Tag:New York Yankees
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:04 pm

Does age & treachery overcome youth & skill?

Does age and treachery always overcome youth and skill?   New York Yankees Bi-polar pitching

Going into the home stretch preparing for opening day, Joe Girardi's most talked about struggle is his starting rotation and the absence of an off-season acquisition to replace Andy Pettitte or take possession of a clear #2, 3 or 4 spot to follow CC Sabathia.  Sure, there are two other starters from last year on staff but they highlight Girardi's bi-polar disorder: Can both youth and experience be blended into a winning combination?

One side is illustrated by the sweet bird of youth: energy, promise and green.  Phil Hughes (24) has shown unhittable stuff but inconsistent success despite poise beyond his years.  Experience, potential but disappointing headcase is the other side.  A.J. Burnett (34) was horrible last year though his talent is pointed to as the evidence of potential, unfulfilled in so many painful outings last year.  While Burnett may bounce back, he's the more risky of the two because like a golfer who's game disintegrates after a lame shot, AJ's inner voice strangles his presumed ability and control as his anger replaces his guile producing the league lead in hitting
batters.  Both of them have to find their stride for the Yanks to compete in an improved AL East this year.

The two most likely additions tip the scales toward the long-of-tooth side:  Both Bartolo Colon (37) and Freddy Garcia (34) have pitched surprisingly well this spring, with an ERA/Avg against (through less than 9 innings) of  3.00/.250 for the weighty Colon along with 12 K's and 0.00/1.25 for the sly Garcia.  The sample is too small so let's see what happens after going through a lineup more than once but it's likely one of these two will start at the end of the rotation and hopefully benefit from the strong offense and bullpen.  A trade down the road for another established starter is still very probable since the cornucopia of catching talent can attract clubs like the KC Royals.  Does experience trump youth and desire?

On the other end of the spectrum is Ivan Nova (24) and following at a later date could be one of the much touted "B's", Dellin Betances (22) and Manuel Banuelos (19).  Nova went 1-2 in limited use last year, posting a so-so 4.50/.268 in 42 innings but 0.00/.188 in 5 innings this spring.  Nova will head north even if he isn't nicknamed "Super".  To a manager he's a risk, but for fans there's a thrill in following a rookie with a strong upside who might emerge as a phenom.  The Stephen Strasburg effect was electric (while it lasted) even understanding the realistic odds are extremely long. That's why the 6' 8" Betances is very appealing for a look and the Ron Guidry-like Banuelos would electrify fans though he needs more triple-A time.

I'd rather watch the youngsters with all the mistakes and letdowns for the rare excitement of a wondrous game.  Like finding a treasure at a flea market, I can hope despite the odds every time.  Safer decisions will prevail for now as the old guys cover the back end pitching until either the "B's" are ready or age takes its toll.  Is there a chance time runs backwards and Colon becomes this season's Ponce de Leon stumbling into a fountain of youth?  Hoard the antioxidants and put pomegranate juice in the water cooler.  Antiques Roadshow is a fine balance - amazing discoveries get found among well-used pitchers with a chip or two.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 7, 2011 2:17 pm

I hate to burst your bubble, but ...

Insult is no longer allowed to be added to injury.  Greed needs a boundary.  The dot.sports bubble is about to burst.

Billionaire NFL owners and millionaire players insult our common sense as they cut up a 10 billion dollar revenue pie paid for by foreclosed fans.  Squeezing literal blood from a stone, owners have extracted huge TV prepayments, sent layoff notices to staff and invented "personal seat licenses" (the infamous mortgage derivative of sports) this year.  Help me understand:  I pay for my seats, I pay shipping and handling and parking and overpriced concessions and logo'd merchandise and, in addition, I have to buy the right to be reamed for a price *larger* than my actual tickets?

