Saturday, September 30, 2023

To learn what went wrong in 2023, Hal Steinbrenner has commissioned an outside auditor. Why wait? Here are the 10 future conclusions.

The Yankee Triple Crown battle continues
Hard to believe 2023 is cooked. Seems like yesterday that New York's Gammonitic scions of scripture were rejoicing over the looming Yankees-Mets world series. 

Crazy times, back in March. The House GOP was learning the joy of pissing on McCarthy, DeSantis was discovering the taste of his feet, and Hunter Biden! Hunter Biden! Hunter Biden! Now, here we are - as expected - with Carlos Rodon and Frankie Montas anchoring the rotation, Estevan Florial in CF and Oswald Peraza at 3B. 

A can of tomatoes with a pitching staff of one, and an owner so clueless that he's commissioned an "outside auditor" to count paperclips and suggest changes. 

Yes, it's the famous, old school "outside auditor" strategy of denying corporate incompetence. Pay some Harvard bean-counters to investigate what happened and - wait, oo-oo, jumpin' Jehovisat! I got a idea! A plan! That's what we need! Let's plan to come up with a plan!

Here's  writer Bob Klapisch - the pride of Leonia, NJ - who has been covering the Yankees since 1983... 

[T]he investigation will begin in early October, although interestingly, the company conducting the audit will not recommend personnel changes. The analysis will instead focus on process and how the Yankees compare to other clubs.

I can save the Yankees, YES, the Klap and the Yankiverse a shit-ton of time and money. Here are the audit's future findings. 

1. Golly, after everything that happened, the Yankees just missed a wild card berth.

2. The front office performed valiantly in the face of bad luck.

3. If not for pesky injuries, the team would have won.

4. The real problem is people: They just don't appreciate how hard it is to reach the playoffs year after year. 

5. Frankly, Yankee fans should thank the ownership for his devotion to the city. He could move to another town, where nobody would ever complain.

6. If the Yankees fired Brian Cashman, he'd be quickly snatched up by another franchise, which would be headed toward greatness.

7. Considering the Yankee youth movement, this team looks to be on a path to the 2024 world series.

8. The Yankees don't get out their message well enough. Particularly, the YES announcers and the radio voices - they just harp on about wins and losses. Let's ask these Negative Nellies to provide some good news for a change! 

9. Aaron Boone is a national treasure. That HR he hit against Boston - show it more often.

10. (NOTE: THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT) The auditors have detected one voice within the Yankiverse who has consistently and correctly predicted problems. He writes for an obscure fan web site, and he calls himself "Alphonso." We don't know what he knows, but it is far above anything we can discern. Whoever he is, he should be snatched up and given an office at the Stadium, before Boston or Tampa gets him. 

Friday, September 29, 2023

Things we will be hearing over the next six months.


Things we are likely to hear about the Yankees up to the start of spring training:

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Aaron Judge for the entire year.

The Yankees understand that they have to do more to fill holes during this off-season.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Carlos Rodon for the entire year.

D.J. LeMahieu solved his injury problems in the second half, and the Yankees expect him to look like his old self in 2024.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Anthony Rizzo for the entire year.

Giancarlo Stanton has found a new fitness regime and the Yankees expect him to look like his old self in 2024.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Nestor Cortes for the entire year.

The Yankees are serious about trying to sign free agent Cody Bellinger.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Luis Severino for the entire year.

The Yankees are serious about trying to sign free agent Shohei Ohtani.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Harrison Bader  for the entire year.

Jasson Dominguez's recovery is coming along ahead of schedule.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Josh Donaldson for the entire year.

Jose Trevino should be ready to go at the start of spring training.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Frankie Montas  for the entire year.

Look for a breakout year from Gleyber Torres.

2023 would've been a whole different season with a healthy Aaron Hicks for the entire year.

The Yankees are committed to winning.



We should write about the Yankees the way rock critics do about singers


This caught my eye from New York Magazine. It's a review of Olivia Rodrigo's new album, Guts. This is how we need to cover the Yankees. 

"Rodrigo is living in a gilded panopticon where her every move arouses emotion in viewers she may never meet, and the images cultivated by celebrities like her are used to judge everyday people who can't access the same resources. Guts is saying fuck it."

I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly.

