Cup of Coffee: April 13, 2023
Recaps, extensions, Jackie Robinson Day, a Utah expansion bid, new songs from a subscriber AND from my son, The Rat Czar, and why you shouldn't cheer on Anheuser-Busch against the bigots TOO much
Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!
First off, a programming note: there will be no real newsletter tomorrow because I’m traveling once again. I’ll send some sort of post out for discussion purposes and, perhaps, it will contain an item or two, but there will no recaps and stuff. Please accept my apologies and/or adjust your expectations accordingly.
We had a full schedule yesterday so we recap those today, the Cubs locked up a key player for a few years, Matt Manning’s triage abilities are sketchy at best, I say unpopular things about Jackie Robinson Day that will make people boo me but I don’t care because I am right, a group in Utah wants an expansion team, and I talk about how, sometimes anyway, I miss working for NBC.
In Other Stuff a subscriber has dropped a new song, a newsletter writer from Louisville talks about what it’s like to live in America today, I ask you not to pat Anheuser-Busch on the back too hard, even if you take its side against the bigots, we have an item about New York’s new Rat Czar, and I share my son’s new ear-splitting, face-melting punk single which I'll give an 85, Dick, because it's got a good beat and you can dance to it.
And That Happened
Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Yankees 4, Guardians 3: The Yankees bullpen made its debut in this game when it was 3-0 Cleveland and then proceeded to provide five innings of no-hit ball. That’s pretty good, I’d say, even if the ninth inning was a bit shaky. As the pen did its thing the Bombers scored two runs on a single and an error, one on yet another Franchy Cordero homer, and a fourth run — the tiebreaker — on an Oswaldo Cabrera RBI single with two out in the ninth. The play of this game, however, was Aaron Boone getting ejected after the umpires, for some reason, allowed Terry Francona to take way, way, way more than his allotted 15 seconds to challenge what was originally called a catch in the first inning. Like, the play happened, out number three was called, the players all started to leave the field and then and only then did Francona come out and the umpires gathered. The whole deal, including Boone’s quite understandable arguing about it, took like ten minutes. Just an absolute farce. The Yankees are doing pretty well, though. They’ve played four series so far, all of which have been three-gamers. They’ve taken two of three in every one. Keep that up and they’ll win 108 games. They won’t keep that up, but I swear, the math works out.
Twins 3, White Sox 1: Sonny Gray and three relievers shut the Sox out through eight while Michael A. Taylor went 2-for-4 and drove in two — one of which was helped nicely by some stinky Sox defense — and Willi Castro doubled in a run. A scary moment in this one came when Twins shortstop Kyle Farmer was hit in the face by a fastball from Lucas Giolito in the fourth. It happened on a 92 m.p.h. pitch that ran inside. Farmer was knocked to the dirt and laid face down for a few minutes before he got to his feet and walked to the dugout with a towel pressed against his face. As soon as the pitch hit Farmer Giolito raised his arms toward his head in concern and walked from the mound. It was, obviously, not intentional. Word after the game was that Farmer avoided a broken jaw but he does need dental work and has a laceration. Ouch.
Mets 5, Padres 2: Juan Soto hit a two-run homer in the first but that’s all the damage the Padres bats would do. Meanwhile, Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso homered, Brandon Nimmo had three hits and knocked in a couple, and the Mets bullpen tossed four innings of shutout ball. The Mets now head west for a ten-game road trip. The Padres head west because that’s where they live. They shoulda gone in together, rented an old van and split gas money as the discovered the American Dream. Bet they’d have a good time out on the road and, maybe, they’d learn a little something about themselves along the way.
Astros 7, Pirates 0: José Urquidy and three relievers combined on a three-hit shutout while Corey Julks hit his first career homer. Alex Bregman hit his 142nd career homer, but they never make a big deal out of your 142nd, though. Getting old sucks.
Mariners 5, Cubs 2: Teoscar Hernández and Jarred Kelenic hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning. Kelenic hit his ball a damn mile though. Well, 482 feet, but that’s still pretty far. Indeed, it’s the longest homer at Wrigley in the Statcast Era, which dates back to 2015. And it wasn’t just long. It was hit to a super weird place, in that second level of the bleachers, just a hair to the right field side of dead center. Like, I’ve been watching games and highlights from Wrigley Field for over 40 years and I can’t recall a ball ever landing where his did. Logan Gilbert allowed one while pitching into the seventh. Kelenic’s ball landed around the time Gilbert got out of the shower.
