Wednesday, May 31, 2023

"Oh, Harrison. You won't see him around here no more."


And so we dump the Bader, and leave the Florial. In Scranton. 

It's enough to make one pine for the days when crazy ol' Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis used to order teams to release their stockpiled players from the minor leagues (looking at us, old New York Yankees).

Meanwhile, who could have seen yet another Harrison Bader injury coming? Anyone with an abacus. 

As of today, the Westchester Cheetah has missed 30.6 percent of the games his teams have played since the start of the 2018 season. What's more, the percentage he has missed has grown steadily from 2020, rising from 16.7 percent that truncated season, to 36.4 percent in 2021, 46.9 percent last year, and 54.4 percent this season thus far—with a 10-day stint on the DL just beginning.

Incredibly, that's not even the top absentee mark of any Yankee over the past five seasons.  

There is, of course, dear, departed Oft-Injured Hicks, who missed 42.6 percent of all Yankees games since 2018, including a high of 80.2 percent since 2021. Though perhaps it is unfair to give Hicksie the (Non-) Attendance Award, as increasingly, those days and nights on the bench came because he was just...bad.

Take a look instead at the soon-to-be-with-us-once-more, Giancarlo Stanton.  He has missed 39.7 percent of all NYY games since coming over in 2018. 

But that figure is distorted by the fact that Stanton miraculously missed only 4 games in all of 2018.  Since then, he has managed to miss 88.9 percent of a season (2019), 32.1 percent (2022), and 77.2 percent (this year, thus far). 

His record would look even worse, save for the Covid pandemic, as in 2020, Stanton was not fit to play for any of the time before the season finally began, and missed 61.7 percent even of mere 60 games the Yanks played that year.

I think it is fair to say that no Yankees general manager has ever assembled a starting outfield with so little ability to stay on the field. Remember, right up until a couple weeks ago, Brian Cashman was still insisting that these three players were all key parts of the Yankees juggernaut he had assembled.

I suspect it is even fair to say that no general manager, anywhere, anytime in the history of major-league baseball, has ever assembled a would-be outfield that is so consistently injured, for so long a time.

Talk about meatballs...

As Tampa returns to the race, the 2023 Yankees' first upheaval is now underway

 Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming... Three blowouts and Stanton's healing, we're finally on our own...

Last night, witnessed only by the sleepless and Seattle, the Death Barge again rolled over a young stud pitcher, its soon-to-be-overhauled lineup popping on every front. 

Ten runs in each of the last three games, the baseball equivalent of those atmospheric rivers that flooded California this winter. 

So, whadda we know?

1. The tweak that could have saved Aaron Hicks' Yankee epoch - at least for now - came a week too late. Of course, Harrison Bader supplied it. He's back on the IL, his regular place, and Yank fans must wonder if this guy is simply wound too tightly to last. 

We're nearly a year into Bader and still don't know what we've got. Is he an all-star?  A china doll? Will he ever see a full season? Is he worth a big contract? 

Either way, Hicksy is now an Oriole, and this we know: The juju gods love to bring ex-Yanks back to life and have them haunt us - at least once, anyway. Then the zombies degrade. The Yankees next face Baltimore on July 3 - a four-game series in the Bronx. Not sure he'll still be there. 

I don't blame Hicks for joining Baltimore - he'd take any opportunity that arises - but he's no Cedrick Mullen (who tweaked a gonad). Remember: If he gets hot, he'll get hurt. He was Bader, before Bader.

2. Last night in Double A, Jackie Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton and Tommy Kahnle suited up for Somerset. Each will soon join the mother ship. (By the way, sent down to Scranton was Ben Rortvedt - meaning Kahnle won't get to pitch to Rortvedt, creating the Battery of Unnecessary Consonants.) 

None of these light fixtures will solve the Baderian hole in CF - (almost comically, Franchy Cordero is up) - though the suddenly superhuman Isiah Kiner-Falefa will probably play there for a week.  

Either way, don't expect to see Estevan Florial, who has been found GUILTY of having no options left. If the Yankees bring him up, they can't send him down. Thus, he'll languish in Scranton through eternity, or the trade deadline, whichever comes first. 

3. Anthony Volpe homered last night, icing the game. Not sure Volpe needed a HR; sometimes, a desperate batter hits one and starts thinking he's Aaron Judge. It speaks volumes that Volpe went 1-for-five, and his batting average rose.

For better or worse, the Yankees must stick with Volpe, as long as he fields the position. Once upon a time, I remember a kid named Dustin Pedroia struggling in his rookie season, until one night he broke out against us. Volpe doesn't need an occasional HR. He needs to get on base. If he proves to be a washout - even if Oswald Peraza replaces him - the Yankees will be lost in the desert for another three years.  

4. Tonight, we face George Kirby, the ace of Seattle's young staff, who was picked in the first round of the 2019 draft, 10 slots ahead of Volpe. He's from Rye, NY, and grew up wanting to be a Yankee. (I have a friend who knows him.) If the Mariners hadn't chosen him, who knows? he might now be a Yankee, instead of Volpe. (Actually, nah, scratch that; somebody else would have grabbed Kirby; he was a consensus pick.) 

Meanwhile, Clarke Schmidt pitches against Kirby. In each of his last two starts, Schimidt has gone five innings, given up 2 or 1 runs - decent outings. Dare we hope? Ten runs would be nice.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Hicksie's for the Birds


Aaron Hicks has signed with the Orioles.

Well alrighty then.

Fightin' words

Rapper thinks he owns the Yanks. Ha. We say far worse after one stinking loss.

Go at your own peril. 
Thanks, Tony

Why does Harrison Bader hate being home?


I think The Archangel had the best line about the Oft-Injured Bader today, which was that—now that he's back on the DL—he will have plenty of time to read the fine print in the six-year extension that Cashman will tender him.

