Thursday, April 18, 2024

Remembering Sterling: A-Rod scores a hug

 


DJ LeMahieu is entering rehab, soon to return; that sets up a wave of scenarios.

According to the Internet, DJ LeMahieu - aka, "He of the Barking Metatarsal" - will soon enter a rehab assignment at Double A Somerset, (which always sounds more pleasant than saying Bridgewater, N.J.)

For the last two years, LeMahieu has been a one-footed warrior, unable to regain his batting stroke of the Covid season, when he hit a league-leading .364. That's nearly 100 points higher than any year since. 

Last season was DJ's worst in 13 years. He hit .243 with banjo power, blighted by a toe that attracts fouls like camera lenses to a Kardashian. He'll turn 36 in July, and he'll be a Yankee through 38. From all accounts, he's like a player-coach, a solid citizen of Gotham who can play any infield slot. That flexibility has always been his greatest asset. 

This year, however, LeMahieu has been projected by the Yankee Dark A.I. as a fulltime 3B, replacing The Beastmaster, Whose Name Shalt Ne're Be Spake. But as his return nears, maybe the Yankees should still view DJ as a jack of all trades, rather than Brooks Robinson. 

The key here is Oswaldo Cabrera, the most pleasant surprise of 2024. Thus far. Oswaldo is hitting 98 points above last year's .211. Thus far. He's been the team's second best lefty bat. Thus far. It's too early to declare him our Cinderella, or even our Travolta, but he's 25 and smart enough to see that changes needed to happen after last year's disaster. Last night, Oswaldo made a great defensive play to keep the game within reach. He's done fine. Thus far.  

So, let's say LeMahieu returns from Bridgewater around May 1. What happens next? Some scenarios:

1. DJ takes over at 3B and Oswaldo disappears, transformed into Boone's 25th man. Right now, that's Kevin Smith and/or Jahmai Jones, neither of which see much playing time.

2. DJ platoons with Oswaldo at 3B, which means sitting out most games. (Note: If his foot hurts, extra rest might suit him.) 

3. He takes the bulk of games at 3B, freeing Oswaldo to platoon with Gleyber Torres, who has been crapping the bed. Thus far. 

4. DJ moves to 2B - (his best position, he's a former Gold Glove) -benching Gleyber until he screws his head on straightly. Oswaldo stays at 3B, where he's doing well. Thus far. 

5. DJ platoons with Anthony Rizzo at 1B, whose slow start (and uncharacteristically flighty defense) has prompted the beginnings of concern. Oswaldo and Gleyber stay put. 

Whatever happens, LeMahieu will bring flexibility - always a good thing. He can play anywhere, as can Oswaldo. Could it be a waste to have them share 3B? Also, by May 1, somebody will probably tweak a gonad, making these scenarios moot. Nobody can stay healthy. Thus far.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Remembering Sterling: Honey Bun

 


A call to action in a time of grief


Erik Kopp, a man unafraid to attach his name (or his brother's) to a cause, writes: 

As a long time daily readers of the blogspot, I'd like to share with you an email I received from my brother, Paul Kopp, earlier today: 

Here are some of the arguments I've read about why Sterling hasn't received the Ford Frick Award 

1. Not really known to the National Audience. This is crap. Boston's Joe Castiglione is getting the award this season. He basically has the same number of years in that Sterling does. Other "locals" that have gotten the award recently are KCs Denny Mathews (who is boring), the Rangers' Eric Nadel and Chicago's Pat Hughes. None of them, to my knowledge have ever done any national games. 

2. Too quirky. Has anyone ever heard of Harry Caray, Hawk Harrelson or Bob Prince? 

The Hall has given this award to Dick Enberg (a great broadcaster but hardly known for baseball), regional favorites (Oakland's Bill King, Seattle's Dave Niehaus).  It is a total sham that Sterling gets snubbed year after year. Next year a local or national broadcaster will get the award. Honor the man while he is still alive! His consecutive game streak in an era when teams have a dozen or more broadcasters is something to behold. 

Let's start a campaign to get John Sterling the Frick Award!

Sterling Remembered: The Comedy Team


 

1976 (WMCA)-John Sterling Interviews Mel Allen (World Series Pregame)

Commenter emeritus Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside kindly shares this:

Remembering Sterling: The Philosophy of One Game

 


Suddenly, the air seems to have been let out of the 2024 Yankees

For the first three weeks, everything glowed with hope.

If the Yanks fell behind, nobody panicked. The lineup grinded out walks, wore down opposing pitchers, put balls into play. Our starters battled into the 5th - the modern bar for success - and the bullpen held the barricades. Judge & Giancarlo were swinging, Rodon and Nestor were looking nasty, and John & Suzyn were back for another summer, as God intended, and the days were growing longer.

Remember how it used to be, last week? 

Well, we should have known better. You don't just let down your guard, but, hey - that's baseball, Suzyn. You tell yourself it's only April, but deep down inside, every night is Game Seven. We wanted to believe that Juan Soto was a transitional supernova, a talesman whose mere presence elevated all others, and the magic would extend throughout the order. What fools. Then, again...

Best record in baseball through the first 15... 

A start that conjured memories of 1961, 1998, 2009...

A generational slugger in RF, where Reggie once roamed, and maybe even a future great Yankee in the footpaths of Jeter...

So convincing, so solid... last week. 

Now, three straight losses, tied in the loss column with ascending Baltimore, and facing a sweep in Toronto, the Yankee-Hate Capital of the World. 

Meanwhile, Suzyn Waldman occupies an unending "magilla," abandoned to Justin Shackil and Emmanual Berbari, filing Clubhouse Reports that suddenly seem inconsequential, while the team and city await Saturday's John Sterling farewell, likely to be one of the most emotional events in modern Yankee history.

What do you say to the departing Voice of the Yankees? Only one answer comes to mind:

"Not today." 

