Countdown to the end of 2023 Season

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.



JM said...

The worst thing you can say about a baseball team is that they're boring.

This team is boring. There are some exciting games, usually against tomato cans or Toronto, but that's about it.

Otherwise, we snore into the All-Star break.

Carl J. Weitz said...

I've said this several times but, I'll mention it again as a fix against the Yankees (and other sports teams and leagues): Either buy a reliable IPTV box or subscription service and never again be without the Bronx Embalmers. Or any team. Knowing you're screwing Hal like he's screwing his fans is a very nice feeling. Plus you'll get all premium channels, Pay-per view channels at no charge plus hundreds of local stations throughout America, foreign channels from about 20 countries, including Great Britain where you get all the BBC stations. Add in about 30-70 thousand movies and thousands of old TV shows on demand. Oh, it's also a great feeling when you cut the cord and only pay for internet versus $ 200-300+ per month with the cable giants. Too bad Abby Hoffman wasn't alive today. It makes his " Steal This Book" publication seem like child's play.

The Hammer of God said...

The Bronx Embalmers - Fabulous, Carl!

The Hammer of God said...

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, I love that book, one of my favorite novels. What a wry sense of humor by Wells.

Who can forget Mr. Bunting preparing to jump out the window with nothing but a rug wrapped around him? "He's a-comin' back!"; "Who's coming?"; "The 'Visible Man"; "Lock the doors, lock the windows, the 'Visible Man is coming"; "'Visible Man a comin', sir!"

And yeah, the guy's name really was Bunting, something that has gone out of favor in the modern game of baseball.

The Hammer of God said...

That's our book of the week. We should showcase a book every week.

The Invisible Man has some very serious themes, wrapped around its wry sense of humor.

"Alone - it is wonderful how little a man can do alone! To rob a little, to hurt a little and there is the end." Ch. 24

"To have worked for years, to have planned and plotted, and then to get some fumbling purblind idiot messing across your course! Every conceivable sort of silly creature that has ever been created has been sent to cross me." Ch. 23

"The more I thought it over, Kemp, the more I realized what a helpless absurdity an Invisible Man was...." Ch. 23

"[I]t is killing we must do, Kemp." "A Reign of Terror". Ch. 24

Some of the more memorable quotes from this great novelette. Sound familiar? The more things change, the more they stay the same! We've got the same insanity going on every day in America, and the rest of the world as well!

The Hammer of God said...

Mr. Cuss and Mr. Bunting running for their lives buck naked except for the rugs or lampshades they'd managed to dress themselves in. Was there any significance to Mr. Bunting being the Reverend Vicar? Vacating the premises and running for cover buck naked, was that H.G. Wells with an insight into the religious establishment? Could very well be. And the fact that the reverend was running behind "Cuss". Whether that meant anything or not, it was sure as hell funny.

The Hammer of God said...

As far as the game last night, wow, what a sleepy affair. No scoring 'til the 5th, and then the two run bomb by Juan Soto. I note that the Friars have Soto batting #3. And in that inning, the #9 hitter and #1 hitters both made out. Before the #2 hitter got hit by pitch, and then the Soto bomb. What a concept, get a guy on base before you hit a homer.

I mostly tuned in to the Mets game, the first half at least. Saw Franscisco Lindor light off a 1st inning two run bomb. The aforementioned Pete Alonso came up in a later inning with the bags jammed, but he struck out. Mets ended up winning.

The Hammer of God said...

I see that after I left to watch the Met game last night, there was a lively discussion of probabilities and whether power hitters should hit #2 or #3/4.

I certainly agree that the main problem is that this lineup absolutely sucks. No amount of tinkering will do much of anything to improve matters. When Judge and Rizzo are the only two hitters in the lineup, what the hell do you do?

There's really no one to hit in front of Judge. And there's really no one to hit in back of Judge. Hmmmm. Quandary here. What to do, what to do?

Well, there is nothing to do except talk about how moving Judge around in the lineup MIGHT make an INCREMENTAL difference. I mean, if Judge hit #3, it's not like they're going to score a torrent of runs. It probably makes a difference of maybe two wins a year with the guys they have.

If they had a real leadoff man, plus a good #2 hitter, and then Judge and Rizzo, then it would make a very big difference. But Cashman hasn't done anything of the sort in a decade, so that's that.

