Monday, May 31, 2021

Lest We Forget

Memorial Day Weekend is over. May is over. And the Yankees...

As a New York legend in another sport, Bill Parcells, would say, "You are what your record says you are."

Jameson Taillon started this holday matinee opener of a 4-game home series against the streaking Tampa Bay Rays. As all teams are doing today, they wore red poppy patches for Memorial Day, the way British soccer teams do on their closest home game to Remembrance Day (November 11, which is Veterans Day here). Lest we forget.

Taillon's 1st 3 innings were good. His last 3 were not, and he was removed in the 6th before getting anyone out. The bullpen was all right: Lucas Luetge pitched a perfect 6th and 7th, Wandy Peralta a scoreless 8th, and Luis Cessa a perfect 9th.

All the Yankees needed to make a winning pitcher out of Taillon -- or Luetge, or Peralta, or Cessa -- was to score 4 runs.

This bunch of gutless wonders? Ha. They stranded a runner on 1st in the 2nd, on 1st and 2nd in the 2nd, and on 1st in the 4th. A Brett Gardner walk with 1 out in the 5th was wasted when DJ LeMahieu grounded into a double play.

There was a glimmer of hope in the 7th, when Miguel Andujar hit an opposite-field home run with 2 out in the 7th. And Gary Sanchez, not exactly known for a good batting eye, drew a walk. But Gardner struck out. Rougned Odor doubled with 2 out in the 9th, but Andujar struck out.

Ballgame over. Rays 3, Yankees 1. WP: Rich Hill (4-2). SV: J.P. Feyereisen (3). LP: Taillon (1-4).

Memorial Day Weekend is over. May is over. The season is 27 percent over. "You are what your record says you are." The Yankees are 29-25, and 5 1/2 games out. In their last 7 games, they have been outscored 29-13, an average loss of 4-2. They are 1-6 over that stretch.

Look at these OPS's:

Aaron Judge .951
Giancarlo Stanton .819
Kyle Higashioka .751
Gary Sanchez .709
Gio Urshela .705

That's not so bad. But it gets worse:

DJ LeMahieu .684
Rougned Odor .680
Gleyber Torres .674
Aaron Hicks .627 (Now injured and out for the season)
Clint Frazier .600
Tyler Wade .595
Mike Ford .588
Mike Tauchman .552 (Since traded)
Miguel Andujar .545
Luke Voit .530 (Currently injured)
Brett Gardner .523
Jay Bruce .466 (Shamed into retirement)

This is the team that Brian Cashman built. It is time for him to go. #CashmanOut

Because the job of the general manager of the New York Yankees is to build a team capable of winning the World Series. Lest we forget.

Time to Turn It Around, Or Tell a Sad Tale

Just when you thought the Yankees would never hit and win again, they started hitting and winning like nobody's business. Just as quickly, just when you thought the hitting and winning would never stop, they did. Stopped cold.

This past weekend's series with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park should have gone very differently. The Tigers were 19-31. In the American League, only the Baltimore Orioles had a worse record.

But the Yankees just didn't hit in the 1st 2 games. They got 1 run in regulation on Friday night, losing 3-2 in 10 innings. They got 1 run on Saturday afternoon. And Sunday afternoon would be no better.

The injury crisis meant that Mike King would be the starting pitcher, neither Zack Britton nor Darren O'Day would be available to relieve, Giancarlo Stanton would be the designated hitter, Clint Frazier would have Stanton's place in let field, Tyler Wade would be in cener field, and Miguel Andujar would be at 1st base.

And it was a bad game. King didn't get out of the 3rd inning, allowing 4 runs, although only 2 were earned. Nestor Cortes had been called up, and should have stayed down. Nick Nelson pitched 2 scoreless, hitless innings, but, by then, it was too late. Gio Urshela made an error, and Gleyber Torres made 2 of them.

The Yankees actually got 9 hits. Frazier, DJ LeMahieu, and the much-maligned Gary Sanchez each got 2 of them. But it was already 6-0 after 3 innings, and the only Yankee runs came in the 8th, on RBI singles by Torres and Sanchez.

After his error in the 3rd, Torres got mad. One fan on Twitter said, "Gleyber Torres going full Paul O'Neill in the dugout, beating his glove against everything in sight. Haven't seen that from him before." So at least he cared about how badly he was doing.

In the 9th, the Yankees made it slightly interesting. Andujar led off with an infield single. Frazier singled him to 3rd. But Wade struck out, and LeMahieu popped up. But Stanton walked on 4 pitches, and, suddenly, the bases were loaded. The tying run was at the plate, and it was Aaron Judge, batting against Michael Fulmer.

Judge swung at 2 way-outside breaking balls. A 3rd was outside for ball 1. Then, like a dope -- or like Carlos Beltran with the 2006 National League Pennant on the line for the Mets -- he took strike 3 right down the middle to end it.

Tigers 6, Yankees 2. WP: Tarik Skubal (2-7 -- that's right, he came into this game 1-7). No save. LP: King (0-2). It was the 1st time the Tigers had swept the Yankees in Detroit since 2000.

The Yankees were 1-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the series.

After the game, Judge said, "What we've been putting out there right now is not our best, and it's unacceptable. That's where we just have to kind of dig down deeper and make some changes. You just can't keep coming to the plate, trying to do the same thing and expecting different results."

And manager Aaron Boone, sounding like a broken record (kids, if you don't know what that means, ask your parents): "This is just a bad ending to a terrible weekend. We've got to get better."

*

So, today, Memorial Day, the last day of May, the Yankees are 29-24, for a winning percentage of .547. Over 162 games that would be a record of 88-74, possibly good enough to make the Playoffs with a Wild Card berth.

The contemptible Tampa Bay Rays lead the AL Eastern Division. The despised Boston Red Sox are 1 game behind them. The Yankees are 4 1/2 games back, the Toronto Blue Jays 6, and the Baltimore Orioles 16 1/2. In the loss column, the Rays and Sox are even, the Yankees are 4 back, the Jays 5, and the O's 16.

