Friday, September 19, 2014

Report from Washington (the state): "So here is Cano's stat line over those last 15 days: .294 BA but with only 5 runs scored; 6 RBI's; 2 HR's - 0 SB's - 2 GIDP (one rally killer last night that gagged me) and 4 freaking errors. He has made only 8 all year - so that is telling. So is he choking? Am I choking? Am I publicly calling him out? I think - yes, yes and yes."

From correspondent Rose City Wobblies:

Thought you and the folks at IIH,IIF,IIc might want to know that while Robbie has been a great contributor and has helped put the M's on the doorstep to a WC spot ... he is spinning somewhat foolishly in the batter's box and on the field.

His team has gone 7-7 over the last 15 days and lost ground to the two front runners ... (pulling out a 3-1 win last night with a heroic 3-run shot in the 9th from journeyman Logan Morrison). It truly has been a blessed season for our regional team .. with no help from Jesus Montero and just a little bit of help from newly acquired Austin Jackson in CF (former Yankee too, BTW).

So here is Cano's stat line over those last 15 days: .294 BA but with only 5 runs scored; 6 RBI's; 2 HR's - 0 SB's - 2 GIDP (one rally killer last night that gagged me) and 4 freaking errors. He has made only 8 all year - so that is telling.

So is he choking? Am I choking? Am I publicly calling him out? I think - yes, yes and yes. Both my Giants and these M's are smelling Selig bowl games ... so I have to be happy. But Robbie needs to step up his game if his team is gonna get over on the A's or Royals. He always looks like the zillion dollar guy that he is being paid and is surely helpful on our mostly Latino bench and locker room - but watch these next ten games ... he could explode or keep circling the drain - and the M's with him.

You can watch the heartwarming new Jeter farewell ad, but on some sites, before it plays, you have to first watch another ad

Yesterday, a bunch of folks sent me emails flagging the new warm-and-fuzzy Gatorade commercial, which follows Derek Jeter on a neighborhood good will tour to the stadium - amid adoring, bootless throngs, filmed in art school black-and-white, while Frank Sinatra croons the epic final bars of "My Way."

By now, I suspect you've seen it. We're late to the party. It pushes a lot of buttons to sell a product known mostly these days for being poured over players and coaches on victorious sidelines. In the toxic wake of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and the National Thug League, PepsiCo prefers to align itself with a fellow who doesn't punch out his wife or use small children to recreate scenes from "!2 Years a Slave." Derek Jeter is great. I certainly agree with that.

I was going to link to the commercial. But on three sites where it was airing, you have to watch another 30 second commercial in order to see the Jeter commercial. 

Imagine that. We finally reached the next realm. We moved beyond wearing product logos on T-shirts or shouting the catch phrases of TV vampires. We've entered a new universe, a trendier one, where the corporations can think, vote and copulate - and the commercials have their own commercials.

In this world, one thing matters. Public Image. That's all. A guy beats his wife? He doesn't need counseling. He needs P.R. The polar caps are melting? No sweat. Fight global warming with P.R! Hunger... poverty... war... blah-blah-blah. With the right P.R., everything is fine.

OK... don't get me wrong. (I'm sour over the outcome of this season.) It's truly a great commercial, a tug at the old heartstrings. Drink a keg of Gatorade! Derek Jeter deserves whatever cheers the corporations can rouse on his behalf. And I'm sure he received a nice paycheck for his efforts.

Two questions, though, and I ask it with nothing but respect for Jeter:

To appreciate Jeter's legacy, do Yankee fans need a commercial?

And when corporations latch onto our hearts, what exactly are they selling?

Last night's walk-off win would have been exciting, had it mattered

I'm sorry, folks. Somewhere out there - or deep within our DNA - lurks the 9-year-old who is now just discovering Lawrence Peter Berra. But that was a half-century ago, and too many Lance McCullers and Ross Moschittos have floated down the Yankee river. They say that a win is a win is a win. That is not true. Last night, I wanted the Yankees to lose. I'm sorry.

But losing is honest. Losing highlights the reality of another failed Yankee season. Losing means having to make another excuse - having to erase another annoyance, though they are mere scratches on the skin to the owners, for whom entire lost seasons barely register financially as mosquito bites. Through the mere act of existing, the Steinbrenners have accumulated more wealth than most middle class communities, and why wouldn't they believe that any problem can be solved with a checkbook? Isn't that exactly how Hal Steinbrenner viewed the 2014 season? Time to grab the wallet and buy a team?

Losing is honest. Losing means your $20 million cleanup hitter doesn't go on a 10-game hitting streak against Triple A starters and finish the season with a statistical bump that implies he did something, when in fact, he was a pulsing black hole, sucking entire rallies into his maw. Do you want Mark Teixeira to hit five HRs next week, so he can tell his critics that - no, he doesn't need to hit to all fields; he can just swing harder and try to the drive every ball into outer space, Ron Kittle-style. Do you want the Yankees to sign Chase Headley and Chris Young to three-year deals, based on the final two weeks of a nothing season? Should we get excited about "carrying momentum into next spring?"

