Predicting the Future, No. 1

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Hughes appears to have gone for the biggest payday instead, which is never a bad idea. Target Field should help his homerun problem, at least somewhat.

via Neal: Twins agree to deal with Phil Hughes | River Avenue Blues.

Bet you a nickel that Mr. Hughes beats the Yankees next summer, complete game or nearly so.

 

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It is high, it is far, it has gone on too long.

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Sterling’s penchant for miscalling a play, or not describing action with absolute accuracy, is maddening and suggests a problem with his eyesight. On Tuesday in Toronto, he saw something that did not happen, or perhaps he called something he wished had happened.

via Voice of Yanks Is Maddening and Memorable – NYTimes.com.

 

Do Not Try to Adjust Your Standings

The Yankees have not lost since Boston’s Ryan Dempster plunked Alex Rodriguez on Sunday. On Thursday, the Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz told USA Today that perhaps Dempster’s pitch “woke up a monster.” “Maybe it did,” Manager Joe Girardi said.

via Yanks Add Some Luck to Their Streak, With Two Bad Calls on One Play – NYTimes.com.

Yeah. The Blue Jays woke up a monster.

A bloated, hoary, medicinal-ointment-tainted monster, stumbling lecherously to life with fistfuls of crumpled taxi receipts.

Albeit weeks too late, most likely.

Still, we’ll always have Thursday. Andy Pettitte pitched well for a change, which is worth blogging about, right there, giving fans who sweated out a three-hour rain delay on a muggy afternoon in the Bronx a reason not to hang themselves: a 5-3 win, aided in large part by an umpire’s blown call.

It was the Yankees’ 10th in a row against the Blue Jays, which I think says it all about the quality of general managers — really, of sportswriting — in the game today. The Blue Jays were supposed to be THE team in the East, what with all their fancy free agents.

In reality, those back-bacon-frying chee-chawkers are in such a funk that the thoroughly unremarkable Yankees are 11.5 games ahead of them.

Eleven and a half!

“We’re feeling good about ourselves,” Mr. Pettitte told reporters afterward, “and you knew this was going to happen.”

We did? Yes, we did. We knew that what would get the Yankees moving was bad umpiring and a four-game stretch against a crappy team. “It was just a matter of when, and you hope it’s not too late,” Mr. Pettitte added. (See my remarks, Paragraph 2.)

Somehow, in the past week, the Yankees have gained a lot of ground in the playoff races. They are three and a half games behind the second wild-card spot, six and a half back in the East, and they play the division-rival Rays this weekend. That is the sort of mathematical story problem that makes Yankees fans stop dreaming up Vernon Wells trades and pay attention.

“We’ve got a good shot,” the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson said. “We still control our destiny.”

That much, I will buy. The Yankees control their destiny, for sure. If they keep winning, nothing can stop them, quod erat demonstrandum.

“Yankee Stadium is a tough place” to find a decent sandwich is what Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons should have said after the game. He got ejected in the fifth — arguing that blown call — so never mind what he really said.

I empathize with Mr. Gibbons, though. Black is white, up is down these days. Even Alex Rodriguez, the reviled Alex Rodriguez, made tangible contributions to the victory, so I am led to believe.

“Each day you’re able to make up a little ground, it seems more attainable — and that’s good for the guys in that room,” Mr. Girardi said.

 

Lessons 1 and 2 on how to keep things in perspective.

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“It’s been terrible,” Jeter said. “It’s been a nightmare.”

via A Reminder of the Yankees’ Failed Plan Deals Them Another Defeat – NYTimes.com.

“I will be cross-examined by the man who shot me.”

via Victims to Again Face Gunman in Fort Hood Trial – NYTimes.com.

“A child. Fourteen years old. Fourteen years old. Gone. Shot in the head. By police.”

via Teenager Is Shot and Killed by Officer on Foot Patrol in the Bronx – NYTimes.com.

 

‘Paulie, Pull Over, I Gotta Take a Leak’

Rodriguez, according to an associate, is eager to begin playing and does not understand why the Yankees have shelved him…

via Rodriguez Angers Yankees – NYTimes.com.

Like a man who knows his days are numbered, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez trudged to Tampa from Scranton to begin “rest and treatment” for a leg injury he says he doesn’t have.

This is what baseball gives us in July: Ryan Braun’s urine and Mr. Rodriguez’s Sad Sack Road Show.

It’s so sad that Mr. Rodriguez was compared to a child who is left behind at recess. The Yankees’ Curtis Granderson, in Tampa recovering from a broken finger, himself another member of the club’s well-heeled disabled list, said Mr. Rodriguez had wanted to hit baseballs with the rest of the kids in Tampa. He added ominously, according to The Associated Press, “They had to stop him.”