Cardinals 7, Rockies 4: On Tuesday Nolan Gorman hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth as the Cardinals beat the Rockies. Yesterday Nolan Gorman hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth as the Cardinals beat the Rockies. All of this has happened before. And will happen again. Tyler O'Neill and Nolan Arenado homered as well. Jordan Walker extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He tied Eddie Murphy of the 1912 Philadelphia Athletics for the longest streak to start a season by a player 20 years old or younger. That’s a lot of qualifications I suppose, but as the parent of a kid who is not much younger than Walker is, I have found that their world is very culturally fragmented and that absolute or universal claims about anything are largely irrelevant.
Diamondbacks 7, Brewers 3: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a three-run homer and the Brewers played butt defense. Meanwhile, Diamondbacks rookie Drey Jameson — who wears Scooby Doo cleats if you have not heard — pitched four scoreless innings as the Snakes took two of three and won their fifth of their past six games overall. Jinkies!
Angels 3, Nationals 2: Shohei Ohtani got the day off and Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon both went 0-for-3 yet they still won. It’s almost as if the Angels have put together a team with at least a modicum of depth this year. As for those who did show up, Griffin Canning pitched five innings of five-hit ball in his first big league appearance in nearly two years following a gnarly back injury and and Logan O'Hoppe singled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth. In related news, “Logan O’Hoppe” sounds like the title of a TV series about a reformed conman who now does good deeds to make amends. It went straight to series based on the star power of the lead — I wanna say a Dermot Mulroney-type, but a bit younger? — but was canceled after 13 episodes. In a few years people will talk about it as if it were an overlooked gem but you gotta take that kinda talk with a grain of salt. They can’t all be “Terriers.”
Marlins 3, Phillies 2: Jorge Soler hit a tying homer in the eighth and Bryan De La Cruz won it with an RBI single in the 10th. Miami took two of three from the NL champions who have not, really in any way, looked like the NL champions so far this year. They finally got a solid outing from Zack Wheeler, but it was wasted. Selah.
Athletics 8, Orioles 4: Brent Rooker hit a three-run homer early while Carlos Pérez homered and had three hits to help the A’s snap their six-game losing streak. Rare occurrence: The pitcher who was in the game for the A’s when they took their final lead, Jeurys Familia, was not awarded the win. Rather, Chad Smith, who came in after the A’s were already ahead but pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth was given the W. In theory that should happen a lot, as the awarding of a win to a pitcher other than the starter involves a judgment call as to effectiveness, but almost all of the time they just revert to “who was in when they took the lead.” Familia gave up an A’s lead before regaining it, and the official scorer decided, nah. Good for them.
Rays 9, Red Sox 7: The Rays’ 12th straight win was a bit more tricky than their previous 11 as they had a big lead, damn near lost it, and then held on. Randy Arozarena hit a three-run homer and had a sac fly and rookie Taj Bradley won his major league debut, allowing three runs and striking out eight over five innings.
Blue Jays 4, Tigers 3: The Tigers took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth but, like the dog that finally catches the car, they had no idea what to do with it. Whit Merrifield and Alejandro Kirk tied things up with back to back sacs (sure, it’s a thing) to tie it up and force extras and then George Springer singled home the Manfred Man in the 10th for the walkoff.
Atlanta 5, Reds 4: The Reds led 2-0, 3-2, and 4-3 but Eddie Rosario hit a tie-breaking homer in the eighth to complete Atlanta’s third and final comeback of the game. Ronald Acuña Jr. had two RBI singles that drove in three. Sean Murphy’s RBI double accounted for Atlanta’s other run. Spencer Strider wasn’t super sharp but he did strike out nine in five innings. Even in this strikeout crazy age, that guy is pretty impressive.
Royals 10, Rangers 1: I’m so old that when I hear “Bobby Witt’s performance led to a big Texas Rangers loss” I immediately think it’s a bad thing. In my mind it’s a bunch of walks and a good number of earned runs for the old pitcher. In reality it was three hits, including a triple, and three stolen bases for the young shortstop. Just feelin’ some really big “Old man sitting in a chair, wheezing ‘I knew your father, young man’” vibes these days. Like, all the time.
Dodgers 10, Giants 5: The Giants jumped out to an early lead but the Dodgers tied it by the fifth before really pouring it on and running away with it. San Francisco’s Taylor Rogers walked four straight batters in the sixth, with Freddie Freeman fouling off nine straight pitches and 11 in all before drawing one that brought home Trayce Thompson for the go-ahead run. Max Muncy, once again, inflicted some big damage in this series as well, homering twice, including a game-tying solo shot in the fifth and a three-run jack in the sixth not long after the walk-a-thon. The Dodgers take two of three.
