Cup of Coffee: June 10, 2021

I wrote a speech for Rob Manfred. Think he'll use it? Also: Les Wexner, Jeff Epstein, Malcom Gladwell, and Loki, only one of which has redeeming qualities.

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Thank, y’all. You’re all peaches.

Today, after the recaps I play Rob Manfred’s speechwriter, assess the bomb Pete Alonso threw in a pregame presser, talk about the concept of “Wrigleyville,” and share a note about the Hall of Fame.

In Other Stuff I talk about my billionaire neighbor — really! — asses the “Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy,” gawk at a couple of odious law professors falling from grace, ask how awkward you really wanna make Father’s Day, and offer takes on Malcom Gladwell and Loki: one of whom is evil, dishonest, duplicitous, untrustworthy, and to whom you listen to at your peril, the other of which is a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And That Happened

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Phillies 2, Atlanta 1: Luke Williams made his first career start for Philly and won it for them by hitting a two-run walkoff homer. It was the only offense the team had all night too, as the Phillies had just four hits and made 15 straight outs before Andrew McCutchen drew a one-out walk off Will Smith who was trying to hold a 1-0 Atlanta lead in the ninth. After a pop out Williams came up and ended it with his blast. Dude was just promoted from Lehigh Valley the day before. Welcome to the damn Show.

Astros 8, Red Sox 3: José Altuve and Alex Bregman each homered and Jake Odorizzi went five innings to pick up his first win since 2019. As has happened everywhere the Astros have traveled this year, the Boston fans booed them. It hasn’t fazed Houston, as they’ve taken the first two games of the series, but it is bugging Boston’s manager. Here was Alex Cora yesterday:

“Tough to swallow, tough to hear it. Because at the end I was part of that. I was part of the 2017 Astros and I was part of the whole sign-stealing situation. The fact that they were booed like that, that kind of like hit me, too.”

If you need me I’ll be searching high and low for a single fuck I or anyone else should give about that.

Mets 14, Orioles 1: Baltimore had been piling up some runs recently but they got a taste of their own medicine yesterday. Kevin Pillar and Billy McKinney each homered twice for New York and Pete Alonso and Mason Williams went deep as well. Half of the damage came against former Met Matt Harvey who allowed seven runs and two homers in three innings of work. Alonso’s big night came after he dropped some bombs in a pregame presser, but more on that below in the Daily Briefing.

Athletics 4, Diamondbacks 0: Normally when I see a team get two-hit on a Wednesday afternoon getaway day I assume they mailed it in to get to that plane home more quickly, but this is the Diamondbacks so maybe they were really going for it out there and got two-hit anyway. Sean Manaea shut them out for six and three relievers each took an inning of hitless relief. Mark Canha tripled in two in the second and that was all the A’s would end up needing, even if they got a couple more.

Cubs 3, Padres 1: There was a lot of understandable anger on the part of Cubs fans at Cubs management for trading Yu Darvish last winter — and they’d still be better off if they had him — but they beat him yesterday. Joc Pederson took him deep in the fourth and Anthony Rizzo put Chicago ahead with a run-scoring double play in the seventh. Meanwhile Jake Arrieta (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) kept the Padres bats quiet and the Cubs pen closed it out with four no-hit innings. The Cubs beat the Padres five times in six games in a 10-day stretch.

Dodgers 2, Pirates 1: L.A. didn’t get much offense but what it did get — two homers from Justin Turner — was enough. Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin failed to make it through the second inning of his season debut, so it was an impromptu bullpen night for them and that bullpen did its job, with give guys combining to allow just one hit in seven and a third innings. Kenley Jansen got four outs for his 14th save, including snaring this comebacker from Ke'Bryan Hayes for the game’s final out:

Rangers 4, Giants 3: Texas trailed from the fifth to the bottom of the ninth when Adolis García singled home the tying run to force extras and then trailed again in the 10th when Nate Lowe tied it up with a sac fly. In the bottom of the 11th Brock Holt ended it with a walkoff single.

