Cup of Coffee: September 15, 2022
History in St. Louis, an MLB owner buys into English football, there's a chess scandal involving butts, we sit on our butts too much, and we should all be watching the Queen's funeral on Corncob TV
Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!
Today we talk about history in St. Louis, an open letter to Tony La Russa, the minor league unionization effort clears another hurdle, another MLB owner buys into English football, and we learn of a study which suggests that sports gambling may, actually, be bad for fan engagement.
In Other Stuff, a multi-billion dollar company is donated to charity, more or less, I yell at British people again, there is a chess scandal that allegedly involves someone’s butt, you, me, and most other people probably sit on our butts too much, and they're saying "It's impossible that many dead bodies are falling out of coffins every day. And it's impossible that one out of every five of them are nude." I don't know what to tell ya, bud!
And That Happened
Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Cardinals 4, Brewers 1: Adam Wainwright allowed one run over five, Nolan Arenado hit a normal homer, Lars Nootbaar hit a LOOONG homer, and Albert Pujols doubled in a run. The big news here, of course, is that as of this game Yadier Molina has caught Wainwright 325 times, which is the new MLB all-time record for a battery, passing Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan. You know it’s a special achievement, too, because they made commemorative Budweiser cans for the occasion:
Guardians 5, Angels 3: José Ramírez hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth inning and that made it six wins in a row for the Guardians. As for the Anegls: it was their 82nd loss of the year, which guarantees them their seventh straight losing season. That’s the longest such streak in the bigs. Sell the team already, Arte. You have no idea what you’re doing.
Mariners 6, Padres 1: Julio Rodríguez hit a leadoff homer and Eugenio Suárez and Carlos Santana hit two-run and three-run homers, respectively. Rodríguez also swiped a base. It was his 25th, which puts him in the 25-25 club. Which is not a thing I really thought about much before — it’s always been 20-20 or 30-30 or something — but I suppose stolen bases are devalued enough these days to where you need to make adjustments.
Phillies 6, Marlins 1: J.T. Realmuto homered twice. The game story added “against his old team.” Honestly, I had forgotten he was a Marlin. He just seems like he’s always been with the Phillies. Kyle Gibson threw six innings of one-run ball. He’s always been a Twin to me. Everything is relative, man.
Orioles 6, Nationals 2: Gunnar Henderson drove in four runs, including a two-run triple on which he himself came around to score on a throwing error. He later hit an RBI double. Jorge Mateo homered. Patrick Corbin allowed one run in six innings while striking out four. His team lost but he didn’t, which keeps him at 18 Ls on the year. I still have faith in you, Patrick! Don’t give up!
Yankees 5, Red Sox 3: Aaron Judge didn’t homer. Imagine that. Gleyber Torres had a little league homer, though:
Boston managed just three hits and two walks off Nestor Cortes, who struck out seven and gave up one run in five-plus innings. The Yankees take both games of the two-game set
Pirates 10, Reds 4: The four-game sweep. Rodolfo Castro drove in four, hitting a three-run homer and an RBI single and Oneil Cruz hit a two-run blast. According to the gamer it was Pittsburgh's first four-game series sweep in Cincinnati since July 11-14, 1991. That series concluded on my 18th birthday. In that game Barry Bonds homered and drove in three while Bob Walk beat Kip Gross.
Astros 2, Tigers 1: Cristian Javier allowed just two hits in six shutout innings, Kyle Tucker homered, and the only thing saving the Tigers from yet another shutout was a late Javier Báez homer. It was his 13th on the year and that’s tied for the team lead. The Tigers and Astros played seven times this year. Houston won all seven of those matchups. My God, the Tigers are terrible.
Rockies 3, White Sox 0: Kyle Freeland tossed six and two-thirds shutout innings. Not that the Sox didn’t have their chances, as Chicago put at least one runner in scoring position in the first five innings but didn't score. The Rockies made better work of their opportunities, with Alan Trejo hitting an RBI double and C.J. Cron and Yonathan Daza each singling in runs.
Giants 4, Atlanta 1: Austin Wynns drove in three runs and J.D. Davis had two hits and an RBI and RBI to back Carlos Rondón, who struck out eight in five innings before having to leave the game with a blister. The Giants take two of three from Atlanta.
