Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Another Yankees Off Day…. Another Musical Recommendation

We spoke about this briefly the other day, well the last time the Yankees had an off day actually, but I want to touch on it a little more here today. The Chainsmokers finally released an album after countless singles and a couple of EP’s (that I know about) and I have to say I am pretty impressed with it. Is it going to win album of the year? Well I highly doubt that to be honest but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it my first two-or-three times through so I wanted to share some of it here for you today.

If you’re new here and you’re wondering why we are talking music on a Yankees-related blog it is because we usually go casual and talk about whatever on off days. It is part of what makes us, us. We will bring you the walk up music and entrance music for various players throughout the year on off days, we will bring you baseball related movies and book recommendations and pretty much anything we can think of to be different, unique and entertaining.

That’s why you come in the first place, isn’t it? Enjoy the off day and your Tuesday everybody.

Former Yankees Update: Otis Nixon


News out of Georgia reports that former Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees outfielder Otis Nixon has been reported missing on Sunday by Georgia authorities. The Woodstock Police Department tweeted out a recent photo of Nixon yesterday stating that the 58-year old former outfielder was last seen on Saturday around 10:00 AM ET leaving his home in his 2011 Range Rover.

Nixon left his house to head over to play gold but never made it to the golf course and now a search for the former MLB star is on. Nixon battled drugs his entire life and was even suspended during the 1991 World Series and was unable to play due to his positive test for cocaine. Nixon was also arrested in 2013 on charges of drug possession, again cocaine. Cocaine is a hell of a drug I hear.

Nixon played for nine teams during his MLB career which included the New York Yankees, the Cleveland Indians, the Montreal Expos, the Boston Red Sox, the Texas Rangers, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves. Nixon’s career ended in 1999. 

Quick Hit: James Kaprielian to See Doctor Today on Elbow

Just a quick hit for you guys and an injury update on the Yankees top pitching prospect in their system, righty James Kaprielian. As we all know Kaprielian strained his flexor muscle last season and missed basically the entire 2016 season recovering from the injury only to return for the Arizona Fall League and spring training this season. Kaprielian passed both of those tests with flying colors giving the Yankees zero reason to doubt that his elbow was fully healthy but once again Kaprielian finds himself on the Tampa Yankees disabled list. Kaprielian has seen doctors already but he sees another today which should lead to his final diagnosis. Holding my breath now.

Kaprielian flew to Tampa last week and had an MRI on his troublesome right elbow and also had a dye-contrast MRI on the elbow. The Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad has recommended Kaprielian see the doctor that he is seeing today in Los Angeles, Dr. Neil ElAttrache. It’s probably not a good sign when Dr. Ahmad asks another doctor to step in but Kaprielian is not seeing Dr. James Andrews, not yet anyway, so that dreaded three-word term is not being uttered yet. Not loud enough for anyone to hear anyway.

Fingers crossed and with baited breath we wait for the results…. Stay tuned. 

ICYMI: Rooting for Aroldis Chapman

It should go without saying that domestic violence is a serious matter. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equates to more than 10 million women and men during one year.

On a typical day there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. And among so many other disturbing stats is this one... the precense of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

That brings us to the incident involving Aroldis Chapman in October of 2015. If you'd like to read the police report yourself, here are pictures of it...

I know that pictures on the internet can sometimes be hard to read, especially when a computer novice such as myself is the one posting them, so I'll give you a breakdown of the report...

At about 10:00pm, the night of October 31st, 2015, police were called to the home of Aroldis Chapman. When they arrived Cristina Barnea met them in the driveway, and informed them that her and her boyfriend (Chapman) got into an argument. During the argument Chapman had allegedly pushed her before the argument was broken up by family members. At which point Barnea ran outside, heard "shotgun" blasts, hid in the bushes outside the home, and called the police. It was also advised that her infant child was still inside the residence with Chapman.

After checking guests as they left the house and finding nothing on them, police established a perimeter around the home until Chapman finally exited the house without incident.

