Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Orioles fans finally get their wish, and Yankee fans might be sensing the wolf at their door

After 30 years of utter hell, the Baltimore Orioles are apparently finally shedding their Babadook - baseball's version of the Sackler family - the ownership monstrosity of Peter Angelos. 

According to the Internet, the longtime hard luck franchise will be sold for $1.7 billion to - well, let's face it - a pair of superrich assholes, who vow to restore the O's to their glory days of Brooks, Cal Jr. and Pancake. 

The new owners are buying the youngest, most prospect laden lineup in baseball, with budding stars at C, 3B, 1B and CF, and the game's No. 1 prospect at SS. If they add talent at the trade deadline, Baltimore could run away in the AL East this year and leave the Yankees chasing the wildcard by mid-August. 

Here's the deal: Another longtime Yankee doormat could be flipping the rivalry, as an ownership with limitless money sits down at the table. The Yankees went the 20th Century with a cash advantage over Boston. It's gone. They celebrated the first 20 years of the new millennium with a cash advantage over the Mets. It's gone. The Blue Jays have ascended, the Dodgers are now the Gold Standard, Philadelphia eats our lunch, and soon the Orioles could follow suit. To save themselves, the Yankees have counted on their legacy. 

It's gone. 

Which is why it might be wise for Hal Steinbrenner to go "all-in" on 2024. If Baltimore's talent surge continues, and if its new owners show more savvy than the Jukes Angelos, Baltimore could rule the AL East for years. 

A parlor game: Close your eyes and imagine the Yankee 2024 batting order.  Add a bit of luck, and you can see a divisional contender. Now, look at the pitching rotation. You see a fragile staff that - with a few tweaks and tears - could collapse by June 1. If the Yankees think their current rotation can carry them through the season, they are doing mushrooms. 

I realize that we all possess a frugality instinct, and it pulses when we hear of the outlandish sums of money being demanded by starting pitchers. But what is crazier is hitching an entire year to a team of horses that will be lucky to make it out of the gate. In fact, I wonder... are the Yankees a CIA psyop? 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Yankees are finding a tough sell...

Hats off to the immortal Carl Weitz...

------- Original message --------

From: Kate Hunter
Date: 1/29/24 5:07 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Carl Weitz
Subject: The New York Yankees reaching out

Hello Carl,

I understand that life can get busy, but I wanted to check in to see if we can provide you with information about our ticket plans, group offerings, and suites for this season.

There are a variety of options to choose from and we would love to see you at the stadium supporting our Bronx Bombers.

Could I interest you in a quick conversation to explore this further?

Thank you very much,

Kate Hunter
Assistant, Ticket Sales & Service
New York Yankees
One E 161st Street
Bronx, New York 10451

To: Kate Hunter

Mon, Jan 29 at 7:46 PM

Tell Hal Steinbrenner to open up his wallet and add another top starting pitcher and third baseman. Then we can talk.


Sent from my T-Mobile 5G Dev


To: Carl Weitz
Tue, Jan 30 at 9:01 AM

Good morning Carl,

I will have a representative call you about this.

What would be the best phone number to reach you?


Kate Hunter
Assistant, Ticket Sales & Service
New York Yankees
One E 161st Street
Bronx, New York 10451

The number: 666-666-6666

Take It Off. Take It ALL Off.

El Duque's last post brings up an interesting question. If you are a fringe player and you are traded to the Yankees do you shave your beard immediately or do you wait until Spring Training just to make sure you are actually on the team? 

It know that it's not exactly like if some one goes out and gets the Yankee logo tattooed on their ass, but a shaving a beard, especially if you have had one for a long time, can be quite the traumatic experience.  

True story:  I wore a beard for most of my twenties into my early thirties and one day I decided to shave it. Apparently I should have consulted my girlfriend because when she came home from work and saw my new look she started throwing things at me screaming something about how I now look like Jethrine from the Beverly Hillbillies. 

She had issues. 

Great sex though. And why is that so often the case? 

But I digress...

Are the Yankees the only team in professional sports that places this kind of restriction on its athletes? I know that early on, the Tennessee Titans, in a misguided attempt to attract more locals, tried to require their players to shave their heads and do (more) meth. They abandoned the policy when too much equipment turned up missing. Then there was that mysterious fire in the training room... 

But I digress...

This beard thing is a bigger deal than we acknowledge deal because as soon as someone leaves the team, growing one as an act of rebellion or freedom seems to be de rigueur.  

Jordan Montgomery's looked good. Kim Ng's not so much. 

If I was Matt Gage I'd shave it but, as the 40th man on the 40 man, and soon to be out of baseball,  I'd try to do the Joe Namath Noxzema thing and find a sponsor to pay me to shave. 

Any sponsor. Maybe Conigilo's Old Fashioned Pizzeria in New Jersey has some money left. It's worth a call. 

As the world churns: Yankees claim LH reliever Matt Gage off waivers. Should he even bother to shave his beard?

The great thinker of thinky thoughts, Desiderius Erasmus, once said, "There is no joy in possession without sharing." Clearly, he was referring to the vast engine of human eugenics, the NY Yankees front office, which loves to share roster DNA with the rest of humanity.

Yesterday, proving that no change is too molecular to implement, Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman took the Yankee minutia to the atomic level: The team waived IF Diego Castillo, who joined the franchise last week, and claimed LH pitcher Matt Gage, who might stick with the franchise through next week.

Apparently, somewhere, in some vast, secretive AI rating complex beneath a volcano in Iceland, Cashman's Forbin Project computer calculated Gage's potential contributions to the Yankees at 0.000031 quatlooms, just a widget above Castillo's potential contributions of 0.000032. So the swap was made.

