Saturday, July 25, 2020

It's a Cole, Cole World...

Photo Credit: Alex Brandon, AP

First Yankees Win for Gerrit Alan Cole…

Baseball back and I couldn’t be happier, even if it is not quite baseball as we’ve known it over the years. It remains very strange to see empty stadium seats behind the players or in the cases of places like Dodger Stadium, cardboard cut-out’s sitting the seats. The Dodgers even pumped in fan ovation for home runs in last night’s game against the Giants. It kind of reminded me of that self-noise I used to create as a kid when I hit an imaginary home run in my backyard. But I am not here to talk about the Dodgers, so let’s get to the team that really matters.  

The Yankees and Gerrit Cole did not disappoint for MLB’s opening game even if Mother Nature had a say in the final outcome which resulted in the 4-1win for the Yankees over the defending World Series Champions at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The game was, as most expected even with the Yankees facing the great Max Scherzer, total domination by young Caden Cole’s dad. The talented Trea Turner managed a homer off Cole in the bottom of the first inning, but it would be the only hit off the Yankees’ shiny new toy in a game called early because of rain after a delay halted Cole’s debut with one out in the top of the sixth. In picking up his first Yankees victory, Cole struck out five with 75 total pitches in the shortened, complete game effort. As a fan, it’s so enjoyable to have a pitcher on the mound who gives you complete confidence regardless of the opponent. I know, Luis Severino can be that guy, but we won’t see him until 2021. James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka can be great at times but as much as I like both of them, they do not instill the sense of confidence that Cole and Sevy give you. Putting Sevy with Cole is probably a bit of an overstatement since Sevy is not on Cole’s level but I feel he can be and hopefully will be. Meanwhile, keep pumping as much Cole into my veins as you want to. I am glad the man is a Yankee. 
So, for now, Gerrit Cole is undefeated as a Yankee, with a lifetime ERA of 1.80 in Pinstripes. Small sample size…sure, but totally worth the $324 million he was generously provided by the Steinbrenner Family. I am looking forward to every opportunity #45 gets to take the mound. The higher the stakes, the better.  

Despite the loss, Max Scherzer racked up eleven punch-outs. As much as I wanted the Yankees to sign Scherzer in free agency a few years ago, I think of how awesome it would have been to have both Scherzer and Cole in the same rotation. If the Yankees had signed Scherzer, perhaps they would not have been players for Cole last off-season, but one can dream. I have great respect for Scherzer, even if he is not wearing the right uniform. I will always wonder what could have been with Cole and Scherzer as the rotation headliners.  

If I had to pick the first Yankee to homer…correction, the first Major League Baseball player to homer…to start the unusual quick sprint 2020 season, I couldn’t ask for a better guy than Giancarlo Stanton. As maligned as he has been in the eyes of the Yankees Universe, I am glad to see him letting his bat do the talking. His blast, which traveled 459 feet to center, gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off Scherzer and the Yankees never looked back. Stanton picked up another RBI with a fifth inning single. The slimmed down version of the Yankees slugger looks like he is prepared for a monster season and I am glad to be along for the ride.

For the second consecutive Opening Day game, D.J. LeMahieu was on the bench. Granted, he’s still working his way back from his recent bout with the coronavirus but I am glad he was on the active roster and did not start the year on the injured list. It may be a few days before we see him in a game, but I look forward to the encore performance for Le Machine. I am so hopeful his 2020 season yields a new extension for the man who has looked very good in Pinstripes.  Meanwhile, his replacement at second base, Tyler Wade, held his own. His walk to open the third inning led to the Yankees’ third run when Aaron Judge followed, after an Aaron Hicks strikeout, with a double to left.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

He also picked up a hit on a bunt grounder that Nationals second baseman All-Starlin Castro mishandled, no doubt feeling the pressure of Wade’s speed. Wade has a chance to be the team’s unsung hero this year with his versatility and the significance of each and every game. He may not get a lot of credit but he can do the little things to make the Yankees better. We’ll see LeMahieu soon enough even if it is not, well, soon enough.  

