One odd aspect of MLB’s lockout of the players is that due to labor laws and the expiration of the old collective bargaining agreement, the league can’t use any player names, images, or likenesses on MLB.com. Even 2022 promotional material can’t cite them, forcing the Cardinals, for example, into some desperate measures.
So to have some fun with it, I wanted to explore how farcical a game recap would look without mentioning any players’ names. Travel with me back to August 16th of this past season and enjoy if you can during this bizarre time.
All eyes were on THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER on Monday as he returned to the mound following a bout of COVID that has kept him on the shelf since July 29th. The Yankees found a way to get by and go a league-best 12-4 in his absence, but seeing their ace on the mound was a breath of fresh air — especially when he lived up to the hype. THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER was excellent during this makeup game with the Angels, leading the pitching staff in a tight 2-1 victory.
THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER came out of the gate firing pellets. His first pitch to THE TWO-WAY ANGELS STAR came in at 98.8 mph, and he went on to make short work of the AL MVP frontrunner, the whiff-allergic ANGELS SECOND BASEMAN, and ALL-STAR ANGELS FIRST BASEMAN, striking out the side on 21 pitches. The only problem was that in the middle of that string of K’s, THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER fell behind THE ANGELS’ LEFT FIELDER and left a cookie down the heart of the plate. THE ANGELS’ LEFT FIELDER took him deep for the 323rd homer of his career, and it was 1-0, Angels.
The Yankees did not wait around to respond with MIDDLING ANGELS STARTER on the bump. LARGE, YOUNG YANKEES SLUGGER lined a ball to the right-field wall, though a good play on the carom by TOP ROOKIE ANGELS OUTFIELDER held him to a single. It didn’t matter a bit because SLUGGING YANKEES LEFT FIELDER was up next and SLUGGING YANKEES LEFT FIELDER doesn’t need runners to actually be in scoring position to bring ‘em home.
The poor baseball sailed 412 feet and into the second deck at a screaming 112.1 mph. In an instant, the Yankees were on top, 2-1.
Throughout the next five frames, HE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER put on a pure pitching clinic. If casual fans had just tuned in for this start, they would’ve had no idea that he had missed the previous two and a half weeks. An infield hit began the second, and THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER proceeded the retire the next 10 batters in a row, fanning five with some nasty stuff.
An ANGELS CENTER FIELDER walk broke THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER’S streak, but he paid little heed to the interruption. He forced THE ANGELS’ CATCHER to swing at air for his ninth strikeout of the night, and then a nice running catch by OTHERWISE-BAD YANKEES CENTER FIELDER brought the inning to a close.
Still nursing the meager one-run lead, THE ANGELS’ TWO-WAY STAR gave THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER a scare in the top of the sixth, as he ripped a 98-mph fastball that caught too much of the plate 108.6 mph and 353 feet. Fortunately for the Yankees, it hung up in the air and LARGE, OLDER YANKEES SLUGGER made the catch in right-center field. It was an out regardless, and THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER shook it off to induce a popup from ANGELS SECOND BASEMAN and an ANGELS LEFT FIELDER grounder to third.
The only problem was that PEPPY YANKEESECOND BASEMAN bobbled the roller, allowing ANGELS LEFT FIELDER to reach. THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER was up to 90 pitches, so with his ace coming off COVID, manager Aaron Boone decided to call it there. The right-hander was brilliant across 5.2 innings of work, punching out nine Angels while allowing just two hits, one run, a walk. It’s hard not to be anything but encouraged by how THE YANKEES’ BEST STARTING PITCHER looked on Monday night.
The gamble to the somewhat-early hook though was that Boone called on SOON-TO-BE-INJURED YANKEES BULLPEN LEFTY in a one-run game. He had the platoon advantage on the next batter, ALL-STAR ANGELS FIRST BASEMAN, but as FRUSTRATING YANKEES CLOSER learned earlier in 2021, the man was still quite capable of taking southpaws deep. This time, however, ALL-STAR ANGELS FIRST BASEMAN was thwarted, as SOON-TO-BE-INJURED YANKEES BULLPEN LEFTY began the road to rebuilding his confidence with a strikeout to end the frame.
The Yankees had been surprisingly silenced by ANGELS STARTING PITCHER after the SLUGGING YANKEES LEFT FIELDER homer. From the second through the fifth, their sole offense was an infield single that was immediately erased in typical 2021 Yankees fashion on a LARGE YANKEES FIRST BASEMAN double play ball. In the sixth, they began to stir again, as they knocked ANGELS STARTING PITCHER out of the game by drawing three straight walks to load the bases with no one out.
On came SIDEARMING ANGELS RELIEVER to face the menacing LARGE, OLDER YANKEES SLUGGER and LARGE YANKEES FIRST BASEMAN. The Yankees had a golden opportunity to extend the lead without even registering a hit. Instead, they ended up with bupkis. LARGE, OLDER YANKEES SLUGGER struck out and LARGE YANKEES FIRST BASEMAN bounced into his second twin-killing of the night, the Yankees’ league-worst 112th of the season and 15th with the bases loaded — six more than anyone else. This team has a talent, and it’s one of the most annoying talents to witness on a near-everyday basis.
Boone didn’t want to use either TOP YANKEES BULLPEN ARM or SOLID BULLPEN LEFTY/STAY-AT-HOME DAD for a third day in a row, so he turned to two unheralded members of the bullpen to carry the slim lead into the ninth. ROOKIE YANKEES RELIEVER and NEW YANKEES BULLPEN LEFTY were up to task. ROOKIE YANKEES RELIEVER entered in the seventh and did the bulk of the work by retiring all five hitters he faced, fanning ANGELS CENTER FIELDER and TOP ROOKIE ANGELS OUTFIELDER along the way.
Boone then called on NEW YANKEES BULLPEN LEFTY for the lefty/lefty matchup with ANGELS TWO-WAY STAR, and the former Ranger came through, catching the two-way star looking. That’s some high-quality late relief from two middle relievers.
The Yankees wasted another scoring opportunity in the eighth shortly after SPACE JAM’D YANKEES SECOND BASEMAN inexplicably got himself thrown out trying to steal third with SLUGGING YANKEES LEFT FIELDER up and none out. So it was up to YANKEES SETUP MAN to put his recent string of blown saves behind him with just the 2-1 lead entering the ninth.
As he did on Saturday, YANKEES SETUP MAN got the first two outs, no sweat, as he retired ANGELS SECOND BASEMAN on grounder to first and struck out ANGELS LEFT FIELDER. ALL-STAR ANGELS FIRST BASEMAN kept the game alive by lining a ball down the left-field line for a single, bringing ANGELS INFIELDER to the plate as the go-ahead run. YANKEES SETUP MAN jumped ahead of him 1-2, and after the count was evened, caught a break from home-plate umpire Junior Valentine, who ended the game on a called strike three that was outside the zone.
Those are the kinds of breaks that teams seem to get when they’re playing well, and the Yankees remain sharp. Their offense could’ve made it a lot easier, but the lack of timely hits hurts less when it all ends with a win.
The Bombers will have to bring their A-game tomorrow though, as the Red Sox are coming to town for a doubleheader with the pressure mounting on both teams. YANKEES LEFTY STARTER and YANKEES ROOKIE PHENOM will both return to the active roster for the twin bill, the first of which begins at 1:05pm ET (YANKEES LEFTY STARTER vs. ROOKIE RED SOX RIGHTY); the nightcap will start at 7:05pm ET (YANKEES ROOKIE PHENOM vs. TOP RED SOX STARTER).