Gage's arrival could come with a caveat: It might mean the Yankees are about to lose out in a bidding skirmish with the Mets over LH reliever Wandy Peralta. If so, after all this winter's churnings of butter, it would be sad to see Yankees refuse to go an extra dollar to keep Peralta, who is NYC-tested and - I don't say this often about Yankees  - adorable.  

But ours is not to reason why. Our mission, as loyal Yankee snapdragons, is to celebrate every new arrival like the birth of a royal hamster. So let's snap to it. Let's gauge Gage. 

Ten Fun Facts about the newest Yankee, Matt Gage:

1. He turns 31 on Feb. 11. (I hope the front office gets him on their birthday list, so he receives an Edible Arrangement.)

2. The Yankees are his sixth ML franchise in nine years. (Giants, Diamondbacks, Mets, Blue Jays, Astros.)

3. Gage was born in Johnstown, just south of Gloversville. 

4. He's a graduate of Broadalbin-Perth High School, and is the only MLB player ever to come out of that esteemed sports program.

5. He attended Siena College in Loudonville, which is somewhere between Albany and Troy.

6. He is 6'3" and 265, so he'll look menacing off the bus.

7. Last year, over five MLB games with Houston, he threw 7 innings, gave up two runs and struck out eight. 

8. Those two runs came off a blast by the Cubs' Seiya Suzuki in a ninth inning mop-up duty, with the Astros holding a six-run lead. Not exactly a save situation. 

9. He has a "team friendly" contract. He's still considered a rookie and won't be eligible for arbitration until 2027. (Assuming he lasts the next two weeks.)

10. He is "projected" to pitch 30 innings this year, give up 13 earned runs and strike out 29. 

And so it goes. Welcome, Matt Gage.

Monday, January 29, 2024

MLB's international system for grooming Latino boys has once again exploded into scandal

 Today's The Athletic has the story, on the heels of an expose last week by Diario Libre, a Spanish language website in the Dominican Republic. 

Apparently, more than 50 recent MLB team deals with "16-year-old" lads from the DR have been wiped out, because - I hope you're sitting down for this - the kids were older than advertised. As Claude Raines would say, "I'm shocked... shocked!"

For decades, the apparatus for grooming and signing Latino free agents has been an ethical cesspool, a trafficking network that would have made Jeffrey Epstein proud. Says The Athletic...

Baseball’s international amateur free agent system has long included various forms of rule-breaking, including players trying to pass as younger to increase their value. Another common practice is making unofficial agreements with players well before they’re officially able to sign at age 16. Through these handshake deals, teams have in some cases committed millions of dollars to 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds. These arrangements are prevalent league-wide, and teams are rarely disciplined for making them.

Of course, this is horrible, terrible, shameful, evil - and a surprise to absolutely nobody. It used to be called "age gate." Now, it's just the swinging gate. 

According to The Athletic, kids recently signed by the Astros, Royals, Mets, A's and Twins turned out to be older than hyped. Houston has lost three "youngsters," and an adorable 14-year-old tyke being romanced by Boston turned out to be six years older - six! - than his birth certificate suggested. 

The player was previously not going to be eligible to be signed until 2026 — when teams were told he would be 16 years old. His current age is now thought to be 21 years old, sources said.

So it goes. 

The Yankees also are said to have shown interest in a kid, who turned out not to be a kid. It's nothing new. Remember when Alfonso Soriano - said to be 23 - turned out to be 28 after being traded to Texas? It's a tale as old as time - the horse whose teeth you better inspect. It's like those teen movies, where Jonah Hill still looks chubby and the "girls" wear reverse falsies. 

We could rage against this. It won't change. It's just another thing that nobody wants to fix, because they're making money. Hey, if the Yankees sign Blake Snell, any chance he'll turn out to be 40?

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The baseball world seems to agree: The Yankees remain short of pitchers


So, here we are, heading into February with six outfielders, three healthy starting pitchers, a pockmarked bullpen, a pothole at third and the most worthy candidates in baseball for 2024 Comeback Player of the Year.

According to the Internet, some nameless NL suit thinks the Yankees will add either Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery or - gasp - Cody Bellinger, which is a notion so ridiculous that, of course, it must be true. 

For whatever it's worth, I doubt the Yankees will sign anybody beyond a bullpen lug nut. Hal Steinbrenner has spent what he always spends: Just enough to look competitive, and not enough to win it all. 

These facts I hold true:

1. The Yankees are one solid starting pitcher away from truly contending for the AL East.

2. We've seen what happens when the Yankees launch without pitching depth. By June, the bullpen is in tatters, and by July, we are trading seed corn for vagabond reinforcements.

3. The first wave of spring training injuries has yet to hit. The Yankees never escape Tampa without losing one or two key pitchers. Last year, it was Sevy and Rodon. Why pretend it won't happen again? 

Thus, I suppose we should take that nameless NL exec at his word. He looks at the Yankee roster and  shakes his head. Cashman must have something up his sleeve, right? He can't be done... right? 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

"Oumuamua" is still a Yankee (or, at least, a Yankee Railrider)

According to the Internet, interstellar wanderer Jeter "Oumuamua" Downs has cleared waivers and will settle down with the Yankees, home to his namesake. (And I don't mean Hugh Downs.) He will be invited to spring training as a middle infield lug nut and probably board a bus to Scranton. But you never know... 

In the meantime, the frugal Yankees are said to be backing away from free agent closer Hector Neris, due to his price tag. Instead, they are pondering Keynan Middleton and Wandy Peralta, figuring either or both will come as a bargain.

Remember the days when Yank fans never worried about money? We never went to bed hungry for a free agent, even if we didn't need the guy. Old George would shell out, whatever it took, even if it meant overcooking the team. 

These days, with Hal, it's always the same: Somebody's gotta go back and get a shitload a dimes. 

Hey, E. Jean Carroll, wanna buy a team?

