All posts by Stanzo

No longer banned from TopGolf. Rutgers student, avid Yankees fan, 2-time Intramural Basketball champion. I tell terrible jokes 95% of the time, the other 5% are probably above average

If You Had to Pick One Player In Your Rival Team’s History To Play For Your Team, Who Would It Be?

I just saw this question on Twitter, and it really got me thinking. You spend so much time rooting against the players on your rival teams that you never really consider, what if they were playing for my team instead? As a die-hard Yankee fan, my most hated rival team is clearly the Red Sox. I saw another Yankee fan answer this with Pedro Martinez, or perhaps Mookie Betts. For me, the answer is clear. I would have wanted David Ortiz on my team 100%.

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As a Yankee fan, I absolutely hate the guy. There has never been a bigger Yankee killer than David Ortiz. The Red Sox’ 2004 ALCS comeback doesn’t even start without his heroics in Games 4 and 5. So as much as I hate him for that, as well as the fact that everyone lets him off the hook for being named in the Mitchell Report, the guy was a damn good hitter. In my mind, he’s the most clutch hitter of all-time, or at the very least of my generation. If you don’t think he could’ve helped the Yankees win more than just the one title they won during his career (2009), you’re insane.

 

As for my other teams’ rivals, here are my “Honorable Mention” picks behind Ortiz:

Giants: Sean Taylor (Redskins); absolute savage, Rest in Peace.

Knicks: Kevin Garnett (Celtics); I guess they were kind of rivals for that like season and a half stretch where the Knicks were pretty good?

Rangers: Martin Brodeur (Devils); Why wouldn’t you want the best goalie of all time on your team?

UNC Basketball: Zion Williamson (Duke); I don’t care if he’s only played two games, watch this kid play for 30 seconds and you’ll understand why I picked him.

Rutgers Football: Our only rival is our coaching staff’s ability to recruit.

What about you? If you could have picked a rival player to put on your team’s jersey, who would it be?

Creed 2 Comes Out in a Week

I was always a big fan of the Rocky movies, and Creed just took everything about the Rocky movies and made it 100 times better. Michael B. Jordan is the best lead actor the series has ever seen (no offense to Sylvester Stallone), Stallone himself puts in his best performance in Creed, and modern technology made the fight scenes much better than in the older movies. All that being said, Rocky IV is also one of my favorite movies of all time. I mean, Rocky going to Soviet Russia on Christmas Day, in the middle of the Cold War, to fight a roided-up Soviet Ivan Drago, who he watched kill his close friend Apollo Creed in the ring? What kind of storyline could match that? How about Apollo’s son Adonis fighting Drago’s son? Well, that’s exactly what we get with Creed 2.

Throw in the fact that Adonis’ girlfriend, Bianca’s hearing is still deteriorating, and the two now have a child together, there is so much more on the line in this movie than the original. The original is already my favorite movie! Creed exceeded my expectations in every single way. I’ve never been more excited for a movie, next week can’t come soon enough.

 

They Might Not Win, But Let’s Appreciate the Yankees’ ROY Candidates

Major League Baseball will announce both their American and National League Rookie of the Year award winners tonight. In the National League, the finalists are the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr., the Nationals’ Juan Soto, and the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler. That is believed by many to be a two-man race between Soto and Acuna Jr. I have Acuna Jr. winning, but you can easily make a case for either of the two.

The American League finalists include two Yankees in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, as well as the Angels’ two-way star Shohei Ohtani. As much as I love the two Yanks, and think they’re both deserving (Andujar especially), I really believe Ohtani will win this award. I don’t like the guy, and I think it’s somewhat silly to go crazy over his pitching stats when he made only ten starts. But, there are a few reasons I think he’ll edge out both Miggy and Gleyber to win.

  1. His sample sizes are smaller, but when he did play he was exceptional, especially for the first pitcher/hitter since Babe Ruth
  2. There is a lot of anti-Yankee bias in the media when it comes to award voting, and they’ve had ROY candidates get snubbed before (Gary Sanchez in 2016, Robbie Cano in 2005.)
  3. Andujar and Torres will take votes away from each other

So yeah, I think Ohtani will be the Rookie of the Year. But this post isn’t about him, it’s for the two Baby Bombers. I’ll start with Torres.