And these OPS+'s, by and large, are not good, and that's with improvements for some, keeping in mind that 100 is exactly average: Aaron Judge 170 (fat lot of good that did him yesterday), Giancarlo stanton 136, Kyle Higashioka 108, Gio Urshela 104, Gary Sanchez 100, DJ LeMahieu 100, Gleyber Torres 98, Rougned Odor 87, Aaron Hicks 79 (and now out for the season due to injury), Clint Frazier 72, Tyler Wade 70, Mike Ford 69, Luke Voit 53 (and currently injured), Brett Gardner 52, Miguel Andujar 34, Jay Bruce 34 (and shamed into retirement).

The pitching has carried this team thus far. But with Corey Kluber injured, Luis Severino still not back, and Jameson Taillon not yet proving to be a good answer, there are now 3 holes in the rotation.

This afternoon, the Yankees begin a 4-game home series against the Rays, followed by one of 3 games against the Red Sox. This week may well tell the tale of whether the Yankees turn it around, and make the Playoffs, or not.

If not, it will be a sad tale to tell.

May 31, 1921: The Tulsa Race Massacre

May 31, 1921, 100 years ago: The Tulsa Race Massacre begins, and continues into the next day. Mobs of White residents, some of them deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and destroyed homes and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The attacks burned and destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the neighborhood – at the time one of the wealthiest Black communities in the United States, known as "Black Wall Street."

More than 800 people were admitted to hospitals, and as many as 6,000 Black residents of Tulsa were interned in large facilities, many of them were interned for several days. The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics officially recorded 36 dead. The actual death toll may have been as high as 300.

The massacre began when 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a Black shoeshiner, was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, the 17-year-old White elevator operator in the nearby Drexel Building. He was taken into custody. After he was arrested, rumors which stated that he was going to be lynched were spread throughout the city.

Upon hearing reports that a mob of hundreds of White men had gathered around the jail where Rowland was being held, a group of 75 Black men, some of whom were armed, arrived at the jail in order to ensure that Rowland would not be lynched. The sheriff persuaded the group to leave the jail, assuring them that he had the situation under control.

An old white man approached O.B. Mann, a Black man, and demanded that he hand over his pistol. Mann refused, and the old man attempted to disarm him. Mann shot him, and then, according to the sheriff's reports, "all hell broke loose." At the end of the exchange of gunfire, 12 people were dead, 10 White and 2 Black. Subsequently the militants fled back into Greenwood shooting as they went. White rioters invaded Greenwood that night and the next morning, killing men and burning and looting stores and homes. Around noon on June 1, the Oklahoma National Guard imposed martial law, ending the massacre.

About 10,000 Black people were left homeless, and property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate and $750,000 in personal property, equivalent to $32.7 million today. Many survivors left Tulsa, while Black and White residents who stayed in the city largely kept silent about the terror, violence, and resulting losses for decades.

The massacre was largely omitted from local, state and national histories. Growing up white in a mostly-white suburb in the 1970s and '80s, I didn't learn about it until around 2000 or so. With the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement in the early 21st Century, the event has re-entered the national consciousness, including as a plot point in the 2017 TV miniseries version of Watchmen.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Yankees Again Gutless Wonders, Lose In Detroit

Yesterday, I wrote of the preceding night's game, "When an opponent is willing to give you the game, never, ever give it back. The problem was, the Yankees had already given the game back, and we just didn't know it."

Yesterday afternoon, in the middle game if a series away to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees never really had the game to give back.

Rookie Deivi Garcia started in the rotation slot of the injured Corey Kluber. He's still only 23. He's still not ready to face major league pitching. He only pitched 4 1/3rd innings, allowing 5 runs (4 of them earned) on 5 huts and 1 walk, with 2 strikeouts.

Spencer Turnbull, who pitched a no-hitter 2 starts earlier, only got into the 6th inning, allowing 3 hits. But those would be the only 3 hits the Yankees would get.

Gleyber Torrrs led off the top of the 2nd inning with a walk. This one would not invoke any cliches, though. Gary Sanchez singled, and Mike Ford drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out.

And then, Brian Cashman's gutless wonders blew it. Miguel Andujar grounded to short, resulting in a double play, with Torres scoring.

Clint Frazier walked to re-load the bases. And then Brett Gardner grounded into a force play, to end an inning where the Yankees loaded the bases twice, once with nobody out, and got the gift of 3 walks, but scored only 1 run.

And that would be the only scoring the Yankees would do all day. Four Tiger relievers went 3 1/3 innings, allowing just 1 baserunner, a wall. Overall, the Yankees struck out 12 times, and it seemed like more than that.

Tigers 6, Yankees 1. WP: Turnbull (4-2). No save. LP: Garcia (0-2).

On Twitter, a woman named Samantha (I don't have her last name) wrote, "From BronxBombers to The Interstate Imposters Tired face #Yankees"

Metropolitan Miquetoasts? Tri-State Tankers?

My 2017-present nickname "Gutless Wonders," though not alliterative, will do just fine. The performance that earned that nickname once again will not. 

This series, wholly embarrassing so far, concludes this afternoon. Michael King, like Garcia not yet (and, also like Garcia, perhaps not ever) good enough to face major league pitching, starts for the Yankees. Tarik Skubal starts for the Tigers.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Never, Ever Give the Game Back

Last night, the Yankees opened a 3-game weekend series with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The Tigers are struggling: In the American League, only the Baltimore Orioles have a worse record. And Gerrit Cole was a pitching for the Yankees. Cole went 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits and 1 walk, striking out 5. He did his job.

The Yankee batters didn't do theirs. Aaron Judge singled with 2 out in the 1st inning, and doubled with 1 out in the 4th. Those were their only baserunners in the 1st 4 innings. Rougned Odor led off the top of the 5th with a home run, to tie the game. The rest of the inning was a missed opportunity: Clint Frazier singled, Kyle Higashioka struck out, Brett Gardner singled, DJ LeMahieu struck out, and Giancarlo Stanton struck out.

The Yankees got men on 1st and 3rd with 2 out in the 6th, but didn't score. Gleyber Torres and Odor singled with 2 out in the 8th, but Frazier hit a ground ball right at Tiger shortstop Harold Castro, and that was that.

