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Picked Off

Photo Credit: Eric Enfermero

Boom. As fans, let’s take a few moments to assess what we just witnessed in the latest edition of “As The Baseball World Turns”…

I wish I had time to go in-depth on this situation, which is still evolving as we speak.  But I do have some references for you to follow up and discuss if you wish.

What we know so far:

  • The Astros got As-whupped (PDF download) for their rather frank cheating activities during ther 2017 season which resulted in them being crowned World Series. champions.
  • After being suspended for one year each by Major League Baseball, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane fired GM Jeff Lunhow and manager A.J. Hinch.
  • Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was bench coach with the Astros for the 2017 season, was implicated in the report and ongoing investigation into the 2018 Red Sox cheating allegations.
  • New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who formerly played on the 2017 Astros team and was also implicated in the report as one of a group of players who discussed ways of interpreting signs and signals by the other team, will not be punished by MLB (no players were punished).

There has been and will continue to be plenty of discussion about what this all means for the people involved; we know that the Astros lose their first and second picks in both the 2020-21 drafts and also have to pony up $5 million; an unprecedented punishment indeed for the fifth-year commissioner Rob Manfred and for baseball overall, but then Crane went beyond that and fired Luhnow and Hinch for essentially  embarrassing the organization and the city of Houston. Cora is still under investigation; he was singled out as the person who implemented the cheating system, then allegedly carried it over to his new job as manager and won a championship with it there. If he gets the book thrown at him, it will likely be bigger than the one thrown at Luhnow and Hinch, and likely result in his dismissal.  meanwhile, Beltran, while not escaping the eye of MLB investigators, managed not to get punished by MLB.  Yet, that doesn’t mean the story is over for him; there will likely be internal discussion about his suitability for running the Mets going forward, depending on what or if he told the Wilpons and GM Brodie about his part in the scandal and whether or not it means anything to them (did they even ask?) The New York press is going to have a field day with this, for real.

Happy New Year, folks, your Hot Stove is on fire

Referenced Links:

The Athletic, Article 1 and Article 2 (subscription needed)

MLB Trade Rumors, Article 1 and Article 2

MLB.Com (video featured)

Day in the Sun

Don Larsen died yesterday. Sweeny Murti put up a post on Instagram, a shot of Larsen signing a photo for him. Larsen wrote: “Good Luck, Don Larsen.”

That says it all, doesn’t it? This guy had an incredibly good stroke of luck in his professional career and he knew it. We should all be so fortunate.

Where & When 2019-20: Game 3

Welcome back to another round of Where & When! Big things have happened since our last entry around the league; definitely a climate change from last year’s humdrum conundrum that led to existential angst about the motives of the powers that be. As it turns out, premium starting pitching is a thing worth waiting for, and the Yanks did a nice job sewing up the top free agent starting pitcher in a decade to say the least, and now they have gone almost full-android with their coaching by bringing in a new pitching coach who loves analytics as much as neatsfoot oil (they also let go of yet another strength and conditioning coach, but that’s likely a sore subject we need not explore), not to mention an under-the-radar hiring of a new organizational catching coordinator (subscriptiion link). But enough about baseball for a few seconds, here’s what we have on today’s docket:

Photo credit (from Wikipedia): Mechanical Curator collection, a set of over 1 million images scanned from out-of-copyright books and released to Flickr Commons by the British Library. Public Domain.

I can tell you the date on this will be really hard unless I either tell you or if you find a similar picture to work with, and I won’t stop you from looking hard because there are only a handful of sources to tell you anything about this pic. But if you do find it and suss it out, please tell us a little bit of history about this location and what it’s current status is, if any.

Keeping it simple for the New Year, folks.  There were some harder locations to consider, but I figure a nice one to lead us into the New Year wouldn’t be a bad idea.  Have fun, and see you on the other side of 2020!

 

Home for the Holidays

Dellin Betances, the kid from Brooklyn, signs with the Mets. I know he is a risk—big, tall guy and all—but he is a home town guy and he’s never played for anyone in the majors but the Yanks.

Maybe it is smart that the Yanks didn’t keep him, that I can’t say. I say that I will miss him. It stings imagining him having great success with the Mets. Still, hope things turn out well for him. He had a memorable run with the Yanks.

Hope you are all well. Sending best holiday wishes to you and your loved ones.