Why?  To pad the vault before a pending lockout designed to prevent the players from cutting a bigger slice of the pie - despite overwhelming evidence of the premature deaths and shortened life expectancy of players.  Hello, injury... meet insult.  Football may be the most obvious right now, but baseball and other pro sports share the vastly inflated economic disparity vs. the fans.  Bread and circuses?

Not that the players are underpaid (well, the Pittsburgh Pirates, maybe) - rather, undertaxed. Due to tax breaks for new construction, some players in new top condos in NY pay *one fifth* as much tax as a couple in Queens pays.  Hello, insult?  We forget that players work half a year, not fulltime.  And many duck local taxes in the "home" towns of their ballparks through high-priced advisors. 

And the owners are rigging the game.  Consider this:  DirectTV would have actually paid the owners *more* if there were a lockout than if games were played.  Apart from the TV deals and away gate ticket sales the league divides, owners collect from their stadium (gate) receipts for home games, naming rights, sponsorships, luxury suite revenue, concessions and local broadcast rights.  In addition, your own stadium brings in extra money for concerts, events, a pro shop, and $12 hot dogs. And the trend has clearly been for private stadium ownership.

When owners saw the market trend move from individual fans to corporate buyers a few years back, they raised prices, expanded luxury boxes, and brought in arugula (the aromatic salad green).  Let companys treat clients and vendors from their subscription, right?  And serve wine and brie, right?  Nevermind that the crowd sounds different and TV shots are filled with empty seats, right? 

Wrong.  As the economic bubble burst, companies can't afford overpriced seats and those that still might are *embarassed* to be seen as spending frivolously.  The warning signs are visible during many baseball telecasts.  The dot.com bubble burst.  Then the housing bubble.  Then the mortgage derivative bubble.  Then the Madoff bubble (can you say Wilpon?). Then the jobs bubble.  Soon the public pension bubble.  And state budgets.  Is DoubleBubble next?

New Rule:  Team owners want a hefty percent of everything?  Ok, the pain too.
1)  Since each concussion costs 2 years lifespan, here's the fair way: Team owners must experience exactly the same concussion in their luxury boxes that any player sustains on the field.  Use automated hydraulic helmets or retired players with ball-peen hammers to invoke the "neuron-for-a-neuron" clause of the new collective bargaining agreement.  Have owners and players share the same health plan (like maybe senators and citizens should?). 

2)  Since PSL's are basically a real estate transaction, shouldn't owners pay a tax like we do?  Like a developer selling condo units.  Sales and capital gain per every PSL.  40,000 seats @$10k PSL per = $400 million revenue... what's the fair local tax on that?  25% = $100 million.

In the last few years, most people have seen their pensions and long-term benefits disappear - most corporate workers large and small, as well as teachers, firemen, policemen in the public sector  - the promises were unrealistic and impossible to sustain.  Players may be "entertainers" and push for whatever contracts the market will bear. But the money eventually comes from or is passed on to the public - a broke public, and a market that can't bear it anymore.

At what point is economic disparity so extreme that stadiums are empty... or better - they will look like the streets of Cairo?  Can you say Twitter?

Posted on: December 10, 2010 9:02 am

Signs the apocalypse is near

7 Years of bad luck?  Who broke the mirror?  MLB teams are officially nuts!

Proof that the end is near:  Reports today are that Boof Bonzer, the worst pitcher with the best name in the game, has signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets.  Yup, the Mets.  Au jus for everyone, medium rare.  ...and 2)  The Boston Red Sox are talking with Carlos Beltran  (of the very same Mets).  Ouch!  Sox fans, I'm passing along a warning here - keep your ten-foot pole handy, this guy has rings where folks have been touching him with that pole.  Besides, you cannot have a Beltre + Beltran at the same time - it's forbidden by the announcers contract.  But I did hear Damon was kissing up some about returning.  Johnny I hardly knew ya.  Jing Jing Jing.

Yet again...  further proof that the end is near:  examples...

