EJ, Scott and Derek talk about the best moments in the 2017 Yankee season.
STARTING AT THE END
In my world It's About The Money has always been one of the few must-read Yankees blogs. In fact, it has always been one of the Big-Two Yankees Blogs as far as I am concerned. Many of the blogs I used to follow religiously have long since gone, but It's About The Money and River Ave Blues have stood the test of time. One can only imagine my absolute joy and elation when EJ Fagan welcomed me to the staff of writers and podcasters last year. I truly felt that I hit the big time. And I did. In many ways, this has been the fulfillment of most of a lifelong dream. (Now, if John Sterling lets me into the booth with him next year, I will have met all my lifelong dreams...)
There is very real personal sadness inside of me knowing that It's About The Money is shutting down. I would have never, in a million years have thought that I would be the one to carry on the legacy of this outstanding blog. But life sometimes happens when no one is watching and rather than let the blog just go away, I offered to give it new life.
THE NEW BEGINNING
While the blog will no longer be titled It's About The Money, the content and many of the writers will carry on the fine traditions of this site. I have a sincere and personal desire to keep this blog going and to maintain the high standards that have already been established.
In short, It's About The Money will be re-branded as NYY Report with the tag line "Start Spreading the News." Our web address will be www.nyyreport.com. But, until all the technological machinations are complete, we will continue to post here. We will provide our loyal readers with plenty of notice before we switch to the new domain.
Many of our writers will be staying with us and will be writing for the new page. You can expect the same high quality writing, analysis, predictions, and such. We will write from the heart and with passion, as always, even if we are not always correct in all our assessments.
The It's About The Money archives will also travel with us to the new domain. All of the great work of the past will still be there. It will just be in a new home.
NEW WRITERS / HELP WANTED
I will be bringing a few new writers into the fold. You will get to know them as well as you know us. I'm sure you will enjoy each of them. I promise that their posts will add to the enjoyment of the blog and the way each reader follows the Yankees.
Soon, I will be holding "open auditions" for other writers who would also like to join our team. Once we change the contact information over to me, I will ask for interested parties to reach out with writing samples to select a few more rookies to help round out our starting rotation and bullpen.
As I stated at the start, I have to thank EJ Fagan from the bottom of my heart. Last winter, I reached out to him offering my services to the blog. EJ gave me a chance and treated me as his equal (which I am not) from the very start. I immediately felt like part of the team. None of this would be possible without EJ's true kindness and belief in me. I look forward to keeping our relationship through the podcasts and hope that when the mood strikes, he pens an occasional piece for the new blog.
The other writers (in no particular order) Scott Moss, Andy Singer, Derek Albin, William Tasker, James Carothers, and Phil Cashier have all been a pleasure to work with. They also welcomed me and treated me with kindness and support. I give my thanks to them for making this rookie feel like a big leaguer from the start. I am hoping that all stay with us through the move and contribute as often as they can.
And to Jason Rosenberg, I can only offer a very humble Thank You. This is your blog. You created it and made it something real and big and vibrant and noteworthy. When you heard that I was willing to take this thing over, you embraced the idea - and me - as if I am a worthy successor to all that you did. I am in awe of the task and the responsibility that you are giving me. Thank You for believing and putting your trust in me. I promise to work diligently to maintain the lofty standards you set. I know you feel that you have lost your fastball, but we will always be honored to have you toss a few innings for us whenever you wish. Your change-up is a way better pitch than my very best fastball.
Following the standards set by Jason and EJ, I kind of feel like Didi Gregorius trying to replace not one, but two legends. I only hope I produce as well as Didi has along with bringing that same joy, energy, and spirit that makes a team truly whole.
And so we move ever forward!
As Jason announced this morning, this blog in its current form is ending after ten years. I was the last editor in a long line of much better editors to lead the blog, but never had the time and energy to make the blog succeed. I was always much more comfortable being the technical guy who writes a quirky post once a month.
However, my passion for the last two years has been our great podcast. I'm pleased to say that the podcast will continue living on at Baseball Prospectus' BP Bronx site, which is edited by former IIATMS editor Stacey Gotsulias. The transition will not happen immediately, so episodes will continue to be posted here for the time being. I'll put out instructions in the podcast feed. Derek Albin will be joining me at BP Bronx. Don't worry, nothing is paywalled.