Blue Jays 5, Rays 1: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 100th career home run. He was one day older than Bryce Harper when he did it. The only other younger people to reach 100 dingers are Johnny Bench, Miguel Cabrera, Andruw Jones, Alex Rodríguez, and Mel Ott. The Jays have taken three of four from the Rays but this is a five-game series so they play again today.
Cubs 6, Mets 3: David Peterson had a disaster start for New York, allowing five runs while only recording one out to lead off the game and the Cubs built a 6-0 lead in the first inning thanks to three RBI doubles. That pretty much ended this before it began. That’s three straight losses for the Mets who, because of Atlanta’s recent scuffling, are still holding on to a half-game lead in the East.
Twins 4, Royals 0: Sonny Gray went seven, striking out eight, and he and two relievers combined on a five-hit shutout. Gary Sánchez’s two-run double was the biggest offensive blow. Not that the Twins needed much of an offensive blow to beat the Royals.
Athletics 8, Rangers 7: Texas had a 5-1 lead after three, almost blew it, but extended it to 7-4 by the fifth. A two-run Tony Kemp homer made it 7-6 and it stayed there until the ninth when Vimael Machín doubled in a run to tie things up and then scored on a Corey Seager error with two outs on what should’ve been a routine 6-3 putout. Seager was shifted to the right of second base, though, so that play wouldn’t happen next year! Instead it’d be a clean single through the hole for a single which . . . would lead to the same result. I dunno. What the hell am I even talking about? It’s 5:38 in the morning as I’m writing this.
Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 3: Daulton Varsho and Corbin Carroll homered for the Snakes as the post-clinch hangover lineup for the Dodgers only gave spot starter Michael Grove and the Dodgers pen a couple of runs in regulation so it went to extras. L.A. took a 10th inning lead on a Manfred Man-scoring wild pitch but in the bottom half Diamondbacks infielder Sergio Alcántara walked it off with a three-run blast off of Craig Kimbrel. It was the first hit Kimbrel had given up in nearly a month.
The Daily Briefing
"Tony, it’s more obvious every day: Cairo is doing a better job"
Those are not the words of some hardcore White Sox fan or some hardcore Tony La Russa loather. They’re the words of the normally mild-mannered Ken Rosenthal, writing an open letter to the White Sox’ Hall of Fame skipper, telling him that he should not come back and manage.
After recounting the objective differences in the team pre-Cairo and post-Cairo, Rosenthal lays it on the line:
Tony, it’s more obvious every day: Cairo is doing a better job. Yes, the team finally is getting healthier, the offense finally is hitting with power, the players finally are responding to the urgency of their situation, three games out in the weak AL Central with 20 to play. Maybe all that would have happened if you were still the manager. But Cairo is bringing energy. Communicating with players. Holding them accountable. All things maybe you thought you were doing. But evidently, weren’t doing well enough . . . There, Tony. I’ll say it. You should announce that you no longer will manage the White Sox. That you want only what is best for the team. And that what is best for the team is Cairo continuing in the position for the rest of the season, with your complete support.
I sorta wish Rosenthal had just written it as a straight column — I hate open letters as a genre of writing — but this works too. Mostly because he’s 100% right.
The minor league unionization clears another hurdle
Yesterday an arbiter approved the minor league players union authorization cards, officially establishing that there is enough support from minor leaguers to join the MLBPA. That was the condition MLB had put on its voluntary recognition of the union, so that recognition will now be forthcoming.
Tony Clark issued a statement:
I applaud this extraordinary group of young Players and welcome them to the MLBPA.
The historic achievement required the right group of Players and the right moment to succeed. Minor Leaguers have courageously seized that moment, and we look forward to improving their terms and conditions of employment through the process of good faith collective bargaining.
It’s amazing how quickly this has all come together.
MLB Network to air the Division Series in Spanish
Over the past several years a number of the early round postseason games have been broadcast on MLB Network, usually with Bob Costas and Jim Kaat handing the broadcasting. With the new TV deals inked by MLB, all of the Division Series games are going to be broadcast on TBS. But, if you either (a) speak Spanish; or (b) do not speak Spanish but do not care about the content of the play-by-play, you can still catch the Division Series on MLB Network:
MLB Network today announced it will exclusively air the entire 2022 American League Division Series and American League Championship Series in Spanish-language this Postseason. The two AL Division Series are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 11, with a potential Game Five on Monday, October 17. The ALCS presented by loanDepot, is set to start on Wednesday, October 19, with a potential Game Seven set for Wednesday, October 26. Announcers for MLB Network’s Spanish-language ALDS and ALCS telecasts will be released in the coming weeks.