With 1 out in the 9th, Miguel Andujar pinch-hit for Gardner, and singled. Tyler Wade was sent in to pinch-run. A wild pitch got wade to 2nd base. LeMahieu drew a walk. Now, it was men on 1st and 2nd with 1 out, and 2 of the most dangerous hitters in the game coming up: Judge and Stanton. Both struck out.

That's where the Yankees lost the game: Having a glorious opportunity to win the game in the 9th inning, instead, they playing 9 innings against a team that is, to put it politely, struggling, and only scored 1 run.

Aroldis Chapman, having been sick for a couple of days, was brought into pitch the bottom of the 9th. He was due for a bad game, and he began by walking Jonathan Schoop. You know how you "just know"? Well, the cliche about walking the leadoff man hit me, and I was sure that Schoop -- or, rather, pinch-runner Akil Baddoo -- would score.

Except Gary Sanchez, much-maligned for his defensive play as a catcher, picked Baddoo off. Chapman took that gift, and got the next 2 batters out.

Extra innings. Meaning, the ghost runner on 2nd. For the Yankees, that would be Judge. Gio Urshela struck out. Torres hit a grounder that got Judge to 3rd. The Yankees didn't look like they wanted to win.

Then, Tiger reliever Bryan Garcia threw a bad pitch. Catcher Jake Rogers couldn't handle it. It was ruled a passed ball. Judge scored, and it was 2-1. The Yankees had seemingly refused to take the game, and the Tigers had seemingly given it to them, anyway.

Odor singled, so there was a chance for more. But Frazier struck out, and 2-1 it stayed.

Justin Wilson was brought in to pitch the bottom of the 10th. I can't fault Aaron Boone for this: Chapman had been sick, and Zack Britton and Darren O'Day are still on the injured list. Pickings were slim.

Wilson got the 1st out. He got the 2nd out. But there was still the ghost runner, Eric Haase, who had advanced to 3rd base.

The batter was Robbie Grossman. Wilson got to a 2-2 count on him. He threw an outside curveball that just missed the strike zone. Lots of #YankeesTwitter people were sure it was a strike. The replays on the YES Network proved it was a ball by the slimmest of margins.

The next pitch was hit by Grossman for a home run. Tigers 3, Yankees 2. WP: Bryan Garcia (1-1). No save. LP: Wilson (1-1).

I wrote on Twitter, "I got my 2nd Moderna vaccine 28 hours ago. I was fine all day today. Now, I feel sick. Than you SO much, @Yankees."

In this game, the Tigers were a convict that tripped and fell into the electric chair. And the Yankees were the warden, flipping the wrong switch, and executing themselves.

When an opponent is willing to give you the game, never, ever give it back. The problem was, the Yankees had already given the game back, and we just didn't know it.

*

Brian Cashman lost this game, building a team designed to bomb opponents out of the yard, and ending up not being able to do so. In 31 games so far this season, in which they have scored 4 or fewer runs, the Yankees are 11-20. In 27 games scoring 3 or fewer, they are 10-17. In 18 games scoring 2 or fewer, they are 6-12. That includes 3 straight games (May 19-21) where they scored 2 and won.
And in 6 extra-inning games, they are 3-3.

A lot of people forget that losing is a team effort, just as winning is, and will say nasty things about Justin Wilson. The heck with 'em. This game wasn't lost because of one pitch he threw. It was lost because of several pitches the Yankees didn't hit.

The series continues this afternoon, with a first pitch of 4:10 PM. Deivi Garcia makes his 2nd major league appearance of the season, starting against Spencer Turnbull.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Yanks Barely Scrape By Blue Jays

I got my 2nd Moderna vaccine yesterday. Right now, I'm tired, I'm cranky, and my back hurts.

In other words, the usual. That's not from the vaccine.

In other medical news, the injury crisis is back at Yankee Stadium: 

* Aaron Hicks, the switch-hitter who is the closest thing the Yankees have to a reliable lefthanded hitter, is out for the season (or so it appears) with a wrist injury that will require surgery.

* Corey Kluber, so soon after his no-hitter, went on the Injured List. He will be out for at least 2 months, and the fear that he is out for the season can't be ruled out.

* Luke Voit has an oblique strain, and will be out for a week.

* According to manager Aaron Boone, Aroldis Chapman has been "sick," and unavailable. He could return tonight.

* Some good news, though: Luis Severino is reported as being close to a rehab assignment. He could return before the All-Star Break.

* Zack Britton is set to make his 1st rehab appearance of the season tomorrow, with the Class AA Somerset Patriots.

* And Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be reactivated today, following a quadriceps strain.

*

On Tuesday night, the Yankees began a 3-game series, home to those pesky Toronto Blue Jays. Kluber started, but struggled, and only lasted 3 innings. The bullpen didn't do much better. And the Yankee bats struggled against former Met phenom Steven Matz. Aside from RBI hits by Kyle Higashioka in the 7th and 9th innings, the Yankees only got 5 hits.

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 2. WP: Matz (6-2). No save. LP: Kluber (4-3).

*

In the middle of Wednesday afternoon, with rain not yet having arrived, the Yankees looked at the weather report, and decided to postpone the game, setting up a twi-night doubleheader for yesterday, meaning 2 games of 7 innings each under the current stupid rule.

Domingo Germán started the opener. He allowed back-to-back home runs to Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette in the 3rd inning. Other than that, in 7 innings, he and Lucas Luetge allowed no runs on just 2 hits and 2 walks. It should have been enough to win.

But a depleted Yankee lineup was only able to produce 2 singles by Miguel Andújar, and a walk each by DJ LeMahieu and Rougned Odor. This was against Alek Manoah, who was making his major league debut. Once again, the Yankees were able to make a kid pitcher look like the next Roger Clemens.

Blue Jays 2, Yankees 0. WP: Manoah (1-0). SV: Jordan Romano (2). LP: Germán (0-3).

It did not escape my notice that, as they had in 1978, when I attended my 1st live major league sporting event, the Yankees hosted the Blue Jays, and didn't hit nearly enough, and had significant injury issues, and lost.

