Is it the weather? Is it New York? Whatever the reason for his struggles, Giancarlo needs to hit the road

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Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
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I have four words for Giancarlo Stanton.

Get out of town!

What else can you say to a guy who looks like he is wearing a blindfold and swinging at an atom?

Have you seen what Stanton has done in Pinstripes? He’s a mess at the plate.

On Sunday, the Yankees new slugger – can we call him slugger if his bat rarely touches the ball? – went 0-for-7 and struck out five times in one game. Five bleepin’ times!

There’s a name for striking out five times in a game: Platinum Sombrero. Yankee fans may have other names for it. Use your imagination.

Sunday’s game wasn’t the first time Stanton has achieved platinum status this season. And look at the calendar, it’s only April 9. He fanned five times during his Yankee Stadium debut less than a week ago. Fans booed him mercifully. He explained it as a bad day at the ballpark. He hit a home run the next day, but guess what: He also struck out three times.

After Sunday’s performance, a game in which his Bronx Bombers jumped out to a 5-0 first inning lead on Baltimore but were unable to hold, Stanton summed up his plate futility as a “bad week.”

After Aaron Judge hit into a double play that all but killed the last-gasp rally, the Yankees could have used one good hit from Stanton is his last plate appearance Sunday. A single would have sufficed. It could have tied the game.

It didn’t happen. Stanton stuck out with runners on first and second in the bottom of the 12th inning with two outs.

Stanton’s whiff ended the game. The Yankees lost 6-5 and ended a dreadful home series in which they lost three of four games to the Orioles, an American League East rival.

Fans booed Stanton, a lot, as he was making his way through a 3-for-28 homestand. Not to keep harping on the Ks, but he struck out 16 times in those seven games.

Criticize Yankees fans for booing all you want, but their angst is justified. Stanton seems to think so.

“They’re not going to cheer for that, so what do you expect? Stanton said after Sunday’s game.

So, what else is there to say but, “Get out of town, Giancarlo.”

It might do you some good.

It might be good to get away from the Bronx and the preseason expectations of hitting as many or more home runs there as Babe Ruth. Flee, for a while, the expectations of leading the Yankees to championship No. 28.

Get away for a week and leave all the expectations that have been thrust upon your shoulders after you became a superstar in Miami, particularly following last year’s performance in which you smacked 59 home runs and drove in 132 runs. And while you’re gone, don’t think a thing about the expectations that come with your contract, the one that will pay you $295 million through 2027.

Just go, man. Get out of here. Go to Boston.

Yeah, I know, it’s not the friendliest city for players dressed in pinstripes. But go find your swing, your happy place, and drive a few balls over the wall, or off the wall or, hell, under the wall if you can. Clear your mind in Boston. Make contact, for Jete’s sake!

Follow it up with a trip to Detroit this weekend, doing the same thing there. Forget about the Bronx. Forget about the Ks thus far in the House That Jeter Built. Faaaagetaboutit! Rip Comerica Park a new one.

Get your mind right for the next homestand. You’ll play 10 games there in Yankee Stadium, beginning April 16 against the Miami Marlins, the team that sent you to the Bronx. Yeah, they did you a favor getting you away from that circus, but you don’t want to thank them. You want to make them wish they had gotten in the trade a few more bags of peanuts for the elephants.

Some say much of Stanton’s struggles can be blamed on the cold weather the Yankees have played through in New York. They say that once temperatures heat up just a little, so will Stanton. They say, having been raised in Southern California and playing the past eight seasons in Miami, he is not used to swinging a bat at curveballs draped in icicles on 40-degree days with snow and rain and fog following him around the ballpark.

That may be true. And, sure, April can be cold in the Bronx, but so can October.

There will be many games between now and the playoffs for Stanton to rid himself of whatever demons are causing his bat to miss inside fastballs… and curveballs… and sliders … and… you get the point.

“The season is much longer than a week,” Stanton said minutes after his fifth K Sunday. “A couple good games and I can turn it around and help us win.”

Good attitude!

So go now, Giancarlo. Go find whatever you lost between Miami and New York. Bring it back to the Bronx and give us, baseball fans, the show we are waiting for. Give us home runs to Monument Park. Give us three-run moon shots that thrust daggers into the hearts of Red Sox Nation in late September.

