Cup of Coffee: September 23, 2021
The playoff races stay static, the Kiermaier flap continues, Republicans are "transgressive little f**ks, a big hack could be a big deal, and, oh no: liquor shortage!
Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday! If you’re just visiting today, welcome! If you like what you read, might I direct you here?
Thanks, all. You’re swell.
Today we have the usual recaps — sorry about the Cardinals one in advance; sometimes I have no choice but to listen to the voices in my head — and a recap of the somehow still ongoing Kevin Kiermaier scouting report notecard flap. Which, as I note, is only ongoing because Kiermaier is maybe the worst liar on the planet. We also have some eye-rolling ant-vax stuff in the Nationals organization, a couple of dumb jokey posts and a contract extension for a manager.
In Other Stuff I use the F-word a few times in talking about the debt ceiling stuff, but it’s because I’m quoting someone else who used it descriptively, not profanely, so it’s OK. There’s also an item about an epic/Epik hack and some terrifying news about the liquor supply chain.
Let’s get at ‘er.
And That Happened
Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Rays 7, Blue Jays 1: The win clinches a playoff berth for the Rays but who cares? The fun stuff here was that, in the eighth, Toronto pitcher Ryan Borucki plunked Kevin Kiermaier in what was pretty clearly retaliation for the business with the scouting report card that Kiermaier swiped from Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk the night before. Words were exchanged and both dugouts emptied. No one got actually got into it with anyone but Borucki was ejected as was Rays pitching coach Pete Walker, who was barking at the umpires.
As I mention down in the Daily Briefing, I think this entire controversy is rather dumb. But it’s also the case that Kiermaier being a disingenuous jackwagon about it — for the second day straight he offered a bunch of dissembling baloney about what he did and why — is what has given it even this much fuel.
Twins 5, Cubs 4: Max Kepler homered twice, the second dinger breaking a tie, and rookie Joe Ryan, who came over from Tampa Bay in the Nelson Cruz deal, struck out a season-high 11 in only five innings of work. The Cubs have lost nine of 11. Both of these teams are 67-85 now. The Twins were supposed to be good this year but never actually threatened to be good even once on their way to that record. The Cubs’ expectations were fairly muddled but they touched first place once and then cratered and held a fire sale en route to this place. Is it better to have won then lost or to never have won at all? I hold it true, whate'er befall — I feel it when I sorrow most — that I have no friggin’ idea. All I know is that the baseball season is long and red in tooth and claw.
Cardinals 10, Brewers 2: I can’t even remember the last time the Cardinals lost. Of course I was so young then. Time moved more slowly in those days, the summers seemed to last forever, and memories did not form as easily. I know that I was out in the field, catching lightning bugs in a jar as the last of the July twilight was fading when Momma called me inside for the night. As she poured the hot water into the wash basin for me to scrub off the dusty reminders of my well-spent day she told me that tomorrow we’d be taking the carriage into town to see Uncle Jedidiah, who had some important news for us about the farm and, perhaps, a way we could hold onto it even with Daddy gone to Heaven from that Confederate ball which lodged in his thigh only to become gangrenous and to send him on to his reward. I tried to put that out of mind — it had been months since Chickamauga — but though young, I was the man of the house now, that’s what Momma said anyway, and I’d have to know about these things sooner or later.
Nationals 7, Marlins 5: Juan Soto had three hits — a single, a double, and a homer — walked twice, scored twice and drove in three runs. In the process he raised his batting average .321, taking over the league lead. His on-base percentage, already leading the league by miles, is now a ridiculous .466. Guy is just ridiculous. Meanwhile, Josiah Gray, who came over from the Dodgers in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner deal, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings while striking out eight to pick up his first big league win. If you squint you can see the next good Nats team sometimes.
Phillies 4, Orioles 3: Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run home run and the Phillies took their 4-2 lead into the eighth. The O’s then started to put what looked like it was gonna be a little rally together, scoring once to make it a one-run game. They had Pedro Severino on second when Pat Valaika singled to right field and Severino was waved home. Then Bryce Harper shot him down:
No, that was not the best send in the world by the O’s third base coach, but still pretty cool. It’s also another bullet point for the “accomplishments” section of Harper’s MVP resumé.
Yankees 7, Rangers 3: Speaking of throws home to nail runners, get a load of what Adolis García did when the Yankees were only leading by one in the fifth inning:
Yeah, the catcher was running, but that was a deep fly that normally scores any runner from third. And it was a throw that was clocked at 95 m.p.h. García has 14 outfield assists this season, which is the second most in the league. The way that stat usually works is that, actually, the dudes with the best arms don’t sit at the top of the leaderboard because their reputations keep other teams from running on them, thus limiting their chances at getting assists. In light of that and throws like this one I suspect García will not be challenging for that title much more in the future. Dude has a hose.