*

So the Pinstripes needed to win the nightcap to avoid an embarrassing home series sweep. The needed a good start from Jordan Montgomery, and didn't get it. He allowed 3 runs in the 3rd inning, and didn't get out of the 5th. But, the rest of the way, Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta and Chad Green pitched shutout ball.

The Yankees got a run in the 1st, on a single by LeMahieu, a walk by Aaron Judge and a double by Gio Urshela. In the 3rd, down 3-1, LeMahieu singled, and Judge hit a long home run to tie the game. In the 4th, Gary Sanchez hit an even longer one to give the Yankees the lead. Judge nearly hit another in the 5th, but it was long enough to be a sacrifice fly to bring home another run.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3. WP: Loáisiga (4-2). SV: Green (20). LP: Robbie Ray (2-2).

*

So here's how things stand, as we head into Memorial Day Weekend:

* The Yankees are 29-21, a winning percentage of .580. If that pace is held over the full 162 games, it would be a record of 94-78.

* They are 2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Eastern Division, 1 game in the all-important loss column. The Boston Red Sox are 1 game behind the Rays, even in the loss column. The Jays are 5 1/5 back, 4 in the loss column. And the Baltimore Orioles are already 14 games back, 13 in the loss column.

* If the current standings hold, the American League Wild Card Game would be the Yankees playing the Red Sox at Fenway. In the AL Division Series, the Yanks-Sox winner would advance to face the Rays, who would have home-field advantage; and the Chicago White Sox would have home-field advantage over the Oakland Athletics.

* The National League Wild Card Game would be that League's biggest rivalry, its parallel to Yankees vs. Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the San Francisco Giants. In the NL DiIvision Series, the Dodgers-Giants winner would advance to face the San Diego Padres, who would have home-field advantage, and the St. Louis Cardinals would have home-field advantage over the New York Mets.

* Yes, the Mets are in 1st place in the National League Eastern Division, while the Yankees are not in 1st place in the AL East. That said, the Mets are 24-20, .545, not nearly as good a record as the Yankees. The Mets are also going through an injury crisis. So to see both New York teams doing as well as they are is, to borrow a word from the Mets' lexicon, Amazing.

Tonight, the Yankees begin a 3-game series away to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are not doing well, just 19-31. Gerrit Cole starts for the Yankees, and Casey Mize for the Tigers.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Top 10 Bob Dylan Songs

May 24, 1941, 80 years ago: Robert Allen Zimmerman is born in Duluth, Minnesota, and grows up in Hibbing, Minnesota, also the birthplace of baseball legend Roger Maris, and the hometown of basketball legend Kevin McHale.

Bob Dylan, his character, was born in Minneapolis sometime in September 1959 in Minneapolis. Ah, but he was so much older then. He’s younger than that now.

He hasn't always been a good guy. He hasn't always been a great artist, either. Like anybody else -- Satchmo, Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, Jacko, etc. -- he's had some clunkers. In the end, it doesn't matter a damn.

Top 10 Bob Dylan Songs

These are in chronological order, by date of recording. What Bob recorded from July 9, 1962 to March 10, 1966 stands up with just about anybody's entire output, ever. It makes us forget that what he did after that, especially from late 1967 to 1975, would be enough to make most songwriters a legend.

Honorable Mention: "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," November 14, 1962; "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," December 6, 1962; "Masters of War," April 24, 1963; "With God On Our Side," August 7, 1963; "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," January 15, 1965; "Highway 61 Revisited," August 2, 1965; "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" (a.k.a. "When You're Lost In the Rain In Juarez"), August 2, 1965; 8. "Just Like a Woman," March 8, 1966; "Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35" (a.k.a. "Everybody Must Get Stoned"), March 10, 1966; "All Along the Watchtower," November 9, 1967; "Lay Lady Lay," February 14, 1969; "Forever Young," November 1, 1973; "Jokerman," April 14, 1983.

1. "Blowin' in the Wind," July 9, 1962.
2. "When the Ship Comes In," October 23, 1963.
3. "The Times, They Are a-Changin'," October 24, 1963.
4. "My Back Pages," a.k.a. "I Was So Much Older Then," June 9, 1964.
5. "Subterranean Homesick Blues," a.k.a. "Johnny's In the Basement," January 14, 1965.
6. "Like a Rolling Stone," June 16, 1965.
7. "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," February 17, 1966.
8. "I Shall Be Released," September 24, 1971.
9. "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," February 1, 1973.
10. "Tangled Up In Blue," December 30, 1974.

I am aware that Bob wrote "Catfish," about Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees pitcher Jim Hunter. It's good. It's not one of his Top 10. It's not even one of his Top 50. That's how good he is.

Honorable Mention: "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," November 14, 1962; "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," December 6, 1962; "Masters of War," April 24, 1963; "With God On Our Side," August 7, 1963; "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," January 15, 1965; "Highway 61 Revisited," August 2, 1965; "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" (a.k.a. "When You're Lost In the Rain In Juarez"), August 2, 1965; 8. "Just Like a Woman," March 8, 1966; "Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35" (a.k.a. "Everybody Must Get Stoned"), March 10, 1966; "All Along the Watchtower," November 9, 1967; "Lay Lady Lay," February 14, 1969; "Forever Young," November 1, 1973; "Jokerman," April 14, 1983.

And, of course, a lot of Bob's songs, especially his early ones, were covered, and done better, by other performers:

* "Blowin' in the Wind" was a hit in 1963 for Peter, Paul & Mary, and in 1966 for Stevie Wonder. Stevie sang it at the 30th Anniversary tribute concert that Columbia Records held for Bob at Madison Square Garden on October 16, 1992 -- or, as Neil Young called it, "Bobfest."

* "When the Ship Comes In" was a song he sang publicly even before recording it, at the March On Washington, August 28, 1963. The best version is by The Clancy Brothers, Irish accents and all, and they sang it at the Garden concert.

* "My Back Pages" was a hit for The Byrds in 1965, as was "Mr. Tambourine Man." On the former, The Byrds cut the 3rd and 4th of the 6 verses. At the Garden concert, after Byrds lead singer Roger McGuinn sang "Mr. Tambourine Man," "My Back Pages" was sung by, in order on the verses: McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Dylan himself, and George Harrison.