The Daily Briefing
Cubs, Ian Happ agree to an extension
Outfielder Ian Happ and Cubs are in agreement on a three-year, $61 million contract extension. There are no options or anything fancy schmancy, though Happ is getting a full no-trade clause. Happ was set to become a free agent at the end of the season but now he’s locked up through 2026.
Happ, 28, a 2022 All-Star and Gold Glove winner, is in his seventh campaign, all of which have come in Chicago. He’s always been a solid hitter but he took his game to a new level in late 2021 and has carried that performance over through last year and into this season. Indeed, he is off to a fantastic start so far in 2023.
Having slept on it . . .
On Tuesday night Tigers pitcher Matt Manning was hit by a comebacker and broke a bone in his foot. After the game he said “I’ll . . . give it a week off, see how it feels and get back out there. I mean, it’s just a foot.” Yesterday he was placed on the 15-day injured list.
Hate to see a professional overruled like that but, ultimately, medicine is a collaborative endeavor.
Jackie Robinson Day
Yesterday Major League Baseball announced this year’s festivities for Jackie Robinson Day, which is Saturday. As usual, the most visible thing will be players, managers and coaches wearing Robinson’s 42. There will also be hat patches and things and any number of community events, panel, discussions, special broadcasts and the like.
And, for the 20th straight time since they began formally commemorating Jackie Robinson Day in 2004, there will be little if any official discussion of Major League Baseball’s role in keeping baseball racially segregated for most of its first century of existence and how, actually, Jackie Robinson’s debut didn’t really integrate baseball in any substantive way given how most of the teams dragged their feet, adhered to unofficial “we can only have two Black players at a time” rules, or simply refused to integrate until absolutely forced to and then only did it in a half-assed way until at least the 1960s.
Finally, there will, once again, be no acknowledgment, let alone a commemoration of how Major League Baseball simply cherrypicked the best talent from the Negro Leagues, did almost nothing to bring non-stars, minor leaguers, managers, coaches, executives, trainers, or team staff from the Negro Leagues into the AL or NL, and thereby let a huge ecosystem of Black-owned and Black-run businesses simply crash and burn, almost certainly by design.
A tradition like no other! Happy Jackie Robinson Day!
Utah group seeks an expansion team
Jeff Passan reported yesterday that a Salt Lake City, Utah consortium led by Gail Miller, the former owner of the Utah Jazz, wants to get a Major League Baseball expansion franchise. Former big leaguers Dale Murphy and Jeremy Guthrie, each of whom are Utah residents, are also part of the group. You will not be shocked to learn that there is already a call for a publicly-funded stadium, but we’ll cross that toll bridge when we come to it.
The Utah folks are not alone in this, of course, as Passan reminds us that Nashville's Music City Baseball and the Portland, Oregon group The Diamond Project are both up and lobbying for expansion teams as well.
Rob Manfred has said that, while he would ultimately like to see 32 teams in the league, baseball expansion is on hold until the future of the Athletics and Rays is sorted. Which makes sense because baseball’s decades-old expansion/relocation m.o. is to pit cities against one another in an effort to up the bids. With Las Vegas still trying to do a deal with the A’s and some form of Tampa/St. Pete deal trying to be pulled together for the Rays, awarding expansion teams now might take potential bidders — or the subject of MLB bluffs — out of the running. MLB will wait until the disappointed parties in the A’s-Rays situation are identified so that they can be added to the Portland-Nashville-Salt Lake pool.
As for whether Salt Lake City would make a good baseball market: hell if I know. The statements issued by the group tout how fast Utah is growing, but it’s not like it or the city itself is some sort of megalopolis. Its Combined Statistical area is ranked 22nd, just north of Sacramento, just south of Charlotte. It’s smaller than Portland but bigger than Nashville and Las Vegas, though there is a greater concentration of wealth, tourism, and corporate power in those places. As far as media markets go the press releases tout it as “a top-30 media market,” but it’s . . . exactly 30th.
None of that is a dealbreaker, necessarily, as the things that make teams money these days are different than the things that made teams money a long time ago. And, of course, Rob Manfred’s MLB probably cares less about the year-by-year viability of a prospective club, as measured by those old metrics, than it does about whether the $2 billion expansion fee check clears.
Now, all we need is for this team to get up and running before Jo Addel retires. There has never been a better match of player and club.