Losing is honest. Losing is performing the entire play, in perfect character, all the way to the final death scene. Losing is what the 2014 Yankees did best. Losing was their genius. Last week, the game when Young homered against Baltimore, and then Adam Warren filled the bases without a hit - dear God, that was brilliant, a veritable masterpiece of pathos. No. This team needs to keep the losses going. No momentum for 2015. No padding of stats. I want every statistic frozen, so nobody can someday claim this team was anything but a giant stink bomb unleashed in the center of New York City.

Yes, there is one last game to win - Jeter's final home game. Let's win that one. But throughout his career, Jeter played an honest game of baseball. So let's be honest now. The truth about this team is that Lawrence Peter Berra wouldn't recognize it under a spotlight. The truth is simple and painful. This team needs to lose.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In honor of today's Scottish Independence vote, the all-time Top 10 McYankees

The McTop McTen McYankees

1. Joe McCarthy
2. Gil McDougald
3. Jack McDowell
4. Lindy McDaniel
5. Sam McDowell
6. Brian McCann
7. Brendan McCarthy
8. Lance McCullers
9. Rich McKinney
10. Casey McGehee

Boston unveiled its Cuban "Brett Gardner with power" last night

Say what you wish about Martin Prado - a fine, scrappy player, when not lying on a hospital gurney - but if not for the $22 million that Hal spent on Prado, we might have out-gunned the Redsocks to sign 27-year-old Rusney "Brett Gardner with Power" Castillo.

Last night, the Redsocks played their new Cuban plug-in. He went one for four. Brace yourselves, because we'll hear all about him next week. Boston fans are stoned over the Yankee collapse, thinking they'll rebound, while we spin our wheels through the final four years of Brian McCann.

There is one hope, though. Next week, the Yankees will attend an MLB stool sample and mouth check session for 23-year-old Yasmani Tomas, the next big cigar to come out of Havana. Tomas is built like an NFL domestic abuser, plays RF and has prison tower power. He could cost $100 million, and keep in mind that Boston has gobs of cash lying around, collecting dust. Also, they have an actual farm system, with three young impact players on the way for 2015. Add a HR-hitting OF, and they could catapult past us.

Tomas' auction will be the first sign of how Marshmallow Hal reacts to the money-burning funeral train known as the 2014 Yankees.

"He's had a significant influence in the clubhouse. There is no statistical documentation, no advanced metric, no WAR number to document that impact, but it exists. Players can have positive (and negative) effects on teammates, the same way co-workers can make other employees more productive or leave them grumbling, miserable and staring at the clock. People on and around the Mariners have noticed the Cano effect."

As Seattle chases that magical, mythical, mirthful, away-field, one-game Wild Card, the beloved superhero known as Robbie Cano has enraptured the glistening-haired Gammonites of Bristol. 

Mike Trout almost certainly will win the American League MVP award -- and deservedly so... But there is another player in the AL who might mean more to his team than Trout does to the Angels. 

Beltran and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Two days ago, Carlos Beltran left the team because his wife suffered a miscarriage - a real life tragedy - and if there is one upside to the bleak 2014 season, it is that Beltran needn't rush back to the Yankees.

Why bother? The team is divoting through the back nine holes of Derek Jeter's farewell tour, a sad and surprisingly tiresome period, when Beltran could play no meaningful role other than to remind the Yankiverse of its disillusionment with the current regime.

Seriously, folks, if we had the chance, wouldn't we rather follow Extreme Frisbee?

Or Ramon Flores! Wait a minute. Who TF is Ramon Flores? Well, he just happens to be a 22-year-old OF who hit .247 at Scranton this year. His numbers (7 HR) won't inscribe him into Jesus Montero Cooperstown Club, but Ramon was the official Yankee emissary to youth at Triple A - our youngest player. He healed from an injury and came on at the end of the season. Not a future CF monument, maybe. But Ramon was one of four - yep, just four - at Scranton under the age of 25 (2B Rob Refsnyder, P Nick Rumbelow and P Manny Banuelos), the rest of the team being a scrap-heap assortment of Steinbrenner Collectibles. You know - the Yangervises, the Zelouses, the Antoans, the Adonises, the Ronniers... the list goes on.

But wait, this is about Beltran, who last year at this time was leading St. Louis into the post-season. Last year, he looked like an actual lithe National League outfielder. This year, from Day One, he resembled another slow-footed, pulled-pork, AL designated hitter.

Last year, he played the outfield with grace and experience. This year, he bull-charged a right field foul line, did a full flip, landed on his ample butt, and never was quite the same. He didn't hit for power. He didn't hit for average. Then one day, he announced that he couldn't throw, due to a bone spur. He could have had an operation, but he would miss six to eight weeks.

Looking back, he should have had the operation. Instead, he stayed, and did a four month impersonation of a large stone going through a long snake. He and Mark Teixeira became the Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells of 2014 - and the last thing you wanted to see was those two coming up with a runner on base. The LOB Machine. That's what they should call the 2014 Yankees.