But leave behind your sombreros, be they gold or platinum.

Do so and the boos will stop. Yankee Stadium crowds will roar. The New York tabloids will stop spelling your name “GianKarlo.” And John Sterling will have five words for you: “Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo!”

And Suzn Waldman will giggle with delight.

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Play ball! But wait…

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You know what would stink?

If I had asked off work Thursday, as I had contemplated, to watch the Nationals’ Opening Day game in Cincinnati. And then to find out the news…

That’s right, Opening Day baseball in Cincinnati has been postponed until Friday because of forecasted inclement weather in the city. That forecast is calling for about a 70 percent chance of rain.

The game has been rescheduled for 4:10 p.m., Friday. Max Scherzer is on the mound for the good guys. Homer Bailey is pitching for the home team.

Fans planning to attend Opening Day festivities in Detroit should keep their eyes and ears open for a possible rescheduled of the Tigers’ game with the Pirates Thursday. Rain is expected – about an 85 percent chance – at the scheduled 1 p.m. start.

UPDATE: Add the Pirates-Tigers game to the list of rained out Opening Days games. The game has been rescheduled for 1:10 p.m. Friday at Comerica Park.

Bomber cyclone

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New York Yankees Twitter

 

As we look ahead to the 2018 MLB season – and wonder why the offseason is moving slower than Justin Smoak – we are reminded that no matter how hard we wish it were spring, winter is just getting into its windup, man. This week’s “bomb cyclone” exploding on the East Coast, including Yankee Stadium as seen above, is our latest evidence.

Yeah, pitchers and catchers report to warmer environs in Florida and Arizona in about six weeks, but we still have a long way to go before Opening Day.

Below are more images from East Coast ballparks that likely will make you wish spring could get here faster than Trea Turner stealing third.

Boston

 

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Red Sox Twitter

 

 

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Red Sox Twitter


Washington

 

 

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Baltimore

 

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Orioles Twitter

 

Philadelphia

 

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Phillies Twitter

 

And one more from the Bronx

 

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Yankees Twitter

 

Who left Joe Vila in out in the cold?

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baseball_mitt_mud-hdr-webWhen I write my long-promised  Top 10 list of World Series weather games, the 1925 championship finale will certainly rank high on the chart.

It had almost all the makings of a fall weather classic: pounding rain, vision-obstructing fog, ballplayers’ mud-caked habiliments and thousands of rain-drenched foul-weather fans, so to speak. ‘You could cut the mirk with a cleaver,” The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., reported on the gloomy mid-October afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Game 7 also had a fire on the field, a blaze intentionally set by Forbes Field groundskeeper Jack Fogarty in an attempt to dry the uliginous infield. There’s no report, however, of fans roasting marshmallows.

This nutty game, in which the Pirates bested the Senators 9-7, also produced one irritated journalist.

Among the many World Series recap stories The Sporting News published in its Oct. 22 issue, Joe Vila held no punches in expressing his displeasure over the treatment of writers at the ballpark.

“I do not know who was directly responsible for the press accommodations at Forbes Field, but it’s enough to say that they were outrageous,” wrote Vila, who covered baseball for three decades.

“The press box, instead of being located in the grand stand, under cover, was arranged on the ground in front of the ordinary backstop. Reporters and telegraph operators, who had no redress, worked on Tuesday and Thursday in the mud and rain. They had no protection from the storm and were drenched to the skin.

From Vila’s writing, it’s as clear as mud to determine whether he was actually dodging raindrops and slogging through mud at Forbes Field or if he simply was piping up for those writers who were covering the game.

Under the sub-headline of “Press Handled Like Bleacherites,” Vila continued his salty assault, writing, “If the Pittsburgh Club had entertained the proper respect for the newspapers which spent many thousands of dollars to spread to spread the details of the World Series all over the United States and other parts of the civilized world, such uncomfortable conditions under which the writers and keymen tolled would not have existed.”

Digging through various other newspapers has not revealed, so far, any other scribes complaining about improper working conditions at the ballpark.

Ralph Davis wrote in the Pittsburgh Press that he “leaped” from his seat in the “press box at Forbes Field” at the end of the game, not because his pants were soaked, but from the sight of “Old Rube” Oldham firing the third strike past the Senators’ Goose Goslin, who was “standing there flatfooted, for the final out of the game of the world’s baseball series.”