Hey, great move, huh? Bringing in a guy whose whole game is physical...but who constantly gets injured? I mean, it worked so well with Jacoby.

Once again, though, things went a little bit Cashie's way, in that the NL seems to have figured out Monty. And the bigger mystery surrounding Harrison Bader is why he so seems to hate playing at home—even when it's almost literally HIS home!

My astute friend Lucas, who is much better at assessing statistics than I am, had high hopes for Harrison when he came over because after all, how often do you acquire a player whose first name is the last name of a president who won with a minority of the popular vote while playing in St. Louis, Louis, Bader was a much better player on the road, than at home.

He was right. Career splits thus far: BA, HRs, 39-19; BA, .279-.213; OPS, .814-.641.

Well, fair dinkum. Maybe Harrison WOULD be good, so close to the ancestral manse in Westchester.

But so far...not so good.

Bader "burst" on the scene—after missing his first six Yankee weeks and more with injuries—last Sept., going 3-8 with 5 RBI in his first two games.  Humana-humma!  But from that time on, in the regular season, he went a mere 5-20 in the Bronx, with 2 ribbies.

In the playoffs, where he also made a big splash, our Harrison was still only 4-16, with 2 homers and 2 RBI at home, as opposed to 5-14 on the road, with 3 homers and 7 RBI.

This season, Bader is once again a road warrior, at .333 and opposed to just .222 and .697 in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.

What gives? Damned if I know. And hey, why worry about it? We probably won't be seeing Harrison again until sometime after July 4th. If then.

Maybe he can take that time to work out whatever is bothering him at home.

Harrison Bader: exulting in joy, or grimacing in pain? You make the call!

The Yankee formula for winning crystalizes: All they need is a pair of HRs from Aaron Judge

Unless you capped a three-day, sun-bleached, beer-n-burgers marathon by staying up until 1:30 a.m., you probably missed last night's Yankee game, played on a distant coast in a lost dimension of time and space.

Not gonna lie. I did. Last night, to keep me stirring after 11, I'd have needed a vibrator, a pound of sativa-infused expresso, party hats, a treadmill and the SI swimsuit edition. I was fried. Caught the first inning, then bade our heroes farewell and crawled to the trundle.

So, what'd I miss? 

Aaron Judge homered twice, robbed a Mariner by climbing the wall, and showed the children of the Space Needle exactly who is baseball's greatest star, in case they thought it was a certain Japanese Babe Ruth, or the hate-filled son of Vlad, or Willie Calhoun. 

Judge also doubled. And I must say: It's crazy for a guy to hit 62 HRs and still go underestimated, but I think I've done just that with Judge. I assumed he couldn't be as great as he was in 2022 - it simply could not happen. But he now leads the AL in homers, despite missing two weeks, and his average is around .300. Last year, he missed the Triple Crown by a hickey. This year, who knows?   

Domingo German pitched well, returning from his sticky fingers penalty box, the Yankees scored 10 runs for the second straight game, everybody hit except Oswaldo Cabrera, who went 0-for-5, and Harrison Bader pulled a hammy, of course. The Yankees are pooh-poohing Bader's injury, but in NY, we measure hammies by months. Back by the All Star Break?  

If this doesn't prompt the Yankees to bring up Estevan Florial, nothing ever will.

Bader's likely injury, on the basis of his track record, allows him to rise in the Top 10 Yankee China Doll Rankings, According to Tweakiness

1. Giancarlo Stanton, "The Iron Man of Injury." (hammy)
2. Tommy Kahnle (bicep)
3. Harrison Bader (hammy)
4. Luis Severino, currently uninjured, here by reputation.
5. Jonathan Loaisiga (bone spur)
Carlos Rodon (back)
7. Frankie Montas (shoulder)
Jackie Donaldson (hammy)
9. Jose Trevino (hammy)
10. Anthony Rizzo (neck)

Finally, this...

Monday, May 29, 2023

Send Us Your Dreams!

 The Dream Catcher Interprets Your Dreams!

Dear Dream Catcher,

I have a recurring dream where I'm sitting in a rather bland, modern stadium, watching a baseball game. A voice behind me says, "This ball club really has a chance to go all the way!" I say, "But this is the exact same team I saw last year.  And the year before that."

Then a short, smug-looking bald man appears, and tells me that I expect too much, and anyway, the playoffs are a crap shoot. 

What should I make of this?

—Déjà vu All Over Again

Dear Déjà,

Obviously, the handsome gentleman you saw is a sage, a man of great and unusual wisdom—perhaps even a genie, or holy man. You should trust him to be right in everything he says, and disregard the evidence of your own eyes.

Dear Dream Catcher,

The other night, I dreamed that I watching a baseball game in a rather, bland modern stadium. I was so bored that I went to the refreshment stand, even though I knew there was nothing there that I would ever allow in my own home. 

I ordered a beer, a hot dog, and something called "Cracker Jack," though I'm not really sure what that is. To my shock, the short, smug, bald man behind the counter told me that this would cost $119.63—even though something was clearly moving inside the Cracker Jack box.

Why would I dream something so horrible?

—Katie Casey  

Dear Katie,

I don't understand your question. Baseball is never boring. And the price you mentioned for so much wholesome nourishment sounds quite reasonable to me. Also, I feel you should better appreciate the generosity of the taxpayers who no doubt built that stadium you find "rather bland."

Dear Dream Catcher,

I had a terrible nightmare last week, one in which I was trying to find the channel on which my favorite baseball team—you know, the one that plays in that rather bland, modern stadium—was playing.

But every channel I went to was either not showing the game, or required a large fee to subscribe. And went I went online to see what was going on, a short, smug, bald man appeared to tell me that the game had started at 11:30 in the morning!

What can such an outlandish nightmare possibly mean?


Dear Shaken,

What in the world is wrong with watching a ballgame that starts before noon? That gives you all the more time to shop online for your favorite team's paraphernalia. 