Picture by Bags

 

You Better Not Pout

The holidays are upon us. Lots doing in the Hot Stove so far this year, especially compared to last off-season.

What else you want the Yanks to get you for Christmas/Channukah?

Picture by Bags

Boffo

Yanks ink Cole to record contact. Hey, Now, the Big Spenders are Back.

So, to recap: Yanks now team to beat: Whirled Serious or Bust. Everyone hates the Yanks. The world is in order.

Happy holidays.

Picture by Bags.

 

Where & When 2019-20: Game 2

Welcome back to another scintillating episode of Where & When! Last week’s season debut was fun and informative, so we decided to do it again; this one is also relatively easy, so to make it more interesting I’m going to ask for some qualifiers: not only will you determine where this picture was taken and when, but you’ll also be tasked with finding out who or what preceded the tenant of the particular building prominently featured in this photo, and who followed all the way to the present.  I think what you’ll find makes a rather interesting story in itself:

Credit: Wurts Bros (New York, NY) Courtesy of New York Public Library, NYPL.org digital collections;; Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy

Bonus points if you can name one present-day landmark restaurant in the same neighborhood; you’ll definitely get some nice brownies for that.  Have fun, I’ll check in with you soon!

Where & When (Back Again) Game 1: 2019-20

Hello again, good to be back! Where & When is here to accompany you through the 2019-20 Yankee off-season; entertaining and educating as we continue to sleuth out some locations in and around New York City (with an occasional deviation from the norm).  A little birdy told me that some of you folks missed this game, so I decided to find time to oil the gears and bring it back to the storefront, yay!

Before we start ‘er up, some ground rules: the name of the game is Where & When, meaning that I give you a picture of a location and you have to determine the location and time frame the picture is depicting.  For example, I presented a black-and-white pic of some brick church-like building with antique cars parked in front of it; using those and other clues within the pic, you can use your intuition or research the net to pinpoint the address and year in which this picture was taken.  Utilizing your fine detective skills, you determine that the address is 222 Suchensuch Blvd in the Bronx, taken in 1922; by which the building featured prominently is the Metropolitan Executive Municipal Events Depot, which upon further review is where Sherman Peabody used to work and is now split between Duane Reade and Chase Bank (the details after the date are for bonus points).   To keep it fair and show that it wasn’t just a lucky guess (although that can happen in the more obvious locations) or peeking at the credits (more on that), I ask that you explain your method in making your determination; i.e. I found a similar pic at this site or I looked a listing of similar buildings and made a match, or even better I live(d) in the same neighborhood.    If you do find it on the net, please credit your source as well; we try to avoid some copyright issues when possible.

I have to explain about peeking; I do try to credit my sources, but it would not be fair to other players if you simply clicked on the credit link to find the answer. The credits are for copyright purposes and we don’t want the Banter to get into too much trouble, do we? So for fairness’ sake, if I credit a particular source, please refrain from using that source yourself; consider it out-of-bounds.  Now, if you happen to come across the link on your own during your research, I can’t stop you from checking it, but I would hope you don’t follow it and instead let it lead you to a similar source.  That’s not hard for the easier games, but you might be tempted for more obscure ones, which I try to limit for that reason. Still, if you are intrepid enough and uncover interesting trivia pertaining to the particular location, you will be rewarded and it might even put you ahead of the competition.

Oh, the rewards: being that this is a Banter game and we have a lot of inside jokes from the past and present, I like to keep it simple: you win , you get a root beer.  Bonus points come as brownies or cookies; winner’s choice in fact. I like to think we’re all winners already for partaking in the chase and discovering something new about our spiritual hometown. I know it sounds corny, but hey, we don’t have sponsors, so we do it for the fun of it, yes? If I left anything out or if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments or answer in kind of you know.

And now, on the show:

Credit: Wurts Bros (New York, NY) Courtesy of New York Public Library, NYPL.org digital collections;; Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy

One other thing I didn’t mention: some of you know I tend to drop very subtle hints in my presentation, so you’ll scour my post to see if anything I said is helpful.  Feel free to keep doing so, you know how we do.  Often, I will provide you with a direct clue to help in your tracking efforts.  Other times (like with this one), I will be a bit oblique and just tell you to look carefully, as the pic might have enough clues to help you.  You can make as many guesses as you wish, and you can even post your progress if you like.  If you ask, I might give you an indication of how close you actually are (but please don’t expect a prompt reply).  If no one comes up with an exact address, I may usually take a ballpark figure and reward the player closest to the answer; sometimes the answer itself isn’t precise and I don’t even know exactly where or when, so guessing helps in a way; admit to it if you want credit for your sleuthing.  With this one, you may be thrown off a little if you’re not careful, so I can tell if you’re cheating, haa >;)