Oh well, New York City might just be rediscovering the Knicks. If they can win a few playoff rounds, the Yankee dominance on tabloid back pages is toast.  

Friday, January 26, 2024

Hall of Congeniality.


Sigh. I had hoped never to write another word about Alex Rodriguez, singularly annoying character that he is. A-Rod is like foot fungus: inescapably irritating, annoying, no matter how much you try to ignore him. Sooner or later, you just have to scratch that itch.

Especially when the National Baseball Hall of Fame takes its annual turn in the spotlight.

Let's face it: the Hall is based on a great big, charming lie, and always has been. It is in Cooperstown because that is supposedly where Abner Doubleday laid out the first diamond and defined the rules of the game.

Never mind that Doubleday was best friends for 20 years with the president of the National League and never said, "Hey, you know that sport you run? I invented it."

Instead, Doubleday described his favorite outdoor activity, in his own memoir, as "topographical work." 

In fact, it's too big a lie for even Cooperstown to stomach. You know who's not in the Hall of Fame? Abner Doubleday.

But I digress.

Let's look at this year's selections:

Joe Mauer. Great hitting stats for a Gold-Glove catcher...but how much catching did he do? Throwing out the 2 years in which he played fewer than 100 games, Mauer averaged 71 games behind the plate every year. Throwing out the 5 years that Yogi Berra played fewer than 100 games, he averaged 121 in the tools of ignorance. For a DH-first baseman, which he was for the majority of his career, Mauer just did not hit with enough power, or get on base enough, to be a true HOFer.

Todd Helton. C'mon. Helton played his entire career in Colorado, which makes it all the easier to parse his home and away stats. In Denver, he was a monster, .345/.441/.607/1.048, with 227 home runs. Away from the rarified air of the Rockies, this Rockie was .287/.386/.469/.855, with 143 dingers. More of a Bullwinkle than a Rocky (get it, huh, huh?)

Jim Leyland. Great manager, right? 22 seasons—11 of them winning. All-time winning percentage of .506. All of three pennants and one World Series—with a wild-card team. Hey, got nothing against Leyland...but is this more of an attendance prize than anything else?

Adrian Beltré. Perfectly fine stats. But he does have a classic juicer's profile: a bunch of seasons, usually in a walk year, when he suddenly hit for much higher average and power than ever. 

Which brings us to the other big lie haunting the shrine in Cooperstown. Or rather, sliming the place with juice.

The other story about this year's fab selections was that A-Rod, while still on the ballot, continued to lose votes. Soon, he will be off into the limbo where the HOF currently sticks all juicers...or rather, all juicers they don't like.

The bloom came off the dubious rose that was the HOF's PED policy when Big Papi made the Hall. Ortiz, a known juicer, was in. So have any number of other known juicers been in, over the past few years. Whereas Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens, and Albert Belle, and A-Rod, and even Papi's own teammate, Manny Ramirez...are out.

Don't care about any of those unsavory individuals?  Well, how about this: Jorge Posada is already off the ballot...while known juicers I-Rod and Mike Piazza are in. 

Essentially, selection to the sanctum sanctorum, the ne plus ultra, the Valhalla of the American has been reduced to the Miss Congeniality Contest. Juice, don't juice: if you get along with enough sportswriters, you're in. If you don't...

Time—past time—to stop the nonsense, once and for all. We need a ruling. Either no juicers in the Hall, or juicing doesn't matter. 

Yanks remain perfect: Nobody listed among's Top 10 prospects at every position

Recapping, for those scoring at home...

The Yankees placed nobody - Johnny Nada, Zeke Zipp - in MLB Pipeline's top 10 prospects lists for the following positions: RHP, LHP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and OF. That's everywhere, around the horn, a washout. No prospects among the Top 10, wherever you look. Hummina, hummina, hummina... 

Okay, before leaping off Tallahatchie Bridge, let's accept that: 

1. All prospect rankings are bogus.
2. These websites have it in for the Yankees. (See Hall of Fame ballots.) 
3. The jobbed us by ranking only 10 OF. (Thinking Spencer Jones in RF?)

Also, let's recognize the Yankees' farm for its dominance in one key category: Developing pitchers Hyping kids. They maintain the biggest bullshit apparatus in baseball, and their fanbase generally eats their slop with a knife and fork. (Full disclosure: I do.)

Yank prospect sites treat every player as a possible star, even when all we know is the round when he was drafted and the signing bonus. (Which, come to think of it, is probably inflated.) We hug Yankee prospects and ignore what other teams have. Then, come April, we go knock-kneed when Tampa unveils another wave of talent. 

In recent years, the Yankee farm system has been generally viewed in the bottom tier, because a) we often draft late, b) we forfeit top picks due to free agents, and c) we drain it every July and December, just to stay afloat. 

It's the survival behavior of an addict.

When he became GM in 1998, Brian Cashman vowed to build the best system in baseball, then use free agents to supplement it. After a quarter century, all we see is a Lucille Ball chocolates assembly line of middling prospects, so intensely hyped that they reach New York as rock stars. Gary Sanchez. Greg Bird. Clint Frazier. Gleyber Torres. Luis Severino. Anthony Volpe... (Remember "Gleyber Day?" Or last April's  excitement over "Volpening Day?")

Yeah, these Top 10 lists are crapola. But for all their bluster, the Yankees didn't place one prospect - not nobody, nowhere. We should reflect on that. The Yankiverse needs a splash of cold reality: 

To contend in 2024, the Yankees absolutely need more pitching. But they cannot afford to trade for a starter. They do not have the prospects. Hal Steinbrenner either must spend more money, or he should start thinking the unthinkable: Working towards 2025.

