Cup of Coffee: August 4, 2022 RESEND
Some players made a big splash with their new teams yesterday. Some old GMs made excuses. Also, did you know that there's an official MLB vodka? It may actually even exist, but we're not really sure!
Hey everyone — a number of people have told me that they did not get the email this morning. I did and, according to Substack, most everyone else did too, but it’s possible we had a glitch. Probably because I made a typo in the damn title of the original missive.
Anyway, out of an abundance of caution, I am sending the newsletter again. Sorry if this is your second copy of it. — Craig
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In the world of baseball a number of newly-acquired players made an impact in their first action with their new teams, a general manager blames an agent for one of those players not being on his team anymore, another one of those players may only be playing road games for his new team, and another one of those players has, in his words, “felt like shit” lately, but now at least he’s someplace new. If any of those folks need to drown their sorrows in anything, the good news is that MLB has an official vodka now. The bad news is that it may not exist.
Confused? You won’t be, after the latest edition of Cup of Coffee!
And That Happened
Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Rays 3, Blue Jays 2: The Rays’ moves at the trade deadline pay dividends as newly-acquired José Siri led off the sixth, he stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored the go-ahead run on newly-acquired David Peralta's tiebreaking single. I randomly scrolled down the game story for this one to the little section where AP writers list injuries and it said “Ross Stripling was placed on the 15-day IL with a right glut strain.” That’s a pain in the ass.
Twins 4, Tigers 1: The Twins moves at the trade deadline paid dividends as newly-acquired Sandy León drove in two runs and newly-acquired Jorge López earned his first save in Minnesota. Newly-acquired Michael Fulmer also pitched a scoreless inning, facing his old mates. And unlike other times I use that phrase, these really were his old mates as he was on the Tigers when he woke up on Tuesday morning. Unless of course everyone on the Tigers hated Fulmer, in which case they would not be his old mates. Why might they hate him? I’m gonna go with “he likes to microwave fish in the clubhouse kitchen.” I don’t know that he actually does that, of course, but it’s totally possible, isn’t it?
Orioles 6, Rangers 3: Robinson Chirinos homered and singled in a run on a three-hit night, Terrin Vavra hit a pinch-hit tie-breaking RBI double in the eighth, and Ryan McKenna also went deep for the O’s who beat Texas for the sixth time in six tries this year, sweeping the season series between the clubs. With that, Baltimore is the proud owner of the coveted Rafael Palmeiro statue forged to commemorate this rivalry until 2023. Or maybe it’s a statue of Will Clark. Or Johnny Oates. Or Buck Showalter. Or Julio Borbon, Endy Chávez, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Scott Feldman, Craig Gentry, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., Tommy Hunter, Darren O’ Day, Pedro Strop, or Taylor Teagarden. God, are we sure these are two different teams? Are we all laboring under the Mandela Effect here?
Phillies 3, Atlanta 1: Zack Wheeler allowed one on five hits over seven. He left trailing 0-1, but his offense picked him up and got him the win in the eighth when J.T. Realmuto plated a run on a fielder’s choice and Nick Castellanos hit a two-run homer. That fielder’s choice, by the way, was initially ruled an inning-ending double play but it was overturned when replay revealed that the hustling Realmuto reached the first base bag just ahead of the throw. Atlanta’s four-game winning streak is snapped. Viva hustling.
Mariners 7, Yankees 3: The M’s hammered Gerrit Cole for six in the first inning thanks to a three-run homer from Eugenio Suárez, a solo shot from Carlos Santana and a two-run plast from [looks closely at the box score to make sure his eyes aren’t deceiving him] Jarred Kelenic. Jesse Winker homered in the seventh. The newly-acquired Luis Castillo pitched five-hit ball into the seventh inning in his Seattle debut. He wasn’t dominant but with a six-run cushion right out of the gate he didn’t have to be. Yankees fans booed Gerrit Cole at one point, so that’s fun.
Guardians 7, Diamondbacks 4: Amed Rosario hit a three-run homer that traveled 450 damn feet. Given how crappy the air quality was here in Ohio yesterday that ball had to travel through some serious soupy muck to go that far. Or maybe it’s a situation in which it blasted through the layer of muck and then just rolled down a gently sloping-away muck shelf and dropped 450 feet away, as if it had gone down a ramp? I’d ask my dad, who used to work for the National Weather Service, about how that works but he retired 19 years ago and whenever I ask him about weather stuff he says “what the hell do I know? I’m retired.”