E5… Blame the groundskeeper

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The Sporting News photo of Jack Fogarty caring for the Forbes Field infield in 1938.

If you scroll through enough baseball newspapers articles from the early 1900s, you’ll inevitably stumble upon an anecdote or two claiming a rogue infield pebble got in the way of a bouncing routine ground ball, causing the ball to take an unexpected hop past a fielder and cost the fielding team a run or two, or maybe even a game.

Heck, Game 7 of the 1924 World Series turned in favor of the Washington Senators when Bucky Harris hit a grounder toward third in the bottom of the eighth that ricocheted off a small rock and squirted past New York Giants’ third baseman Freddie Lindstrom, allowing two Senators to score and tie the game at 3-3. Washington eventually won the series in extra innings.

I’m not sure if Lindstrom took issue with the Griffith Stadium grounds crew, but in a series of profile stories about the profession, Pirates head groundskeeper Jack Fogarty told The Sporting News in 1938 that players, even Hall of Famers, would occasionally blame their miscues on infield pebbles left behind by him and other grounds crew members.

“…Once in a while a player tries to use me for an alibi,” Fogarty said.

“Old Honus Wagner did that once in his active playing days. He used to carry around a bunch of pebbles in his uniform pocket, and if he booted or fumbled, he’d come in and toss one of those pebbles at me, as if to let everybody know I left a stone out there big enough to deflect the course of a roller.

“Other players have tried that trick, too, but it doesn’t get them anywhere. If there’s ever been a pebble half as big as a marble on the skinned part of that infield, I’ve never found it.”

Fogarty became Pittsburgh’s head groundskeeper in 1919 and was known to sometimes douse the Forbes Field infield with gasoline and set it ablaze in an attempt to dry the playing surface after a lengthy rain. Days after his death in 1995, the Pittsburgh Press described Fogarty as a man “who devoted his lifetime to the tender care of the grass at Forbes Field and a man who took great pride in his work.”

If a player complained about the smoothness of the infield, “the next morning Fogarty went to work to smooth out the rough spot that caused the player to make his complaint and he wasn’t satisfied until the player approved,” the Press reported.

“Fogarty winced when he read that a ball took a bad hop over a player’s shoulder because he felt like this was a reflection on his ability, although it never was written with that in mind. But John Fogarty was a deeply sensitive and was highly regarded in his field.”

Feeling a bit cooler today

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What a difference a week makes.

Tonight, when the Dodgers and Astros run on to the field for Game 6 of the World Series, temperatures at the ballpark are expected to be around 67 degrees and stay in the high to mid-60s throughout the game, even if the contest flows deep into the night as Game 5 did in Houston two nights ago.

That’s a 36-degree difference from the series opener Oct. 24, when first pitch temps rose to 103 on the thermometer, establishing a new record for the warmest game in the history of the Fall Classic.

Will the temperature change make a difference in the action on the field? Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner thinks so.

“I will say that you might see a little bit different game here tomorrow night, a little bit different weather,” Turner said Monday. “It’s going to be a lot cooler here than it was for the first two games, and it might be a different ballgame than you’ve seen in the first five games.”

Houston leads the series, 3-2, and can clinch its first World Series title with a win tonight. Justin Verlander starts for the ‘Stros, while Rich Hill takes the mound for L.A.

If the Dodgers win tonight and force a Game 7 Wednesday night in their ballpark, you can expect more of the same weather-wise.

Fahrenheit 103

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There’s not much time for writing The Rainout Blog these days – maybe soon – but I did want to make a quick post to 1) Note how hot it was in Los Angeles for Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night, and 2) Bump the previous post from the top spot. No one wants to see a black and white photo from the 1918 at the top of the blog, right?

The game-time temperature was 103 degrees when Clayton Kershaw threw the Fall Classic’s first pitch at about 5:08 p.m. L.A. time, and it’s going to be toasty again tonight for Game 2. I wish I had more time to write about Kershaw’s thoughts on pitching in such extreme temps or that Justin Turner thinks his game-deciding homer would not have left the park on a cooler evening. Maybe I’ll get to all of that at a later time.

Enjoy the Series everyone. I’m hoping it goes seven games, but I’m picking the Dodgers in 6.