And what's wrong with many other channels televising your team? Shouldn't they get a chance to show the game, too? What do you have against them?

Obviously, you are a deeply disturbed person, one who should probably be committed at once!

That's all for today. It is to be hoped that next time, we will have fewer letters from people who are such malcontents, and so obviously deranged.

Until then, remember, folks: Send us your dreams!!!


The Memorial Day "Smart Thinking" Award goes to Domingo German


Yep. Seeing as how the last usage sparked a 10-game suspension, smart thinking there, Domingo. 

Short stacks on Memorial Day.

They claim Anthony Rizzo is okay. I'll believe it when I see him. 

For the record, playing 1B at Scranton yesterday was 24-year-old Andres Chaparro, the HR leader of last spring, who is transitioning from 3B. (Is that illegal in Texas?) He went 1-for-3, lifting his average to .263. (It must be noted that he started 2023 going 0-for-his-first two weeks.) Unfortunately, he bats RH. 

In case you're scoring at home, the lost legionnaire Estevan Florial went 3-5 with his 12th HR, lifting his average to .322. He bats LH and might be the best fielding outfielder in the farm system, but the Yankees won't give him the time of day.

Instead, we can take heart in knowing Jackie Donaldson went 2-for-3 in a rehab assignment, hitting a HR in the eighth. And Oswald Peraza went 1-4; he's hitting .329.

Happy Memorial Day, everybody. Hug a veteran. Hug a fire truck. Hell, hug everyone.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

The brutal weight of expectations may be starting to affect Anthony Volpe

Let's face it: In geological terms, Anthony Volpe shouldn't be here. 

Three months ago - an eternity within the Yankiverse - Volpe was destined for Scranton, and even your granny knew it. When Campa Tampa opened, he faced no expectations, aside from perhaps a late-2023 callup. 

Then Volpe lit up spring training - .309 with three HRs (tied for third on the team, behind Oswaldo Cabrera and Jasson Dominguez, each with 4) - and the Yankee myth machine (of which IIH represents a rogue widget extruder) went into overdrive. On opening day, Volpe drew one of the loudest ovations, and the juju gods licked their chops.

In that game, he walked and stole second. John Sterling waxed delight, though The Master warned that many great stars failed in their first MLB incarnations. In his second game, Volpe went 2-4, and The Master said he looked here to stay. 

In a straight-to-home-video movie, that would be where the fairy tale ends - with Volpe's coronation as the Next Jeet, living happily ever after.

In mid-April, the first slump came. He went 4-for-29, his average bottoming out at .129.  As May arrived, he heated up - ripped through Cleveland and raised his average to .230, the highest since Day 2. 

Yesterday, he went 0-3, with a grounder that, despite his speed, became a DP. He is mired in a 2-for-26 doldrum. He bats ninth.

Meanwhile, Oswald Peraza, who was supposed to play SS this year, hit his 6th HR yesterday for Scranton. Peraza played 3B, a bizarre placement, since Jackie Donaldson is also rehabbing in the system, and the Yankees will need a shoe horn to get him into the lineup. 

Peraza's blessing: A terrible spring training (.190) that lowered expectations. No legacy jersey number. No Jeterian whispers.  

So... the Yankees face a conundrum of their own making. They sold Volpe as the next big thing, a future star, and he remains a fan fave. Thankfully, his defense has remained sound - (can't say the same for Gleyber) - but if he doesn't start hitting - like, soon - there will be no place to put him, other than Scranton. They won't keep him to ride the bench and they have nobody else to play SS. (Cabrera, a possible SS, is also in a deep slump.) 

If Volpe goes to Scranton, and Peraza takes his place, don't worry about the Yankee myth-building apparatus. It will simply move on to Jasson Dominguez, aka "The Martian," who is already a disappointment because he isn't Juan Soto. But Peraza will have one thing going for him: No stratospheric expectations. No publicists looking to make their bones. In that regard, he's a lucky man. 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Invisible men play invisible game.


How appropriate that last night, a Yankees team that once again didn't bother to show up was playing on a television channel no one could find.

After a string of games that were at least exciting (if not all that well-played), your New York Yankees seem to have hit the snooze button again. 

In what really matters to the front office, the team has now gone from:

—Playing free games on local television channels to

—Playing pay-per-view games on cable channels to

—Playing pay-per-view games on its own channel to

—Playing pay-per-view games on 3 or 4 or 5 channels, all of which seem to require their own subscription.

This move goes hand-in-hand with the general deterioration of YES, which once used to delight us with "Yankeeographies" (however poorly made) of beloved stars and "Yankee Classics" games, going back as far as Game 7 of the 1952 World Series. You could actually turn on your TV and watch a 20-year-old Mickey Mantle hit a game-winning homer out of Ebbets Field.

Such items have become steadily more and more rare on YES, where instead we're now force-fed a steady diet of English soccer games, WNBA basketball, exercise shows, and worse.

This is, I suppose, in keeping with the latest mode of American capitalism, which has morphed from "The customer is always right," to "The customer had better sit down and buy whatever the hell we choose to sell him."

Forget the fact that you're a Yankees fans who wants to see Yankee baseball. YES has determined that there are many other products that you can be sold, whether you like it or not. 

Meanwhile, profits are maximized by having the Yankees jump from station to station and starting time to starting time like so many Big Bang Theory reruns. First pitch at 11:30 in the morning? Sure, why not? I'm certain they once used to start games at that time...maybe in the 1860s. 

This is a business model that—as the great Elvis Costello sang—one day is gonna end sooner than greater.

It was just as well for Steinbrenner, Inc., that as few people as possible could watch the Yankees last night. As it was, over 46,000 individuals senseless enough to show up in person were treated to what was, shall we say, a less-than-good-faith effort, against the struggling Friars of San Diego.

