The Last Game

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WPCNR View from the Upper Deck By “Bull” Allen. October 1, 2023 UPDATED OCTOBER 3, 12 NOON::

Hello there, Everybody!

This is Bull Allen and this is the last day of the baseball season. I’m greeting you from the mezzanine Press Box of the Old Big Ball Park as the Old Redhead used to call it, behind the PIX microphone.

The old Yankee Stadium went out to 461 feet to three monuments that were in play and 301 down the line in left and 296 down the rightfield line. The yard swiftly curved out deep to an immense cow pasture of outfield to the leftfield bull pen  to 457 feet in left center and dead center 461 feet, then cut sharply back  in front of the majestic bleachers to 357 feet in dead right in front of the Yankee Bullpen down to 344 feet and short  four foot wall over to the 296 foot foul pole

New York was in 9 World Series in  the 1950s, and games were started  at 1 PM in New York and the left field in the stadium became a blinding sun field as the regal shadows of the sharp-raked grandstand caused the sun sinking around 3 PM  early  to make it very tough for leftfielders and centerfielders to pick up the ball. I saw Norm Siebern, the Yankee leftfielder lose two balls in the sun in the 4th game of the 1958 World Series to give Milwaukee 3 runs in and give Warren Spahn a 3-0 shutout. It was brutal.

Nowadays most playoff and World Series games are played at night for television. No longer does the sun play like a 10th player at the new Yankee Stadium

The series was played in 70 degree weather, too. Kids listened to the last innings on transistor radios at their desks if teachers were tolerant.

With expanded playoffs and the expensive lineups fielded by the Yankees and Metropolitans, they were picked to win at least a playoff spot.

Neither did.

I am greeting you from the sun splashed diamond in The Bronx. No game today. No games until next April, except of course, for the baseball playoffs, 12 teams going through 162 games to get to the World Series, with the possibility that a 6th place finisher could make it to the World Series.

Neither New York team made the playoffs—how I hate that word – and some profound changes in the way the game was played under the new rules in the interest of speeding up the game — just might have had something to do with that.

The Yankees almost finished below .500 for the first time in 30 years, Going on a 7-0 burst to assure a .500 season. The irony is they had been able to do one 10 game winning streak earlier in September they would have nosed out Toronto for a playoff spot.

Watching up here in the Mel Allen Memorial WPIX Television booth looking at the empty  autumn splashed park of memory, I remember the pall of the 1965 season when the Yankees of the early 60s collapsed in 1965 under the managership of Johnny Keane, who replaced Yogi Berra. The Yankees went 77-85 that year, sixth in a 10-team league.  But even then, the team never gave up. Mantle played hurt.  This year something happened. The game had changed: hitters had to learn to hit faster because the pitches were coming faster every 20 seconds. Hitters did not have time to think.

They lost Judge to an injury because the Dodger Stadium did not pad their rightfield bullpen fence.

This took the fear out of the lineup.

But the hitting was not there all season, even before Judge was carrying the team. Funny thing is, I figure having Judge in the lineup at his 2022 62 homer season form would have won them 10 more games at least which would have given the Yankees 92 wins, enough to make the playoffs.

Aaron Boone could not motivate this team for any kind of a “stretch drive.” (Remember 1978? The Yanks were 14 out in early August. Bob Lemon replaced Billy Martin as manager, and the Yankees caught the Red Sox.

But for some reason there was no urgency in the last three months of the season. This is a problem.

But the Bronx Bombers management cannot just say we’ll be all right next year with Judge at his old best.

When Joe D hurt his heel in 1948, he returned in mid-1949. However His homers dropped by half in his final 3 seasons. 1950-1953.

I think the new pitching rules hurt the Yankee free-swinging hitters because pitchers pitched faster and  the hitters did not have the time to adjust as to what pitch was coming next, making good pitches better, causing “GUESS SWINGS.”

Think of it:

In 5 pitches if the pitcher throws  every 20 seconds, the hitter has less than 2 minutes in the box. In the past hitters could call time,  get set and think. This season the Yankees struck out a lot, left too many on base or did not situational-hit or even try to hit the ball behind the runner either by bunt, hit and run, or  hitting to the right or left side. They had big problems getting sacrifice flies when they needed them. The manager, Aaron Boone never played for building a run, waiting for the power hitters to homer. They did, not enough with runners on base.

The other problem the Yankees had was starting pitchers going more than 5 innings.

Gerrit Cole was the only pitcher who consistently approached that standard, including  a complete game shutout, 2-0.