"I Shall Be Released" was recorded by The Band 4 years before Bob recorded it himself. They sang it together at The Band's farewell concert at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, on Thanksgiving Night, November 25, 1976. It was filmed for Martin Scorcese's film The Last Waltz. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders sang it at the Garden concert.

Dylan is one of those performers where, if you get 25 people together and ask them what their favorite song of his is, you could get 25 different answers. That's how far he has reached -- even if every distance is not near.

It Wasn't Easy, But Yanks Sweep ChiSox

The Chicago White Sox came into Yankee Stadium II this weekend with the best record in the American League. Since the teams have been in separate Divisions since 1969, and have never faced each other in the Playoffs, these may have been -- however early in the season they were -- the most significant games between the South Bronx and the South Side since the end of the 1964 AL Pennant race, in which the Yankees finished 1 game ahead of the White Sox (and 2 ahead of the Baltimore Orioles).

The Friday night game was a struggle that the Yankees won. The Saturday afternoon game was considerably easier, and the Yankees won that, too. The Sunday afternoon game turned out to be harder than it looked like it would be at first.

Jameson Taillon, brought to the Yankee rotation this season on a slim hope that he could once again be the pitcher he was in 2018, had his best start in Pinstripes, going 5 innings, allowing no runs, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks, with 5 strikeouts. If he's the "weak link" in our rotation, I'll take it.

But every pitcher needs run support. In the 1st inning, Luke Voit reached 1st base on an error, Aaron Judge singled him over, Gio Urshela moved them over with a groundout, and the scorching-hot bat of Gleyber Torres singled them home.

It was still only 2-0 Yankees going to the bottom of the 5th, so Taillon had to keep it close, and did. DJ LeMahieu led off that inning with a single, Voit and Judge drew walks to load the bases (and you know what can happen with those), and Urshela's grounder got LeMahieu home. Unfortunately, it was a double play, preventing more runs, which would matter.

The White Sox closed to within 3-2 in the top of the 6th, when Wandy Peralta gave up a home run to José Abreu. But in the bottom of the inning, Gary Sanchez drew a leadoff walk (and you know what can happen with those), followed by a Clint Frazier single that got Sanchez over to 3rd, and a Brett Gardner fielder's choice that got Sanchez home. 4-2 Yankees.

But Chad Green gave up a home run to Yasmani Grandal in the top of the 7th. It was still 4-3 New York going into the top of the 9th.

Aroldis Chapman entered today's game with 65 batters faced and no earned runs. That was the most batters faced without allowing an ER by any pitcher this season. He was also 11-for-11 in save opportunities. But he gave up a game-tying home run to Andrew Vaughn. Then he made the inning more Aroldislike, giving up a walk and a wild pitch, before getting out of it. His ERA went from 0.00 to 0.47.

It doesn't seem fair that a pitcher who blows a lead should get credit for the win if the team then wins the game. On the other hand, I don't particularly care how my team wins a game, as long as we don't break the rules. (I am not a Boston sports or Houston Astros fan.)

Aaron Bummer pitched the bottom of the 9th for the Pale Hose, and lived up to his name. He gave up a leadoff single to Frazier. He struck Gardner out, but Frazier stole 2nd. With 1st base open, LeMahieu was intentionally walked. But Tyler Wade hit a soft grounder, fielded by 2nd baseman Nick Madrigal, who couldn't make a play at any base.

Tony La Russa, the South Siders' elderly manager, brought Liam Hendriks in to pitch to Judge, probably hoping to strike him out as much as to get him to ground him into a double play.

Judge had never gotten a walkoff hit in his career, at any level. He still hasn't. In this case, he didn't need to. Cliché Alert: A walk is as good as a hit. Not always, but, this time, it was. And... Cliché Alert: Walks can kill you.

Yankees 5, White Sox 4. WP: Chapman (4-0). No save. LP: Bummer (0-3). Sweep.

*

So, 47 games into the regular season, or 29 percent, the Yankees are 28-19. They are half a game out of 1st place, even in the loss column with the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, who are both 29-19. The Toronto Blue Jays are 23-22, 4 1/2 back. The Baltimore Orioles are 17-29, 11 games back.

There have been injuries and illnesses, and still, the Yankees are right in the Pennant race. Because the pitching has been (mostly) good, and the hitting has been just enough.

The Yankees have today off, and then the Blue Jays come to town for 3 games. Then a trip to Detroit, then back home for 4 games against the Rays and 3 against the Red Sox, a week that could go a long way toward shaping the rest of the season.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Another Gleyber Day Sends Yanks Past Southsiders

For a month now, since April 21 -- minus sitting out with a 2nd round of COVID-19 -- Gleyber Torres has been playing like the player we were always told he was going to become. As much as Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, or any pitcher, he has been a reason why the Yankees have gone from 6-11 to 27-19.

Yesterday afternoon, Gerrit Cole to the mound in the middle game of a home series with the Chicago White Sox. His last start was his worst as a Yankee. This time, he was back to normal: 7 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts.

But even Cole needs runs -- at least 1. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 4th, when Torres nearly hit one out, driving in Gio Urshela and Aaron Judge. It became back-to-back doubles, when Rougned Odor drove Torres home.

With the bases loaded in the 5th, Torres singled home Brett Gardner and Luke Voit. In the 6th, Mike Ford, playing 1st base (Voit was the designated hitter) and usually an automatic out, crushed one to the right-center bleachers, 447 feet. Miguel Andujar added an RBI double in the7th, scoring Torres. This made Torres involved in 6 of the 7 Yankee runs. The Southsiders just couldn't stop him.

With a big lead, this was not the day to put your best relievers out there. Rather, it was the day to send out 2 relievers who need work and straightening out. Both who were sent out sure looked straightened out: Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless 8th, and Luis Cessa pitched a perfect 9th. Yankees 7, White Sox 0. WP: Cole (6-2). No save. LP: Dylan Cease (2-1).

With the Boston Red Sox again beating the Philadelphia Phillies, the Yankees remain a game and a half out of 1st place.