In the past Spanish speakers could get a Spanish language broadcast on TBS via the SAP button, but now it has its own channel. Whether MLB Network has a bigger footprint than that of TBS + SAP-enabled sets is something I do not know, but I do think it’s pretty cool that there will be a dedicated broadcast on U.S. TV for this.
Bonus: some English speaking-only jackass is 100% gonna tune in to MLB Network and be convinced that games in Spanish are part of some woke plot by liberals and/or brown people, and I for one cannot wait to see those tweets. Because they will definitely happen.
Zack Plesac fired by his agents
Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the agency CAA has fired as a client Guardians pitcher Zach Plesac. Usually agents fight for clients, but Plesac is a bit of a different case. As Heyman notes, Plesac injured himself last season by aggressively taking off his shirt and, just a couple of weeks ago, injured himself punching the mound in frustration. In 2020 he was sent home for violating COVID protocols during a road trip. Been a big three years for our bright boy here.
I’m assuming, as is everyone else, that Plesac’s firing is a function of his idiocy, but I suppose it’s possible that this could be a function of CAA’s big merger with another agency which might inspire it to shed some clients. Still, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend, etc.
Brewers owner buys stake in English football club
The English football club Norwich City announced yesterday that a group led by Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has acquired a minority stake. Roughly 18 percent according to The Athletic. As part of the deal he’ll also give the club a $10 million loan. Norwich, which currently plays in the Championship — the second level of English football — was in the Premier League last year and stands a pretty good chance of bouncing back up to the Premier League this year.
According to that Athletic article, Attanasio is attractive to Norwich’s owners because he has had success with a baseball team which sits roughly akin to how Norwich sits among bigtime English soccer clubs: in the same general group, but in a much smaller market and with much less revenue than the competition. The thinking, at least according to The Athletic, is that Attanasio can help with analytics and other methods smaller market teams use to compete with the big boys. I don’t know how useful that is given that English football/American baseball is something of an apples/oranges comparison as far as the business landscape is concerned, but that’s the thinking.
Either way we know this much: in the future, every baseball owner will own a chunk of a European soccer team for 15 minutes. Not that everyone is happy about U.S. owners in England. Here’s former player and current broadcaster Gary Neville’s take on US business interests in the Premier League:
In related news, here was Neville 11 months ago:
I’m sure he can make some distinction there to make that make sense, but I kinda don’t wanna hear it.
Sports betting could be bad for fan engagement
Via Matt Brown’s Extra Points newsletter — forwarded to me by Joe Sheehan, who knows my hobby horses quite well — we learn of a new study which suggests something interesting. The suggestion: that the conventional wisdom which holds that fan engagement with sports increases when fans bet money on the games may not necessarily be true.
The study can be found in Journal of Business Research. It was conducted by Dr. Ashley Blank, Dr. Katherine Loveland and Dr. David Houghton and published in a paper entitled "Game changing innovation or bad beat? How sports betting can reduce fan engagement." The upshot:
Although industry experts expect sports betting to increase fan engagement, results from two studies do not support this expectation. Instead, we find that when fans lose a bet, positive emotions and subsequent fan engagement decrease. This effect holds for both moneyline bets tied to performance (Study 1) and prop bets not tied to performance (Study 2). In addition, we find that when fans win a bet, fan engagement does not increase. Together, these results suggest that sports betting can be detrimental to fan engagement. Therefore, sports betting may be a bad beat for leagues and teams.
Like most studies, this one comes with caveats. Brown mentions that the results could differ depending on whether we’re talking about big bets or small “keep it interesting” bets, for example. The overall takeaway from the authors of study, though, track with common sense: sports betting is gonna be a bad for some people so leagues and teams should not put all of their marketing/revenue eggs in the basket that is sports gambling.
Patagonia founder donates the company
Yvon Chouinard, the founder and controlling owner of the outdoor apparel company Patagonia, is giving away his and his entire family’s ownership and the $3 billion company, which is being reorganized into a structure in which all profits from the company will be donated to projects and organizations that will protect the environment and fight the climate crisis.