As the main return in the Aroldis Chapman deal, there was a lot of hype surrounding Gleyber before he came up. There were talks that he could be an All-Star caliber player for years to come. He has certainly lived up to the hype thus far, earning his first All-Star nod in his rookie season. To me, the most impressive thing about him is that no moment seemed too big. Gleyber played with the confidence of a seasoned veteran, not a 21-year old rookie. He immediately made an impact, coming up clutch numerous times.

Just two weeks after being called up, he delivered a game-tying two-run single in the 9th inning at the defending-champion Astros in a game the Yankees would ultimately win.

 

He had a walk-off single against the Astros at home later that month

And who could forget his three-run walk-off homer to sweep the Indians at home?

Not only did Torres provide a flair for the dramatic, his power numbers were better than anticipated too. He blasted 24 homers this year after never hitting more than 14 in a season in the minors. He even launched five in four games at one point.

I love Gleyber, and everything he did. Red Sox series aside, you couldn’t have asked for a better rookie season from the kid. That being said, Miguel Andujar deserves the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year award.

Andujar was not only one of baseball’s best rookies, he was one of its best hitters down the stretch. He was the Yankees’ most consistent hitter all year long, and arguably their MVP. His .297 average led the team, his 27 homers put him in a three-way tie with Judge, Hicks, and Didi for second on the team, and his 92 RBI trailed only Stanton. The Yankees won 100 games this year; I don’t think that’s remotely possible without the production they got from Miguel Andujar.

Andujar was a consistent, doubles machine, and just seems like a guy who plays the game hard and has fun doing it. How could you not love him? I know his defense at third was bad, and even horrible at times. But hopefully he can work on that, because his bat is too valuable to have to take out of the lineup for defense late in close games.

Andujar’s name has also come up a lot in trade rumors, especially in potential deals for Indians’ ace Corey Kluber. The rationale behind that would be to trade Andujar, and then sign Manny Machado to take his place at third. While Kluber and Machado are two franchise-altering players, it would be tough to part ways with Andujar. His rookie season was so promising, and you have to think that as he continues to grow stronger, some more of those doubles will turn into homers. We’ll see what happens, but regardless I’m ecstatic that Andujar is part of this baseball team.

Ohtani will probably win it, but boy am I glad we have these two Baby Bombers. Hopefully Gleyber and Miggy are wearing Pinstripes for a long time. (It would be such a Stanzo thing for one of them to get traded like a day after I post this.)

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Put Some Respeck on Thanksgiving’s Name

When you think of October, November, December, not only do you think “last three months of the year,” but three major holidays come to mind: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. October is Halloween season, filled with haunted hayrides, carving pumpkins, and girls spending weeks obsessing over their costume only to dress as a cat for the 7th consecutive year (I’m like soooooo upset with my costume but whatever it’s fine I’m fine.)  However, once the calendar strikes November 1st, many people commit an absolutely heinous crime; they skip straight to Christmas season.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. But Thanksgiving is a top-3, maybe even top-2, holiday in its own right. To completely ignore the fact that it’s coming up just because Christmas is now about six weeks away is blasphemous.

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Thanksgiving is really early this year, November 22nd to be exact. You’re telling me we can’t give it three weeks of our attention when we just gave Halloween a month, and are about to give Christmas a month as well? Can we hold off on the Christmas music until Black Friday at least? After that, by all means play Mariah Carey nonstop because All I Want For Christmas Is You is and always will be a certified banger (never forget that Derek Jeter grew up with a Mariah Carey poster on his wall, only to eventually date her and then break up with her. Absolute GOAT.)

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But 2 full months of Christmas music? That’s just too much. Also, how about we show Turkey Day some love? It’s the holiday that encompasses everything that is good about the world: family, good food, NFL Football, and giving thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives. Is it Christmas? No, and it probably never will be. Nothing will ever compare to the feeling of being a little kid on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning. But Thanksgiving is basically just a giant loaf with your family while enjoying amazing food. It deserves some love.

