Cup of Coffee: December 22, 2022
Captain Aaron, what the hell happened with Carlos Correa and the Giants, McCann to the O's, Luke FAILwalker, Night Court, and a "Little Drummer Boy" that slaps
Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!
Just visiting today? If so, might I interest you in an upgrade?
*Slaps roof of newsletter* this baby can hold SO MUCH news, gossip, useless information, obsessive diversions, and generalized bullshit each day!
If you’re already a subscriber, might I interest you in a last minute gift idea?
Your friends or family will be so happy to have a Cup of Coffee in their inbox each morning. And, if you’re kind of a jackass like I am, you might even have a few enemies who will be vexed and enraged by it each day, and isn’t that worth six bucks?
Anyhoo, let’s got on with things, shall we?
The Daily Briefing
Yankees name Aaron Judge team captain
The Yankees officially announced their new nine-year, $360 million contract with Aaron Judge yesterday. As part of that the club named Judge the new team captain. Judge thus becomes the 16th captain in team history and the first since Derek Jeter, who held the title from 2003 through 2014.
As team captain, Judge will take care of the coin toss before kick-off which dictates which direction the teams are to attack both in regulation play and prior to any penalty shootouts if they're in a knockout game. Judge will be distinguished by his captain's armband during the game.
[Editor -- Craig.]
Fine, you tell ME what a baseball captain does. I'll wait.
[Editor -- Well, nothing, but it's quite an honor. It means Judge is a special player and that he is considered both a leader and an inspiration to his teammates and fans alike]
Like Hal Chase? He was the Yankees captain for like 15 years.
[Editor -- I'm not familiar . . . ]
Here you go, boss:
Hal Chase, whose big league career lasted from 1905 to 1919, was the most notoriously corrupt player in baseball history . . . when he died, a penniless derelict, in 1947, he left behind two shattered marriages, an estranged son, and one of the great unfulfilled careers in baseball history. Today he is remembered as the poster boy for an era when gambling and throwing games seem to have been much more common than anyone was willing to admit.
[Editor -- What does this have to do with Aaron Judge again?]
Nothin'. I'm just vamping for time. It's almost Christmas.
[Editor -- Can we move on to the next item, please?]
What the hell happened with Carlos Correa and the Giants?
I really wanna see a story about Giants fans who bought customized Carlos Correa jerseys in the past week. I’d kill to read one about someone who got a Correa tattoo. In the meantime, I’ll just settle for the advertising equivalent of those Super Bowl-losing team “champion” t-shirts being sent to Burkina Faso or wherever:
Also, I just got out of a time machine in which I traveled forward to the next MLB owners meeting. I grabbed a newspaper from there and brought it with me:
Spend big and you make a lot of enemies in baseball, man.
Ok, laughs aside, what the hell happened here?
Before we get to the statements, such as they are, from the actual parties to the aborted deal, let’s start with the juicy gossip. The juiciest so far, oddly enough, comes from Tom Verducci:
Having arrived the previous day, Carlos Correa woke up in San Francisco on Tuesday and dressed to impress for his 11 a.m. Pacific introductory news conference as the new shortstop of the Giants. The news conference never happened . . . By about 1 p.m. Pacific, the Giants informed Boras they were not prepared to execute the letter of agreement, effectively putting Correa back on the free agent market
Dear Christ in Heaven, the Giants waited until Correa flew into town, put on a suit and tie, and was getting ready to get in the car from the Ritz-Carlton or wherever to Oracle Park before they balked on the deal? How fun do you think that Correa-Boras lunch was while they waited? I bet Boras set a new record for saying the phrase “relax, Carlos.”
Verducci goes on to describe Boras working the phones for a few hours, eventually connecting with Steve Cohen who is spending the holidays in Hawaii, and hammering out a deal that was done by 3:15AM yesterday morning, New York time.
For his part, Boras, spoke to the media yesterday and said the Giants flagged what Boras characterizes as an old injury that isn’t, actually, a big deal:
“You’re talking about a player who has played eight major-league seasons. There are things in his medical record that happened decades ago. These are all speculative dynamics. Every team has a right to go through things and evaluate things. The key thing is, we gave them medical reports at the time. They still wanted to sign the player and negotiate with the player.”
