The 2022 Yankee Season

Watching this team since July has been like watching a multicar accident in slow motion, with all the cars filled with kittens.

This team SUCKS.

There’s no other way to put it. They are well on their way to a historic collapse on the level of the ’64 Phillies, ’78 Red Sox & ’07 Mets. Everything went their way during the first half while they mostly bet up on weaker teams, and in the second half their bats (except for Judge) have gone dead & the pitching staff, ONCE AGAIN, is racked by injuries due to a training/conditioning staff that inexplicably never gets fired despite multiple injuries EVERY. YEAR.

This article sums up the problems & needed solutions nicely. And after reading it, I feel pretty confident that the only thing on this guy’s list that might happen is #3 “The Kids Must Contribute.” Maybe the Oswald-Oswaldo twins and Florial will step up, but it’s a big if. The article points out how Judge has been a “one-man army” for the Yankees. He’s flirting with breaking the Maris home run mark, which in my eyes makes him the single-season record holder since he’d be the only player to pass Maris without using PEDs of some sort. But it’s an empty thing, akin to Mike Trout or Ohtani piling up amazing individual stats while their team sits in the basement. Judge has been the only fun thing for me to watch this year, but anytime I hear he’s hit another homer, I don’t have to look at the line score to know it was a solo shot. No one else is getting on base, and when they do, there’s always someone in a slump ready in whatever random position in the line-up Boone or his math masters have programmed to step up and hit into a rally-killing double play.

It was fun for me in 1978 to be on the other end of this, watching the Yankees climb back from a 14 1/2 game deficit and win it all. I got to attend this beaut at Fenway about this time that year, Guidry’s 2 hit shutout & a very bad inning for Eckersley which brought the Yanks within 1 game. All 7 runs scored without a single home run. That’s what’s known as a hitting rally, where lots of guys in the lineup all get base hits, not just homers or strikeouts. If the defense tried some lopsided shift, they’d hit away from it or lay down a bunt for an easy cheap single, and that defensive strategy would be abandoned, go figure. Current hitting coaches might want to study up on it.

They’d beat the Sox the next day to tie the division. 14 1/2 game deficit erased.

It’s only a matter of time before the Rays do the same thing to this year’s Yankees, only they won’t be playing them at the time. Some other AL squad will help them out, it’s only a matter of who.

The Yankees built up enough of a lead to probably wind up in the wild card, but they have one-and-done written all over them.

And then what?

Fire Boone? Sure, why not. Then fill the spot with another middle-management cipher to carry out whatever the analytics say.

It’ll take more than that. Fire the hitting coach & hire Rod Carew or someone who thinks like him. Contact hitting, spray hitting, no more “launch angle” and “hit velocity” bullshit. Get guys on the bases, distract the pitchers & get them home. Bring in a manager who’d be a fiery clubhouse leader, command actual decision making authority & not take crap from anyone. Even though he seems to be loving retirement, I’d love to see CC Sabathia give that a shot.

Can we fire Cashman & Steinbrenner too? Can we bring back Gene Michael and Bob Watson who built the 90s dynasty when they had a free hand?

Can I win the powerball right after my torrid love affair with the sudden incarnation of 25 year old Ava Gardner who just showed up at my door with a bottle of bourbon & two glasses?

Probably not. I won’t get ANY of those things. And Ava’s gotten a little surly after that bourbon and threw the empty bottle at me. I think she’s going back to Frank.

Nothing to look forward to in the remaining games.

Oh WAIT – football is back!

Oh WAIT – Nothing to look forward to with the Patriots this year either. At least I expect them to suck, especially after watching them in pre-season. I guess I’ll enjoy Tom Brady’s last hurrah, although he’ll probably play until he’s in his 70s.

Gotta get another cat. They never disappoint you.

Divine Intervention Is Needed To Help My Yankees

Live look at the Yankees, post all-star break

What happened?

WHAT HAPPENED???

It’s tough to figure out how a team that was on pace to set records for wins could fall apart as badly as the Yankees have in the past month. Back in June, they were looking like they’d win over 110 games. In the past month, they’ve lost series after series, blown leads, or simply gotten pounded.