It was established at the time that the argument between Barnea and Chapman started because Barnea found something in Chapman's phone that she did not like. Ms. Barnea then went into the bathroom with the phone, while Chapman followed her in there and took the phone back. Barnea then wanted to speak with Chapman in the home's movie theater, which is where she claimed to have been pushed by Chapman. That is when Barnea's brother broke things up, leading to her running outside and hiding.

Barnea's brother also spoke with an officer, saying he did attempt to stop the argument between his sister and Chapman. He did note that while there was arguing happening, he saw no physical violence occur.

Chapman's employed driver also gave a statement, most of which included the same facts listed above. One big difference is that Barnea apparently charged at and tackled Chapman in the theater (which Barnea says did not happen). However, the driver refused to provide a sworn tape recorded statement.

In the report Chapman corroborated the events of that evening, however he had simply used his index and middle finger to push Ms. Barnea on the left shoulder to move her away from him while saying she should not talk to him that way. At that point Barnea fell to the ground and started yelling, prompting her brother to run in, push Chapman to the ground, and along with friends and relatives break up the altercation.

Chapman left the house at that time, and wanted to drive away, but friends did not let him do that. Instead he and a friend sat in Chapman's Land Rover, where he punched the window and lacerated his hand before exiting with a pistol he got out of the glove compartment, and went into the garage. While in the garage he fired the gun "several" times before throwing the gun away. At that point friends took him into his room and locked themselves in.

It should be noted that Chapman, like his driver, refused to give a sworn recorded statement or sign an affidavit of complaint. He did, however, sign a consent to search around the exterior of his garage.

Barnea was spoken to again by officers about the incident, where inconsistencies started popping up. One of them being that Ms. Barnea could not say how she had fallen to the ground, and that Chapman had instead pushed her against the bathroom wall before she had fallen. She then said Chapman had "choked" her by placing his hands around her neck, but that it did not prevent her from breathing. The officers noted that there were no signs of choking on Ms. Barnea

Barnea then said she did not want any further involvement with the incident, and just wanted to collect her belongings and leave. At that point she was allowed to do so, and was advised to call the Davie Police to stand by while she later collecting any other belongings from the home. Barnea then left without further incident.

Finally, officers could not find the gun outside the garage, and were advised that this was because Chapman had actually retrieved the weapon and put it in his Escalade so that nobody else could find it and hurt themselves. Chapman was told doing so hindered the investigation, however it was found that that wasn't his intention and no charges were filed.

In the end it was noted that due to several inconsistencies in Barnea's statement, as well as the statements of others changing several times during the investigation, the case would be forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for review.

While the police report pointed out inconsistencies, I wanted to talk about some of them myself.

The first of those has to do with the number of people that apparently saw the incident. Cristina Barnea, herself, noted that the incident happened in front of "everyone". The police report also noted that there were around 20 guests at the party. However, not one of them corroborated the story that Ms. Barnea gave, nor have they come forward afterward to say Mr. Chapman did anything such as choking her or endangering her or anybody else.

Now, I understand that some people may not wish to testify against a celebrity such as Chapman. Doing so can create all sorts of problems for a person, among those things are unwanted attention from the media, negative comments and attention on social media, and possible unwanted legal battles from said celebrity. However, especially at a time where so many things can be said anonymously while speaking to a journalist "off the record", or on any number of message boards and such on the internet, you would think something incriminating would have been said about Aroldis Chapman. Yet there's been nothing.

Then you have what may be one of the most disturbing things to be noted during the police investigation that night... allegations of choking.

Honestly, that part seems to be total crap.

For starters, Barnea noted in the police report that even though Chapman was "choking" her, she was never unable to breathe. Look, the very definition of choking is to prevent airflow into the lungs. Ms. Barnea clearly used the word "choke" in order to make things sound much worse than they actually were. If anything, Chapman at one point may have touched her throat, but no actual choking actually occurred.

Later on, in a sworn waiver of prosecution to the State Attorney's Office, Ms. Barnea changed her story saying Chapman only "used his fingers to move her away from him, and out of his personal space. She lost her balance and fell to the ground."