This series concludes this afternoon. Dallas Keuchel, whom I wished the Yankees had gotten when they had the chance in 2019, starts for the Pale Hose. Jameson Taillon, whom the Yankees actually did get this past off-season, and hasn't yet lived up to our hopes, starts for us. Hopefully, he can pitch well enough to give the hitters a chance to secure the sweep.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

How Long It's Been: The Yankees Pulled a Triple Play

Last night, the Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1, on an RBI single by Gleyber Torres in the bottom of the 9th inning.

In the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman was brought in to pitch, and he let the 1st 2 men get on base: A walk to Yermin Mercedes, with Billy Hamilton pinch-running for him; and a bunt by Leury Garcia, which Chapman tried to handle himself, and couldn't.

All I could think of was the old line from Star Wars: "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

The batter was Andrew Vaughn. He hit a hard shot toward 3rd base. Gio Urshela got it, and stepped on 3rd. 1 out. He threw to 2nd, where Rougned Odor stepped on the bag. 2 outs. Odor threw to 1st, and Luke Voit got it before Vaughn could get to the base. 3 out.

A triple play. I've seen footage of triple plays after the fact before, but this is the 1st time I can ever remember seeing one as it happened, either live or on TV.

It was the 1st one pulled by the Yankees since April 17, 2014. It happened on the horrible carpet of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Yankees ended up beating the Rays 10-2, thanks to home runs by Alfonso Soriano, Brian McCann and Yangervis Solarte.

The triple play came in the bottom of the 2nd. CC Sabathia allowed a leadoff double to Evan Longoria, and then walked Wil Myers. Sean Rodriguez hit a ground ball to 3rd base, where Solarte took it, stepped on 3rd, and threw to 2nd. Brian Roberts took it, stepped on 2nd, and threw to 1st. Scott Sizemore caught the 3rd out.

That was 7 years, 1 month and 4 days before last night's Yankee triple play. How long has that been?

*

For one thing, of the 14 Yankees who played in that game, only Brett Gardner, a late defensive replacement, is still playing for them. The only other one still playing in the major leagues is Dellin Betances, with the Mets. (He relieved Sabathia, who pitched 7 innings for the win.) Solarte is still playing, but in the Mexican League. No other Yankee then on the roster is still there, although Adam Warren has left and been brought back.

The Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers have opened new ballparks. The Oakland Raiders have moved to Las Vegas, the St. Louis Rams and the San Diego Chargers have both moved back to Los Angeles, and all of them have built new stadiums. So have the San Francisco 49ers, the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons. The Vegas Golden Knights began play. They, the Edmonton Oilers, the Sacramento Kings, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings have opened new arenas.

Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics, and Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians are the only MLB managers still running the same teams they were at the time. Head coaching changes have since come to the Yankees once; the Mets, the New York Rangers, and the New York Islanders twice each; the New York Liberty and the New York Red Bulls 3 times; the New York Jets, the New Jersey Devils and New York City FC 4 times each; the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Nets 5 times, the New York Knicks 6 times.

The San Francisco Giants, the Kansas City Royals (who hadn't done it in 30 years), the Chicago Cubs (who hadn't done it in 108 years), the Houston Astros (who had never done it in 56 years of trying), the Boston Red Sox, the Washington Nationals (who had never done it in 15 years of trying) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (who hadn't done it in 32 years) have won the World Series. The Mets, the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays have won Pennants. The Yankees haven't won either.

The defending World Champions were the Red Sox, the Seattle Seahawks, the Miami Heat and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Heavyweight Champion of the World was, aw, who the hell knows, the title's been split so many ways. The Olympic Games have since been held in Brazil and Korea; the World Cup, in Brail and Russia.

The President of the United States was Barack Obama. The Governor of the State of New York was Andrew Cuomo (that hasn't changed), and the Mayor of the City New York was Bill de Blasio (that hasn't changed, either). The Governor of New Jersey was Chris Christie.

The Prime Minister of Britain was David Cameron. The Pope was the same as now, Francis. There have since been 3 Presidents of the United States, 3 Prime Ministers of Britain, and 1 Pope.

The films Divergent, Muppets Most Wanted, Noah, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Draft Day and Oculus were in theaters. Jimmy Fallon had just become the host of The Tonight Show. Chicago P.D., Bitten, Wahlburgers, Black Sails, Chrisley Knows Best and The 100 had recently debuted on television. Psych, How I Met Your Mother and Being Human had recently aired their last first-run episodes. The Number 1 song in America was "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.

Inflation was such that what $1.00 bought then, $1.13 would buy now. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed that day at 16,408.54. There was no TikTok yet, and Vine has both come and gone.

In the Spring of 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board. Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine, causing the other 7 members to suspend them from the Group of 8. Islamic fundamentalists kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Nigeria. A Korean ferry sinks, killing 304 people. And, in order to save money, the City of Flint, Michigan changes the source of its water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the considerably less-regulated Flint River, starting the Flint Water Crisis.

Maya Angelou, and formerly imprisoned boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, and Brazilian soccer legend Hilderaldo Bellini died. Nobody yet particularly famous was born yet, but Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar and Michael King were just 19 years old, and Gleyber Torres was only 17.

April 17, 2014. The Yankees pulled off a triple play. Last night, they did it again, 7 years later.

Does it matter? In 2014, it didn't: They missed the Playoffs. If they make the Playoffs in 2021, that triple play might end up having had something to do with it.

Something Special May Be Going On With the Yankees

Every year, one baseball team goes on to win the World Series. And every year, there is one game they can look back on, point two, and say, this was when we knew something special was going on.

If the Yankees do manage to win the World Series this year, the game we are going to point to won't be Corey Kluber's no-hitter, as thrilling as that was. It will be last night's opener of a 3-game home Series against the Chicago White Sox.

The Pale Hose came into this game with the best record in the American League, 26-16. They also came in with Tony La Russa, age 76, having returned to his 1st MLB managing job (1979-86), having courted controversy, above and beyond his off-season drunk-driving issue.

Jordan Montgomery was coming off a couple of bad starts, but took the mound last night as if he was trying to keep up with the other starting pitchers follow done exceptionally well lately. He made the best start of his career, pitching 7 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and no walks, striking out 11.