Listen: I have no inside knowledge of Sterling's health. He insists that he's fine and simply wants to enjoy life. At 86, he certainly has earned the right to such a decision. But in my experience, when someone - who has worked for the last half century without missing a day - suddenly calls it quits, something bad has happened. I've had the luck to know a few such people. Shortly after they stopped working, they stopped living. Not saying this will happen with John. I sincerely hope he celebrates his 100th birthday (on July 4, 2038) at home plate in Yankee Stadium, and wherever I am - in an fogy home eating creamed corn, no doubt - I will watch on TV. But this farewell must come with great gravity and concern. Yesterday, I was sure Sterling would rise again. That was my heart talking. Today, not so sure. 

Someday, the Yankees must decide who shall replace Sterling. I don't envy Shakil and Berbari, both of whom have inherited an impossible task. It will take three seasons just to find a candidate, and nothing will happen until after Suzyn has retired. For a long, long time - surely longer than I have - "the Voice of the Yankees" will remain the one and only John Sterling. 

It's the end of an era, folks. And right now, it looks like the magical glories of April have ended, as well. 

April 4, 1989-Yankees vs. Twins (John Sterling's First Yankee Broadcast)

Commenter Emeritus Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside kindly shared this:

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Sterling Remembered: Calling in Pain

 


Remembering Sterling: The Amazing Human Being

 


Remembering Sterling: "You can't make this stuff up. You cannot make this stuff up."

 


Remembering Sterling: The "A Bomb"


 

The last warble

A Different Kind of Loss

Here's the thing... it's not just that they need to find a replacement to do the play by play, they will, and on some level the broadcasts will be, while not necessarily better, or more entertaining, certainly more informative. 

But, John's retirement means another kind of loss, one that's been taking place for years now, the loss of imitable, unique sounding voices. 

The broadcast booth lends itself to storytellers. People whose cadence and phrasing take the listening experience to another level.  Instantly identifiable, often anchoring us to a time and a place.

And with that comes fertile ground for comedians and impressionists.

Billy Crystal's Cosell, John Caponera's Harry Caray, Harry Shearer's Vin Scully... 

And who among us hasn't said, "Need Money? Hi, I'm Phil Rizzuto for the Money Store." at least once?

The current crop of potential replacements, and indeed the current crop of play by play broadcasters around the dial, (Do they still have dials?) seem as if they were manufactured at the same plant.  

No disrespect, but I can't imagine some junior high school kid sitting at home working on his Justin Shakil or Jeff Nelson. Both fine broadcasters BTW.  

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe this next crop will grow into it, find their uniqueness, land those catch phrases.  

I mean, "You know Suzyn, you can't predict calling baseball games." At least I hope so.


  

Fun exits, stage left

This might sound a little weird, but Sterling's retirement has hit me a lot like my father's death did.


Dad and sis in goofier days
Maybe because both of them brought some fun into my life. My dad, for all his faults--including a long battle with low-level (and worse) depression (hey, thanks for the genetics!)--was fun. He's the one who tuned into the polka program on the radio every Sunday and danced while making dinner, who followed my mom into the pantry and made her giggle, who spontaneously broke into a quick refrain of "Will You Love Me in December As You Do in May" or "Poinciana, Is That Your Nose or a Banana."

After I moved away to the big city, he was the one who insisted on getting a real Christmas tree for my holiday visit, even if it was only for a few days (I think he got it as much for himself, too.) And it was Dad who stood at the kitchen counter at Christmastime, making a ham sandwich and singing along with "The Carol of the Bells" on the stereo. "Christmas is here, let's have a beer..." 

I can mark the sudden disappearance of fun in our family to December 7, 1999, the day he died. I think for him, that had happened several years earlier, when his younger brother (and beer drinking partner) died suddenly. It's like a vacuum sucking a certain kind of goofy joy and delight out of the familial universe.

Sterling being Sterling
Yesterday I got a similar feeling. The Master, gone. Never to call another game. No more goofy comments, silly songs, and just plain good times packaged in a voice and cadence that was fun in and of itself. Much like my father's could be a lot of times.

Of course, Sterling is not my father (at least, my mother never owned up to it). The impact of losing Dad has been understandably greater that losing John's play-by-play and everything that went with it.

But the loss is still similar. A welcome dollop of fun and good times, gone and never to return.

For years, I've thought that getting older is basically a battle against losing fun. Legions of deaths, aches and pains, heartache, regrets and illness don't make it easy. Thank God my wife and I have staunchly remained idiots and wackadoodles all these years.

I guess now we'll just have to ratchet it up a notch.

Yesterday, the Yaniverse shuddered. It will never be the same.


I'm not buying yesterday's announcement. No way.

John Sterling's "retirement?" I refuse to accept it. Let's call it "a leave of absence," maybe? An "extended vacation," perhaps. Maybe "semiretirement." 

I cannot accept that it's over. 

Seriously. Can there be a Yankiverse without win warbles, without home run calls? 

No, that doesn't compute. Are they saying we'll never know the HR call for Spencer Jones? Or Caleb Durbin? Or half the present Orioles lineup? No. I'm not accepting this.

Are you telling me I'll never again hear another"... And I thank you, Suzyn..." Not another "thuhhhhh pitch..." or one more "low and outside, but he called it a strike..."

Never again, an "IT IS HIGH, IT IS FAR..." Never again, an admonition about predicting baseball? Or the assurance that tonight's horrible defeat shall only last until tomorrow, when the pitchers are new? 

Are they claiming that, never again will I go to bed after a tough Yankee loss, knowing that I'm not alone in feeling the anguish? Because John was there. 

No, I will not buy this. 

There have always been critics, people who feel Yank fans don't deserve a home team-leaning announcer, that a big city broadcaster should be coldly impartial - and that, because of dynasties that occurred long before we were born, that the Yankees have simply won enough. Many of these folks pinpointed their hatred of the Yankees onto Sterling. 

I cannot predict tomorrow's game - it's impossible, it cannot be done - but I predict Sterling's critics will miss him heartily. They must find a new excuse. 

But I don't believe this. 

Are they saying that I will never again drive through a stormy night, windshield wipers blasting, but feeling safe because John and Suzyn are guiding me home?

Are they saying I will never again sit on my back porch, fuming because a home run ball that was so high and so far... and it turned out to be caught?

What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?