Rockies 4, Marlins 3: Raimel Tapia hit two doubles, singled and scored twice and Charlie Blackmon had two hits and an RBI for the Rockies, who improved their major league-worst road record to 5-23. The win was the 300th in Black's tenure as Rockies manager. Black became the third Colorado manager to reach the milestone, following Clint Hurdle and Don Baylor. He’s 234 behind Clint Hurdle. Feel like he won’t get there given that, this win aside, the current trajectory of the Rockies organization — they stink and will have a new general manager this fall — is not such that a manager should be buying fresh produce let alone assuming they’ll stick around for 3-4 years.

Reds 7, Brewers 3: Tyler Stephenson hit two RBI doubles and drove in three runs in all and Reds starter Vladimir Gutiérrez allowed only two runs over seven to help Cincinnati snap Milwaukee’s five-game winning streak and to drop them a half game back of the Cubs in the Central. Oh, and Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw had to be helped off the field after dislocating his left shoulder diving for a ground ball in the second inning so, nah, not a great night for Milwaukee.

Mariners 9, Tigers 6: M’s outfielder Jake Fraley made a game-saving catch in the ninth and then drove in the go-ahead run in the 11th to lead Seattle to victory. The Mariners scored five in the 11th overall.

Nationals 9, Rays 7: Starlin Castro hit an RBI double to open up the Nats’ two-run 11th inning. They had a two-run 10th inning too, but so did the Rays. Earlier they blew a 5-3 lead late thanks to homers from Tyler Walls and Joey Wendle. Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers and Juan Soto also went deep for Washington.

Yankees 9, Twins 6: A big reason the foreign substance scandal has broken out big lately is because Josh Donaldson specifically called out Gerrit Cole for his declining spin rate in his game last week against the Rays, basically saying that Cole had been doctoring balls and then, suddenly, when the league was making noises about cracking down, he stopped. Which may very well be true but also meant that yesterday’s matchup was gonna be worth watching.

Before the game mouth-breathers like Michael Kay suggested that Cole should drill Donaldson, which is idiotic. Cole preferred to take the high road, thankfully, and instead just mowed Donaldson down twice and then stared him down after strike three:

He got Donaldson to fly out in their third and final face-off. Overall, Cole allowed two runs and struck out six batters and Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers as the Yankees took the second straight game against Minnesota. Which should not be surprising given that they have owned the Twins like no team has owned any other team that I can ever remember for the past, well, forever.

Blue Jays 6, White Sox 2: Lance Lynn was good, allowing only one run — a Randal Grichuk homer — over seven but when he left all hell broke loose. Walks and errors and stuff sunk Chicago — the committed four faux pas in all — and to add injury to insult, Nick Madrigal, the team's hits leader, fell to the ground past first base after unsuccessfully attempting to leg out an infield single in the eighth and had to be helped off the field. Meanwhile, Toronto rookie Alek Manoah threw five solid innings in his third major league start.

Cardinals 8, Cleveland 2: Adam Wainwright allowed two first inning runs but then settled down and cruised for the next six frames. St. Louis put up a four spot of its own in the first thanks to a three-run triple from Matt Carpenter. The Cards never looked back, but poured it on with two Tyler O'Neill homers — a solo job and a two-run shot — and one dinger from Paul Goldschmidt. St. Louis ends its six-game skid.

Angels 6, Royals 1: Griffin Canning — who, if Dane Dunning did not exist, might get the Golden Age of Hollywood treatment — allowed one while pitching into the seventh. Anthony Rendon hit a two-run double, Kean Wong had a two-run single and José Iglesias added an RBI double for the Angels, who have won eight of 11.  

The Daily Briefing

Ball-doctoring is a top-down problem. It can only be solved if Rob Manfred takes responsibility for it.

The latest bit of fun in the ball-doctoring scandal comes from a story from Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic. It’s mostly an opinion piece, on all-fours with what I’ve been talking about this week regarding MLB’s lack of enforcement and, in many cases, downright encouragement of foreign substance-use being a problem. Ghiroli adds a couple of delicious little details, however, which underscore just how much this is NOT a “the players are cheaters!” issue.

First, while explaining how the baseball itself has exacerbated the problem of insane pitch movement due to its higher seams, she says that teams are actively working with pitchers to come up with optimized foreign substances:

“Cutting-edge organizations, several of whom employ actual chemists, had found the perfect sticky formula and the league had handed them an even better baseball for pitchers to manipulate.”