Obviously, that ship has sailed. We're up to our elbows in contract walk years. But would you fly on one of those Boeings with a gaping hole in the side? Unless we find pitching, that's what we're about to do.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Twenty years ago today, the Texas Rangers made A-Rod their captain

By February 16, he was a Yankee. 

In promoting A-Rod, Texas thought it was solving a public relations problem. They had dealt him to Boston, where he would have taken a cut in his monstrous salary, to which he agreed. 

But the Players' Union vetoed the very idea of anyone taking a mid-contract cut, ever. So after a big publicity splash, he was back in Texas, a plainly unwanted player on a last-place team he plainly didn't want. This called for drastic, insincere action. 

At the press conference announcing his captaincy, where everyone weirdly wore tuxedos (and pictures from which have apparently been scrubbed from the internet), A-Rod reassuringly said, “I definitely think I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m probably pretty sure it will work out for the best.”


Is Mauer in the Hall because he played consistently throughout his career? Because Donnie had a bad back? Because the HOF won't accommodate any more Yankees with a mustache?

Or is it just because HE WAS A YANKEE? 

Ya gotta wonder. This is getting some play on the twittex.

For a team claiming to be "all-in" on 2024, the Yankees are still straddling the line

Early this offseason, before the Yamamoto dominoes began to drop, the Yankees appeared to be launching a dramatic, all-or-nothing crusade in 2024. 

To exorcize last season's debacle, they horded players in contract years - Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, Gleyber Torres, Clay Holmes, Tommy Kahnle - and stars approaching career twilights - Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Andrew Rizzo, Carlos Rodon.  

If all goes well, this team wins the AL East. But add a few blips, and it could collapse sensationally - a meltdown that might even topple Brian Cashman, the front office, deep state Rasputin who has run the team 15 years without even conjuring a world series fart. 

But for a franchise so desperate to win, the Yankees are standing naked and flaccid at the point of making a full commitment. It's worth wondering: Are they real... or Memorex?

Look, we all harbor suspicions about the value of Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, and the chance of concocting another disastrous Rodon deal is as unsettling as dealing with a shirtless Jason Kelce after a 30-rack of Jenny Cream. But the Yankees have a glaring weakness in pitching, and that's before the inevitable first wave of injuries has hit.  

Want to see a team that cannot afford to lose in '24? Check out the Dodgers. As for the Yankees, they can sign all the thrift shop Luke Weavers in captivity, but unless they step over the line, they're just pretending, hoping the fans and media don't notice. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

MLB Pipeline issues its Top 10 prospects at SS; Yanks keep perfect zero streak alive

 They have not rated a Top 10 prospect for the following positions:

RHP, LHP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS...

Onto the outfield. 

ARod overlooked again for Hall of Fame; can someone explain to me how David Oritz got in?

Officially, Alex Rodriguez is being spurned because of performance enhancing drugs.

Honestly, it's because he played for the Yankees.

There is nothing else to say. 

As they wait on pitchers, Yankees assert bold new fashion upgrades to unsightly road getups

And so it goes...

The Yankees, seeking to bury the last 50 years, will adopt a look from 1974, back when Ron Blomberg and Bobby Murcer wore flannels, except that these jerseys won't be flannel, they'll just look that way, without the embarrassing white outlining and sleeve trim that has tortured us ever since - and, if you're scoring at home, this is the first time in the history of this blog that "white outlining and sleeve trim" have appeared. And friends, there are moments - random, seemingly inconsequential moments - in the life of every dumb cluck fan, when you must stand back like D
ostoyevsky, ponder the unponderable, and ask what the fuck is going on inside the Yankee hive brain? 

The team, the franchise, the world, is staggering toward a cliff, and somebody took the time to sell a uniform change - no more white outlining and sleeve trim - to Hal 9000. Was it a sister? A Steinbrenner granddaughter who went to RISD? Cashman? Boone? Did Luke Weaver, as a condition of his new digs, say, "Fuck them goddamm white outlines and sleeve trim, I aint playing for no fashion abomination!" 

Yes, we have achieved the moment in every offseason where the only change is change, itself. This particular tweak could have flown 20,000 feet above us, well into June before we noticed - yet here we are, absorbing it with our daily meds and media-driven despair. Last summer, a much more apparent fashion bomb exploded in our zeitgeist: The Starr Insurance money patch appeared where black armbands once memorialized Yankee immortals. 

So, the Yankees road costumes will no longer feature white outlines and sleeve trim, and that's today's news. Blake Snell remains in limbo. So does Jordan Montgomery.  Last month, their futures seemed imminent. But something happened - way up there, in the stratospheric realm of money - something we may never know. A week from February, the two best free agent pitchers - according to MLB track records - remain unsigned. A huge balance of power is still out there, waiting to land somewhere. 

If the Yankees were to sign either, they would quickly become the team to beat in the AL East, if not the league. 

Instead, the Yankees are tweaking their road pajamas. I am speechless. Calgon Bath Beads, take me away!

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Yanks whiff again on top 10 3B prospects

 Have yet to place anyone on the top 10 prospect for...

RH pitchers
LH pitchers

Of course, it means nothing. Less than nothing. I spit on prospect rankings. They are worthless. I'm going to bed. 

Who is Ole Munch, and why do the Yankees need him?

In the recent season of Fargo, a kilted, hulking, rather terrifying immortal from the good-ole days of witchcraft and leeches, wreaks havoc on the North Dakota MAGAscape. His name is Ole Munch, and he's got a Moe Howard haircut and the face of a Buffalo snow storm. He's an ancient sin-eater, one who devours the bad shit that rich people did in life, so they can go to heaven, while he walks an eternal hell. 

What does this have to do with the '24 Yankees?

Well, Brian Cashman needs a sin-eater. 

Specifically, he needs somebody who devours innings - 180 would do - and spare the Yank bullpen from what has become a late-summer tradition: The annual implosion. 