Every game, something else goes wrong – if they get a solid start out of Cole or Taillon, the bullpen promptly comes in & gives it away. If they get solid pitching throughout, they kill every hitting rally with double plays and lose 2-0.

They were well on their way to blowing yet another game last night against Tampa after FINALLY coming back to tie things up, followed by Chapman walking the bases loaded in the 10th before giving up a bases-clearing double, followed by getting saved by Donaldson’s walk-off grand slam… you’d think that might change the momentum?

Nope. Tonight against the Jays, Mantas gave up a 5 spot in the 2nd inning and you could feel the soul of the team just DIE once again.

And why? Was the first half an easier schedule? Could only a couple of key injuries like Michael King or Giancarlo Stanton going out have this much of an effect? Dunno, but if this continues this will be a monumental, historic season collapse that will be judged alongside teams like the ’64 Phillies, ’78 Red Sox or thd ’07 Mets. I can’t blame Boone as much as I’ve never been a big fan of him as manager – he’s only punching checkmarks in the spreadsheets the analytics clowns give him.

They’re the ones who need to go.

Adding Benintendi was a good move – a spray hitter in the LeMehieu mode who isn’t another homerun or strikeout hitter, the kind the sport keeps pumping out – hitters so locked in to specific mechanics that they supposedly can’t adjust against defensive shifts. So – coach hitters to be better? NO! Outlaw the shift!

Someone tar & feather Manfred.

Make Rod Carew baseball commissioner. Read this WSJ article where Carew accurately points out the problems with today’s hitters. When will baseball listen to him?

Probably about the time the Yankees turn things around.

BAH

How BOUT Them Yankees

So today a bunch of people evidently found this old post by searching my favorite catch phrase to discuss my team. 2018 was the year the Yanks truly emerged before losing in the post season both legitimately and then to the sign-stealing Altuve buzzer bullshit.

But THIS year looks real real good so far – they’re off to their best start since those late 90s dynasty years, and they’re beating everyone, not just the below-500 and mediocre teams, to put together the current best record in baseball. And mostly everyone is contributing – although the anemic bats of Gallo & Hicks are a standout and much of the lineup still suffers from over dependence on the long ball. There are still way too many solo home runs that wind up being meaningless. Nice to see Gleyber and LeMeheiu hitting better, Rizzo and Carpenter doing well, and outside of Chapman, the pitching has been solid all around.

And Judge is having the sort of season we’ve all been waiting for since he came up from the minors as the franchise face homegrown superstar – and making us all hope they just pay him the thirty billion a year or whatever it takes to keep him out of free agency at season’s end. There is no other homegrown brand-of-the-franchise superstar in Yankee history that left the team. Ever. And think of the roster of people we’re talking about here. They can’t let Judge go.

So here’s hoping the second half of 2022 is as good as the first, and that the Yanks’ ability to win series continues all through the post season. Anything can happen, so I’m enjoying the ride right now.

A Big Book Roundup Part 3: Movies & Sports Edition

To continue with some quick book reviews/recs, here are a bunch related to various ends of the entertainment world:

Round Up The Usual Suspects by Aljean Harmetz – had this one sitting on my shelf for years and finally got around to reading about all the behind the scenes action in the making of Casablanca, one of the greatest American films ever made. Wonderfully researched & written, with pretty much everything you need to know. Her book on The Wizard Of Oz is next on my shelf and next on my list.

The Searchers: Making of an American Legend by Glen Frankel: A marvelous piece of scholarship not only about the making of the John Ford classic film, but also an exhaustive history of the true story it was based on, that of the Comanche abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker in 1836 Texas. Frankel does a great job with the detailed history of that event, and of her family taking her back against her will after she had married the chief & given birth to the chief who would make peace. The book goes from the history to the story written about it that led to the film, and how the film altered the actual story. This appealed to my interest in history, and also provided enough behind the scenes material about one of my favorite westerns as well.