Nope. I hereby call upon whatever Powers That Be - management, juju gods, or the entire fan base - to reject yesterday's spurious announcement. 

We can't predict baseball. But it's a long season, and I believe John Sterling will return. Honestly, I have no choice...

Monday, April 15, 2024

Look what ranger_lp found

2003 ALCS Game 7, Complete WCBS Broadcast, John Sterling & Charley Steiner


 

 


The Crossroad


So if John Sterling announces his retirement on Friday, what do we do?

He is the reason we are here.  We began because he miscalled plays on the radio ( e.g. ..." it is high, it is far, it is.....caught....) etc). 

We grew old together.  Yankee fans and Yankee voice. 

Now, it seems, we may outlive him.  Not literally, we hope, but in context.  And, in this case, context is all that matters. 

Do we simply change the title of this blog to " It Was High, It Was Far, It Was Caught?"

Does el Duque still arise at 4:30 am every day to write the Lede? 

This becomes a philosophical discussion of existence? 

Are we lost?



NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!


 

Reflections after the first Yankee debacle of 2024

Sunday, the Death Barge suffered its first out-of-body, Howard Beale "I'M-MAD-AS-HELL-AND-I-CAN'T-TAKE-IT-ANYMORE!" blown-lead loss of 2024. It won't be the last. Not by a longshot.

In recent years, one of Aaron Boone's worst failings is his inability to stanch an open Yankee wound; yesterday exposed several. Losing 8-7 in 10 innings to Cleave Land was the kind of debacle that can extend into the next series, tonight in hateful Toronto. 

In one sad, otherworldly inning, the Yankees stumbled and fumbled away a victory, a road sweep, and redemption for one key player, Anthony Rizzo, who still plays under the twilight shadow of a head injury that's never been fully understood.  

Let's not forget where we stand: Best record in MLB, at least two games above fearsome Atlanta, Los Angeles and Baltimore. Hooray for us. But it's a long ride merely to May 1. Over the long haul, some things need to change:

1.  Gleyber Torres needs to wake up. Last season, he quietly put up nice numbers, while cobbling a disturbing reputation for baserunning gaffes and fielding lapses. It's as if he just loses interest. He hasn't hit - (.203) - and he's been dropped from leadoff to sixth in the order. Yesterday, he botched a grounder that might have saved the game. It wasn't easy, a sizzler on the infield grass. He just didn't make it. 

We have no replacement option. In Scranton, the tiny Caleb Durbin - red hot for now - is more a parlor game than real: Durbin would need to hit for at least two months to be considered for a starting role in the Bronx. Gleyber's real potential replacement, Jorbit Vivas, fractured an orbital socket and will miss weeks, maybe months. Oswaldo Cabrera is still a dream, and DJ LeMahieu's ever-broken foot is starting to define his Yankee legacy. 

Gleyber needs to fix himself. I think he will. He's 27 and hitting free agency next fall. It's a bad time to fall apart.

2. Anthony Volpe botched a potential DP relay that probably would have won the game. The ball slipped out of his hand, as he pivoted over second base. It was wet from the rain. Could happen to anybody. One of those things. 

Unfortunately, it's the second time this year that Volpe blew a high-profile play in extra innings. (He sailed a throw to first against Toronto, costing a run.) No reason to panic. In fact, Volpe remains the feel-good face of 2024, a potential great Yankee if he continues to hit. 

But one of last winter's weirdest moments came when Volpe won the AL Gold Glove at SS. I don't think many people saw it coming. Apparently, it was based on analytics, rather than the eye-test. I'm not questioning his award, but around this time last April, he was still being described as a future 3B or 2B. As his batting average climbs, will Volpe's offensive output justify a move to 2B? Is he Gleyber's replacement?

3. I couldn't understand why Boston gave up on Alex Verdugo. He always seemed to hurt us, and the price last winter - three minor league pitchers - didn't seem adequate. (That said, with Verdugo a free agent next winter, we might someday rue that trade.) A Redsock fan friend always suggested a dark side to Verdugo, that he "loves the night life." But Verdugo is now a dad. Fatherhood has a tendency to mature a player. 

Well, yesterday, we saw a troubling side of Verdugo. Batting in the 10th, with runners on second and third - key potential runs - Verdugo lashed a grounder to first base. He had the play in full view. The first-baseman snagged it and threw home, prompting Verdugo to stop and turn around, to see what happened.  

The catcher made the tag, then threw Verdugo out at first by a step. The inning was over, because Verdugo didn't run full-out. Shades of Robbie Cano and Gary Sanchez. It should be unforgivable, even to the ever-forgiving Boone. 

It's too early to give up on Verdugo, who has not been hitting (.218 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs.) Maybe Boone doesn't need to confront him. Maybe he knows. Maybe he's expressed contrition. Dunno. But we might be starting to see why Boston punted.

Tonight, hateful Toronto. I hope they all follow their leader and vow never to play for the Yankees. It would serve them right.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Verdugo has a close-up view to watching Yanks lose

Tenth inning, runners on 2nd and 3rd, one out, Alex Verdugo hits a sharp grounder to 1st, and - on his slow journey to the base - turns to see what happened.

The result? Double play, Verdugo out at first. Yanks blow it in bottom of the inning. (Butterfingers awards to Anthony Volpe and Gleyber Torres.) 

Yanks bundling blown plays in one game. 

"I guess we'll have to cancel Family Day."—Lee MacPhail

 

Sorry, but I'm not finished with our resident wife-swapper/child-swapper/dog-swapper yet.  

I know, I know: it was the '70s, the stoned stepchild of the late 1960s, the time of car-key parties and the like. (In the small town where I grew up, some would-be hipsters even approached my parents about taking part in such. They reacted with such horror I think they wore garlic cloves around their necks for the next year.)

But I digress.

Never mind the damage that the Petersons and Kekichs did to each other—or to their kids, whose shrink bills must approach the national debt by now. (I hear the dogs were so depressed they didn't chase a single squirrel for weeks.) That's all incalculable. Many of the obits noted that Fritz and the Second Mrs. Peterson, a.k.a. Susanne Kekich, married and stayed together for the rest of their lives which is, I guess admirable.