With that, have fun! I’ll be in and out to check on your progress and close out the game mid-week, I’ll try to keep up with these weekly as time permits.  Also, unless it’s something breaking ad extraordinary, feel free to banter about the latest moves in the Yanksverse or anything else baseball; these are meant to keep us occupied during the long hot stove season after all.  Later, gators! >;)

The Man Who Wasn’t There

You got to love the Yanks giving Ellsbury a hard time on the way out. After all, it was one of the worst deals in franchise history. Nobody to blame but themselves, of course, but whatever with Ellsbury, he’s a fink. And it’s funny, it’s not like this was a good gamble that went wrong. We all knew it was a turkey of a deal from the start.

Ah, well, good riddance.

Sorry that Greg Bird didn’t work out, though. I always wanted him to be the next thing. If not a star, then just a reliable, durable dude. It wasn’t to be and he’ll forever reside in the Yankee cutout bin right behind Nick Johnson.

In the meantime, it’s the first of the winter holidays. Eat, drink, and enjoy your friends and family.

Picture by Bags

Gone Shoppin’

Photo Credit: “My places by Anthony Catalanotto” on Pinterest

Looks like free agency’s officially here and open for business.

Given the last few years, how can we tell if the market will favor legit stars like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg or… not-Cole/Strasburg? Last year, it was decidedly the latter; though Bryce Harper and Manny Machado eventually got much of what they wanted in heavy, long term contracts, they had to wait an awfully long time to actually get them (and not necessarily from teams that were first on their supposed lists). Will it be different now that we’re talking about two dominant Cy Young candidates with some good years still ahead of them heading the list? Only the GMs and the supporting stats departments know with MLB Analytics driving the conversation.  As we’ve seen recently, not everything is what it seems.

Take the Yanks’ own free agents:

Edwin Encarnacion

Aroldis Chapman

Didi Gregorius

C.C. Sabathia

Brett Gardner

Dellin Betances

Austin Romine

Cory Gearrin

David Hale

Cameron Maybin

Erik Kratz

Cliff Pennington

We already know CC is retired; hope he recovers from his latest injury well enough to enjoy his first year off from baseball in what has to have been a very long time.  As for the rest, it’s easy to say that none are solid locks to be on the 2020 40-man for the Yanks; if anything, Didi would be the most likely to remain, and that’s not stated with a whole lot of confidence.  Fan favorite that he is, when he came back from Tommy John surgery, he wasn’t up to what we’ve come to expect of him year-round.  Personally, I would not find this to be the tipping point in any negotiations, though Didi doesn’t necessarily have the leverage he could have expected a year ago pre-injury, thanks to the year natural-shortstop-playing-second Gleyber Torres had; playoffs included.  Gleyber is ticketed for stardom no matter where he plays on the diamond; provided he doesn’t get injured (which, ironically, is what we would have said about Didi last year at this time).  I don’t like the idea of Didi being dismissed, given that Tommy John surgery is not something you bounce back from so quickly either as a pitcher or a position player, but the talent hasn’t disappeared either.  With a full off-season to recover and rebuild, I would expect him to return to Hidden Dragon form.  Hopefully the Yanks will find a way to keep him here.

Dellin Betances, too; I hope that the team will bring him back. 2019 was a disaster for Betances; first recovering from right shoulder surgery, then suffering a lat strain during rehab that cost him most of the season, and finally after returning for one game, tearing his ACL and being done for 2019.  This was just a horrible season for Dellin, especially since it was a contract season where it was expected he would be lights out while either finalizing an extension or moving into free agency as one of the top sought-after relievers.  Now the best he can hope for is that the Yanks decide to bring him back for a season or two to rehab and get back into form; failing that, his options are likely either accept any offer he can get from another club (which will likely be very low) or take the year off and rehab until next off-season, then take a likely pillow-contract to re-establish his value.  Man, sucks to be him right now (and I mean that kindly).  Again, the promise of talent is what keeps his value from slipping into AA territory, and I hope the Yanks feel that it’s worth the investment, regardless of the fact that he’s well past 30. But I dunno, it’s bad territory to be in for him.