But then . . . they didn’t:
“We reached an agreement. We had a letter of agreement. We gave them a time frame to execute it. They advised us they still had questions. They still wanted to talk to other people, other doctors, go through it. I said, ‘Look, I’ve given you a reasonable time. We need to move forward on this. Give me a time frame. If you’re not going to execute, I need to go talk with other teams.”
For the Giants part, all we got was this statement from team president Farhan Zaidi:
“While we are prohibited from disclosing confidential medical information, as Scott Boras stated publicly, there was a difference of opinion over the results of Carlos’ physical examination. We wish Carlos the best.”
Thing is, we’re not likely to get super specific stuff from the parties themselves on this for a while. As Zaidi notes, the Giants can’t talk about whatever they flagged on the physical. And if it leaks it’s pretty clear who leaked it, so the Giants’ asses would be in the jackpot even if no one’s name was attached to it. Boras and Correa, of course, are unlikely to get more specific than Boras was above, because they don’t want to give oxygen to a story which suggests that Correa does, in fact, have a significant health issue.
And, of course, it’s possible that there is no real health issue at all. To that end, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle has a couple of tweets worth back-pocketing:
The Giants are a partnership with something like 30 partners. Charles Johnson is the largest shareholder, but he doesn’t run things day-to-day. His son, Greg Johnson, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and is designated as the Giants “control person” for Major League Baseball’s purposes, but he’s not like Steve Cohen or Jim Crane, calling the shots like a monarch. Larry Baer is most frequently referred to as the team’s owner by casual fans but he’s merely the President and CEO of the franchise and is answerable to the partners and the board.
All of which is to say that there are a lot of people who make decisions when it comes to the Giants. Almost all of the small ones are no doubt made by Farhan Zaidi and/or Larry Baer. When things get big — and a $350 million commitment is pretty big — I would guess that a lot more people have a say in that and I can’t help but wonder if there was some buyer’s remorse re: Correa on the part of the partnership at large in the past week. If so, it would not be hard for someone in-house to suggest, order, or otherwise put out there in the ether the notion that Correa’s medicals are scary as a pretext for scuttling things.
Again, just my speculation. But it’s not like Correa has had major health problems before and it’s not like reversals like this happen every day. It would not shock me in the least if we find out, much later, that there was more to all of this than a difference of opinion on an MRI.
But Jumpin’ Jesus on a Pogo Stick, they let Correa get dressed for the presser before backing out? That’s just . . . poor. I don’t know how you come back from that in the eyes of free agents.
Oh, well, I suppose you just aim lower and throw Scott Boras a bone by signing some of his damaged goods.
Mets trade James McCann to Baltimore
The New York Mets have a massive payroll and too many catchers so they tried to remedy that yesterday by trading James McCann to the Orioles. The Mets will send $19 million of the remaining $24.3 million on McCann's contract to Baltimore and get a player to be named later in return.
McCann, 32, is coming off a terrible season in which he hit .195/.282/.282 (55 OPS+) in 61 games, served two stints on the IL — a left oblique strain and a broken hamate bone — and lost his starting job. The Mets have Tomás Nido and newly-acquired Omar Narváez now and a catching prospect Francisco Álvarez in the pipeline. McCann isn’t likely to get a huge amount of playing time in Baltimore either given the presence of Adley Rutschman, but he could serve as a dependable backup, assuming he bounces back at least a little with the bat.
Sending all that money along doesn’t do massive amounts to help the Mets CBT situation, but (a) it’s not like anyone, especially the Orioles, are gonna take on real money for James freakin’ McCann; and (b) even if all of McCann’s money had come off the books it wouldn’t have made that big a difference as we’re in drop-in-the-bucket territory here.
Of course, I have zero interest in becoming a baseball capologist — I will fight having to care that much about such things as hard as I can — so about this I’ll say no more.
Rays move spring training to Disney World
As I noted in this space a couple of weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Rays will not hold their spring training games or workouts in their usual Port Charlotte, Florida spring home due to Hurricane Ian damage. The Rays and Major League Baseball announced yesterday that they have made the following adjustments:
The Rays will hold the first phase of their Major League Spring Training camp — workouts and February games — at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where Atlanta trained until 2020; and
Starting in March, the team’s operations and their spring training games will be held at Tropicana Field.