1)  Jason Werth gets 7 years @ huge $, ...the Nationals?  the guy isn't a home run hitter, nor huge RBI guy.  Easy way to avoid any playoff games.  Is this Jason & the Golden Fleece?
2)  Carl Crawfish gets 7 years , 142 million.  huh?  I'm all for the Sox finding good OF'ers, makes the season a good fight, but this ends the old saw about Evil Empire, etc, ok?  Remember, eX-Rays are dangerous, hence the lead apron.  Madame Curie, recall?
3)  Cliff Lee gets (will get) 7 years .  Talk about extending unemployment benefits!  What happens during those last 2-3 years when he turns into Boof Bonzer?

Wasn't it the great plagues that also came in 7 year packages?    Seems to me this is a sign...  7 deadly sins, 7 dwarfs, 7 seas, 7 hills of Rome, 7 wonders of the world, 7 palms in a cubit, The original diameter in inches of the 45rpm format record,  Maximum number of VHF broadcast channels available in any TV market in the United States of America; (channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13), 7 Samuri, 7 year itch, 7 cities of gold, 7 = a neutral pH value between acidity and alkalinity and... of course, the 7th inning stretch.   Yes, it's a sign.

In Math:
7 is the only dimension, besides the familiar 3, in which a vector cross product can be defined .
There are seven fundamental types of catastrophes .
Seven is the sum of any two opposite sides on a standard six-sided die
Seven is the lowest number which cannot be represented as the sum of the squares of three integers

Forget 2012, these contracts *are* revelations, 4 horsemen of the apocalypse + 3 wise men this month... and bingo: 7

Posted on: September 22, 2010 10:19 am

Stoking the self-esteem engine on hallowed ground

Oh and speaking of Steinbrenner, anyone notice how substantially bigger his monument was than the likes of Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, etc....

The overall impact is like a big screen TV in an art gallery or museum  -  self-demeaning.  If the size had been similar to the rest, it would have *included* him with the others.  Instead, the size sets him apart as if acknowledging the difference.  His listed contributions could have told the story better than the out-of-place ostentatiousness.  Smaller would have been bigger.  And how does the citation "...he followed a personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity" fit with being able to see the plaque from space?   Stoking the self-esteem engine even on hallowed ground. So the size reveals a unintended truth - like a mating display of plumage - and it undermines the misguided attempt to trump.  In the end it makes him smaller, and all the others there larger. 

Posted on: September 16, 2010 11:21 am

Umps rule Jeter hit by pitch - on the intangibles

Umps rule Derek Jeter hit by pitch - on the intangibles

( ... Put's the Tang in intangibles, don't it? )

In yet another example of both Jeter magic and pr0n power, Chad Qualls hit Derek squarely on his intangibles last night. The plunk put the Yankee Captain in front of Granderson's 2 run homer, providing a brief lead over the deviless Rays .  As the ball rebounded into fair territory for an easy play at first, Jeter shook off the metaphysical sting while casting the now famliar Jedi-like mind fix over the umps with a subtle wince. After a brief conference, the umps sent Jeter to first although they were the only ones in the stadium (or the national audience) overcome by the short-range spell.

Although the replay showed the ball hitting the bat knob, an unnamed player confirmed that the knob is, in fact, part of Jeter.  "Kevin Long has always preached that we should become one with the bat...  an extension of our body.  No one embodies that better than Derek."  Reached for comment, Minka Kelly confirmed the amazing shapeshifting phenomenon - "I was nervous at first, but now I'm used to it and enjoy the novelty.  It comes in handy."  Former teammate Chuck Knoblauch couldn't be reached for confirmation.

While the initial headhunting was jointly engineered by santa-blade, chjohn, blakfrancis and bobby-age-10 to inflict season-ending damage, Jeter brushed off the bruise thanks to his ever-present intangible aura.  "Age and treachery will always overcome one track minds," he quipped.  Undeterred (Unjetered?), the persistant posters refocused their dogma on Dan Johnson , who promptly hit his second 2 run homer to retake the lead and erase the intangible edge Jeter had provided.  "I wasn't sure I should Dare Wreck the moment," Johnson admitted,  "... in a tangible way."  Rays manager Joe Maddon called Jeter's knob job a heady play:  "If our guys did it, I would have applauded that, too.  It's a great performance on his part."  Kudos from the opposing dugout - priceless.