Paul Semendinger will post in this space at some point soon his plans for the future of the site. Fear not, there will still be blogging (and the archives of this blog) from many of your favorite writers.
Thank you all for the chance to write about baseball in my free time here for the past six years.
So this is it.
Hard to believe that we’re here today, retiring. Yep. This really is it.
We’ve done a lot here, together, separately, as a team. Thousands of posts. Countless comments. Five total website builds/rebuilds. Game recaps. Open threads. Interviews. Analyses. Rants. Rumors. Sharing of our lives, yours and ours. And for me, that’s the hardest part. I’ve come to know so many of you, virtually and in person, as if you’re long lost family and friends.
But it’s time.
I have loved every minute being part of this website and community. From way back when I got started with just a small handful of loyal readers who helped me meet my original goal of having just 10 of you read my thoughts on a daily basis. Then came a first link from ESPN and we took off. Eventually Tamar Chalker joined me, then others, to help expand our coverage. We were the first Yankees blog when the SweetSpot Network was formed in 2009 and we rode that wave through that 2009 World Series title. Soon after, Brien Jackson took over the lead writer role from me as my work life got a whole lot more complicated in 2011. We left ESPN and joined SNY for two years, coinciding with our merger with The Yankee Analysts. Stacey Gotsulias and Brad Vietrogski took over as co-Editors in Chief, bringing the site to new heights with a large team of contributors*. We rejoined ESPN after two years with SNY, bringing us through to today.
* One of my most favorite parts of the merger was joining the email group where we’d share thoughts, rants, whatever across the writing team. Most of this never made it onto the site, but was always a source of fun, info, and baseball. I’ll miss it, and all of them, tremendously.
I’ll be forever in debt to Larry Berhendt, William Tasker, EJ Fagan, Mike Eder, Dom Lanza, and so many others who joined me in this quest to deliver insight, analyses, and perhaps a bit of sarcasm and humor along the way.
Stacey and Brad, I cannot thank you enough for all of your efforts over the years. It’s been a privilege getting to know each of over the years and sharing our common pinstriped bonds. Brad, thanks for teaching me what I didn’t know about this game. Stacey, it has been really wonderful getting to know you and your family as much as I have. Thank you for letting me, and your readers, into your life as much as you have. Your ability to add the personal side into your writing separates you from so many; don’t lose this. After all, it’s this silly game which binds all of us so closely. Stacey, I wish you nothing but the best as you continue to climb.
Any retirement “speech” would be lacking something without properly thanking those who helped you get started, whether accidentally or intentionally. So Craig Calcaterra, thanks for teaching me how to set up a hyperlink, as well as countless other points over the years. It’s been an absolutely pleasure seeing you make each step forward, proving that with hard work and smarts, you can make the leap. Rob Neyer, thank you for that very first link and inviting me to represent the Yankees for you on ESPN. That email inviting me, to this day, still makes me smile. It’s been an honor, my friend. And of course, to Matt Sosnick, incredible human being and agent, in that order. Well, really, thanks are due to Matt’s mom, who had that Google alert set up, leading to what became the single biggest launching pad for me. Matt is the embodiment of the word “mensch”, doing things for me and my two boys without ever being asked. Just because that’s who he is.
To every writer who dared to put their thoughts under the IIATMS banner: thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every single one of you. I will remain eternally in debt to you for your contributions.
And thanks for my wife and boys who put up with me on a regular basis. My oldest was just 7 when I started IIATMS; last week he got his first college acceptance letter. My youngest was 4; yesterday he pitched a 5 inning CGSO with 9 K's and roped a 1-hopper off the LCF fence 285' away. Time flies.
The lifecycle of a blog like this is super condensed. Creation of daily content is damn hard work. It requires discipline, patience, and a whole lot of luck. I lost my fastball years ago, but I hung around, futzing around in middle relief, before making the transition off the field into the cushy offices. Younger talent found its way in, thankfully, refreshing things and keeping the site going well beyond my useful life as a writer.