7:11 PM John
…So, really, do you think A-Rod “doesn’t understand” why the Yankees are holding him over the hamper like a pair of stinky socks?
7:18 PM Samantha
Well, with a-rod it’s tough to know

The Yankees have their reasons. You see, Mr. Rodriguez is on baseball’s magic list of players who have engorged themselves with the help of a now-disgraced Florida doctor.

Mr. Rodriguez had hip surgery in January, and a few days ago completed a longish stint in the minors honing his now-mediocre timing — he had eight hits in 13 games. Had the Yankees wanted him back, they could be penciling him in the lineup right now.

Instead, team officials announced he had a strained quadriceps and needed “rest and treatment.” Which, if it weren’t in the cold, clinical language of American sportswriting, would sound like a line from “The Godfather.” As in, “I’m putting you on a plane to Vegas;” “…the boss says he’ll come in a separate car;” or, you know, “Paulie, pull over, I gotta take a leak.”

The Yankees, already vexed with their three-time M.V.P. for bleating on Twitter without permission last month, were further provoked on Wednesday when one of Mr. Rodriguez’s cronies, a New Jersey doctor, told a New York radio station that “I don’t see any injury there.” Oddly, the doctor was reprimanded Thursday by the state for allowing an employee of his clinic to peddle steroids. Is there anyone in Mr. Rodriguez’s entourage who is taking this seriously?

The Yankees certainly are. For all the world, they are acting like Don Corleone himself, sitting in a dark, smoky room, waiting to hear back from baseball’s Luca Brasi. Some wags believe Mr. Rodriguez is in for a lifetime suspension.

To reporters who tried to corner him Wednesday at the Yankees’ complex, Mr. Rodriguez said, “I feel great.” He added, a bit dishonestly, if you ask us, “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Mr. Rodriguez is acting like nothing is going to happen, calmly stepping into the fishing boat with a sullen figure he hardly knows.

Which I suppose is all you can do.

On Kierkegaard and the Shin Guard

…the Yankees signaled to the world that there are still some simmering frustrations beneath the surface of this maddening season.

via Yankees and Pettitte Lack Punch in Opener of a Daunting Stretch – NYTimes.com.

Jacoby Ellsbury assaulted Yankees Manager Joe Girardi’s metaphysical balance on the second pitch of Friday’s game, a groover from Andy Pettitte that Mr. Ellsbury clouted over the fence for a homer.

“You can’t take too much of it,” Mr Girardi told reporters after the Yankees had put the chalk outlines around a 4-2 loss in Boston.

No, you can’t. No one can. Heat, boredom, thumping mariachi music from the basement — there is always an It that you can’t take too much of.

But Mr. Girardi was pressing hard with his mental pencil. “Obviously this is an important stretch for us that we are in. We understand that.” — Wait; what? — “The next three teams we play are all in front of us.”

They always are.

It’s a strange intersection the Yankees depart from in the so-called second half the season. They are well back in the American League East, so far back that ordinarily delusionally optimistic fans are beginning to suggest housecleaning trades.

On the mound for the Red Sox on Friday was Felix Doubront, a rookie who was making his 12th start. All 12 have been so-called quality starts — a bogus baseball stat — and the Red Sox haven’t had a rookie come out like that since 1915.

The Red Sox won the Series that year.

“Not the way you want to start the second half,” Mr. Pettitte intoned instructfully, probably not referring to the portent of a Boston championship.

He later topped himself: “The long ball hurt me.”

Noteworthy was the news earlier in the day that Derek Jeter was headed back to the disabled list. He is the third Yankee starter from last year to start the season on the D.L., return to the club and then re-injure himself after Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. Alex Rodriguez isn’t on that list only because he hasn’t had his chance yet.

The Yankees can see what is front of them, probably because they don’t want to look at what they’ve left behind.

Baseball in a Nutshell

6:53 PM Samantha
Captain!
Derek Jeter, out since last year’s playoffs with two broken bones in his left ankle, was on the field playing catch at Yankee Stadium.

6:53 PM John
Mr. Jeter, 45, caught at least three of the bags of peanuts thrown his way before angrily telling the vendor to “knock it off, or I’ll tell Mr. Steinbrenner.”

6:53 PM Samantha
Ahem, really …

6:54 PM John
Before the game, Mr. Jeter was seen at his locker, surrounded by discarded peanut shells, asking Manager Joe Girardi if he had ever seen the little man inside the peanut.

6:55 PM Samantha
That’s not nice, dear.