Can there be a “Thanksgiving season?” Honestly, not too sure. I don’t think anyone really decorates for it, there’s no songs about it (to my knowledge), and what Thanksgiving movies are there besides A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving?  (Side note: that movie is low-key racist, they stuck my boy Franklin on his own side of the table at dinner with a freaking beach chair. It’s 2018, clean it up guys.)

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So no, I’m not saying there should be a “Thanksgiving season,” there’s really no way of doing that. But can we just hold off on Christmas season until Black Friday? Thanksgiving is way too good of a holiday to constantly be disrespected by Christmas season starting earlier and earlier every year.

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All I’m saying is, next time you get the urge to break out the Christmas decorations or play the Michael Buble Christmas album before you’ve even gotten your turkey yet, don’t do it. In the words of Birdman, put some respeck on Thanksgiving’s name.

Watching the Red Sox Win the World Series Is Not What You Want

I know Game 1 is tonight. The series hasn’t even started yet. But if you don’t think there is a more than solid chance the Red Sox are going to win this series, you haven’t been watching. As a Yankee fan, after we won ALDS Game 2 at Fenway, I thought the series was ours. Coming home to Yankee Stadium with the series tied, Luis Severino on the mound? Sounded great. What happened after that? The Sox dropped a bomb on us, winning 16-1 before pulling out a 4-3 victory the next night to eliminate us on our own home turf. For those keeping score at home, that’s 20-4 in two games. On the road. At Yankee Stadium.

I was obviously (and still am) extremely upset with that result, but I remained hopeful that the defending-champion Astros would take the Red Sox down. After the Astros won Game 1, the Sox went on to win the next four (including three on the road) to dethrone the defending champs. All year, the Astros honestly scared me more than the Red Sox did. Maybe I was biased by my hate for the Sox, and fear of the Astros after the Yankees were eliminated by them in last year’s ALCS. I can admit that. But the fact of the matter is the Astros are a really good baseball team, and this Red Sox team disposed of them in 5 games.

Does every fiber in my body want to believe that the Dodgers can win this series, and prevent the Red Sox from winning another World Series? Of course I do. And the narrative doesn’t sound too bad when you start to put it together. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher of our generation, Manny Machado is a bona-fide stud whose bad history with the Sox could propel him to greatness, the Dodgers’ bullpen is better. On paper, this could be a great series. But I think I’m regrettably coming to the most horrifying realization a Yankee fan can: It’s just the Red Sox year.

I know what you’re thinking. “Stanzo, they won 108 games and just steamrolled the Yankees and Astros, no shit it’s their year.” That’s not what I’m saying. Regular season wins don’t necessarily mean shit; in 2001, the 116-win Seattle Mariners failed to even reach the World Series. This is the Red Sox year because all the unlikely, even somewhat “magical” things are happening for them to win games. Not trying to discount this team or their talent, because believe me, I’ve watched them enough times this year to know that they are legit. But it takes a little bit of magic to win a championship.

Christian Vazquez hit .207 with 3 home runs this year. The guy had a negative WAR. What’d he do in the deciding ALDS Game 4 against the Yankees? He hit a two-run home run.

Jackie Bradley, jr. is the Red Sox’ 9 hitter, a .238 career batter in the lineup for his defense. He was the ALCS MVP, blasting two huge home runs (including a grand slam) and driving in 9 in the series.

Nathan Eovaldi has gotten Tommy John surgery twice, missed all of 2017, and has a career ERA over 4. He’s been nothing short of brilliant in the playoffs, tossing 7 innings of one-run ball against the Yankees in ALDS Game 3 and 6 innings giving up two against the Astros in ALCS Game 3.

And on top of those guys’ performances, don’t even get me started on this catch.

My reasoning behind pointing out these facts isn’t to discount the efforts of the Red Sox’ stars. It’s just to show that this is their year. Everything is going right for them. They’re the superior team. It absolutely pains me to say it, but they’re going to win this series and it’s not going to be close. I think they win it in five games, clinching the championship in Los Angeles.