I will once again note that the Angels and Major League Baseball scapegoated and fired clubhouse attendant Brian Harkins over providing foreign substances to pitchers. If what Ghiroli is saying is true and other teams are engaging in ball doctoring R&D, it’s absolutely appalling what happened with Harkins and what is happening with players being made the bad guys in all of this.

But wait, there’s more! Ghiroli:

This spring, MLB sent out a memo informing players and teams that it would be enforcing illegal substances on the mound and looking for out-of-the-ordinary spin rates . . . many organizations — already a step ahead — continued to implement sticky substances at all levels so as to avoid a pitcher having a suspicious uptick when he reached the big leagues.

This is a league-wide scandal, working from the top down. If the league is going to get past it, Rob Manfred needs to get out in front of it, note everyone’s responsibility in getting us to this place, and explain explicitly how the league plans to address it. Anything less is an abdication of responsibility.

To that end, I have written a speech for Rob Manfred. Something that I think he needs to come out and say if he wants this scandal to be properly addressed. It would go like this, or at least something like this:

“In the past few weeks there has been a lot of talk about pitchers using foreign substances on baseballs. And for good reason: most pitchers are using foreign substances on baseballs. It’s something that is widely known and, generally, has been widely accepted in the game for a very long time.

“And there’s a pretty good reason for that too, or at least there was at first. As many have noted, there is a benefit for pitchers and batters from all of this. Certain substances allow pitchers to get a better grip on baseballs and that better grip leads to better control. That, in turn, reduces the likelihood that a ball may go out of control and hit a batter. Batters are aware of this and, generally speaking, are OK with pitchers using substances which enhance grip, even if they do confer some measure of benefit to the pitcher in terms of greater ball movement, and even if it’s against the letter of Rule 6.02 (c​)(7). Sometimes rules get bent, and bending rules is not always a bad thing. Indeed, it can be a useful thing to employ a certain flexibility in certain matters.

“In recent seasons, however, the rule has been bent too far. The power and sophistication of foreign substances used by pitchers has increased dramatically and the application of such substances has gone far beyond anything having to do with basic grip enhancement and batter safety. Pitchers have employed these substances to attain naturally unobtainable results in terms of spin rates and ball movement and have given themselves an unfair advantage over hitters in the process. The rule has gone beyond being bent and has been consistently broken in the most brazen of ways.

“Pitchers, however, are not the only ones responsible for this brazen rule-breaking. Clubs have been complicit in this, assisting pitchers in optimizing ball-doctoring substances and developing ball-doctoring techniques. They have likewise been complicit in helping pitchers evade detection in a number of ways. Meanwhile, players, coaches, and team officials have refrained from reporting obvious instances of rules violations by the opposition in the name of protecting their teammates who may be engaged in similar behavior. It’s a familiar pattern in baseball, seen in any number of other instances of rule-breaking throughout the game’s history.

“Finally, I am responsible for this as well. As the Commissioner of Baseball, it is up to me to ensure and protect the competitive integrity of the game. Indeed, that is the very reason this position was created in the first place over a century ago. While there have been far greater threats to the game’s integrity in the past than ball-doctoring, there is no acceptable amount of compromise when it comes to matters of fair competition. Until today I have been lax when it comes to enforcement of Rule 6.02 (c​)(7). That stops now.”

At that point Manfred would announce a list of acceptable grip enhancement substances that, at least provisionally, all teams and all pitchers could use for the remainder of the season. I’ll defer to experts on what the minimum thing that would accomplish that purpose is while not giving pitchers undue advantages — maybe pine tar, maybe rosin and sunscreen — but some sort of safe harbor so pitchers don’t have to go cold turkey and won’t end up throwing balls into batters faces like Vince Velázquez did to Austin Voth on Sunday. Manfred would then announce that his competition committee would study the matter of foreign substance use and consult players confidentially and either add to or alter that list before the beginning of spring training 2022, at which point it’d be final.

There are obvious issues here. Maybe the union beefs about the manner in which a rule is being differently or newly enforced. Maybe the umpires beef about any added responsibilities they have in all of this. I don’t care. You work that stuff out. The important thing here is that an institution cannot solve problems unless its leader leads.

I wonder what the odds are that Manfred does anything even remotely like this? Is there something longer than “gabillion-to-one?”