Posted on: May 28, 2010 8:20 pm

Capping the Gulf Gusher: A Nation's thanks to...

Today's entry came about from the amazing early season winning streak that launched the Rays to a 32 and 12 start, while in the Gulf of Mexico an out-of-control oil well blowout was threatening vast areas.  2 kinds of blowouts?.. or one?  Look for hidden word play.


Capping the Gusher in the Gulf:  A Nation's thanks to...

...The Boston Red Sox!   Their "top kill" procedure stuffed the gusher of wins from the Gulf this week and prevented the runaway disaster that threatened to pollute the summer season for months or worse.  A greatful nation thanks you for your timely heroism.  Your quick action and ingenuity is appreciated as you saved many endangered birds (e.g.: Orioles, Jays), and restored the delicate natural balance.

While I realize it may only be temporary, your blowout preventer held firm when BP's version failed miserably.  Better than the inept "old tires and golf balls" plan, your mix of rawhide, Garza spit, Youk sweat and a green monster capped the deluge and swept up the spill.  Beach parties all over cheer with relief.  Your closer may not yet be as famous as the patented "Mo", but props even from Jones Beach fans. 

The danger of the runaway cannot be overstated.  Dying competition, lost jobs, hopelessness, foreclosures, and the prospect of an empty August could be in sight.  And who knows?   Vital species would be at risk like Cardinals, Tigers, Marlins, and Cubs - native americans like Braves and Indians - as well as Mariners everywhere could have been drowned by the spreading slick.  No longer the devil, this outbreak must be contained and controlled - and the owners made to pay.

Paradoxically, tar balls have been found stuck to wildlife all over the Gulf, all except the annoyingly clean electric blue helmets on the heads of the very source of this flood!  Imagine another blacksocks scandal?  Whether you're part of a huge fanbase in a town so nice they named it twice, or riding with friends in a duckboat around a fine college town or even floating alone in a tidal inlet like Tampa Bay, Raise your voices!  Together we can stop this florid atrocity.

Are we safe now?   Not yet... unless we can keep the spill at bay and tamp down any leaks.  At least now, we have a ray of hope, thanks to the Back Bay boys, the rivals that the Big Apple knows and loves, the Bahhhston RedSox!

Posted on: October 9, 2009 1:03 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2009 9:04 am

* Baseball is really just Sex in disguise *

You can't help being swept along with the excitement fans unleash as the baseball playoffs head toward a World Series climax.  It's contagious.  Ordinary people everywhere transform into eager admirers and devoted fans mutate into vehement zealots as passions heat up... and often boil over.  Just playoff fever?  No way.  It's much deeper - far more intense and visceral - as even casual fans are possessed by a delirious addiction for baseball that October alone can't explain.

Playoff fever doesn't explain why avid fans line up overnight in March, or wait out a rain delay in Sept in Kansas City, or argue online over pitching in February.  Passion around baseball is in the fan, like hormones, not the schedule.  The national pastime, all the time, the universal urge.  And here's why:  Baseball is really Sex in disguise.

At first glance you might overlook it.  The clues may be subtle, but all the indications are there. Consider a few examples... and as the evidence builds up, you'll see baseball in a new light (a post-conjugal smoke, maybe?).

Some of the less obvious ways * Sex and Baseball * are more alike than you think

Well...  after all, IN BOTH...

The Basics:
- Amateurs get together everywhere and play. Doing it for money, however, is another league.
- It's a confrontation between 2 people, one pitching to another. Then they take turns.
- It's not over until the last player has come up   ..and gone down.
- You can't score if you don't step up to the plate. And take your licks.
- Playing with yourself is ultimately unsatisfying.  It's ok as practice or to relieve tension,
   but it doesn't feel the same.  Everyone does it... but won't say so.