The privately-held company’s stock will now be owned by a climate-focused trust and group of nonprofits called the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective. According to Chouinard’s statement, “every dollar that is not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet.” Patagonia is expected to generate and donate about $100 million annually going forward.
“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact. One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we couldn’t be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed.
Another path was to take the company public. What a disaster that would have been. Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility.
Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.”
The company updated its website after the announcement to state that “Earth is now our only shareholder.”
Often times, after hearing about some philanthropic corporate gesture, one learns that there are loopholes and that it’s all eyewash. While I am prepared for someone to explain to me how this, too, is eyewash, for now it seems a lot more substantial and significant as far as these things go.
Assuming it is as good as it sounds, I think I know what gear I’ll be favoring as I start to collect supplies for my Coast to Coast walk next year.
Seen on Twitter:
Proper names matter, sure, but does anyone besides me find it rich that people from a country that went around the world renaming every goddamn thing they came across for close to a thousand years, even if it already had a name, are annoyed at a useful modifier being used? Maybe someone should tell them that scores of towns, provinces, mountains, lakes, and rivers named after British royals and noblemen that litter the globe weren’t, actually, originally called that?
I say that while writing from a town named after a town that was originally called Pempotowwuthut-Muhhcanneuw by the native Mahican people but which the English just slapped some Englishman’s name on it and that’s what it is now.
Who among us . . .
I don’t understand chess strategy particularly well and I really don’t know that I care about this particular story for its own sake, but I owe it to my readers to share a story in which someone is accused of cheating in chess by having an outside accomplice use AI to determine the optimal next move and then to transmit that information to him via wired-up beads which have been inserted in his anus.
I’m gonna assume that there will be pushback on this story. At the same time, I’m gonna continue to assume that the anal beads angle is actually correct because (a) some things are just too good to check; and (b) I’d rather live in that world than the one in which the explanation is less wacky.
There has been a lot of scholarship about the dangers of being sedentary in recent years. The stuff that has scared folks like me, who sit in front of computer screens all day, and the stuff that has led to the sale of a million standing desks.
Acutely aware of these dangers, I long ago made a point to walk a lot and to work out on my treadmill as much as possible. The working out ebbs and flows, I’ll admit, but the effort tends to average out to some at least a half decent level of exercise, I imagine.
Or, I should say, I imagined, past tense, now that I have read this:
Are you an active couch potato? Take this two-question quiz to find out:
Did you work out for 30 minutes today?
Did you spend the rest of the day staring at your computer and then settle in front of the television at night?
If you answered yes to both questions, then you meet the definition of what scientists call “an active couch potato.” It means that, despite your commitment to exercise, you could be at risk for a variety of health problems, according to a sweeping new study of how people move — or don’t move — throughout the day.
So, even if you exercise a decent amount — a half hour a day — you’re still basically boned, health wise, if you sit most of the rest of the time, as I imagine a great majority of us do. Personally, I’ll give myself a bit of credit for getting up and doing the laundry and stuff, but I don’t think I do enough to raise me above the level of “active couch potato.”
Someone do the math an figure out how much my 192 mile walk across England will spread out to make the averages work better, because if I have to become the type of dude who sets a timer which reminds him to get up and do jumping jacks every hour or whatever, I’ll probably cry.
Yesterday when I had my usual stretch of mid-afternoon sleepy/boredom I wrote a dumb tweet in which I said I was “Just riveted by the pageantry of the royal funeral ceremonies” and with it shared a GIF of the “Coffin Flop” sketch from “I Think You Should Leave.” Which, no matter how many times I see it makes me laugh my ass off.
Because I was sleepy and bored, I then decided to see if anyone had ever written a story about how they actually made that sketch and I am happy to report I found a couple. This one, at Vulture, explained the technical undertaking required to make body after body bust out of shit wood and hit pavement. I could’ve gotten a letter home from my daughter away at college and that article still would’ve been the most fulfilling thing I read yesterday.
Anyway, watch the “Coffin Flop” sketch if you haven’t. Watch it again if you have. Hell, I’ve watched it dozens of times and I still laugh just as hard every single time it play it as I did the first time I saw it.
Have a great day, everyone. And if you aren’t a subscriber . . .