All that being said, the biggest name on the FA list for the Yanks has to be Aroldis Chapman has been extended for another year at an additional $18 million.  He still can chuck it over 100mph, but it’s getting harder and harder as the seasons go by and we’ve seen less of it this season than in others.  Then there was that slider… well, I don’t think the team will hold that against him so much (though it was not his best pitch by a long-shot) and given his usage, you can almost not blame him for using it, but that’s neither here nor there; there were plenty of other reasons the Yanks lost.  The thing is, though the Yanks do have someone to replace Chapman, it came down to how much he wanted to remain in New York (a whole lot), how much they were willing to pay to bring him back (a whole lot) and, ultimately how much stronger he makes the pen (a whole lot).  As freely as the team spent in the George Steinbrenner era, the team is willing to be thrifty in the Hal Steinbrenner era and seem hellbent on going down with the ship to prove to whomever that The Yanks Don’t Buy Championships (*cough-cough2018 Red Soxcough*) and also don’t need to TANK! to build a champion contender.  If anything, the Winning Formula Award® now shifts to Dee Cee and the Nats, who are also the comeback players of the year (century?) and looking at some harder decisions than the Yanks this off-season.  Would I like to have him back? I like having him back; having a super-duper bullpen is never-ever a bad thing, but I hope it’s not at the expense of keeping Didi + Betances and/or signing an ace; Hey-ell no.

So what’s left:

Brett Gardner… another tough call, honestly.  He is the realest example of a True Yankee; drafted and bred in the Yankees system, made an impact from day one and through sheer hard work and perseverance became a solid everyday player and a fairly important one at that, even when his production went down, the team gambled on him holding the fort while others played in front of him and that gamble paid off in different ways, culminating in one of his best seasons of production in his career this past season. However, he’s 36, he’s not stealing many bases anymore even if analytics suddenly found them useful and there are quite a few guys on the team who are champing at the bit to do what he does (at a cheaper rate to boot).  Between Clint Frasier, Cameron Maybin and Mike Tauchman(!), Gardner had his hands full just staying on the roster,  But it says a whole lot that not only did he remain, but he competed hard and was quite productive in the process. It was a gamble both he and Cashman won this season despite ups and down throughout. This time, I don’t think fans would be so averse to having him around for another season, also given how injury-prone Stanton and to a certain degree Judge have been.  Plus, he’s the last link the team has to their last championship on roster, and at a glance probably the only player in the clubhouse with a championship on his resume; at least as a starter.  That cannot be discounted in any regard.

Austin Romine, however… there’s a lot to be said about having a good backup catcher.  For one, they are very rare.  For another, the Yanks sure do need them.  With the way Gary Sanchez’ career has played out so far, they were blessed to have Romine on the roster. It may or may not stick with him, but he proved to be very valuable given the playing time he had and the number of times he had key hits that either kept them in contention or won games for them.  And more importantly, pitchers liked pitching to him.  That always is something to take into consideration.  That said, this may not simply be a matter of if the Yanks want him back or not, but rather if they are willing to compete for him.  Several teams need upgrades in the backstop department, and Romine could fit in any contender’s roster as well as a rebuilding team in search of a steadying force in the infield.  He’s not a star per se, but he might be just what some team needs to keep the pieces together.  I’m not sure if there;s an immediate replacement for Romine in the system if he were to walk; top catching prospect Anthony Seigler is way too far away from the majors, and Kyle Higoshioka is decidedly not Austin Romine.

Cameron Maybin, well he deserves a decent contract somewhere.  He proved to be a solid contributor for the Yanks after signing with and being released by San Fran, signing with Cleveland and then being bought out by the Yanks all in 2019.  After effectively replacing Frasier who was inept in the outfield and in interviews with reporters, he hustled his way to consideration as key fourth outfielder beyond all of the injuries plaguing the team until his momentum was stopped cold by the same injury bug that felled many of his teammates.  But he returned in due time and was a key contributor the rest of the way, including the playoffs.  He’s a talented player; even if he doesn’t often hit for power, he puts bat on ball more often than not and he’s a good outfielder to boot.  I’d hate to lose him to someone else, but I would not begrudge him a starting role somewhere else (out of the division, of course).