Last year, the Yankees wrangled 368 innings out of starters Gerrit Cole (209 IP) and Clarke Schmidt (159). That's not far from the output (440 IP) of the remaining rotation. The final three starters included:  

Domingo German, 108 IP
Carlos Rodon, 64
Jhony Brito, about 50 (swing role)
Nestor Cortes, 63
Randy Vasquez, about 30 (swing)
Luis Severino, 89
Michael King, about 40 (swing)

German, Brito, Vasquez, Severino and King are gone. That's about 317 innings, out the door. We've signed Marcus Stroman, who last year ate 136 for the Cubs. We're hoping for Rodon and Nasty Nestor to suddenly eat their weights. Either way, we'll need somebody - human or mortal - to gulp down another 180. 

And God forbid something happens to Cole or Schmidt, the latter who polished off far more innings than he'd ever done before. 

Which brings me to the current rumored mini-war over closer Hector Neris. Supposedly - and let's note that news stories could be Gammonitic tripe to make Food Stamps Hal look like a player - the Yankees are dueling with Stevie Cohen over Neris, the ex-Astro closer. Either way, Neris will be 35 this year, and in 2023, he pitched 68 innings in 71 appearances. 

Look, I'm all for signing bullpen lug nuts. You never have too many, and Clay Holmes might be running out of bandwidth. But unless the Yankees shore up the rotation, they can fill their bullpen with the cast of Glee, but it's destined to crash, come August. What they need is not another closer. They need an Ole Munch. 

So... can Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery wear a kilt?

Monday, January 22, 2024

Yanks whiff on prospects list at 2B

Keeping the streak alive, nobody from the Yankees made's top 10 prospect list at 2B.

We've now fanned at RHp, LHp, C, 1B and 2B.

Might have a low-Single A, big bonus signee, guy at SS... Roderick Arias, perhaps? 


The NFL must stop games from being decided by referees. Here's a plan.

After watching 16 hours of football this weekend, I am sick of...

a) TV insurance commercials 
b) Betting parlays
c) games decided by penalty flags, (which, as it turns out, is every game.) 

Again and again, game-breaking plays get called back because a ref spotted something - usually a hold. But the replay shows nothing, or the kind of minimal violation common to every play. (The announcers generally side with the refs, unless the call is so awful that even they jump ship - and that happens several times per game.) 

In the violent pandemonium of the NFL, refs can throw a flag on every play. 

Next week's conference playoffs - and later, the Super Bowl - will be decided by a few flags so questionable that some fans believe the outcomes rigged. 

What can the NFL do? It could build a massive A.I. system, a Forbin Project that watches every player, every moment, every play. That would mean constant penalties - hardly a play without multiple flags thrown. 

Or, better... eliminate holding. 

That's right! When a WR breaks from the line of scrimmage, the DB should be allowed to grab him. The skilled receiver will free himself via a forearm chop or some other MMA-inspired, bone-breaking move. No more zone defenses. Man-to-man coverage. Holding allowed. On every play, let the big dogs fight!

I know what you're thinking: This means it will take longer for WRs to break free. No problem - because offensive linemen will be holding, too! They'll latch onto the DLs, or each other, and strengthen the pocket. With everybody holding everybody, the QB will have several extra seconds to find somebody open. Generally, the only person not holding or being held will be holding the football. And no flags!  

Okay, I know what you're thinking: Duque, this is - well - brilliant! You've cracked the code, you've hacked the system, you've saved the sport... but, um, won't this take some, you know, getting-used-to? 

Of course, it will, dammit! And that's why we have a pre-season. Jeez Grice, do I have to spell out everything? But think of this: Suddenly, for Giants' fans, there's hope at the end of the Daniel Jones tunnel. 

Free the holders, NFL. Free us from the refs. Yes, it will change the game. But at least the Super Bowl won't be decided by another flag. 

Next up, no more "Liberty biberty."

Sunday, January 21, 2024

With Blake Snell still out there, it's time for Yank fans to decide what they stand for

According to the Internet, the Yankees recently offered Blake Snell a $150 million, six-year deal, and it remains the only piece of paper that the pitcher has received this winter with an actual dollar figure on it. 

Supposedly, Snell's nefarious manager - The Sheik - tore up the contract, dusted his hands with fentanyl, and now vows to destroy not only Brian Cashman, but Bruno Sanmartino, when they face off Feb. 3 at Desi's Oysterama in downtown Elmira, good seats still available. Incensed over The Sheik's antics, the Yankees signed Marcus Stroman, who had been a bad guy but is now a good guy. Are you tracking this?

Bottom line: Snell remains a free agent pitcher while the Yankees desperately turn over rocks in search of, gulp, free agent pitching. 

With all due respect to you, dear readers, I sometimes wonder what the eff is going on around here? Since when do we side with Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner on money matters?

Remember, as Yank fans...

We should never worry about the price of players. That's for Brewers fans. 

We are the Billionaire Boys Club. When a player reaches free agency, even if we don't need him, we should demand him.  

We are supposed be "Jolene," from the Dolly Parton song. Homely small market fans should beg us hotties not to steal their man, just because we can. 

Now, I get it that some of you feel guilty about your incredible beauty and unlimited wealth. You want to help the poor, ugly, small marketeers. It saddens you to tear another rising star from his loving home, bringing him to NYC to be eaten alive by an unrelenting biomass of hookers, waitresses, actresses and sideline reporters. 

It's okay if KC signs a star now and then. But in the end, the Yankees are supposed to vacuum up players, even if we don't need them. Remember Jason Giambi? Remember Moose Mussina? 

I know what you're thinking: But Duque, the Yankees aren't the Yankees anymore. The Dodgers are now baseball's marquee team. The Yankees might not even be runner-up. You're thinking of how it was, not how it is.