In fact, Aaron Boone is too often lost in his personal freeform zeitgeist, where not even a positive Judgeian edict can necessarily overwhelm the YES-based fan ethos that threatens to devour him, whole and unflinchingly, into its cacophony of NO.  

As the Season from Hell concludes, Aroldis Chapman can still bring a smile to Yank fans

O, dear. Sorry about your vase. Please forgive my outburst. It was inexcusable. I don't know what came over me. I'm so, so, sorHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA, no, really, I just, didja hear about last night? it was, I meanHAHAHHAHAAHAHA...

Again. Excuse me. I jusHAHAHAAHA... 

Okay. Now, we'll start. Serious now. It was - mmff... umm... ughhHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

(Half-hour later, ketamine kicking in) Okay, where were we? Ah, yes, last night... 

So, Texas leads Seattle, 2-1, entering the ninth. 

The Rangers bring in star closer, the great El Chapo, aka the Water Cannon, the Human Sweat Machine, the Glistening Tattoo, The Visor Waterfall... Smiley... Chappy... Aroldis Chapman, the Man of Chap!

The man who quit on us last year, right about now...

Leading off for Seattle, catcher Cal Raleigh. Fastball, inside, ball one. Next pitch is grooved, and Raleigh singles to left. One on.

Next, Dylan Moore, hitting .210. Fastball, down the middle. Strike one. Splitter, which he singles to left. Two on, no outs.

Here comes 1B Ty France. Wild pitch in the dirt. (El Chapo's signature move.) Runners on second and third. Fastball, low and inside, ball two. High and away, ball three. Low and inside, ball four. Bases loaded, no outs.

At this point, the state of Texas, the island of Cuba, and the Rangers brain trust have seen enough. (They learned from Boonie's mistakes?) They bring in somebody named Jonathan Hernandez (ERA 5.58.) Too late. Guy gives up a walk-off double, and Seattle parties on the field, courtesy of Cheshire Chappy.

Listen: To live a happy life , you must learn to enjoy the little things. The smell of cleaning products in an elevator. The first bite of droopy pizza. Software that works the first time you install it. 

The Yankees won't make the playoffs. These last three games against KC are a joke. I hope we lose them all. It's been a terrible season, but as the Boss once sang, "Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny." It's almost over. The Yankees can't hurt us anymore. And, who knows, maybe we'll get to watch El Chapo in the playoffs! 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

How is that possible???

Your 2023 New York Yankees may never have dreamed the impossible dream. But last night, they played the impossible game—at least according to the Yankees' front office.

Somehow, Gerrit Cole—a man I've long derided as "Flouncy," I will admit—pitched a two-hit, complete game shutout against a likely playoff team, the fearsome Toronto Blue Jays.

How is that possible???

As it happens, Cole threw just 105 pitches...and struck out just five BJs.

Again, I is that possible?

Everyone but everyone in MLB knows that the only way pitchers have success is by throwing incredible, 100-mph, arm torquing, elbow-twisting heat on every single pitch, striking out or walking nearly every batter until they are absolutely fried at the end of five innings—and ready for another TJ every 2-3 years.

Could it possibly be that Cole pitched to contact, getting Toronto's bloated, buffoonish blowhards to hit the ball to Yankee fielders???

Lest you be worried that the globe has gone off its axis, most of the rest of the Yankees played the same way they have all year.

Their lineup—which included three "hitters" batting under .200, four under .210, and five under .215—produced the standard 13 strikeouts.

The one exception?

That Judge fella—the one man who said to the Yankees' crack(ed) crew of trainers and coaches, "Uh, no thanks, I'll do it my way"—and has put together some incredible feats of hitting ever since.

Yesterday, The Judge not only hit two, two-run homers, but also got a key walk that helped along another rally.

But again...

How is that possible???

Everyone knows that you have to pay rapt attention to the Yankees' coaches telling you to swing for the fences on every pitch, until you hear that certain something pop in your elbow.

(Incidentally, while I know it's a small sample size on one side, here is the comparison of Giancarlo and Florial, The One Man Who Struck Out Too Much Even for the Yankees:  

Florial: 15 games, .250/.351/.354/.705, 15 Ks, or 1/game.

Stanton: 100 games, 100 games, .191/.275/.420/.695, 121 Ks, or 1.21/game. 

