The New York Yankees in June – Part One – The Batters (2021)

The New York Yankees were a mess in June. You don’t have to take my word – no less luminaries than Brian Cashman and Giancarlo Stanton agree with me and the language they used was far less kind than mine.

Their record for the month was 12 wins and 14 losses. They lost 5 of the last 6 games in the month. At one point, they lost 7 of 9.

Their roster is full of batters who hover around the Mendoza line (.200). There are others who appear way beyond their sell-by date. Let’s survey the team’s performance on the month:

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The New York Yankees in May – Part Two – The Pitchers (2021)

As previously noted, the New York Yankees have not had the start to the season that they expected in 2021. However, it is the start of the season that they deserved. With the season a third complete, they finished May at 29-25 and in third position.

Instead of hoping to win the American League East, they are more likely to be targeting the second wildcard spot and only then if their bats begin to do their work.

In May, their pitching was less culpable than the batting line-up in adding to their woes.

Let’s survey the strengths and weaknesses of the players who took the mound:

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The New York Yankees in May – Part One – The Batters (2021)

The New York Yankees finished April at 12 wins – 14 losses and in 4th place in the 5 team American League East. For a team who were expected to dominate the division, things clearly were not going to plan. Noises were made about Kyle Higashioka becoming the first choice catcher and Gary Sanchez being seen much more often warming the bench. Tyler Wade and Wandy Peralta were added to the active roster. One or two things seemed to be falling into place.

By the middle of May, the team sat in second place with a record of 22-17. That’s 10-3 over that period.

And then things began to turn again. Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton and Rougned Odor had headed to the injured list. As a partial balance, 1b Luke Voit (last season’s leading home run hitter) was back.

But things were still not going the way the guys from the Bronx wanted. The second half of the month went 7-8 and the Yankees closed out the month with a run of 4 losses

Let’s see who was struggling and who was holding their own:

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The New York Yankees in April – Part Two – The Pitchers (2021)

The Yankees used 6 starters and 1 “opener” in April. It is fair to say, in that regard, it was a very mixed month. Some good, some bad, some indifferent. We’ll come to that in a moment.

They used thirteen relievers in total. Nick Nelson was used both as the one time opener and a reliever. Those who were solid out of the bullpen were pretty consistent.

There were those who bounced between the major league roster and the alternate training site. Most peculiar of these was Michael King who was excellent but couldn’t seem to do enough to rise in the pecking orderabove those who were struggling.

Let’s survey the whole of the pitching part of the roster:

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A Voice from on High

A Dramatic Narrative based around small sections of the lyrics of songs written performed or recorded by Mr Bob Dylan.

Ninoshka Gomes plays a followerof the Messiah who is tender-hearted but struggles with self-doubt.

Isobel Hirst plays a follower of the Messiah who has a tendency to be judgemental.

The role of the Voice of the Message of the Gospel is played by Darren Hirst

Darren also plays the role of the Voice of the Message of the World.

The duality of his message is shown by the blue line which divides his face.

Moon Culture (Aline Huguelet and Keegan Israel) perform the Dylan song “Saving Grace” after one of the verses of that song is spoken.

Supplementary lines to maintain the direction of the narrative were supplied by the director, Darren Hirst. We claim no copyright on the lyrical sections written by Mr Dylan. We hold the correct licence for use of songswhich are used in worship settings and church performances. No admission charge was charged and the video is not being monetised. This will be the sole performance of this dramatic narrative.

The text of “A Voice from on High” follows.

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The New York Yankees in April – Part one – The Hitters (2021)

Well, it’s so wonderful to have baseball back at something approaching normal. The crowds allowed to attend are limited but isn’t it great to hear games being played with real crowd noise – we are not there yet but we are taking steps in the right direction and it is so heartening.

So, the time comes to survey the Yankees first month. The picture is not pretty but with so many players under-performing there is so much scope for growth – so, let’s not sink into the slough of despond just yet, even with the Boston Red Sox sitting pretty at the top of the division.

