, just happened to lose their last 10? I mean, what a shame that would be! Lose after loss? Why, it would be terrible! Awful! How would we survive? 

And their lottery odds would double. 

Yeah, I realize it doesn't matter: Damon "The Dumb One" Oppenheimer will only draft the wrong Bichette, or some guy having TJ surgery, or Cito Culver's cousin. But as they say in the lottery business, "You can't win if you don't play." 

Which brings me to Michael King - the real Michael K - who last night cemented his slot in the 2024 Grapefruit League rotation. He could be next year's Nasty Nestor - a sorta homegrown starter who becomes our best hope after Gerrit. (And I mean this sincerely: Screw you, Carlos Rodon.) Last night, King threw a whopping 101 pitches, throwing seven innings, giving up one run and striking out 13. He kept the hapless ones in a game they eventually would lose by a score of  6-1. 

King has now thrown 94 innings this season, nearly twice the most in any of his five years in the majors. He'll turn 29 next May. Frankly, I've seen enough. The Yankees should shut him down, encase him in bubble wrap and tell him to report Feb 15 with a mitt and jar of Tylenol. He should not throw another pitch in 2023. 

People, these are bullets being wasted.

Before last night, King had never thrown 100 pitches in his MLB career. (His previous high was 87, last week against Boston. Before that, his highs were 79, 69, and 61, all in succession over the last three weeks.) What's the point in having him try to beat 101? Especially when the bullpen is comprised of Scrantonians. 

There is no point in having him take the mound again this season, unless we're secretly hoping for a comebacker to break a finger, or to have him clutch his arm and walk off the mound. Last year, that's what happened, and it turned out he had broken his elbow. Let me repeat that. Broken. His. Elbow. 

Over these last 10 days, Starr Insurance does not need to pay out on another injury, especially for a guy they'll desperately need next year. Apparently, these games matter so little that we're playing a DH who bats .188 and cannot run to first. Why should we feign interest in Yankee outcomes? I know I keep you amused, but I feel I'm bein' used... 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Closing the book on Clarke.


It would be possible to say that Clarke Schmidt has shown signs—well, more accurately, occasional inklings—of developing into a good, middle-of-the-rotation starter in for the fact that he turns 28 this winter.

Clarke almost got out of last night with what passes for a decent performance by a major-league—or at least, Yankees—starter these days, allowing two runs (only one earned) in five innings.

But not quite. With two out, nobody on, and an 0-2 count on Yankees nemesis George Springer, Schmidt threw a borderline pitch that the ump called a ball. Clarke was halfway to the dugout by that time, and it was clear he was not happy. Three pitches later, Springer was on first with a walk. Two pitches after that, and Bo Bichette, another of the BJs merry underachievers, had put the ball in the seats, and that concluded your YES entertainment for the evening.

Hey, it would be forgivable if Schmidt—who looks a little like a cross between an extra on Gomer Pyle and the Star Trek crew member who gets eaten first on the new planet (didn't those guys ever do some surveillance?)—were a mere 21-year-old stripling, his emotions raw.

But he ain't. Instead, it's clear that Clarke has developed neither maturity nor endurance, nor much of a fastball, at that age when it's almost time for major-league players to start on the downhill schneid.

Schmidt was a typically weird, Cashman pick to begin with—in fact, the Yankees' FIRST pick in the 2017 draft. Sure, he'd been a starter with a leading college program, at South Carolina, but what he had done there was hardly overwhelming:  2-2, 4.81 in his freshman year; 9-5, 3.40 as a sophomore. 

He got off to a great start in his junior season, going 4-2, 1.34, in 9 starts...when his arm gave out and he had to be derailed for Tommy John surgery. Which for Brian Cashman was like waving catnip before a tabby.

By 2017, it had been TEN YEARS since Cashie had picked first another pitcher requiring TJ surgery—plus repair of a broken hip—the late, unlamented Andrew Brackman, who by this time had been out of organized ball for 4 years, without winning a single game in the majors.