A pair of gossipy entertainments that go together are Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra by George Jacobs, and Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin. Both books follow the same basic arc – an outsider (Jacobs was Sinatra’s valet, Bushkin was Carson’s business advisor, dubbed “Bombastic Bushkin” in monologue jokes) gets invited into the inner social circle of a huge celebrity and tags along for various adventures with other celebs, drinking, sex, affairs, you name it – often being dragged along and demanded to be part of things by either Sinatra or Carson as they struggle to have friends they can actually trust when they trust very few. And in the end, both men are frozen out for some single event that the celeb can never forgive. Both books have some interesting stories and gossip (Jacobs might win in this regard, some of the throwaway things he says about various celebs are sickly funny an eye opening if true. Who knew Yul Brynner had an affair with Sal Mineo? I’ll never watch The Ten Commandments the same way again), and both are quick reads, to be sure.

More somber and certainly more pious was The Closer by Mariano Rivera, Rivera’s autobio of his life in Panama and his journey to the Yankees, leading to his amazing career as the greatest closer relief pitcher of all time. While a lot of the book gets into the baseball details, the overriding tone is that of Rivera’s enormous religious faith (he originally intended to become a priest) and how his faith interacted with his career. Some of the stories he tells of some of the heartbreaking losses I remember from my own Yankee fandom are discussed in terms of Rivera’s views on God’s overall plans for him in ways that are, quite simply, more sincere, different and beautiful than any other baseball autobio I’ve plowed through. The storyline is very matter of fact, but the big takeaway for me was how the steadiness of the guy on the mound was very much a product of that amazingly strong faith.

No religion to be found in Betting On Myself By Steven Crist, Crist’s autobio of how he journeyed through a journalism career to buying the Daily Racing Form and transforming it into the more modern version it is today. He also discusses his own history of betting the tracks, starting out back in his Harvard Lampoon days going to the Suffolk Downs dog park with fellow Lampooner George Meyer, who’d go on to be one of the big wheels on The Simpsons and clearly the source of Santa’s Little Helper. Crist, the son of film critic Judith Crist, also wrote a book called Exotic Betting, where he delves into all of his methods of pick 6 and pick 4 combos at the track – a wonderfully helpful book to me in figuring out my own betting strategies whenever I handicap the horse races. Crist was one of the best pick 6 players out there (although I’m FAR too cheap to bet all over the board like he did). Betting On Myself focuses more on his myriad journey through the publishing business, and his ups and downs in doing so. Since his theories were so helpful to me improving my own performances at the track, I found his autobio very interesting.

Next Up: Some Art & History

The Yankees Suck & Nearly Everyone Should Be Fired ASAP

I can’t watch this team anymore. It’s too pathetic. They simply cannot hit and score runs. They hit into more double plays than anyone else. Their fielding sucks. There’s no fire and no passion.

Gone are the days when Derek Jeter enjoyed himself out there on a daily basis and won all the time. Gone is the winning attitude I remember from David Wells, who got pulled from a game where they led by something like 15-1 after he finally gave up a run in the 8th inning or thereabouts, and his response to being pulled was to smash the phone in the dugout because he wanted to finish the game.

What do we get now? Half the lineup hitting below .200 and it’s JUNE. Inning killing strikeouts & shrugs as they lumber back to the dugout going 0-for-4 day after day.

What other team would still have Gardner or Frazier or Odor in the lineup at this point? Why does the lineup change order with every game? Why do players continually suck or go on the injured list every other day?

All this crap began when Boone took over. He should be fired. Now. This minute. Right when you’re reading this sentence. If it were George and not Hal Steinbrenner running the team, he would have been canned after this disaster of a weekend sweep by the Tigers, one of the worst teams in the league (the Yankees currently challenging them for that title). But instead we get another in the endless series of post-game pressers where Boone discusses how he’ll figure it out at some point. Add a few “Gee, all the data says we should be better than this” moments and you can see what’s going on.

He won’t figure out shit. He sucks as a manager. And the analytics schmucks who keep handing him whatever math they’ve pulled out their asses are also part of the problem, since they’re the ones actually running things. They’re the ones who built a lineup of 21st century Dave Kingmans, who either hit a solo homerun since no one else can get on base, or far more often just strike out.

