For those who spent nearly seven months watching Yankees and Mets games, this is a glorious time of year, when both teams try to come to grips — try — with what ailed them, specifically those failings viewers couldn’t miss starting in spring training.
In the cases of Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez — both now presumably ex-Yankees as Frazier has been released and GM Brian Cashman is looking for an upgrade behind the plate — both suffered from clear and near-fatal Yankees Disease, the active belief that every swing, even on low and outside two-strike pitches, should produce home runs.
Sanchez became Exhibit A of a franchise stuck deeply in denial, as season after season everyone within YES telecast earshot, from Aaron Boone to Michael Kay, noticed his weekly improvements as both a catcher and a .200 batter who returned to the dugout after striking out at the same desultory pace he chased passed balls.
The reason we, watching at home, didn’t recognize such improvements, is because we didn’t see any, though Sanchez’s exit velocity on foul balls became reason to rejoice.
As a catcher, if Sanchez improved, he did not yet attain the status of minimally reasonable facsimile. He persistently diminished the pocket of his glove trying to backhand pitches he should’ve moved to block or catch with an opened mitt.
Frazier had the misfortune of hitting a few home runs upon entering the majors, thus likely was smitten by the notion that he is a slugger, minimizing his talents for reaching first base in favor of shaking hands with both the first- and third-base coaches while jogging home.
If the Yanks tried to school him off such a foolish notion, it didn’t take. Old-school analytics show that as a Yankee he struck out 235 times in 942 at-bats, 25 percent of the time, 36 percent last season when he batted .186. He must’ve thought he was Giancarlo Stanton. Or Gary Sanchez.
But what afflicted the Yanks curses baseball. Everyone knows baseball has made very bad turns toward self-destruction, yet no one’s doing anything about it.
So Thanksgiving becomes the perfect time to gather with friends and family to enjoy the sight and sounds of the season — especially no one hitting into the shift.
All Thor a good cause
Let’s hear it for Noah Syndergaard for bringing Mike Francesa out of his latest retirement. (Sitting Bull never did return the ice cream maker I gave him at his first retirement party).
Ohio State-Michigan on Saturday brings to comical recall one of his extraordinary, all-knowing, dead-wrong expert touts: Michigan over OSU in 2018. Michigan’s defense, he puffed, is so good OSU would be lucky not to be shut out.
Michigan lost, 62-39 — the most points it ever allowed.
For better of worse, a lot of people paid a lot of money to see LeBron James play in the Garden on Tuesday. I’m told the cheapest ticket in the secondary market was $200 to watch from just beneath the ozone layer. But James didn’t play as he was suspended.
Thus, reader Charles Fowler has an idea: All short-term suspensions — James’ was for one game — should be served only during the player’s or players’ home games.
After all, the NBA, acutely aware of business, threatens fines for teams that rest star players during national telecasts. Lakers-Knicks, Tuesday, was on TNT.
What We’re Told Vs. What We See: Weekly, those calling Jets games on TV tell us LB C.J. Mosley is extra special, sensational. Weekly, however, there’s scant visual proof.
We see him easily blocked. We see him miss tackles. We see him among the last to recognize the play, often when that play is well past him. But what do we know?
The graphic, as seen during Dolphins-Jets on CBS on Sunday, referenced Bears QB Justin Fields in Chicago’s game against the Ravens: “J. Fields: Out For Game, Ribs.”
“Don’t you think this a little unprofessional?” asks reader Sam Agami. “I gotta think Fields could’ve waited until after the game to get some BBQ.”
More graphics: ESPN’s Saturday football studio show posted the “news” that Pitt has an “83 percent” chance to beat Virginia, while Virginia has a “17 percent” chance to beat Pitt. Pencils … down!
Burn baby burn … a timeout
Years ago a football announcer, and I forgot who it was, noticed that a team had just been forced to call a timeout because of confusion. Thus, he said, the head coach was forced to “burn a timeout.” Good description, as the timeout was wasteful.
But for no known sensible reason virtually all timeouts taken are now referred to as “burns.” You don’t “use” or “call” a timeout, you only burn them.
Saturday, just before the half against Penn State, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano called a strategic timeout. BTN’s Cory Provus said he “burned a timeout.”
The next day, with the Dolphins driving against the Jets, 13 seconds left in the half, Miami called a timeout as a matter of common sense. Still, CBS’s Adam Archuleta said Miami had “to burn a timeout” — as if Miami might otherwise have saved it.
Stories that once seemed so impossible and horrifying that they’d make huge news are now given minimal attention or just ignored.
Imagine having been laid off by Fox as a cost-cutting measure then watching halftime of Fox’s college football telecasts to see no fewer than five guys shipped to the site of the game to each speak a sentence of no importance.
Oregon-Utah, Saturday on ABC, identified Utah as the team in its traditional red. But neither team wore even a stitch of red.
Every time ESPN presented a crowd shot from Giants-Bucs on Monday night, it was of a “fan” who appeared to have escaped a facility for the criminally insane. The repetitive message: Attending NFL games is both expensive and risky.
Apparently, advertisers think of Serena Williams as so beloved by the American public she can successfully endorse everything and anything. Yet, I don’t find that to be the case, quite the contrary.
Reader Todd Ailts suggests that the fan who vomited on the court during Jazz-Kings on Saturday was just doing his part to curtail court-storming. The incident also created the unique: Both teams hustled back on defense at the same time.
More Genuine Pigskin Gibberish: Fox’s Greg Olsen, Sunday, after Packers’ RB AJ Dillon caught a pass: “He is a phenomenal catcher of the football.” Then Olsen must be a phenomenal thrower of the baloney.
ESPN’s Booger McFarland at halftime of Monday’s Giants-Bucs: “There is not a team in the NFL more left tackle-dependent than the Dallas Cowboys.”
Given that Dallas QB Dak Prescott is more mobile than most, I wish McFarland explained why Dallas’ left tackle is more essential than, say, the LT of any “pocket-dependent” QB.
And while it’s probably none of my business, but if someone’s tackled in the open field — now also known as “in space” — how open is the field? Only Michael Strahan will be eligible to be tackled in space.