Sunday, February 7, 2016

At last: Cause for Yankee hope... the Gammonites are declaring Boston's victory

Yankeewise, it's been a crapola winter. We churned up a few trades, hoping to win on dice rolls (Hicks, Castro) and dealt four kids for a scary closer (El Chapo) who might also be a trainwreck. Before we got to watch him throw a pitch, we lost our best hitting prospect for the year. I'd call that a crapola winter, and when I say such things, I'm being polite to crap and his sister, Crapola.

But today - Super Dumbday - let's cling to one floating crudlump of hope: The Redsockian propanganda mill is printing playoff tickets, declaring victory in the winter of '15-'16. That's always a good sign.

In today's Boston Herald - the equivalent of our NY Post - in between the pop-up ads, a Gammonite named Michael Silverman says of the steroidal Goodbye Papies...

They’ve added a true, legitimate ace in David Price, and the same two adjectives apply to closer Craig Kimbrel. They can contend once more.

That's from his diagnosis of "winners" and "losers," which declares Boston as the former, and us as the later.

[W]hatever happened to boosting a rotation that features two time-bombs in CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, and promising but far from sure things in Michael Pineda and Nate Eovaldi?

Of course, he's right. They added David Price, and we countered with Lane Adams. Clearly, Boston has improved, while we are in danger of missing yet another year of the watered-down playoffs. (I do not consider losing the one-game Wild Card as having played in the post-season.) But when things go south, we still have Boston to watch. And whenever their expectations shoot sky-high, they become Bible-thumping Donald Trump in Iowa. They declared victory under Bobby Valentine, and they did it last year. They're declaring victory today? Best news I've heard since December 1.

Let's hope we don't have to watch them win another World Series, while Food Stamps Steinbrenner is still hording his money, waiting to give the all-clear sign on the last free agent contract. We are going to need somebody to break out this season - to give us something nobody anticipated. And we have to hope Boston continues to be Boston. At least the Gammonites are still Gammonites.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Master's contract negotiations "... somewhat acrimonious...?"

Quote the Raissman:

While the road to Waldman’s apparent deal appears to be smooth, sources said WFAN’s negotiations with Sterling were “somewhat acrimonious.”

Why Yankee fans should root for Carolina in the Super Bowl

1. If Peyton fails, Eli will still have more Super Bowl victories.

2. Cam Newton TD dance reminscent of A-Rod bat flip after fanning.

3. Carolina has never hurt us in baseball.

4. Carolina gave us Catfish Hunter.

5. Denver stole John Elway, elminating potential Yankee career as utility OF.

6. Carolina Super Bowl celebration will be wilder, due to less pot smoked.

7. Can't stand any more Peyton Manning "Poppa John" ads.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Down at the Columbus of Pennsylvania, Greg Bird's replacement is the Human Cannonball

The Scranton Railriders - aka the Traveling Wilkes Barres - have released their 2016 promotional schedule, and it's a reason to move to Tonga. The big event, by far, takes place June 17:

Human Cannonball/Man Vs. Marathon Night.

A long-distance marathon will coincide with the game, answering the age-old question of which takes longer to complete? (This ignores the question of which seems longer. Because few people run marathons, and even fewer watch an entire minor league game.) Then Dave "The Bullet" Smith - aka "the Human Cannonball" - will blast off from the outfield before the firework displays. Reserving you room now at the Airport Ramada.

There are other events: Bobblehead nights, Dollar Nights, an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet night, a Glow in the Dark Wrist Thingy night; you name it, there is a night for it. Let's face it: The modern minor league baseball product has little to do with the outcome of a game and everything to do with freak show carnival barking. Cities build expensive stadiums for teams. Nobody wants an empty park. In a perfect world, Greg Bird would be the reason to see a Scranton game, but it's not as if he'd be shot from a cannon.

As a Triple A resident - the Syracuse Chiefs are technically my team - I can tell you there is a Grand Canyon-sized disconnect between the parent club and the city that hosts its 26th man. MLB teams use their Triple A roster like a brain dead clone that is being harvested for body parts. They move players with such lack of concern for the Triple A team that you feel like a dupe for caring. Now and then, I will drive 45 minutes to the city of Auburn, which has an NYP League franchise. There, you see 18 year olds in their first professional incarnation. They still care about winning. They actually want to be there.

At Triple A, players generally look as if they rather be anywhere else in the world than Syracuse. Or Scranton. Or Tidewater, or anyplace but here.

So the teams spend eight months conjuring up the Human Cannonball and the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet night, seeking to create enough distractions, so the fans won't notice the lack of soul in the game. Because - and I really hate to say this - Triple A doesn't have any.

I write this today because, believe it or not, Greg Bird's injury may just have saved his career.

