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 young Al Downing was filthy

The 1963 New York Yankees won 104 games that season and finished over ten games in front of its nearest American League rival. And it wasn’t the offense that propelled them that season. Mickey Mantle only played 65 games due to injury and Roger Maris‘ run of greatness with the Yankees had ended as he only played 90 games himself. It was the pitching that propelled that team. Along with Whitey Ford and Jim Bouton having their best career years, a 22-year-old Al Downing was mowing down hitters at a league-leading rate.

Alphonso Downing, a kid from Trenton, was only twenty when he was signed by the Yankees in 1961. Assigned to the A-level Binghampton Triplets, he proceeded to go 9-1 for that New York State club with a 1.84 ERA. The success led the Yankees to give him a cup of coffee on that powerhouse 1961 Yankees team and in a handful of games, proceeded to strike out twelve batters per nine innings.…

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Game 103 – Winning is addictive

The New York Yankees host the Toronto Blue Jays and the Blue Jays are desperate to break this seventeen game losing streak they have put together at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees, meanwhile, would very much like to keep that streak going and also keep what has been a terrific home stand chugging along. Winning is addictive after all. It sure beats the alternative.

Drew Hutchison starts for the Blue Jays and this will be his fourth start this season against the Yankees. He has lost all three…another streak the Yankees would like to continue. Hutchison has great stuff but has thus far not been able to string together impressive performances. That said, he is capable of shutting down a team if he harnesses his power pitching. It’s funny how baseball works. He has the exact same WHIP as Mark Buehrle and nearly the same FIP but with completely different stuff.

The Yankees start Chris Capuano. Brad told you some information about Capuano earlier today that is worth the read.…

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Game 98 – Lats, bats and those Rangers cats

When you looked at a schedule for the coming season way back in March, you might have circled this series against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium III. You (nor I) never would have guessed the Rangers would have the worst record in the American League when they arrived in the Bronx. The Rangers have given up more earned runs as a pitching staff than any other American League team. This is like the Rick Helling Rangers much more than any of their teams in recent seasons.

Take tonight for example. The Rangers are starting Miles Mikolas who sounds more like a Tolkien elf than a big league pitcher. Mikolas has made three starts and has given up 24 hits in 14+ innings. He has great control, but has been getting cuffed around so far. But as the Yankees have shown this year, beware of mediocre pitchers!

The Yankees have their own question mark on the mound in Shane Greene.…

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Seven (straw) arguments for Ellsbury leading off

I am saving you folks a bunch of time making comments by admitting up front that I am creating a flawed statistical argument to support a personal bias and belief. I want Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off for the Yankees. That is what he was signed to do and that is not what he is doing. And since I am not a statistical genius like many of my colleagues here, I can only create weak statistical arguments to support my biased belief. I bet you have never seen an opening paragraph like this one before.

At least I am being honest here. Like many Yankee observers in 2014, I am extremely surprised by the offensive efforts of this team. Offense was not supposed to be a problem this year. And yet it is. The team is 22nd out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored. The team has a 93 OPS+. The offense more resembles last year’s ragtag outfit than a team that was “fixed” in the off season by some key upgrades.…

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Tanaka out of whacka

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps our expectations were too high. There were all kinds of predictions about what kind of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka would be once the Yankees pulled the trigger and signed the Japanese ace. Certainly, Brian Cashman tried to temper expectations by insisting he signed a Number 3 starter. But then Tanaka was lights out for his first fourteen starts and was 11-1. And expectations suddenly turned to the belief he would win every time he pitched.

Instead, Tanaka has lost three of his last four and fans are left with an expression of watching a fireworks display with no big finale. Naturally, not all of those losses were his fault. If you give up only two or three runs, you should have a reasonable chance to win and the Yankees’ offense wasn’t there for him. But the last two games have been concerning as the hits are starting to pile up and the strikeouts are trending down.

In Tanaka’s last two starts, he has given up more earned runs than he has recorded strikeouts.…

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Game 82 – Bolster our Kuroding hopes

The New York Yankees are doing a great job of bolstering the hopes of the teams beneath them in the standings, allowing the Red Sox and Rays to beat them at home, the place that to paraphrase Madonna, “Used to be their playground.” And with the Blue Jays and Orioles politely waiting for the aging Yankees to keep up, the old team bends with hands on its knees and waves them on with a gasp for air..

Ah, there was a lot of pathos in that first paragraph, eh? The, “Eh,” is for our Canadian friends on their big holiday today. The Blue Jays already won on Canada Day, so enjoy a frosty beverage and enjoy the fireworks. Yankee fans, meanwhile, will watch the long, lanky, lefty pitcher (alliteration!) on the other team today and wonder how Brian Cashman can somehow pry him away without much to offer in trade value.

Heck, maybe the team will win tonight and blow some thrills the fans’ way.…

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How MLB.tv and stat sites turned me into a pessimist

This is going to sound a lot like whining. And I apologize in advance. And I know that I am supposed to be more journalistically inclined. But I am not. If I was getting paid to write, I would do that. But there is a reason on my other writing home that the word, “Fan,” is in the title. I have always written about the game from a fan’s perspective. And right about now, this team from the Bronx has me about as pessimistic as a fan can be.

Our own Matt Bove and Kevin Ducey made me think about this new realization about my world view as a fan. This was our recent Twitter conversation:

There was more to the conversation but the gist of it was about my pessimism and Matt trying to get me to stop being that way.…

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Game 69 – Please don’t whack Tanak

The New York Yankees are back home at Yankee Stadium after a successful road trip (anytime you win more than you lose with a West Coast swing is a good thing) that did have its share of ugh moments. And the pitching match-up is a potentially sparkling arm party. The Yankees, of course, host the current...

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