Unfortunately, Fritz also to decided to become a born-again Christian, and a loud one at that. The loud part, I mean. This side of human sacrifice (or dog torture), I begrudge no one their religious beliefs. 

What got me was when Fritz decided to set himself up as the sort of Pontiff of Pitching, publicly proclaiming who was going to heaven and who was not. Hence the title of his 2009 book, Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven.

Now, first off, Mantle was 14 years dead by that time, and even with the bad knees, if The Mick was going to heaven, I'm sure he'd already got there. Second, Mickey Mantle was born into a toxic waste site, with a frighteningly cold mother, a relative who sexually molested him at a young age, and a surrounding culture that turned him into an alcoholic. Despite that, and despite all the damage he did to himself and his family, he gave us all countless hours of joy. 

If that doesn't qualify you for heaven, I don't know what does, and we don't need Fritz Fucking Peterson to tell us so.

Even worse was Peterson's planned next book: Joe DiMaggio Is In Hell. Yes, people, he actually planned to write that, at least until some p.r. guy or literary agent wrestled him to the ground and ripped the keyboard out of his wriggling, judging hands. 

I assume that, from The Swapper's POV, the Yankee Clipper was presumed to be in hell because he was a Catholic, or had not made some loud pronunciation of his faith, whatever that might have been. It never seems to have occurred to ol' Fritzie that assigning the great DiMaggio—OR ANYONE ELSE—his eternal destination might have been, shall we say, above his pay grade.

In his Bible-studying days, this world champion of chutzpah might have more closely studied Christ's words in Matthew 6:5:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Hey, I hope Fritz got the shock of his life at the pearly gates, when Joe D. was there to give him a gruff slap on the head. I hope all the old Yankees of my childhood who have passed on were there, too, along with pretty much everyone else who has made it through this vale of tears. 

(Walter O'Malley, I'm not so sure about, but I'm willing to consider. Apparently, he was very nice to his wife, who was not able to do more than whisper after surviving a bout with laryngeal cancer. So maybe.)

God bless and goodspeed, Fritz. And next time—if there is a next time around—try not to be such a horse's ass.










 





Cody Poteet, very sweet. Now comes what?

A long long time ago, on a planet far far away, Ricardo Montalban said it best: 

I like what they have done to my caah!" 

The future Khan - enemy of Kirk - was describing the Chrysler Cordoba, the ultimate driving luxury, with "the finest Corinthian leaaaaather," (Fun fact: It was actually human skin.) the greatest achievement in modern fetish history. 

Okay, brace yourself. I'm gonna say something stupid...

I like what they have done to our caah.

Listen: Everything is going the Yankee way. If we puke on the street, it's food for the squirrels. If we pee in the punchbowl, it just adds crunch. In a perfect world, we'd stash some leftover juju meatballs until July, when Cody Poteet is our closer, and we've lost five straight. Unfortunately, karma doesn't work that way. So, let's not pee on the breakfast buffet. Eggs don't need to crunch.

But why, why, why, you ask, is everything working so well? What has transformed last year's sorry squad of Yankee embarrassments into this finely tuned multinational corporation with - for now, anyway - the best record in baseball?

One word: Soto. 

Actually, two words: Juan Soto.

Double-actually, Juan Jose Soto Pacheco

And triple-actually, they are not words, but fukkit, I'm on a roll.

Juan Soto. Guy has altered everything, every Yankee atom, every Yankee quark, every Yankee neck hickey, all the way down to the primeval Yankee ooze in the shower drains. He is what we have not witnessed since Mark Teixeira in 2009 (the last Yankee ring): The slugger who hits for average, and who cannot be pitched around.

Last year, opposing teams pitched around Aaron Judge. Why not? They'd pay no price. Rizzo was out, Giancarlo was worthless, and Gleyber - despite nice final numbers - intimidated nobody. Last year, three deep into our batting order, we were sitting with Billy McKinney, Franchie Cordero, Jake Bauers and Willie Calhoun. Those were the lefty bats who were supposed to balance our lineup. Yikes.

This year, they cannot avoid Soto. 

We still don't know what to expect from Rizzo, Stanton, Gleyber and even Anthony Volpe. But we have a hitter, batting second, not far from where Josh "Jackie" Donaldson used to swing. 

Damn. I like what they have done to my caah. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Fritz Peterson Memorial Game 2 Thread


 

Fifteen games into the season, the Yankees plan to start the bullpen

Maybe it's a sign of troubling times, but Cody Poteet All-You-Can-Eat Night has come early. 

The 29-year-old RH bullpen lug nut will start the nightcap of today's rainout doubleheader. It's the Yanks' first Country Buffet game, aka the "bullpen start." Bring your entire roster, plus a dish to pass. In such outings, the "starter" generally throws as hard and as long as possible, then celebrates by boarding a bus to Scranton. It's one of baseball's cruelest indignities: The journeyman pitcher used as a human sacrifice to the juju gods of tweaks and tears.

I view "bullpen starts" as another crapola legacy of the Tampa Rays, who championed the Nonstop Dome Sound Effects Echo Chamber and the defensive over-shift, which grew from a 2010 rarity to something MLB needed to ban. With "bullpen starts," the Rays were first to use waves of pitchers like the Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg: Just throw them at the opposition, one per inning, if necessary.

Today, the state of pitching is so bleak and fragile that, at any moment, on any mound, in any city, we can imagine any pitcher suddenly clutching his elbow and marching to the dugout, never to be seen again. There is no such thing as an injury-free career. It's not a matter of "if." It's a matter of "when?" (Though Masahiro Tanaka, who pitched three years with a torn elbow, deserves a spot in Monument Park's Medical Ward.) 

So... Cody Poteet? Aside from the cool name, here's what we know: 

He threw 10 innings in spring training, gave up 10 earned runs. Do the math. Not exactly Verlander. In Scranton this month, he's thrown 8.1 innings, given up 2 ERs - both from HRs. The Yankees are his third MLB organization. He's from San Diego. His dog has ringworm. (Jesss keeedding.)