The Yankees were going to send Bird back to Scranton, where he would get depressed and go into a slump. From there, they would question whether he really was that good. The Yankees do this to too many of their young players. One year, they brutally cut Francisco Cervelli at the last minute and sent him to Scranton. It's a wonder he turned it around. Last year, they did it to Rob Refsnyder - they'll probably do it to him again. Slade Heathcott? Mason Williams? Ben Gamel? Odds are, at least two of them will be back in Scranton come April, staring at a summer when the Human Cannonball is the most exciting thing on the docket. I really hope that - for their sake - (and for that of the fans in Scranton,) the Yankees don't send them back. Because they will really envy Greg Bird.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Did I Hear This Right?

So I am sitting at this bar, in a marina in Florida, wolfing down Bloody Marys and onion rings fried in truffle oil, and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, when I see Brian Cashman's face appear on the screen.

I start choking immediately, chugged my drink to quell the choking , and fixed my eyers and ears on what the wizard was saying.

In full Yankee speak, I swear I heard him say, " …we are going to be all right if Texiera and Beltran can stay healthy…".

Isn't that like when someone said, " …they will passing out flowers to us when we walk into Bagdad?"

The Yankee PR machine has already dismissed the disaster of Greg Bird's injury ( "he wasn't going to play for us in 2016, anyway" ), and they have no understanding that Yankee fans would rather see a rookie play than any other Yankee currently in uniform in 2016.

Let's take a poll:   Who wouldn't rather see Heathcott in CF, rather than Jacoby?  How about Aaron Judge rather than Beltran, in right field? Or let's try Sanchez vs. Brian McMann?

The Yankees still think we want to see a mis-shapen, hopeless team of blundering rich guys strive to make the play-in game.  Note to management;  you guys are just idiots!

What we want is a team to like and be interested in.  We know the 2016 Yankee team can't win dick with McMann, Tex, Beltran, Jacoby and Headley playing. We would far prefer to lose with young talent on the field.  Young, untested players at least give us some reason for watching or listening to games. When any of the current Yankees come to the plate, I go to the kitchen.

Cashman is so distorted in his expectations for the two walking injury cases mentioned above that it boggles the mind he has any sort of employment.  I know plenty of roofers and shopping center baggers, whose thinking is far more acute when it comes to the Yankees.  Or anything, for that matter.

When the TV flashed away from Brian and onto the latest virus coming into Florida from Brazil, I switched to shots of tequila and Stella drafts.


What a year we are in for.

It could be worse. We could have signed Yoenis Cespedes with an opt-out clause

Yesterday - in this Yankee winter where Christmas never came - the lowly, miserly, forever hapless Mets unleashed the Elvis-riding-on-an-elephant spectacle of their newest re-aquisition, the streak/slump machine whom I like to think of as Humanis Centepedes.

If you imagine Alfonso Soriano times Andruw Jones, (the 35-year-old versions), with a sprinkle of Ruben Rivera's uncapped potential, and have him smoke a Cuban cigar, you've got Yoenis Cespedes. I don't mean to bash the guy, because he did help lead the Mets' post-season drive for a month last summer... but of all the free agents we didn't chase this winter - which is all the free agents in baseball - Cespedes is the one I'm most thankful didn't come our way.

Listen: When a guy bounces around from four teams in two years, there's a reason for the game of hot-potato. It has to do with seeing the player up close. When hot, Cespedes can carry the team. When cold, he leaves the population of mainland China in scoring position. And if for some reason he explodes, has the year of his life, then Met fans can watch him break their hearts. He has a one-year opt-out clause - the new reality of baseball - and it's a lose-lose proposition for any team that's willing to sign away its management capability.

Isn't fate amazing? Fate, and its brother, hubris?

If you look at U.S. presidential politics, the Republicans figured to have a cakewalk of money, after the Supreme Court eliminated donation restrictions for rich candidates. But instead of streamlining the system, the new rules allow extremist candidates to stay in the race forever, backed by a billionaire, and gum up the party machinery. It's the same in baseball, where the owners instituted a de facto salary cap, via luxury taxes, to defang big market teams like the Yankees. So what happens? The players and agents start writing in opt-out clauses, basically eliminating the long-term tie to any team.

Come 2017, when Food Stamps Steinbrenner ventures back into the free agent market, will all our acquisitions be one year opt-outs? Could be.

What bothers me this winter is a sense that the Yankees themselves waived their big market advantage - which included, I believe, the most loyal and ardent fan base in American sports. Cespedes wanted to play in NYC. So could have others - like David Price or Zach Greinke. Not long ago, it was assumed that the Yankees always make the playoffs. Now, it's assumed they will always try to make the playoffs. If a couple unlucky injuries happen this summer, we could see a Boston-like meltdown. It could have been averted. But we sat out the auctions.