So... it's over for Beltran. If you check his last four years, he's been up and down, up and down. That means he could rebound in 2015. Of course, he'll be 38 - and he never had such a terrible, horrible, no good very bad year as this. Even if he comes back, what are we talking about? A .270 average and 20 HRs? Is that what we want from a DH? And then there is 2016, when his biorhythms would call for - dear God - he'll make Hafner look like Babe Ruth.

Surely, everyone wishes the best for Beltran's family. But we're stuck with him. And because of him, Ramon Flores might spend the next two years at Scranton. Hey, what's happening in Extreme Frisbee?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The dean of baseball writers pulls the plug on Brian Cashman: "I don’t think I have advocated anyone’s dismissal since a college football coach many years ago when I was a college junior, and I felt bad about it afterward. I don’t feel bad about advocating Cashman’s dismissal because he has had his chances and has made millions while squandering many more."

Murray Chass has been writing about baseball since Abner Doubleday painted the base paths. And like much -  if not most - of the Yankiverse, he has seen enough of Mr. Brian Cashman. 

[S]how me a productive farm system that Cashman has built. The Yankees haven’t had a productive farm system since the one that produced Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada, and Cashman was a baby in the system at that time.

Chass is the second veteran NYC Gammonite this week to hone in on the sad record of Mark Newman, the Yankees (soon to retire) director of minor league operations. Sunday, Bill Madden ripped Newman in the Daily News, though he didn't directly attack Cashman, other than to ask why Cashman let Newman fail for so long.

Chass doesn't let Cashman off the hook.

Under Newman, the Yankees have squandered high-round draft choices and have developed no position players who have been major league worthy. For years the organization suffered from internal civil strife between the New York and Tampa offices, each fighting for its position of strength. When Cashman was negotiating a new contract in 2005, he threatened to leave if he wasn’t given complete authority over the baseball operation.

Steinbrenner gave it to him, but he never really used it, allowing Newman to continue doing what he had always done, hiring old friends to staff the scouting and minor league systems and making draft decisions.

Moreover, Chass says one MLB executive told him the Yankees were trying to trade Dellin Betances last year - an absolutely devastating move, considering that Betances is the lone jewel from their system. What does it say about the "baseball minds" of the front office that they almost gave away Betances?

I don't know if Cashman has been the problem. But he clearly is not the solution. The Yankees need someone from the outside to run the farm system and direct operations. It has to be someone who demands full control - mostly from the meddling hands of Hal. Maybe there is a place in the Yankee system for Cashman. Maybe not.

But this year's team has been an all-out disgrace, and we are likely to be worse next year.

Bravo, Mr. Chass, for speaking out!

Calling Mr. Lupica... Mr. Sherman... Mr. Feinsand... guys, are you there?

Last night, watching Hiroki Kuroda lead the charge across the diamond toward the Rays, it occurred to me that we may be seeing the last of another great Yankee

When benches clear, an unwritten rule says that the no-names must protect the stars. You don't want to lose your starting centerfielder in a rugby scrum on pitchers mound.

Along those lines, heros sometimes are made. I shall always remember Shelley Duncan with fondness, because years ago - after a miserable Tampa Ray flattened Francisco Cervelli with a cheap shot, nearly ending his career, during an exhibition game - Shelley kicked a guy in the nuts and launched a payback brawl. If Duncan ever comes to Syracuse for a baseball card convention, he's got my $10 for an autographed glossy. That's a lifetime promise.

Last night, when the benches cleared, three Yankees led the march across the infield, into the no-man's land of a brawl: Esmil Rogers, Antoan Richardson and Hiroki Kuroda.

That's right... Hiroki Kuroda. Age 39. The guy who still can't speak the language. Hiroki Kuroda, who could have every reason in the world to sit this one out. Hiroki Kuroda, the lone Yankee starting pitcher to last the entire year, while younger men crumbled and fell. Hiroki Kuroda, who the Yankees were supposed to go easy on this year, so he wouldn't be overused - but they sure threw that plan out the window - AND HE STILL SURVIVED. Hiroki Kuroda, a great Yankee, a guy on the front lines last night when a teammate had been plunked.

We may be seeing the last outings of Kuroda's great Yankee career. They say he intends to retire in Japan, not the U.S. He'll decide his future this winter. But make no mistake, we may be watching the end of a great pitcher's time in New York.

Over the next week, a lot of people will cry and go crazy over Derek Jeter's goodbyes. At some point, Kuroda will walk off the mound, perhaps for the finale, as a Yankee.

Dammit, we better notice. We better let him know we appreciated him. He led the charge last night. He led the charge all season. Hiroki Kuroda goes down as a great Yankee. Save your money for the baseball card conventions, Yankiverse. We will always want his 8x11 glossy.

Celebrate Good Times, Come On

The 2014 New York Yankees may suck, they may miss the playoffs for two straight years for the first time since the early 90s, Jeter may have his worst-ever year on his worst-ever team on his farewell tour, Girardi may still be a pinheaded black binder lover (except when he goes with old-timey baseball crap like righty/lefty...or worse, his gut, which is often wrong), but we are on the verge, baby!! 