Astros 6, Red Sox 1: José Urquidy allowed only two hits while striking out ten in seven shutout innings. Trey Mancini hit a two-run homer but I’m tired of the “moves at the trade deadline paid dividends” bit so it goes un-noted beyond that. Jose Altuve tied a career high with four hits which sorta surprises me because if someone had asked me I’d have guessed that, at one point or another, he went 5-for-6 in some long game, but I guess not.
White Sox 4, Royals 1: Lance Lynn threw four-hit ball over six innings while allowing just one run and José Abreu hit a three-run homer. The White Sox have won three of four. They’re two games behind the Twins and one behind the Guardians in the AL Central. The Royals have lost seven of nine.
Mets 9, Nationals 5: Daniel Vogelbach hit a grand slam, Pete Alonso homered and Chris Bassit shut out the Nats for seven innings. The newly-acquired Mychal Givens, made things interesting when he entered in the ninth with a nine-run lead but coughed up five runs while surrendering solo homers to Keibert Ruiz and Lane Thomas, but New York won, of course. Won for the eighth time in nine games, in fact, and extended their NL East lead over Atlanta to three and a half games. The teams begin a five-game series Thursday in New York.
Marlins 3, Reds 0: Sandy Alcantara tossed a complete game shutout in a game that lasted only two hours and nine minutes. That’s a testament to his greatness. It’s also a testament to the Reds’ ineptness. But seriously, Alcantara has been amazing this year. There are 18 teams who don’t have as many complete games as the three that he has and no one in baseball goes as deep into games as he does. That’s some real throwback shit. As an appreciator of old school pitching, I tip my cap.
Pirates 8, Brewers 7: Bryan Reynolds hit a solo homer off of newly-promoted Brewers closer Devin Williams to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning to break a 7-7 tie and help give Pittsburgh the win. The Pirates trailed 4-0 at one point. They also blew a three-run lead in the eighth. Willy Adames had four RBI in a losing cause for Milwaukee.
Athletics 3, Angels 1: Sean Murphy homered and drove in all three Oakland runs, with all of that damage coming off of Shohei Ohtani, so that’s one to tell the grandchildren one day. After the game the Angels said Ohtani has some soreness in his forearm. They seem to think it’s nothing major but that’s certainly noting you wanna hear.
Padres 9, Rockies 1: Juan Soto made his Padres debut and it was a pretty Juan Soto game: he reached base three times via a hit and two walks and scored a run. The bigger splash in his Padres debut was Brandon Drury, who hit a first inning grand slam. Later in the game Manny Machado hit a solo homer and Jake Cronenworth hit a two-run blast. The Padres have won five in a row and their new look is making San Diego fans go bonkers. They’re definitely the team to watch for the rest of the regular season.
Dodgers 3, Giants 0: Julio Urías tossed six shutout innings, winning his eighth consecutive decision, and three Dodgers relievers combined for three innings of one-hit ball. The Giants dropped their seventh in a row to the Dodgers. That’s their longest losing streak against their rival in 42 years. What a difference one season makes.
Cubs vs. Cardinals — POSTPONED:
🎶Always stays the same
Nothing ever changes
English summer rain
Seems to last for ages
Always stays the same
Nothing ever changes
English summer rain
Seems to last for ages🎶
The Daily Briefing
Brewers DFA Dinelson Lamet
The Milwaukee Brewers acquired righty Dinelson Lamet in the Josh Hader trade the other day. I assumed that they saw his flash-in-the-pan greatness from a couple of seasons ago and, his arm injuries aside, figured they’d at least try to fix him and turn him into either a back-end starter or a bullpen arm. Nah, the DFA’d him yesterday.
Not that his production this year justifies a roster spot, necessarily. The former top prospect had allowed 14 runs in 12.1 innings of relief with the Padres. Milwaukee is trying to win a division here, not work on a project, after all. Someone else will likely take a chance on him, though. Once a pitcher has shown even a partial season of greatness in this league it seems like he gets numerous chances before teams stop calling.
Dodgers to honor Vin Scully with a uniform patch
The Los Angeles Dodgers are paying tribute to Vin Scully by wearing a commemorative black patch featuring a microphone and "Vin" on their uniforms:
The Dodgers will be back home tomorrow night at which point they will honor Scully with a pregame tribute. That’s a nice looking patch.