Well, at least we didn't sign Cespedes, a round peg for the big square hole in our lineup. We are team of elderly statesmen and low-price trade aquisitions, every one of them flawed in some way or another.  (Chapman has his domestic abuse, Hicks was a disappointment in Minnesota, Castro had worn out his welcome in Chicago, etc.) But at least we don't face any opt-out clauses. Good for us, I guess. Right?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's now or never for Jacoby Ellsbury

As a Yankee fan, nothing beats stealing a Redsock player and having him do well. That's why the mere mention of Wade Boggs still provokes a smile, and it's even better with a Boston fan nearby, so you can enjoy the wince.

Ahh, imagining Boggs on the horse... nice, eh?

Which is why Jacoby Ellsbury is so frustrating...

Statistically, according to Baseball Reference, Ellsbury last year played like an unpleasant concoction of Cocco Crisp, Randy Winn and Roberto Kelly. Yes, he was Cocco Kellwinn. He hit .257 with 7 HRs and stole 21 bases, the lowest full-season SB total in his career. Worse, he was thrown out 9 times, so - basically - it wasn't even a good idea to have him trying to steal.

He melted like a popsickle, right before our eyes. He hit .318 the first half and .220 in the second. Yes, a 100-point variation. It was horrible to watch. Apparently, he was playing through an injury, though he didn't want to use that as an excuse. (Funny how, when an injury is mentioned, and the player doesn't want to use it as an excuse, because that's exactly what is happening.)

In the last three seasons, his average has fallen from .298 to .271 to .257. (He's five years away from his career season, when he was the best player in the AL.)

But here's the deal: Ellsbury is only 32. It feels like he's 38, because practically all the Yankee big names are 38. At 32, he should have a few good years left... right?

He should have at least two good years left. Maybe three.

We have him for five more.

I don't know what to expect from Ellsbury, because of the injury factor. Last year, he missed 50 games. And we'd have been better off if he missed 20 more. He is always a threat to hurt himself diving for a ball or sliding into second.

But if anybody is thinking about a Yankee resurgence in 2016, here's how it happens:

Ellsbury hits .290 with 15 HRs and 40 stolen bases. We have to see the good Ellsbury. And Boston fans have to grimace.

He is the difference between a Yankee playoff contender and - possibly - a complete 2016 collapse.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Back from Two fun Events

Hello derelicts and other friends….

I've been eating corn dogs in Iowa and caucusing in grange halls.  My favorite candidate is a scarecrow I found in a corn dog field, dressed like Ted Cruz, but listing a bit, like Chris Cristy. As an aside, I thought he would do well in Iowa because his name, strictly translated, is " Christ Christ.

Seriously, Iowa is wrong again, folks.  No one they " elected" ( there is nothing firm about the delegates, even after caucus ) is going to be President.  You can write that one down.

 Those evangelicals may know a lot about the " end of times," but they just don't have a clue about what is going on in this country, much less Nebraska.

Here's what I learned;  there are innumerable, great watering holes in Iowa.

I also timed things so that I could also attend media day at the pro bowl. Who ever imagined such a day? I heard such insights as; where the best three card monty game could be found, and turnovers often determine the outcome of a game.  You can't pay for insights such as these.  Seriously, these
player ( and coach, and GM, and owner ) interviews are like re-reading cheat sheets you used in high school, twenty years later.  Why do they bother?  Why are they permitted to speak or, in Iowa's case, why are they permitted to decide anything for anyone?

Columbus discovered America in 1492……Rivers can flood if it rains too long….You have mustard on your coveralls….

But I digress.  I have just returned to the land of the sober ( Duque and I got into it for a while in a place that shall remain unnamed ) only to discover that I have no reason, whatsoever, to watch the Yankees.

Greg Bird is already done and dusted?  And Texiera and Beltran are healthy?  I hope Greg blew out his shoulder in a fight, at least.  Does anyone have the story?  I am not caught up, due to confinement in a space without reliable WIFI, for a spell.

Can Refsnyder play first?

Seriously, WTF?  I will not watch a bunch of overweight, slow-witted, over-the-hill dummies pretending that they have a clue.

I just returned from Iowa and the pro bowl for Christ sakes.

Unexepected injury? Check. Visit to the scrap heap? Check. Is this the meltdown year?

This is not good.

On April 11, Mark Teixeira turns 36. He'll be coming off a broken foot, and who knows what? He'll be nursing something. He is always nursing something. And he'll be our only pure 1B.

When Tex goes down - he always goes down eventually - we'll spit-glue something. Is Lyle Overbay still out there? We'll move Carlos Beltran to 1B, or Dustin Ackley, a 2B. We'll bring up Toby McRetread from Wilkes Barre - where's Kyle Roller - to fill the void, until Tex's gonad untweaks, or his whatever stops whatevering. We'll go from a switch-hitting Number 3 slugger to whatever Brian Cashman can find on the scrap heap.