After a day off on Friday, the Yankees and Nationals hook up again today or rather this evening at 7:15 pm ET. James Paxton, who would have started the scheduled late March opening series  in Baltimore, Maryland on the injured list after off-season back surgery, will take the hill against mega-millionaire Stephen Strasburg. It may not be quite as thrilling as Cole-Scherzer but it’s not far behind. Only 59 games left in the season! It is the stretch run already…LOL!  

The Yankees stashed veteran left-handed relief to work out with the other guys currently training in Moosic, PA, home of the idled Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, when they signed lefty reliever Fernando Abad. The 34-year-old Abad was most recently with the Washington Nationals but he missed summer training after testing positive for the coronavirus and did not make the cut. He’s now healthy and looks to get ready for an eventual call back to the big leagues. Abad was a member of the Boston Red Sox bullpen during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Nothing to get excited about but if he’s needed, he’ll be there and once you get a chance to play, anybody can be a hero.  

There’s a third team in New York. Alright, it’s Western New York and a very long car ride away from Yankee Stadium, but the Toronto Blue Jays will be sharing the state with the Yankees and Mets this season as they’ve decided to play their home games in Buffalo, site of their Triple A club. The Blue Jays had wanted to play at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but the health department for the State of Pennsylvania had other thoughts. Facing a similar rejection in Maryland to play at Orioles Park at Camden Yards, the Jays settled on the Queen City, in a stadium next to a building that housed a one-time employer for me. 

It’s a good day…a great day…for a Yankees win! The weather should be cooperative this go-around with only a 10% chance of rain forecasted for this evening (with an expected high temp of 82) in the Nation’s Capitol. Let’s play nine and hopefully give the Big Maple his first win of the season.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Dawn of the New Season...

Photo Credit: AP

Opening Day is nearly upon us…

Finally, and long overdue, we will soon enter Baseball Week as the 2020 MLB Season is just a short 5 days away. All hail, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio! Nothing against the Yankee Clipper, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter or Alfred Manual Martin, Jr but I will be glad when we’re Adam Ottavino’s jersey away from first pitch!

I have to admit that a Gerrit Cole versus Max Scherzer match-up in the Nation’s Capitol is as excited as I’ve been to see a regular season game in a very long time. I know, these two were on the same field together last October when they faced each other in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series. The Washington Nationals won that game, 5-4, at time when we didn’t really care and actually wanted Cole to lose while wearing the disgraced uniform of the Houston Astros. Times have changed, and Yankee fans will be resoundingly behind Gerrit Cole this time around as we cheer from our Lazy Boy recliners and couches. Aside from the pandemic, it’s a wonderful time to be alive and fans of the greatest and most-storied baseball franchise. 

Aside from the back to back dingers by Miguel Andujar and Mike Ford, Cole looked ready to go in his last “spring” performance before Opening Day. He threw 87 pitches, 53 for strikes, while giving up only four hits and striking out seven. It’s the dawn of a new era and I am glad Gerrit Cole represents the face and the arm of the Yankees’ starting rotation for the next decade. Welcome, Gerrit, your debut with the famed interlocking N-Y cap on your head as you stare down at the defending World Champions at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. will be a magical moment for all of us. We will be as excited to see you pitch as young Caden Cole and his mother will be. Okay, Caden might be more interested in his mother’s breast but it’s still a thrilling time.   

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Giancarlo Stanton takes the brunt of frustration from Yankees fans but I really hope this is a strong year for the Yankees slugger. I’ve been disappointed with his inability to stay healthy, like everyone else, but under the premise “the glass is half full”, I am hopeful and optimistic Stanton can be the force he was for the 2017 Miami Marlins. 

I harbor the same hope for health and productivity when it comes to Aaron Judge but he has had an easier time with the fan base. Having Stanton and Judge batting in the same lineup is almost as exciting as Gerrit Cole on the mound, especially considering their bats will be protected by Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez, among others. Sorry Luke, not purposely trying to exclude you.  