6:55 PM John
Mr. Girardi said, “No, I hadn’t. After Mr. Jeter showed him, Mr. Girardi said, “I will have to put that in my binder.” Minutes later, the quiet of the locker room was punctuated by the snapping of a three-ring binder and the cracking of peanut shells.

6:57 PM John
After finishing his peanuts, Mr. Jeter sought to allay optimism about his return from a fossilized ankle. “No one ever hit a home run off their ankle,” he chirped. “Though, I think,” he added, “that Babe Ruth once homered off his buttocks.” At this, Mr. Girardi snorted. “Jeter said ‘buttocks’!”

6:59 PM Samantha
Busy over there tonight I see.

Who Cares About the Cat? Check the Box Scores

Granderson’s latest malady notwithstanding, the Yankees rolled over the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-4, to end a two-game losing streak. The Yankees and the Texas Rangers are the only teams that have not lost three consecutive games this season.

via Yankees Top Rays but Lose Curtis Granderson to Broken Finger – NYTimes.com.

The theory says that of course the cat is either alive or dead (and not both). Sure, its wave function represents a superposition of alive and dead, but a wave function is just a description of the observer’s beliefs. Asserting that the cat is truly both alive and dead is akin to a baseball fan’s saying that the Yankees are stuck in a superposition of both won and lost until he reads the box score.
— Page 49, “Can Quantum Bayesianism Fix the Paradoxes of Quantum Mechanics?” Scientific American, June 2013

The idea of the Yankees’ being in a superposition of both success and failure is not a bad way of describing this season so far.

Certainly the prospects at the outset were not good. Their best players, who were all too old and stupid, opened the season on the disabled list, and the cast of idiots dredged up from the waiver wires and unclaimed on the free-agent market was not exactly awe-inspiring.

But remarkably the Yankees have played well, even entertainingly. And so, in truth, they are losing — players and prestige — and winning, namely ballgames.

They are 11-5 since May 8, and have been for a while in first place, a game ahead of the Red Sox and three and a half up on the Orioles.

And five on the Rays, who played target practice on the Yankees on Friday night, but did not bother to win the game. (The Yankees did, 9-4.)

But. First. A couple of things:

  1. Did you know that Scientific American has no mechanism for linking a print-only subscription to online access of its Web site? A person can renew his subscription online, and change the mailing address. But that’s it. We are talking Scientific American, folks; “science” is implied right there in the title, and not even the Pointdexteriest of the lot has ciphered a way for Yours Truly to share something I’ve read with a friend via e-mail. In fact, even as a digital subscriber, I am unable to read the main articles of the magazine on the Web. These are available only as a .pdf. Though, not to me anymore because I am no longer a subscriber of any kind.
  2. The article excerpted above, incidentally, was about a supposedly new way of discussing quantum physics known as Quantum Bayesianism. Coincidentally, this is exactly the way I have been discussing quantum physics to people for years. I won’t go into it; you don’t care. I am just saying if someone wins a Nobel for this business I shall be very put out.
  3. And seriously, is there anyone on this baseball team that can get out of the way? Someone remind these guys to never join a dodgeball league.

For starters, Curtis Granderson cracked his nose-picking finger after being hit by a pitch in the fifth. Mr. Granderson is the same dude who missed the first 38 games of the season after getting hit by a pitch (and breaking his arm) in spring training.

Mr. Invincible told reporters after the game, “It is what it is.”

Vying for Punching Bag of the Game was David Phelps (3-2), a plucky, featureless Missourian who retired 13 batters in a row to start the game but left in the eighth inning after taking a line drive off his forearm. “It’s a little sore,” Mr. Phelps said, probably referring to his arm.

As the A.P. put it, without irony, “the Yankees have been hit hard by injuries.” And, it says here, baseballs.

“That’s never a good thing,” Manager Joe Girardi chirped.

On the plus side, the roll call of nobodies clobbered the Rays’ pitching. Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix each drove in two runs, Christ Stewart had a run-scoring single.

In the end, you look at the box score and it is hard to get worked up about Mr. Granderson’s injury.

The Yankees, floating free above the American League East, remain in that superposition of both winning and losing.

Yankees 9, Blue Jays 4: The New Normal

“I love it,” Pettitte said of the run support provided by the new Yankees, adding: “They’ve come out and gotten off to a great start, some of the new guys here and that’s huge.”

via Pettitte Backed by Three Home Runs as Yankees Top Blue Jays – NYTimes.com.