After being thoroughly manhandled by the great Kyle "Call Me Bob" Gibson the night before, the Yanks were shut down just as easily by Joe Musgrove, another journeyman who came into the game with an eight-year, lifetime record that was 5 games under .500—and a 2023 campaign in which he was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA.

No problem! Musgrove was all but unhittable against a Yankees team now being routinely exposed for the claptrap, jerry-rigged contraption it is. 

Let's face it: the kids are not all right, their game plummeting rapidly back toward Scranton. D.J. LeMahieu: injured or old? Or both? 

Meanwhile, the air seems to be leaving the Harrison Bader Experience. There was some solid statistical evidence to hope that the Westchester Whammer was previously a prisoner of Busch Stadium III, but of late our hometown hero seems to be reverting to mean. 

After a dynamic, .440 start to open his (much-delayed) season, Bader is down to .250. He is 5 for his last 30, with just 3 walks and 12 strikeouts on the season. In his last 15 games, he's scored 4 runs and driven in all of 6. 

As for our pitching staff, well, I think the best that can be said of them is, their name is Legion.

The truth is that no one—no one—in this entire Yankees organization is doing what they can to maximize the team's chances of winning.

We have:

—A manager who will not so much as bunt a .200 hitter in a 1-0 game in the 7th inning, so afraid is he of stepping outside of the analytical box he has been ordered into.

—A general manager who continues to believe, after 25 years of failure, that his sheer genius at picking up other team's scraps will make up for his utter inability to build a first-class farm system.

—An owner who is apparently most interested in finding another patsy to air his crumbling team. Or the teams of the English Premier Division.

—Perhaps worst of all, a team on the field that is not all that interested in playing hard. As Zach A.'s helpful stats revealed, the Yanks are no longer a team of grinders. Faced with a pitcher they can't solve, they're no longer hanging in there, working the count until they wear him down and get into the pen.

They are, instead, a bunch of well-mannered young men who look as though they would just as soon be elsewhere. So would we—not that we get much choice in the matter.


Once again, the Yankees are adrift, and another lost season outcome feels inevitable

Hello, Darkness, my old friend... 

So... we win five, then lose three 
(and counting.) We're eight behind Tampa, four below Baltimore, with half our bullpen doing the Scranton shuffle, and Aaron Boone - the milquetoast star of the nightly post-game hostage video - has turned into Al Pacino in AND JUSTICE FOR ALL...

We've reverted back to the Aaron Judge Offense: If he hits two HRs, we win. If he doesn't, we  lose. What a bum!

We're starting to wonder if Oswald Peraza (hitting .338 at Scranton) will ever get a shot. It's painfully obvious that Estevan Florial (hitting .313 there) won't. Both Oswaldo Cabrera and Anthony Volpe are struggling, and Jackie Donaldson - the Yankee Babadook - looms on the horizon. Last night, in a rehab assignment, the Crafty Veteran went 0-3 with two K's. He's ready, eh? 

Against Oakland and  Cincinnati, the Yankees looked overpowering. Now, against actual MLB competition, they are a plane with three propellers and one wing, on a three-game losing streak market correction. They look like a clubhouse that has glimpsed its destiny: To shredded at the trade deadline by Hurricane Cashman's latest algorithm. Who knows what the roster will look like on Aug. 2? 

Last night, it was funny - in a not-really-all-that-funny way - to see the Bleacher Creatures interact with Juan Soto, the kind of generational talent that, in a previous era, would have would up in the Bronx. In fact, the Podcasts seem to more resemble the teams of Old George than do the '23 Yankees. Their owner - a grandson of Walter O'Malley - will spend whatever it takes. Meanwhile, frugal Hal - in his thrift store windbreaker - keeps spinning nickels and waiting for Giancarlo, or Carlos, or Frankie, or Jonathan, or Tommy, or all of the above... He's waiting for his ship to come in, not realizing it's been mired here, all along. So much for extending the Yankee debt ceiling...

Breaking News: We have no left fielder. It's been two years now (and counting). The latest update? Jake Bauers Reclamation Project has stalled. (He's no Matt Carpenter.) Last night, we pinch hit Bauers for Ben Roquefort, both of whom bat LH. We regularly call upon pinch hitters who are below .200. But who's counting? 

If the season ended today, we would be tied with Houston for the final wild card slot. 

We cannot trade our dead wood. Aaron Hicks passed through the colon of trade talks and is now a free agent. They couldn't even get a pool boy in a trade. 

The Master is convalescing and won't return for another week. Suzyn is lost, struggling to keep up her quota of in-game commercials. Will somebody - looking at you, Geico - give the lady a break?

We are not going to win the 2023 world series. And we won't set ourselves up for 2024. This is the Yankee Way, the Yankee Continuum, the Yankee Treadmill, the Yankee Saga: Win five, lose three (and counting.)

And you wonder why Boone is suddenly screaming at the  Cosmos? "I'm out of order? You're out of order! This game is out of order!" 

Hello, Darkness, my old friend...

Friday, May 26, 2023

Worst Season EVER???


There used to be an old baseball tradition of insisting that the team in first place on Memorial Day would win the pennant. The tradition died, as they will...because it was really stupid. Plenty of teams that weren't in first at the end of May won pennants, World Series, etc.

What I think we can see by this Memorial Day, however, is that your New York Yankees are indeed the great pile of pigeon droppings that many of us feared they would be.  

The just completed Baltimore debacle demonstrated that this Yankees team is like trying to pull a three-foot sheet over a six-foot man: something will always be exposed.

Last night it was the woeful hitting. The night before, it was the depleted staff and the burnt out "burn pen," as I think El Duque christened it.  

Folks, somethin's gotta give, and it usually does.  