With “lift them early or too late” Aaron Boone, the Manager created a pitching nightmare for his bullpen. With half a game starters departing in the 4th, 5th or maybe beginning in the 6th , he needed four to 5 pitchers from the bullpen every day.

Manager Boone used a squad of relievers who were notoriously sketchy and unreliable in their appearances. The bullpen was either very very good, or very very bad.  Aaron Boone’s pitching management wore out the bullpen, and Yankee failure to add a starter  or two who could pitch via a trade before the trade deadline, I believe lost the playoff spot..

How do you fix the Yankees to contend next season and score more runs, and give up less?

The infield defense has to be improved. The team did not make plays in the clutch especially in the crucial extra innings sudden death situation.

Manager Boone just played Extra innings straightway. He did not walk a hitter with the inning starting with the go-ahead runner at second base  which forces the team to bunt to move the runner, and if they do not bunt you have a shot at a double play. If he does not want to take chance for a double ball he needs to hang up the runner between 2nd and third and protect third base. he Yankees were hideously unsuccessful in extra inning games, 9-10. That’s 10 games right there and you’re in the playoffs.

The batting strategies Aaron Boone used were few. Not enough bunts, hit and runs, more stolen base attempts. The hitters got worse and worse all season long, striking out dismally when runners were in scoring position.

The Yankees cannot “wait til next year” to get better starting pitchers, more consistent starting pitching and relievers who can start innings with the bases empty and not walk people, and not throw first pitch fastballs.

They need to develop their better minor league starters into 2nd starting pitchers who come in in the sixth and start pitching well with the bases empty, that’s what starters learn to do. That could replace the bullpen committee inconsistency which cost us a lot of ball games.

The closer and setup men cannot come in every day—they tire as they showed so often this season. This is bad pitching management.

Younger hitters have to be developed to be contact hitters able to connect with men on the bases.

Looking over to Queens at Citi Field where the Mets faded in June and never got brighter.

They too were hurt by by non performance by their hitters and bitterly mediocre performances by Verlander and Scherzer.

I have a hunch that those two control pitchers who relied on making the hitters wait and had to pitch faster.

I believe this  pitch and pitch again in 20 seconds, affected their abiliy to throw the pitches they wanted both in pitch selection and ability to throw their “out” pitches as accurately  due to the pitch clock making their deliveries hurried. Speeding up the interval between their pitches may have hurt their arms just a tad reducing their effectiveness and control. Whatever they were not the pitchers they were. On the other hand the pitchers were “fast-pitching” the hitters and keeping them off-balance, affecting the free swingers greatly.

The Mets had an inconsistent defense in their infield which cost them a lot of games due to errors, not knowing game situations, throwing to the wrong base, and outfielders throwing behind the runner allowing an extra base, not hitting the cutoff man.

There was also a lot of poor base running by the Mets, killing rallies.

For that matter the Mets big boppers did not bop under the new 20 seconds to pitch rule. I believe two teams, Yankees and Mets loaded with veteran power hitters experiencing the same inabilities to hit with the power and ability to connect striking out so much it was stunning, is no coincidence.

I think both teams need new managers, and younger players used  to the 20 seconds game with better pitchers.

This managerial change is being brought to you by the Mets: Buck Showalter, Met manager relieved today by Met management, saying Mr. Showalter’s contract would not be renewed. The Met players left the dugout and gave him a standing ovation when Buck walked up to homeplate with the lineups.

Out in Kansas City, where it is 90 degrees and sunny there is no word whether this is the last game for Aaron Boone out in Kansas City where the Yankees will keep him on.  They lost 5-2, to finish 82-80. Had the Yankees played better and won 10 more games in July and August they make the playoffs at 92 and 70.

July and August were a dismal, very un Yankee performance by players, front office and the manager and the owner.


The younger players coming up  are faster and better defensively especially in the outfield. Speed in the outfield is very essential for both clubs—as well as good hands and heads on the infields.

The pitching coaches have to be better. Pitching effectively is not just pitch counts. Until the Yankees and Mets develop 5 pitchers who can start and deliver 7 innings, they will not improve.

Here is my take on the new rules:

The Extra Inning runner on second I detest. It is not needed because the pitching is so thin.

The anti-shift rule is making outfield play better and once the pitch is thrown infielders can shift run where they expect the ball to be hit. They just need to be faster.

Attendance is up according to my colleague, John Vorperian. So the rules are here to stay.

But ballplayers are smart. They are already adjusting.

Now if only commercials during radio broadcasts can be limited only between innings, and not every in-inning event be followed by a ”brought to you by tagline.”

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