Here’s one for you, straight from The Associated Press: The Yankees, the beleaguered, ailing, gimping, wheezing Yankees, have an American League-best 25 homers this season, with home runs in 13 of 15 games. In Friday’s 9-4 victory in Toronto, Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay — the three horsemen of mediocrity — each hit a home run.

“I’m not complaining,” Manager Joe Girardi said. When really what he meant was, What the hell is going on around here?!

What the hell is going on is the Yankees, without Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter, have won eight of 10 and are 9-6, two games behind the Red Sox, who were idle yesterday due to — and this is something I never thought I’d see in the agate — a “local manhunt.”

Postscript

Mr. Wells spent 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, and was roundly hazed by the more inebriated Canadians present. “It’s kind of like a family when you come back here,” Mr. Wells said, confirming our suspicion that Mr. Wells’s mother doesn’t like him either.

Postpostscript

After the game, Mr. Girardi said Mr. Teixeira and Mr. Granderson, who are both injured, would begin swinging the bat. Then it hits you that the thing you are waiting for — the return of three (or four, with Alex Rodriguez) regular players from last season — doesn’t sound like the good thing it ought to be.

 

Yankees 5, Orioles 2: Amateur Night

But there was plenty to clap about. They clapped for C. C. Sabathia’s strikeouts. They clapped for Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis. They clapped for one Oriole, center fielder Adam Jones, who dropped a fly ball in the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, that allowed the three winning runs to score in the Yankees’ 5-2 win over Baltimore. And they clapped for the 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play that the Yankees recorded in the eighth.

via C.C. Sabathia Pitches Yankees to Win Over Orioles – NYTimes.com.

9:59 PM John
Juggernaut!

10:00 PM Samantha
You see the triple play?

10:01 PM Woods, John
Just did, on video. …4-6-5-6-5-3-4! Just like they teach you in Little League! …I notice mlb.com is calling it the “the first 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play in MLB history.”

10:06 PM Samantha
Ha! Oh, how I’ve missed the insight of mlb.com.

It might very well have been the first such triple play. More certain was that it was the first by the Yankees in the Bronx since 1968.

For sure, it nearly fried the brain of Kevin Youkilis.

“That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever had on the field,” he squeaked to reporters after the game.

“This game we play,” Mr. Youkilis added with apparent seriousness, unfortunately giving word to a thoroughly inane thought, “it’s one of these games where it’s a job and it’s a grind at times.”

Is it? Mr. Youkilis, you moron? You are getting $12 million this season to slave away at Yankee Stadium.

He kept on, as though it all were true: “When stuff like that happens, you feel like you’re back playing Little League again.”

We’ll give him that. Parts of Friday’s game sure looked like they were being played by Little Leaguers.

In the seventh, with the score tied, 2-2, and the bases loaded, the Yankees’ Vernon Wells hit a long fly ball to center fielder Adam Jones. Mr. Jones, who is an honest-to-god Gold Glove-winner, mind you, actually blew a bubble of bubble gum just before the ball bounced out of his glove.

We are not making that up. Three runs scored.

After the game, like a true professional, Mr. Jones made it seem harder to explain than it really was. “You could say it’s rain,” he shrugged. “You could say it’s cold. You could say anything, wind, you could say whatever you want.”

Can we say you’re stupid?

Presumably, Mr. Jones was not allowed to join the Orioles in the coach’s minivan for the postgame trip to the Pizza Hut.

The triple play, as is usually the case, was really a full-on blunder. Manny Machado hit a grounder to the Yankees’ Robinson Cano, who tossed to Jayson Nix for an ordinary force at second. Baltimore’s Alexi Casilla, who had been on second, was caught in a rundown on his way to third because he thought Mr. Cano had caught the ball on the fly. Mr. Machado, the batter, was for some reason by then about halfway between first and second. Dumb meets dumber.

First baseman Lyle Overbay completed the play’s second rundown by tossing wildly to Mr. Cano for the third out. “Good thing he’s got good hand-eye coordination,” Mr. Overbay said, without irony, of Mr. Cano’s swift reaction.

Good thing you aren’t still playing for the Braves, we said — sarcastically — to Mr. Overbay.

Mark Teixeira, the first baseman whose injury makes Mr. Overbay’s liabilities a necessity, bleated, “That’s one of the toughest triple plays you’ll ever see.”

That is true. And if the Orioles had been any smarter, or the Yankees an inch more clumsy, it might not have happened.

Postscript

Maybe the most astounding fact of this young season? Mr. Youkilis is maybe the Yankees’ best player so far. He has a hit in all nine of the Yankees’ games, and is batting .424. His hitting streak, according to The A.P., is the longest by a Yankee newcomer since 1945.