We are ready to party because we may be the only team in MLB this year to eke out a (barely) winning record while scoring fewer runs than opponents!!

The negative run differential is at -35, and while there are a couple of crap teams like ours who may give us a run for the un-money, we can do it if we try!!!

Come on, Yankees, show this league what you're made of!!!

Open Letter to Joe Girardi: It's payback time in Tampa; don't play Jeter tonight

Dear Joe,

First off, one suggestion: A daily cocktail application of Zyprexa and Lamictal can ensure an effective "happy blanket" through rough periods. Feel free to experiment!

Secondly, it's time for a little Florida sinkhole pushback.

For months now, the wretched, mostly invisible fans of Tampa have hoarded and scalped tickets to tonight's Yankee game, believing it will be their last chance to see Derek Jeter play.

Screw them.

Let the Captain sit.

Let him take the night off, see a movie, hang with his girlfriend or gather with buddies to burn that stupid kayak the Rays gave him last night. He shouldn't even show up. Play Zelous Wheeler at shortstop. Or don't even play a shortstop at all. Just have a huge over-shift.

Why would the Yankees subject their captain to another Tampa beanball? Good grief, he's got important home games this week! If a Ray pitcher were to break Jeter's his wrist with an inside fastball, he'd miss games in front of fans that matter.

Twice now - TWICE IN THE LAST WEEK! - he's been nailed by Rays pitchers. Chase Headley took one in the kisser. Overall, the Yankees have been hit five times! FIVE! You know what Auric Goldfinger would have said about that? "Once, Mr. Bond, is happenstance; twice, coincidence; three times is enemy action; four times, jeeze, did you say four? Well, that's a hot stick poked up your butt by Rosa Klebb; and five times - dammit, Mr. Bond, five? After five times, you gotta get Richard "Jaws" Kiel and go 'Deliverance' on those SMERSH bastards. You gotta go Moonraker on Pussy Galore."

Yes sir, it's time to go Moonraker on Pussy Galore, or declare 'World War Jete' on Tampa, or something like that. It's time to show that miserable franchise the Yankees don't need Tampa, don't care about Tampa, and if the people of Tampa are pissed tonight because they came to see the great Number 2, just tell them he's healing from the ball he took on the hand last night, when some Double A bum was throwing at him with a five-run lead. 

Sit the Captain.

Screw the Rays and their stupid city. Five times? That's nuclear war. Tonight, let them boo the Rays and cheer Zelous.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NFL: National Fatherhood League?

Maybe they should rename the Metrodome "the Whipping Room."

Updated schedule for Final Jeter Gifting Ceremonies

Oct. 1, 11 a.m.: Official Jeter Final Yankee Pre-Retirement Coffee, Starbucks, Boston.
Join Derek, manager Joe Girardi and Yankee President Randy Levine for a special, emotional send-off before the Captain's final game. In brief ceremonies, Derek will receive a special, 48 ounce Starbucks mug, with lifetime refills, which will be also offered by Steiner Collectibles as a limited edition Jeter keepsake for only $59.95. (No refills.) This is a memory you won't want to miss.

Oct. 1, 2 p.m.: Official Final Captain's Crap, Men's Restroom, Fenway Park. 
Join Derek, announcer Michael Kay and Yankee President Randy Levine in stall No. 2 for the Captain's final No. 2, while dropping his famed pinstriped pants. During a brief but satisfying ceremony, Jeter will receive a roll of special commemorative toilet paper, which will also be made available by Steiner Collectibles as limited edition keepsakes for only $29.95. (Package of four.) This is an excrement you won't want to miss!

Oct. 1, 9:30 p.m.: Official Final Jeter Hookup, Hampton Inn Hotel, Boston.
Join Derek, general manager Brian Cashman, Yankee President Randy Levine and a Victoria's Secret supermodel for the Yankee superstar's final sexual romp, while shedding his famed Yankee jersey. In special ceremonies, which could last several hours, Jeter will receive a commemorative blowjob, which also will be made available by Steiner Collectibles, as limited edition keepsakes for only $199.99. This is an orgasm you won't want to miss!

Martin Prado lost for playoffs

Prado's appendix burst - the rare sign of a Yankee batter with guts.

If we win all remaining games and take the final, away-team-advantage, one-game wild-card picnic basket, Zelous Wheeler might play 2B.

Yankeetorial: Let us ponder the unspoken rage inside the Yankee psyche.

Another night. Another shutout. Another walkoff loss. Another miserable effort.

Right now, the Yankees are the home team of Hell. They are were in a pennant race, playing clubs who have been dead for a month, and losing to them.

Has a Yankee team ever played with less vigor? They resemble the beer-in-the-clubhouse Boston Redsocks of four years ago, famous for ordering fried chicken during games. It's as if they want these games to go quickly, so they can escape this rotting stench and go home.

Imagine the unspoken frustration in the clubhouse. Once again, a hit here or there, and they would have won the game. But they didn't. Once again, anybody who last spring learned to bunt against the over-shift could have turned around this game. But they didn't. Once again, the game became secondary to the all-important Derek Jeter Farewell Tour.