Brad, Stacey, and I discussed this prior to the 2016 season and there was a desire to continue. But Brad’s desire abandoned him as it did for me, as he admitted. The work produced was outstanding, even as the desire wanes. Stacey has begun to move on, smartly so. Dom, EJ, Paul, and others have tried to keep things going but life gets in the way. I’m not mad, upset, or disappointed. This was never supposed to be work, after all. This was supposed to be fun and enjoyable and when it stopped being that, I was going to stop.
So rather than force it any further, I’m going to call it:
It’s About The Money: December 2007 – October 2017
Together, we’ve watched the arcs of Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Bernie, Paulie, Tino, Pettitte, ARod, Sabathia, Teixeira, and so many others rise and fall and eventually come to an end. We are no different. Someone else will write about the continued rise of this next young core of Yankee talent, the joys and disappointments, highs and lows.
Thank you all so very much for helping this site, my baby, exceed my wildest expectations.
Forever in pinstripes,
PS: While IIATMS will slowly wind down, EJ will continue his podcasts and Paul has a desire to keep as much of the crew together in a rebranded effort. More to come from each of them. Stay tuned and please keep supporting these awesome people.
Well, the long off-season begins. And it begins with sadness as the Yankees lost two games in Houston that I thought were winnable. But, a team that doesn't score runs can't win, and to close out the playoffs, the Yankees didn't score runs.
I think as fans, observers from afar, things often look clearer to us than things really are. A baseball manger has a whole lot to consider when making moves (or not making moves). I think, as the Yankees reached these final two games, that Joe Girardi must have known that his bullpen was overtaxed and didn't have much left. At least I hope that's the case, because I felt that his pitching decisions the last two games were a little lacking. I felt Luis Severino was left in too long (once he started walking batters, it was clear to me that his night was over) in Game Six and that CC Sabathia was left in too long in Game Seven. Sabathia was not sharp in any inning - and he kept missing high, right where a batter could do damage. Sabathia was helped by a great Aaron Judge catch that saved a home run, but no giant, not even Judge, was going to catch Evan Gattis' long blast that gave Houston the lead. I would have had a much quicker hook and would have gone to Sonny Gray. But, again, I say that not knowing the extent of the wear and tear on each pitcher's arms. It could be that Joe Girardi knew that his bullpen wasn't as deep as it looked on paper these last two games.
I think, in a way, the bullpen never fully recovered from the extensive use in the Wild Card game. That's understandable. The Yankees rode their pitchers as far they could. I don't think any one could have hoped or dreamed for more at the start of the post season.
As I noted in an earlier post, the Yankees far exceeded their expectations this year. Losing stinks, but making it to Game Seven of the American League Championship Series is something to be proud of. This is something all fans should relish. It was a great season! It also whets the appetite for the future. (More on that in a moment.) These playoffs were all gravy. But, once the team got there, I wanted the gravy, the potatoes, the meat, the vegetables, and the desert. I leave this table (the season) somewhat satisfied, but, truly feeling unfulfilled. It's tough to get that close to the World Series and fall short.
I am, and have always been, a fan of Joe Girardi. I think he's an excellent manager who does not get the credit he deserves. Sure, he should have challenged the call in Game Two of the ALDS. Sure, I think he had a slow hook in the ALCS in Games Six and Seven, but, truth be told, I'm not sure the Yankees would have advanced this far with any other manager. I think the players like and respect Girardi and play hard for him. He keeps the clubhouse free from controversy. He handles the media well. Girardi has kept the Yankees competitive and exceeding expectations throughout this re-build. I am eager to see what he can do with this young team. I'm eager to see how far Girardi and this team can go together. I think the Yankees are on the precipice of a period of sustained excellence.
Somehow, though, I don't think Joe Girardi will be the Yankees Manager in 2018. I just have a strong feeling that he doesn't wish to come back. I think the Yankees will ask him back and offer a fair deal, but, I think Girardi walks away. (More on this if it happens, of course, but I see the three leading contenders for the job to be Robby Thompson, Tony Pena, and Don Mattingly.) I hope I am very wrong about this.
Going back to the series, and again this is just a fan talking, and fans see the game through their own hopeful eyes, but, I thought the umpiring was very inconsistent in regard to balls and strikes. I also felt that the Yankees had a lot of crucial balls and strikes called against them throughout the last two games. I have no charts or statistics to back this up - and hope to see them in the coming days to prove (or disprove this point). Casual fans might say, "a pitch here or there doesn't make much of a difference," but, there is a huge difference between a 1-2 count and a 2-1 count. And, it seemed just when the Yankees batters were about to gain a slight advantage to get to a "hitter's count," a pitch off the plate or down low was called a strike. Again, maybe this was just my hopeful eyes... If I'm correct, those tough calls helped make the task of scoring runs that much more difficult.