But far be it for Brian Cashman to ever learn something from experience. Clarke was his for a mere $2.184 mill in bonus money, and Schmidt's long, slow travail through the minors was on.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about our Schmidtie is how FEW innings he's thrown. He still has more on the college level—229—than anywhere else. Over his whole minor-league career, he was 8-11 in 185 innings but, not being named Estevan Florial, he was brought up anyway, to see what he had.

This was a good decision, at least, but the answer was: not much.  

Clarke is now 9-9, 4.65 this season, and 14-15, 4.35 through the 221 1/3 innings he's pitched in the show. He gives absolutely no indication of ever being more than a serviceable middle reliever—not anything like what a No. 1 draft pick is supposed to be.

But don't expect this to deter The Brain. Schmidt will no be projected as our No. 2 or 3 starter next year, when we can expect that maybe, just maybe, he might pitch into the sixth inning. And even keep his cool on the playing field. And right now, no doubt, Cashman is combing hungrily through the lists of college students on the TJ list...

Shades of Mooning Big Papi: This Yankee fan hero deserves the support of all IT IS HIGH readers


Jon Boroski is risking his life by organizing 
a FIRE CASHMAN NIGHT Friday at the stadium. 

They say the Yankees have a super team of prospects way, way down in the Florida dirt league. Should we dare to hope?

Amid rosy reports of a "stacked" Florida Complex League team - the lowest-level in their U.S.-based farm system - the Yankees are basking in the glow of  postseason prospect rankings. 

In the FCL, Baseball America gives them:

wo of the top 4.
Three of the top 7.
Four of the top 10. 
And five of the top 20. 

Holy crap, they're the Beatles in 1966. They're the hottest collection of future stars since "The Big Chill." (Goldblum, Hurt, Berenger, Mary Kay Place!)  Reserve your hotel room now for the 2027 World Series. It's the Kardashians, circa 2001. 

Or... it's farm-to-table crapola, bullshit designed to salve and soothe an angry Yankiverse, which currently wants Prince Hal Steinbrenner to a) sign the entire MLB free agent class, b) sign everybody from Japan, c) commit to a youth movement and/or d) sell the team. Right now, our short-term future looks as bleak as Giancarlo Stanton's chances of beating out a DP grounder. (Did you see him last night; guy is pulling an invisible dumpster.) 

So let's think of the long haul, right? Is it just a PR strategy? Maybe, but let's bite at the hook. What else do we have? 

Topping our list of FCL prospects  (ranked No. 2 in the league) is SS Roderick Arias - (Rod-A, of course.) You might remember him from 2022. He was the highest priced 16-year-old in that year's Latino cabana boy signing sweepstakes, a prize often claimed by the Yankees.

After divorcing ourselves from the wisdom of bestowing millions of dollars on a kid barely old enough to shave, we can raise hopes for Rod-A: He's now 19, having lost nearly a full year due a wrist injury. They claim he is a five-tool talent, which is sort of how the world once viewed Yahoo Serious.  

Says Mike Axisa in Patreon - required subscription reading for Yank fans - "Before a broken pinkie ended his season, Arias was far and away the best player on a Yankees squad that scouts unanimously pegged as one of the most talented in the league in recent memory."

Okay, before you go batshit crazy, Arias hit .267 with six HRs and stole 17 bases - not exactly Ruthian stats. Axisa predicts he'll rank No. 2 in the Yankee system, behind The Martian. The other top FCL kids are two 6'7" pitchers - a lefty and a righty (ranked 4th and 7th) - a 5'7" sparkplug 2B named Keiner Jose Altuve Delgado (ranked 10th) and John Cruz, a 17-year-old CF who hit 10 HRs as the league's youngest everyday player.

There are others. No point naming them. They know who they are. And frankly, at the subatomic FCL level, everybody is a future superstar. 

Talk of a talent surge at the rookie league is like a National Hurricane Center report of a system forming off the coast of Africa. Maybe it'll develop into something worth naming. For now, it's too far away to ponder.

Also, let's not forget the legendary international signing class of 2014 - the Dermis Garcia year - when the Yankees outspent most of creation on 16-year-old Latinos. The last refuge from that immortal class is, gulp, Estevan Florial. Need I say more?