Plus, Florial can still run and play the field.)

No, there is absolutely no way that last night's game was possible. It didn't happen. Strike it from your mind—it's a chimera, a hallucination caused by swamp gas, or the Northern Lights. 

It's simply not possible.

Gerrit Cole for Cy Young? It's not even close. But the Devil owns us.

Okay, so it's back in mid-March, you're sitting at the Dali Museum in Saint Pete, and Mephistopheles himself drives up from Sarasota with an offer:  

We'll get two 3-HR days from Judge, a perfecto from German, nearly 160 games from Volpe, and a Cy Young for Cole. Wanna piece of that action? 

You say, "Count me in, Scratchy," and you're thinking, how bad can it be? At the worst, the Yankees will skate in on a wild card, and from there, who knows? 

For fun, the Devil throws in that Cole's closest runner-up will be Sonny Gray - our Sonny Gray, all 50 shades, who has been nothing but an ace since Cooperstown Cashman dealt him for the immortal Shed Long Jr. (A trade that grows in misery stature each year.)

Only then do you begin to realize the enormity of the '23 Yankees' collapse. How we sought to solve our lefty hitting issues with Franchy Cordero and Willie Calhoun. How Oswaldo Cabrera became, statistically, baseball's worst hitter. How Aaron Hicks, Setback Sevy and Josh Donaldson set new levels on the Danny Tartabull Scale of Yankee Horror. And how their best hope - Jasson Dominguez - blew out his elbow for - well - for NOTHING, DAMMOT! IT WAS A WIPEOUT, A COMPLETE TILT, AN ORGANIZATION SO POORLY RUN THAT IT BELONGS IN RECEIVERSHIP, TO BE MANAGED BY TAX CHEAT ACCOUNTANTS AND POOL BOYS, A FRANCHISE SO CHOKED ON ITS OWN HUBRIS THAT IT MUST HIRE AN OUTSIDE AUDITOR JUST TO BE TOLD HOW UTTERLY CLUELESS IT IS!  

There. Sorry about that. I feel much better now. It's just that, I get up in the morning and diddle around on the interweb, and there it is - staring at me like Mike Pence with a fly on his forehead - the totality of our failure. I want to throw things. I want to scream. So, what do I do? Sadly, I lash out at you - you, who have done nothing wrong, who are blameless and also in pain. For that, I'm so sorry. Maybe, in a Twilight Zone episode sorta way, I deserve these Yankees...

So... getting my bearings now, the Babadook is gone... wouldn't it be sweet to hang one more ass-kicking on hateful Toronto, just to rattle their cage with an empty bottle of Labatts? That could put them into a tie with Houston and force them to sweat the final weekend. Unfortunately, the last wild card spot is a toss-up between the Jays, Astros and Seattle - and don't ask me to like any of them. (Or Tampa, which has clinched a berth.) They all loathe us, as a fundamental piece of their identity. Might as well root for Baltimore, which at least hates us rightfully, considering how we tortured them for the last decade. Now, they're going to return the favor.

Here you go, Toronto: Suck on it. This broom's for you. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

And so it begins.

Asked the other day about the Yankees' performance in 2023—with a not-so-subtly veiled subtext as to whether he himself should be back in 2024—Ma Boone told an interviewer:

"Well, I just don't think you can discount the injuries."


This is what we are going to hear for the next six months. It's the all-purpose, dual action, rear suspension excuse:

"I just don't think you can discount the injuries."

It's the perfect way of saying, "We're not making excuses—but we are."

It serves to both excuse the Yankees for this awful, dreary season AND to excuse yet another off-season of penny-pinching inaction (accompanied by significant price increases!).

You can't discount the injuries.

Hey, that's not altogether false. The Yanks sure did have injuries this season, and that kept them from being what they looked to be at the start of the 2023 season: yet another team that would make the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, and then most likely be eliminated in the first or second round. Or, joy of joys, be humiliated in another, ALCS sweep.

Whole lotta discounts here. For instance:

—You can't discount the fact that all major-league teams today have injuries. The smart ones have stockpiled talent and can fill in players who are nearly as good.

—You can't discount the fact that, year after year, the Yankees ALWAYS have more injuries than anybody else, and that their guys never get better, and that that fact seems somehow, just maybe possibly perhaps, related to their abominable training and coaching methods.