My guess is this entire goddamm team - including Jeter - resents - absolutely hates - the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour, which months ago became ridiculous. Listen: Jeter is a great player, but since when is every team supposed to lavish gifts upon a retiring player? He is not Hank Aaron. He is not Babe Ruth. He is not the greatest shortstop that ever lived. He is a rarity, because he never got involved in scandal - (mostly because he never married any of his women, thus he isn't five-time divorced) - and meanwhile, in case nobody noticed, Jeter's game fell off a ledge. It's the elephant in the room that nobody discusses. Joe Girardi's first priority this season was to sanctify the Jeter Tour, and everybody at home is still supposed to stand up and salute their TVs when he marches to the plate. Last year's Mariano Tour was farcical enough, considering how the Yankees ended their playoff hopes on the day Rivera was honored. This year was supposed to be a pageant. The Yankees were put together by Steiner Collectibles - no, call them the Steinbrenner Collectibles.

Why did we sign Brian McCann for five years? We had Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine, JR Murphy and Gary Sanchez, the top prospect in the system. None could catch? Why did we make a three-year investment in Carlos Beltran, when two years ago we passed on him? What made us think he would improve?

I'm glad we lost last night. I hope we lose them all. Right now, with 73 losses, we would draft 15th next season. (Actually, we're tied with Cleveland, so we might draft 16th.) If we can run the table, we could bypass Atlanta (75 losses), Miami (76), Tampa (78) and maybe the Mets (79). Of course, drafting higher won't matter if all we intend to do is sign another Beltran. We'll lose the pick, anyway. Tonight, let's hope for another loss. Another shutout. Another walk-off. It's time to blow this thing up.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Speaking of Baseball, Ayn Rand, Who Would Have Loved The Yankee Stadium Moat, Flopped In Theaters This Weekend

Despite, or because of, cameo appearances by Sean Hannity and Ron Paul, Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? took in less money than a Legends Suites food action station. Gladdened by the news, I did a lurk-and-gloat at some Rand fansites. My favorite comments:
Kittyhawk: We drove about 45 minutes to see a 11:40 showing of ASIII on Friday in the Tampa area with our six year old, who said after, "I like Atlas Shrugged. Let's go see it again tomorrow." There were probably about 12-15 people in the theater with us, mostly aged 60 and over.
Zero: The next movie MUST be better - there is too much at stake.  This world IS NOT LOST unless we give up on it!
JRMR: The Taggart Bridge now falls because of regulation. OK? but WHAT regulation and why don't you SHOW US THIS REGUALTION AND ITS TRUE EFFECT ON THE WORLD INSTEAD OF TELLING US! This movie does way to much telling and not enough showing. Honestly I had NO idea how bad an overbearing government was because the movie simply tells us it is through narration. SHOW ME WHY I SHOULD CARE AND DON"T JUST TELL ME ITS BAD BECAUSE "WELL THE TAGGART BRIDGE FELL DOWN" BULL SHOW THE EFFECTS OF THE GOVERNMENT!!!

A N Other: Who picked these producers? By what standards?
Abaco: The left is winning. 

Randfans in and around baseball include Cal Ripken, Jr., Milton Bradley and Billy Beane.

Hiding behind the kids: "I spent this week answering seemingly impossible questions about the league’s biggest stars. ‘Mom, why did he do that? Why isn’t he in jail? Why didn’t he get fired?'”

Hannah Storm didn't ask those questions. Her kids did. 

I hate it when announcers, writers or pundits can only criticize a power structure from behind a pair of cuddly human shields.

Just to be clear: I have nothing personal against Hannah Storm. But my kids, they said, "Daddy, why doesn't she say what's on her mind?" Hey, I can't help it. That's what they said. (Actually, they had to text it from college.)

Yankeetorial: It looks like the Yankee front office has found its scapegoat.

Last October, the Incompetent Empire blamed all its problems on a strength and conditioning coach named Dana Cavalea, the lone person to be fired, after the team finished out of post-season. This came six years after the Evils fired Cavalea's boss, a guy named Marty Miller. It's a great Machiavellian strategy for survival at the Yankee summit: When the team stinks, somebody must take a bullet.

It looks as though Mark Newman, the longtime director of minor league operations, plans to drink the Drano this winter - announcing his retirement - so his cronies can keep their lanyards and parking spaces.

Newman's exit popped up in the Murdoch Post this weekend, barely two weeks since news rolled out that Brian Cashman will stay on as Chief Procurer to the Throne. This weekend brought Bill Madden's Sunday column, which kicks Newman around, gives Cash yet another free pass, but asks a couple questions, suggesting trouble in paradise.

Keep in mind that Madden in 2010 wrote Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, a biography whose title certainly salves the souls Hal and Hank. It's not hard to believe that when Madden spouts, the heirs might be nodding agreement.

Here's what Madden said:

[G]etting rid of Newman alone isn’t going to solve the Yankees’ problem, which is one of the most consistently barren farm systems in all of baseball; a talent dearth that has forced them to continually dip into the free agent market and grossly overspend on contracts such as those for CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Brain McCann, Carlos Beltran — and, of course, A-Rod — that are choking them now. 