Yeah, okay, I hear you. But when we accept that role, we are siding with Hal Steinbrenner in contract negotiations, something we should never do. When we accept Hal's frugality, we let him off the hook. 

That's why I say this: 

Blake Snell is still out there. Sign him, for God sake! Do that, and the Yankees open camp as favorites to win the AL East. Let him go elsewhere - and Toronto is a distinct possibility - and we will be chasing a wild card. And Hal will think we're okay with that, because he saved himself some money.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Namath Weeps

Sports Illustrated is gone. It was inevitable. Sports information and opinion is a 24/7/365 endeavor now. There’s no way a weekly, even one with great writing, could survive in this current market.  I haven’t bought one in years. Decades actually. 

I find it especially sad because there were certain magazines that defined and marked the stages of my childhood and now they are all gone.  The Street and Smith Baseball Annual… The first real sign of Spring. My monthly issue of National Lampoon. That grocery bag filled with Playboys that I found in a dumpster, some of which are still stuck to the bottom of a mattress in a landfill off Staten Island.

Then there was SI.  

Sports Illustrated was more than my weekly immersion into the world of sports. It was my introduction to journalism. To developing an understanding of , “Why and how.” That there were other games, other people, people outside of the purview of the New York dailies.

Stories. The 1968 Olympics. Curt Flood. Ali-Frazier. 

Stories that deserved more than five hundred words and, since a picture is worth a thousand words, some of the best sports photography ever produced. Sometimes I would look at the covers for minutes on end before cracking open the magazine.  

Today we have so much information, are bombarded with so many images, that most of it loses meaning. 

We no longer get the pleasure that comes with waiting. Saving up for an album and then having to play it over and over because, even if you didn't like it at first, you were invested and, as it turns out, the fourth song on the flip side ends up being one of your favorites of all time. 

Sports Illustrated was like that. You spent a week with it and, after reading the "important" articles, it still sat there waiting for you to keep going. To read a small blurb about a kid in Indiana named Mattingly who was setting high school records or, to get a sense of what it was like to be a Kenyan long distance runner. 


Namath Weeps. And so do I.


It's prospects ranking season, and for the Yankees, the early results show ups and downs

For baseball news, late January is the doldrums, the time of table-scraps. The monster free agents have signed, and the remainders are digging in, playing chicken, waiting for spring training injuries to juice the market. Frankly, it's amazing that last year's NL Cy Young winner remains unsigned, while the Yankees - claiming to be "all in on 2024," despite a dearth of pitchers - seem to be in a full thumb-twiddle, waiting for camp Tampa to open. 

Time is frozen, as the sports world watches - seriously - Buffalo?

So, how do Yank fans and MLB news munchkins fill this void? By pouring over lists of prospects, ranked, firewalled and released in slow teases, like dancers at the Bada Bing. Such icons as Baseball America and have begun measuring the prospects of measuring prospects. Soon, the bloggers will join in, basing their rankings on other rankings, as the industry lines up mirrors to reflect each other. This creates a massive news turd-burger, which falls somewhere in meaning behind the Golden Globe awards and the SI swimsuit edition. 

(I must sadly note yesterday's apparent passing of Sports Illustrated, the sports mag of my youth, shredded and bled by some faceless new asshole billionaire. As a kid, every trip to my Uncle Paul's house meant securing a corner couch and pouring through SI. Later, my dad gave me a subscription, mostly so he could read it. Another one bites the dust, eh? Nothing lasts forever. Still, in a perfect world, we should be awaiting Kathy Ireland in a ballcap and little more. Instead... prospect rankings? Shoot me.)

So... PROSPECT RANKINGS, EVERYBODY! Hey, here are some takeaways...

1. The Yankees landed six on Baseball America's Top 100 - (Spencer Jones, Jasson Dominquez, #16; Spencer Jones, #47; Everson Pereira, #67; Roderick Arias, #68; Austin Wells, #71; Chase Hampton, #72.) Not bad. Tied for the most in baseball. The problem: Both Tampa and Baltimore also landed six each, and theirs generally come in higher than ours. Not quibbling. Just saying. 

2. The Yankees whiffed on MLB's  Top 10 catching prospects list. (MLB is releasing scattered position-by-position rankings.) Wells didn't make it, despite having a clear path to a 2024 platoon catching slot. The Yankees protected two young catchers on their 40 man roster - Carlos Narvarez (age 25, who hit .239 across three levels last year) and Augustin Ramirez (age 22, who hit .271 across three levels). Neither is ready. Frankly, for all their high draft picks and top international signings - a theme of the 2010s - the Yankees showed little success in developing catchers.   

3. The Yankees also whiffed on MLB's Top 10 list at 1B. This isn't as bad as it sounds, because if Wells doesn't cut it behind the plate, he might move to first. (Assuming he hits.) Three years from now, Aaron Judge will probably be our first-baseman, so you could argue that we don't need to grow our own. Still, it's nice to watch a stud corner infielder through the system. Maybe somebody will emerge. (Ben Rice, age 24, out of Dartmouth, who hit .324 with 20 HRs over three levels.) For now, though, we're sucking air down there.

4. Guess what - more shutouts in the top 10 lists for RH and LH pitchers. For whatever it's worth, Drew Thorpe - whom we traded for Juan Soto, didn't make the RH list. Not sure what this means, because these days, it seems as if every young pitcher is ticketed for Tommy John surgery. The key is having a large wave of arms, and letting the Fates whittle them down. On that note, the Yankees this winter have traded or lost nine young pitchers. Strength in numbers? Hard to see it.  We better hope for good health. In the meantime, Bada Bing.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Jeet, we hardly knew ye: The Jeter Downs Era with the Yankees has ended


Rumor: Paul is Dead and Brian Cashman has been replaced.

Paul is dead. We all know he is. Don't think so? Then how do you explain this? 

