Monday, August 31, 2020

Did Yanks Turn Season Around vs. Mets?

UPDATE and Spoiler Alert: No, they didn't.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced postponements in Major League Baseball to the point where the Yankees had to play 5 games against the Mets in 2 days -- or, as it turned out, 39 innings in a span of 48 hours, with the doubleheader games limited to 7 innings.

The Friday games turned into utter disasters for the Pinstripes. Jordan Montgomery pitched 5 strong innings in the opener, and was given a 4-0 lead after just 2 innings, including a home run by Clint Frazier.

But Montgomery got shaky in the 6th, and then Chad Green finished blowing the lead. The Mets scored 5 runs, and won it, 6-4. WP: Walter Lockett (1-0, and, no, I'd never heard of him, either). SV: Edwin Diaz (2, and you know you've had a bad game when you let Edwin Diaz nail down a save). LP: Green (2-2).

*

The nightcap was even worse. Because this was the rescheduling of a game that was meant to be played at Citi Field, the Yankees were officially the visiting team: Still wearing their home Pinstripes, but batting in the top halves of the innings.

Jonathan Loaisiga was, in effect, an "opener," and allowed just 1 run over 3 innings. But, because Brian Cashman is the operational manager of the Yankees, and Aaron Boone is just his press secretary, taking the hard questions so that the coward Cashman doesn't have to, Boone had to pull Loaisiga.

At first, this worked, as Adam Ottavino pitched a scoreless 4th. So, leave him in, right? Wrong: Cashman told Boone to pull him, and bring in Nick Nelson, to protect a 3-1 lead. He allowed a run. Then Cashman told Boone to bring in another relief pitcher, in this case the known unreliable Luis Cessa. He was okay in the 6th.

But for the 7th and last inning, Cashman told Boone to bring in another relief pitcher. Seriously: How many pitchers does it take to pitch 7 innings? It should only take one.

This time, which pitcher was being brought in was understandable: Aroldis Chapman, the closer. Except...

Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. Chapman walked the leadoff man, Jeff McNeil. Then he gave up a home run to Amed Rosario. Game over. Mets 4, Yankees 3. WP: Jared Hughes (1-1). No save. LP: Chapman (0-1).

A walkoff home run for the Mets, over the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium. That had never happened before, in either Yankee Stadium.

The preceding Monday, the Yankees were 16-6, and led the American League Eastern Division by 2 1/2 games over the Tampa Bay Rays. Now, they were 16-13, and 4 games behind the Rays.

Seven straight losses. Including 2, at home, in ghastly fashion, to the Mets.

The season was looking over. It looked like, for all their complaints about their own general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen was the best GM in New York baseball.

And the thought of firing Brian Cashman has still never crossed Hal Steinbrenner's mind. Maybe he was adopted.

*

The Saturday game would be the only game intended as 9 innings. And it looked like the Yankees would lose their 8th straight game. Every team in Major League Baseball has had at least one losing streak of at least 8 games since 2007 -- except the Yankees, who hadn't had one since 1995.

But DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela were back, off the Injured List. This would turn out to be huge. Huger still: J.A. Happ, the Yankees' worst starter so far this season, pitched beautifully, going into the 8th inning (but only 90 pitches, so maybe Cashman didn't feel like he was having a stroke), allowing no runs on 3 hits and no walks, striking out 5.

And then Boone, probably on Cashman's orders, took Happ out after getting the 1st out in the 8th. Worse, he brought in Ottavino. As Papa Bear would say in the Berenstain Bears stories, "That is what you should not do. Now. let that be a lesson to you." The score was only 1-0, thanks to an early Luke Voit home run. Ottavino gave up a homer to Wilson Ramos. Tie ballgame.

It was still 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th. Who comes in to pitch for the Mets? Ex-Yankee Dellin Betances. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. He walked Clint Frazier. He struck Brett Gardner out, then allowed a single to Jordy Mercer, a longtime journeyman for the Pittsburgh Pirates that the Yankees had recently signed. Frazier got to 3rd.

And, with backup catcher Erik Kratz at the plate, Betances threw a wild pitch. Frazier came home. Ballgame over, Yankees... You know the rest.

Yankees 2, Mets 1. WP: Chapman (1-1). No save. LP: Betances (0-1).

What a Mets way to win the game. So much so that John Sterling did not turn to Suzyn Waldman and say, "You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict baseball." The Mets will never be a complete surprise with the way they lose games. They will always be a team with its roots in the 40-120 inaugural season of 1962, when former Yankee manager Casey Stengel said, "Come and see my amazing Mets! I been in this game 100 years, but they've shown me ways to lose I never knew existed before."

*

Did that game turn the season around for the Yankees? Mike King started yesterday's opener, and he was a little shaky. Brooks Kriskie came in to relieve, and he was a lot shaky. Between them, Ben Heller and Green pitched 3 scoreless innings.

It didn't seem to matter. Rick Porcello, given up for dead by most baseball fans, allowed only 2 runs over 5 innings, and it looked like the Yankees didn't deserve to win. They went into the bottom of the 7th and last inning trailing 7-2, and it looked hopeless.

But among the things that can cause as much damage as a leadoff walk is a leadoff error, and Andres Giminez mishandled Mike Ford's leadoff grounder to 3rd. Hughes got the next 2 outs, but then, well, here comes that cliche about walks again. He walked Tyler Wade. Then he loaded the bases by hitting Thairo Estrada with a pitch. Voit singled home 2 runs.

Met manager Luis Rojas brought in his closer, Diaz. Estrada scored on a wild pitch. And then Aaron Hicks hit a screamer that just got over the right field fence. Tie ballgame.

It went to the 8th, which, under the current rules, takes the form of the 10th, and it starts with a runner on 2nd base. I don't like this rule, and it should go before next season. This time, though, it helped the Yankees. The runner on 2nd was Mike Tauchman. With 1 out in the 8th, Ford worked Diaz for a walk. Diaz got Gardner to fly out to center, but Urshela singled Tauchman home.

Yankees 8, Mets 7. WP: Green (3-2). No save. LP: Diaz (1-1).

As John Lennon would have said if he were a baseball Met fan, "Nobody told me there'd be Diaz like these. Strange Diaz, indeed. Most peculiar, Mama!"

*

The nightcap, also with the Yankees serving as the visiting team, featured the major league debut of 21-year-old Dominican righthander Deivi García, one of Cashman's precious "prospects" he's been building around since the infamous Trade Deadline Surrender of '16.