The problem was, ChiSox starter Carlos Rodon was also sensational, going 6 shutout innings, 2 hits, no walks, 13 strikeouts. But he threw 95 pitches in those 6 innings, whereas Montgomery threw in his 7, And that may have made all the difference.

The Yankees finally took the lead when Gleyber Torres hit a home run with 1 out in the bottom of the 7th. It was measured at 345 feet, a true "short porch" home run. But with how difficult it's been for anybody to score runs this season, I don't want to hear anybody calling this a "cheap" home run.

But you know what I say about walks, especially the leadoff variety, right? Jonathan Loaisiga came in to relieve Montgomery, and promptly gave that lead right back: Walk, wild pitch, groundout, single. 1-1.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees loaded the bases, and then, on the next 2 plays, grounded into a force play at home plate, and grounding into an inning-ending double play. So far, this season, the Yankees have made 20 outs on the base paths, 10 of them at home plate. In each of those categories, they lead the major leagues. That is unacceptable.

Aroldis Chapman was brought in to pitch the top of the 9th, and he led the 1st 2 men get on base: A walk to Yermin Mercedes, with Billy Hamilton pinch-running for him; and a bunt by Leury Garcia, which Chapman tried to handle himself, and couldn't. All I could think of was the old line from Star Wars: "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

The batter was Andrew Vaughn. He hit a hard shot toward 3rd base. Gio Urshela got it, and stepped on 3rd. 1 out. He threw to 2nd, where Rougned Odor stepped on the bag. 2 outs. Odor threw to 1st, and Luke Voit got it before Vaughn could get to the base. 3 out.

A triple play. I've seen footage of triple plays after the fact before, but this is the 1st time I can ever remember seeing one as it happened, either live or on TV. It was the 1st one pulled by the Yankees since April 17, 2014.

I got a big charge out of it. Now, I thought, they just have to take that momentum, and win this game in the bottom of the 9th. I wasn't even thinking about extra innings, and that stupid "ghost runner" rule.

Anybody who was thinking about it didn't have to think about it for very long. The Yankees won the game with 3 straight singles: A line drive to center by Aaron Judge, a line drive to right-center by Urshela, and a ground ball through the short-3rd hole by Torres. This time, there would be no out at the plate, as left fielder Vaughn's throw was off the mark, and Judge scored easily.

Yankees 2, White Sox 1. WP: Chapman (3-0). No save. LP: Evan Marshall (0-2).

What a game. I felt really charged up, like I'd said, "SHAZAM!" and it worked. This felt like some of those "team of destiny" games from late 1978, all through 1996, and all through 2009.

With the Boston Red Sox also winning last night, 11-3 over the Phillies in an Interleague game in Philadelphia, the Yankees remain a game and a half behind the Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division, 1 back in the all-important loss column.

The series with the White Sox continues this afternoon. Gerrit Cole starts against Dylan Cease.

*

There was some serious action going on last night. The Mets got into a bottom of the 9th jam in Miami, took a 6-3 lead in the 12th, and barely hung on to beat the Marlins 6-5. The Los Angeles Dodgers went to San Francisco and beat the arch-rival Giants 2-1.

The Cincinnati Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4, getting 3 home runs from Jesse Winker. He currently leads the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. 

In a Battle of Texas, the Houston Astros took a 5-3 lead on the Texas Rangers in the top of the 10th, but a home run by Adolis Garcia gave the Rangers a 7-5 win. The Tampa Bay Rays went to Toronto and beat the Blue Jays 9-7 in 12 innings.

The Minnesota Twins went to Cleveland and beat the Indians 10-0. It gets worse. The San Diego Padres beat the Seattle Mariners 16-1. It gets even worse than that. The Atlanta Braves scored 20 runs before the Pittsburgh Pirates finally got 1 in the 9th inning.

And, starting the count from the 1st National Association game on May 4, 1871, 150 years ago this month, José Godoy entered the bottom of the 6th inning of that game in San Diego, as the Mariners' catcher, making him the 20,000th player in Major League Baseball history. A 26-year-old Venezuelan, he grounded to 3rd in the 7th, and drew a walk in the 9th.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Kluber No-Hitter Part of Yankees Messing With Texas

It took 41 games, but, for the 1st time this season, I failed to get a blog entry on a Yankee game done before the next one started. Real life intervened. (Nothing really bad, but time-consuming.)

So I decided to wait until the 4-game series was over. But Corey Kluber and baseball history had other ideas. But, since the next game was the dreaded day game after a night game, I decided to wait anyway.

The Yankees played the Texas Rangers. Because of the COVID-rejiggered schedule last season, the Yankees did not visit the Rangers, who were playing their 1st season in their new retractable-roof, but artificial-turf, stadium, Globe Life Field, built in Arlington, about halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, adjacent to their previous stadium, Globe Life Park, which was built adjacent to their original stadium (1972-93), Arlington Stadium. (This will be on the test.)

Due to the COVID restrictions, Globe Life Field was selected as the controlled-environment neutral-site home for the 2020 World Series, between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays, which the former Brooklyn team won. 

This means that, for the 1st time ever, an American League ballpark hosted a World Series before it hosted a regular-season visit from the Yankees. (Even ballparks that opened in midseason didn't do that: Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1910, Griffith Stadium in Washington in 1911, the SkyDome/Rogers Centre in Toronto in 1989, and Safeco Field/T-Mobile Park in Seattle in 1999.)

The opening game of the series was not good. We expected that it would be, because we had Gerrit Cole starting for us. But he had his worst start of the season, going only 5 innings, and allowing 5 runs. He did, however, set a new major league record, going through 61 strikeouts since he last walked a batter, before walking 2 in this game.

But what difference does it make? The Yankees still lost the game. To a crap team. In a crap stadium. In a crap State. Luke Voit came off the injured list, and hit a home run. But that was pretty much it. To make matters worse, the Rangers' closer is Ian Kennedy, whom the Yankees infamously traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, and 2 years later led the National League in wins.

Rangers 5, Yankees 2. WP: Jordan Lyles (2-3). SV: Kennedy: (11). LP: Cole (5-2).

*

Well, if you can't win the game that Gerrit Cole starts, that's not a good sign. Jameson Taillon started the 2nd game for the Bronx Bombers, and he had nothing, not getting out of the 5th, allowing 4 runs. 