Need I say more about this part of the incident?

No? Okay, then I'll just re-post this picture of Cristina Bernea taken shortly after the choking allegation...

Another reason a lot of people are upset about what allegedly happened between Barnea and Chapman is that it happened in front of their infant child. I want to note that this is absolutely not true. The fact is the child was being cared for by Barnea's mother, out of view of the party and the incident. Nothing of the sort was mentioned in the police report, neither. This is just another attempt at people trying to build up the story into more than it actually is.

I also want to say that there is zero evidence that Aroldis fired his gun outside of his home, nor in the direction of anybody. The first part is very important as firing a weapon outside of private property is against Florida law. Furthermore, Aroldis agreed to a search of the exterior of the garage, which tells me he was not trying to hide anything he had done. While he was told he was wrong in removing the gun from the garage, as doing so interfered with a police investigation, Chapman never attempted to hide the fact surrounding his use of the gun from anybody. If any sort of wrong-doing happened during the incident, such as him threatening Barnea or anybody else with the weapon, don't you think that would have been mentioned in the police report? Or don't you think that such a thing would have been brought up during the investigation by the State Attorney? Or like I mentioned earlier, don't you think somebody that was at the party would have said something about gun violence?

I want to point out that Ms. Barnea is not so innocent, either. Look at the following report of her breaking into Chapman's home while he was getting ready to return to Florida after the Reds' season had ended the day before in Pittsburgh.

As I did with the other police report, let me break it down. Ms. Barnea had returned to the house after their relationship ended (which included Barnea voluntarily leaving the house, and using a key she had taken without Chapman's knowledge) and entered the home. And although that is not a completely legal or even morally correct thing to do, Chapman still agreed to allow Barnea to collect her's and their child's things from his house.

The final nail in the coffin of Aroldis Chapman being guilty is this.... they are still together nearly a year and a half later. We're not talking about the guy having a one-night stand with somebody, and that somebody is keeping their mouth shut about a celebrity they slept with. This is clearly a committed relationship. Cristina Barnea was even Chapman's special guest at the World Series this past season.

All of the following information tells me that Chapman and Barnea simply got into an argument the night of the party, and it's highly likely that alcohol helped to escalate a simple argument into an "incident". Things were said and accusations of cheating were made. In response Aroldis got mad, went to his car to talk it out with a friend, wrongly (note the bold font and italics) decided to take his gun from the glove compartment and into his garage, and vented by firing that gun eight times into the wall (accidentally firing one through the window and into an open field). This is not a case of a horrible man doing horrible things.

In fact, I believe that if there was no gun involved, there's a good chance this whole thing would have faded away in a heartbeat. But due to the issues of domestic and gun violence being as big as they are (and for good reason, mind you), along with it involving a high profile celebrity/athlete, the story was jumped on by all sorts of people (media and others) and blown up into something much bigger than it was.

Look at it this way... Aroldis was not arrested and charged with abuse against his wife that needed medical attention, yet Jose Reyes... who is guilty of those things... received a hero's welcome at Citi Field when he returned following his suspension.

Aroldis Chapman was not videotaped punching his wife in a casino elevator, but there are people... even women... who supported Ray Rice after he did just that.

Chapman was not accused of trying to kill his own mother, but Dez Bryant's mother forgave and supported him for doing that.

Chapman was never sentenced to spend any time in jail after being convicted of domestic abuse, however Chad Johnson had the support of at least one of his former Dolphins teammates one that happened to him
To wrap this whole thing up I would like to say the following...

If you think I'm not going to root for Aroldis Chapman when he steps on the mound for the Yankees then you're out of your mind. Domestic violence, whether it's a simple misunderstanding or an incredibly violent act caught on camera, is not acceptable. But to treat Chapman like he's some type of monster that doesn't deserve a chance to redeem himself is downright wrong. I will accept your right to act as you wish towards the man, but don't think for one second that I'm going to agree with it. Actually, if anything, I'll cheer louder to drown out your booing.