It’s going to be awful for us Yankee fans to watch, and will only make this offseason harder. But I have to make peace with it at some point, it might as well be now. At least I have the Giants and Knicks to watch…

 

shit.

 

 

 

How the Yankees Should Approach This Offseason

This is the worst time of the year. The Yankees’ season is over, and other teams are still playing baseball. It’s exponentially worse when one of those teams is the Boston Red Sox, who eliminated you by outscoring you 20-4 in two consecutive nights at Yankee Stadium. I was at Game 3, still not even close to over it. Regardless, aside from rooting hard for the Astros this week (which hurts bad enough after last year’s ALCS, but anything to keep the Sox out of the World Series), us Yankee fans have already started to look towards 2019. No, I’m not suggesting we have a classic old-school Yankees offseason and throw money at everyone. I actually saw a guy on Twitter who suggested we sign both Harper AND Machado, while also trading for Paul Goldschmidt. Unfortunately, this isn’t MLB 2K, this is real life. And while many are discussing the possibility one of those two star free agents ends up in the Bronx next season, there are much more pressing issues with the Yankees than adding another power hitter to the lineup. Here are the main issues Brian Cashman & Company are going have to address this offseason to ensure that the Yankees are still playing baseball at this time next year.

  1. Starting Pitching

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Current Situation: You’ve heard Yankee haters say it all year, and while I honestly didn’t think our rotation was too bad, they did nothing to silence their critics in the postseason this year. Luis Severino was a Cy Young candidate in the first half and awful for most of the second half, followed by an underwhelming start in the Wild Card game and a dreadful start in ALDS Game 3. Regardless, Sevy will be back next year, and will be called upon to perform as this team’s ace. Maybe they need to work in some extra rest for him during the year so he isn’t burned out later in the season? Who knows. Behind him, Masahiro Tanaka had somewhat of an opposite season. Underwhelming first half, strong second half, and a great performance in ALDS Game 2. Those two are locked into the 2019 rotation, but beyond that is a question mark. I would think Jordan Montgomery would be given the opportunity to start at some point after a strong 2017 rookie season and great start to 2018, but he had Tommy John surgery in June after leaving a start against the Astros in May. I doubt he would be back for the start of 2019. Will CC Sabathia come back again? He was still effective at times, and really showed his age at others, especially late in the season. I would love for JA Happ to come back, as aside from his disappointing ALDS Game 1 start, he was great for the Yanks after they acquired him at the deadline. Oh, and Sonny Gray is still technically around, but Cashman has already more or less said he will be traded this offseason.

Offseason Plan of Action: Sign Arizona’s Patrick Corbin. He’s been tied to the Yanks for months, growing up a Yankee fan. Plain and simple, he’s the best starting pitcher on the market, and a damn good one at that. Corbin went 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 200 innings in 2018. He would immediately be expected to anchor the rotation along with Sevy and Tanaka. Step 2 in my opinion should be re-sign Happ, at the right price. He’s shown the ability to pitch in the AL East, and was great down the stretch for the Yanks. To fill out the rotation, do they sign a low-risk high-reward veteran like a Garrett Richards or Tyson Ross? Or try and have a youngster like Justus Sheffield or Chance Adams win a spot? I think they do both. You can absolutely NEVER have enough starting pitching. If that isn’t Cashman’s #1 priority this offseason, he’s doing something wrong.

2. Left Field

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Current Situation: After being acquired in August, Andrew McCutchen effectively replaced Brett Gardner completely in the starting lineup. Gardy was having a dreadful second half, and McCutchen was definitely a spark for the Yanks down the stretch. Ideally, Clint Frazier would take over this role, but his 2018 was riddled by concussions.

Offseason Plan of Action: I love Gardy, but not at $11 million next year. If he’s willing to take a pay cut, great. If not, I wouldn’t mind the Yanks cutting ties with him. If McCutchen would come back at the right price, I would love him back too. Like I said, I would absolutely love for Clint Frazier to be in here. His bat, speed, and hustle would be fantastic at the top of our lineup. But concussions are no joke. Look for the Yankees to have a veteran in this role, either Gardy, Cutch or someone else, in case Frazier isn’t 100% for 2019.