Still... hope is hope, right? We can use some. Who knows? Maybe by this time next year, Rod-A or Delgado is raking at High Single A Hudson Valley. Two Septembers from now, maybe we see these guys for a cup of coffee - or traded for another JA Happ.  

One caveat: They claim Boston has a top 5 farm system, with a kid named Roman Anthony hailed as the "biggest breakout prospect in all the minors." It's the Beatles '66, and I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love a pennant. Or even a wild card. Okay, it's up to you, Rod-A: Please, please me...

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Six home games left. Let John Sterling manage one.

It's been a tough year for John Sterling. A dreadful year, actually.

He missed games with various illnesses. Against Boston, he took a foul ball to the head. He had to watch a particularly gruesome Yankee team. He had to exude hope, when there was none. 

Let Sterling manage!

He's 84. Damn. All bets are off. Every win-warble could be his last. He probably won't travel for the season's final two series. He cannot go on forever. And, for better or worse, we will never see another like him.

Let Sterling manage!

This week, Arizona comes to town. Fuck them. They hate the Yankees with the heat of a billion suns (which was their recent summer, ha ha.) When they beat the Yankees in 2001 - with 9/11 still smoldering - they mockingly played "New York, New York" on the P.A. system. Never forget. The Yankees need to beat their asphalt-burned asses. Boone won't rally this team. They'll need a boost. And they will play hard for The Master.  

Let Sterling manage!

Let Suzyn coach third. Or stay in the booth. Often, she's worked with young announcers this year. Last weekend, when John missed the road trip and she stayed home for Rosh Hashanah, it was the first time in decades that neither voice held the booth. Let me repeat: They cannot go on forever. 

Let Sterling manage!

For 40 years, he's told us what he'll do. He'll move runners, base to base. He'll play "A-B-C baseball." He'll call for a bunt. He'll manage a tight game. He'll put his theories, his strategies, to the test. Once and for all, he will stare into the gaping jaws of Hell and ask the ultimate question: 

Can you, or can you not, predict baseball?  

Let Sterling manage!

Lately, we've had little reason to give a whit. For a few games, there was The Martian. We wrecked his arm. Now, we have Gerrit Cole. God help us if we wreck his arm. Frankly, there hasn't been anything else. This, however, would be a keeper. This would be a game for the ages.  

Let Sterling manage!

It's not as if the Yankees this season haven't scrambled normalcy, when it suited them. Isiah Kiner-Falefa has pitched in four games. (A 2.25 ERA, by the way)  Josh Donaldson threw an inning. They played Anthony Rizzo for six weeks despite signs of a concussion. Good grief, these September games are practically Scranton exhibitions. 

Let Sterling manage!  

The franchise recently celebrated Old Timers Day. They brought out players from the late 1990s. Everyone received a well-deserved hand. John Sterling called those championship games on the radio. He is as much a part of our memories as many of the players. We hope he'll be back next September, when - again, hopefully - the games will matter. But there are no guarantees. 

Let Sterling manage, dammit!

Monday, September 18, 2023

Behold, the MLB leaders in Exit Velo, a list dominated by Yankees. But it begs a question...

Congrats to the Yankees' Titanic Two -  Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who grace the Top 14 MLB hitters in exit velocity.

Clearly, when they hit a ball, it stays hut. 

But a question: 

What if, every time they don't hit a ball - that is, they strike out - the Exit Velo is entered-in as "0 mph?" 

What would happen to their 90 mph averages?

Not trying to cause trouble here. I mean, Exit Velo is a fun stat, right? It shows the real sluggers, right? Everybody loves it, right?

Just askin'... 

The lowly batting average - a forgotten stat - heralds a sad and tired time to be a Yankee fan

Might be that, with the lowly batting average, we at IIHIIFIIc are using an antiquated, flimsy measurement of each hitter's value. 

The daily parade of modern, hoity-toity stats includes the WAR, the BABIP, the wOBA, the OPS, the Exit Velo and many others - mathematical stool samples for each and every player. The numbers don't lie, (but they sure can equivocate.) 

