Cup of Coffee: May 18, 2023
A big walkoff for the Mets, a big FU from the Dodgers to an LGBTQ+ group, a suspension, a callup, a dead bird, a surprise Picasso, a messed up house, bad P.R., and the death of a catchphrase creator
Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!
Much to get to today, so onward we go.
And That Happened
Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Mets 8, Rays 7: New callup Mark Vientos hit a two-run homer to tie things up early, Francisco Álvarez hit a three-run homer in the ninth to force extras, and Pete Alonso hit a three-run walk-off homer in the 10th inning to bail out the bullpen and to snag the victory. Earlier Mets starter Kodai Senga notched 12 strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball but, as noted, the bullpen necessitated all of those late inning offensive heroics. That part sucked but otherwise this was arguably the Mets most exciting win of this so far disappointing season.
Pirates 8, Tigers 0: Rich Hill started this one for Pittsburgh. He’s 43. Miguel Cabrera was in the Tigers lineup. He’s 40. The first time they faced each other was in Hill’s major league debut, a couple of months before my college-bound son was born. The best part of their matchup here was when Cabrera hit one between first and second and Carlos Santana ranged over to the hole to field it, requiring Hill to cover first as Cabrera sprinted to try to beat the throw. They may be athletes but they’re still 40-somethings and I bet they’ll both be in pain when they wake up this morning after expending all that effort.
Not that it took anything out of Hill in the moment. He went six innings, allowing just one hit and no runs and three relievers finished the one-hitter, with Pirates pitchers striking out 14 Tigers batters in all. Rodolfo Castro hit a two-run homer. Austin Hedges went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs. The Pirates last four games have been shutouts. Sure, they were on the losing end of two of them, but they’ve still been shutouts.
Dodgers 7, Twins 3: Dodgers starter Dustin May went only one inning before exiting the game with elbow pain. It was later diagnosed as a flexor pronator strain. He’ll miss at least a month. May, of course, had Tommy John surgery in May 2021, so this sucks particularly badly. As for the rest of the game, it was pretty close until the seventh when James Outman hit a grand slam off of Emilio Pagán which turned a 3-3 game into a mini-rout. Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo homered for the Twins, but Gallo left the game later after fouling a ball off his leg. Rough day for the Twinkies.
Rockies 11, Reds 6: The Reds took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth and then ran into a damn buzzsaw, with Colorado scoring five that frame and six more in the sixth. Elias Díaz drove in three and Kris Bryant, Jurickson Profar and Brenton Doyle each had two RBI in that two-inning beatdown. The Rockies have won 11 of 16.
Diamondbacks 5, Athletics 3: The Diamondbacks rallied for two runs in the ninth to avoid the embarrassment of losing twice in a row to the A’s. Torey Lovullo said after the game:
We were hung over a little bit from last night, not in the sense of being hung over from alcohol, but hungover from the idea of losing a tough game. It was still lingering in this clubhouse. We came out and made some really good plays defensively and Dom saved us.”
Suuuuuure, that’s how you were hungover, Torey, suuuuuure.
The “Dom” he referred to was outfielder Dominic Fletcher, who threw out the A’s potential go-ahead run at home in the seventh before the Dbacks could rally. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off the ninth with a double and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by José Herrera to give Arizona its fifth win in six games.
Giants 7, Phillies 4: San Francisco rode three RBI singles to four first inning runs, the Phillies tied it by the fifth with a Bryson Stott homer pulling them even, but two more RBI singles in the eighth brought the Giants three more runs. That’s a three-game sweep. And the Phillies’ fourth straight loss.
Royals 4, Padres 3: Vinnie Pasquantino hit a tie-breaking two-run homer and Maikel Garcia's RBI double gave Kansas City a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning which proved to be enough. The Padres dropped two of three to the lowly Royals and have lost nine of 11 overall to fall to fourth place in the West, eight games behind the Dodgers. The Petco Park crowd booed when this was over. Hard to blame them given the expectations here.
Orioles 3, Angels 1: Kyle Bradish allowed one over six and two-thirds, Austin Hays homered, and Ryan Mountcastle and Cedric Mullins hit RBI singles. Mike Trout’s solo homer accounted for the only Los Angeles run. The Angels have lost eight of their last 11 and are back down to .500.