I doubt he’s ready by Thursday but I am excited to see D.J. LeMahieu back in Yankees camp after his recovery from COVID-19. Hopefully, if he’s not ready, he soon will be. I want to see LeMahieu force the Yankees to give him an extension. I am not ready for this guy’s Yankees career to end after the upcoming shortened season. I know, Le Machine is 32 years old (Happy Belated Birthday to him, by the way…his birthday was last Monday). The Yankees are age-adverse in modern times, unless your name is Brett Gardner, so age is not exactly D.J.’s friend in upcoming negotiations but I think he can be a very effective player for a few more years and I’d rather see him do it Pinstripes.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, The New York Post

Granted, I haven’t followed the story closely, but why does it matter that Clint Frazier will wear a mask during games? That’s his right. I have no issue with it. The mask doesn’t hit or field. Frazier just needs to prove he can stay healthy and perform well when he is on the field. I couldn’t care less if he is wearing a mask even if he’s the only player on the field with one. I am a firm believer that masks are to help protect you from me and not vice versa. So, Clint’s statement is that he cares about his teammates. What’s wrong with that message? I haven’t exactly been Clint’s biggest supporter but on this issue, please leave him alone.  

Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images

Domingo German caused a stir on Social Media yesterday when he posted a pic of himself on a St Petersburg, FL beach which fades into a pic of him and his small son, followed by the words “Me fui del baseball. Gracias mi gente.” which translates to “I’ve left baseball. Thanks everyone”. My first reaction was that it is simply his way of saying goodbye to baseball in 2020 since he’ll be serving his suspension for the duration of the season, but media speculation centered on the possibility he’s leaving the game permanently. With the money he stands to make in future years, it does seem foolish that he’d walk away entirely at age 27. I am hopeful the words are only an expression for the frustration he feels at the moment, and once he’s cleared to play, he’ll return with the same passion for the game he once had as a young pitcher trying to make the Major Leagues. With the potential losses in the Yankees’ starting rotation in the off-season, they’ll need guys like German if the younger arms are not ready. Granted, German has to do what’s best for him and his family but I do believe his future is brighter in the game, particularly if he is able to build upon his success last season. Everyone deserves a second chance and German is no exception.

I don’t know why I was saddened to see the news the Yankees had released pitcher Adam Warren from his minor league contract. He was not going to pitch this year after Tommy John surgery and he wasn’t exactly setting the World on fire with his teams after leaving the Yankees last time. But he has always been effective for the Yankees and I guess I was hoping to see if he would be able to rekindle the magic in Pinstripes next season. I am sure the release was due to coronavirus roster management as some have reported but I am hopeful the Yankees can sign Warren to a re-negotiated minor league contract. Jack Curry of the YES Network, a trusted source, did report Warren was a “casualty” of new COVID-19 rules and Brian Cashman said the Yankees will re-sign in the winter (per Twitter). I hope so. 

The Yankees have signed all three draft picks from the recent MLB draft. Second baseman/outfielder Trevor Hauver of Arizona State University was the last to sign. Jack Curry reported that Hauver signed for $587,000. Pitcher Beck Way, LSU, previously signed for $600,000, and catcher Austin Wells was the first to ink his name on a Yankees contract for a cool $2.5 million.

To borrow and modify the famous words of former Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, it’s time for Yankees baseball!  Let’s go! Coronavirus Champions or bust! We got this.

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Launch of the Cuban Missile is Delayed...

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Chapman becomes latest to test positive for COVID-19…

We thought last year was the Year of Last Man Standing, but now, the Yankees have lost their third player, Aroldis Chapman, to the coronavirus. With D.J. LeMahieu and Luis Cessa both already sidelined and now the team’s closer, it becomes a question of who’s next. Chapman, perhaps one of the most if not THE most physically gifted athlete on the team, proved he is not invincible against the resurgent virus. It’s been reported that his symptoms are mild but the strength of the virus should never be underestimated. Here’s hoping for a full and speedy recovery for Chapman, as well as Le Machine and Cessa. The sooner they are back (most importantly the first two), the better, assuming they’re fully healthy. If the Yankees win the 2020 World Series, it will be because of their championship-level contributions. In other words, they are desperately needed aside from just being great guys to have on the team. 

As much as I want baseball back, there is a part of me that feels cancelling the season before it starts makes some sense. That’s difficult to say, or in this case…write, but I feel the safety and health of the players and their families are the most important factors. 

For now, the Show goes on. I hope, and I pray, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases starts to subside soon. Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox are the latest significant players to opt out, with more expected. As with David Price, I do not fault any player who decides the risk is too great for whatever reason(s). It’s their right and I’ll respect them for it. It would be unfair for us to criticize them for making a decision to protect their own best interests.  

With Tyler Wade the most likely fill-in second baseman for LeMahieu, Zack Britton becomes the interim closer. It’s fortunate the Yankees have a strong bullpen to cover for Chappy’s absence but it probably would have been nicer to have Dellin Betances on the roster. Oh well. It’s an opportunity for other deserving guys to step up.  

Photo Credit: Brendan Kuty, NJ Advance Media for

Aaron Hicks had a good comment after Saturday’s game when asked if there will be a season. He said the team is prepared and motivated to play and no Yankees have opted out. The Yankees want to play and are ready. He didn’t know about other teams and if there are teams that don’t want to play, it could end the season but he didn’t see any reason why the game should halt. Fair enough. I know guys like Mookie Betts have expressed concerns. Sure, Betts is not a Yankee, but there are other big name guys like him who have expressed concerns and no doubt there are players on the Yankees with the same concerns they’ve kept to themselves.  

It’s been tough to watch the intra-squad games for the lack of energy normally generated by the missing fans in attendance. It fills a little like a golf match, with less than a golf clap to celebrate home runs. A home run, followed by dead silence in Yankee Stadium. It’s not the same. Maybe facing opposing teams rather than teammates will heighten the interest in games but so far there has been no joy in the summer training games.  

I am excited about the future for Clarke Schmidt. With the Yankees potentially losing several starters in the off-season, Schmidt can solidify his role as a 2021 starter with a solid performance in the upcoming 60 games. Both James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka can be free agents after the season. I hope the Yankees bring both back, but at the very least, Masa. J.A. Happ can also leave since he will be unable to reach the milestones that would have triggered an additional year as a result of the shortened season. I am okay with Happ leaving as I see his spot in the rotation as the one I have marked for Schmidt next season. Nothing against Happ but age happens. I’ll gladly go with younger, talented arms like Schmidt and Deivi Garcia.

Photo Credit: New York Yankees, via Pinstriped Prospects

I know the stiff neck Aaron Judge woke up with yesterday is no big deal (using Aaron Boone’s words), and missing an intra-squad game is negligible, but it always seems like “what’s next?” for the big guy. I am really hopeful for a healthy season for Judge as the Yankees really need him. Judge is expected back today. I continue to hold my breath for his good health.

I am excited for the Yankees’ one-two starting punch with Gerrit Cole and James Paxton. I’d prefer to have Masahiro Tanaka as part of the equation but I know he’ll be a little behind with his current concussion protocol. It’s scary to think what the rotation could have been with a healthy Luis Severino this year. Sevy will be back next year but I always think pitchers need a season to ‘right the ship’ so we might not see the best of Sevy until 2022 at the earliest. It’s best to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst…as the saying goes. Sevy would not be the first pitcher to struggle post-Tommy John surgery and he wouldn’t be the last. As we know, there are no sure things in Major League Baseball…except for maybe Mike Trout.

We had COVID-19 testing at my work early last week when one of my co-workers tested positive but we’re still waiting for the results. With the increased testing, there’s clearly a backlog. With as many days that have passed since the test, receiving a negative result is no strong assurance to be in the clear since the coronavirus can be caught easily and at any time. The virus is certainly not waiting to see if we get our test results back before continuing its assault on our bodies. I did not work near the sick co-worker, but the members of her team were all sent home to work for the foreseeable future (anybody who came in close contact with her on a day-to-day basis).