(Damn straight, Madden got that right.)

What has to change are the policies of Newman, and for that to happen the Yankees are going to need to overhaul the entire player development and scouting department. The question is: Who will do that? It’s looking fairly certain GM Brian Cashman will be back — it’s hard to fault him for any of the moves he made in an effort to improve the team this year. Where Cashman can be faulted, however, is the minor league system. 

Back in 2005, he threatened to leave as GM if Yankee owner George Steinbrenner didn’t put an end to the longstanding separate fiefdoms in both Tampa and New York and give him control over the entire baseball operation. But once in charge, Cashman did nothing to change the way the minor league system was run. Newman remained and was allowed to continue hiring his cronies as scouts and coaches, many of whom never even played professionally (while at the same time running off, among others, Dick Groch, the scout who signed Derek Jeter, and Fred Ferreira, the scout who signed Bernie Williams), and Damon Oppenheimer continued as scouting director. 

This is interesting. And if true, why hasn't more been made of it until now? 

I’m told the morale throughout the Yankees’ minor league system was at an all-time low this year as Newman had minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson calling minor league managers in the middle of ballgames and ordering them to remove pitchers with rising pitch counts. Yet in spite of all the failed draft picks, and pitchers who were never allowed to pitch out of jams, and the absence of any impact position players coming through the system, Cashman nevertheless approved Newman’s policies and all his hires — which makes you wonder about his own judgment and whether he should be the one to conduct the needed overhaul of the Yankee player development and scouting systems.

Fascinating stuff. Presumably, it comes from some unhappy campers inside the farm system. The downside, though, is that once again, all the Yankees' problems seem to have emanated from one guy, in this case, Newman - who, fortunately, to be retiring. Thus... The Perfect Scapegoat. 

Yep. He goes, and everybody else stays. So clean, so perfect...

At least Madden here touches on the frustrations that Yankee fans feel about the front office - anger that will not end with Mark Newman. Good grief, if this guy was such a malignancy, why didn't Cashman fix it years ago? By what metrics do the Yankee brass manage to declare themselves successes? And how is it that Hal Steinbrenner rubber stamps what these bozos do - again and again?

I don't think Newman's retirement is enough. 


Yankee hitters who can't handle the over-shift, and "experts" who criticize Jeter's fielding advance to the semi-final round of the All-Time John and Suzyn S**tlist

You voted them in. They must now battle some true horrors:

Getaway Sunday Night Games.
The Loud Fan Underneath the Booth.
The Tropicana Dome Sound System.
Fenway Park's Freezing Booth.
Lead-off Walks By Yankee Pitchers.
Missed Yankee Scoring Opportunities.

What do John and Suzyn hate the most?

Come on, Hal, give us something more than a Jeter tribute band: Free Pat Venditte from the Yankee death pit

Ugh. Another brutal loss. Another torturous Derek Jeter outing. Any other player would at least get "rested" a few games. (Remember Girardi benching A-Rod?) The Yankees are killing themselves, crucifying their captain on the cross of Steiner Collectibles. By the time Jeter leaves, the vampire Steinbrenners will have drained every last penny from his legacy - giving Yankee fans a dead organization, choked in its own money and mired in mediocrity.

Who thought the 2014 Yankees could be more embarrassing than last year's fetid, shambling monstrosity?

The genius of the Incompetent Empire lies in the way it kills hope for next year. Here we are - late September, when most also-ran teams showcase their top prospects. The Yankees are trotting out Zelous Wheeler and Antoan Richardson, each closer to 30 than 20. Their top "prospects" from last winter - Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez - did practically nothing all season. In 2015, the Redsocks will unveil three potential impact rookies. We can look forward to bringing back Carlos Beltran.

And Brian Cashman. The Steinbrenners - braced by Randy Levine - are expected to re-sign The Architect.

So... who do we do? Obviously, the NY Football Giants can provide no escape. We can chant Jeter's name harder than ever, but we can't get him a base hit. You sense he cannot wait for this stinker of a season to end, to escape the relentless media scrum, and to never again have to walk back to the dugout holding his helmet, with his scoreboard average falling below .250. Will Joe let him slide to .239? With the commemorative bases up for sale, does Joe even have a choice?

Dear God, we need a diversion. Here's a vote for bringing up Pat Venditte, the switch pitcher, the only ambidextrous thrower in our history. He's 29. He's spent his career in the Yankee system. This year, at Trenton and Scranton, he compiled a 2.64 ERA. Seriously, folks, do you want to see another Adam Warren outing? Do you want Masahiro Tanaka to tear the rest of the elbow and miss all of 2015? Is Jesse Outman worth our attention?

Hal, take off the kinky boots of yours and give us something else to remember. Free Pat Venditte from the Yankee death grip. Bring up the switcher-pitcher.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What the O's should give Jeter is not a bucket of crabcakes, but a base hit

It is breaking my heart to see Derek Jeter like this.