The bifurcated business makes sense given that (a) Tropicana Field does not have enough space, fields, etc. to manage workouts with the number of players a big league team has in camp during the first few weeks of spring training. Once the games begin in earnest — and the rosters are cut down a bit — you can have minor leaguers and guys who aren’t in the spring games hang back at Disney and shuttle to St. Pete for games as needed while the guys getting regular big league spring game time can settle near Tropicana Field. Given that there are multiple teams who train in the Bay Area — the O’s, Atlanta, the Pirates, the Yankees, the Phillies, and the Blue Jays — that likewise cuts down on travel for road games too.
Angels sign Brandon Drury
I missed this yesterday due to all of the Correa hubbub, but Brandon Drury and the Los Angeles Angels agreed on a two-year, $17 million contract on Tuesday night.
Drury had himself a breakout year last year, hitting .263/.320/.492 (122 OPS+) with 28 homers in 138 games between the Reds and Padres. The numbers, it should be noted, were considerably better in his 92 games in Cincinnati than in his 46 games in San Diego, and he is one of many who have benefitted from hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. Specifically, he hit .298/.354/.561 in 223 plate appearances there while he hit only .240/.299/.447 in 345 plate appearances in all other parks. The Angels are taking a chance that the truth of Brandon Drury lies someplace in between I suppose.
Drury can play both second and third, but he’s better at second. That’s where the Angels will likely deploy him.
I don’t like too toot my own horn all that much — my arrogance comes in slightly different forms! — but I saw this the other day and it put a spring in my step:
I don’t know much about Strauss apart from the fact that he’s a basketball writer in the Bay Area with an ESPN/The Athletic pedigree. Everyone knows Posnanski, of course. His passing me up on these sorts of lists was only a matter of time.
But I’m not gonna lie: I’m pretty chuffed about where I am in the grand scheme of things. And, of course, I wouldn’t be here if you all didn’t put your six bucks on the counter each month.
Thank you so much for making it possible for me to write the silly words that I write and to do what I want to do with my life.
More like Luke FAILwalker, amirite?
Yesterday I inflicted a massive, pedantic time-waster on subscribers in the form of a fourteen-part military strategy, operations, and tactics analysis of of the two major battles of the Lord of the Rings. You're welcome for that, by the way. The hours you spent reading it saved you going out and wasting money on Christmas gifts and things for family and friends. While that may have jammed you up a bit before the weekend, just know that there is no true fulfillment to be found in material possessions and you'll thank me later when you finally get your mind around that.
Anyhoo, today I figured I'd keep that sort of thing up and, this time, share with you a similar breakdown of the Battle of Hoth from "The Empire Strikes Back. This time our analyst is a fellow who goes by the name The Angry Staff Officer. And folks, he is most upset with the piss-poor military effort the Rebels put forth on the ice planet:
General Rieeken entrusted the air cover for the defense to Commander Luke Skywalker. Skywalker – who had gained notoriety for his destruction of the Death Star – was not a trained airspace coordinator. Nor was he an able squadron leader. His assault with snow speeders was right over the top of the forces he was supporting and straight into the guns of the enemy armor. Had he begun his approach over either the left or right ridgeline, Skywalker could have engaged the enemy armor in their vulnerable flanks and rear while keeping his ships out of the limited fan of fire that characterizes the AT-AT. What could have been an effective sortie ended instead in the loss of all ships after only destroying two AT-ATs. Commander Skywalker’s sortie did delay the Imperial attack somewhat, but barely made a scratch in it.
I could read stuff like this all day, every day, until spring. And given how much Star Wars stuff The Angry Staff Officer has over at his site, I might be able to.
A deeper dive on home rule
The other day I wrote about Ohio home rule and how Republicans LOVE local control when it's conservative, such as small towns banning abortions or books or what have you, but do everything they can to head it off when cities do things that conflict with the GOP agenda. Yesterday the Ohio Capital Journal wrote more about that. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not in Ohio, as this dynamic has played out in a lot of places.
