Ever drive to Florida? Many miles before you reach Dillon, S.C., you begin to be broadsided by large highway billboards pitching a highway stop near Dillon called “South of the Border,” a Mexican-themed establishment that apparently sells eats and enough fireworks to declare war on Canada.
The South of the Border beckoning never quits. You see them every few miles telling (or warning) you that you’re coming closer, so don’t miss it! Buses are welcomed!
One day, curiosity had to be served. We pulled in. We entered a huge, empty parking lot to find that South of the Border was nearly empty of customers. The sell had overwhelmed both the senses and the reality.
That’s much like watching Yankees telecasts on YES. They mostly open to Michael Kay emoting overwritten, excited and often trite come-ons to stay tuned to watch something extra special. Then it’s on to his tired “Let’s do it!” just before the first pitch. He often sounds like the master of ceremonies at a Cub Scout jamboree or Professor Harold Hill selling tubas to local yokels.
It doesn’t yet strike him that this kind of sell is unnecessary given that he’s selling a telecast to those already watching. It’s silly and insulting, but Kay is not alone among hosts of live sports telecasts. The biggest golf events are always preceded by long, syrupy come-ons to watch what we’re already in place to see.
The YES sell doesn’t end with the first pitch. It’s next customized to fit players.
Sunday the Yanks were down, 3-0, to the Blue Jays in the second, when Gary Sanchez, with one out and one on, flew out on a 3-2 pitch. David Cone was left impressed. It seems anytime Sanchez doesn’t strike out or blocks a pitch in the dirt is cause to celebrate the end of his conspicuous, repetitive deficiencies, so often ignored.
So Cone concluded Sanchez “is seeing the ball very well” and we’d just witnessed him in “a good at-bat.”
Nonsense. Another believe-what-you’re-told, ignore-what-you-see con. It was a miserable at-bat, as Sanchez fouled off a 3-1 pitch that was considerably low and outside. A walk to make it two on and one out had been lost to yet another indiscriminate Sanchez at-bat.
And to be told differently — that we should be impressed by what we’d just seen from Sanchez — was another hollow, even pathetic sell.
Wednesday, Sanchez was nearly forced out at second when he jogged from first on a Gio Urshela single to right. This time, after a replay showed Sanchez’s usual disinclination to play winning baseball, Cone was left to conclude that his desultory jogging was “indefensible.”
Given that Sanchez issued the incredible offseason complaint that no one explained to him why he was benched during last season’s postseason — was he unaware that he’d become a chronic, two-way liability? — Aaron Boone on Wednesday had the opportunity to provide a here-and-now example. Boone should’ve pulled him from the game.
But Boone seems to manage on a wish, hopeful that we don’t know better. He explained that Giancarlo Stanton, now a $29 million per year DH, was due a rest — after three games.
And, as seen and heard during his pre- and postgames on YES, Boone always seems satisfied with the least his players can do, thus he’s seldom disappointed. Should have brought him some fireworks from South of the Border.
Managers can’t wait to pull plug on effective starters
The Game Has Changed …
Let the record show that in the Mets’ first game since Rays manager Kevin Cash blew Game 7 of the World Series by prematurely pulling starter Blake Snell, Mets manager Luis Rojas pulled Jacob deGrom with a 2-0 lead and having thrown just 77 pitches.
After deGrom’s reliever Miguel Castro pitched a scoreless seventh on nine pitches, Rojas pulled him, too. Soon the Mets were 5-3 losers.
Yesterday, the Marlins blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth when Don Mattingly pulled reliever Yimi Garcia, after an untouchable eighth, for transient Anthony Bass, a closer without portfolio, who finished with a blown save and the loss.
Wednesday against the Yankees on YES, the Orioles began the 10th with a “Manfred man” automatically on second. It would have been first and third, one out, had O’s batter Maikel Franco bothered to run out a grounder that was bobbled by Jay Bruce at first. But Franco had presumptively stopped running.
The DH continues to be diminished by self-afflicted folly, as it mostly just adds to all-or-nothing strikeout totals. Wednesday, Royals DH Jorge Soler struck out three times. Monday, ex-Mets catcher Wilson Ramos was the Tigers’ DH. He K’d four times.
And for those who still believe that MLB’s replay rules are “about getting it right,” there was the end of Thursday’s Marlins-Mets.
This one has made the rounds: The Pirates struck out 44 times in their first four games. Over 151 games in 1958, Bucs shortstop Dick Groat struck out 23 times.
Groat, 90, remains a beloved figure in Pittsburgh, where the All-American basketball player at Duke is the color analyst on Pitt radio broadcasts.
He’s also the uncle of golf star Brooks Koepka, who Thursday at Augusta finished 2-over in the first round of the Masters.
More friends and family: That was Joe Girardi’s kid, Dante, playing third for Florida International vs. Miami on ESPN on Wednesday night.
Anthem just for ‘willing and able’
Even the national anthem is now prefaced by a political disclaimer. Monday night’s NCAA Championship began with the public address announcer inviting those “willing and able to please rise.” The option — the freedom — to stay seated was always available, now it comes with a reminder.
Guess it was easier for WFAN’s Marc Malusis to defame Adam Gase as “a moron” now that Gase has left town.
Commercials on Mets telecasts are pitching a “limited edition” Nolan Ryan keepsake for $130. It’s a bat. A Nolan Ryan bat! He was a career .110 hitter. I’ll take three!
In 2018, Mets manager Mickey Callaway infamously explained that he didn’t have Dom Smith bunt in a 10th-inning sacrifice situation because Smith “has never bunted in his professional career.” So Wednesday, when Smith feigned a bunt, surely Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling would be on it. But they missed it.
From reader Greg Marotta: Mickey Mantle will miss tonight’s game due to “soreness.”
What a shame. Now the Mets’ Jeff McNeil has become an immodest bat-flipping, home plate-poser. Cohen, Hernandez and Darling seemed good with it, even if I suspect they weren’t.
In 1928, the Republican Party ran Herbert Hoover for president with the slogan, “A chicken in every pot.” That political slogan could now be, “Some pot in every chicken.”