Yesterday, in his final at bat - mired in an 0-19 slump - he tapped back to the pitcher, a routine play that happens in full view of the batter. Almost all MLB hitters jog it out - even the ones not named Cano - and nobody complains. But Jeter didn't jog. He busted it, sprinted down the line. Then he kept his head down, while running to the dugout - 0 for 20, his average dipping to levels never seen in September.

Calgon Beauty Bath, take me away...

The FOX cheerleaders started suggesting excuses, with the exasperation of Lucille Ball standing over an accelerating chocolate assembly line. Somebody said Jeter hasn't been the same since Joba Chamberlain hit him on the elbow, a month ago. That's the kind of excuse that cuts in two directions, because if Jeter was really hurt, he should have rested rather than tank the Yankees season. Then again, did he really have the option of calling in sick? The Yankees built the 2014 season around his farewell tour, and everybody knows that in a nostalgia concert, the headliner has to come out for the final song. For 20 years, he's been the soul of the Yankees. He is beyond our judgment or critique. He is just Jeter.

But it kills me to see him staggering to the finish line. 

In another universe, Nick Swisher caught that line drive two autumns ago, instead of swallowing his adam's apple and letting it bounce to the right field scoreboard. As a result, two plays later Jeter didn't range to his left and snap his ankle like a breadstick. In that world, he retired with Mariano at the end of 2013, and who knows what happened, considering how close they came last season to reaching the wild card? Replace Alfredo Gonzalez and Eduardo Nunez with a guy who hits .300, and it's easy to imagine the Yankees playing last October...

Ah, but this is just self-torture. We don't get to choose our universes, do we? We can only imagine them, skittering on the edges of our consciousness. What happened yesterday was that Derek Jeter went 0-4. He tapped to the pitcher, and he busted it to the end. Not everybody does that.

Damn, it feels like November. This farewell crap has gone way too long.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It is high, it is far, it is shameful: Top 10 Sports Embarrassments of the Week

1. Ray Rice wife-beating video

2. Oscar Pistorius guilty of manslaughter

3. NFL's lies, cover-up of Ray Rice video

4. Adrian Peterson indicted for child abuse

5. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones sued for sex harassment

6. Orioles’ Chris Davis' drug suspension

7. Pistons player pisses self during DWI arrest

8. NFL buried Alzheimer’s numbers of ex-players

9. Atlanta Hawks’ GM racist comments

10. Yankees complete $200 million collapse (note: this IS a Yankee site.)

Hon Mention: Syracuse coed jock gives racist, anti-gay tirade; Mets exec fired for getting pregnant; idiotic 49'ers announcer rationalizes wife-beating; Ravens' fans wear Ray Rice jerseys; Sarah Palin family celebrates snowmobile race with drunken brawl.

00000000001000000000... a lot of zeros on the 2014 Yankees

Let the record show that the 2014 Yankees - of the Incontinent Empire - didn't even make it to mid-September for playing meaningful games. Our "post-reason" race, even with the phony one-day wild card, ended before Monday's third-quarter moon. Last year, they at least made it to the final weekend. At this rate, in 2015, we'll be free on Labor Day.

From now on, analysts should ignore personal output by Yankee batters. Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, et al, should not be allowed to go on meaningless HR sprees, which later would make it look as though they contributed anything to this season but a deep and constant malaise. If you want a definition for frustration, it is seeing a man on base while these overweight, should-be-extinct dinosaurs lumber to the plate.

Derek Jeter should be played sparingly, and if necessary he should sit out the final Boston series, rather than let his batting average fall into the .240s. This could have been a great time to play Robert Refsnyder and Kyle Roller, but the brain trust didn't want to subject raw-boned rookies to the pennant race. (That's a joke, by the way.) Thus, we get to see Mighty Chris Young, and Zelous and Antoan - people who would be no-names, if not for the weirdness of their names. Is there a reason why Adonis Garcia didn't get a call? Good grief, it's tougher to escape Cuba than Scranton.

This rancid collection has given us 71 losses. At this point, 15 MLB teams have done worse - though I find it hard to believe they are actually lousier teams. If the Yankees could just lose - say - 15 out of our last 17, we might finish with one of the 10 worst records. Thus, if we signed a free agent next winter, we would not forfeit our first round pick. The Redsocks, of course, will go on a huge spending spree, and they still probably draft two or three times - as they did last year - before we step to the podium to name our first player. Because that's how you build, under the new rules. Maybe the Yankees should read them?

Ah, but it won't happen. Nope, they're going to do what they've always done - sign the Blue Oyster Cults and REO Speedwagons of baseball, and pretend they're 22 again. And this team won't lose, now that the games are meaningless.

Nope. In fact, now that nothing matters, we're likely to start a winning streak. That's how the 2014 Yankees operated. Whenever they were nearly out of it, they started winning. Whenever they were nearly in it, they crapped the bed. It's a tough way to live, incontinence. Zero, zero, zero, zero, zero...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mr. Steinbrenner, end the walk-off stadium killjoy interview!

In the last week, the Yankees have enjoyed two walk-off home runs, thrusting Yankee Stadium into explosions of joy.