Last night saw both Volpe and Cabrera drop below the Mendoza Line. Next it will be the Joey Gallo Line. I think we should keep playing them—or, at most, have Volpe and Peraza swap places—because the alternative is yet another season of IKF and Jackie. But it's clear that they're not ready yet—and, at 22 and 24, respectively, they may never be.

Worse still than the actual performances on the field was the attitude, as the Yanks went down like a bunch of whipped dogs at the hands of a soft-throwing meatball named Kyle Gibson. His win put Gibson a game over .500 in his 11-year career (95-94, 4.49). A career in which, moreover, he has usually been royally pummeled by the real NY Yankees, not that group of imposters who showed up last night.

(Gibson lifetime v. NYY:  2-6, 5/93.)

People, I know it's a long season, and the boys can't be up for every game. I realize the umps were lousy—what a surprise—and even the video replay let us down. But last night's game was a big indicator of why our grandchildren will probably go to watch a curling match before they turn on a baseball game.

I'm not saying there was necessarily a lack of effort out there—except that I am. "The attendance was robbed," as Casey Stengel used to say, and in this case it was 41,520 fans, forced to pay top dollar for tickets, "beer," and rat-feces dogs. And a team that seemed to be mostly daydreaming about whether they'd get a Memorial Day weekend invite to a really cool Hamptons party, or contemplating the grave problem of why so many airplanes keep nearly colliding on the runway. 

Let's just say that your Yankees looked less than enthusiastic last night. It's not the first time in this young season—and it speaks again as to why Ma Boone is not a good manager.

Sure, we can forgive him for being trapped inside the strategic genius of Cashmanalytics ("Hit strikes hard!"). But no matter how many times he gets himself thrown out of a game, it's quite apparent that his team respectfully declines to play hard for the man—and he has no means of firing them up. ("C'mon, skip, you're gonna give yourself a stroke!")

Expect this season to dribble and dawdle on much as it already has in the Bronx. But worse yet—out in Flushing, some rough beast, its hour come round at last, is already slouching toward Aaron Judge's one-year-old, home-run record. 

(By which I mean the real record, set by men not taking substances that make their heads expand.)

Is this the year of the Polar Bear? Pete Alonso, the thoroughly likable kid who has already broken Judge's rookie home-run record, has been running up the score on assorted National League palookas, and at his current rate, he might well pass the magic no. 62.

What's more, the Mets might very well be the team that Brian Cashman thinks these Yankees are. Able to stick around, sneak into the new, ginormo-playoffs, and then make a real run if The Old Ones, Verlander and Scherzer, are still fit. 

Big ifs, I know, but a real possibility—particularly if the Mets' kids, Alvarez, Baty, and Vientos—are able to do what ours are clearly not up to. 

What, thought you'd already suffered through enough this century with four Red Sox rings and the horrors of 2001 and 2004? Imagine a miracle Mets championship, with the Polar Bear carting the home-run record over to Queens. 

So much karma to pay back for that amazing 20th century...


The series against Baltimore showed that where we are, the third place team behind Tampa and Baltimore, is what we are. 

A third place team. 

The question is, can the Yankees do anything about it. 

The cavalry that they are waiting on is comprised of Stanton, Jackie, Kahnle, and Rodon.  

The first three are supposedly just days away. 

If this were five years ago that actually might get it done but last time I checked waiting for ageing veterans to come back from injuries to save the day doesn't generally work. 

As an aside, Boone kind of reminds me of Capt. Parmenter a little bit.


Sadly, it may be time to realize that last year's Andrew Velazquez, Oswaldo Cabrera, is actually only as good as the actual Andrew Velazquez is now. 

The clock has struck twelve. As much as it pains me to say it. He needs to be sent down. 

One can only hope that Jackie is the first to tweak something so we can get Peraza back up here before he gets Florialed or worse, traded. 



El Duque calls up the Yankee PR Department and requests an interview with Aaron Hicks for his blog.  The person on the phone says, "I'm sorry, Aaron Hicks has been DFA'd."

The next day he calls them again and asks to get an interview with Aaron Hicks and the person on the phone says, "I'm sorry but Aaron Hicks has been DFA'd" 

The next day El Duque calls again and the person says, "El Duque... Aaron Hicks HAS BEEN DFA'd!!!"

And El Duque says, "I know... I just love to hear you say it."

Baltimore spits the bit, and the Yankees are running out of tomato cans to play

Three years ago, Baltimore was our adorable pet poodle. They came when called, brought our slippers, nestled at our feet. If we shouted angrily, they peed themselves. They respected their master. 

Last year, they got a bit barky. They won 7 out of 19, ignored the newspapers lining the floor, even snapped at us once, when chow came late. Bad doggy! we admonished, and wondered, what's gotten into little Balty?

Well, this week, they just came into our living room and took a dump. 

They chewed their leash, took two of three, and came within two outs of sweeping us - in our home, no less. They no longer fear us, they growl in our presence, and next time we face them  - the week of July 4th - we might feel the collar around our necks. 

The O's are a young team jacked from years of drafting high and expunging veterans at the deadline. Their mainstays - Rutschman, Mountcastle, Henderson, Hayes, Mullens, Santander - are all under 30. Each could be a future star.

Meanwhile, the Yankees cannot seem to develop a hitter. Our fan base loves Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera - the closest we have to a youth movement - but neither has cleared the Mendoza Line, and the 0-fors are starting to pinch. 

It's a wild card year. We have seven games left against Baltimore, six against both Tampa and Toronto, and a full 13 against Boston, who might use the looming Yankee series to decide whether to chase the 2023 wild card or retool. In this millennium - when they have four rings, we have two - the tanking strategy has served Boston well.

The Baltimore series is also a painful reminder that Yankee successes hinge on tomato cans (such as what the O's were.) Currently, MLB has four certified cans: Oakland, Cincinnati, Washington and Colorado. In the last two weeks, we've used up two of them. 

We'll play Washington in August, and end the season with Kansas City, a perennial dented tin of Campbells. We won't see Colorado. 