Sometimes I miss working for NBC
Like when I get emails like this from Major League Baseball:
The media credential application for the 2023 MLB London Series, featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, is now available at [credential website deleted]. The online form will be the only acceptable application for media credentials, as no other applications or requests will be processed. Applications must be completed by the Sports Editor or Sports Director by Friday, June 16th, and must include a 1" x 1" hi-resolution photo (JPEG format) and valid e-mail address for each applicant.
To be sure, when the first London Series was announced way back in 2018 I asked my boss if the company would pay to send me over there. He said no, they would absolutely not be doing that, so I don’t think they’d change their mind and pay for me to go now even if it wasn’t for the minor detail of me not having worked there for nearly three years.
But I also feel like, five years later, I might’ve come up with a better pitch than “hey, will you pay for me to go over there, I promise I won’t just fart around with friends and things.” Which is basically how I asked back then.
A little over a year ago subscriber Lorenzo Landini wrote a guest post in which he talked about how the pandemic caused him to return to songwriting and performing after years of having put it in the backseat in favor of an acting career. The other day Lorenzo put out a new single entitled “Incidental Contact” and it’s really damn good.
Lorenzo has also collaborated on a print inspired by the new single. The print is for sale and all proceeds from it will go to The Transgender Law Center, which is the largest national trans-led organization advocating for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
Give the song a listen. And consider buying the print and supporting the Transgender Law Center. Now, when the rights and very existence of people are under siege, is no time to stand on the sidelines.
“This is what it’s like to live in America”
Scott Hines of The Action Cookbook Newsletter live in Louisville. Yesterday he wrote in the wake of Monday’s mass-shooting there. Absolutely nothing in what he writes represents a new or a surprising sentiment in response to these seemingly never-ending massacres. But that’s kinda the point, and the tragedy, of it all:
The night of the mass shooting in Louisville, the local news—which did an admirable job focusing on the victims and not their killer, the lives and not the deaths—took a moment to share a stat. This was the most mass shootings we’d had in this country by April 10th of any year since 2009, they noted. It was a surreal moment, as though they were reporting on an unusually wet springtime, but this is our weather now. No matter how cloudless and beautiful it is today, no matter what the barometric pressure or what the atmospheric rivers are doing, there’s never a 0% chance that you’ll walk outside to encounter someone with an irrelevant motive and a relevant means to murder you in service of it.
This is what it’s like to live in America.
I recently saw someone tweeting about a mass shooting that took place less than a year ago, referred to as “the [city] mass shooting.” Though I follow the news closer than almost anyone, I could not bring to mind a memory of any of the specifics of it and had to go look it up before going “ah, yeah, that one.” That’s how common these things are. That’s how used to them we have become. They are, as Hines writes, very much like the weather in that way. Except, unlike the weather we, as a country, have created them and we have the capability to stop them. We simply choose not to.
Don’t pat Anheuser-Busch on the back
You have almost certainly seen the stuff about Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch in recent days. If you haven’t, the short version is that Trans activist/influencer Dylan Mulvaney and Bud Light did a promotion in which Bud Light sent her a custom pack of beer that featured her face. Mulvaney then made a video to advertise Bud Light’s March Madness contest. This sparked a stupid anti-trans backlash with right-wing media figures calling for boycotts and dipshits ranging from Kid Rock to, probably, someone you went to high school with performatively destroying Bud Light cans or vowing to never patronize A-B again.
This is not a new dynamic in the never-ending American culture wars, of course. Indeed, all of these things generally play out the same way, with right-wingers doing their boycotts while the left or, at the very least, allies of those the right-wingers hate, rally behind the company or product that is the target of the boycott. I would hope, however, that those on the left and their allies not rally so mindlessly, either to Anheuser-Busch or to whatever the next target of stupid conservative rage happens to be.
To be sure, Anheuser-Busch and a lot of companies have demonstrated support for the LGBTQ+ community in recent years and they should be lauded for that. But, as Tesnim Zekeria and Rebecca Crosby of Popular Information pointed out yesterday, there is a pretty big disconnect between its marketing initiatives and what the company actually does with its time, money, and effort. Specifically, Anheuser-Busch’s corporate PAC routinely supports the campaigns of anti-LGBTQ+ politicians at both the federal and state level, donating many, many times more dollars to hateful and bigoted politicians than it spends on things like the Dylan Mulvaney promotion or support of Pride events. From Popular Information:
Last June, a Popular Information investigation revealed that Anheuser-Busch donated a total of $366,500 to anti-LGBTQ politicians between January 2021 and May 2022. This includes $197,500 in donations to members of Congress that received a zero rating on the Congressional scorecard produced by the HRC and $54,000 to state lawmakers in South Carolina and Florida who were involved in passing anti-LGBTQ legislation. It also includes $65,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), two organizations that support anti-LGBTQ state legislators and governors . . . Anheuser-Busch has also donated $310,265 to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which supports candidates that oppose LGBTQ rights.