Edwin, thanks for the memories.  However, you proved to be the exact definition of a luxury; the homers were nice and it’s a good thing you could play first, but nah, we’re good. By the way, you weren’t when we needed you to be, but you already knew that. This… is an ex-Parrot.

The rest are not so much a Who’s Who gallery as it is a Who Dat? list.  David Hale is the most familiar name as the Yanks have released him several times and reacquired him and sent him every which-a-way for the past couple of seasons, so I wonder if he’s also a masochist.  Cliff Pennington, I only wondered if he was related to former NY Jets QB Chad Pennington (PS: I doubt it).  Cory Guerrin and Eric Kratz; I’ve got nuthin’.

Okay, so feel free to chime in and sound off; this will probably stay open for a couple of weeks if it remains active, after which we’ll likely throw in another stream of consciousness or distract you with a Where & When cameo (those were fun) or even maybe try to pick up where we left off recounting famous Yanks For A Minute or who knows, something new for the Hot Stove Season to keep us engaged? Only time will tell, but thanks for the fun season, for sticking around and psst, keep an eye on the cash register having fun>;)

Could Be Worse (Could Be Raining)

Tough way for our boys to go out this year but it was nice to see the Nats swipe the championship from the Astros.

Hot Stove is on. Chapman already back.

What else?

Game Six

The Yanks got four runs off Justin Verlander in the first and that’s all they’d get but it was enough as our boys pushed the series back to Houston tonight for Game Six.

Win or go home. You know the drill.

Never mind the odds:

Let’s Go Yankees!

[Picture by Bags]

Saving Face

Welp, our boys picked a hell of time to have one of their sloppiest games of the year. Now the missed chances in Game 2 and Game 3 hurt even more. C.C. Sabathia limped off the mound last night too hurt to pitch anymore, his career over. It was a long, somber moment. Even the Astros gave him a hand and it didn’t seem condescending. Then the Yanks kept making more errors and just looked terrible on a cold and windy night in the Bronx.

The good news is that they’ve got a game today. The bad news is that they’ve got to face Justin Verlander. But the good news is they’ve got a chance, they’ve been resilient all year and hopefully they can send this series back to Houston and make them sweat just a little bit.

So never mind the tears:

Let’s Go Yankees!

Stormy Weather

This is what we know. If the Yanks are gonna beat the best team in the league they are gonna have to win three games and tame Greinke, Verlander, and Cole. Easy to overlook Greinke but he’s no scrub.

Holy cow is it ever lousy weather in the Bronx. Cold, windy—not baseball weather, man.

Biggest game of the season for our boys.

We’ll be there root-root-rootin’ them on.

Never mind the windchill:

Let’s Go Yank-eese!

Picture by Bags

The Magic Number

Game Three. Brilliant sunny autumn afternoon in New York. Yanks and Luis Severino against the best pitcher in the league and those damn ’Stros.

Here’s hoping the Yanks come out on top.

Never mind the strikeouts:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

In the Boom Boom Room

 

Yanks vs. the Astros, the two best teams in the league.

Yankees trying to avenge their 2017 ALCS loss to Houston while the Astros look to get back to the Serious.

Should be a ton o fun.

Never mind the brisket:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Take Two

The Yanks beat the Twins in Game One of the ALDS last night in the Bronx. Game was long and it wasn’t memorable but our boys scored a mess o runs and really made the Twins’ pitchers work hard.

This afternoon gives Game 2. Course it’s not a must-win for the Yanks but let’s pretend it is:

Never mind the chill in the air, it’s Playoff-Baseball, baby:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Hurry Up and Wait

Season ends today and the Yanks will start the ALDS against the Twins on Friday.

Lots to digest and prepare for.

Been a fine season thus far. Never mind the boo-boos:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Picture by Bags!]

Are We There Yet, Are We There Yet?

Walking wounded or not, ill-equipped to make a deep run or not, here we are with just a couple of weeks left and the Yanks are playing for the best record in the league—and in the game. Not bad, fellas, not bad at all.

Still need a few guys to get healthy—and the way things are going you wonder who else will get hurt—but hell, could be worse, could be raining.

Never mind the anticipation—Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Stretch Run

The Yanks start September banged-up as usual but also in first place as usual. Been a tremendous season so far considering all the mishaps. Let’s hope nothing gets too dramatic before the playoffs start.

Yanks have split the first two with the A’s, and look to take the series this afternoon on a beautiful autumnal day in the BX.

Never mind the wild card:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

 

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver