Saturday, June 30, 2018

N.Y. Yankees: Bronx Bombers Go Boom

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Greg Bird Rounds Bases After Hitting Fourth Inning Home Run

Red Sox    1
Yankees     8

New York Yankees: Bombers Earn Slim Percentage Points First Place Lead Over Red Sox.

I was in attendance for Friday night's series opener between the Boston Red Sox and Bronx Bombers, and can testify to the high voltage coursing through Yankee Stadium's veins.

Starter C.C. Sabathia set the tone early by retiring the Red Sox in order to start the game.

In the bottom of the second, the young Yanks inflicted early damage against Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez.  Batting fifth, second baseman Gleyber Torres led-off with a triple off the center field wall.  Next up, third baseman Miguel Andujar blooped a hit where they aint, driving home Torres with the game's first run.

The Yankees then flexed their muscle in the fourth.  After Giancarlo Stanton drew a lead-off walk, Didi Gregorious struck a double to deep center.  Stanton would soon score on a sac-fly by Gleyber Torres.  After which, Miguel Andujar deposited a Eduardo Rodriguez offering into the left field seats for a two-run home run.  Greg Bird made it back-to-back home runs with an opposite field launch to left giving the Yankees a 5-0 lead.

With one out and Greg Bird on first base in the bottom of the seventh, Aaron Judge hit his 21st home run of the season.  And in the eighth, Greg Bird capped off the scoring with his second home run of the game, giving the Yankees an 8-1 final margin of victory.

C.C. Sabathia pitched very well in earning his fifth victory of the season.  He threw 97 pitches through seven full innings pitched, with 62 (64%) going for strikes.  He limited the Red Sox to just one run on six hits and a walk, while fanning five.

Relievers Chad Green and Chasen Shreve each contributed an inning of no hit scoreless ball, with three strikeouts.

Chris Sale
Sonny Gray

C.C. Sabathia deals in second inning.


Friday, June 29, 2018

N.Y. Mets: The Three-Headed METSian Podcast

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


I wrote this back on June 14:

Sandy Alderson has since taken an official leave of absence from the organization.  His cancer first diagnosed back during the 2015 season has unfortunately returned.  He made the rest of the front office aware of his condition some time ago, but his recent press conference proved a somber revelation to media and fans.

He was originally brought to Flushing under very unique circumstances in which he was charged (by the commissioner; wink, wink) with matriculating the Mets organization through very dire financial straits.  His is unlikely to return, and therefore I thank him for all his efforts and years of service for the New York Mets.  I know the Marine in him with battle to the end.  I offer him, his family and circle of loved ones my prayers for a speedy and full recovery.

A METSian Podcast, Episode #13

Rich hosted; 90 minutes

Wishing Sandy Alderson well
What Now? ~ Hail to the Chief!
On the three-headed monster: John Ricco; Omar Minaya; J.P. Ricciardi
Jeff Wilpon ~ Plan for the trade deadline ~ Mr. Reactive Mickey Callaway 
Dom Smith ~ fundamentals have left the building ~ WTF? 
Mets who've worn #13 ~ NYC baseball in 1913 ~ the return of L.I. Mike
Lee Mazzilli ~ The Newark Bears ~ dead ball era ~ triples to right
Giancarlo Stanton is no better than Dave Kingman!!  I really said that!
Plus our usual bitching, sniveling, complaining, and more.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

N.Y. Yankees: The Red Sox Are Coming

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

The House That George Built

New York Yankees: One of the American League's top three teams is not like the others.

Back in April, I spent the weekend in Boston just after the Yankees/Red Sox melee at Fenway Park.  The Yankees left town with a 6-7 record, while the Red Sox improved to 10-2, en route to a franchise record 17-2 start.  Local TV and radio seemed to have little to no interest in the weekend series at hand against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.  Instead, gloating was order of the day.  One particular sports radio personality said (paraphrasing) the Yankees were playing asleep and their manager (Aaron Boone) had no pulse.  His on-air partner concurred.

They still have reason for gloating.  Since that series the Red Sox have for the most part held on to first place of the A.L. East, posting a 44-25 (.637) record and a 54-27 (.667) record overall.

However, I thought it ironic the Boston media would accuse Aaron Boone of not having a pulse considering the devastation he once wrought upon Red Sox Nation with his 2003 ALCS Game Seven winning home run off Tim Wakefield.

Yeah, Boone has a pulse.

But is he a good manager?

Without any prior coaching or managerial experience, no one knew what to expect from Boone.  The baseball season is half through and his team is engaged in a fierce battle for first place against the Red Sox.  Whatever his deficiencies, if any, there's nary a critic nor contrarian among the NYC media presently promulgating loud concern.  That's because winning trumps all.  And so for the moment the Yankees style and standing are his narrative.

On that note, the Bronx Bombers are wide awake and kicking, again.  They lead the American League with 127 home runs, and rate third in runs scored and total bases.  They too started playing at their own franchise record setting pace soon after that April series at Fenway, but not before rain poured down upon Detroit, cancelling three straight games against the Tigers.  Since then, they've gone 46-19 (.707), and enter this upcoming series at Bronx County Grounds with an overall record of 52-26 (.667) in four less games played than the Red Sox.

Otherwise, given custody of Brian Cashman's creation Aaron Boone's resume is still a work in progress.

Meanwhile, Alex Cora has no more MLB managerial experience than does Aaron, yet his fingerprints upon the Red Sox are far more distinguishable than those of Boone's upon the Yankees.  Lest we forget Cora last year served as bench coach for the World Series champion Houston Astros, and the numbers suggest he's incorporated much of what they do at the plate into the Red Sox offensive stratagem.

American League 2017 rankings:
  • The Houston Astros under manager A.J. Hinch led the American League in team batting average and fewest strikeouts, and finished second in home runs.
  • The New York Yankees under manager Joe Girardi led the league in home runs, finished third in team average, but finished with the sixth most strikeouts.
  • The Red Sox under manager John Farrell struck out the fifth fewest times, but ranked ninth in team average, and last in home runs. 
American League 2018 rankings: prior to Thursday Boston/Anaheim game
  • Red Sox are second to the Yankees in home runs.
  • Red Sox and Astros are tied with A.L.'s top team batting average; the Yankees rate sixth. 
  • Red Sox are second to the Astros with fewest strikeouts; Yankees 13th.
  • Red Sox are second to the Astros in runs scored; Yankees third.  
  • Red Sox are tops in total bases; Astros second, Yankees third.

If you torture numbers long enough, you can get them to say anything you want.  At the end of the day, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros are the American League's top three contenders, with the Seattle Mariners a close fourth.

Winning the American League East title this season is all fine and well, but it's safe to say both the Yanks and Sox are on course towards making the playoffs.  After this weekend series, they do not meet again until September.  And so each will be blazing their own paths with little interference from the other.

If the mid-season point of this season is any indication, the Yankees appear to be a (very good) starting pitcher away from overtaking the Red Sox or Astros come October.  I'll assume the Yankees will most likely address this as the trade deadline looms closer.  Even then, a pitcher offers the Yankees little relief for their chronic condition.  They need to cut down on those strikeouts.  It damn near cost them last year's ALDS series against the Cleveland Indians.  In turn, Houston's plate discipline helped earn the Astros a World Series title.

It's still difficult for me deciphering exactly what Aaron Boone brings to the Yankees.  But it has become clearly evident what Alex Cora brings to Boston.  This is precisely why it appears as if this year's Red Sox are in closer competition with the Astros than are the Yankees.

*written prior to Thursday Boston/Anaheim game.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

N.Y. Rangers: Teen Night Draft Party


New York Rangers: Jeff Gorton Drafts Boy Band of Eighteen Year Olds.

With the ninth overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers did not select defenseman Oliver Wahlstrom, nor did they select defenseman Noah Dobson.  Both were taken by the Islanders at eleven and twelve overall, respectively.

I'm sure it wasn't until after laughing out loud that new Isles GM Lou Lamoriello scooped them up with haste.

Instead, with their first selection Jeff Gorton and the Rangers (er .. Glen Sather) opted for Vitali Kravtsov, an 18-year old left-hand shooting right wing.  To say I'm disappointed with this selection is an understatement.  This smallish right winger wreaks of Glen Sather ... again!  Kravtsov is listed at 6'2" and 170lbs., and presently plays in the KHL - a league that doesn't hit, doesn't fight, and plays on Olympic size rinks.

On NHL ice, the game closes in on them, and they wind up getting pushed off the puck.

Likewise with regards to Nils Lundkvist, Olaf Lindbom, and Simon Kjellberg all from Sweden, the Swiss born Nico Gross, and Lauri Pajuniemi from Finland.

By no means am I trying to be disparaging.  I just had something else in mind - kind of like what Lou Lamoriello had in mind.

Otherwise, Jeff Gorton drafted five defensemen with his first seven selections and six overall:

  • K'andre Miller - 6'3", 204lbs.
  • Nils Lundkvist - 5'11, 180lbs.
  • Jacob Ragnarsson - 6'0", 176lbs.
  • Joey Keane - 6'0", 184lbs.
  • Nico Gross - 6'1", 185lbs.
  • Simon Kjellberg - 6'3", 190lbs.

Together, they average 6'1", 184lbs.  If you average all nine position players (because for some ponderous reason the Rangers wasted a draft pick on a goalie when they already have two highly touted prospects in their system) they still only average 6'1", 183lbs.


I don't get it.  Didn't Gorton watch the playoff final four?  Didn't he help draft the Boston Bruins as we know them today?

Unless Glen Sather is indeed involved, I just don't get it.

Then again, who knows ... I'm not familiar with these kids.  My hockey buddy says K'Andre Miller is pretty tough, and at least his size checks out.

Can't say the same for right wing selections Lauri Pajuniemi and Riley Hughes, who average 178lbs. soaking wet.

Needless to say, I'm not the least bit satisfied with this draft.  The Rangers still don't have a top line center or even a prospective one.

I want to be wrong about Jeff Gorton's decisions.

But we shall see.

Monday, June 25, 2018

N.Y. Islanders: Tell League Lou You and Go Trotz Yourself

From the desk of:  NO SLEEP TILL BELMONT

22 Goals; 63 Assists; 85 points

Lou Lamoriello, hired by the New York Islanders ownership group in May was charged with restoring a once proud franchise back to prominence.  He may by 75-years old but he is still sharp as a sickle and knows how to wield it.  And on Tues, June 5, 2018, he whacked both former general manager Garth Snow and former head coach Doug Weight.  In turn, he agreed to pay the suddenly available Barry Trotz' asking price, and hired him on the spot to be next handler of the Islanders.

Lou Lamoriello looked around, and it said was good ...

This past weekend, he addressed two glaring team needs during the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.  Knowing the Isles have long lacked an impact defensemen, he drafted three: Noah Dobson, Bode Wilde, and Christian Krygier.   Together they average 6'2" 190lbs., in size.  And knowing he needed an upgrade at goalie, Lou selected Jakub Skarek in the 3rd round and 72nd overall.  Among four forward selections, two are centers: smallish 5'8" 152 lbs Ruslan Iskhakovc, and the considerably larger Jacob Pivenka who weighs in at 6'0" 201lbs.  Lou selected two wingers as well who average 6'2" 204 lbs.

Then Lou Lamoriello looked around, and said it was good ...

On July 2, 2018, the franchise player, John Tavares, becomes an unrestricted free agent.  He turns 28-years old in September.  Various reports list the Sharks, Golden Knights, Stars, Lightning, and Maple Leafs as being interested parties.  Odds are he will agree to a contract with the Islanders, and finish out his career as an all-time Long Island favorite.  If in fact that happens, Brooklyn had better continue appreciating this opportunity for watching a great hockey player representing the Borough until the team's planned move to Belmont.

There's reason to believe Lou Lamoriello will take another look around, and make good with John Tavares, as well.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

S.I. Yankees Finding Out Life is No Easier as a Pizza Rat


This was two years ago!

Staten Island Yankees: You Dirty Rat, No Slice For You..!

After a nifty opening day pitching performance and sharply played game, the Rats seem to be suffering some heartburn.

Right now, these guys wouldn't survive two days scurrying around DeKalb Avenue station.  I once saw some guy at Lawrence Street station that would eat both them and the pizza.  That being said, with ten games under their belt the newly minted Pizza Rats are finding out life as a Staten Island rodent is no more rewarding than those of their less celebrated New York City brethren.

But I digress ...

Re-branding is fine.  Sometimes teams actually get it right, somethings they fail miserably.  In truth, the name Staten Island Yankees suited me just fine.  It had a nice ring to it and worked well within the context of a Baby Bombers vs. Baby Bums rivalry.  But the Yankees organization isn't even going all out with this.  Said another way, it's a half-ass job.  They're limiting their Pizza Rat exposure to just five appearances all season.  This past Saturday marks one down and just four to go.

Why bother then?

I myself would have gone with the Richmond County Boogeymen.  Imagine the marketing potential; there is actual local history behind the name.  Google it ... it could have easily been one of the hottest reboots in all the minor leagues.

But a team by any other name is still a baseball team.  After a nifty opening day pitching performance and victory over the rival Brooklyn Cyclones, the Yankee Rats have since lost 7 of their last 9 games. After dropping two of three at home against the Aberdeen Ironbirds, they bowed in front of their home crowd once again during Sunday's series opener against the Tri-City Valley Cats.  The St. George Rats end the week with an overall 3-7 record over their first ten games of the regular season and for the moment own the basement of the McNamara Division all to themselves.

On Sunday the Yankees bullpen suffered the quintessential bullpen implosion.  Staked to a 2-0 lead, Staten Islander starter Roansy Contreras exited the game after putting in six full innings of work, in which he faced 22 batters, and threw 85 pitches with 52 (61%) going for strikes.  He allowed no runs on just two hits and a walk, while fanning ten Valley Cat batters.  Relievers Abel Duarte was summoned first, then Daniel Alvarez second.  The two joined to allow five runs on five hits (a home run) and two walks, with two strikeouts.

Brooklyn Cyclones: Look Who's Number One


Brooklyn Cyclones: Ninth inning comeback at Norwich leads to seventh victory of season, tying Coney Island for league lead.

Behind by two runs entering the top of the ninth at Connecticut, the visiting Cyclones batted around during a five run outburst in which they sent ten players to the plate en route to an 8-5 comeback effort over the Tigers.

Saturday's win completes Brooklyn's three game sweep at Dodd Stadium, in which they outscored the Norwich club by an unapologetic 25-6 margin.  Their seventh victory of the young season also ties them with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers for most in the league.

Brooklyn starter Nicolas Debora faced 20 batters through five innings work, throwing 70 pitches with 44 (62%) going for strikes.  The Tigers treated him unkindly, though, generating four earned runs on eight hits and a walk.  Debora fanned four batters and escaped with a no-decision.  He started his 2018 season with the Columbia Fireflies where he appeared in eleven games (all in relief) and posted a 2.95 ERA through 18.1 innings pitched.  He is now in his second season with the Cyclones.  In 2017 he appeared in 14 games, posting s 2.33 ERA and 1.35 WHiP, with 56 strikeouts though 54 innings pitched.  The 24-year old right-hander has been with the organization since 2012.

The Cyclones enter Sunday's series opener against the Lowell Spinners owning a one game lead over the second place Hudson Valley Renegades, who kept pressure on the Cyclones with their own 11-0 romp over Vermont.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

N.Y. Mets: The Summer Solstice METSian Podcast

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

East Side, West Side, everybody is going mad.  It's only the first day of Summer, yet the media, fans, and the organization itself are already contemplating another rebuild.  This is certainly a ponderous and somewhat unexpected state of affairs.  Sam, Rich and I discussed the merits and folly of such thinking, and if in fact the Mets can get themselves healthy and straightened out before the trade deadline.  Until then the emergence of Brandon Nimmo begs the question: is he a legitimate all-star candidate?  However there's no debating Jacob deGrom's credentials.  Despite the Mets present standing, his stellar season did not go under-spoken.

We left no stone un-turned.  When I host, I like taking things from the top and working my way down the ladder.  Thus we kicked the show off with the Rockies series, then delved into some unsightly team numbers and the standings.  From there we jumped into the starting rotation and bullpen.  Of course, there was no avoiding the 800-pound gorilla in the room - blowing up the team and potentially trading Jacob deGrom and/or Noah Syndergaard.  We shook our pom-poms for Brandon Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrera, and had or customary fun reminiscing over players who've worn number twelve.  Lastly, we spent a few minutes speaking about the 1912 Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and New York Highlanders.

Showtime: 90 minutes

Brooklyn Dodgers: Street Art and Murals


Road Trips 2017: Cooperstown Museum 
and Baseball Hall of Fame

Spanning the Borough, To Give You The Constant Variety of Bums

Gone but hardly forgotten, the old Trolley Dodgers are quite alive and doing very well.  Despite being scarred and broken, Dem Bums of yore remain dear in the hearts of Brooklyn's citizenry, whom still wear their baseball caps, t-shirts, jerseys, and jackets like a red badge of courage.  Here in Kings County, at least, New York City is still home to three teams.

However, Gotham's municipal powers presently and historically have always demonstrated little or no interest in recognizing, preserving, or promoting their near 180 year baseball legacy, much less Brooklyn Dodgers history.  Therefore, I make it my business to seek out and reveal Fingerprints of the Bums wherever they may be.  This is the first in a series of reboots and original content featuring items you may already be familiar with, and hopefully many things you're not so familiar with.


Why not begin at Chavez Ravine, for the above mural is not located in Brooklyn, but at Dodger Stadium itself.  Speaking as a native Brooklynite, it's an appreciated acknowledgement of their Trolley Dodger roots.  The picture itself was provided by my friend and L.A. Dodgers fan extraordinaire @crzblue  ... Thank You!

The Dodger Stadium mural is a popular and familiar image of a Franklin Avenue (or Washington Avenue) local negotiating the right turn onto westbound Empire Boulevard.  This Trolley would have been travelling southbound on Franklin Avenue along the left field/third base side of Ebbets Field.  Technically, Charles Ebbets purchased the lots bounded by Bedford Avenue, Sullivan Place, Montgomery Street, and Franklin Avenue.  However, the park itself was bounded by Bedford, Sullivan, Montgomery, and McKeever Place.  Jackie Robinson School is situated on the lot bounded by Franklin, Sullivan, McKeever, and Montgomery (placing Ebbets Field on the other side of McKeever Place).

P.S. 375 Jackie Robinson 
and Middle School 352 Ebbets Field

As the route continued westward along Empire Boulevard, two blocks away the Trolley would have rumbled to our next destination:

The above mural was painted by an MTA employee.  It once covered the entire front wall of their maintenance yard located just five blocks from the former site of Ebbets Field, across the street from Prospect Park where Ocean Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, and Empire Boulevard converge.  I'll venture to guess I took this picture at least a decade (and four or five phones) ago.  The mural had existed for quite some time at that point with nary a reason to believe it risked being painted over.  Famous last words!  I made a huge mistake by cropping the original pictures in order to focus on the team holding up their 1955 pennant.  If you look closely at the left border, you'll notice a brown door.  There was indeed more to this mural than what is presented here, depicting Ebbets Field's exterior facade.  Trust me, all these years later I'm still kicking myself in the posterior.  As fate would have it, the above mural was indeed painted over and replaced with an (unfinished) alternative version featured below.

circa 2015

Ponderously, this mural also has been painted over.  My mole told me it was management's call due to the employee/artist's retirement.  Today, no mural exists at the site.

This image is located inside Trader Joe's;
intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street.

Inside Atlantic Center
Atlantic Avenue @ Flatbush Avenue

Commissioned for the Wythe Hotel
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Exterior of U.S. Post Office
Avenue N at Flatbush Avenue

This Ebbets Field mural is located inside the TD Bank lobby at the 
corner of Montague Street and Court Street; the same address where the 
Brooklyn Dodgers offices were once located.

Jackie Robinson at Sullivan Street 
between Rogers Avenue and Nostrand Avenue.

Duane Reade Pharmacy Murals

Bedford Avenue across street from former Ebbets Field

Inside U.S. Post Office
Fillmore Avenue at Flatbush Avenue

Artist: Bonnie Siracusa (516-314-5060)

Oil on window pane by Ron Nesbitt
Vanderbilt Avenue

I even found Fernando Valenzuela hanging out on Montgomery Street
three blocks from Bedford Avenue!