Plus he's facing the wrong way on the back cover.  What more proof do you need? 

That said, Brian Cashman is no longer running the Yankees. I'm not sure if he has been deposed or is dead and is  now hanging out with the other Paul, Gabe, in where ever GM's go. 

If he is dead,  Cashman's soul is probably caught in some kind of purgatory where big stars choose other franchises and he's forced to overpay for lesser talent. An infinite loop where all of his trades bring back injured players that don't help. 

A place where he doesn't get fired, nor can he quit. Just an endless number of marginally winning seasons ending without a championship. Always derailed by freak injuries and players who never revert to the mean.    

But, whether dead or simply replaced, he is no longer the GM of the Yankees. What proof do I offer? Consider yesterday's "press conference".  

According to the Athletic 

"The New York Yankees general manager spoke with reporters via video conference Thursday afternoon, just an hour after the club introduced starting pitcher Marcus Stroman as its newest signing. But because Cashman was driving, he didn’t appear on video."

He didn't appear on video because his replicant is still healing from his plastic surgery. 

Here is a quote from the call...

“I think our team overall is going to be a constant evolution. We have a very strong team in my opinion, but we always look to improve upon it where we can and when we can." 

Uh, team? When was the last time Brian Cashman used the word team? Isn't it, product? 

 "I think we’re improved, but it doesn’t matter what I think."

It doesn't matter what I think? This from the self proclaimed smartest man in the room? 

And here's the kicker... I got a hold of the audio of the press conference and played it backwards and can swear I heard a message straight from Purgatory... 

"No number 28. No number 29. No number 29. No number 29. No number 29. No number 29. No number 29. No number 29... and "There's-a-hole-in-Left-Field... forever." 

"The setbacks were largely attributed to injuries that plagued Carlos Rodon’s debut season. A lack of an adequate "on-ramp" into the season, as both Rodon and the Yankees acknowledged, contributed to the challenges he faced. However, there is a sense of determination to address these issues and set a positive tone for the upcoming season."

The Brian that Wouldn't Die
(courtesy of Above Average)

Mm-mm. Tell me more, Dr. Kevorkian...

As we grope towards February, I'd almost forgotten the sweet, reassuring backrub of offseason press clippings, the comforting crapola of knowing that no one is hurt, that we have yet to lose, and that every returning lug nut will soon emerge from his winter cocoon looking rock-ribbed, hungry and "in the best shape of his career... "

In upstate New York, January is a best-forgotten Hellscape, unless you actually care about the Golden Snowball (see below), enjoy shoveling the roof, and savor speculative news stories about what Taylor Swift might do this weekend in Buffalo. The world is bonkers. The Houthis are about to learn why Americans don't have free health care. Did Kanye really have his teeth replaced by Titanium dentures? And what if the Academy snubs Barbie? Do we hang Mike Pence?

Syracuse has fallen 22 inches
behind Buffalo. Fire the mayor?

But but BUT... it just doesn't matter. 

Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes have arrived in camp.

I can't tell you what this means for the upcoming season. Not because I can't find the words. I just don't fukkin know. Because there is nothing to know. They've shown up in Tampa because a) Fargo ended, b) the temperature dipped below 40, or c) the eaves need clearing, and last time they climbed a ladder, they fell into the prickers and needed stitches. There's always a reason. 

So here it is: The unbridled hopes of mid-February, served via Door-Dash, four weeks early. Bathe in it. Drink it. Let the healing waters boost our vim and shrink our skin tags. Spring is not around the corner, not even close. But Carlos Rodon's 2023 season is now officially last year's problem. That 6.85 ERA? It's old news. And let's forget that Nestor appeared at a Trump rally. That was last year. He is once again Nasty. 

Yesterday, the Prophet himself - Cooperstown Cashman - posted from the laboratory where he is being kept alive eternally. He spake these words: 

"I think we have a good rotation if everything goes right."

Sums it up, eh? Now, about that bullpen...

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Elephant in the Room

 I have remained relatively silent as the Yankees have vomited ideas all over themselves during the " off season."

But the obvious misjudgment so far is this:

1.  We had a legit, "gold glove" super star in right field ( Judge ). So the Yankees "idea' is to move him to centerfield, for which he is neither well-suited nor close to being a gold glove.   

2.  We moved the earth to sign a legit 4 tool guy, to make up for the fact that Stanton has become a 1 tool guy. 

 Unfortunately, Soto's missing tool is called " outfield defense."  So, the Yankees will start him in RF.  Now we have weakened 2/3rds of our outfield.

3.  In LF, we have the disgruntled, now beardless Vergdigo, whom many say is a worse teammate than Josh Donaldson.  He can't run  and he has a modest arm.  But if he hits .250 we'll all drink champagne. 

So while the Yankees tell us they have strengthened the team, they have built an outfield defense that ranks between poor and medium. Not the sign of a champion.  

And we haven't even speculated on what happens if one of these starters gets tweaked. We'll probably wind up with our back-up catcher playing CF. 

Luckily,  Dallas was embarrassed by Green Bay, and the Eagles collapsed.

So all is well until the Yankee games begin. 

Apparently, the Yankees will hit spring training with the current OF conundrum

Yesterday - for good, clean fun - we pondered the Top 10 Yankee "IF"s for 2024, and I must say: It's one fine, sun-kissed, pants-pissed, limp-wrist ground-up grist shit-list. 

But but BUT... we neglected one key "IF," which has been happily soaring about 20,000 feet above the chattering Yankiverse: 

In their current incarnation, the Yankees apparently expect Aaron Judge to play about 120 games in CF, and - basically - this is madness. 

