As we pointed out in our last column, the Yankees are having a steady, productive and successful season so far. The same can be said of their pitching. With the exception of Aroldis Chapman whose struggles led to further medical examination and then to the 10-day disabled list, most everyone is living up to or exceeding expectations. Let’s look in a little more detail:
The Yankees got off to a strong start in April – stronger than most had anticipated. They tussled for the lead in the American League East with the Baltimore Orioles.
In May, even more surprisingly, they maintained that trajectory whilst Baltimore faded slightly and the Boston Red Sox came into the picture. But by the end of the month, there was a couple of games clear lead that the Yankees had carved out ahead of their two rivals. Impressive.
What: Julius Caesar
Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Who: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)
When: 4th May 2017.
This reviewer is confused
The RSC decided in their wisdom to have “press day” for both Antony & Cleopatra and Julius Caesar on the same day. Figuring that seeing two plays on one day would rather ruin the palate for the second, I decided to opt out of one. On the flip of a coin and because I prefer the “Cleopatra” play normally, I decided to come back and see Julius Caesar another day even though my review would appear later than everyone else’s and although it would mean seeing the plays out of sequence. Also, sequentially, it makes much more sense for Julius Caesar to be seen first.
Now I have to say that “Antony and Cleopatra” was horrible and the worst production i have seen from the RSC for a number of years.
Now since there is a director overseeing the four productions in the RSC’s Rome series, I estimated that this production would go in roughly the same direction as Iqbal Khan’s “Anthony and Cleopatra” and would need some fine performances to save it.
I needn’t have worried because Angus Jackson’s “Julius Caesar” is confusingly, truly excellent. Not flawless but truly, truly excellent and you would do well to see it.
The Yankees’ pitching rotation, going into the season, looked quite evidently their greatest weakness.
By contrast, their bullpen looked like their greatest strength.
What would happen if the bullpen lived up to its billing and the rotation was more consistent than expected?
That would be April 2017, which is the way that it has worked out in practise!
The Yankees went into the regular season with a positive outlook. They had led the league in Spring Training game wins and the young heart of the line-up (Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez) had had a phenomenal spring. There were still large questions about the depth of durability of their pitching rotation but their bullpen was the strongest around. At the very least, they had given themselves hope.
…And then the season began…
The New York Yankees’ pitching situation in 2017 is complicated by their failure to sign a new starting pitcher in the off-season.
Last year, they had Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova to add to their supposedly “big three” of Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda. Now Eovaldi is injured and has signed for Tampa should he return to the Major League level and Nova was given away very cheaply to Pittsburgh (where he has performed well). Of the three write-ins, Sabathia is stumbling towards the end of his career and Pineda was hideously inconsistent last season. Tanaka, if he can stay free of injury, is a true ace but this only points up what is the real weakness of the Yankees’ roster.
A little over a year ago I wrote an article about Bob Dylan’s “Saved” album which received a wide readership and was generally positively received:
My intention had been to write a similar article about the 1981 album “Shot of Love” and then to go on and write a series of articles or a book about the albums and tours since then looking particularly at Mr Dylan’s use of Old Testament and New Testament imagery but also other imagery he used commonly across many years which helps us to understand and appreciate his work.
Unfortunately, I got bogged down in the article on “Shot of Love” which is still not finished although I keep returning to it and tinkering with it. I hope it will be completed as I think I might have some important things to say but who knows when.
This week, as has become his habit when a new album is due. Dylan’s staff published on his website a new interview he has given to Bill Flanagan:
Mr Flanagan seems to be a writer that Bob particularly trusts and he has given him several important interviews over the past decade. This new one is intended to herald his latest album of standards, the 3-disc set “Triplicate”.