Mike Rizzo: it was Scott Boras’ fault we traded Juan Soto
Trading a young, generational talent like Juan Soto is not something anyone really wants to do, but the Nats felt they had no choice. Late Tuesday Nationals GM Mike Rizzo took to the airwaves to at least attempt to explain it. The bulk of his explanation seemed to be focused on blaming Scott Boras. Here’s Rizzo, speaking on the SportsJunkies radio show:
"The agent has a history of taking most or all superstar players to free agency. We made three offers in the last year to Juan and none of them were countered, and there was not much discussion beyond, 'No, we're not going to take that offer.' Knowing the uncertainties of the ownership situation, we felt it was unlikely he was going to sign an extension before he went to free agency."
He went on:
“We believed that we were going to build a team around Juan, but then three historic offers that were said no to -- no communication, no counter offers -- and we got the impression that we weren't going to be able to extend Juan beyond this contract and he was going to become a free agent. We had to change our plans and when we were thinking about it and thinking that we were going to be unable to extend Juan, we felt that if we got the right offer, we at least needed to look at our options, and we did."
Nothing in what Rizzo says is factually inaccurate there, but the suggestion that Boras was acting in bad faith — and I believe that suggestion is in there with that “no communication, no counteroffers” stuff — is a bit too much for me.
There is probably no team with a greater familiarity with Scott Boras and how he works than the Nationals, as they’ve signed or traded for a ton of his clients over the years. They know how he operates. They know that he wants to take his clients to free agency. It’s to the Nationals’ credit that they at least made an attempt to get Boras and Soto to think twice about that, but once Boras and Soto did not respond to the offer, that should’ve been that. To the extent Rizzo is complaining here that Boras made the Nats bid against themselves and/or help set a floor for later offers for Soto once he hits free agency — and again, I think that’s what he’s doing here, claiming that the Nats were used — welp, that’s kind of on him, isn’t it? The Nationals are a major league baseball team. There is not some power differential here. If Boras is trying to play games that you don’t like, don’t play with him.
Also problematic here is the implied compression of the timeline. Soto is not in his walk year. This is not a situation where the Nats were racing against the clock and had to deal him in order to get anything for him. Soto was under the Nats’ control for the rest of this season and two more beyond it. They could’ve simply not traded him and began building the team around him that Rizzo says they planned to build. During that time the team would have the services of Juan Soto. Toward the end of that time, if Boras and Soto were still taking the position that they’d go to free agency, the decision to trade him may be a more pressing one and maybe you do that, perhaps in the summer of 2023 or perhaps in the summer of 2024. Maybe you don’t get as much for him then but, again, you have had the services of Juan Soto for that much longer and that’s a benefit. And you probably have a better team then than you do now, in part because Juan Soto has been around.
Or — and this is crazy, I know — you sign Juan Soto when he’s hit free agency. When he’s had more than six years in Washington and when, by then, the Nats are once again poised to contend with Juan Soto as the team’s star. Maybe you don’t get some significant hometown discount at that point, but you stand just as good if not a better chance of keeping him then. At least assuming you’re willing to spend the money.
I’m not saying that it was stupid to trade Juan Soto. I’m not saying that they did not get players back who may very well be important parts of the next winning Nationals team, because they probably did. I’m just asking Mike Rizzo to spare me the “it was all Boras’ fault” rebop and to stop acting like simply keeping Soto, if even until the offseason or even until next summer, was some impossible course of action, because it clear was something he could’ve done.
Alternatively, he can just own it all and say “we’d rather have a crop of good prospects than Juan Soto,” as that’s probably the closest thing to the truth in all of this. It’s just easier to make Scott Boras the villain here, I suppose.
The Blue Jays seem unconcerned about Whit Merrifield’s vaccination status
When the Blue Jays traded for Whit Merrifield on Tuesday, the big question everyone had about the deal was Merrifield’s vaccination status. As you’ll recall, he recently missed a road trip to Toronto while a member of the Kansas City Royals because he, along with nine of his Royals teammates, were unvaccinated. After that Merrifield suggested that he’d get vaccinated if he were traded to a contender, which he was yesterday.
So, did he get a vaccination in anticipation of being dealt? And did the Blue Jays know about such a vaccination at the time of dealing for him? Apparently not! Manager John Schneider said yesterday that there was“nothing new” about Merrifield’s vaccination status. He added, “obviously we know he wasn't there in Toronto, but totally up to him. And I'm sure that he's had conversations with his family and other people. So, you know, we're leaving that decision up to him.”