Pete Alonso believes MLB manipulates the ball to mess with free agents

I often talk about how there’s a lot of distrust between the players and MLB brass these days. If you doubt me about that, look no further than what Pete Alonso had to say yesterday when asked about the crackdown on foreign substance use.

He sidestepped that and made an accusation of his own: that Major League Baseball alters the ball from year to year in order to depress the salaries of free agents:

“The biggest concern is MLB manipulates the baseballs year in and year out depending on the free agency class . . . Oh, no, that's a fact. Yes, guys have talked about it. It's not a coincidence. It definitely is something that they did.”

Alonso referred specifically to the juicing of the ball during the 2019 season, after which seven of the top 10 free agents were pitchers, and the deadening of the ball this year, ahead of a hitter-heavy free-agent class this winter. In 2019: all-time home run records dropped like crazy. 2021, meanwhile, looks to be the worst offensive year in basically forever.

I’m usually among the first people to accuse Major League Baseball of doing nefarious things, but my accusations tend to be about things which I feel MLB is competent to do like, say, be greedy, nihilistic, or incompetent in a generalized way. I have serious doubts about the league’s ability to coordinate a precision attack on specific free agent classes via manipulation of the baseball. That dubiousness is a product of my belief that MLB, while likely trying to mess with the baseball at times, doesn’t really know how to do it very well or, at the very least, with any precision.

Which is not to say that Alonso’s comments should be dismissed. I’m merely saying that their literal truth should not be assumed. They are significant, however, for what they say about players’ view of Major League Baseball and their lack of trust in the league overall.

On “Wrigleyville”

Yesterday I took issue with the Cubs putting “Wrigleyville” on their City Connect jerseys, saying that it’s not even the name of the neighborhood but, rather, a real estate/gentrification kinda deal. That caused subscriber Mike T. to email me and say, “Cubs fan here born in the mid 80s. Wrigleyville is a term I've always known -- but one my parents never used. Looks like it started in 1980.

Per that graph at the link, it does indeed. My guess is that either Cubs broadcasters or a Chicago sportswriter started calling it that then or else a realtor got the term to take off around that time, as a LOT of neighborhoods get named that way. If anyone else has any insight, please let the rest of the class know. This classmate finds this kind of thing super interesting.

The Hall of Fame ceremony moved to September 8

Derek Jeter will finally get his chance on the stage at Cooperstown. As will Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker. Well, Miller won’t as he’s gone to the great bargaining table in the sky, but someone will in his stead.

It’ll just be a bit later this year than usual, as the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which had been scheduled for July 25, will now be held on Wednesday, September 8. It will take place outdoors in front of limited crowds. From the Hall:

“On behalf of our Board of Directors and our Staff, we are thrilled to be able to welcome our Hall of Famers -- the living legends -- and fans back to Cooperstown to celebrate the Induction of the Class of 2020. Returning the Induction Ceremony to an outdoor event will provide the baseball community with the opportunity to visit Cooperstown and celebrate the Induction of four of the game's Greats.”

The delay can’t matter all that much at this point given that all of the inductees were supposed to get their plaques last year before the ceremony was canceled for obvious reasons. The bump this year gives a bit more time for COVID restrictions to ease. There are no new inductees for the class of 2021.

Other Stuff

Les Wexner in the crosshairs

I’ve written a lot about my neighbor, Les Wexner, the billionaire founder and former CEO of L Brands (The Limited, Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, etc), most recently here. If you live where I live — either in New Albany, the town he created or Columbus, the town he has basically ruled for decades — he’s unavoidable. Or he has been until recently. Now he’s rather hard to find, actually.

Wexner was, famously, Jeffrey Epstein’s only client and the source of virtually all of Epstein’s wealth and power. Ever since Epstein’s arrest and subsequent death, Wexner has retreated into the bunker, basically. He stepped down, under no small amount of pressure, from his CEO post at L Brands and became Chairman Emeritus. In the past few months he’s even left that role, with he and his wife Abigail Wexner resigning from the board entirely. Just last week he liquidated $300 million+ in company stock. His private compound, the perimeter around which I walk frequently and described in detail here, has undergone a change as well.