What to Expect from Kyle Higashioka

The New York Yankees belong to Gary Sanchez so what happens when the Yankees catcher heads to the disabled list with a biceps strain just five games into the season? You suck it up, you plug Austin Romine into the starting job and you call up the forever youthful Kyle Higashioka. By now many of you have heard of Higashioka by now but for those who haven’t here is a short post covering what to expect from the new Yankees backup catcher.

Higashioka is a persevering little bugger, he is. Higashioka was drafted way back in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB First Year Players Draft and until the 2016 season has been constantly overlooked and passed over by the New York Yankees organization. A career minor leaguer Higashioka opened eyes last year adding power to an already impressive defensive and game calling regiment. Higashioka always had Romine and Sanchez ahead of him on the depth charts and always had Luis Torrens ahead of him on the scale of projectability but that all changed in 2016 when Higashioka hit 21 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A earning him a spot on the Yankees 40 man roster.

Higashioka turns 27-years old this month so whether he is just a late bloomer or if his injury history and tweaks to his batting approach are to blame for his emergence remains to be seen but as long as there are Josh Donaldson’s in the world I am not going to be the one to count him out. Even if Higashioka never hits 20 home runs again in a season he more than makes up for that with a strong throwing arm and great defensive and pitch framing skills behind the dish. Even if he hit .220 he could save more runs than he could potentially drive in making him a valuable and underrated player in the clubhouse and on the field.

I have to say I am like a kid in the candy store when I see prospects that I have followed seemingly forever finally make it to the Major Leagues and with Higasioka it’s no different. I’m rooting for you Kyle, make us all proud!

Don't Look Now But It's J-Mont Time!...

Credit:  Chris O'Meara, AP

Whoa, I didn’t think it would happen but Jordan Montgomery has claimed the fifth spot in the starting rotation.  As recent as yesterday, I said I expected the Yankees to go with either Bryan Mitchell (currently on the Major League roster) or Chad Green (currently in the minors) since both pitchers are on the 40-man roster.  Surprisingly, Manager Joe Girardi has announced they’ll call up Jordan Montgomery to make his much anticipated Major League Debut on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.  

I think it’s a terrific move.  I know that Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes has long been a believer in Montgomery, but I jumped on the bandwagon during Spring Training after watching him pitch.  I had been a big supporter for Mitchell but the tall young left-hander changed my mind.  I think it is tremendous to add another talented lefty to the rotation to go with CC Sabathia.  Montgomery may not profile as a frontline ace, but he can be a very effective Big League pitcher.  There will be bumps in the road but I think Montgomery can be an important part of the starting rotation when the team returns to contender status in the not-so-distant future.  

No word yet who has lost their spot on the 40-man roster.  You always have to worry about Rob Refsnyder given the lack of love he has been shown by Yankees management (regardless of how you or I feel about Ref).  I think it will probably be one of the lesser known younger pitchers but it’s really anybody’s guess for who will lose the seat at the table.

With Montgomery scheduled to start tomorrow, it pushes everyone else back a day.  Luis Severino will pitch on Thursday.  To make room on the 25-man roster for Montgomery, the Yankees have demoted lefty reliever Chasen Shreve to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  The decision regarding the 40-man roster, which was not announced, will be made by Wednesday.

Congratulations to Montgomery for his arrival at The Show and best of luck for much success on Wednesday for his Major League (and Yankee Stadium) debut!  Exciting times!  These are the steps that lay the foundation for the next World Series Championship!

It’s been announced that catcher Gary Sanchez will miss four weeks with a Grade 1 Strain of his  right brachialis muscle (behind his bicep).  I think all of us knew that this was going to be longer than a 10-Day DL stint.  A month is a long time, but all things considered, it could have been worse, much worse.  So, I guess we’ll just have delay the Yankees Regulars Reunion Party until May when Sanchez and Didi Gregorius both return.  