3. BullpenImage result for david robertson yankees

Current Situation:

You know Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, and Jonathan Holder will return to anchor the bullpen in 2019. I could definitely see young lefty Stephen Tarpley joining them as well. The main question? What to do with David Robertson and Zach Britton.

Offseason Plan of Action:

I thought Britton did a great job for us for the most part after acquiring him. That being said, I’m not sure I want to pay him the money he’s going to want, especially with Chapman’s contract and his injury history. I think Robertson makes more sense because he’s three years older and kind of a career Yankee, so he will likely come cheaper. However, a la Happ and McCutchen, I would love to see Britton back at the right price. Also, kind of a hot take, but can we move Luis Cessa to the bullpen please? He’s actually got some pretty good stuff. Good enough that for the first 1-2 innings of every start, he makes you go “wow he actually looks good,” only to get absolutely lit up the second time through the lineup and remember he’s actually trash. Make him a middle reliever with the ability to be a long guy in mop-up duties. Will it work? Who knows, but it can’t be worse than him getting called up a few times a year to lose us every game he starts.

4. Didi’s InjuryImage result for gleyber torres

Current Situation: The Yankees’ middle infield when healthy is a strength. Didi Gregorius is a great player (GREAT, not good), and despite a disappointing postseason, Gleyber Torres will be a star in this league. However, Didi is having Tommy John surgery, and will likely be out until at least the All-Star break. So now what?

Offseason Plan of Action: The easy answer is sign Machado, have him play short, and slide him over to third when Didi comes back. Not sure if I’m sold on dishing out another $400 million for Machado, especially when Miguel Andujar is a certified stud at third. Sure, Andujar could potentially learn first base or outfield, but a lot would have to go right for that plan to work. Here’s a more realistic plan: bring back Neil Walker, have him play second base every day, and slide Gleyber to short. Walker proved that when he gets consistent at-bats, as he did in the second half, he’s a solid every day player. He just can’t play once a week and be effective because he’s never done that. Gleyber is a great shortstop, as that’s his natural position. He’s no Didi, but he’s certainly not the worst replacement. Walker will be cheap, and when he comes back he can go back to his utility role getting time at first and third base in addition to spelling Gleyber and Didi when they need days off.

5. First BaseImage result for paul goldschmidt

Current Situation: I love Luke Voit. Guy was great for us down the stretch. Not good, great. But how long will that last? I’m not ready to hand him the job yet. Besides, another boom-or-bust righty power hitter in this lineup isn’t great. We’re too righty-heavy and too strikeout-heavy. That came back to bite us in the playoffs. Greg Bird could still come back and win it in spr… just kidding can’t even get through that one. My Bird-defending days are over. So where do the Yanks turn?

Offseason Plan of Action: Obviously the easy choice is do nothing, and hope either Voit continues to mash, or Bird maybe somehow taps into some alternate universe where he’s even half the player we once thought he could be. Can I have fun for a second and think about these two ideas?

  1. Sign Machado, move Andujar to first: I mean, that lineup would be insane. Miggy’s glove at third was never the issue, it’s his throws. If he could learn first base, man that infield would be insane.
  2. Trade for Paul Goldschmidt: I don’t know what it would take, or if the D-Backs would even move him, but Goldschmidt has quietly been one of the best players in baseball the past five years. After his $14.5 million team option in 2019, he will be a free agent. Maybe the Yankees can pry him loose? A 3x Gold Glove, 6x All-Star, .297 career-hitting first baseman does not sound too shabby to me.