- Men are obsessed with it. They think about it all the time, which often annoys their partners.
- Men talk about it at length with friends...  women talk about length (or lack thereof) with friends.
- Some women tolerate it, reluctantly... but would rather be doing something else.
- Some women play along... but are really thinking about players they prefer.  Or shopping.
- Other women are total fans, often much more passionate and noisy than their partners
   (who should count themselves as very, very blessed).

The Players:
- Many rookies are just happy to get to 1st base, but veterans are always looking to score.
- Some players brag about statistics.. usually the ones not playing.
- Experienced players aren't shy about grabbing their crotches.  On TV, even.
- Switch-hitters see more playing time.  And while everyone has that ability, many decline.
   Some say it's unnatural. Or even perverse.  Others really want to... secretly.
- Players excell at their favorite position... though it helps to be versatile.

The Schedule:
- Professionals play almost every day... amateurs envy that but can only do it once a week.  Or less.
- Playing at home is favored, since away games can be riskier... away from wives and such.
- Players lose sleep on long road trips ...  but they see new fans that way.
- A Sunday double-header is rare treat. (Provided you stay for both games)

The Equipment:
- Street or business clothes aren't usually worn...   though, a serious player
   *really* appreciates a good looking formfitting curvehugging uniform.
- Only 2nd stringers stay clean. Real players are proud to get down and dirty.
- It is considered good form for men to wear protection.  Or else.
- When players feel a glove or hat is lucky, they make a real fetish of using it all the time.
   It's only a problem when they can't play without it. Or their teammates object.

The Rules:
- Stopping in mid-delivery is a "balk". It's not allowed, it's penalized..  and you can get injured.
- All playing fields are different sizes, but...  the mound and the turf are usually very familiar.
- Both sometimes end for a player with an early ejection.
- While moistening a ball is technically illegal... it is very, very effective.
- If you see four balls, you walk... (except under very unique conditions).
- Purists frown on a designated hitter. But then... some players say it livens the game.

- Though people say size doesn't matter, players with a big bat are much sought after.
- Weak hitters don't make it unless they have good hands.  Or other special talents.
- Smart players jump at the chance to get a few lessons from an experienced coach.
   It's usually better if it's not a relative, though. 
- While all-female teams play in a league of their own, they enjoy a devoted following.

During Play:
- A dribbler that runs foul is disapponting. A frozen rope is a very good thing.
- People admire you being "up for a big game"... though, it's expected by serious players.
- A fastball suddenly coming up and inside can be intimidating, but you have to expect a high
   hard one. It's always been part of the game... and real players say it gets their juices flowing.
- Sneaking a glance at a friend's box is ok when you're up. Encouraging, even. But when
   you're playing the field, it's dangerous. You might get hit in the face. Or worse.

- Everyone enjoys watching...  but nothing beats being at the ballpark.
- Screaming is common.  Even encouraged.  The noise seems to excite the players, too.
   In fact, you can tell a lot about what's going on just by listening. 
- Many people collect pictures of their favorites... often compulsively.
- Die-hard fans watch all the time.  This annoys people close to them, who would really
   prefer that they get out and actually play, instead. 

The Spirit:
- Names can inspire dreams.. (Expos, Giants, Tigers, Aureoles, Twins)...
   and some names disappoint (Brewers, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres).
- No sound gets players excited like the crack of rawhide in the spring.
- Some are free swingers.. others wait for a pitch in a preferred location.
- Players send secret signs by touching the body, chest, head and lips. Repeatedly.
- Autographs are sought after... but signing during play is frowned upon.
- Players usually ignore hecklers...  unless the putdown is really below the belt.

But most importantly: In BOTH...

- The very best men who ever played *never* finished first!

copyright 2009, all rights deserved, some assembly required, batteries not included.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com