I’ve already seen a few articles speculating who the Yankees should acquire for interim catching help.  I think they’ll just go with the in-house candidates like they did for Didi Gregorius.  I would prefer to see a platoon between Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka rather than just give the job outright to Romine.  I really want to see what Higashioka has in his bat.  He was a late bloomer but I think he can be a better catcher than Romine.  Of the external candidates, the only name that sounds reasonably appealing to me is John Ryan Murphy of the Minnesota Twins.  But despite the good job Murphy did as the Yankees backup catcher a couple of seasons ago, he has had a difficult time staying on the Twins’ MLB roster and is currently at Triple A.  

With Sanchez out of the lineup, it’s critical for someone else to step up.  Could that guy be right fielder Aaron Judge?  Judge homered on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles and again yesterday on Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays.  He has done a good job in reducing strikeouts and maybe now his bat is coming around.  After struggling at each level, he has always overcome the challenges.  Let’s hope this is the start of success for Judge in the Major Leagues, his final frontier.  

Speaking of Opening Day, it was a magical day.  Prior to the game, I had hoped the significance of the day would help bring out the best in Pineda.  It did.  Big Mike pitched exactly the way we know he can.  He took a perfect game into the seventh inning before surrendering a double to Evan Longoria.  He lost the shutout in the eighth, thanks to a Logan Morrison home run.  Those would be the only hits (and run) allowed by Pineda, who went 7 2/3 innings.  He didn’t walk a batter and struck out eleven in one of his most magnificent performances in recent memory.  This is the Big Mike that can take us to the Promised Land.  

For the second day in a row, Aroldis Chapman saw a potential save opportunity evaporate due to multiple late inning runs.  After the top of the eighth inning was completed, the Yankees held a slim 3-1 lead.  It felt like we’d see Chapman in the ninth to try for his first save of the season.  He had even gotten up to throw in the pen but it was not meant to be as the Yankees easily scored five runs in the bottom of the 8th to ice the game.  So, for the ninth inning, Chasen Shreve cleanly delivered three outs with no hits, walks or runs, striking out one.  For his trouble, he received a free all-expenses paid one-way trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  

In addition to Judge’s fourth inning home run off Alex Cobb, Chase Headley and Starlin Castro also homered later in the game.  Matt Holliday had a good Yankee Stadium debut as he was 2-for-4, with a run scored and one ribbie.  Chris Carter, also making his Yankee Stadium debut, tripled to drive in a run during the eighth inning scoring explosion.

It was a GREAT day for the Yankees and their fans from beginning to end.  The day could not have been better scripted.  Well, I wouldn’t object to the erasure of Longoria’s hit or Morrison’s homer, but all things considered, it was a wonderful day in the Bronx neighborhood.  

For a day like yesterday, it’s fun to have a day off today to let the pleasing victory marinate.  Take these good feelings and channel them into the desire for a sensational debut performance tomorrow by New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery!  Wow, that does sound good…

Have a great Tuesday! 

So it Seems Spring Has Sprung

Ladies and gentleman, good morning. Spring has sprung, spring break is over here for my children, the weather is warming up and the grass already needs cut. The Yankees returned home last night for their home opener after limping to a 2-4 start to the season and losing Gary Sanchez but in his place came another glimpse into the future in Kyle Higashioka. Like in life the Yankees will survive and figure it out, they always do. We always will.

So I hope everyone has a great day today. Make it the best Tuesday ever. I love you all, especially you. Hey you. Have a great day. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 4/11: Bob Sheppard Takes a Vacation Day

On this day in 2006 Bob Sheppard misses his first Yankee Stadium home opener since 1951 due to a hip injury he suffered the day before at his home. The injury wouldn't keep Sheppard out long as Bob was back for the next Yankees home stand behind the microphone.

Also on this day in 1954 the New York Yankees traded two minor league players with right handed pitcher Mel Wright to the St. Louis Cardinals for 38 year old right fielder Enos Slaughter. While Slaughter would head to the Hall of Fame when his playing career was done he would only hit .239 in 79 games for the Yankees. Bill Virdon, one of the prospects in the deal, would win the Rookie of the Year Award in St. Louis in 1956.