He didn't allow a baserunner through the 1st 3 innings, and the Yankees gave him a boost through a home run by Tyler Wade leading off the 3rd. But an error by Voit in the 6th led to the Mets tying the game, and denying García the victory. Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless 7th.

The game went to the 8th inning, with Gardner as the man starting on 2nd. Drew Smith was on the mound for the Mets, and, well, what do I say about leadoff walks? He walked Frazier. He got Urshela to fly to left, but it was enough to advance the runners. He intentionally walked Tauchman to load the bases and set up an out at any base.

Boone sent Gary Sanchez to pinch-hit for Kratz, and Yankee Fans everywhere lost their minds, because Sanchez has been hitting so poorly. Sanchez crushed a grand slam deep into the left-center Bleachers. Michael Kay said, "Boy, did he need that!"

Holder got a strikeout to start the bottom of the 8th, but walked a batter. Uh-oh... He got a forceout, but then allowed an RBI single, and another single, and Boone had to take him out. And he put in Cessa. There was no reason to do that: Chapman hadn't pitched all day. But Cessa struck Ramos out to end it.

Yankees 5, Mets 2. WP: Holder (1-0). SV: Cessa (1). LP: Smith (0-1).

*

So the Yankees lost the 1st 2 games of this series with the Mets, and won the last 3. They could have lost all 5, but then, they also could have won all 5.

Now, the Rays come in, and the Yankees trail them by 3 1/2 games, but just 2 in the loss column. There are 28 games to play.

If we can just get through today's trading deadline without Cashman trading any established major league players for a bunch of prospects...

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina

August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, Louisiana, resulting in a broken levee that flooded the city, which was already below sea level. By nightfall, 80 percent of the Crescent City, and parts of neighboring areas, were flooded. Over 1,800 people were killed, and thousands were left homeless.

The Louisiana Superdome, home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints, was used as a shelter, topping out at 26,000 people. But because of the nature of the emergency, getting relief supplies into the city was incredibly difficult.

President George W. Bush was at his ranch outside Crawford, Texas, on vacation. He should have immediately flown back to Washington and coordinated the federal government's response. Instead, he stayed at his ranch for 5 days, doing nothing -- except for 1 trip to San Diego for a Republican Party fundraiser.

As a result, most of the goodwill he'd generated with his response to the 9/11 attacks and the early part of the Iraq War was gone. One political magazine showed a cover with a cartoon of Bush being poked with a fork, with the headline, "HE'S DONE," and a caption that he might have still been in office, "but the 9/11 Presidency is over."

Indeed, he had roughly 4 full years in which even Democrats who didn't like him, and thought he had cheated to win in 2000 (and maybe even in 2004), still accepted him as President: September 11, 2001 to September 12, 2005.

That was the day that Michael D. Brown resigned as Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is in charge of responding to natural disasters. Bush was caught on camera telling him, "Heck of a job, Brownie." It wasn't sarcastic: Bush really believed that Brown was doing a good job. At his best, Bush was a genial idiot. At his worst, he was a nasty right-winger. He was never competent enough to be President, and he appointed people he liked to posts for which they were not qualified and ill-suited, and Brown was one of them.

As late as 1950, New Orleans' population was 660,000, putting it in America's top 20 cities. White flight led to a drop to about 484,000 people within the city limits in the 2000 Census. After Hurricane Katrina, it dropped to 230,000, losing over half its people in one fell swoop. According to a recent estimate, it's back up to about 391,000, making it larger than such NFL cities as Tampa, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Buffalo (and, of course, Green Bay).

But the metropolitan area has just 1.27 million people, making it the smallest metro area in the NFL, ahead of only Buffalo (if Green Bay is included with Milwaukee and Niagara Falls is included with Buffalo). And the poverty issue, so pervasive before the hurricane, is worse. And crime is definitely an issue.

In 1940, the city was 70 percent white. As late as 1970, 51 percent. By 1990, it was 62 percent black, and the proportions are roughly the same today: 61 percent black, 31 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. The further east you go, the greater the black percentage; the further west, the more white.

Both the dome and the arena were nearly ruined by Hurricane Katrina. Whatever had gone wrong on the inside of the Superdome, more noticeable was the outside, as the hurricane's winds had stripped the top of the dome, making it look like it had been sandblasted.

The Saints played their entire 2005 season on the road while the dome was refurbished. Next door, the Smoothie King Center, home of the NBA's New Orleans Hornets (since rebranded as the Pelicans), needed work, so the Hornets played most of the 2005-06 season in Oklahoma City, thus opening the door to a team for that city: In 2008, the Seattle SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder.

A relief concert was held at Madison Square Garden, "The Big Apple to the Big Easy," featuring performers from New Orleans, and others whose work was inspired by them. In 2012, the favor was returned after Hurricane Sandy became the 2nd-most-damaging storm in American history, behind Katrina.

The Superdome reopened for the 2006 season, and the Saints provided a lift to the devastated city. On February 7, 2010, the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV, beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 at Sun Life Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium) in the Miami suburbs, for their 1st NFL Championship. It had been a little over 4 years since the hurricane, and it resulted in the biggest party in the history of America's greatest party city.
The Superdome was restored. But the city still needs help. Having lost so many former residents, whose houses could not be rebuilt, hurt its tax base. It's the same with businesses that never came back. In New Orleans, "back" is a relative term.

*

August 29, 2005 was a Monday. The NFL season was soon to begin, with the NBA and NHL seasons to follow. But baseball and its Playoff races were heating up, and 10 games were played in Major League Baseball: 

* The New York Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners, 7-4 at Safeco Field in Seattle. (Now named T-Mobile Park.) The Bronx Bombers got 2 home runs from Jason Giambi, and 1 each by Alex Rodriguez and Matt Lawton. (A 2-time All-Star with Minnesota, with 138 career home runs, he was only a Yankee for 21 games.) Mike Mussina left the game after allowing 4 runs in 3 innings. Aaron Small got the win in relief.

* The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 10-6 at Fenway Park in Boston.

* The Oakland Athletics beat the Baltimore Orioles, 10-5 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. The A's beat the O's with 5 runs in the top of the 12th inning, including home runs by Nick Swisher (future Yankee) and Mark Ellis.

* The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Florida Marlins, 6-1 at what was then named Dolphins Stadium in the suburb of Miami Gardens, Florida. (It's now Hard Rock Stadium.)