I find it hard to believe that the Jays are so blasé about all of this that they have gotten no assurances that Merrifield will be vaccinated and will be able to play games for the Jays. The most charitable explanation here is that they’re waiting for Merrifield to say something about it so that he can keep up the pretense that this was all his “personal choice” rather than have it look like he was forced into doing something that offends his political sensibilities.
Whatever the case, Merrifield must have received at least two doses of a standard COVID-19 vaccine or at least one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Whichever he chooses, he must have received the second dose — or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — at least 14 calendar days before entering Canada.
Joey Gallo: “I feel like a piece of shit”
I had missed this on Tuesday, but former Yankee, now Dodger, Joey Gallo sat down with NJ.com's Randy Miller before he was traded and was pretty damn up front about how miserable he’s been in New York.
Gallo said he feels like a “piece of shit” for the way he's played since being traded to the Yankees last year. He was also asked if Yankees fans were tough on him. Here’s what he said:
"I don't know how they usually are, but I don't know how much tougher they can get. Pretty much every team we play, players from that team reached out to me to say, 'Hey, bro, keep your head up. Don't listen to them.'"
He said that opposing players reaching out to him like that makes him feel “like a piece of shit, honestly.” He said he didn’t want to leave his apartment and that he didn’t want to show his face in New York anymore. He went on:
“I remember playing here with the Rangers watching guys get booed off the field and thinking. 'Holy shit! I feel bad for that guy. Now it's me. I do appreciate people reaching out, but it makes me feel like I'm a problem.”
I’m sure Gallo is not the first guy to feel like that after having problems in New York but, generally speaking, players keep that stuff to themselves and aren’t so brutally honest about it. I hope it’s helpful for Gallo to vent about it all because no one should ever have to feel like that simply for not playing baseball as good as he’s expected to, but I’m also really glad Gallo got traded, man.
MLB has an official vodka? OK. But does it exist?
I don’t know how I missed this from early July, but there is now an Official Vodka of MLB. From the league’s press release:
Major League Baseball and Distill Brands International (DBI) today announced a new multi-faceted sponsorship agreement that extends across television, digital media and retail locations making Distill Brands the Official Vodka of MLB in the United States and Canada. Through this new multi-year partnership, DBI plans to promote its full assortment of Super Premium and Premium Vodka with integrated branding across MLB's broadcast and digital platforms including MLB Network and MLB.com.
Super classy stuff, too, such as the “Vodka-based “Ready to Freeze Slim Pops” and the “750ml Vodka Glass Collector Baseball Bat.” Mmmm . . . alcoholly . . .
But there’s a problem! Per this article at Vinepair in which the origins of Distill Brands Vodka are explored, none of this stuff is apparently available yet. And not just the MLB-branded stuff. Like, there is no Distill Brand vodka yet at all, and the very company which is now an Official Partner of Major League Baseball seems to be as sketchy and fly-by-night as all get-out.
The company itself appears to have only one employee. There are curious absences of the company’s and the product’s existence in some of the relevant databases. One entry which does exist for it — its Certificate of Label Approval/Exemption in U.S. tax databases — is accompanied by some super janky Photoshop mockup of Barack Obama standing next to a fake display of the vodka in a fake liquor store (you can see it at the linked article).
A purported headquarters for the company is a post office box. A Google Maps search for the physical address provided in a Canadian trademark filing ends up at a row of residential townhouses. The former name of the company is BIAB Holdings, which markets novelty packaged spirits called “Booze in a Bag” but that product may not have existed either. While there was a presence of Distill products at the All-Star Game last month, the article notes that the bottles of Distill held by people in the social media posts were all shown with the caps on while other alcohol products like beers, wines, and other companies’ spirits are shown open and being consumed, suggesting that the vodka bottles were just mockups.
None of this is to say that there is anything actually sketchy going on here. It’s possible that this is a case in which marketing is way, way ahead of product, which is a thing that can happen. But something is off here. Possibly with Distill, but I really have no idea. Certainly with an enterprise like Major League Baseball — a business which has typically partnered with major international brands like AB InBev when it comes to this kind of thing — making what, at present, appears to be a phantom company its Official Vodka.
Anyone got any ideas? Anyone got any tips? If so, you know how to reach me.
There’s a storm coming
On Tuesday voters in Kansas rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have eliminated that state’s constitutionally-granted right to an abortion. It was a resounding rejection at that: roughly 59%-41% against the amendment. Experts, to the extent you want to call them that, had been, at best, saying this vote would be too close to call. Many figured that the fact that the overwhelming majority of registered voters in the state are Republican would carry the day for those who would ban abortion.