As they say, WEAR YOUR MASK! I wear a mask when I am out and I recognize that I am not wearing my mask for me, I am wearing it for you.  

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Bats, Balls & Gloves Together Again...

Photo Credit: AP

The return of Spring Training brings familiar sounds…

Before I say how glad I am we have baseball again, I’d first like to say I hope Masahiro Tanaka is okay and he does not suffer any long-term health consequences after the mishap today when Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive to Masa’s head at Yankee Stadium workouts left him on the ground motionless for ten minutes. I say this for Masahiro’s sake first and foremost. Although I wouldn’t want to lose Masahiro this season, the Yankees are purely secondary when it comes to the pitcher’s health. It’s always tough to see those types of accidents as pitchers are clearly the most vulnerable players on the field once they release a pitch. For now, he’s resting at the hospital and will begin concussion protocol. 

Photo Credit: Brendan Kuty, NJ Advance Media for

I don’t get the hate on social media that was directed at Stanton. It’s not like he intentionally did it, and Stanton knows all too well what kind of damage a hard, fast traveling baseball can do. It’s just an unfortunate situation but hopefully all tests are negative and Masa has no lingering effects. We love you, Masa. We need you and we want you to be happy and healthy. If baseball’s not in the cards immediately, that’s fine. We’ll be here when you are ready, my brother. Word has been received that Masa has been released from the hospital. As he recovers from home tonight, our thoughts and prayers are with him. 

It’s been a little strange to have summer training at MLB stadiums after being so conditioned for training to only occur in Florida and Arizona. Living near Angel Stadium, I thought I’d see more activity around the stadium but I haven’t. I am sure the Angels are inside working out, no doubt, but from the outside, it appears to be business as usual which has been fairly quiet during my three months in the neighborhood. 

Listening to Mike Trout talk about the difficulty in making a decision to play, it would hurt to see the game’s best player take a seat at home but with all honesty, I can’t blame him. This is a personal choice that each player must make. Not sure what I’d do if I were in his/their shoes. I’d probably play but that doesn’t mean I am critical of any player who decides the risks are too great. Today, David Price announced he had decided to opt out, depriving the Los Angeles Dodgers of their first look at the Yankees’ former batting practice toy. I am okay with Price’s decision. I think he can help the Dodgers but it’s his decision to protect his family and I respect his choice. The 2021 baseball season will be here soon enough and the Dodgers have Price for two more years. The downside to Price’s choice is the Boston Red Sox are off the hook for the money they owed Price this year (approximately $6 million from what I’ve read). As for Trout, his first child is due in August and he doesn’t want to be deprived of the opportunity to welcome the newest Trout into the World. I get it, I really do.

I kept thinking Gerrit Cole might decide to opt out but with the birth of his son, Caden Gerrit Cole, on June 30th, it appears he is motivated to make good on his contract in Year 1. Selfishly, I am glad but conversely, if he had decided to stay home, I’d honor and respect the choice. I am envious of Caden. He gets to learn baseball from one of the most incredible baseball minds in the game. How cool is that? He has the benefit of inheriting Gerrit’s DNA too. For Caden, life is good, and it hasn’t even started yet. The little boy has an amazing future whether he likes it or not.

I know it’s not Yankees news but it’s hard not to associate Joe Girardi with the Yankees so please excuse the slight detour. Girardi has lost his best starting pitcher, Aaron Nola, who has been placed on the COVID-19 List. With no offense to Jake Arrieta, the Philadelphia Phillies cannot afford to lose Nola for an extended period. I am sure Joe’s anxious for a fast start with his new team, but he’ll need Didi Gregorius and others to step up in a big way.  