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers, 10-8 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

* The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs, 9-6 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

* The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 3-1 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, and the Royals' Shawn Camp walked 2 batters in the top of the 10th before allowing a 2-run double to Nick Punto.

* The Texas Rangers beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-5 at Ameriquest Field in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Texas. (It's now named Globe Life Field.)

* The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres, 7-5 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

* The Colorado Rockies beat the San Francisco Giants, 2-1 at SBC Park in San Francisco. (It's now named Oracle Park.)

* And the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves, the Cincinnati Reds, the Houston Astros, the Los Angeles Angels, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals were not scheduled.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Yankees Lack the Mental Strength; Lute Olson, 1934-2020

A week ago, the Yankees and their fans were on an emotional high after sweeping the Boston Red Sox 4 straight.

Then they dropped 3 straight at home to the Tampa Bay Rays, making it 6 losses in our last 7 games against them. Then we had to postpone the interleague Citi Series/Subway Derby with the Mets, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Then we lost 2 games against the Atlanta Braves, including Gerrit Cole's 20-game winning streak coming to an end, scoring just 2 runs in the process.

Now, we have to face the Mets 5 times in the next 3 days, without sending either Cole or Masahiro Tanaka out there. Or any other good starting pitcher, for that matter, because of our injuries and suspensions.

We were in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division. Now, we're 2 1/2 games behind the Rays, although we're dead even with them in the all-important loss column.

There are 28 games left in this most irregular of regular seasons, assuming we play at all, between the restrictions and the boycotts due to racist white cops shooting unarmed black suspects.

The Yankees aren't physically ready to play these games, given all their injuries. I don't know if they're mentally ready to play these games, given that, thanks to the acquisitions and other maneuvers of Brian Cashman, Yankees don't seem to have what former Arsenal manager manager Arsène Wenger called "the mental strength."

Plus, for the last 4 days, we've had to listen to Donald Trump and his lackeys tell lie after bigoted lie on national television. That's enough to sap anybody's mental strength.

Anybody really ready for baseball at this point?

*

Lute Olson died yesterday, from complications of a series of strokes, at the age of 85. Born on September 22, 1934 in Mayville, North Dakota as Robert Luther Olson, he was only the 2nd-greatest basketball coach to come from North Dakota, behind Phil Jackson. But he was the best one at the college level.

A graduate of Augsburg College, an NCAA Division III school in Minneapolis, the closest big city to the Dakotas, he wasn't drafted by an NBA team. So he went right into coaching, at high schools, from 1956 to 1969.

In 1969, he became the head coach at Long Beach City College outside Los Angeles. In 1973, he was hired by nearby California State University, Long Beach (usually listed as "Long Beach State" for sports purposes). After just 1 season there, winning the 1974 Pacific Coast Athletic Association title, he was hired by the University of Iowa. He took the Hawkeyes to the 1979 Big Ten Conference regular-season title, and to the NCAA Final Four in 1980. He remains the best basketball coach the school has ever had.

Which is saying something about his abilities, because that's not the school he's best remembered for. In 1983, he was hired by the University of Arizona. He led them to the Pacific-10 (now Pacific-12) Conference regular-season title in 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2005. He won the Pac-10 Tournament in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 2002 -- meaning he won both, what English soccer fans would call "The Double," in 1988, 1989 and 1990, 3 straight seasons.

He got the school to its 1st Final Four in 1988, marking the 1st time any school from the State of Arizona had made it. He did it again in 1994, and again in 1997, winning the National Championship. His Wildcats defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in the Final, stopping them from winning 3 straight National Championships. He got Arizona to another Final Four in 2001. He also coached the U.S. national team, still all-amateur back then, to the 1986 FIBA World Championship.

He retired due to health issues after the 2008 season, with a career record of 781-280. Overall, he won 13 Conference Championships, 4 Conference Tournaments, and 8 league and 2 national Coach of the Year awards. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2001, his wife Bobbi, formerly Roberta Russell, died of cancer, and the playing surface at Arizona's arena, the McKale Center, is named the Lute and Bobbi Olson Court. A statue of Lute stands outside the arena.

Lute and Bobbi had 5 children. After she died, Lute married twice more. His daughter Jody Brase is a high school principal. Her son Matt Brase played for his grandfather at Arizona, then became an assistant coach at the school, and is now an assistant with the Houston Rockets. Jody's daughter Julie Hairgrove played for the Arizona women's team, and is now an assistant with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.

*

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: Unknown. They were supposed to kick off the 2020 season on September 5. Then the Big Ten Conference canceled all nonconference games, pushing the season opener ahead to September 26. Then they canceled all Fall sports, with the hope of playing the 2020 football season in the Spring. Who knows.

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: Unknown. It was supposed to be the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, November 28.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown. They were supposed to kick off the 2020 season on September 3. Then it got pushed back to October 2. Now, nobody knows.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge football game: See the previous answer. The Big Green's season opener was supposed to be against the Purple Bastards.

Days until the next U.S. national soccer team game: Unknown. Currently, neither the men's nor the women's team has any matches scheduled.

Days until Arsenal play again: 1, tomorrow, at 11:30 AM New York time, in the Community Shield, English soccer's annual season-opening exhibition game at the national stadium, the new Wembley Stadium in West London, between the winners of the previous season's FA Cup, in this case Arsenal; and the winners of the previous season's Premier League title, in this case Liverpool.

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 1, tomorrow night at 8:00, against the New England Revolution, at the MLS "bubble" outside Orlando.

Days until the Red Bulls play another "derby" game: See the previous answer.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 3, this Monday night, at Fenway Park.

Days until the 1st Presidential Debate: 32, on Tuesday night, September 29, in Cleveland. Joe Biden and Donald Trump will also debate on Thursday night, October 15, in Miami; and on Thursday night, October 22, in Nashville. If, that is, the cowardly Trump shows up.

Days until the 2020 Presidential election: 67, on Tuesday, November 3. Under 10 weeks. As the old saying goes, and it really is true this time, "This time, vote like your life depended on it."

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: Unknown, as the NHL hasn't yet made out its 2020-21 season schedule. That's understandable, given all the uncertainty with trying to wrap up the 2019-20 season. Last I heard, the League was talking about starting next season on or around December 1. If that is the date, then it's 95 days, or a little over 3 months.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: Unknown, although it's unlikely that their 1st game of the season, or even their 1st home game, will be against a traditional rival.

Days until the next North London Derby: 99, on Saturday, December 5, at 10:00 AM New York time, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London. This game will likely be moved, either to another time that day, or to the next day, or maybe to the Monday night, for TV and ratings purposes.