—You can't discount the fact that the Yankees going into this year, as with most years, were an old and unathletic team just waiting to break down.

—You can't discount the fact that injuries or no, this Yankees team didn't have enough pitching, the ultimate key to all success and failure in baseball.

—You can't discount the fact that our manager, for all his yelling at the umps, made constant, bad field decisions, and said nothing about how often this team seemed to be mailing in yet another game.

Nope, no discounts allowed. And once again, our sad stooge of a manager toes the company line, play the company man.

Asked about this on SNY, Pravda reporter Anthony McCarron went right along and agreed that Boonie should be back. Only the network's young turk, John Jastrzemski, was having none of it, insisting that he should go.

"It's past time somebody on the Yankees should be held accountable! They haven't won in 14 years!"



"The Yankees were too injured. They were too old. They were too unathletic. They couldn’t hit, and they couldn’t adjust their lineup.." The Athletic performs an autopsy.

It's too depressing, it offers little hope, and it requires a subscription (which is worth it)...  

But it signals the start of the Fall Obituary League, where every Yankee fan in captivity will devote 5,000 words to what went wrong. (Together, at IT IS HIGH, we'll generate 5 million words.) Fun reading, if you're fishing under the sink for a Clorox cocktail. It'll worsen, as the astonishing depth of this sinkhole becomes more apparent. 

Friedrich Nietzsche said that when you stare into the Abyss, the Abyss stares back. Get used to it. Throughout this oncoming wave of autopsies, one conclusion will continually surface... 

This victim has been dead for a long time. 

I believe the Yankees started flatlining in spring of 2021, when a dearth of LH bats begat the disastrous trade for Joey Gallo. Then, last winter, we sank into a coma, after Prince Hal signed Creaky Carlos Rodon, declared that the Yankees were not done! and then brought in - gulp - Franchy Cordero. 

It's been a long, brutal journey to Tomato Can. To resurrect this barge will require a lot of time and money from an owner who, at his core, seems to prefer doing something, anything, else. Change happens quickly in modern sports, but the Mets and Redsocks seem to learn from their mistakes, while the Yankees stride deeper into the quicksand. We might be watching this shit show for three to five years. We might be in so deep that the next GM - whomever it is, assuming there is a change - can't pull us out. We could be entering one of the worst downturns in Yankee history, signaling the end of democracy and the fall of civilization, and that's just me being optimistic. 

How bad is it? Let's ponder one of our biggest reasons for hope - The Martian, Jasson Dominguez. We want him to be the Next Big Thing, and maybe he will be. Hey, you never know. Here are his 2023 credentials: 

At Double A Somerset, at age 20, he hit .254 with 15 HRs and 37 stolen bases. He moved up to Scranton, went 13 for 31 (.419 - small sample), then played 8 games for the Yankees, hitting .258 with 4 HRs. Sadly, as you know, he wrecked his elbow and will be out until mid-summer. It's not clear if he would be ready to join the team or spend most of next year in Scranton. It could be a wipeout season.

This happened while the Yankee hype machine ran at full bore, making Dominguez, at least in early September, one of the most famous 20-year-olds on the planet. Taylor Swift might be taken, but there are plenty of Kardashians and Hadids out there, waiting to land the next Mick. 

Now, close your eyes and ponder what our opposition has coming.

Junior Caminero, SS-3B, age 20, Rays

He started this year at High A: .356 with 11 HRs. They bumped him to Double A: .309 with 20 HRs. For the year: .324 with 31 HRs. He's MLB's 6th ranked prospect.

Tampa can flip Wander Franco for multiple prospects and float this guy into the infield without missing a beat. 

Jackson Holliday, SS/2B, age 19, Orioles  

He started at Single A (.396), moved to High A (.314), then to Double A (.338) and then Triple A (.267). For the year, .323 with 12 HRs and 24 stolen bases. He draws walks. He's the consensus Number 1 prospect in baseball. 

Brooks Robinson is dead - (RIP, Sir)- but Baltimore could have an all-star infield for the next five years. Listen, we got nuthin compared to these two, and Boston has a Top 5 farm system. Damn the autopsy. The Abyss is watching back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Mr. Steinbrenner, take a hard glimpse into your future


Not many bodies out there yesterday. The announced crowd was 41,096 - yep - and I'm the Easter Bunny.