Photo Credit: Jose F Moreno, The Philadelphia Inquirer

I just saw a report that D.J. LeMahieu, ugh!, and Luis Cessa have tested positive for the coronavirus. LeMahieu is asymptomatic while Cessa has mild symptoms. I hope the guys are okay and can recover soon. I had really been looking forward to Season 2 for LeMahieu, especially with a new contract in the balance, but it will obviously be delayed. Can Matt Duffy play second? For the record, yes, but it has been awhile. Looks like we are back in the market for a second baseman again assuming the Yankees leave Gleyber Torres at short. I suppose Tyler Wade could play second in a pinch. Kyle Holder (or Wade) could play short, to push Torres back to second.  Interesting decisions ahead for Manager Aaron Boone.  After being down on Cessa the last few years, last year’s improvement had left me with hopes that he could be the new Ramiro Mendoza. But as with LeMahieu, we’ll have to wait and hope for their full and complete recoveries. Given LeMahieu, eats, sleeps, and dreams baseball, you know this must be killing him. Hoping all goes for the two week quarantine for both. Once the quarantine at home is over, they’ll have to clear at least two tests for the virus before clearance to play. For D.J., there’s still time to make the Opening Day Roster.  

I think it’s cool the Yankees will debut the 2020 season in Washington against the World Champions. A pitching match up featuring Gerrit Cole against Max Scherzer is a little bittersweet given how the Yankees were the favorites to sign Max a few years ago. But then again, if they had signed Max, would Cole be a Yankee now? Probably not, so as they say, things probably worked out for the best (with no disrespect intended for Max, who I feel is an incredible pitcher). A second game pitching match up with the Nationals, potentially, featuring James Paxton against Stephen Strasburg is almost as exciting. It should make for a great start to the 2020 season.

MLB is expected to officially announce the 2020 schedule on Monday. The Yankees and Mets will meet for 6 out of 60 games so Dellin Betances is going to get a good view of what the Yankees look like from the other side. Sorry Dellin, I hope the Yankees pin an “L” or two on you. 

Photo Credit: Alejandra Villa Loarca, Newsday

I am not sure what this season will bring. It’s a little sad we can’t say with 100% confidence it will even be completed. In Southern CA, the reopening has been rolled back for at least three weeks. Masks are mandatory, bars are closed, restaurants can only be open for outside dining or pickup. Movie theaters remain closed and I have to endure those long lines just to wait to get into a Trader Joe’s. Feels somewhat like trying to see a Star Wars movie in the 1980’s. If the coronavirus continues its strong upswing, it could potentially end the baseball season before it gets started. Minor League Baseball has already tossed in the towel. I long for the day when a coronavirus vaccine is readily available and life can return to some degree of normalcy. Maybe it’s me but there should have been a solid Plan B in place for life in the event of a pandemic. Unfortunately there was not and our period in time will be evaluated as a very unprepared, narcissistic, and sadly, racist group of people. We are better than this and I hope actions going forward prove the current generations of a legacy to remember. 

I hope this is a good 4th of July for you and your families. I can’t say great since so many fireworks celebrations have been cancelled but still, I trust you are with the ones you love and everyone is happy, healthy and safe. That’s all we can ask.

As always, Go Yankees! 

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Yankees and the 2020 MLB Schedule

Image may contain: 1 person, baseball and text
Graphic incorrectly says "NL West" It should say NL East*
The 2020 season for Major League Baseball is happening, at least where we stand here today at the end of June. What a year it's been, but the return of baseball (at least to me) means so much more than just a return to normalcy. To me, it's a return to everything.

While the entire 2020 schedule has not been released as of yet, we do know that the Yankees will be inside Nationals Park facing off against Max Scherzer and the defending MLB World Series Champions on July 23rd. Once the MLB odds are released, we will be able to see what the point-spread is. The presumed starting pitching matchup on that night will be Gerrit Cole, who will finally be making his Yankees debut after signing a 9-year deal worth $324 million, against Scherzer. 

What we do know thus far is that the Yankees will play 10 games each against each of their AL East rivals, as well as a total of 20 games against National League East teams as well. In some capacity, the Yankees will play 10 games each against the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays. New York will also play three games each with the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, while playing four games against the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins. In a bit of a twist, MLB has decided to allow teams to play their "rivals" from their opposing division an extra two times, so the New York Yankees and New York Mets will play a total of six times head-to-head in 2020. 

 Check back in a few days after the full schedule is out.