Take a gander at the old form box score to the right - (actually, an updated version; the ancient ones didn't include BAs) - which, at least yesterday, keenly showcased the 2023 Yankee disaster. 

Four hits, two runs, a solo shot, and eight Ks. You might as well have watched a bowl of fruit. After our No. 3 batter, nobody in the starting lineup was hitting above .218. That, comrades, is what you call a tomato can

Yes - dented, rusted, bubbling from a greasy puncture - that's Del Monte, or Hunts, or Cento, home-peeled and fire-roasted. That's mediocrity, certified. And soon, we shall be done with it.  

 Yesterday's 3-2 loss to lowly Pittsburgh ended whatever acid flashbacks the YES team sought to sell us in the pregame show, when Michael Kay noted that the Yankees had - drum roll, please - the best record in baseball since August 28! (14-5) It was a master class in number-juggling, reminding us how stats can spin anything.

Except for the lowly batting average. Nope. A guy hitting .250 gets one hit in every four at-bats. A guy hitting below the Mendoza Line is a lost cause. And the kid hitting .211 is not - at least for now, anyway - the next Jeter. (I'm sorry, folks. He's just not there.)

After yesterday's sad and tired loss, Kay will need a new, creative stat to juice fan interest. The final two weeks will boil down to exhibition games, with playoff-bound teams facing Triple A squads and cynical tankers, such as Boston. The Yankees will fight to finish above .500, as if it matters. (Honestly, it doesn't.) 

Stats will rise and fall. But the lowly batting average will never go away. Someday - decades from now, when we are dust - crazy Yank fans will look back at 2023 and shake their heads. What a sad lineup. What a sad period, back when the Empire was crumbling. The Hal & Cashman Era. Back when nobody hit. You saw it in those batting averages. What were they doing? Just swinging for the fences? Who was the hitting coaches? How did they get to be so ineffective? What a sad and tired time.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Nothing to see here!

So, comes the announcement that Shohei Ohtani is shutting himself down for the rest of the season. 

I'm truly sorry to see this. I admire Ohtani as a ballplayer, and I think this is a sad loss to the game. What I always had trouble with was not the player but the hype. 

MLB was determined, as ever, to make us believe that we were seeing the best there ever was.

They're determined to do it still. It was bruited about yesterday on ESPN that Ohtani is the first non-pitcher to get to a 10.0 WAR for a season "in so few games."

No statistic better exemplifies the chicanery that MLB has given itself over to.

First, the stat isn't even real. Ohtani as a DH—the only non-pitching "position" he plays—has a 6.0 WAR. Only the pitching gets him up to 10.0.

But the real problem here is celebrating that "in so few games." There were 135 games, to be precise—and there won't be no more.

In his six years in the majors, Shohei Ohtani has missed an average of 28 games a season due to injuries, and has never played in the postseason. 

The same problem afflicts many of his Angels teammates. The great Mike Trout, one of the most exciting and talented players of this generation, has played as many as 140 games once, since 2016. Their teammate, Anthony Rendon, barely budges from the DL.

So it goes for the Yankees, too, of course. And the reaction of to start a campaign for Giancarlo Cantrun to make the Hall of Fame.

The bottom line is, you're not seein' great players if you're not seein' 'em. I hope Ohtani will be back, and better than ever. But the Yankees would be fools to give him a whopping big contract after what we know now. And we're all fools to go on supporting this exercise in athlete-wrecking that is baseball today.


Should the Yankees have been playing Oswald Peraza at SS?

Hitting stats over the last 30 games
From Day One, it was a given: Gotham City would adore Anthony Volpe.

A local boy. Full of hustle. Big smile. Respects old ladies. Uses the right fork. Flosses. 

And don't get me wrong: I come to praise Volpe, not to bury him. To avoid death threats, let me state emphatically: I adore Anthony Volpe. 

Never - ever! - would I suggest or imply that he is not the Yankee SS of the Future, the next Jeter, the next Dent, the next whatever, because - frankly - that bar of success bounces like Lauren Boebert in her party dress. But lately, in these twilight contests of 2023, I've come to ponder the curious case of Mr. Oswald Peraza. 