I’ve said before that the training & conditioning coaches/staff should all be fired due to the incredible frequency of injuries to the team, and that still stands. Add to them the hitting coach.

I’d start by firing manager & coaches and then seeing what happened with the performance of the team. If it kept going like this, I’d go beyond my earlier opinions on getting rid of Sanchez and blow the entire team apart.

The only bright spot has been the pitching. But when you score less than 3 runs in 29 of your first 50 games, that good pitching is going to be wasted in barely holding on to a .500 record, basically where they are right now. The only team in the majors with fewer runs in more games are the Pirates.

Next up are series with Tampa and then Boston. I hope they get swept by both and score next to nothing. I hope they suck bad enough in the next few weeks that Boone & the inept coaching staff are finally booted and things can turn around. If not, there’s no way a team that came within a game of getting into the World Series before being cheated out of it will get that far again for the foreseeable future.

These games are painful to watch. And after a bullshit 60 game season and with covid bullshit finally ending, it’s even more painful to finally get baseball back with live crowds growing and have to watch a Yankee team that’s reminding me of the mid 80s group that always looked good on paper in April but sucked once things got going and wasted any strong performances by their best players like Mattingly then or Gerrit Cole now.

Bah.

Baseball Card of the Day: 1975 Topps Boog Powell

Boog looks like I feel now that I know that baseball is nearly back.

And a nice piece of big sports normal today – the Texas Rangers announced their stadium will be at 100% fan capacity on opening day, April 5. Hopefully other teams will follow.

Enough of this shit.

John Wesley “Boog” Powell played first base and outfield mostly for the great Oriole teams of the late 60s and 70s. He won the MVP in 1970, the year the Orioles won the Series. I remember him as one of those huge lumbering hulk type guys who’d bash the crap out of the ball and stand there like a sequoia for guys trying to slide.

Back in the day, opening up that first pack of Topps cards not only meant getting that year’s cards of whatever great players I was after… Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, etc etc… it also meant seeing what the cards would look like that year, design-wise. What did the front look like? What colors were for which team? Did they have insignias? And very, very important…. how many stats were on the back? Would we get complete stats, like in ’72, or would it be just a “last year’s stats” back like in ’71?

Well, 1975 gave us some BITCHIN SEVENTIES PSYCHADELIC COLORS, didn’t it? You had the 2 complimentary color border theme for different teams, along with those neon-bright colors and black shadow in the lettering. The photos were mostly decent. It was jarring in its day, to be honest… a step beyond the funky colors and fonts of the enormous 1972 set, and coming after 2 years of what I still think are some of best designed cards for Topps, the 1973 and 1974 sets.

Better than this year’s design – check this out:

The photo and border are great, I’ll give it that – digital photography is a big improvement over the old school cards, especially for action shots (as much as I missed the badly and obviously posed shots of yesteryear) – but look how small the lettering is and how tough it is to read the player’s name and position. You have to make an effort to find it, and it’s the first thing that should leap out at you. They’re overshadowed by the team insignia. And now Topps spends the entire year issuing extra cards for so many players that it’s a mess to keep track. I mean, I love Aaron Judge, but I would not want to have to hunt down a new action photo card of him every time he hits a home run. And it seems like that’s how often they come out. Bah.

But back in 1975? A fixed set, with the bonus cards and extras kept simple. Certainly easier to read. But yeah, those colors were a bit much. It’s a fun set to browse through now for all sorts of nostalgia purposes, but it’s still got that acid-trip vibe to it.

Maybe Boog is reacting to the acid trip on that card. He’s looking up in the sky, but he doesn’t see the pop up from the batter….HE SEES THROUGH TIME, MAN!!!!

FIRE THE GOD DAMN TRAINING AND CONDITIONING STAFF NOW

Luis Severino, who was the Yankees’ Cy Young finalist in 2018, and who got sidelined for nearly ALL of 2019 with some lame-ass labrum issue during spring training LAST year, is now slated for Tommy John surgery after throwing a small amount in only FUCKING FEBRUARY OF THIS YEAR.