Until a few years ago, Wexner and his wife, who is an equestrian enthusiast, would open the grounds each year for The New Albany Classic, an Olympic-level show jumping grand prix, combined with a “Family Day” complete with rides, fair attractions and first class entertainment such as concerts from Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, and the Jonas Brothers. The Wexners abruptly ended the Classic in 2018. Since then the compound, into which you could once look and at least see the chimney tops of Wexner’s mansion, has been surrounded with earthworks that make it impenetrable. It’s clear that Wexner’s change in status at his company was directly related to his relationship with Epstein, his claims that he had no connection to him after 2007 notwithstanding. I suspect that his retreating from public life and the reinforcing of his compound has very much to do with that as well. Probably because a hell of a lot of really, really bad things happened in that compound well before 2007 and would not have happened if not for Wexner’s patronage of Epstein.

To know how that all worked, you can read a new in-depth story at Vanity Fair about Wexner’s relationship with Epstein. It details how Epstein conned his way into Wexner’s life and the unique power he had over Wexner despite the warnings from basically everyone around him that Epstein was no good. It paints an absolutely awful picture, and causes one to make some fairly straightforward assumptions about their relationship which only go explicitly unspoken because people fear lawsuits from the still-living Wexner.

About that:

Those who’ve known Wexner longest have experienced a range of emotions as they’ve watched his fall. “It’s not the Les I knew and know,” former Columbus mayor Greg Lashutka told me. Harold Levin, the former financial adviser who feuded with Epstein, feels a small measure of vindication. “When Epstein was arrested, my ex-wife called me and said, ‘You were right,’ ” he told me. Wexner’s childhood friend Peter Halliday thought that the full extent of Epstein’s trail of destruction has yet to be told. “I know the story isn’t finished,” he said. “When the whole story does come out, I just hope Les is dead.”


One of the sources for the story is The Limited’s former chief of security, a man named Jerry Merritt. I actually know Jerry quite well. He used to live behind me. He and I built our houses at the same time. I can’t say I liked Jerry all that much — in 2008 when we were both out doing yard work he casually asked me “you gonna vote for the, uh, the uh, colored fella?” — but he’s a good source for the story and, racism aside, he’s not a bullshitter. My guess is that he knows where some bodies are buried, so to speak. And I liked his cat when he lived next door.

My final thought on it: Wexner still looms very, very large in and around Columbus. Due to massive donations and decades spent on the Board of Trustees, he’s shaped The Ohio State University in countless ways. Most notably by putting his name on the university’s hospital and medical school and its affiliated major health system with its scores of clinics, rehab centers, research facilities, regional outpatient facilities, and the like, all with Wexner’s name on the buildings.

Makes me wonder how much money Ohio State will have to spend on new signage and letterhead when critical mass from all of these kinds of stories about Wexner and Epstein is finally reached and the inevitable has to be done.

“The Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy” is bullshit

There was a column in the New York Times the other day from Kevin Roose in which he declared the end to “the golden era of the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy.” Which is what he calls the period of the last decade or so when “many of the daily activities of big-city 20- and 30-somethings were being quietly underwritten by Silicon Valley venture capitalists.” Uber and Lyft rides that didn’t make the companies money, ClassPass fitness memberships, MoviePass movie tickets, and basically anything else obtainable via app that seemed cheap and convenient to young people but which didn’t make the companies any money because they were all jockeying to gain business volume, not profitability and now that time is over and stuff is going to get expensive again.

I don’t take issue with what he’s describing, because what he’s describing, generally speaking, is what has happened. I take issue with the framing.

Instead of saying “OK, Millennials, your subsidized lifestyle is over, time to put on your big boy and big girl pants and pay your way!” why doesn’t he note that, actually, it’s time for these Silicon Valley companies to stop running their businesses like spoiled children and actually grow up and run them responsibly?

I’m not a Millennial, but nothing grinds my gears more the way the culture at large has infantilized and belittled that generation rather than treat them like the rational actors that they and all other people are. If companies consciously ran up big losses to try to snag Boomers and Gen-Xers, we would’ve taken advantage of that too, and I doubt we’d have gotten shit on like Roose shits on Millennials here simply because these businesses did stupid things. But hey, when you have a vast cultural prejudice to traffic in and exploit for page views, I guess you gotta do it, eh?

In other news: Millennials are pushing 40 now and their youngest members are over 25. Stop acting like they’re a bunch of children. Because I can assure, you they do not believe that they are.