But nah. And the reason seems pretty straightforward: while elected Republicans are overwhelmingly anti-abortion, the population at large favors legalized abortion by fairly large margins. The Supreme Court and Republican-controlled legislative bodies see it differently, of course, but the Supreme Court is not a democratic body by design and has become illegitimate by virtue of Republicans’ hijacking of the body and because most Republican legislative majorities are either strongly aided by gerrymandering or, in some cases, exist because of gerrymandering.
But we’ve talked a lot about minoritarian rule in this space over the past couple of years, of course. So let’s talk about what the Kansas vote might mean for the future.
It’s always a bit dicey to extrapolate things from one isolated result, but this seems like a pretty straightforward case of those who would sow the wind reaping the whirlwind. Which is to say that this is a case of sharp political backlash against the Dobbs decision and its invitation for states to outlaw abortion. People — even conservative types in conservative states — may happily go along with Republicans’ agenda on all manner of things, but not abortion. And not many other things, I suspect, at least if and when those are placed so squarely on the agenda the way abortion has been thanks to Dobbs.
Which presents a clear path forward for those who are opposed the sort of theocratic tyranny unleashed by the current Supreme Court and its supporters: campaign on abortion. Campaign loudly on abortion. Make it crystal damn clear that Republicans are tied by an ankle chain to Dobbs and everything it represents and make it crystal damn clear that if those Republicans are defeated that abortion rights will be restored and protected. And by this I do not mean offering platitudes about values and ideals. They must offer a clear promise of what they will do if elected. I mean that Democrats running for office should make a firm pledge that if they hold the House of Representative and add two Senate seats that they will pass a federal law legalizing abortion in January 2023.
Promises matter. Objectives matter. We saw this in 1994 with Republicans’ Contract with America. I personally found that all pretty repulsive, but there was (a) general unrest and unhappiness at the time; and (b) a simple list of achievable objectives was offered to address it. Voters, particularly ones who are pissed off about something specific, understand that kind of thing and respond to it. They will do so here as well, at least if Democrats clearly and explicitly say what they will do.
Dobbs completely changed the political landscape ahead of the 2022 midterms. But it will not determine the outcome on its own. What will do so is clarity — loud, vocal clarity — about it from Democratic candidates. If they offer it, they will win. If they don’t, they won’t. It’s as simple as that.
I was on the ELAINE Show
What’s the ELAINE Show? Why, it’s a new podcast from the folks at Willits Pen, with “ELAINE” standing for “Explain Like An Idiot Needs Explaining.” The show’s host, Jesse Spector, claims that he’s the idiot — he’s not, but it’s good for the bit — and in its debut episode I explain what’s going on with the antitrust exemption right now. Also: we talk about Gordon Thomas laying down a sacrifice bunt which was not a thing one expects Gorman Thomas to do, but it was the 70s and people thought differently about things then.
Carrying the torch
While I, like Magellan, could not finish my expedition to Scotland last week, a reader, like Juan Sebastián Elcano, was able to complete the journey for me:
I hope the book had fun.
“Batgirl” movie axed even though it’s in the can
Warner Brothers has axed the upcoming “Batgirl” movie. But unlike most movies which get halted, “Batgirl” was not just in development. It was basically finished and in the can. Like, they have a whole movie done but they simply aren’t going to release it in the theaters nor are they going to dump it to HBO MAX or home video or whatever. It’s just being memory-holed.
I don’t really care much about a “Batgirl” movie, as most DC movie adaptations have been pretty abysmal over the years, but the fact that they’re completely disappearing it fascinates me. Like, why not try to get SOMETHING out of it? The official story is that it’s a function of management change and that new management only wants big time theatrical films whereas “Batgirl” started as an HBO MAX thing before being shifted to theatrical release and thus it’s in some bad uncanny valley as far as budget and production values and things go. But that doesn’t make sense to me because, hey, if it’s simply slightly-elevated HBO MAX material, why not just put it there and let it go away on its own terms?
My guess is that it’s bad. Like, beyond regular bad and into infamously bad and they don’t want people getting embarrassed by it. I further guess that, eventually, it’ll leak out somehow and we’ll get to see it anyway. I hope if that happens it becomes a camp/shlock classic. We need some more of those.
Have a great day, everyone.