It is fair to say we wouldn’t have expected that anymore than we would have expected one of the Yankees’ roster to have retired from MLB in the first month of the season. We closed out the month at 12-14 and in fourth place but given they spent 8 days on the bottom spot, at least the trajectory is in the right direction,

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Inventive churches turn to Bob Dylan

Mainstream Christian churches in England are not allowed to have community sung worship at the moment, because of the necessary rules imposed by the government during the pandemic.

The churches in England are still allowed to open and of course, the singing of hymns has been a staple of the major denominations for centuries.

Some of the churches that are still open are being inventive. Because solo musicians and singers and small groups are still allowed, here’s one that in previous weeks has incorporated jazz and classical music into his menu of musical items and this week adapted some Bob Dylan songs into the heart of its service.

Here are some of the service highlights:

Hilary James and Bob James have “Christmas Eyes”.

Well, it’s been an interesting year. Just in case you hadn’t noticed. In the first three months of the year my writing went along in its normal way and then came the the first three lockdowns we’ve experienced in London because of the pandemic. I started that period floating the idea of online performances and interviews to some artists. Some worked out and some didn’t. I interviewed Nad Sylvan (who is also known as lead singer in Steve Hackett’s band) about his trilogy of solo albums. There was an interview with Bob James and Hilary James which was going to be a stand alone interview but has now become part of a series. Then, there was a long essay about Bob Dylan’s “Tell-Tale Signs” box set.

Each of these was well-received and attracted a very healthy readership. And then my eyesight began to fade. And so everything was delayed until surgery brought about improvement in what was a complicated situation.

So, now this week I was able to interview Bob and Hilary for the second time. Appropriately, this time we concentrated on their Christmas Eyes album – just the right time of the year. At the beginning of the interview, there was a short discussion about my situation, which I’ve left in as a personal marker in the sand.

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Passion and Betrayal – Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs reassessed

(This article is an expanded version of a review that I wrote when this album first came out. I was really unhappy about the way that the magazine, who commissioned me to do it, published it. They changed the title. They printed it in a way that removed paragraph breaks and they made editing changes to it without consultation. Needless to say, I stopped freelancing for them shortly afterwards. I revisited the article, originally just with the intention of restoring it to the way it was meant to be but then as I read it and listened to the music, I figured perhaps there was more to say. It concentrates on the spiritual and faith-based references in Mr Dylan’s lyrics but touches on other matters too.)

“Those old songs are my lexicon and prayer book.  All my beliefs come out of those old songs, literally, anything from `Let Me Rest on that Peaceful Mountain’ to `Keep on the Sunny Side.’ You can find all my philosophy in those old songs. I believe in a God of time and space, but if people ask me about that, my impulse is to point them back toward those songs. I believe in Hank Williams singing `I Saw the Light.’ I’ve seen the light, too.”

This was Bob Dylan speaking in 1997 – a period which provides 11 songs on his 3-disc set “Tell Tale Signs” (10 out-takes from his “Time Out of Mind” set and 1 live recording).

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Nad Sylvan – An Interview with the Vampirate

(And so as part of my ongoing project for this difficult period, on the day following my Bob and Hilary James interview https://twilightdawning.com/2020/05/22/bob-and-hilary-james-they-are-flesh-and-blood/, I was able to interview Nad Sylvan. As well as being an artist in his own right, Nad is the lead singer with the band led by ex-Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett).

(In the following conversation, NS denotes the comments of Nad Sylvan, and DH those of Darren Hirst)

DH: Thank you for making some time for me today in these strange circumstances. How is the weather with you?

NS: It’s very cold. It’s only like six degrees. it was up to 15 last week with sun, and you know, scattered clouds. But it’s pleasant enough. And we get to make a huge bonfire tonight because on this date every year it’s called Valborg. When we celebrate spring and we’ll all light a bonfire – the only day in the spring that we’re allowed to do that. I have a load of dead wood ready to go.

DH: Well, we’re in the middle of a thunderstorm at the moment in London, so if you hear any strange noises in the background that’s the explanation…

NS: Okay, cool.

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