Other news: 

1. Down in Triple A, Caleb Durbin, the 5'6" Moose of Moosic, went 2-4 last night. He's now 7th in the IL in hitting, at .386. He has 8 stolen bases, 2nd in the league behind Brandon Lockridge, his CF Scranton teammate, who has 11. (Lockridge is 27, hitting .316.) One of the Gammonites yesterday referred to him as "a dirtbag," in that his jersey gets dirty. Okay with me. For now, anyway, the Yankee Altuve dream is still alive.

2. Despite the fact that, a) Gerrit Cole is out, b) Aaron Judge has been a useless hole in the batting order, c) we have no everyday 3B and d) we're starting Cody Poteet,  the Yanks still have the best record in baseball. Seriously... we should not play the Whine Card, just yet. It's a long season. Save your complaining. There will come a time...

Friday, April 12, 2024

Rainout


 Doubleheader tomorrow in Cleveland.


Two weeks in, it's time to pass judgement on the Soto trade, right?

Barring a major injury, it will be hard to ever piss on the Great Juan Soto Trade of 2023. After a mere two weeks for NY, Soto has already established himself as:

1. A generational talent
2. The LH bat the Yanks have lacked
3. The Dominican star the Yanks have lacked
4. A clutch hitter
5. A better-than-advertised glove
6. Next year's premier free agent

In 50 at bats, Soto is hitting .360 with 2 HRs, and leads the AL in on-base percentage - our most explosive arrival since Gary Sanchez in 2016. He is already setting off warning sirens over a future long term contract, causing Hal Steinbrenner to poormouth on whether the small market Yankees can afford him. 

Put bluntly, a star is in the house.

In that regard, it's a bit ridiculous to ponder what the Yankees gave up in last winter's trade with San Diego. Whatever, it was worth it, right? Still, here is where things stand for the Padres.

Kyle Higashioka is 1-11, hitting .091. That's Higgy. Decent defense, and he'll whack a few. Higgy is Higgy! He'll always be Higgy! You go, Hig Man!

Drew Thorpe, one of our top pitching prospects, who became a key cog in the trade for Dylan Cease. He has thrown one game for the White Sox at Double A. He went five innings, gave up no runs. He's 23. Obviously, if he becomes a great pitcher, we would whine...

Dylan Cease looks like an ace. Keep in mind the Padres gave up two other prospects, with Thorpe, to get him. They're both in a low minors. Way too soon to judge.

Randy Vasquez has thrown 7 innings at San Diego's Triple A level, with an 8.59 ERA. He didn't look good in spring training, a 5.91 ERA over 10 innings. Not worrying about this one. 

Jhony Brito has been a similar washout. With the Padres, 6 innings, two losses, an ERA over 8.00. 

Which brings us to Michael King, the guy we most hated to lose. At SD, he is 14 innings, two wins (a meaningless stat these days) and a 3.14 ERA. If King becomes a solid #2 starter behind Cease - well - pressure will build on the Yankees to sign Soto to a long term deal. More pressure is seldom a good thing. The Yankees generally have plenty.   

One other thing: Neither Anthony Rizzo (.245) nor Alex Verdugo (.200) - the LH hitters who were supposed to shield Soto in our lineup - have been mashing.  

Good thing we're 10-3. Otherwise, we might worry.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

I'll just leave this here





 

Ghostly Similar Reaction


The second I saw the line-up yesterday, with Volpe eating off, I knew we were doomed.

Boone is listening to the accountants again. Everyone knows Volpe "tries too hard" in that spot.  The idea, Mr. Boone, is that in baseball you don't mess around with what is working. 

If Volpe stays at the top of the lineup, he will forget everything he had been doing right.

Forget the damn " management by the numbers. " 

If you really did that, Judge would never play. 

You have a day of rest, today.  Smoke a joint and start over. 

Miami wins again! And other gruesome observations on a dark Yankee night

No cause for panic. No reason for hysteria. REPEATING: DO NOT PANIC! IN THE NAME OF GOD, NOOOOOO PANIC! 

Statistically, the Death Barge remains MLB's happiest team, with a 10-3 record, two games above bridgeless Baltimore in the AL East (too soon?). Best record in baseball. Best record in baseball... 

Then comes last night, a template re-enactment of Yankee losses over the last decade. It showcased all the earmarks of seasons past.

Fall behind early. (check.)
Squander opportunities. (check.)
Dead bottom of the order. (check.)
Ninth inning threat. (check.)
Leave tying runs on base. (check.)

In our three losses of 2024 - (7-0 to Arizona; 3-0 to Toronto; 5-2 to the Marlins) - our suddenly doddering lineup wasn't wearing its First Alert medical necklace: It fell down and couldn't get up. 

Other observations from last night:

1. Anthony Volpe batted leadoff, signaling Boone's anxiety about Gleyber Torres. Two recollections from last year: a) Gleyber started slowly and spun a solid season (hitting .302 in the second half),  and b) Whenever Volpe moved up in the lineup, he crapped the bed. (Last year, .191 batting leadoff, .273 hitting 8th.) 

One thing to NOT sweat: At age 27, in his contract year, if protected in the lineup, Gleyber should be fine.  

2. Aaron Judge sucked, ending the game on a meager pop fly with the bases loaded. He's hitting .178, and his name trended on X last night, as the Twitterverse fulminated. I suggest you not go there. If you think we overreact... 

Again, there's plenty to worry about. But not Judge. Unless he's hurt, Judge will be fine. 

3. Down in the 'Barre, Caleb Durbin went 0-4 last night. He played 3B and made an error. Guy's still batting .417, but suddenly, that Altuve magic looks strained. Fun while it lasted.  

Also, celebrity prospect Spencer Jones has yet to play this season. He was a last-minute scratch on opening day, complaining of a neckache and - poof - then disappeared.  

4. If Volpe stays atop the batting order, we return to the decimated bottom third. Last night, Torres, Verdugo, Berti and Trevino went 1-14. Nobody is hitting above .200. Gleyber and Verdugo should get hot, LeMahiue should take Berti's place, and Austin Wells should slowly see more ABs. No panic, right?