Marlins 4, Nationals 3: Tuesday’s hero Jorge Soler homered again. This time a go-ahead two-run homer in the fourth. Bryan De La Cruz hit an RBI double in the sixth. Miami starter Edward Cabrera gave up two runs on five hits, struck out six and walked none. He only went five, though, because of a blister. Until then he had the Nats pretty much under control.
Blue Jays 3, Yankees 0: Chris Bassit and Gerrit Cole had themselves a heck of a pitcher’s duel and remained nothin’ but goose eggs until the bottom of the tenth. That’s when Whit Merrifield reached base on an error after which he and the Manfred Man were knocked in by Danny Jansen’s walkoff three-run homer.
Red Sox 12, Mariners 3: Pablo Reyes, who escaped from Oakland to Boston last week, doubled twice and drove in four. Justin Turner had a two-run homer and Rafael Devers and Kiké Hernández each drove in two as well. The Sox had a 9-0 lead after two so most of this was academic.
Cardinals 3, Brewers 0: Cards starter Matthew Liberatore tossed five shutout innings and relievers Andre Pallante, Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley kept the zeros going for four more frames. Nolan Arenado’s home run streak ended but he did single in a run and Paul DeJong hit a two-run homer.
Atlanta 6, Rangers 5: Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a 429-foot solo homer — it was his fourth straight game with a dinger — Eddie Rosario hit a two-run shot, and Orlando Arcia hit a tie-breaking solo homer with two outs in the ninth. Adolis García went deep twice in a losing cause for Texas.
White Sox 7, Guardians 2: Mike Clevinger beat his old club by allowing only two runs over six while somehow surviving a load of baserunners due to his allowing six hits and walking four. Jake Burger homered for the third straight game and Gavin Sheets homered for the second game in a row. Sheets was also ejected for arguing balls and strikes, but maybe he just had someplace to be and wanted out of there. Andrew Vaughn went deep as well.
Astros 7, Cubs 6: The Cubs took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth but let this one get away. Houston scored two in the eighth to make it 6-3. In the ninth Jake Meyers hit a two-run homer and then Kyle Tucker's two-run single walked it off for the Astros. Alex Bregman, who scored the winning run, also homered in the first and had three hits. The Astros extended their winning streak to four games.
The Daily Briefing
The Dodgers are caving to bigots and homophobes
The Los Angeles Dodgers, like a lot of teams, host a Pride Night each year. This year’s is scheduled for June 16. Yesterday the Dodgers issued a press release announcing that they have uninvited a group that had been previously invited to Pride Night. From the Dodgers press release:
This year, as part of a full night of programming, we invited a number of groups to join us. We are now aware that our inclusion of one group in particular - The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence - in this year’s pride night has been the source of some controversy.
Given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits that we have seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are a charity, protest, and street performance group which dons drag and religious garb — nun habits and the like — to call attention to sexual intolerance and to satirize issues of gender and morality. Beyond their appearance and affect, however, they have a decades-long history of ministering to AIDS patients, particularly when groups like the Catholic Church would not do so in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Dodgers had not just invited the Sisters, however. They had planned to give the group the team’s Community Hero Award for its services, so they obviously (a) were familiar with the Sisters work; and (b) found it to be worthy of praise and honor. But then something changed. Specifically, the homophobic Bill Donohue of The Catholic League, in concert with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, began pressuring the Dodgers about The Sisters’ inclusion, claiming that by honoring the group the Dodgers were promoting anti-Catholic sentiment. This is the same Bill Donohue, by the way, who has a long track record of bashing the LGBTQ+ community and more or less everything it does and stands for with pretextual “religious” objections which serve as obviously phony cover for his hate, homophobia, and bigotry.
Donohue has long opposed same-sex marriage, calling it “the work of the devil.” He has said that people who have died of AIDS died of “self-inflicted wounds.” He has said that “transgender persons are a fiction—they do not exist.” In claiming that the Pope called gender ideology “demonic,” he said “that is the Pope that I like!” He once claimed that “two men cannot get married. They cannot form a family. It’s a fiction,” and that gay people have been “disqualified” from forming a family “by nature and nature’s God.” And he’s said a hell of a lot more than that.