The Fall of Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld

Yale law professors and married couple Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld were, at one time, pretty damn significant people. Chua, the author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” emerged over the past couple of decades as a power broker and king maker of sorts, steering students and other apprentices into prestigious clerkships where they’d later, inevitably, attain power. She also pushed my friend J.D. Vance, one of her students, to write “Hillbilly Elegy.” Given his noted lack of talent and savvy for, well, anything, it’s fair to say that that book doesn’t seen the light of day without Chua’s influence and insistence. Chua, along with Rubenfield, were also at the center of Yale Law School social life, giving them outsized influence at the most prestigious professional school in America.

Now that’s basically over. Rubenfeld is halfway through a two-year suspension without pay after a university committee found he sexually harassed at least three former students, and there is good evidence that there were many, many more. Chua, meanwhile, has been accused of advising female law students at Yale that their physical attractiveness and femininity was important in securing clerkships with then-judge and now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, telling them that they should exude “a model-like” femininity and “dress outgoing” in their job interviews with him. No serious sanction has befallen Chua — she’s been reprimanded for drinking and partying with students and now claims she doesn’t do that anymore — but there is a lingering sense that her influence is such that not following her advice is bad for one’s career, thereby perpetuating that kind of toxicity even if she has disavowed it. And there are accusations that she was still partying with students during the pandemic.

Against that backdrop comes a big story about the two of them in New York Magazine, in which they both come off pretty horribly, particularly Rubenfeld, who gives off every creep/predator vibe in the creep/predator vibe book. For her part, she has been barred from teaching the small groups of students that form the core academic groups at Yale Law. They’re both, essentially, personae non grata.

Getting dad a DNA test

I got an email offer from yesterday:

Feel like getting your dad a DNA test for Father’s Day is kinda passive-aggressive and even a bit dark, but whatever you think works, Ancestry.

More on the “Indy didn’t matter” problem

Yesterday I talked about how I hated the “Indiana Jones didn’t actually do anything” theory. In response, subscriber Mike Sixel wrote about how, irrespective of the movie, such a view of heroism and personal agency is unrealistic and is, actually, pretty damn destructive.

Good stuff, even if it comes with some hard truths about how much we matter to the world at large.

Malcom Gladwell has another book out? Hoo boy.

I can’t stand Malcom Gladwell. He oversimplifies complicated matters and, when even simplification doesn’t get him where he wants to go, he cherrypicks data and makes irresponsible inferences from irresponsibly small datasets or, often, mere anecdotes. He does this while claiming that he’s not wrong, just counterintuitive, and if you don’t get it, well, you’re not a genius disruptor-type like him and the people he likes to write about. All of this has made him extraordinarily famous and wealthy.

And most of it is harmless because (a) he likes to talk about things like ketchup and playing piano and pop psychology; and (b) his audience, while considerable for an essayist, consists of a lot of people who would be doing similar TedTalk-style thinking if only they could write as well as him. Which is to say that, it’s not like Gladwell is out there influencing the world in ways that are likely to be super destructive as opposed to just highly annoying, as is evidenced whenever you meet someone who is super into Gladwell at a cocktail party. Then his work is the sort that can actually encourage murder.

I bring this all up because he put out a new book a couple of months ago and this one seems a lot more dangerous than the sort of ground he normally covers. Why? Because it Gladwell-i-fies the concept of bombing people from airplanes and spreading the notorious lie that such a thing can be done humanely if, dadgummit, you’re a sufficiently clever disrupter. Which is to say that it’s military propaganda.

Not that I have read it. I am basing that assessment on this review in the New Republic. Based on what I do know about Gladwell’s work, however, I’m inclined to credit it.

I’m sold on “Loki”

I watched the first episode of Marvel’s “Loki” series on Disney+ yesterday. With the stipulation that I am a world class mark for MCU stuff, I will say that “Loki” has started solid as hell out of the gate. Great, character-driven stuff from one of the MCU’s best actors in Tom Hiddleston and a fantastic Marvel debut for Owen Wilson, whose understated take on things works perfectly in this setting. Between that, some fun cutaways and nods at some things I won’t spoil, and a generous nod toward “Brazil”-style commentary on bureaucracy, there was nothing not to love.

That’s all I got today. Have a great day, everyone. And if you’re visiting and liked what you read, consider subscribing:

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