Of course, your Yankees can spin this photo. After all, this was a makeup game. It was supposed to be played Saturday. It was supposed to feature an Aaron Judge Bobblehead. It was supposed to be a team that would play in the postseason.

You can make this look less dire. It was a rainy day. Covid is surging. The writers' strike was over. Taylor Swift has a boyfriend. Who goes to a game when Tay is hooking-up? 

Mr. Steinbrenner, this is your day, your crowd, your legacy. 

You sold ad space on the Yankee jersey. 

You squandered career years, back to back, by Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole. 

Your team couldn't stay in contention through the final homestand.

Your farm system is sputtering, and you're so paralyzed by bad contracts - bad decisions - that you'll hire a firm to do a "winter audit" of the Yankees. 

WTF? A "winter audit?" Are you kidding? You think somebody's stealing nickel bottle deposits? Will you cut laundry costs? Paper clips? 

Here's an audit: You came in fucking fourth in the AL East. You might finish above .500. To sell tickets in September, you rushed your best prospect to the majors, and now he's hurt. 

Take a long hard look at this photo. You think you're invulnerable, that the Yankee brand can never crumble, that you can sit down in Tampa, owning a piece of New York City that can never be diminished. 

Well, this is your doing. This is how it ended. This is your 2023 Yankees.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Three games left against the hateful, odious Blue Jays. In the name of Love, let's beat them.

One of the consequences of publicly loathing someone is that they might return the favor. 

This week - aside from padding personal stats, and the unyielding glory of representing Starr Insurance - the Yankees have little reason to give a flying shit about much of anything. They'll miss the '23 postseason and go down in the fiery furnace of flameout failures as a team that squandered a Cy Young winner, that chewed its young talent into bits, and that went months without even one LH hitting threat... in Yankee Stadium, no less. Yolanda Vega, pulling ping pong balls out of a leaf blower, couldn't have designed a worse Yankee roster. It's almost over, thank God. Sooner the better. Calgon Beauty Beads, take me away!

In a normal late-September-and-out-of-it delirium, we'd forfeit the final seven games and play for the higher draft pick, whether it exists or not. If there is a shred of honesty within this team, it should finish below .500. It deserves no better. The front office deserves no better. The owner deserves no better. Frankly, I spent last week rooting for Ophelia. The Weather Channel deserved better.

But sadly, there remains a tongue-flick of unfinished venom - three games against Toronto, a team built with the bricks and mortar of tenacious Yankee hatred. 

It's led by Vladimir "I'll Never Play for the Yankees!" Guerrero Jr. , who - spoiler alert - will play for us when he is 41 and hitting .144, because, hey, don't they all? 

There is Bo Bichette, who watched his brother Dante Jr. - a former Yankee first round pick - rot on the vine in the Death Barge's farm system. We drafted the wrong Bichette, and this one has done nothing but torture us. Apparently, it runs in the family.  

There is Mean Chad Green, who we jettisoned last year, and who has every legitimate reason to hate us, though he probably doesn't, because unlike the Yankees, he has class. He should be Serene Chad Green. 

There is their bench coach, Don Mattingly, who is too righteous a person to sustain hatred, though in pure moments, he surely knows he is - and always has been - the rightful manager of the Yankees. So why, why, why did the Yankees fail to see this? The guy retired from playing 28 years ago. He was managerial material then. How did the Yankees manage over overlook him for nearly 30 years?  

Today, against the Diamondbacks - (a permanent IT IS HIGH shit-list Security Council member, by the way) - we are said to be throwing Clarke Schmidt, the number two starter. This is stupid. Give Schmidt an extra day of rest, and start him against Toronto, along with Gerrit Cole and Michael Kay, our best three. And then, exhaust the bullpen, whatever's left of it, against these miserable Canadians. Our final three games are in Kansas City, and if anyone out there can think of one reason in this world to care about them - (the George Brett Revenge Ship sailed long ago) - you are an angrier fan than I.  

This week, the Yankees need to beat the Blue Jays - proving once and for all that the power of love shall always defeat hatred. (And, on that note - really, couldn't we muster anybody cool enough to date Taylor Swift? Used to be, we had Joe D. Now, what? Higgy?) 

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.