The Yankees are 19-11 in the month of May. But take out Cincy and Oakland, and they are 13-11, barely a kibbled bit over .500.

Are the Yankees really good? Or have they simply dined on tomatoes? 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Game Thread: Oh Schmidt!

Regarding last night... how bad is it?

Yikes. Everything was proceeding to plan: The O's were withering, the Yanks were homering, Nasty Nestor was cruising, and MLB's best bullpen - statistically, anyway  - was sitting next to the Bat Phone, waiting to say, "Yes, Commissioner?

Last night's game was in the bag. Baltimore - for 10 years, our rented mule - was headed toward a market correction, if not an old school whipping. The floodgates had opened, along with the skies, and one of those nightmare trips to filthy NYC was looming.    

Then the wheels fell off. A leadoff walk. (Take him out, Boonie!) A scorcher past Volpe. (Get him out, now!) A HR off the foul pole. (You bum, too late!) And suddenly, Baltimore was alive, and we were back in 2022, holding hands and preparing to jump off the Empire State Building. 

Here we go again, everybody...

Twenty-four hours after, arguably, the season's greatest win, the Yankees conjured up the most damning loss of 2023 - a collapse worthy of a downtown Minneapolis bridge. (What? Too soon? It was 2007.)  Once again, cold reality is served: 

These are still the Yankees of the last 10 years. 

That means they practice Newton's Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Great victory, hellish loss. Five game win streak, five games of crapola.  

Come October, they'll partake of Cashman's First Law of Entropy: In the face of solid pitching, the HR-based offense always collapses. Big game against Houston; 14 strikeouts. Five game series; out in four. 

But let's be real here: Nine games above .500, the Death Barge is achieving its prime directive: Stay relevant. It will remain competitive in a Wild Card race that will unfurl through the final dregs of September. Tickets will be sold, and Amazon Prime will get its precious piles of steaming streaming attention. 

Soon, we'll be fortified by Giancarlo Stanton, Tommy Kahnle and Carlos Rodon - the Titans of Tweak. Trouble is... that pesky Newton! 

His law tells us to expect an equal and opposite number of injuries. We don't know who, or for how long, but somehow, the mighty, $200 million Yankees always reach a Mike Ford/Eric Kratz continuum. If last night's loss left psychic scars, they will soon be replaced by deeper ones.

But a question about last night: Did a twig snap, or was it a piece of the dam? 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

RAIN DELAY THEATER: 1921 newsreel featuring Babe Ruth and (ulp!) Carl Mays

"Uncle Bill"


When I was first following this lovable gang o' knuckleheads we call the New York Yankees, Bill Robinson was one of a seemingly endless stream of young players proclaimed to be "the next Mickey Mantle."

Even crueler, and rather bigoted-ly, he was supposed to be "the Black Mickey Mantle."

The Yanks traded Clete Boyer for him, a beloved holdover from the championship years who was still just 30 and, as it turned out, had plenty left. But that was all right. Bill Robinson, we were told, was a bona fide, five-tool player, guaranteed to hit, hit for power, run like the wind, catch everything hit to the outfield, and gun down anyone foolish enough to try to take an extra base on him.

In fact, if anyone on the Yankees had actually taken a good look at Bill Robinson's career they might have seen how dubious all of these expectations and comparisons really were.

Unlike Mantle, who was in the major leagues at age 19, Bill Robinson was already 24 when he came to the Yanks in 1967. He'd only had a cup of coffee with Atlanta in 1966—all of 11 at-bats.  

More ominous still, a glance at his record would have shown that Bill often struggled going from one minor-league level to another. He didn't strike out much, but then he rarely drew walks, something that would have rung alarm bells today.

He'd stolen 29 bases four years earlier...and never more than 7 after that. Leg injuries? He'd once had 21 assists in a season...and never more than 10 after that. Leg and arm injuries???

Who knew? Who cared? Surely Bill Robinson was the real deal, part of the Yankee nouvelle vague, along with the likes of Bobby Murcer, Roger Repoz, Ross Moschitto, Tony Solaita, and Frank Tepedino. He was the can't-miss key to the future.

Maybe it was all those expectations that accounted for the faintly queasy look on Robinson's face, whenever he was photographed as a Yankee. He knew this was trouble.

But for a moment, it seemed as if it could be true. After a terrible rookie year in which he hit .196 in 116 games, Bill had a pretty good 1968, batting .240 with a little pop, on a Yankees team that hit all of .214—and in an entire league that hit .230.

The next Mickey Mantle? Hell, Bill Robinson out hit the current Mickey Mantle by 3 points that year!

Then came a disastrous 1969, in which Bill hit .171, awful even for that pitching-dominant era. He lasted barely more than half the year, before being sent down to the Gem City Salt City of New York State, Syracuse. 

That off-season, he was peddled away to the White Sox for a washed-up hurler, one Barry Moore, who never even appeared with the Yankees or one of their farm clubs. The White Sox quickly moved him on to the Phillies, in exchange for an infielder who never appeared in any big-league game.  

Meanwhile, Clete Boyer won a Gold Glove and a 26-home-run season with the Braves, and won a division title with them. Fans were beginning to call the trade one of the worst the Yanks had ever made.

By 1972, Bill Robinson was 29, and had not appeared in the majors for 3 years. Today, he would be labeled a "AAAA" washout, and likely discarded. But he was hitting well in the minors, and a woeful, last-place Phillies club called him for half a season. 

The next year, 1973, Robinson hit .288 with 25 homers and 32 doubles. At age 30, it seemed, the former phenom had at last put it all together.

Or maybe not. Bill slumped badly again in 1974, and the Phils moved him on to the Pirates for Wayne Simpson, yet another, dead-armed pitcher. 

In Pittsburgh, Robinson volunteered to play anywhere and everywhere, putting in time at third and first, as well as the outfield. Slowly, he got his game back. 