The Hammer of God said...

I get the idea that batting Judge #2 could result in an extra at-bat late in a game. But it doesn't happen every game. Nor does it happen every other game. Nor does it happen every three games. So far this year, it's happened a few times. That's it. A few times.

Last night, for example, the Friars were winning 4-1 when Judge lead off the 8th for the Yankees. In the 9th, Judge didn't even get an at bat. Because they have too many hitters who suck, the lineup never turned over again.

So last night, the strategy of hitting Judge in the #2 slot did absolutely nothing. And it happens a lot.

The Hammer of God said...

It might be helpful to take another look at the probabilities.

I took in the first half of the Met game yesterday, as noted. The first three Mets hitters had the following on base percentages: .387; .304; .362. So, even though Alonso was hitting #4, believe it or not, there was about a 73% chance of Alonso coming up in the first inning. In other words, the chance of someone (at least one guy) reaching base was 73%. How do you calculate that?

It's simple: you take the inverse of each batter's on base percentage to figure out the probability of that guy making out. Then you multiply the probabilities of making out, and you get .272. If you take the inverse of that (1-.272), then that equals the probability that at least one man reached base in front of Alonso. So a bunch of OBP's in the three hundreds turned into an OBP of 73% (as far as AT LEAST one man being on base).

HoraceClarke66 said...

It is true, Hammer, that the Yanks don't have a great lead-off man. Or a great anybody, after Judge and (maybe) Rizzo. The two fastest guys on the team seem to be Bader and Volpe, but Bader doesn't draw walks and Volpe doesn't get hits.

A sorry state we are in, my friends.

The Hammer of God said...

When I was around nine or ten years old, I noticed that the "cleanup" hitter often came up with someone on base in the 1st inning. It was not just imagination, as I learned later in school.

When you repeat an event over and over, the probability of a desired outcome happening AT LEAST ONCE during those collective events significantly increases.

If you toss a coin once, the probability of a "HEAD" is 1/2. Toss it twice, what is the probability of getting AT LEAST ONE head? It's 75%. Don't believe it? Just write out the possible combinations on a piece of paper. There are only four possible combinations. Heads comes up in three of the four possibilities. 3/4 is 75%.

Toss a coin three times, what is the probability of getting a "HEAD" AT LEAST ONCE? It's going to be 7/8, or a whopping 87.5%! Don't believe it? Just write out the possible combinations on a piece of paper. There are only eight possible outcomes. HEADS comes up in seven out of the eight.

If you roll a die once, the possibility of getting a SIX is 1/6, or only 17%. What is the possibility of getting AT LEAST one "six"? Here are the calculations: 5/6 X 5/6 = 25/36, take the inverse of that, and you get 11/36 or 31%. Don't believe it? Write out the possible combinations on a piece of paper. There are only 36 possible outcomes. Count how many have at least one "SIX". There will be 11 occurrences of AT LEAST one "SIX". 11 out of 36 is 31%.

So what does this have to do with baseball? Well, everything. If you have two guys with OBP of .350, then the chance of both making out is about 42% (.65X.65). Take the inverse of that (1-.42) and you get .58. There is a 58% chance that AT LEAST ONE man will be on base for the #3 hitter.

All this is assuming that certain other complications are not involved. For instance, there is the chance that the leadoff hitter hits a home run. Or the leadoff man can reach and then get erased on a double play ball by the #2 hitter. But the principle is correct. There is a significant difference between hitting #2 versus #3, and #3 versus #4.

The Hammer of God said...

AT LEAST ONE "SIX" in two rolls of the dice, I meant in the above

BTR999 said...

Watching the AB’s of IKF / Cabrera / Higashioka last inning suddenly filled me with anger. Such easy outs, as soft as a baby’s behind.

I better go do some yard work.

AboveAverage said...

Burying your hopes and dreams, b2r?

The Hammer of God said...

Hit the heavy bag for a few rounds, play a little boogie woogie on the piano. Don't let it get to you!

AboveAverage said...

Hammer - it’s been a full and busy week - lots going on. And the only thing that got to me were those two dropped balls at first that Rizzo fed perfectly to those two relievers. Same game an inning or two apart. And I just rolled my eyes, smiled and laughed it off.