In February 2021, Anheuser-Busch donated $50,000 to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who signed the Parental Rights in Education Act, which critics dubbed as “Don’t Say Gay,” into law in March 2022. Anheuser-Busch also donated an additional $25,000 to DeSantis in December 2020.
Again, positive outreach is a good thing, but it’s pretty damn empty, and hurtful I imagine, when that outreach is more than offset by the company’s more significant corporate acts which reveals such outreach to be eyewash. It’s a reminder that a great deal of corporate pro-LGBTQ+ initiatives and, for that matter, corporate outreach to marginalized communities and causes of all kinds, is pandering. That it’s merely a function of marketing and market research and an effort to sell a few more beers to some gay and/or transgender people. When push really comes to shove and a company’s top executives spend real money, they more often than not do so in a way that, even if they themselves aren’t bigots, shows that bigotry and hate is in no way a dealbreaker for them.
The Rat Czar
New York City has appointed its first-ever Director of Rodent Mitigation. Who everyone is calling “The Rat Czar” despite the fact that Rat Kings are already a thing. Probably doesn’t matter as the person appointed is a woman and I feel like, despite all of the progress we’ve made as a society, we are still likely to gender Rodent Mitigation Professionals. Shameful, really.
The woman hired is Kathleen Corradi, who does not actually have special rat expertise. She’s a teacher and administrator, though she did work on rat-reduction issues for the New York City Schools. When introduced yesterday she said, “You’ll be seeing a lot of me and lot less rats.” Given that she did not say “a lot fewer rats,” I can only guess that she was not an English teacher.
There are a lot of hard jobs out there, but I can’t think of a job that sets one up for failure more than “Rat Czar” in New York or any other large city for that matter. Rats have owned cities for as long as there have been cities and they have out-evolved us by orders of magnitude as far as fecundity, tenacity, stealth, cunning, and survival are concerned. Indeed, I’d bet my life savings that the rats will eat poor, doomed Ms. Corradi for lunch.
Not literally, of course, though I’d place higher odds on even that happening than her actually bringing the rats to heel.
And now for a very different kind of rat.
My son’s high school makes all seniors do a Senior Project. An enrichment activity of some kind that can be creative, vocational, philanthropic, or whatever. Each student comes up with an idea, identifies an advisor out in the real world to help them, they then embark on the project and, at the end of the year, the student submits a report chronicling their process and progress and does a presentation showing what they have done or have learned. Some kids do internships. Some do arts or crafting or learn some new skill. Last year, for example, my daughter decided that she wanted to learn to cook so she paired up, virtually, with a professional chef, perfected some new skills and dishes, and did her report and presentation on that.
My son Carlo is a graduating senior this year. While he has no formal musical training— the biy is not really a joiner — he is consumed by music and has, for the past couple of years, taught himself to play a pretty serviceable bass and synthesizer. He has also became fascinated with found objects-as-instruments and DIY instruments such as cigar box guitars, Diddley bows, and the like. So, for his project, he decided to build some instruments from found and vultured components. Here are his instruments:
The guitar is a metal lunchbox to which he attached pickups and fastened to a broken neck of some sort. The bass is partially a metal box from army surplus, a mile marker sign, and a neck he broke off of one of his old garbage basses that he got at a used instrument store. The drums, well, they’re pretty self-explanatory. His advisor on all of this is a guy from the UK from whom Carlo bought his first Diddley bow a couple of years ago. I have no idea what their interaction level was but I imagine it involved a lot of “Well, if it’s making noise of some kind you’re probably doing OK, mate.”
For his final presentation Carlo recorded a song employing the instruments. He played guitar and sang and he got two of his friends to play the bass and the drums. Below is the final product, in which Carlo says was “going for Butthole Surfers mixed with Crucifucks.” So, you know, it’s super commercial.
Warning: those of you with weak hearts or anxiety disorders may want to turn the sound down:
This is going to be THE prom song this year, I can feel it.
Have a great day, everyone.
Either you’re up early, or I’m up late. ;)
Fuck, I was going to comment for once and still got beat to it