Also worth noting that Ohio Capital Journal is an independent, nonprofit news organization that does investigative reporting, beat reporting, and offers commentary. Somehow, unlike those chuckleheads in New York I wrote about yesterday, they manage to get it done despite no one paying for subscriptions. And if they do miss something, they don’t blame it on the readers.
A sneak peak at the "Night Court" reboot
It's been over two years since we first heard that NBC was developing a follow-up/continuation/reboot/whatever you want to call it to “Night Court”, with John Larroquette set to reprise his role as Dan Fielding. The show is being quarterbacked by “Big Bang Theory” alum Melissa Rauch, who is executive producing and starring as the daughter of the late Harry Anderson’s Judge Harry T. Stone and by Dan Rubin, the co-executive producer of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."
While that's a pretty decent pedigree for a sitcom, and while "Night Court" was one of my favorite shows growing up, I was pretty skeptical of the idea of this reboot/continuation when I first heard it. Partially because I'm not 14 anymore and, while I still smile if I encounter a "Night Court" rerun, I am (a) pretty sure those of us who liked it a lot 35 years ago have aged out of it by now; and (b) pretty sure that a HUGE percentage of the jokes in the old series wouldn’t fly today because they were probably soaked in at least mildly sexist, racist, and homophobic thinking, as so much comedy of the 80s was.
Setting that aside, it's hard for lightning to strike twice. And if we're being honest, the original "Night Court" wasn't even a matter of lightning striking. It took like three years for that show to find its legs -- the pre-Markie Post seasons are rough -- and no shows get time to find themselves these days. If they don't immediately connect, forget it. I'm just having trouble imagining "Night Court" v.2 immediately connecting with anyone but old farts like me, and we're not exactly the most coveted demographic these days to begin with.
Still, I watched the little teaser trailer for the show that NBC put out the other day and . . . I can maybe see this working?
Same sets, same look, same vibe. Larroquette around to anchor it to some degree. I'll definitely give it a chance.
Little Drummer Boy
The other day I said that there was no good version of “Little Drummer Boy.” Some folks asked me how I could say that given that the David Bowie/Bing Crosby version exists. My answer to that: it’s certainly interesting. It’s quite a pairing, that’s for damn sure, and thanks to MTV, we’ve seen it a whole hell of a lot over the past 40 years. But even if I love Bowie and Der Bingle, I still don’t think the song’s that great. Still kind of a plodding, silly song in my opinion, even if it was the best version of it I had heard. At the very least, any of us who had babies in cradles at one point in our lives knows that the last damn thing we needed was for some punk kid percussionist disturbing things.
The other day, however, my friend Joe hipped me to the Lou Rawls version which I had, somehow, never heard before. Those of you who are doing that Little Drummer Boy Challenge can’t click through, but My friends, believe me when I tell you that Lou Rawls’ version of “Little Drummer Boy” slaps:
You can learn something new every day if you keep your mind open.
Have a great day, everyone.
Lou Rawls’ Christmas album (Merry Christmas, Ho, Ho, Ho) has been THE Christmas album for my family for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I couldn’t go downstairs until my parents had gone down to check if Santa had come. I’d know it was ok to go down when my dad started playing Lou, and Little Drummer Boy was the first cut on the album. I maintained that tradition with my daughter as well.
It remains, for me, my favourite Christmas album of all time (the whole thing slaps). So glad that someone put you onto it, Craig.
I looked up Ethan Strauss, and he is the alt-right Craig. Or rather was, since from what I can tell, he has shifted almost entirely to writing about politics in the guise of a sports blog, and seems to save his sports discussion for a podcast. I wonder if he left The Athletic not to have editorial freedom but to escape what he must see as the site being too "woke." Also, he charges more than any other Substack I know of.
I think I knew True Hoop has a Substack, but I was not subscribed for some reason. Not that I need another Substack. Of the others on that list, I follow Joe and I follow Marc Stein.
Farewell, James McCann, we hardly knew ye. The last of the bad Wilpon signings is gone. But note that the Mets are not trading most of this contract's value. They are in fact keeping that bulk of it and only sending $5 million to Baltimore, the opposite of what it says here. Not really sure what sense this deals makes, to trade him for little salary relief and a spare part from the minors. But the writing was on the wall for McCann no matter what.