Tommy John surgery means missing ALL of 2020 and a decent part of 2021.

Want more injuries? Aaron Judge, who should’ve won MVP over cheatin’ Altuve, is having “shoulder problems,” which in Yankee-speak means he’ll probably be sidelined until Labor Day.

Pile that on top of James Paxton, with friggin BACK SURGERY conducted a month ago as opposed to, oh, November maybe? He’ll be out until at least June.

Last year, a record THIRTY players from the Yankees went on the injured list. They still managed to win the division and lose to the Astros on stolen signs, but this is ridiculous. No other team in the league has this level of injuries, and as frequently.

The blame clearly lies with the training and conditioning, and whatever pharmaceuticals are being dispensed that numb minor pain before they turn major.

FIRE THEM ALL.

They should have been fired LAST year. And now we’re off to 2020, still in FUCKING FEBRUARY, and two of the best starting pitchers they have have been sidelined indefinitely, their perennial MVP hopeful “questionable.”

ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT.

I’m ready to fly to Tampa and personally pound the living shit out of their training and conditioning coaches. If I go on the injured list, it’s no big deal.

This was supposed to be the year – with signing Cole and everyone healthy, the Yankees should win north of 110 games. But this bullshit is already starting.

THIS RUINED MY WHOLE DAY and outweighed my fear of laboratory-grown Chinese germs heading our way. This just SUCKS.

BAH.

Random Thoughts 2/5/20

Item one: Pitchers & catchers haven’t even reported yet, and the Yankees reported today that pitcher James Paxton underwent back surgery to remove a tiny cyst and will be out for TWO TO THREE MONTHS.

Do the months November, December and January exist? Why the hell did they wait until now to do this surgery?

They replaced the pitching and hitting coaches last November. WHEN WILL THEY REPLACE THIS PATHETIC INCOMPETENT MEDICAL AND TRAINING STAFF who can’t prevent injuries?

That team is looking at somewhere around 110 wins if they stay healthy. And those morons are ALREADY messing it up before spring training even begins.

Item Two: Last night, I dreamed that John Wayne told me that he’d been to an educational conference up in Seattle and that Bill Gates kept talking about me and what I could do to help out with school choice. Wayne told me he also thought I was just the guy to do it, and that I had what it took as a man even if I “hung around with nerds,” in his words.

Not sure why I had that particular dream. I hadn’t been watching John Wayne movies, nor have I been in discussions or arguments over school choice issues recently.

Perhaps John Wayne has actually visited me in my dreams from beyond the afterlife, although I’d think he’d have better things do spend eternity on than wonky crap with Bill Gates & then seeking me out as if I’m the anointed one. On the other hand, maybe that’s his way out of purgatory. I’ll try to see if dreaming up a conversation with St. Thomas Aquinas tonight clears up that issue, and as long as I have the saint’s ear, I’ll ask him what the Yankees’ injury prognosis for the 2020 season is.

He probably roots for the Cardinals anyway.

Oh, I just crack myself up.

Item 3: RIP, Kirk Douglas. One of the last great old time movie stars. Here’s hoping you meet up with John Wayne and have some bourbon, come to think of it. Maybe you’ll turn up in my dreams someday, maybe it’ll be about tariffs or infrastructure instead of school choice, or maybe you’ll just ring my doorbell and try to sell me Girl Scout cookies.

Whatever it is, I hope that it’s like what must have been in your contract for countless movies, and you get to take your shirt off and scream at me.

“TRY THE SAMOAS, YOU DEGENERATE SADISTIC OLD MAN! AND YOU CAN GO TO HELL BEFORE I SELL YOU THIN MINTS NOW OR EVER AGAIN!”

To which I’d respond “I’m Spartacus!”

Then I’d tell him not to fight with Von Ellstein and direct “The Proud Land” himself. It’ll be a sure bomb that way.

Another Unemotional World Series, I Guess

I don’t know if there’s some sort of baseball award for most blown opportunities in a series, but the Yankees really deserve it for this year’s ALCS.