Days until a new Congress convenes, hopefully fully Democratic: 129, on Monday, January 4, 2021. A little over 4 months. Ordinarily, it would be January 3, but that's a Sunday next year.

Days until the next Presidential Inauguration: 145, on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Under 5 months. Liberation Day.

Days until the COVID-delayed Euro 2020 opens in Paris: 287, on June 11, 2021. Under 10 months.

Days until the COVID-delayed 2020 Olympics open in Tokyo, Japan: 310, on July 4, 2021. A little over 10 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz become eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame: 501, on January 11, 2022. Under 17 months until we find out whether lying about having been caught taking steroids, as Big Papi did, is better than telling the truth about it, as A-Rod did.

Days until the next Winter Olympics open in Beijing, China: 525, on February 4, 2022. A little over 17 months.

Days until the next World Cup opens in Qatar: 815, on November 21, 2022. Under 27 months.

Days until the next Women's World Cup opens, a joint hosting by Australia and New Zealand: 1,046, on July 10, 2023. A little over 34 months.

Scores On This Historic Day: August 28, 1968, Riot at the Democratic Convention

August 28, 1968: The Democratic National Convention is in progress, held at the International Amphitheatre, at 4200 South Halsted Street on the South Side of Chicago. Anger over the Party's role in the Vietnam War has led to the incumbent President, Lyndon B. Johnson, dropping out of the race for what would have amounted to a 2nd full term.

Given the way things were set up at the time, with Primaries not yet having the influence they would have -- the 1968 nomination process would lead the Democratic Party to change the process for 1972 and thereafter -- once LBJ dropped out, the nominee was always going to be the Vice President, Hubert Humphrey.

It was not going to be Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, brother of John F. Kennedy, the President whose assassination in 1963 led to the rise of LBJ from Vice President to President. RFK had won key Primaries, but Johnson, no longer a candidate but still the leader of the Party, controlled the Delegates. RFK was shot and killed mere minutes after claiming victory in the California Primary, but even if he had lived, the chances of his winning the nomination over Humphrey were not good.

It was not going to be Senator Eugene McCarthy of Wisconsin: He was a single-issue candidate, and once Bobby Kennedy got into the race, he became "the peace candidate," and McCarthy was finished.

With RFK dead, and McCarthy only running half-heartedly thereafter, there was no real challenge to Humphrey. And people who wanted the war over were furious. They demonstrated in Chicago's Grant Park, which the main hotel for Convention Delegates, the Conrad Hilton Hotel (now the Hilton Chicago), overlooked.

And, egged on by agitators Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin -- who were more interested in making trouble than peace -- the demonstrators challenged the Chicago Police. The Police charged, and there was a riot. It became known as "the New Battle of the Midway" and "the Melee on Michigan Avenue."

A week later, former Vice President Richard Nixon, already nominated for President by the Republican Party, rode in an open car down Michigan Avenue, and was wildly cheered. Nixon may have been the only person who went to Chicago that Summer and got his reputation enhanced.

Republicans have long blamed Nixon's very close 1960 loss to John F. Kennedy on shenanigans by officials in Chicago. In 1968, events in Chicago made Nixon the 37th President of the United States.

Scores of Major League Baseball games on that Wednesday, August 28, 1968:

* The New York Yankees were actually in Chicago that night, a mile and a half to the northeast, at Comiskey Park. They lost to the Chicago White Sox, 3-0. Rookie lefthander Jerry Nyman got his 1st major league victory, outpitching Mel Stottlemyre. The only Yankee hits were singles by Mickey Mantle, Horace Clarke, and 2 by catcher Frank Fernandez. Nyman would make his last big-league appearance just 2 years later, with a career record of 6-7.

* Back in the Big Apple, the New York Mets hosted a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium, and got swept, losing the 1st game 8-3, and losing the 2nd game 5-2.

* The Atlanta Braves sweep the Philadelphia Phillies in a doubleheader at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. The Braves win the 1st game 9-2, and the 2nd game 2-1.

* The Washington Senators beat the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

* The Oakland Athletics beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-3 at Fenway Park in Boston.

* The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-0 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-2 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the California Angels, 6-1 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

* In a doubleheader at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost the 1st game to the Chicago Cubs, 7-4, but won the 2nd game, 8-4.

* And the San Francisco Giants beat the Houston Astros, 4-3 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Scores On This History Day: August 28, 1963, the March On Washington

August 28, 1963: The March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held at the Lincoln Memorial. A crowd usually listed as 250,000 or 300,000 attends.

It is organized by A. Philip Randolph, the leading figure of the black wing of America's labor movement, who had canceled a similar march in 1941 after getting concessions from President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Bayard Rustin, who had organized the anti-segregation Freedom Rides in 1961.

Mahalia Jackson, then America's greatest living singer of gospel music, sang "How I Got Over." Marian Anderson, who had sung at the Lincoln Memorial in an Easter concert before 75,000 in 1939, sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

Joan Baez sang "We Shall Overcome," Bob Dylan sang, "Only a Pawn in Their Game," and, then a couple, together they sang Bob's song "When the Ship Comes In." Peter, Paul and Mary sang "If I Had a Hammer" and Bob's song "Blowin' in the Wind." Odetta sang "I'm On My Way."

Other celebrities on hand: Singers Josephine Baker, Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Diahann Carroll, Lena Horne, Judy Garland and Bobby Darin; actors Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, James Garner, Robert Ryan, Rita Moreno, married couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, married couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and, surprising many people only old enough to remember him as a conservative and a gun-rights advocate, Charlton Heston; novelist James Baldwin; and baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson.

The highlight of the demonstration was the speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Already famous since his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama in 1955 and '56, he had written Letter from Birmingham Jail earlier in the year, so his speech was highly anticipated.

Early in his speech, he said some things that many white Americans did not want to hear -- and probably still don't, because they are largely still true:

In a sense, we have come to our Nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.
A little later, he said:
We cannot be satisfied as long as a colored person in Mississippi cannot vote, and a colored person in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
When he seemed to be wrapping up, Mahalia Jackson remembered a speech he had given a few weeks earlier, in which he spoke of a dream he had. She said, "Martin, tell them about the dream." He did:
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that, one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that, one day, out in the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that, one day, even the state of Mississippi, a State sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.


I have a dream that my four little children will, one day, live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character. I have a dream today.