But the bullpen got the job done. Wandy Peralta pitched an inning, and allowed only a walk. Jonathan Loaisiga pitched a perfect inning and 2/3rds. Chad Green pitched a perfect inning.

But you gotta get hits and runs. With 1 out in the top of the 4th, Aaron Judge singled, Gio Urshela doubled him home, Rougned Odor (returning from the Injured List) popped up, Gary Sanchez doubled home Urshela, and Miguel Andujar singled home Sanchez. Ford singled, new acquisition Ryan LaMarre drew a walk, and DJ LeMahieu doubled home Andujar and Ford. The Yankees went from 3-0 down to 5-3 up.

The Yankees got another run in the 6th, and another in the 9th. Aroldis Chapman came in and slammed to door. Yankees 7, Rangers 4. WP: Peralta (3-1). SV: Chapman (10). LP: Mike Foltynewicz (1-4).

*

Game 3 is certain to be the highlight of the regular season. Whether it remains the highlight of the entire season depends on whether the Yankees make the postseason, and do well in it.

Corey Kluber started. From 2016 to 2018, he went 56-20. But injuries limited him to 7 starts in 2019, and one inning in 2020. This was his 9th start of this season already.

The Yankees against struggled to score runs. It was 0-0 after 5. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. It was only fair that Kluber got picked up by his catcher, Kyle Higashioka, who began the top of the 6th with a walk. The much-maligned Tyler Wade hit a triple tht scored Higgy. Then LeMahieu hit a sacrifice fly to score Wade.

It was 2-0 Yankees. In spite of the impending possible historic achievement, pretty much anybody who's supported the Yankees the last few years had to be worried about simply winning the game.

Read ye now the Wednesday night, May 19, 2021 performance of Corey Kluber: 

* Bottom of the 1st inning: Struck out Willie Calhoun. Struck out Nick Solak. Got Nate Lowe to ground to 1st, unassisted.

* 2nd: Struck out Adolis Garcia. Got Joey Gallo to fly to center. Got Krhis Davis to ground to 2nd.

* 3rd: Got Isiah Kiner-Falefa to line out to right field. Walked Charlie Culberson. Struck out Jose Trevino. Got Calhoun to pop up to 2nd.

* 4th: Struck Solak out. Got Lowe to fly to right. Got Garcia to line out to center.

* 5th: Struck out Gallo. Struck out Davis. Got Kiner-Falefa to ground to 3rd.

* 6th: Got Culberson to pop up to 2nd. Got Trevino to fly to right. Got Calhoun to ground to short.

* 7th: Struck out Solak. Struck out Lowe. Got Garcia to ground to short.

* 8th: Got Gallo to ground to 1st, unassisted. Got Davis to ground to 3rd. Got Kiner-Falefa to hit a long fly to right, but it was caught by LaMarr. (Judge was the DH in this game.)

* 9th: Got Culberson to ground to 2nd. David Dahl pinch-hit for Trevino, and hit a long fly to right, but LaMarr caught this one, too. And got Calhoun to ground to short.

Ballgame over. No-hitter over. Corey Kluber writing his name in the book of baseball immortality over. Yankees win. Theeeeeeee Yankees win!

Yankees 2, Rangers 0. WP: Kluber, a lone walk short of a perfect game (4-2). No save. LP: Hyeon-jong Yang (0-1).

It was the 1st Yankee no-hitter since David Cone's perfect game in 1999 -- 22 years. It was the 1st Yankee no-hitter on the road since Allie Reynolds in 1951 -- 70 years. (Reynolds pitched 2 no-hitters that season, the 2nd at home, in the opener of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox, and the Yankees clinched the Pennant in the nightcap.)

*

So that led to yesterday's finale, with Domingo German as the starter. He's been inconsistent so far this season, with both very good starts and very bad starts. Yesterday, he had a very good one: 7 innings, no runs, 6 hits, no walks, 5 strikeouts.

He almost didn't get the win, anyway. The game remained scoreless going into the top of the 7th. Ranger starter John King did not start the inning with one of those walks that can "kill you." But it was just as bad (for him): He hit Odor with a pitch.

Torres grounded out, but that got Odor to 2nd. Sanchez singled, but it wasn't deep enough to score Odor, who had to stop at 3rd. Now, it looked like one of those frustrating #YankeeRISPfail innings.

But Urshela stepped up, and singled Odor home. Andujar struck out. Aaron Boone had given Judge the day off, with Wade starting in right field. But he Boone sent Judge up to pinch-hit for Wade. Judge had never gotten a hit in a pinch-hitting role before. This time, he did, singling Sanchez home, and making it 2-0 Yankees.

Chad Green pitched a perfect 8th. Chapman walked a batter with 1 out in the 9th, but got out of it. Yankees 2, Rangers 0. WP: German (4-2). SV: Chapman (11). LP: King (4-3).

*

So the Yankees' longest roadtrip of the year ended 7-3. They took 2 of 3 in St. Petersburg, 2 of 3 in Baltimore, and 3 of 4 in Arlington, as the Yankees violated the 1st Rule of Dealing With Texas: "Don't Mess With Texas." They did.

We are 46 games into, 28 percent of the way through, the regular season. The Yankees are 25-19, a .568 percentage, and that works out to 92-70 over a full 162 games. As I've previously shown, since the dawn of Divisional Play in 1969, it has taken an average of 93 wins to win the American League Eastern Division, and the Yankees are just short of that pace.

They are a game and a half behind the despised Boston Red Sox, just 1 game in the all-important loss column. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays are also 1 behind in the loss column. The only team in the AL East not currently close is the Baltimore Orioles, 9 games back.

So things are looking up for the Yankees. However, it should be noted that, if you take away the 5-run 4th inning in Game 2, they played 35 innings in this series in Texas, and scored just 8 runs. That's not good. You can't count on great pitching every time.

They return home, to begin a weekend series with the Chicago White Sox, who have the best record in the AL, but are currently in a nasty spot due to the words and actions of their manager, Tony La Russa. I'll have more on that tomorrow, after this series opens.