Did I mention that, as you're reading this now, Cash is wandering the scrap heap?

That big Yankee 2016 youth resurgence now looks like Dustin Ackley and - wait - could we get Jesus Montero?

I still can't believe it. Greg Bird... gone for 2016. Greg Bird, the guy who would spell Tex, maybe outdo Tex... gone for 2016. Greg Bird, the next great Yankee, the next Core Four member, the guy who was going to keep us competitive with Boston... gone for 2016. And it's a shoulder, the kind of injury that can turn a future star into a Could Have Been... gone for 2016.

How do we check out of this hotel?

Ever get the feeling that this could be the Yankees' Bobby Valentine year?

Around this time last February, it was a catching prospect named Luis Torrens, plus a pile a pitchers in need of Tommy John. (That's the real problem: We don't know how many promising young pitchers will throw hard and then leave for surgery.) Torrens was being pushed by the Yankiverse propaganda machine... and then he was gone for 2015.

These things happen, of course. Injuries are part of the game, right?

But the worst part here might turn out to be that we traded Eric Jagielo to Cinncinati in the El Chapo deal. At the time, we rationalized giving up Jagielo because he looks like a future 1B, and thus, he'd be blocked by Bird. Now, Jagielo looks like the last guy we should have included in a four-prospect bargain bin, and all our well planned plans - we don't look so smart anymore, eh?

But this we know: At some point next year, Tex will get hurt. Maybe he'll play through it - a situation with its own set of consequences. (See Jacoby Ellsbury.) Either way, the big 2016 youth movement just blew a flat tire. Greg Bird... gone for 2016.

This is not good.

Monday, February 1, 2016

For Greg Bird

Philip Larkin
I work all day, and get half drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.


Greg Bird out for the year.

Calgon Beauty Bath, take me away...

CC is already throwing, but redemption is a long, long road.

Gammonitic reports out of Fortress Tampa say that CC Sabathia has begun throwing off a flat surface - (rather than throwing up off it.) That he is starting three weeks ahead of schedule offers a nice symmetry, because he fell apart last season with three weeks left in October. And the sting of that betrayal still weighs on every bubbly news report.

Listen: We're all rooting for CC to put his demons behind him and have one last great year. (Two great years would be even nicer, but let's not be greedy.) A season with - say - 18 wins and an ERA below 3.50? I'd take it in a heartbeat. One last run as an ace. Too much to ask? Probably. Too much to expect? Definitely.

Over the last four years, we have seen CC attempt to resurrect himself by 1) losing a vast quantity of weight, 2) gaining that weight back, 3) becoming a finesse pitcher, 4) using new knee braces and 5) drinking away the pain. Now and then, he's pitched well - always in advance of the next collapse. He's not getting younger. When Food Stamps Steinbrenner grumbles about waiting for the dead wood contracts to end, he doesn't have to name names. Everyone knows...

I don't doubt Sabathia's work ethic, leadership qualities, competive nature and fine personality. But in my life as a fan, I don't recall a Yankee walking away from his team on the day before the post-season, and certainly not because of booze. I can only imagine how horrible his life must have been for such a scenario to come about. Talking about hitting rock bottom? He must have burrowed into the dirt.

Well, let's be glad that he's throwing, and that the Yankees seem to be sticking with him. But whatever we get from the guy is gravy. He should be considered the fifth starter, if that. As far as I'm concerned, Sabathia must win back every shred of respect he once had, because he squandered last season. Three weeks ahead of schedule? Great. It's a start. He has a long, long way to go.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Abe Vigoda is dead, Howie Kendricks is signed, and Hal Steinbrenner lost $30,000 gambling on baseball cards.

This week, the Yankee Code Red Terror Alert finally ended.

Howie Kendricks finally signed with the Dodgers.

It's over. The kidney stones passed. Count your toes. Bring the kids up from the basement. And count the kids. Remember: There are things worse than death, and there are things worse than going a winter without a free agent... things such as, well, signing Howie Kendricks.

And now we know why Hal Steinbrenner is so reluctant to spend money: He just got swindled.

Hal was more interested in old baseball cards than another Brian Roberts/Stephen Drew at 2B. Did you hear that Food Stamps lost $30,000 on a baseball card scam? (To a Steinbrenner, $30,000 is the Clam Dip Fund. Hal wouldn't bend over to pick up $30,000 on a streetcorner.) It must have been exciting, buying packs of unopened baseball cards and thinking he might get a Mickey or a Roger. And that's what he's done all winter - signing the Kirby Yateses and Lane Adamses, hoping to get the next Steve Pierce.

The terror has passed. Howie Kendricks has signed. And now we know why Food Stamps is holding onto his money.