The Astros pitchers at home were remarkable. The Yankees scored a total of three runs in four games. A team can't win when it doesn't score runs. The Astros pitchers deserve a ton of credit.
Teams that exceed expectations, as this team did, often face a "coming back to earth" season the next year. It is very hard to sustain such excellence. That being said, it didn't seem as though this team won just by luck. Some statistics (one run games for example) actually indicate that the Yankees played to hard luck this year. That should be a good portent of things to come. The narrative next year will either be, "The Yankees are coming off a season where they did better than expected and are now playing as they should" (if they struggle) or "The Yankees were so close to tasting it all that they were determined to win in 2018." (Narratives like this often come after the real life story is actually played out.)
This is a very important off-season for the Yankees players. Some players get caught up in the hype and don't stay as focused in the off season. Other players might feel that the need to "bulk" up to get in even better shape (which doesn't always result in improved performance). A great deal of what happens in 2018 will be determined by the individual choices the players make over the next four months. If they can keep their focus and stay humble and follow the routines that brought them the success they enjoyed, they should be fine. But if the players get caught up in the trappings of success, the decisions they make this winter could negatively impact on their futures and the team's as well.
Speaking of futures, we will have some exciting blog news coming out over the next few days and weeks. Please stay tuned!
I enjoyed the 2017 season more than I have enjoyed baseball in close to a decade. It was a great ride. I am always very sad when the baseball season ends. I miss the day-to-day consistency that baseball brings me. When the season ends, I always feel as though I have lost a close friend. And the 2017 team was a friend I really enjoyed being around. Without baseball it is always a long, cold, lonely winter.
ALCS Magic Number: 2
Yanks in elimination games: 4-1
Yanks in games they could be eliminated: 4-0
Yanks keep the same line up as last night.
Well folks, this is it for ALCS and the Yanks have the Astros right were they want them with CC on the mound. Can CC turn last night's Astro hitters into tonight's outs? How many innings will be needed from the pen? Will the game be over before midnight? I'm picking Hicks to be the hitting hero tonight!
GO YANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND KEEP GOING!!
T. Frazier, 3B
Game on FS1
This will be a short post as, win or lose, there will be plenty to write about in the days to come.
Last night's Yankees loss was a huge disappointment, but I woke up today with optimism and hope. I am looking forward to tonight's game with great anticipation.
I don't know if C.C. Sabathia has another great game in his arm. I don't know if the Yankees can have a remarkable game - again. Will Todd Frazier spark another miracle? Will Aaron Judge lead them to victory? Will Greg Bird or Brett Gardner hit clutch homers?
Who will be the hero tonight?
Who will be the goat?
In a way, it doesn't matter... This is why we're fans. This is what it's all about. The big games. The excitement. The hope, the fear, the dread.... The anticipation!!!!
Game 7 of the American League Championship Series!!!!
This is why we're fans.
Let's Go Yankees!!!!
ALCS Magic Number: 2
Yanks elimination Game record: 4-0
It's Girardi's new, regular line-up vs RHP. Can the big bats be big tonight? Can the pesky guys be a pain-in-the-ass to the Astros tonight? Can the Yanks hit Verlander -- especially early? Can Sevy shut them down? Will the Yanks end it here and now?
T. Frazier, 3B
Game on FS1
EJ and Andy talk about the first five games of the ALCS, preview games 6 and 7, and try very hard not to talk about the World Series.
This episode is sponsored by Audible. To get your free audiobook, go to audibletrial.com/themoney today.
Magic Number for ALCS: 4
Romine benched. Headley at DH. Hicks moved up to 5th.
Can the Yanks FINALLY figure out how to hit Keuchle? Is Judge on a hot streak? Has Sanchez figured out how to hit again? Can Headley continue the suddenly hot hitting by Yanks' DHes? Can the Yanks finish off the home sweep?
T. Frazier, 3B
Game on FS1