Have the Yankees lost their collective minds?
With a domestic abuse charge hanging over his head, not yet formally applied, mind you, Aroldis Chapman, arguably the most dominant left-handed closer in baseball, has been traded by Cincinnati to the Bronx Bombers for 4 minor leaguers. Never mind that the Yankees already have a proven closer in Andrew Miller, whom they re-signed, and home grown star Dellin Betances, at the end of the bullpen, but GM Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner brothers decided to follow old George's blueprint and mortgage the farm to win now. The Reds had to void a deal that would've sent Chapman to the Dodgers because of concerns over the reports of domestic abuse a few weeks ago. For the Yankees, this is equally risky, because if Chapman is formally charged and faces jail time, then this is a wasted move, and the Bombers are left holding the bag.
From the Reds' perspective, however, their pen is suddenly weaker than ever. Yes, they were an also-ran in the NL Central this year, and they already dealt Home Run Derby winner Todd Frazier this offseason. They won't be in contention next year, but then......!
I didn't watch the Jets-Patriots game on Sunday, so I was taken aback when reading the bottom line on Fox during the Cardinals' massacre of Green Bay. The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots had a chance to lock down the #1 seed in the AFC, and flushed it because of a simple coin flip in overtime. It is said that when the Pats win a coin toss, they usually defer a decision to the opposition for strategic reasons. Not this time. Coach Bill Belichick defended the decision of reserve wide receiver and special teamer Matthew Slater, who must've felt like A. C. Slater (Mario Lopez from Saved by the Bell), looking like such a deer in the headlights. As it happened, the Pats' offense never saw the field in OT, as the Jets marched down the field and Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Eric Decker with the game winning TD pass, beating Super Bowl hero (and rightful MVP) Malcolm Butler in the end zone.
All will be forgiven in paranoid Patriot Nation if Denver, the 3 seed, can knock off 2nd seeded Cincinnati tonight, which would lock up the #1 seed for New England.
By now, I'm sure you've heard about the Al Jazeera documentary that purports to link Denver quarterback/insurance & pizza salesman Peyton Manning, along with baseball players Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman, to usage of HGH. However, Charlie (on the) Sly, who didn't know he was being recorded when he made the on-camera statements, has since recanted his remarks. Al Jazeera America, formerly Al Gore's Current network, is desperate for ratings, I get that, but this brought out the jingoistic idiots online who note that the core Al Jazeera network is based in Qatar, and, well, enter the usual Islamophobia from these dorks.
Reportedly, there are also conflicting accounts that put Sly's actual employment with the pharmaceutical firm involved in question. Al Jazeera's trying out a poor man's 48 Hours (the CBS series), and failing. Badly.
Closer to home, you wouldn't know there was a high school hockey tournament the last two days, due to a glaring lack of press coverage. Didn't see anything on TV, didn't read anything in the newspaper. LaSalle reached the championship game Sunday afternoon at Union College, losing to Essex Junction (Vermont). Both The Record and the Albany Times-Union whiffed on covering the tournament, but you can bet the farm they would've had someone at Union if CBA or Saratoga were playing. I know LaSalle's experiencing some lean times these days, but these kids are getting routinely disrespected, especially by their hometown paper, and that's wrong.
Meanwhile, on the hardwood, Troy High salvaged 3rd place in a holiday tournament at Bishop Ludden High in Syracuse, winning a consolation game on Sunday after having their six game win streak snapped by Liverpool on Saturday. Troy's boys have a week off before league play resumes January 5. Meanwhile, the girls host the Troy Holiday Classic, starting Wednesday, with an all-Suburban Council field. The Lady Horses will have a rematch against suddenly hot Columbia on Wednesday, with the winners facing the winner of a game between Shaker & Bethlehem on Sunday afternoon.
We have to close with some sad news.
Just so this isn't entirely a sports article, and this has taken me two weeks to get to, local TV icon turned Rensselaer County legislator Ralph Vartigian passed away earlier this month. Vartigian was known to children as "Commander Ralph", anchor of WTEN's Good Ship News, which gave way to Young People's News in the mid-70's as those same kids were growing up, and Vartigian retired his Navy uniform. He also co-hosted Dialing For Dollars (1970-5) and was one of the first anchors of the station's 12 noon news before leaving WTEN to move into the political arena. Unfortunately, there is no video footage of either of his 5 minute news programs to be had on YouTube.
Dave Henderson will be remembered for helping the Boston Red Sox end a 11 year World Series draught by leading the BoSox to the 1986 AL pennant, defeating the Angels before falling to the Mets in the Series. Henderson passed away in a Seattle hospital last week at 57.
Finally, perhaps the greatest Harlem Globetrotter of them all, George Meadow (Meadowlark) Lemon III, passed away over the weekend at 83. Lemon played for the 'Trotters for 26 seasons total (1955-79, 1994), founded two more barnstorming teams of his own, then swapped his singlet for a pulpit, becoming an ordained minister.
In 1971, the 'Trotters, with Meadowlark front & center starred in an ad for Vitalis.......
The current Globetrotters will be in Albany on February 7. Have to wonder if there will be a tribute to Meadowlark during the current tour.
In case anyone wonders, we'll hand out Dunce Caps to Yankee owners Hank & Hal Steinbrenner & GM Brian Cashman for going through with the Chapman trade. They're going to need a miracle to turn this into a winning trade.