At the end of the day, Baseball is entertainment. Some of us are more easily entertained than others and/or find our entertainment in different ways.

That’s why I’m looking forward to the batcams* currently being tested for use in 2024.

The Hammer of God said...

@ AA, Good man! What're those batcams for, watching girls undressing through those high rise windows? I kid, I kid! I use binoculars, myself.

The Hammer of God said...

@ Hoss, You're in top form today: "The customer had better sit down and buy whatever the hell we choose to sell him." & "the air seems to be leaving the Harrison Bader Experience...the Westchester Whammer" & "As for our pitching staff, well, I think the best that can be said of them is, their name is Legion."

Hilarious! Great stuff!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, Hammer! And AA, yes, baseball is entertainment.

The thing with other entertainments, though: after you see a bad, movie, or play, or read a bad book, at least no smarmy little millionaire appears to tell you that you expected too much.

ranger_lp said...

If you think we’re complaining about the Yankees, imagine the Padres fans with 3 1/2 superstars in the starting lineup and they are under .500 for the season…

ranger_lp said...

Yankees Win!!!

AboveAverage said...

They won!
And Boone didn’t get thrown out!
Double Yay!
(Yay! Yay!)

Publius said...

I Likf IKF

The Hammer of God said...

Is it just me, or did this one feel like when we were young and asked Daddy, whilst sitting in the fishing boat: "Dad, this one seems a bit small, should we throw it back?"

The Hammer of God said...

@ Hoss, You nailed it perfectly today, what prescience! (Did I spell that right? Don't quite look right.) You inquired when these .200 hitting bozos will ever bunt, and Master Bader did the trick! He almost killed the inning, but it worked.

Looking at it from the point of view of the Friars, I think their big mistake was giving DJ the free pass, which allowed Master Bader to get to work. I would've just pitched to DJ, and he probably makes out. And then Bader can't bunt. I guess they figured Bader wasn't going to bunt.

AboveAverage said...

Hammer 'o' Gee

My Daddy would respond: "Son, yes that's great thinking. And you're right. That fish is a bit on the small side. But sadly I believe that this little guy has suffered greatly from you catching it. In fact it looks to me that if you threw it back it would likely just suffer and die a very painful and horrible fishy death. But given its going to die anyway at this point, I'll let you decide what we should do with it."

The Hammer of God said...

Query to the Overlord of Major League Baseball: Is it possible to have the ghost runner for every inning, all nine innings, plus extra innings? Hell, why not have the bases loaded all nine innings, plus extra innings? Would that not be more entertaining?

AboveAverage said...

The overlord of mlb would happily implement your suggestions HammR only if the runners were required to run on every pitch.

The Hammer of God said...

One last poignant excerpt from The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, at Chapter 22:

'... [A]nd so I came round to the windy hillside and the sniffing old clergyman mumbling, "Dust to dust, earth to earth", and my father's open grave.

'"You also," said a voice, and suddenly I was being forced towards the grave, I struggled, shouted, appealed to the mourners, but they continued stonily following the service; the old clergyman, too, never faltered droning and sniffing through the ritual. I realized I was invisible and inaudible, that overwhelming forces had their grip on me. I struggled in vain, I was forced upon the brink, the coffin rang hollow as I fell upon it, and the gravel came flying after me in spadefuls. Nobody heeded me, nobody was aware of me. I made convulsive struggles and awoke.'

Seems to me that passage contains much to think about. In his strange dream, the Invisible Man is not only invisible, but also inaudible. A ghost? Dead? Irrelevant? Necrophilic? A theatre of the absurd. Alienation? Powerlessness? Lots of different angles to view this book.

A classic, in my opinion. A short novel, it can be read in a couple of sittings.

JM said...

Great book. Good movie (the one with Claude Rains).

I can't believe they won.

The Hammer of God said...

Mr. Bunting made his narrow escape!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Great ideas, Hammer and AA. This gets back to my idea for "Home Rules" baseball: the home team has the option of choosing what set of rules the two teams will play under, going back all the way through every known game of baseball. Let chaos and confusion reign!

AboveAverage said...

You know Hoss the Invisible Man post was inspired and fun.

Awesome job keeping things fresh and engaging here.

Glad to be a participant in this passionate lunacy:)

edb said...

Back of the Baseball Card. Bader is a lifetimeFive point to go.