William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

The Kansas City connection

After a lifetime of reading about and watching the New York Yankees, there is a story that happened in the past that has floated by my consciousness from time to time. I often wondered about this story. As it goes with writers, the story floated by my consciousness one too many times and I had to find out what it was all about. The story goes that for a time, the Kansas City Athletics, a major league club, became a minor league team for the Yankees and funneled its best players to the Yankees thus allowing the Yankees to continue its dynasty. The years involved were from 1955 to 1960 when a man named Arnold Johnson purchased the Philadelphia Athletics from the Connie Mack family and moved the team to Kansas City. The period ended when Johnson died of a sudden cerebral hemorrhage in March of 1960 which led to the Charlie Finley era later that year. I wanted to know if the stories were true and to what tune Johnson’s Athletics aided the Yankees to continue the Yankees’ winning ways during the late 1950s.…

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Best friends go to a ballgame

Friendship is an odd thing when you think about it. Sometimes you develop a best friend because of proximity. That happened with my first one, Jimmy Conrad, because he lived around the corner. That one ended when his parents split up and I have never been able to figure out why. My second one was Tom Cairoli. Unlike Jimmy who was two years younger, Tom was a year or so older. And whereas Jimmy was a dominant personality, Tom was a meek one. He lived in the next town over (New Milford). And I probably would have never met him other than that he was in my bowling league. Bowling was way bigger back then. And who knows how we became best friends, but we did. The poor guy probably still has emotional issues and scarring from the association. This is one of our stories.

As stated, Tom was meek. He was the son of a CPA and was well off.…

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Matt Diaz signed to a minor league deal

Matt Diaz, a right-handed outfielder the Yankees have been searching for, has apparently agreed to a minor league deal with the Yankees with a Spring Training invite. The news was reported by Marc Carig and Mark Feinsand as sourced by this Major League Trade Rumors post. Diaz fits the Yankees’ needs in several ways. He is old (35 in March). He is cheap and he will only be around for a season.

Seriously, Diaz has a career .770 OPS in parts of ten seasons, but more importantly, has a career .863 OPS against left-handed pitching. He can play left or right field and isn’t a total disaster at either but has not shown the ability to throw out runners over the course of his career.

Diaz could be useful in small doses against left-handed starters and to face those tough lefties out of the bullpen late in the game. But this is hardly heady news.

In other news, the Mariners DFA’s old friend, D.J.

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Jolly Old Nick

Even though I predicted this day would come and have steeled myself against it way back on February 28, 2012, and even though his contract is on the high side of his value and would probably be regrettable by 2015, this still sucks. Jolly Old Nick Swisher is no longer a member of the New York Yankees. Allowing Russell Martin to walk stung and was bewildering. But allowing Nick Swisher to prance to Cleveland and to play on Terry Francona‘s side is downright painful.  Nick Swisher was fun. He made me smile. My wife loves him and enjoyed laughing at his antics. She will personify a lot of Yankee fans today. Her disappointment will be the same as many. God save 2014 at all costs, Hal. Attaboy.

Nick Swisher as a Yankee star was one of the biggest surprises ever. He was an afterthought in the 2009 preseason for us after he came over with Kanekoa Texeira from the White Sox for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez.…

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A new thought about Sparky Lyle

The writing brain is a funny thing. This post was going to be all about Kevin Youkilis and how a hated enemy is suddenly a Yankee. The feelings of this signing were so mixed up and tangled that any attempt at staying on the journalistic side and not the fan side were impossible. The deal led to thoughts of other enemies that were hated and then suddenly Yankees and that was what the topic here was supposed to be. It was all planned out with a list that included Reggie Jackson, Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon and Sparky Lyle. The research led to the stats pages for all of those players, but once Lyle’s pages were under the microscope, all thoughts of the original topic got blown up. The more Lyle’s numbers were put together and considered, the overwhelming thought became, “How come this guy is never talked about as a Hall of Fame candidate?”

Sparky Lyle certainly fit the original topic to a tee.…

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Something smells fishy with the Yankees

The New York Yankees signed Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Hiroki Kuroda to one year contracts. Russell Martin was allowed to waltz away fairly cheaply to the Pirates. Ichiro Suzuki‘s agent says he is tired of waiting for the Yankees and is now listening to other offers. Nick Swisher is in the rear view mirror. The only contracts the Yankees have added so far are roster fillers like Jim Miller, etc, and one year deals that more than likely will be off the books for 2014. Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano and Joba Chamberlain are all dangerously close to free agency in 2014. We have all heard to the point of nausea that the Yankees have given themselves a hard cap of $189 million in 2014. What nobody is saying is that as of right now, there is only about $96 million tied up for 2014.

Let’s look at that $96 million. $70.5 million of that is tied up in three guys: C.C.…

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One more year for the boys

We have already heard that Mariano Rivera is coming back for another go at it. Andy Pettitte seems on his way back as well. Derek Jeter is mending in Tampa and is said to be on target for the start of the season or soon after. For Yankee fans and baseball fans, the inevitable has been pushed back one more time. It looks like the old guys are going to work together at least one more time.

For any fan that has been born since 1990, a Yankees team without Rivera and Jeter has never been known. For those of us born any time before 1990, memories of Yankee teams without these players seem like the remote past. The internal fan inside us hold on to the championships already on the books with these players. And when the team hasn’t finished on top of the heap, there has never been a season when the team did not compete near the top or almost get there.…

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Sitting on the sidelines

The Blue Jays pull off a killer deal with the Marlins. The Blue Jays sign Melky Cabrera. The Tigers sign Torii Hunter. Hiroki Kuroda wants to play in southern California. Russell Martin is highly sought after. And the Yankees…the Yankees…have not done anything yet. And when they do, it will be for bit parts for one season. Those bit parts will have an average age of 37 years old or something. Welcome to the new reality.

And it is not really a new reality. Last off season brought some excitement as the Montero – Pineda trade occurred and the team signed Kuroda on the same day. But for the rest of the off season, big tickets like Prince Fielder and others went elsewhere. The Yankees signed Raul Ibanez and that worked out pretty well. Heck, it bought them a win in a post season series. But overall, “austerity” is the word of the day. Every Yankee fan knows all about the dreaded 2014 payroll limitation.…

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Three more cheers for Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano proudly posted that on Twitter today he became a citizen of the United States of America. Such an act used to have a lot more significance in this country than it does now. But for this old-timey baseball writer, such an act is a very cool thing. Way to go, Cano. Welcome to citizenship. If you click the link for his tweet, you will also see a picture of the proud ballplayer holding a flag and his certificate. Nice.

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