I won’t bother researching the Bill James stats or whatever they are to see if they set a record for men left on base or for the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position… but it sure feels like it. And defensively they were certainly erratic.

And give it up to the Astros – they took advantage of every mistake, made the most of practically every opportunity they had, sparkled in the field, and simply carried themselves like the team to beat. Too many of the Yankees looked confused and tired. A lot of times you can predict the winners of these things just by sensing the mood and attitude.

So I’ll watch what looks like to be a great matchup between the Astros and Nationals. Both teams have a pair of amazing starting pitchers, and I wonder if Nats manager Dave Martinez will do what he did to the Dodgers and stagger his pair of aces so that they don’t face the aces on the Astros. I guess we’ll see.

I’d have to give the edge to the Astros (who I figured to win it all once they signed Greinke, to be honest… but I have to root for my team and hope for the best… that’s what fandom is all about). The Astros have better hitting and balance, and probably a more reliable bullpen.

Yankees off-season will be interesting. I’m thinking they let Encanarcion go. Sabathia is retiring. I’m not sure if they’ll re-sign Gregorius with Andujar due back & the team overflowing with infielders, although I’d love to see him return. But with Urshela becoming what he has, and Voit doing well, and the wonderful addition of LeMehieu (probably the best move they made) along with future HOF Gleyber Torres out there… well, it’s a bit crowded.

What would I like to see in the off-season? Well, signing Garret Cole would sure be nice, although right now the 2020 starting rotation looks to be Severino – Tanaka – German – Paxton – Montgomery, and that’s not too bad. Bettances should return to the bullpen, too. But they can spend a billion dollars on free agents for all I care. I’m not paying for tickets and get to watch free on TV. Spend, spend, spend, I say!

Although all the “ifs” involved in that or any roster set up rely on avoiding the never-ending injuries that plagued nearly the entire team this year, so I think what I really want to see during the offseason is what I’ve wanted to see since maybe late April, that being for them to FIRE THE ENTIRE GOD DAMN STRENGTH AND TRAINING STAFF. Whatever the hell they’re doing, they’re doing in wrong. Guys miss half the year injured, like Judge – or the entire year like Stanton, only to come back and strain themselves AGAIN doing ordinary baseball stuff like running to first or swinging a bat. It’s ridiculous.

Another off-season move they should seriously consider is trading Gary Sanchez for pitching and prospects. They have other catchers who are perfectly fine, and the more I watched him this post-season the more I think he costs more than he provides, even when he hit better this year.

Cutting loose Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird might be imminent as well.

So now to watch the World Series as merely a fan of the sport. Less stressful to be sure, but I don’t think it will affect my alcohol consumption during the games.

When Topps Got Lazy: 1972 & 1973 Mickey Rivers

“Just zoom out a bit and sharpen the photo. Maybe a little color tinting on the sky, yeah, that’s it…. NONE OF THOSE LITTLE KIDS WILL EVER NOTICE.”

Oh YEAH TOPPS????

I NOTICED!!!!

And he wasn’t even on the Yankees yet. You lazy BUMS. Get off your fat bubblegum stained asses and take a new photo of the man.

OR – perhaps you could use the exact same photo every year for his career, and when he switches teams, simply write in the new logos with a crayon.

The Yankees got him & Ed Figueroa from the Angels before the ’76 season for Bobby Bonds, which turned out better for NY over the next three seasons where both players were instrumental to 3 pennants and 2 world championships.

When Reggie Jackson told a reporter he had an IQ of 160, Rivers responded “What, like out of a thousand?”

But then the Yankees traded Mick the Quick to the Rangers in the awful summer of ’79, when the Yanks struggled to catch the Orioles and Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. They got Oscar Gamble & his impressive hair back, but Gamble only really served as a platoon outfielder. Rivers played a good centerfield and was a great leadoff hitter, averaging .300 or better and distracting pitchers with base stealing and general speed, back when hit and run still existed.

He trained horses for a while, now he’s back in the Yankee organization (yay!) You can read more about him at his spiffy website here.

Just look at all those photos…. JUST LOOK AT THEM, TOPPS! Gawd.

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