Bill Donohue is an all-around piece of shit who hates gay people. The fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers are caving to him, his group, and his political friends and are disclaiming their support for an organization that has given more support to the sick, the marginalized, and the vulnerable than almost any group imaginable is shameful. Such a thing would be pure cowardice under normal circumstances. But now, at a time when Republicans all over the country have declared all-out war on the LGBTQ+ community and have trafficked in extreme and eliminationist rhetoric against them, it's the height of irresponsibility for the Dodgers to cave like this and to allow bigots and homophobes to control their Pride Night programming.
It’s absolutely disgraceful. The Dodgers ought to be completely ashamed of themselves.
Domingo Germán suspended
Major League Baseball announced yesterday that Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán has been handed a 10-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for violating the prohibitions on foreign substances. Like the oodles of brown sticky stuff on Germán’s hands and pants which caused him to be ejected during Tuesday night’s game.
Manny Machado has a hand fracture
San Diego Padres slugger Manny Machado was hit in the hand by a pitch in Monday night's game. Afterward it was said that X-rays were negative. He had a CT scan and an MRI, however, which showed that he has a small fracture in a metacarpal of his left hand, so chalk up yet another victory for CT scans and MRIs. Machado sat out of yesterday’s loss to the Royals. The team isn't sure if he will require time on the injured list.
Machado is hitting .231/.282/.372 (83 OPS+) with five homers and 19 RBI on the season.
Mets call up Mark Vientos
The New York Mets promoted infield prospect Mark Vientos. He played in last night’s game and, as you saw in the recaps, hit a game-tying two-run homer. So welcome back to the big leagues, Mark.
Vientos, 23, made his big-league debut last season and didn’t do much to impress but he has raked in Triple-A this season, batting .333/.416/.688, hitting 13 home runs, and driving in 37 in 166 plate appearances.
Vientos played third base last night, but where he will play on a regular basis is not yet 100% clear. He has split playing time at first and third at Syracuse, but given that the Mets have Pete Alonso, first base is not happening. They presumably want to keep Brett Baty getting regular at bats at third, last night’s game notwithstanding. The real need is the outfield. Vientos has a tiny bit of left field experience in the minors, but assuming Buck Showalter is not comfortable just sticking him out there he could DH, of course, possibly in a platoon, and spell Alonso and Baty from time to time. Or Baty could, as he did for a short period last night, take over an outfield corner.
Given that the Mets were ranked 21st in runs scored and 20th in home runs entering play last night, Vientos will no doubt find his way into the lineup somehow.
Zac Gallen pulled a Randy Johnson
Death, taxes, Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers killing birds with pitches. Randy Johnson’s was still better given that he did it in a game with a fastball instead of hitting it with a breaking ball while tossing on the outfield grass, but a dead bird is a dead bird, man.
Ivan Toney suspended for eight months
Ivan Toney, the striker and best player for my football club, Brentford F.C., has been suspended for eight months for gambling violations. He can’t train with the team until September and he cannot appear in games for them, or for England, for which he is a member of the national team, until January 16, 2024.
This kinda sucks but (a) I knew it was coming; (b) Toney deserves it; (c) Brentford will likely be OK without him, even if it makes life harder for a few months; and (d) there is some high comedy surrounding all of this given that Brentford is owned by a guy who made his bones doing statistical modeling for gambling companies and is himself the owner of a betting exchange. The fact that the club has had a janky-ass online casino as its kit sponsor for the past few years makes this all rather amusing as well.
All of this is also why my casual soccer fandom will, as far as I am concerned, remain casual for the foreseeable future. It’s all pretty gross in that world, man. Way grosser than it is in baseball. I’ll watch the games because the games are fun as hell, but I am not gonna make anything other than the most basic of emotional investments in this business.
Great Moments in thrifting
Six years ago a woman bought four ceramic plates at a Salvation Army thrift store for $8. They turned out to be original Picassos worth over $40,000. She had planned on just making a fun tablescape with the $1.99 apiece plates but then she figured out what they were:
“When I tell you I Googled this set and saw how much they were worth and almost cried, passed out, pissed on myself—I’m not lying.”
The woman sold three of them at auction for $12,000, $13,000, and $16,000. She kept the fourth one in a safe deposit box. She plans to sell it in 20 years and give the money to her daughter.
I don’t know anything about the creation of these plates, but every time I hear about people finding surprise Picassos, I’m reminded of the old Jon Lovitz sketch from “Saturday Night Live.” I’m just gonna assume the plates were created under similar circumstances.