On to Cleveland... 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Exclusive Photo Reveals Why Stanton Is So Slow

 

I was at the game last night and took this picture. 

Apparently, whenever Stanton runs, he drags a full grown man along with him. 

Other notes:  

1) Gleyber, again, made an error by throwing a ball away in an important situation. I don't know who this Durbin fellow is... 

(Although as I said in a earlier post, his Grandmother was pretty hot... Durbin Photo .) 

but I'd be good with bringing up baby. (Note to self: Stop watching TCM.)

2) For a close game it was surprisingly stress free. Rodon looked sharp for the most part and it always felt like a win. 

3) I know I'm supposed to be boycotting to a certain extent but I'm getting old and I do love to be at the stadium. Always have. I didn't buy merch, took the train, and confined my food purchases to a single hot dog. 

I was hungry. 

I guess I'm going to be one of those people who recycles but still buys stuff in hard clam shell plastic containers. 

With earthquakes, eclipses and the looming plague of locusts, the Yankees are surging into Doomsday

The Athletic is serving fresh clickbait from its Joyous Waste of Time Buffet: Weekly MLB rankings! Have at it, people. As if we needed another dollop of crazy crapola, we should now worry that the Yankees are not running up the scores enough when beating Slippery Rock and SUNY Purchase. FWIW, the Yankees today rank 3rd, behind Atlanta and the Dodgers, the perennial Marvel & DC, Coke & Pepsi, Machine Gun & Megan.  

So, here we are: Best record in baseball, 2.5 games ahead of Boston in the AL East, two batters in the the AL top 10 (Volpe and Soto), and a closer (Holmes) who has yet to give up a run, though he hasn't been as flawless as a 0.00 ERA suggests.

Dammit, we should be No. 1! Whadda wegotta do to win over the writers? Beat every team by 10? Factoring in the competition, last night's win over Miami may have dropped us a bit. Damn you, Boone! 

Thoughts about baseball's No 3:

1. Our surge has coincided with an earthquake and solar eclipse, and a plague of locusts is scheduled for late next week. Floods, fires and famine in May. Civil war in June. Asteroid strike in July. Pandemic in August. Alien invasion in August. If we can keep this up, we should be No. 1 for the End of Days. 

2. When playing a legitimately awful team, such as 1-11 Miami, it's hard to know where your talent tails off and their wretchedness takes over. That costs us in the all-important weekly rankings, but - well - fukkit. Beating the bads has been a hallmark of Yankee championship teams. 

3. After Miami, we visit hot Cleveland and stumbling Toronto (6-6), then welcome Tampa (6-6) and Oakland. Yes, Oakland, the owner-cursed franchise destined to spend the next two years in Sacramento, apparently because Bakersfield wasn't interested. If we can avoid a losing streak, we could fatten up on Oakland in time for the brood hatch. 

4. Speaking of small things, last night in Scranton, mighty mite Caleb Durbin played CF. He went 2-4, now batting .469 and 2nd in the International League. But - hmm - centerfield? WTF? I cannot help but think the Yankees are shopping Durbin, looking to score some backend bullpen fodder. I've come to love the idea of a Yankee Altuve, but honestly, if they can get something in a trade, Durbin is probably at the height of his trading value. 

5. Give him credit: Carlos Rodon pitched well last night, lowering his ERA to 1.72. He left with the bases loaded and no outs (though not his fault.) In many respects, Rodon is the most important Yankee. Without Cole, he is the ace. 

6. Last night, the Yankees, as a team, only struck out three times. Three. Impossible, you say? Only three. Wait a minute. We're ranked No. 3. We used three pitchers. Three strikeouts. And tonight, we go for a - holy crap - a Ryan McBroom three game sweep? Am I dreaming? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

In Anthony Volpe, the Yankee lineup presents the Ultimate "If"

(Editors note: I am not sure about the wisdom of thrusting  the following thoughts into the public domain. I don't know what it will accomplish - probably nothing - and the potential for disaster remains high. 

It is with profound reluctance that I press on, but I feel that, in the pure-hearted interest of Plato's Allegory of the Cave, I have no choice. Let it be known that I apologize, in advance, if these following offends or antagonizes anyone associated with the New York Yankees. 

With God as my witness, I do not mean to undermine or destroy a personal or public reputation. On that note, let us begin...) 

Holy shit! Anthony Volpe is leading the AL in batting! Fukkinay! This could be his year!

Listen: All winter, we heard how Volpe was hanging around Tampa, studying films, batting off a tee, working to level his uppercut, blah blah blah. The usual crapola from guys who hit .209. The difference: Most converts happen at age 33, not 23, after they experience a total eclipse of their batting average. (See how I worked the eclipse into this? That's creative writing, folks!) 

Today - the 9th of April - ring the glory bell, light the fireworks, and let us gather on the hillsides to thank batting coach James Rowson, or Cooperstown Cashman, or Aaron Boone, or the ghost of Charlie Lau, or the juju gods - definitely the juju gods - or whomever you think is responsible - aside from Dillon Lawson, the pariah whom the Yankees fired last season, because, hey, somebody had to go - because, as stated above, Volpe leads the AL in hitting!

Okay, look: I am not a bumpkin. I realize that Volpe will not hit .417. That number is trick of small samples, a practical joke being played on every breathing citizen of the Yankiverse. Volpe is 15 for 36, that's all. Last night, his 3-run HR put down Miami like a rabid chihuahua. Right now, Volpe is protecting Giancarlo, setting up Verdugo, and bringing hope to the third of the lineup that has been effectively eclipsed (!) for the last four years.  

Okay, I know what you're thinking: You idiot, you did it, you jinxed him! Have you no shame? Yeah, maybe so. But I'm done waving mirrors at this team. We need to know which Volpe we've got - the one who banged at every level of the minors, or the Rob Deer clone who swung for the fences all last year? What do we have at SS? How how long will this amazing event of nature last?

With Volpe as a hitter - I'm thinking closer to .270 than .400 - the Yankees present a dramatically improved lineup, maybe the best batting order in the AL. Do we dare hope? I'm calling the cards to the juju gods. Don't tease us. Is this burst of shining sunlight for real? Shoot me, but I say... it is.  