He went on a little longer with this point. And his closing was unforgettable: 

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But, not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

"My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died. Land of thy pilgrims' pride. From every mountainside, let freedom ring."

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every State and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Watching the speech on television, President John F. Kennedy told the others in the room, "He's damn good." Afterward, Dr. King was among the figures from the demonstration invited to meet him at the White House.

*

I don't know why this demonstration was scheduled for a Wednesday afternoon, instead of a weekend. There were baseball games scheduled for this day, and these were the results:

* The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 4-1 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees hit no home runs. The only Boston run came on a homer by Dick Stuart, the slugging 1st baseman whose fielding was so bad, he was known as "Dr. Strangeglove."

Whitey Ford pitched a complete game, outpitching Earl Wilson. In spite of the Red Sox' poor record on race relations, a year earlier, pitching for them, Wilson became the 1st black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League. (The 1st in the National League was Sam Jones of the Chicago Cubs, in 1959. Like an earlier white Yankee pitcher named Sam Jones, he was known as Sad Sam.)

* The New York Mets lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-2 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

* The Baltimore Orioles beat the Kansas City Athletics, 3-1 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

* The Chicago White Sox swept a doubleheader from the Cleveland Indians at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, winning the 1st game 8-3, and the 2nd game 3-1.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

* The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs, 8-7 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

* The Milwaukee Braves beat the Houston Colt .45s (who became the Astros in 1965), 9-1 at Colt Stadium in Houston.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 9-5 at Dodger Stadium.

* And the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-3 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 25, 1944, The Liberation of Paris

August 25, 1944: The Allies liberate Paris, the capital of France, ending the Nazi occupation after 4 years and 2 months. It is no longer a question of if the Nazis will lose World War II, but when.

Major League Baseball scores on this historic day, a Friday:

* The New York Yankees beat the Washington Senators, 4-2 in 11 innings at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

* The New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, 10-2 at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan.

* A doubleheader was played at Shibe Park (later renamed Connie Mack Stadium) in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Athletics swept the Boston Red Sox, winning the 1st game 6-1, and the 2nd game 9-4.

* A doubleheader was played at Braves Field in Boston. The Philadelphia Phillies won the 1st game, 9-7. The Boston Braves won the 2nd game, 4-3.

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox, 10-2 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Browns, 1-0 at Briggs Stadium (later renamed Tiger Stadium) in Detroit.

* The Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago Cubs, 2-0 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

* And the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-0 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 23, 1927, Sacco & Vanzetti Are Executed

August 23, 1927: Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed in the electric chair at Charlestown State Prison in Boston. They were convicted of murdering a guard and a paymaster during the robbery of the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, Massachusetts, south of Boston, on April 15, 1920. Sacco (on the left in this photo), a shoemaker, was 36 years old. Vanzetti, a fishmonger, was 39.

They were almost certainly innocent. As their appeals ran out in 1927, demonstrations opposed to their impending execution were held around the world, including on Boston Common. But they were foreigners, Catholics, and known anarchists, and it was the Roaring Twenties, so they never had a chance at a fair judicial process. Bigotry prevailed over justice.

Governor Alvan T. Fuller refused to pardon them, although he did convene a committee to re-examine the evidence. For all the good that did: The committee concluded that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty. President Calvin Coolidge, himself a former Governor of Massachusetts, refused to listen to protests.

The prison was closed in 1955. The Bunker Hill Mall was built on the site. In 1977, Governor Michael Dukakis, who became the Democratic nominee for President in 1988, issued a proclamation stating that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." He did not issue a pardon, because that would have presumed guilt.

Major League Baseball scores on this Tuesday:

* There was only 1 game played. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 13-3 at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.

So I will list the games played the day before, Monday, August 22, 1927, their last day on Earth, and the height of the vigils for them:

* The New York Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians, 9-4 at League Park in Cleveland. The Yankees went 110-44 on the way to winning the World Series, so this was a rarity for them.

* In Boston itself, at Braves Field, the Boston Braves beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-3.

* The Cardinals beat the Phillies, 1-0. The very close right-field wall made 1-0 games at Baker Bowl another rarity.

* The Detroit Tigers swept a doubleheader from the Washington Senators at Navin Field in Detroit, later to be renamed Briggs Stadium and Tiger Stadium. The Tigers won the 1st game 4-2, and the 2nd game 7-3.

* The Chicago White Sox beat the Philadelphia Athletics, 9-6 at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

* And the following teams were not scheduled: The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Browns in the American League; and, in the National League, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants, the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Scores On This Historic Day: August 23, 1926, Rudolph Valentino Dies

August 23, 1926: Rudolph Valentino dies of peritonitis, the result of appendicitis. There were no antibiotics in those days, so the biggest movie star of the moment was dead at the age of 31.

He was born on May 6, 1895, 3 months after Babe Ruth, in Castellaneta, at the top of the "heel" in "the boot of Italy," with the name Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filiberto Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguella. This would be slightly anglicized to "Rudolph Valentino" when he came to America in 1913.

He got a job as a dancer in New York, and this led to acting. In 1917, a show with which he was touring reached Los Angeles, and he got his break in the still-new, still-silent Hollywood. He made a living in "bit parts" until 1921, when he was cast in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which made him a star; and The Sheik, which made him the 1st actor to be known as a "Latin Lover." (In his case, original Latin: Italian, not Spanish or Hispanic.)

He was typecast as a dashing, handsome man of adventure, and he enjoyed it. In 1926, he starred in Son of the Sheik, playing both his character from the earlier film and his son. It made him bigger than ever. It was released on July 9. Just 45 days later, he was dead, the 1st big Hollywood actor to die in his prime -- although a few actresses already had.

His death sent women all over the world into a frenzy. To put it into a comparatively current perspective, imagine that Leonardo DiCaprio had died of an unsuspected illness right after the release of The Departed (he was 31, almost 32 at the time). Pola Negri, the Polish actress who was then nearly as big a star as he was, made a scene at his funeral, throwing herself on his coffin. She later claimed they were lovers, which has never been confirmed. (He was married and divorced twice.)

He died over a year before the introduction of sound films. I've heard a recording of his voice, and while many silent film actors had an accent -- either foreign or New York -- that would have made their continuing to be taken seriously difficult, I don't think he would have had a problem.