Last September, in the days before Starr Insurance, t seemed a given that Peraza was the next Yankee shortstop. He hit .300 over the final month and earned his shot in the lineup. He certainly didn't need another year at Scranton, where he'd hit 19 HRs. He had proven himself. 

Then came the worst Yankee decisions of 2023 - I use the plural, because they did it repeatedly - to play Josh Donaldson at 3B. Over and over, through his injuries and slumps, the baseball brains decided that Donaldson - the cagy vet - was on the brink of breaking out and restoring his MVP luster of the previous decade. Well, it didn't happen. As we all know, Donaldson hit .142 this year, and his 10 HRs netted an incredibly meager 15 RBIs. (Now with the Brewers, as a spare part, he's 5 for 16 with a HR and 3 RBIs. He's all yours, Milwaukee.) 

Last spring, after a hot camp in Tampa, the Yankees announced that Volpe had won the SS position and would start on Volpening Day. Ever since, the Yankees have basically slept on Peraza, who faced the disillusionment of playing his third year at Scranton. (He hit .268 with 14 HRs.) 

And here's the rub: After a year-long experiment, we still don't know if Peraza is a better future SS than Volpe, who - love him as we do - simply has not hit. All year. We've waited and waited on Volpe. And yes, he has 20 HRs. But over the last 30 days, he's hitting what he's hit all year - .202. (On the year, .211.) We keep waiting for a breakout. What if this is what we've got? 

Two months from now, Yankees will have a huge decision to make. Is Gleyber Torres their long term 2B? He'll be 27, a year from free agency, coming off a fine season, and expecting a big contract. If they're going to deal Gleyber, next winter is the time to do it. 

So... what about Peraza? Is he a SS? Is he a 2B? Is he a better candidate than Volpe? Or will the Yankees go out and sign another Donaldson? Are they still sleeping on their future? In a winter of massive decisions, this might just be the biggest.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Prayers for Anthony Misiewicz, as Yanks win meaningless game

They say Anthony Misiewicz was conscious and speaking last night, and let's hope this is the rare case where the Yankees are not pooh-poohing a serious injury, because the gruesome image of that line drive to the pitcher's head will be haunting us for a long while.  

In case you missed it, a 100-mph comebacker hit Misiewicz - a 28-year-old journeyman doing mop up duty - behind his ear and caromed all the way into right field. He lay there for several minutes - our worst fears swirling in the September night - before being carted off. And throughout it, all you could think was, what a terrible fate for such a meaningless event. 

Yeah, meaningless. Last night, the Yankees won a game that nobody cared about, as the Death Barge dutifully plays out a miserable season that shall only be remembered for its disappointments. They are playing a Chex Mix of regulars, rookies and Railriders, up from Scranton, who are seeking to pad their MLB pensions. It chugged along without major problems, until last night. 

Look, I'm not blind to the situation: This is show business. The games must go on. The pennant race doesn't stop merely because the Yankees aren't in it - and haven't been for that last month. You play out the season, and if somebody gets hurt, that's why we have chiropractors, right? But in games against their fellow tomato cans - looking at you, Pirates - who and what are we supposed to root for? And why? A win over Pittsburgh? Another game above .500? Fourth place in the AL East? I'm sorry, folks, but - seriously - who cares? 

Boston has lost eight of its last 10. Say what you will about the Redsocks' quitter mentality, they are crafting a strategic tank job for their next GM. Don't be surprised if they catch Cleveland and/or San Diego, and draft next June in the top 10. Don't be surprised if they rise quickly next year in the AL East. Don't be surprised if they win another world series before we do. They play the long game. They play hardball. 

Meanwhile, the Death Barge pretends these late season games matter, and that when the Yankees win one, we're supposed to rejoice with the overwhelming excitement of a live Beetlejuice musical.

Last night, Starr Insurance won because Pittsburgh - with one out in the ninth - couldn't execute a DP grounder that should be an automatic in high school. And a guy nearly paid a dreadful price. Last night, Anthony Misiewicz was the only thing that mattered. He might be the only thing that matters for the rest of this season. Prayers...