In 1976, he hit .303, with 21 homers. In 1977, his apogee—aged 34—he hit .304, with 32 doubles, 26 homers, and 104 RBI.  He started to trend downhill after that, but still managed to hit .264 with 24 homers for the 1979, "We Are Family" Pirates team. That fall, he started what turned out to be the winning rally in Game 7 of the World Series.

Who knows why—maybe it was the moustache—but he had become a tough, grizzled veteran, who had learned the ropes.

When his playing days ended, Robinson became a hitting coach with the Mets, who called him "Uncle Bill," and adored him. They loved giving him "hot foots" (well, you know, ballplayers). He was particularly beloved by a young Kevin Mitchell, who he took under his wing and who once clocked Rick Rhoden in a 1986 game because Rhoden dared to get in a shoving match with Uncle Bill.

(Would that he had hit Rhoden hard enough that even the Yanks would not have traded Doug Drabek for him the next season!)

A baseball lifer, Bill Robinson died in a hotel room in Las Vegas in 2007, where he was a hitting instructor for the Dodgers' minor-league team in that sleepy little burg.

His story us, of course, one of remarkable persistence. Maybe even a unique story. 

Could Estevan Florial do the same? I dunno. Probably not. But it's worth considering that some guys just take longer to figure it all out. Worth considering especially when your main alternatives are Willie Calhoun and Jake Bauers.

Signs of the Yankee apocalypse? Two comebacks, a walk-off, a foul to the gonads and The Squirrel

Now and then, the Matrix glitches, the juju gods get drunk, and you suddenly revisit childhood, back when the terrors of the world took a back seat to the Yankees. Yeah, there were germs, wars, race riots and communists, but fukkit - what mattered was Mickey, or Yogi, or Rickey, or Mariano, or even the Scott Proctors and Alvaro Espinosas, who were destined to disappear like Star Trek extras, vaporized before the first commercial break. 

Humanity was an offshoot of the Yankees, and as long as we won - or, at least, played - Armageddon would be postponed until tomorrow. 

Then, over the years, puberty reality intervened. We saw baseball halted for labor strive, riots and even a pandemic. We watched our gods become flawed men  and the Yankees become just another franchise. For nearly 15 years, they have come up short. Whatever magic once saved them, it's gone. 

Then something happens like last night. 

Okay, don't worry: I'm not going to wax drunkenly about the 2023 Yankees, who have a long way to go before making a flyspeck in Tampa's rearview mirror. But last night restored some of the lost luster of this troubled early season. It was the most joyous victory of the year. (Previously, that was last week's 9-8 win over the Rays, when we were down 6-0 with their ace, Shane McLanahan, on the mound.) Last night goes into the memory file because...

1. We twice came back from deficits that in recent years seemed insurmountable.

2. Aaron Judge's 9th inning, game-tying HR off Baltimore's closer. Increasingly, the world is realizing that Judge's 2022 was no fluke, and he is baseball's greatest slugger, and fuck off, Ohtani fans. 

3. A walk-off hit by struggling Anthony Volpe, shortly after a great play at SS. Maybe - just maybe - this is The One.

4. We got to enjoy Anthony Santander - a Yankee killer - fouling one off his nuts. Hah. Today, they'll be the size of grapefruits.

5. Speaking of nuts, the squirrel... 

More than a mere clip for Sportscenter, this once again reminds us of the vagaries of baseball humanity. Whatever hell is terrifying us lately - hurricanes, mass shootings, migrating hordes, Nazis, crackdowns on freedom - it doesn't matter to the real residents of 1 East 161st St. And it didn't mean squat to that squirrel. 

Last night, there were peanuts to be gathered, foods to be scrounged. To the wildlife, it's just home. But look at the faces on those fans. They just realized how lucky we all are to be visitors to the greatest show on earth - life, itself. 

Last night was a glorious one. Hey, juju gods, have another drink.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Yanks-O's game thread


Who are they?

With Hicks departed, the new Top 10 Yankee left-field rankings still look rather thin

Hey, Roy White -wherever you are - grab your mitt. Forget that you're 79. If you can still go to your left, you can crack the top eight.  

Current Yankee LF rankings. 

1. Jake Bauers
In a 1-for-19 slump, BA at .175, arrow pointing down 

2. Oswaldo Cabrera
Shows flashes, still struggling. Over last 7 games: .208

3. Greg Allen 
Role player, doesn't hit; hasn't been caught stealing since 2021 

4. Willie Calhoun
Hitting .182 in last 7 games, likely a goner when Giancarlo returns.

5. Estevan Florial
Crushing Scranton, .311 with 9 HRs, but blacklisted by Yank scouts

6. Giancarlo Stanton
ETA around June 9, Boston series? Will he play OF? (Let the big dog run!)

7. Franchie Cordero
Hot at Scranton, 12 for 59 (.357) but did ship leave port?

8. Jasson Dominguez
The Martian still below Mendoza (.197 for season) but .239 in May!

9. Elijah Dunham
Longshot, started hot at Scranton, struggling in May (.170)

10. Cole Calhoun
Hitting .302 at Scranton, age 35, career minors BA: .319. Majors BA: .243.

Honorable Mention: Somebody, somewhere (not the HBO series)
Impending contract bombs: 
Christian Yelich (5 years past peak, hitting .257 at Milwaukee) Jurickson Profar (now 30, hitting .255 at Colorado).

Anybody else notice that Clint Frazier - no longer "Jackson," and with a supposedly revamped swing - has been called up to the White Sox, just in time for Yankees home series June 6-8. Guy was hitting .357 (in 57 ABs) at Triple A. 

Listen: He ran into walls for us, broke bats with his bare hands, exuded confidence. Okay, so it didn't work out. I'll still always root for him. Old number 77! Go Red Thunder.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Current AYG-HABs?