Negri, who was 8 years older, lived until 1987. Had Valentino also lived that long, he would have been 82, which would hardly have been unreasonable. Had he just made it into the early 1930s, he could have played an Italian gangster battling James Cagney for turf. Had he made it into 1942, he could have played an exile in Casablanca. Had he made it into the mid-1950s, he could have been kissing Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren onscreen, battling Cary Grant or Frank Sinatra for their affections.

Had he lived into 1963, he could have played the father of the character that Federico Fellini based on himself, played by Marcello Mastroianni, in . And had he lived into 1974, he could have appeared in either of the 1st 2 Godfather films.

But we'll never know. Valentino fit the profile, however unintentionally, of too many others: "Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse." (The source of the quote is in dispute, but it dates at least as far back as Valentino's era.)

*

August 23, 1926 was a Monday. It was the off-season for the NFL and the NHL, and the NBA hadn't been founded yet. But there were Major League Baseball games played that day:

* The New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-2 at the then-new original Yankee Stadium. The team that was about to become known as "Murderers' Row" hit no home runs in support of pitcher Urban Shocker -- Babe Ruth went 0-for-3, Lou Gehrig 1-for-3 -- and got only 5 hits, but scored enough.

* The New York Giants lost to the Cincinnati Reds, 7-6 at Redland Field in Cincinnati. (It was renamed Crosley Field in 1934.) Wally Pipp, forced out of the Yankee lineup the year before by his slump and the rise of Gehrig, drove in the winning run with a 10th inning single.

* The Brooklyn Robins split a doubleheader with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The team, then named for manager Wilbert Robinson, and reverting to the "Dodgers" name in 1932 after he was fired, won the opener 7-3, and lost the nightcap 10-2.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox, 9-1 at Fenway Park in Boston.

* The Philadelphia Athletics beat the Chicago White Sox, 4-1 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia.

* The St. Louis Browns beat the Washington Senators, 8-4 at Griffith Stadium in Washington. 

* The Boston Braves, the Chicago Cubs, the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals were not scheduled.

How Many More Years of Failure Will You Accept, Before You Accept That Cashman Must Go?

To paraphrase Billy Joel, himself a Yankee Fan:

In the space of less than 3 full days, the Yankees went from the Mountains of Faith to the Valley of Fear, the Jungle of Doubt, and, especially (given comments by alleged Yankee Fans on social media) the Desert of Truth.

We were on such a high after sweeping the Boston Red Sox 4 straight. Then we lost 3 straight to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that shouldn't even exist.

I'll spare you the details of things like losing pitchers, blown leads, failed comebacks, et al. Suffice it to say that none of these losses should have happened.

Injuries is no excuse. I don't care if we're down to the Scranton lineup: The New York Yankees should be able to win at least 1 game of a home series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

This as followed by the next series, against the Mets, being postponed because Met players had tested positive for COVID-19. For once, it looks like the Yankees and their fans who benefited more from the postponement.

Officially, the Yankees are still in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division -- tied with the Rays, but, having played fewer games, a game ahead of them in the all-important loss column.

But this makes 6 out of 7 recent games against them lost.

Why?

Because general manager Brian Cashman has assembled a roster incapable of beating the Rays.

I saw some Yankee Fans blaming field manager Aaron Boone for it. I saw one Twitterer write, "It's over. The Boone love affair from "savages in the box" is over. Fun while it lasted."

We will always love Boone, because of one swing of the bat in 2003.

But it has become obvious that he is not the actual manager of the New York Yankees. He is merely the press secretary for the real manager, Cashman. Boone is there to take the hard questions as to why the Yankees aren't winning, so Cashman doesn't have to.

Cashman gets to take the praise from making the transactions that look like they will build a World Champion. Boone has to take the bullets for when they don't.

Joe Girardi got tired of being treated like this, and when his contract ran out, he wasn't given a new one. Now, he is the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and is probably the one man for whom facing the Philadelphia media must feel like a piece of cake.

It seems like every player on the Yankees is either injured, or a gutless wonder, or both.

Brian Cashman built this team, but he didn't build this team on rock and roll.

Meanwhile, Didi Gregorius is batting .299.

Until the Yankees fire Cashman from all roles within the organization, they will not win a Pennant.

He is to the Yankees what Jeff Wilpon is to the Mets, and what James Dolan is to the Knicks and the Rangers. You know the old saying, "The (Name of Team) is just one man away from a title"? For the Yankees, that one man is Brian Cashman.

There are idiots on Facebook pages who tell me Cashman is the best GM in baseball; that, if the Yankees fired him, any other team would hire him immediately.

Based on what? His record? Not his recent record. 10 years of failure. He has won nothing without George Steinbrenner's money and Gene Michael's players. He gets no credit for the World Series wins of 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009; and the Pennants won, but World Series lost, of 2001 and 2003.

They tell me he's built a team that puts the Yankees in position to win every year. But they don't win, any year. This is the New York Yankees. This is not the New York Mets, who infamously had owner Fred Wilpon say the goal was "playing meaningful games in September." This is not the Atlanta Braves, for whom winning the Division is enough -- and there's only been 3 Division titles in those 10 years.

Here's his record since George Steinbrenner died on July 10, 2010:

* Lost the AL Championship Series in 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2019.

* Lost the AL Division Series in 2011 and 2018.

* Lost the AL Wild Card Game in 2015.

* Missed the Playoffs completely in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

* The Houston Astros won 2 Pennants, including their 1st-ever World Championship, thanks to a trade Cashman made (and some cheating).

* The Chicago Cubs won their 1st World Series in 108 years, and their 1st Pennant in 71 years, thanks to a trade Cashman made.

* The Cleveland Indians won a Pennant, only the 6th in their 116-year history, thanks to a trade Cashman made.

* The Texas Rangers won their 1st 2 Pennants, partly due to beating the Yankees thanks to Cashman's obsession with bringing in a "lefty one out guy"; and won another Division title thanks to a trade Cashman made.

* The San Francisco Giants won 3 World Series, including their 1st in 46 years, their 1st since moving from New York.

* The Kansas City Royals won their 1st Pennant in 29 years, and the next year, their 1st World Series in 30 years.

* The Los Angeles Dodgers won their 1st Pennant in 29 years, and then another.

* The Washington Nationals won the 1st Pennant and World Series in the franchise's 51-year history, the 1st Pennant for a Washington team in 86 years, and the 1st World Championship for a Washington team in 95 years.

* The Boston Red Sox have cheated their way to 2 more World Championships. Since 2000, they are 4-0 in the World Series; the Yankees, 1-2.

* And even the New York Mets have won a Pennant more recently.