Then, just as the crowd was readying to sing "New York, New York," as Chase Headley or Chris Young prepared for their Gatorade baths, here came Meredith Marakovitz, to do an interview that was ridiculously broadcast live across the entire stadium.

It's like a New Year's party where, at the stroke of midnight, somebody kills the music and makes a drunken speech about laundromats. These live interviews suck the air out of the stadium. One moment, the crowd is going crazy. The next, 50,000 people are straining to hear a dull, pointless conversation, where the guy thanks God, says hitting the ball was really neat, and then tells the losing team they're great.

This has nothing to do with Meredith Marakovitz. She's just doing her job. The interview should go live on YES, while the delirious crowd is screaming. They can run it later on the scoreboard. It should not shut down the entire stadium - live.

Last night, Chris Young made her repeat the question, because he was in a mental wilderness. So everybody in the ballpark had to go especially still. A golden Yankee moment turned into a tedious waste of two minutes. Nobody cares what these guys say, because they have been trained to say nothing. Don't run it live. You're killing the buzz.


Thank you, Chris "Forever" Young. You spared us from a night of ignominy that, even in this cold year of mediocrity, would have forever stung

In recent years, a handful of players came to New York to be magically reborn. It's a short list: David Wells... Paul O'Neill... Nick Swisher... Scott Brosius... Bartolo Colon... Russel Martin...

Some needed lineups with more support (O'Neill, Brosius). Some needed the giant stage of Gotham. (Swisher, Wells). Some needed juice. (Bartolo).

Often, donning the pinstripes brings a month of improvement. The second chance in baseball's biggest market, or to be injected into a pennant race, transforms a player... for a while. Trouble is, there is always a reason why the old team dumped him. And that's where the Yankees sometimes drink their own electric Kool-Aid.

The oft-told YES Network myth goes this way: The newly acquired Yankee, an all-star from 2008, will sit with Kevin Long or Larry Rothschild, correct his flaws, and the Yankees will have outsmarted yet another team and get something for nothing. That story has become not only tiresome but a drain on the organization.

Last year, we saw it play out with Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner, two middle-of-the-lineup sluggers who had solid Aprils and then killed us through July, until they were mercifully benched. They murdered us in the same way that Andruw Jones had done in 2012 - and before him, there came Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, Marcus Thames, et al. This year, of course, we endured the death rattles of Alfonso Soriano - and, of course, we still have Ichiro - the man of 20 RBIs - playing out his final string. (A hero last night, by the way.)

In recent weeks, the Yankees have auditioned Chase Headley, Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Brendan McCarthy, Rich Hill, Jesse Outman and Chris Young for possible key roles next season. (For better or worse, we have Martin Prado for two years at $11 million per). To be honest, I don't know what to think.

Last night, Young enjoyed the kind of signature Yankee moment that, in another season, would have guaranteed him a juicy contract. He saved us from a no-hitter and then from spiritual elimination from the 2014 wild card race. (Which will probably come this weekend.) If Young keeps hitting, are we required by a secret Yankee law to bring him back? Is there some statute that requires the Yankees to never learn from their own past? Do they see the worm on the hook and, without blinking, just bite it?

Because if we learned one thing about salary dumps, it's that "dumped" is there for a reason - and that other teams are not inherently stupid, as the YES crowd sometimes wants its fans to believe. In fact, some teams - many, perhaps - have better track records of evaluating talent than we do.

Listen: I have no clue how the Yankees next year can climb out of this pit. It's taken us four years to dig this rat hole, and it might take four more to rise out of it. Any quick fix - like what we tried last winter - could flush this organization down the toilet for a decade. If we drain the system for a Tulo, or a Giancarlo, or anybody, we might regret it for a generation. And if we bring back Chris Young, will we expect him to do anything but hit .200? Because that's what he did all season.

Thank you, Chris Young. You spared us from a no-hitter that would have ended Jeter's farewell season like a left hook from Ray Rice. But I'm not sure I want to see you batting fifth next opening day.

KISS of death: The aging rocker video tribute claims Jeter

Rock provides craggy old men little comfort zone. (Old ladies, far less, BTW.) A few scions - Clapton, McCartney, Neil Young - somehow pull it off. But then you see Alice Cooper wrapping his gin-addled brain around golf, or Ted Nugent spouting racial slurs, or anything involving the lead singer of Creed, and you realize Jimi Hendrix knew exactly what he was doing. Seriously, how many DWIs can Billy Joel get? And when Paul Simon fights his wife, why do we think she's the Ray Rice?

Well, KISS is jumping on the Derek Jeter bandwagon, because Gene Simmons is the Steiner Collectibles of rock. He'd dedicate a song to toe jam if there was a market in it. But there is no song. What there is on the YES Network site is a 15-second pop-up commercial and then 20 seconds of the band chanting "Der-ek Je-ter," and then yelling what a great guy he is. Touching. I'd post the video directly, but trust me on this, you don't want to see it.

I think phenomena like the ice bucket challenge - and maybe now this - are giving us a glimpse of the end of the world: Aging celebrities will post videos. We'll spend our final moments waiting for the Mick Jagger clip to load.