Cup of Coffee: June 16, 2022
Another near no-no, A.J. Hinch is on a quest to find the real pitch-changers, and we talk about antitrust, dirty laundry, mascots, capitalism, God's Plan, and a strange disappearance
Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!
We had another near no-no last night but the weirdest thing that happened in yesterday’s games was someone rendering A.J. Hinch unconscious and making pitching changes on his behalf. I know that sounds strange, but that seems to be what he is saying and I am in no position to question someone like A.J. Hinch.
Elsewhere, the DOJ weighed in on MLB’s antitrust exemption, the Mets are talking to a group of people MLB does not seem to want to acknowledge, the Orioles owners keep airing their dirty laundry, and a minor transaction is no reason to rage, rage against the dying of the light.
In Other Stuff my law school alma mater is changing mascots, capitalism will not be slowed by artistic critiques, a Texas public official has a perverse view of “God’s plan,” an insurrectionist talks pretty tough when he’s not in front of a judge, and there are items about air travel getting even more dystopic and on the disappearance of Wee Willie McLean.
Wait, you don’t know about the disappearance of Wee Willie McLean? Well then read on, my good people. Read on.
And That Happened
Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
White Sox 13, Tigers 0: In case you want to know how bad it’s been going for the Tigers lately, know that they used three — three! — position players to pitch here. Here are A.J. Hinch’s thoughts about that:
My brother in Christ, who called for those pitching changes?
One of the “pitchers” was Kody Clemens, son of Roger. He’s only gotten two hits as a hitter in the 12 games since he got called up but he gave up three hits in his one inning of work on the mound. As for Chicago, Yoán Moncada had five hits and five RBI. One of those runs batted in came via a single off Clemens. Moncada, Danny Mendick and Seby Zavala homered and José Abreu had four hits and drove in two. There were 22 Chisox safeties in all.
Twins 5, Mariners 0: Sonny Gray and five relievers combined for a five-hit shutout. At no point did Rocco Baldelli wonder how those five relievers got into the game which is how you know he’s a better manager than A.J. Hinch.
Phillies 3, Marlins 1: It was a hell of a pitchers duel through eight with Phillies starter Kyle Gibson allowing only one run over that span and Marlins starter Daniel Castano tossing shutout ball into the seventh and two relievers keeping that going until the ninth. In the final inning Tanner Scott put two on but struck two out and then faced Garrett Stubbs with a chance to preserve a 1-0 win.
Nope: Stubbs hit a walkoff three-run homer. And check out this bat spike. The Phillies have won 11 of 13. This one was among the more dramatic of the wins.
Astros 9, Rangers 2: Houston put up a six-spot in the top of the first inning ending this one before it really began. But it somehow got worse for the Rangers or, at the very least, more embarrassing. In the bottom of the second Houston starter Luís García pitched an immaculate innings, striking out Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran, and Brad Miller on nine pitches. Then, in the seventh inning, Astros reliever Phil Maton did it again! To the same three Rangers hitters, Lowe, Duran, and Miller! That, to say the least, has never happened before. Hell, Astros pitchers had only done it two previous times in the past 20 years. Anyway, Martín Maldonado homered and drove in three, Yuli Gurriel went deep too, and the Astros took two of three from Texas.
Diamondbacks 7, Reds 4: The Snakes avoid the sweep. Geraldo Perdomo hit a two-run homer early and Arizona put up a four-run inning late. Highlight of the game, though, was Dbacks starter Zac Gallen hitting four of his first eight batters he faced.
This is not new for the Reds, at least historically speaking. Back in 1974 the inimitable Dock Ellis, concerned that the other big dogs of the National League were overlooking the Pirates, decided to take matters into his own hands and let one of those big dogs know that Pittsburgh was still a team to be reckoned with. In the clubhouse, prior to a start against the Reds, Ellis told his teammates, “We gonna get down. We gonna do the do. I'm going to hit these motherfuckers.” He then proceeded to hit Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen — 1-2-3 — to start the game. Tony Perez drew a walk — dodging a would-be plunking — and then Ellis then threw two balls at Johnny Bench's head before Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh pulled Ellis from the game. The Reds won the game, but the Pirates won the NL East that year so let that be a lesson, kids.
Sadly, Gallen was neither doing the do nor was he intentionally hitting these motherfuckers:
Gallen settled down after a brutal start. The right-hander hit four of his first eight batters, two in the first and two in the second. He said he was trying to throw inside and didn't believe all the pitches were bad.
No one wants to do the do anymore. This game is going to hell.