How does Cashman's record look now?

Here's another question the Cashman fanboys refuse to answer:

How many more years of failure are you willing to accept? How many more years of not winning the Pennant is acceptable to you?

One more year?

Two years?

Five years?

Ten years?

Twenty years? Are you still going to be on social media in 2040, telling Yankee Fans not yet born, "Give Cashman a chance, he knows what he's doing" when he hasn't won so much as a Pennant since 2009?

Today is August 23, 2020. At this point, supporting Brian Cashman is like supporting Donald Trump: We have to ask you the question, "What the hell is wrong with you?"

Friday, August 21, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 21, 1968, The Prague Spring Is Crushed

August 21, 1968: Soviet tanks roll into Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia, to put an end to the Prague Spring. For the 2nd time in 30 years, following the Munich Agreement of 1938 that allowed Nazi Germany to invade, the Western democracies saw the Czechs being invaded, and chose to let it happen.

This marked the end of the Prague Spring, which began on the preceding January 5. On that day,
Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He began a series of reforms, including a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel, and a partial decentralization of the economy. The Soviets didn't like that, and they acted.

Dubček was arrested, but when the Soviets found out he had told his people not to resist, they kept him for only 6 days. His most lasting punishment was his expulsion from the Communist Party in 1970.

It would be 1989 before the "Velvet Revolution" truly freed the country from the Soviets' grip. Dubček
lived long enough to see it, dying in 1992. Two months later came the Velvet Divorce: The country was split into the Czeck Republic, or Czechia, and Slovakia.

Major League Baseball scores on this Wednesday:

* The New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 2-1 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, outside Minneapolis. Al Downing outpitched future Yankee broadcaster Jim Kaat. Rocky Colavito, whom we don't usually think of as a Yankee, hit a home run off Kaat. Mickey Mantle, whom we do, played 1st base, and went 1-for-4. Both Mantle and Colavito would play in the major leagues for the last time on the following September 28.

* The New York Mets lost to the San Francisco Giants, 13-3 at Shea Stadium.

* The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-3 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia.

* The Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-2 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds, 19-1 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

* The Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-2 in 10 innings at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

* The Chicago Cubs swept a doubleheader from the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field, 5-4 and 13-5.

* The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-1 at the Astrodome.

* And the Baltimore Orioles beat the California Angels, 4-3 in 15 innings at Anaheim Stadium.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Scores On This Historic Day: August 18, 1920, Women Get the Right to Vote

August 18, 1920, 100 years ago: The legislature of the State of Tennessee ratifies an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, granting women the right to vote in all American elections.

Previously, only 4 States had granted women the right to vote, and that was just in State and local elections, not for federal offices such as President and Congress.

The Constitution prescribes a procedure for amending it: A proposed Amendment must pass each house of Congress by a 2/3rds majority, and then must pass 3/4 of the State legislatures. Under today's format, that means 290 out of 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives, 67 out of 100 in the U.S. Senate, and 38 out of the 50 State legislatures.

In 1920, there were 48 States States, and Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the proposal, making it the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. At least, all women at least 21 years of age who were U.S. Citizens could vote. (The 26th Amendment, in 1971, lowered the voting age to 18.)

Major League Baseball scores on this historic day, a Wednesday:

* New York Yankees 4, Cleveland Indians 3, at the Polo Grounds in New York. This was a continuation of the series in which, 2 days earlier, Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the head with a pitch by Carl Mays. He died the next day, August 17.

* Philadelphia Athletics 1, Chicago White Sox 0, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia.

* St. Louis Browns 13, Washington Senators 2, at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

* Boston Red Sox 6, Detroit Tigers 5, in 11 innings, at Fenway Park in Boston.

So all of the Amercan League teams played on this day, but none of the National League teams did: The Boston Braves, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals were all idle.

Always Good to Sweep the Red Sox

Last night, I saw some Yankee Fans online saying that it's not as much fun beating the Boston Red Sox when they're a bad team.

They're so wrong. (How wrong are they?) It's always good to beat the Red Sox. The Scum will always be The Scum.

Jordan Montgomery started for the Yankees, and took a no-hitter into the 4th inning. He was boosted by a 2-out rally in the 2nd. Martin Perez, the Boston starter, hit Tyler Wade with a pitch. This was not the usual Red Sox "Let's hit the Yankees on purpose and try to injure them, because we know we can get away with it" maneuver. Aaron Hicks doubled Wade home, and then Luke Voit crushed a home run.

The Sox pulled a run back in the top of the 4th, but Thairo Estrada canceled that out by leading off the bottom of the 4th with a home run. Voit led off the bottom of the 5th with another homer. The Sox scored again in the 6th, but the Yanks got another leadoff homer in the 7th, from Hicks.

Aroldis Chapman, fully recovered from COVID-19, and wearing short sleeves that showed he'd really been working out, made his season debut, and it was a typical Chapman inning: Impressive in some moments, shaky in others. He got Alex Verdugo to line out, ut allows a triple to Jose Peraza, and an RBI double to Jonathan Arauz. Then he bore down, and struck Kevin Pillar and Rafael Devers out to end it.

Yankees 6, Red Sox 3. WP: Mike King (1-1, his 1st major league win). No save, because Chapman came in with a 4-run lead. LP: Perez (2-3).

So we swept the Red Sox. That's always good. Especially when it's 4 straight, instead of the usual 3. In fact, it's our 10th straight win against them, going back to last season. The team record is 12 straight wins over the Red Sox, which happened in 1952 and '53.

Tonight, the Yankees begin a home series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Masahiro Tanaka starts against Blake Snell.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Yankees Happ-en to Beat Red Sox Again

In the 1st 2 games of this home series against the Auld Enemy, the Yankee bats unloaded on the Boston Red Sox. In last night's game, the Yankees didn't score big.

And, with J.A. Happ on the mound to start, that was not encouraging.

Fortunately, Happ pitched like the pitcher we thought we were getting.in 2018. He pitched 5 2/3rds innings, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3. The 1 run he allowed was a home run in the top of the 3rd, by Kevin Pillar, not to be confused with former Red Sock pain in the ass Kevin Millar.

In the bottom of the 1st inning, the Yankees got singles by Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford to go up 1-0. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. And Brett Gardner led off the 2nd inning with a walk, and was doubled home by Aaron Hicks.

Pillar's homer made it 2-1 Yankees, but the Yankees struck back in the bottom of the inning, on singles by Tauchman and Gleyber Torres, and a home run by Ford.