Monday, April 8, 2024

Today we face the nefarious Dr. Lizardo


 

Save us, Buckaroo Cortes! You're our only hope!

Caleb Altuve is crushing it at Triple A

 


Within the Yankee organization, the first rule of Caleb Durbin is: Nobody talks about Caleb Durbin.

That might soon change for the 5'6," 185 pound infielder, who turned 24 in February. (For comparison: Anthony Volpe is 5'9," 180.) 

It's too early to go Zippy the Pinhead over Durbin, but - hey - there isn't much else at Scranton worth monitoring, unless you've still got a romantic soft spot for Jeter Downs (.316 with 1 HR.) For now, the IL simply doesn't know how to deal with Durbin, in the batters box or on first base. He's running wild and free. Let the little dogs run!

Of course, Yankee injuries are so rare that it's hard to see a path forward for Durbin. Still, photos of him standing next to Judge - priceless!

If you're coming for the Eclipse, 10 things you should know about Upstate New York

Full disclosure: I've lived here all my life, a certified yokel. But to all you migrants tourists coming for the eclipse, I have some important information.

Ten Things You Should Know about today's Eclipse Trip to Upstate New York.

 1. When we say "Upstate," we don't mean frickin' Red Hook. Upstate begins when the Catskills are a flat green lump in the rearview. 

2. Buffalonians actually despise Buffalo wings. They're greasy, messy, and you must lick yourself clean, because the city's tap water is not safe. Never order wings, or you will be identified as an outsider. That's dangerous. 

3. It's still "the Carrier Dome," not whatever new name the corporate bigwigs decided to call it. If you're uncertain, just say "The Dome."

4. Don't go to the Dome to see the Eclipse. It's a dome, okay? 

5. On major highways, you'll see exit signs for "Rest Stops." Avoid them, even if you're out of gas. They are elaborate traps set by communities of murderous psycho cannibals.  

6. Avoid the area called "Utica-Rome." It is a war zone. The people of Utica hate the people of Rome, and vice-versa. This goes back to Woodstock '99, when Rosie Perez was booed off the stage. If you ask, they will deny this. That's because they are liars, every last one. 

7. Whatever you do, don't go to a so-called "Wegmans." It looks like a grocery but is, in fact, an elaborate trap set by communities of murderous psycho cannibals. (It goes without saying that you must avoid their "veal cutlets.")

8. If in Buffalo, don't try to ingratiate yourself by speaking hopefully about the Bills. People there absolutely hate the team. The city is a huge secret fan base for the New England Patriots. If you have Bill Belichick swag, be sure to wear it.  

9. At various locations, such as liquor stores, strangers might seek to draw you out by complaining about the U.S. government. Your response should simply be, "Damn that Cuomo."

10. At times, while driving country roads, you might find yourself stuck behind a slow-moving farm tractor. Under no circumstances should you attempt to pass. The driver is a murderous psycho cannibal, and he is messing with you.

That said, have a great eclipse! I look forward to having you for dinner.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Just to underscore our Peerless Leader's astute commentary...

 

While watching the end of the Mets' latest fiasco yesterday, I heard a great bit of commentary from Ron Darling. 

(This is the sort of thing you get when you hire actually smart and funny people to do your TV color commentary, as opposed to whatever sycophant Brian Cashman favors.)

Darling was watching a Mets journeyman, Yohan Ramírez, turn a 5-4 lead into a 9-5 deficit in the 8th. Ramírez was in his second inning of work. He had pitched a 1-2-3 frame in the seventh, but when he got into trouble in the next inning, the Mets had no one to replace him.

Their bullpen, it seemed, was already fried, just over a week into the season. Much like ours.

Darling sounded a theme he has harped on before, speaking to Gary Cohen:

"You know, Gary, this is really the repercussions of baseball deciding to have starting pitching go less and less and less time.

"You have 13 pitchers on the staff and you never had so little..."

Amen.

And I would just add that, beyond the practical ramifications—player after player after player who is being paid good money, spending their best years in surgery or rehab—there is the way that baseball is killing the spirit of the game.

In baseball, the starting pitcher is the hero.

He is the guy who starts each play, and if he shuts down the other team, they cannot win. Baseball has been reducing the starter's role for decades—though for a long time, they substituted the heroic closer.

Now, nobody's heroic. You might as well have the robots throw the ball. 

Everybody is a 2-5 innings guy who throws everything hard—just like every batter is a .230 hitter with some pop.  

Teams like the Yankees—indeed, almost all teams—are doing more than killing arms. They're killing the game.






When you end up using your closer to save what had been a 7-run lead, it doesn't feel like a victory

On the night of Jonathan Loaisiga's farewell, perhaps for good, the Yankees won a certifiable Rotten Tomatoes barnburner. They outlasted hateful Toronto, using five pitchers (including their closer) to (just barely) hold a 7-run lead.

I believe I speak for the Yankiverse in stating that this is not the template for a championship season.

Okay... I get it: A win is a win; that's China Town, Jake; hummina-hummina... At 7-2, the Yankees are tied - with the mighty Pirates and Indians Guardians - for baseball's best record. We cannot rightfully complain.

But who wants to be rightful? When you lead by seven, entering the 7th, your closer should be in street clothes. Instead, with the bullpen collapsing like a Baltimore bridge (still too soon?), the Death Barge needed Clay Holmes for the final outs.

That's not sustainable. It didn't feel like a win. 

This season's opening weeks resemble a prize fight where the contestants punch themselves drunk, via Muhammed Ali's Rope-a-Dope. (Last night, hateful Toronto used four pitchers over eight innings, salved by the Yanks not batting in the 9th.)

Close your eyes, and try to imagine the Yankee bullpen on, say, June 15. Will any of these current faces still be there?  

This problem runs deeper than the Yankees. Across MLB, advanced coaching techniques have figured out how to transform skinny, low-90s pitchers into Goose Gossages. In recent years, the Yankees touted their minor league "Gas Station," which dramatically increases mph and spin rates. But shoulders are still shoulders, and elbows still tear like Buffalo wings. 