Brewers 10, Mets 2: It was a close one until the Brewers put up a seven-spot in the fifth. With Corbin Burnes giving up only two runs in six innings while striking out eight, there wasn’t much of a chance of the Mets coming back. The win gave manager Craig Counsell his 564th victory with the Brewers, breaking the franchise record. When I referenced this record the other night I suggested that, in honor of Joe Schultz, that Counsell pound that Budweiser when the breaks the record. Did he?
Counsell was showered with beer by his players and conducted his postgame interview with his hair still soaked.
There are a lot of good beer options at Citi Field, including micro-brews but the fact of the matter is that Anheuser-Busch has long held the primary pouring rights in that stadium. The Brewers, meanwhile, have obviously had a very long association with Miller Beer. The question, then, is whether a visiting club brings its own along with them or if it gets supplied with the home team’s brew. These are the sorts of questions that concern me. These are also the sorts of questions I ask that, in part anyway, represent why I was never allowed in the BBWAA.
Royals 3, Giants 2: The Royals scored their first two runs on a Brandon Crawford error, which is not something that happens all that damn often. They scored their last one — the go-ahead run — on a Whit Merrifield sacrifice fly in the eighth. That kind of thing does seem to happen a lot. Indeed, I’m too lazy and dumb to research it but I feel, based solely on casual perusing of box scores before my first cup of coffee has really taken hold, that there are a greater number of runs being scored via the sac fly this year than in most years. Because I assume everyone else is as lazy and dumb as me — this is how I avoid self-esteem issues — I’m gonna guess no one else knows how to look that up and thus my assertion will stand until it eventually morphs into fact.
Yankees 4, Rays 3: Aaron Judge hit his 25th homer of the year, Kyle Higashioka hit a three-run shot, and Nestor Cortes (5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) outpitched Shane McClanahan (6 IP, 3 H, 4 ER). It was New York’s 13th-straight home win. A win which puts them nine games up in the AL East. The third place Rays are 11 games behind. Indeed, they’re closer to the last place Orioles, who they lead by nine games, than they are to the Yankees.
Blue Jays 7, Orioles 6: The second place Blue Jays kept pace, meanwhile, winning in walkoff fashion when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled home the Manfred Man to lead off the bottom of the 10th. Earlier they blew a 5-0 lead when Ryan Mountcastle hit an equalizing two-run homer in the eighth — his second homer of the game, actually. Guerrero, Matt Chapman, and Teoscar Hernández went deep for the Jays.
Red Sox 10, Athletics 1: Rafael Devers homered in his fourth straight game to lead the rout. Boston has won 11 of its last 13 games. The A's have lost 13 of their last 14
Atlanta 8, Nationals 2: Make it 14 straight wins for the Barves. Austin Riley homered twice and the Nationals couldn’t do anything against Atlanta starter Spencer Strider, who allowed only one hit while pitching into the sixth. Orlando Arcia, starting at second base in place of the injured Ozzie Albies, had a homer, three singles and a walk. Atlanta outscored the Nationals 27-11 in sweeping the three-game series and homered off Nats pitchers 13 damn times.
Pirates 6, Cardinals 4: Bryan Reynolds hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the seventh to end the Buccos’ nine-game skid. Reynolds also tripled and scored in the contest. Jack Flaherty made his first appearance of the season, starting this one for the Cardinals. He was capped at 60 pitches — a cap he hit after three innings — and allowed four runs, two of which were earned, on three hits. Rusty, but that was part of the deal when the Cards decided to let him build up to full strength in games that counted rather than send him on an extended rehab assignment.
Padres 19, Cubs 5: Manny Machado homered, had three hits in all, drove in four, and notched his 1,500th career hit as the Padres had no trouble with Cubbies pitching. Jorge Alfaro hit a two-run homer and three RBI. Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar each doubled twice and had three hits. Luke Voit hit a solo homer off Frank Schwindel who was pitching in the ninth. A.J. Hinch has hired detectives to figure out how he got into the game. The Cubs have lost nine straight.
Guardians 7, Rockies 5: José Ramírez got four more hits because he’s absolutely ridiculous, Josh Naylor hit a go-ahead double in the fifth, and Amed Rosario added four hits, including a homer. Steven Kwan made a hell of a catch in this one as well.
Dodgers 4, Angels 1: Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, struck out Mike Trout, but then surrendered a triple to Shohei Ohtani. He was lifted at that point, having thrown 123 pitches, and Ohtani scored but it was still a fantastic night for him. In all he went eight and a third, struck out eight and walked two. Will Smith and Trea Turner smacked dingers as the Dodgers sent the Angels to their fourth loss in five games since their 14-game losing streak was snapped.