Adam Ottavino pitched decently in relief, and Chad Green lowered his ERA to 0.77, proving that he's a middle reliever, not an "opener," as he was used last year. More Brian Cashman stupidity exposed. Zack Britton was shaky in the 9th, allowing a run thanks to a double, a wild pitch and an error, but he finished the Sox off.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2. WP: Happ (1-1). SV: Britton (8). LP: Chris Mazza (0-1).

Today, the Yankees reinstated Aroldis Chapman, fully recovered from COVID-19, from the Injured List, and designated David Hale for assignment.

The series concludes tonight. Jordan Montgomery pitches to help us get the sweep, and Martin Perez will try to give the Boston bats the chance to avoid it. Come on you Pinstripes!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

You Love to See It: Yanks Smack Sox Around Again

In 2003, the Boston Red Sox just missed winning the American League Pennant. In 2006, they fell apart in August, and finished 3rd in the AL Eastern Division. In 2012, they had a losing season. In 2017, they won the AL East, but lost in the 1st round of the Playoffs to the Houston Astros, including Jose Altuve, a team that we now know was cheating.

Each time, the Sox tinkered with their roster, and found a new way to cheat, and won the next season's World Series.

The thought occurred to me that, with both the Sox and the Astros, especially Altuve, off to lousy starts this season, the Sox could trade for Altuve, find a new way to cheat, teach it to him, and, together, they could win the 2021 World Series. And the baseball establishment, and their willing lackeys in the national media, would insist that it was fair and square.

*

Until then, though, the Sox are getting smacked around by the Yankees. As the kids are saying these days, "You love to see it."

The Yankees didn't waste any time last night at Yankee Stadium. In the bottom of the 1st inning, Luke Voit singled, and Gio Urshela hit a home run to make it 2-0 Bronx Bombers. The Sox took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 3rd, but James Paxton settled down from there, allowing only that damage over 5 innings.

In the bottom of the 4th, Gleyber Torres singled, and Gary Sanchez continued his burial of that awful season-ending start with another home run.

DJ LeMahieu had to leave the game, due to an injury. So, no Giancarlo Stanton, no Aaron Judge, no LeMahieu -- the 1st for most of the rest of the regular season, the latter 2 hopefully not for very long.

The Yankees put the game away in the 6th. Torres led off with a single, followed by Mike Tauchmann hitting a double. Sanchez struck out, but Clint Frazier, playing in right field in place of Judge (and making me nervous every time a ball came his way), hit a screamer that cleared the right field wall. Home run.

It didn't stop there. Brett Gardner doubled, and that knocked out former Yankee Nathan Evoaldi, whom Brian Cashman stupidly got rid of after an injury and came back to haunt us in the 2018 AL Division Series.

Gardner stole 3rd. That proved to be unnecessary, as Tyler Wade, who had gone to 2nd base in place of LeMahieu, doubled him home. 8-3. In the 7th, Frazier singled home 2 more runs, and Gardner got one home on a sacrifice fly.

The game was so much of a laugher, Aaron Boone brought Luis Cessa in to pitch. It seemed like a good idea: Give him work in a game he couldn't possibly blow. Sure enough, he went 1-2-3 in the 8th. But he allowed 2 runs in the 9th, before settling down and ending it in victory for the Pinstripes.

Yankees 11, Red Sox 5. WP: Paxton (1-1). No save. LP: Eovaldi (1-2).

Things I like: These include...

1. The Yankees winning.
2. The Red Sox losing.
3. A combination thereof.

The series concludes tonight. J.A. Happ starts for us, Chris Mazza for them. Happ vs. a pitcher the Yankees have never seen before? In the Sunday night ESPN game? In the words of the immortal Han Solo, "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

But things have gone pretty well for the Yankees so far, in spite of the injuries. Maybe this horrible year will turn out to be a great year in baseball. 

Scores On This Historic Day: August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley Dies

 

August 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies at his home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. He had a massive heart attack, brought on by years of a rotten diet and massive prescription drug use. The man known as the King of Rock and Roll was only 42 years old.

When ESPN made its miniseries about the 1977 Yankees, The Bronx Is Burning, it included this exchange, between Mather Zickel, playing Lou Piniella, and Leonard Robinson, playing Mickey Rivers -- keeping in mind, this was 3 years before John Lennon was shot and killed in New York:

Lou: Presley's dead!
Mickey: Who?
Lou: Elvis Presley! I just heard it on the radio.
Mickey: Somebody shot him?
Lou: No, nobody shot him!
Mickey: Well, what, then? Heart attack? 'Cause, I heard, for a superstar, he had a pretty poor diet.
Lou: No, they're saying, drugs, or something.
Mickey: Well, that just goes to show you.
Lou: Goes to show you what?
Mickey: Well, hell if I know, but it must go to show you something!

And then the Yankees took the field at the original Yankee Stadium, against the Chicago White Sox, and played maybe their craziest game of the year. They led 2-0 after 2 innings, saw the ChiSox tie it in the 4th, took a 4-2 lead in the 5th, saw the ChiSox tie it in the top of the 7th, took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 7th, extended it to 9-4 in the 8th, then the ChiSox exploded for 6 runs in the top of the 9th to make it 10-9.

Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. Thurman Munson led off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. Piniella hadn't started the game, but manager Billy Martin put him in as a pinch-runner for Reggie Jackson, and kept him in right field for Reggie. Lou bunted Thurman over. This turned out to be unnecessary, as the next batter, Chris Chambliss, hit a walkoff home run.

Major League Baseball games played on this Tuesday:

* As stated: New York Yankees 11, Chicago White Sox 10, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
* New York Mets 5, St. Louis Cardinals 1, at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.
* Baltimore Orioles 6, Minnesota Twins 5, in 13 innings, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
* Boston Red Sox 5, Kansas City Royals 3, at Fenway Park in Boston.
* Philadelphia Phillies 7, Montreal Expos 5, at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
* California Angels 7, Toronto Blue Jays 2, at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.
* Houston Astros 4, Atlanta Braves 1, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
* Oakland Athletics 7, Cleveland Indians 3, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
* Cincinnati Reds 5, San Diego Padres 1, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.
* Seattle Mariners 3, Detroit Tigers 2, at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.
* Chicago Cubs 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 5, in 15 innings, at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
* Texas Rangers 11, Milwaukee Brewers 3, at Milwaukee County Stadium.
* And Los Angeles Dodgers 3, San Francisco Giants 2, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.