Wanna buy a messed up house in Las Vegas?
Yesterday I told subscribers that my wife and I are in contract on a new house. It’s not yet a fully done deal — we are still waiting for all of the inspection-related stuff to resolve itself — but we’re close.
In the meantime, I continue to get all of those emails you get from real estate websites with “houses for you!” based on your browsing history. I try not to look at those because it’ll likely result in me finding one that I like better than the one I’m buying and there’s no percentage in that. I do, however, still read the random “check out this crazy house!” emails Zillow and the other sites send out. Yesterday I saw one in Las Vegas that, while not up my own alley, I’d definitely wanna go see if they were having an open house:
Come for the creepy full-sized Spider-Man suspended from the ceiling. Stay for the Bored Ape crypto cartoons on the kitchen wall. Stay forever if this appeals to you and you have $995,000 bucks burning a hole in your pocket.
I’d say a member of the Oakland A’s should buy it for the team’s impended move, but hardly any of them on the roster make enough money to afford it and if any do start to make enough dough the club will trade them away well before the team moves because, really, who wants good players?
Great Moments in Accountability
A couple of months ago Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant was suspended for eight games for posting an Instagram Live video in which he brandished a gun at a Colorado nightclub. There was a great sturm und drang about that, with the team, the league, and sponsors weighing in, Morant talking about getting counseling and, ultimately, deactivating his social media accounts.
This past weekend another Morant video surfaced — on a friend’s Instagram account — in which Morant once again was shown waving a gun around. The Grizzlies suspended Morant from all offseason team activities pending the league office's review.
Basketball is not my beat so I’m not gonna get too in the weeds about Morant, but I cannot stop thinking about the public apology he issued in the wake of this latest incident:
“I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me. This is a journey and I recognize there is more work to do. My words may not mean much right now, but I take full accountability for my actions. I’m committed to continuing to work on myself.”
That’d be a perfectly fine statement if it weren’t for the fact that it was 100% the product of Morant or his PR people going to ChatGPT, entering “make an apology paragraph that you got caught again” and copying and pasting the results into the statement:
I already knew that a GREAT many P.R. statements from famous and notable people were copied and pasted right out of boilerplate crisis management manuals, but this sort of laziness is next level.
Bill Saluga: 1937-2023
You probably don’t know who Bill Saluga was, at least by that name. If you are of a certain age, however, you may remember Ray J. Johnson and his “you can call me Ray, you can call me Jay . . . But you doesn’t hasta call me Johnson” bit that went what passed for viral for a time in the late 1970s thanks to his appearances on TV and in beer commercials. Saluga died in late March at the age of 85, the New York Times reported yesterday.
Saluga wasn’t just a beer pitchman. He was a comedian and was part of the improvisational comedy troupe Ace Trucking Company, which produced Fred Willard among others. He got more national exposure via appearances on “The Gong Show” and other variety and game shows. As so many minor, character-based celebrities did at the time, Saluga put out a novelty disco song called “Dancin' Johnson,” in 1978. Our friend Dan Epstein has a whole lot about that over at his newsletter.
Since the late 70s Saluga was referenced more than he was seen, at least nationally speaking. Bob Dylan did a riff on the “you can call me ___” bit in his 1979 hit “Gotta Serve Somebody,” singing “You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy / You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy / You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray / You may call me anything, but no matter what you say / You’re gonna have to serve somebody.” The bit was repeated multiple times on “The Simpsons” over the years, usually in service of a joke that showed how Homer was stuck in the 1970s. Saluga appeared as himself on the show in 2002.
RIP Bill Saluga
Have a great day, everyone.
Bad news: the Nats lost again. Good news: Corey Dickerson, fresh off the injured list, had two hits, including an upper deck bomb off of Cabrera, who definitely did not “handle” him.
PS Calling it now: like most public homophobes, Donohue is projecting. Can’t wait to see the photos of him in an assless Pope costume.
PPS Definitely not Picasso plate territory, but apparently we had a mid-century modern table lamp at our estate sale that went for over $300 … Mary got it for like $5 at a thrift store and it was so ugly (to me) I was convinced I’d have to take it back there. Just your daily reminder that I don’t know doodle about squat.
That Alonso homerun was a monster shot. As was the Alvarez
And those last three innings were a rollercoaster
I love baseball