A day after waiving OF Oscar Gonzalez to make room for Marcus Stroman, the Yankees are down to eight OFs - one fifth of the 40-man roster. And the nominees for Best Actor in a Limited OF Conundrum are: 

Trent Grisham, 27
Aaron Judge, 31 
Everson Pereira, 22
Juan Soto, 25
Bubba Thompson, 25
Alex Verdugo, 27
Giancarlo Stanton, 34
Oswaldo Cabrera, 25

And the winner is... Baltimore.

For now, Grisham stands as the fulltime, defensive CF. But he swings a toothpick. Soto and Verdugo, our new LH sluggers, will man the corners.  In the vast, pastoral glen of Mickey, Joe and Bernie, the Yankees apparently plan to use their franchise player, their best hitter, their captain - surely the largest biomass ever to patrol centerfield in MLB history - Aaron Judge. He is a legitimate Golden Glove in RF, where Soto is - well - so-so, at best. We will have Judge sprinting gap to gap, coast to coast, pitch after pitch, game after game, and this apparently is no concern?

Lately, we've seen a parlor game on Twitter (or X) where Yank fans work up erections over the batting order. It starts with Verdugo, peaks with Soto, and ends with Volpe, whom everybody secretly still envisions as the Second Coming of Jeet. We ignore the rotation - assuring ourselves the Yankees should hold the line on spending for, say, Blake Snell. (Do you realize that we are exhibiting symptoms of the Stockholm Syndrome, assuming the views of our hostage takers.)  

Okay, so be it. So let me just add another "IF:" 

IF Aaron Judge can last 120 games in CF, the Yankees will be fine. 

And if he can't... that is, if he tweaks a gonad, or runs into a wall, or just blows a gasket from trying to cover an entire Zip Code, well, we can take that wonderful batting order and add Bubba Thompson to the mix. That may happen away. But let's be honest with ourselves: Right now, the Yankee OF out of whack. Let's not claim we weren't warned.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Glitch in the Matrix? As balloting closes for the Oscars, the Yankees release Oscar Gonzalez


They needed to make room for Marcus Stroman.

Top 10 Yankee "Ifs" for 2024

Don't look now, but while we've been pondering the rise and fall of humanity, the wily Yankee brain trust has been quietly assembling some of baseball's greatest IFs. 

To win it all in '24!, all we need to do is turn a few of these IFs into DONEs, instead of the usual ANDs or BUTs. 

But but BUT... let's face it: IFs are bastards. Every team has a bunch. The Yankees currently face questions about pitching, infield and outfield - (Judge in center, seriously?) - and IFs have become the currency of hope. 

Here are the IT IS HIGH current Top 10 Yankee IFs List... ranked according to the John Mayberry Scale of Maybe. 

The Yankees can win in 2024, IF... 

10. Oswaldo Cabrera learns to hit.

Austin Wells proves to be a MLB catcher.

8. Clay Holmes can last a year as closer. 

7. Tampa loses Wander Franco due to his, um, proclivities. 

6. Anthony Rizzo's noggin recovers.

5. Anthony Volpe stops trying to be Aaron Judge.

4. Giancarlo has a comeback season.

3. Rodon pitches like 2022.

2. Soto hits as we expect.  

1. Judge and Cole stay healthy.

Hmm. You know what? That's a shitload of IFs.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

The Jeter Downs Era could soon end: Is he the Yankee Oumuamua?

You've probably heard about the massive interstellar turd, dubbed "Oumuarmua," which buzzed our solar system in 2017, prompting one Harvard know-it-all to claim it was a space shit ship, a strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

Barring a Twilight Zone "To Serve Man" live sequel, we'll never know whether Oumuarmua was a dead rock or alien probe. It came and went - outa sight, outa mind - and humanity had better things to do, like genocide and stuff. 

But the Yankiverse may soon see the twilight of our own Oumuarmua - the famously named Jeter Downs, who signed with the Death Barge on December 19 and might be gone before his first month anniversary.

Downs is the 25-year-old former Redsock prospect and lynchpin in the Mookie Betts giveaway/trade of 2020. Thus far, in his brief career, he has bounced around like a superball in an elevator: We are his fifth MLB franchise, counting the Reds, Dodgers, Redsocks and Nationals. 

He's a glove SS who just hasn't hit. (MLB 50 plate appearances, .182.) When the Yankees plucked him off waivers, everyone at IT IS HIGH had a grand chuckle, because we now had both Downs and Alex Verdugo, two of the three pieces of bounty Boston received for Mookie. Ha ha! Few life events bring as much joy as a certified Redsock fiasco. Downs and Verdugo can remind us that, however awful the Yankees may be, Boston might even be worse. Ah, the little things in life!

But our Jeter Downs Era might soon end, and the culprit could be - gulp - Luke Weaver, a cold reminder of our ongoing pitching kerfuffle. Weaver is an earnest but pre-owned, 30-year-old swingman, who will join a Yankee staff that, entering 2024, could be mistaken for that of a 4th place team. 

Right now, the Yankees have 42 players earmarked for their 40-man roster. When Marcus Stroman and Weaver pass their physicals, assuming they can turn their heads and cough without fainting, they will immediately join the team, and two current members will disappear.

Right now, there are three most likely to go:

Oscar Gonzalez, a 26-year-old OF.
Bubba Thompson, a 25-year-old OF.
And Downs, the 25-year-old SS. 

I won't waste your time by speculating. Who knows? Downs might survive the current crunch, but it's hard to believe the Yankees are done signing players. They'll probably add, at least, a bullpen lug nut, rather than let such a thin staff threaten the season. Downs looks like a candidate to disappear, like Oumuamua, into vast interstellar space.

Of course, he might pass waivers and land in Scranton. You never know. Either way, we had good fun, mocking Boston for a few weeks. In that regard, he's done his job. Wherever the interstellar winds guide him, I say, "The universe beckons, o, Oumuamua! To infinity, and beyond!"