Friday, September 15, 2023

Dust to dust: Searching for meaning in a meaningless universe

In the end, this is it: The Ledger of the Damned.

Don't bother seeking hope in this dumpster fire of stats. There is none. 

Yesterday, the Death Barge split its doubleheader, leaving it tied with Boston - each at 74-73 - for last place in the AL East.  

Over the next two weeks, the Redsocks face a tougher schedule - only one tomato can, the miserable White Sox. Meanwhile the Starr Insurers play six games against fellow Heinz containers, KC and Pitt. As Billie Joe once sang, "Wake me up, when September ends..."

Really, why kid ourselves? These games don't matter. Not a whit. Last spring, we foresaw a division crown, if not a world series. The notion of missing the postseason altogether - or falling below .500? That seemed ludicrous. The Gammonites all agreed: The Yankees ruled February and March. Then came April, games took on meaning, and everything - everything - crumbled.

Who figured:

a) That after winning the SS position in spring training, Anthony Volpe would hit .209, and that defense would turn out to be his best attribute. You know what's crazy? After 147 games, we still donno if Volpe is our SS of the future, or if we'd have been better off with Oswald Peraza. Yeah, Volpe is a fine young player - if he can build on this dreadful season. He turns 23 in April. But can he hit? We still donno. And .209 won't do it.

b) That after having The Season From Yahweh, Aaron Judge would crap the proverbial IT IS HIGH pineapple this year. Yeah, injuries took a toll. But until 2022, Judge's ever-tweakable gonads were the norm. He was always missing time. He'll finish 2023 with about 70 RBIs and a forgettable BA. In April, he turns 32 - the point where a lot of sluggers fall off the golf cart. Can he lead this team to glory? Honestly, we dunno.  

c) That Giancarlo Stanton would hit the wall. He turns 34 in November. Last night, he looked 40. Amid FOX's nonstop cavalcade of graphics, they posted a chart showing that Stanton leads MLB in exit velocity - proving forever the meaningless of that stat. Jeez, I donno what to do with Stanton. Could Artificial Intelligence supply an answer. (Of all MLB front offices, which do you think would be the first to try AI? Of course, the Yankees. Cashman is probably keyboarding stats, as we speak.) But serious, how do we get rid of Stanton. He'll be 34, a fulltime DH, a china doll, and he hits .198. We'd be better off with Meryl Streep. Nobody will take Stanton, even if we pay his salary and throw in Netflix. We are soooooo screwed. Can AI think our way out of this?

d) That the Redsocks would shitcan their GM yesterday, proving that accountability exists, at least in Boston. The FOX announcers noted that Boston has a top 5 farm system. (The Yankees rank all over the place - Baseball America at 11, ESPN at 15, at 21, FanGraphs at 25 -not counting The Martian's elbow surgery.) For the Redsocks, last place was unacceptable. Not for us, though. We all know what will happen in the Yankee front office: Nothing. 

They say Theo Epstein is out there, chasing billionaires, looking to buy a team. Wouldn't it be karma? 

Thursday, September 14, 2023

New Descriptive Term Needed

Soon, Austin Wells, and several other Yankees, will be batting below .100.

Kudos to the new hitting coach, hired by Boone. 

The "Medoza Line" became the term for batters hitting under .200.

How should we describe what Wells  (and soon others ) will be achieving? 

This is all virgin territory for baseball. 

A level of incompetence never anticipated. 


See? Other teams can do it. How 'bout us?


Red Sox ownership saw fit to part ways with their GM.  Could it be a trend?

We can only hope...

Hats off to current Yankee/Starr Insurance offensive leaders

 Yankee Batting Crown Leader
Gleyber Torres

Yankee RBI Leader
Gleyber Torres


 Yankee Home Run Leader
Aaron Judge

Two games today. On the line: 4th place in the AL East, and the 13th pick next June. The Tankathon...

Also at stake, personal achievements! Aaron Judge could hit number 62 - RBIs, that is. (Fun fact: He has 58.)

Hats off to field general Aaron Boone, who has recorded his 500th victory.

The Yankee historical legacy remains intact.

As always, our news media is fully prepared.

What a beautiful day for baseball. Let's play two!