The Daily Briefing
DOJ asks court to limit the scope of baseball’s antitrust exemption
Several months ago three of the 43 minor league teams which were de-affiliated by MLB during the latter’s minor league contraction sued the league. MLB has moved to dismiss the lawsuit, citing multiple justifications. One of those justifications is that it is exempt from the minor league clubs’ antitrust claims due to its Supreme Court-granted antitrust exemption.
Yesterday, in an eyebrow-raising move, The Department of Justice formally asked the federal court handling the case to limit the scope of baseball’s antitrust exemption, stating that the court should “define the exemption narrowly and decline to extend its scope beyond conduct that is central to the offering of professional baseball exhibitions.” It further argued that the exemption “does not rest on any substantive policy interests that justify players and fans losing out on the benefits of competition.”
Major League Baseball had no comment. Harry Marino, the Executive Director of the minor league player advocacy group, Advocates for Minor Leaguers, issued this statement:
“It is momentous that the Justice Department today declared that baseball’s antitrust exemption 'does not rest on any substantive policy interests that justify players . . . losing out on the benefits of competition.' This means the United States government sees no substantive reason why Major League Baseball teams should be permitted to collude and pay Minor League players poverty wages, as they have for decades.”
I still tend to think that this case goes nowhere for the minor league owners given that they were parties to a contractual agreement that anticipated MLB yanking their affiliations, but this does seem like a sign that there won’t be anyone but Rob Manfred and 30 owners defending the antitrust exemption if it ever gets before the Supreme Court again.
Mets met with Advocates for Minor Leaguers
Speaking of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported yesterday that officials from the New York Mets recently sat down with the group and a New York State Senator to discuss improving pay and working conditions for minor leaguers in the Mets system.
Drellich calls it a “first of its kind” meeting and, yeah, I’d say so. Major League Baseball, while making some accommodations as far as minor leaguers’ working and living conditions go of late, has had to be brought to that point by litigation and some high-profile bad press. In no event has any club taken it upon itself to reach out to this or any other minor league advocacy group to try to address concerns. Major League Baseball, not surprisingly, had no comment for the story.
There is no word about any specific things the Mets and Advocates for Minor Leaguers are talking about — and no team should be celebrated simply for taking a meeting; action, not words, are what matter — but the fact that the Mets are even making the effort is rather remarkable.
Georgia Angelos issues a statement about the Orioles lawsuit
The other day Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos issued a statement in response the lawsuit filed by his brother Louis which, among other things, alleged that John, with the acquiescence of their mother, Georgia, planned to move the team to Nashville. Yesterday Georgia issued a statement of her own, calling her son Louis’ lawsuit “defamatory” and, like her son John, claiming that there is no intention whatsoever to move to team.
Part of her statement included her displeasure at the Louis bringing a family dispute into the public sphere, with Georgia saying “I have always believed that family disputes and concerns should remain among family members.” Totally fair statement, but I’m not sure how both her and John Angelos making public statements like they have serves that end. Feel like this is one of those instances in which one should just say “no comment” and defer to the lawyers. But, eh, not my lawsuit, my team, or my family.
Yesterday the Astros claimed outfielder Dillon Thomas off waivers from the Angels and optioned him to Triple-A.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives his green age; that blasts the roots of trees, is his destroyer.
Also: he has a .398 OBP at Salt Lake this year and that’s useful.
Great Moments in Patriotism
When you can conflate sports, militarism, and the police motto “to protect and serve” into one big ball of patriotism at a ballpark induction ceremony you've definitely cracked the code.
The disappearance of Wee Willie McLean
Pablo Maurer and Matt Pentz of The Athletic have written an astonishing story about William ‘Wee Willie’ McLean. McLean was a Scottish immigrant who came to be a star winger on semi-pro soccer teams in Chicago and St. Louis in the 1920s. In 1934 he was a member of the United States’ first World Cup team, with whom he traveled to Italy where the Americans were eliminated in the first round. Then, a few years later, McLean disappeared.
Except he didn’t really disappear. Anyone who has taken a dive or two into minor history or genealogy knows that someone who disappears from someone’s life almost always appears in the life of someone else and that most people leave trails between those lives.
Following McLean’s trail from the height of his fame to the seeming disappearance is the business Maurer and Pentz are up to, and it’s fascinating business.
Capitalism, as always, is beyond parody
Last fall’s TV series “Squid Game” is a scathing critique of capitalism in which the risks and dangers two which people will subject themselves in a quest for material wealth and comfort — and the hardships to which business and society will subject the desperate — are put to harsh judgment.