Summary

In short, there are moves to be made this winter. If I had to pick what I want the 2019 Yankees’ Opening Day lineup to look like, while still being realistic, here’s the final product:

Lineup

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Aaron Judge RF
  3. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
  4. Giancarlo Stanton DH
  5. Aaron Hicks CF
  6. Gary Sanchez C
  7. Miguel Andujar 3B
  8. Gleyber Torres SS
  9. Neil Walker 2B

(with Didi returning to play short when healthy and Gleyber moving back to second)

Rotation

  1. Luis Severino
  2. Patrick Corbin
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. JA Happ
  5. Justus Sheffield/Chance Adams

Bullpen: Luis Cessa, Stephen Tarpley, Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman

Bench: Austin Romine, Luke Voit/Greg Bird (if not traded for Goldschmidt), Ronald Torreyes, Clint Frazier

 

Will this be the outcome? Maybe not even close, but what the hell do I know?

In terms of the 2018 Yankees, it just sucks. Sucks having that high of expectations, to essentially shit the bed all year, still win 100 games, get the split you needed at Fenway, and be embarrassed by your rivals on your home field to be eliminated. No 27 rings arguments, no excuses. They were the better team this year, or at least they sure did play like they were. For now, Go Astros, and then we’ll see what this offseason brings us.

P.S. Shoutout to my wonderful girlfriend for putting up with me losing my mind during this year’s postseason, my superstitions are beyond real when it comes to Yankees baseball.

100 Wins Ain’t Bad, Now the Real Season Starts

I know the Wild Card game wasn’t what we had hoped for, or even expected, coming into 2018. After coming within one win of the World Series and adding Giancarlo Stanton, nearly everyone picked the Yankees to win the AL East. But they didn’t. The Red Sox were the better team this year, hands-down. The Sox only won the season series by a game at 10-9, but the main thing they did was take care of business against the bad teams, namely the Baltimore Orioles. Throw in the dagger that was the four-game sweep at Fenway in early August, and the Red Sox are your AL East champs.

But all things considered, this Yankee team overcame a lot to reach 100 wins, besting last year’s total of 91 by nine. Their best player, Aaron Judge, missed nearly two months with a broken wrist. Gary Sanchez followed up his stellar first two seasons in the bigs with one of the most disappointing seasons for an athlete I have ever seen, batting just .186. Stanton went through huge slumps, hearing boos from the Bronx crowd during his first homestand in Pinstripes. Didi Gregorius missed a month with injury, and had a dreadful month of May. Luis Severino had an underwhelming second half. Aroldis Chapman missed time with injury. Jordan Montgomery was out for the year. Sonny Gray pitched his way out of the rotation. We started two rookies in the infield. Greg Bird forgot how to hit a baseball. Brett Gardner finally showed his age. And yet, this team still won 100 games.

Miguel Andujar emerged as not only baseball’s best rookie, but one of the best hitters in the game in the second half. Gleyber Torres showed he could be a star in this league for years to come. Luke Voit burst onto the scene to become a fixture in this lineup. Stanton carried us for periods of time. J.A. Happ pitched better than we could ever ask for after being acquired at the trade deadline. Neil Walker was the best hitter on the team for a short stretch. Masahiro Tanaka pitched like the ace we know he can be down the stretch. Didi Gregorius had another career year. Aaron Hicks continues to quietly become one of the best outfielders in the league. And maybe, just maybe, this team is finally healthy together for the first time all year.

Am I trying to say this team is a success because they won 100 games even with a lot of injuries and underperformance? Absolutely not. But they have shown the ability to overcome adversity for sure. Finishing eight games behind the Red Sox is not a success. But even if we were the ones finishing with 108 wins and the AL East crown, that is not a success either. Ever since the Yankees were eliminated last year, it was clear the 2018 Yanks are World Series or bust. Anything short of a parade down the Canyon of Heroes, and the season is a failure.

Not winning the division and having to play yet another Wild Card game is a huge obstacle on the way to that goal. In just one night, a season’s worth of work can come to an end. But anything is possible. No one thought we would beat the Indians last year. We gave away Game 2 to fall behind 2-0, and still won the series. We looked lifeless in Houston, only to win three in the Bronx and then come up just short. All I’m saying is, anything can happen in October. This train is still rolling, and you better believe anything short of a title is a failure. Let’s go Yanks baby.