After reading about DJ's woes I just want to take our collective temperature...

For those who don't know, the AYG-HAB stands for "Are You Glad He's At Bat?" It is a 1-10 scale with decimals.  1 = Hicksian. 5 = meh. 10 =  Thank G-d he's up.

So here's mine...

Gleyber  7.5 (Should be higher but he's a bad base runner so just because he gets on base doesn't mean he stays there.)

Judge  9.9

Rizzo  8.7

DJ       8.2

Bader  8.3

Volpe  7.7 (Because walks can become doubles.)

Higgy  3.7

Trevino  4.2

Cabrera  4.6 (Should be lower but he comes through sometimes. Plus, I just like him.)

Benny B.  (TBD)

IKF  4.8

Calhoun  5.3

Allen (TBD)

The best thing is that there is no one I dread. So there's that. 

DJ dismay?

 From Zachary A...

Anyone know what's going on with DJ LeMahieu?

2019 .327 BA
2020 .364 BA
2021 .268 BA
2022 .261 BA
2023 .252 BA

2019 13.7 K%
2020 9.7 K%
2021 13.8 K%
2022 13.1 K%
2023 27.2 K%

I feel like it's very bad when a mid-30s player doubles his strikeout rate in a single season.

LeMahieu is striking out more often than 2021-2022 Aaron Judge.

Hicks is gone. Now, how about Donaldson?

Any day now, any way now, Aaron Hicks shall be released. 

Technically, he'll be traded, probably for a pack of cigarettes, along with $30 million in movie money. Thus will end a long, grinding, self-imposed nightmare over misspent cash by an owner that shall never know one pang of financial distress. Critics say the TV show Succession is about Rupert Murdoch's deformed mutant family. I think it's about the Steinbrenners, but let's table that discussion for another day, not during a win streak.

And yes, it's truly sad to see Hicks - a longtime Yankee - leave. That said, our psychic pain was salved a bit Sunday when Greg Allen - a symbol of Yankee replacement theory - stole second and third, and scored the go-ahead run. Streaky and tweaky, Hicks never learned the art of coming off the bench. Career desperation is a good teacher. Maybe on his next team, he'll take it more to heart.

Meanwhile, on this day of solitude and contemplation, the Death Barge must ponder the impending reincarnation of Jackie Donaldson, which Walking Dead fans surely dread like the return of Negan. Seriously, does anyone look forward to this?

This will happen around the time that the human muscle strain, Giancarlo Stanton - aka Mr. Exit Velo - returns from the jacuzzi. The Yankees will probably DFA the adorable Willie Calhoun, a Kewpee doll next to Stanton. Donaldson's return could force the Yankees to demote Oswaldo Cabrera or waive Jack Bauers, tilting the team, like Iowa, to the far, far right. In the lineup, he would replace DJ LeMahieu, who is - frankly - a better hitter and third-baseman. And we would have almost no LH hitters. 

Barring an injury that creates a need, there is almost no upside to Donaldson's return. 

The Yankees owe him $27 million. I say, pay it. He's Mariah Carey. He's the Babadook. Let him go. Again, unless injuries open a hole, there is no reason to force Donaldson onto this roster. 

Sometimes, I get the feeling that Brian Cashman fears that a DFA'd veteran will rebound with another team and make him look bad. I get it. If there's anything worse than a bad acquisition, it's when the guy leaves and does well. Sonny Gray, for example. It makes the Yankees look like a toxic environment. Well, it didn't happen with Gary Sanchez, did it? And Minnesota can crow about Joey Gallo's month of April, but he's hitting .211, and the elevator arrow is pointing downward. Sometimes, guys have just reached their sell-by dates.   

If the Yankee clubhouse is an emotional minefield, maybe it's because of the abundance of overpaid veterans, not of hungry youngsters. Let Donaldson go. If he returns to form, hooray for him. At 3B, I'll still take LeMahieu, IKF and Oswaldo. I'll take the future. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."


Ripping a page from Doug K.'s book—and a quote from one of America's greatest writers—today we celebrate the Yankees' four-game, 1939 sweep of the Reds.  

As you can see, the program cover was a tribute to Lou Gehrig, already laid low by ALS early that season. Poor Lou watched from the dugout, but could do nothing more. 

It didn't much matter, at least on the ballfield. Many rank the 1939 Yankees—even with Babe Dahlgren taking Gehrig's place—as the greatest team ever assembled, and the Series was their fourth straight championship, and ran their streak of consecutive Series games wins to nine. They had polished off the Cubs in four straight the year before, and they would eventually beat Brooklyn in the 1941 opener, to run the streak to ten.

Still, that did not top their 1927-1928 and 1932 Series streak of 12 straight wins. That record remained until the 1996, 1998-2000 Yankees won 14 in a row—days we will never see again.

The 1939 Series was remembered mainly for a completely extraneous run in Game Four.

Going into the 9th inning, the Yanks were trailing, 4-2, when they used three singles and an Cincy error to tie the game, silencing the Porkopolis crowd. In the 10th, they surged ahead on a walk, another three Cincinnati errors, and three-run single by DiMaggio.

Joe D. singled to right field to drive in Frankie Crosetti from third, with the go-ahead run. When Reds' right fielder Ival Goodman fumbled the ball, Charlie "King Kong" Keller alertly raced home, plowing into receiver Ernie "Schnozz" Lombardi, just as the ball got there. Lombardi was quickly parted from both the ball and his senses—and seeing that, DiMaggio shot home "like an arrow," just getting a foot in to make it 7-4, before Schnozz could fully recover.  

You can see him scoring, below, and walking calmly away from the confusion. No hand signals necessary, no leaping up and down. 

Those Yankees were like a pack of wolves. At the least sign of vulnerability, they dragged you down and ripped your throat out, then calmly loped away.  

How I missed such teams!