On Tuesday Netflix announced “Squid Game: The Challenge.” It’s a reality/game show in which 456 players will compete in a series of games for the chance to win $4.56 million.
I saw a lot of people complaining on Twitter that this is evidence that Netflix completely missed the point of “Squid Game,” but that assumes that Netflix didn’t, actually, completely understand the point and that the losing contestants in this new show won’t be killed for viewers’ amusement. Don’t judge until you see the product, man.
“God always has a plan”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has done absolutely nothing in response to the gross incompetence and cowardice of law enforcement that led to 19 children being murdered in Uvalde, Texas, was asked yesterday what he would tell the families of the Uvalde victims. He said: “I believe god always has a plan. Life is short, no matter what it is.”
Almost every day I come across something that makes me think we’ve reached a new depth as a species, and then some politician — who keeps getting reelected — comes along and says that it was God’s will for children to be blown away. Blown away so thoroughly, with their bodies so mangled by military-grade weaponry the ownership and use of which people like Paxton believes to be a sacred right, that it requires DNA testing to identify the bodies.
I don’t believe in God, but if I’m wrong about that and He does exist, I still doubt that’s His will, let alone His plan. Such a horrific loss of life is, however, something for which the plans of people like Ken Paxton explicitly allow and enable. He’s a coward for hiding behind God and refusing to own up to it. He had best hope, for the sake of his soul, that God does not exist because I feel like the God my friends talk about wouldn’t take too kindly to this kind of thing and would, rather, send Ken Paxton’s ass straight to hell for it.
Press release bravery
A Parkersburg, West Virginia man named Eric Barber was sentenced to six weeks in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in the 1/6 riots, during which time he stole a phone charging station belonging to C-SPAN. Barber was actually a member of city council of Parkersburg at the time. At the time of sentencing, Barber was contrite:
“My remorse has been sincere, and, I think, was immediate and I think that differs me from a lot of defendants . . . The impact that the crimes I committed on January 6 has had on me has been significant. I’ve lost significant standing in my community. standing that I worked really hard to earn. But all of that’s thrown away.”
Then, mere hours after the sentencing, he released this statement to the press:
“A stolen phone charger is nothing compared to a stolen election. Any crimes I committed January 6th pale in comparison to the lifelong criminal enterprise Nancy Pelosi has engaged in during her decades in congress (i.e. insider trading). If I had a judge assigned to my case that was appointed by President Trump I would have received no jail sentence, unfortunately, I had an Obama appointee and as a result, I’ll have to do 6 weeks in a minimum-security facility as a political prisoner . . . I think a lot of folks were confused that rioting wasn’t an acceptable form of protesting after democrats spent two years burning down cities and attacking federal buildings during the BLM/Antifa riots of 2020. Had federal prosecutors been so enthusiastic about prosecuting Antifa rioters as they were with trump supporters maybe people would have been hesitant to engage in behavior that liberals celebrated as a form of peaceful protesting.”
This loser sure does talk big when he’s not standing in front of judge, doesn’t he?
What are the odds my dude conforms to his probation requirements? I’m guessing they’re pretty low.
CNN Travel reviews an innovative design for budget airline passenger seat configurations. And by “innovative” I mean “claustrophobia-inducing and dignity-depriving”:
No word yet whether this double-decker design will capture more market share than this standing seat/torture device profiled a couple of years ago.
People actually win design awards for these cursed inventions, by the way. The awards, I suspect, are funded by airlines whose sole incentive is to pack as many suckers into a metal tube as is humanly possible, after which a few more are packed in because the “humanly” part is optional given that, ultimately, all that matters for the airline to earn enough money to do some more stock buybacks.
All that being said, I think the designers of these seating configurations lack vision. If I was in charge I’d propose sedating all passengers with powerful drugs, shrink-wrapping them up to their necks, and neatly stacking them in a pressurized storage hold for the duration of the flight. In addition to allowing planes to carry two to three times the current number of passengers, it would all but eliminate the need for snack and beverage service, thereby allowing the airline to slash the flight attendant payroll, thereby enhancing profitability.
Seriously, guys. Give me a call. I got a ton of ideas.
George Washington University to change its nickname
As a George Washington University graduate I take note of the fact that my law school alma mater is getting rid of its “Colonials” nickname, with university officials saying that the name glorifies colonialism and that it can “no longer serve its purpose as a name that unifies.”
The university, which will still continue to be named after a man who held hundreds of slaves, will attempt to have a new, less divisive nickname online by the 2023-2024 school year.
Have a great day, everyone.