Like most of America, I've watched the Women's NCAA basketball Final Four this week, amazed at how much more exciting these games are than the NBA. That's because in the pros, you have 8-foot human dump trucks clogging the lanes. There are no passes under the basket, no drives to the hoop, and never a call of "Traveling." 

In 10 years, as waves of 7-footers arrive, that will be the women's game. For now, though, it's far more interesting. 

I believe baseball is facing a similar, existential problem. Too many power arms, too many replacements, too many pitchers, too many tweaks, too much turnover. 

This season is far too young to be going through so many arms. Loaisiga won't be the last. Nobody is getting out of here alive.


Saturday, April 6, 2024

Don't stare directly into the current Yankee batting order without protective glasses. The ghosts of 1967 might burn your retinas

Before yesterday, the last time the Yankees went sparkless, featherless and scoreless in a home opener, this was the storied lineup.


In that forgettable memorable game, Boston rookie Bill Rohr came within one out of throwing a no-hitter. (Elston Howard broke it up.) That year, 1967, the Yankees would finish 9th, Mickey would hit .245, Whitey would hang it up, Ellie would be traded, and Boston would reach the world series, christening "the Impossible Dream."

Fifty-seven years later, let us take comfort in knowing that:

1. The Yankees this year cannot finish 9th.

2. In the modern playoffs format, finishing a few games over .500 wins us a participation trophy. 

3. Boston and the Mets should be rather terrible.

That said, don't stare directly into the current Yankee lineup without a pair of welding goggles. Otherwise, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo and Oswaldo Cabrera might burn a hole into your brain. And if anything happens to Aaron Judge or Juan Soto - or if they simply do not hit, like yesterday - yeesh: The dominoes could line up for a truly awful season, "an impossible nightmare." 

Listen: I really shouldn't whine. The Yanks remain 6-2, tied with Boston atop the AL East. And if the Redsocks win anything this year, it will be - at worst - an Improbable Dream. 

But the Yankees yesterday offered their fan base a plate of bad clams - a lowlight reel of swings and misses, of failure that has become normalcy in recent years. When the Yankees fall behind, it's nearly an impossible dream to think they'll rally. Yesterday, as usual, they simply didn't hit. Not a lick. And then, in the ninth, they seemed to mount a rally, bringing the tying run to the plate. Of course, they did! They always do! And the final long drive fell about 15 feet short. Yes, we've seen this for years!  

Over four games in Houston, we dreamed that this team might be different from all the others. Suddenly, not so sure. Close your eyes, and in this modern lineup, you see the ghosts of Horace Clarke, Tom Tresh and Peppi. 

Damn... opening day in the Bronx, and we couldn't score a run? Worst since 1967. Wow.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Just when you finally remembered how to spell L-o-a-i-s-i-g-a...

And we finally ditched Ben Rortvelt (sp?)


Now Loisaga (sp?) 
Out until June, flexor strain.

The new Yankee Unplayables and Unspellables
LeMahieu (sp?)
Loaisiga (sp?)
Kahnle (sp?)
Jahmai Jones (sp?)
Pereira (sp?)

A star-crossed question from the Zone of Yankee Totality: Will Giancarlo become this year's Hicksie?

First, the obvious: It's too early to write Giancarlo Stanton's Yankee obit. Way too early. Let's save the funeral for, at least - say - April 20th. 

Badaboom. That's a joke. Seriously, everybody, Giancarlo will get about 140 plate appearances before the Yankees even think of punting on him. That outcome would likely include a fake stint on the Injury List. (MLB is supposed to be cracking down on bogus booboos, but who would doubt a Stanton injury? The guy strains something when he hiccups.) Either way, he's probably safe in the lineup through June. 

But 2024 could be remembered for the collision of two incredible celestial events. I'm not referring to the Great American Eclipse, which suddenly looks like a washout, but for two mammoth, star-crossed moments in future Yankee history.

1. The New Age of Yankee Giants - (that is, the ascension of Jasson Dominguez and/or Spencer Jones.)

2. The end of the Giancarlo Era.

Check their Paths of Totality. Dominguez might return from elbow surgery around June. He'd need a month in Scranton to shake off rust. By then, Jones would presumably have stomped Moosic to mush, forcing the Yankees to promote him. Either player's emergence could signal someone's Yankee doom.

Which brings me to Aaron Hicks. Last May 26, the Yankees jettisoned Hicksie after his entire game had seemed to disintegrate. He was rousing nightly boos along with the No. 1 pariah, Jackie Donaldson, hitting .188 and - especially distressing - covering LF like a leftover Covid cardboard cutout. No power, no average, no glove... no more Hicksie. The Yankees released him, he signed with Baltimore and immediately caught fire. Hicks eventually batted .275 with 7 HRs and helped guide the O's to a postseason where everyone shat the bed. (Note: He's now an Angel, hitting .167 with a HR; the Yankees will pay his salary through 2026.) 

We don't need another Hicks situation - especially one named Giancarlo, whose  contract runs into 2027, his 38th birthday. 

There is a point in many Yankee chronologies - a sad and horrible moment - when you start actually rooting against a guy, figuring he's beyond a comeback. It's not our finest moment, but it happens, especially with aging sluggers. They lose their edge, can't hit the fastball, and it's over - poof. They go from John Blanchard to John Mayberry. Happens to them all. The only question is how prolonged that final drought will be.

For Stanton, it could take a while. Our best scenario is for him to somehow stop lunging for breaking balls in the dirt, and to work himself back into prominence. Right now, he's the guy who hits a 500-foot HR every three weeks, and strikes out 50 times between them. He's already descending in the order. Unless he starts hitting, we'll soon see Soto and Judge as the everyday DH, with Trent Grisham in CF, and Gio waiting for ninth inning PH duties when Oswaldo or Trevino come up. 

Somehow - and I have no solution to this - the Yankees must keep Stanton from becoming this year's Hicks - that is, signing with a team that hates us and reviving his career, while we pay his ridiculous salary. 

Is there a way to do this? Or is it written in the stars?