Beyond that, though, it was the Yankees night, as they swept the Rangers and, with the Toronto loss, jumped back into second place in the Wild Card race, half a game ahead.
Red Sox 12, Mets 5: Kyle Schwarber homered twice — a solo homer in the first and a three-run shot in the second — later doubled, and scored four times. This was a game that was 10-1 after four and 12-3 after six. It was also the Red Sox seventh straight win. When the streak began they were in fourth place in the AL East and out of Wild Card position. They’ve since leapt over the Jays and the Yankees and are two up in the first Wild Card slot.
Rockies 10, Dodgers 5: A rare clunker from Walker Buehler, who gave up five runs on seven hits and couldn’t escape the fourth inning. Sam Hilliard hit a three-run homer, C.J. Cron had four hits, and the Dodgers fell two games back of the Giants once again because . . .
Giants 8, Padres 6: . . . the Padres are now free-falling to the point of near terminal velocity. Kris Bryant hit a three run double and Buster Posey had four hits and scored three times. The Giants also got a boost from reliever Camilo Doval, who relieved Scott Kazmir with the bases loaded, no outs and one run already in during the Padres’ threat in the fifth inning. Doval struck out Manny Machado on three straight pitches and then got Tommy Pham to ground into an inning-ending double play. Someone is always coming up big for the Giants.
Astros 9, Angels 5: Let’s put one more outfield assist up there. This one from Chas McCormick who, earlier in the game, prevented an RBI single with a diving catch. Here he cut down Shohei Ohtani trying to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning:
This one was definitely on the shallow side, but Ohtani does have wheels and if you’re the Angels the games are approaching meaninglessness now and you just want to end this thing and go home, so I get it. The execution by Ohtani here, though, was not good to say the least, and thus ended the inning. Two innings later the Astros scored four and that was that.
Atlanta 9, Diamondbacks 2: Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman all went deep for Atlanta. Adam Duvall would’ve too but he passed Riley between first and second when Riley retreated back to first base thinking the ball was caught and hadn’t cleared the wall. Whoops. Riley still got a two-run single out of the play and, with Ian Anderson cruising for Atlanta, the game was never in doubt. Atlanta maintains a three-game lead over Philly.
Mariners 4, Athletics 1: Chris Flexen allowed one run over seven on three hits for the win. Kyle Seager and Ty France both homered. It was Seattle’s fourth straight win. With it they are two and a half games behind the Yankees for the second AL Wild Card. Oakland fell to three and a half back.
Pirates vs. Reds; White Sox vs. Tigers; Royals vs. Cleveland — POSTPONED:
🎶The leaves of brown
Came tumbling down, remember
In September in the rain
The sun went out
Just like a dying ember
That September in the rain
To every word of love
I heard you whisper
The raindrops seemed to play
A sweet refrain
Though spring is here,
To me it's still September
That September in the rain🎶
The Daily Briefing
Reds, David Bell, agree to a two-year extension
The Cincinnati Reds announced yesterday that they and manager David Bell have agreed to a two-year extension. He’s now locked up through 2023.
Bell was hired by the Reds in October 2018 and signed to a three-year contract with a team option for 2022. So while he wasn’t really a lame duck manager, it was time for the Reds to figure out what their plans were with him lest people start asking questions.
The Reds are 76-74 this season, third in the NL Central, and are in the process of sliding out of the NL Wild Card hunt. Overall they’re 184-190 under Bell.
L’affaire Keirmaier Update
On Tuesday night Charlie Montoyo said that all that business with Kevin Kiermaier nicking Alejandro Kirk’s little scouting report notecard was “agua under the bridge.” Then Kiermaier spent several minutes disingenuously over-explaining the matter again last night and. I don’t know if the Jays heard what he said before they plunked him last night, but I suspect they did and that they contributed to it all.
Here’s our boy Kevin, talking last night about what he saw and what he did once he picked up Alejandro Kirk’s notecard:
"We're making this way too complex . . . I saw a few words on it, just knowing it wasn't mine I didn't look at it, still haven't looked at it. Don't even know what the heck is on it . . . A couple seconds after, I realized it wasn't ours and at that point, I'm not giving it back. I'm not going to walk to the other dugout or find another way. They can think whatever they want over there, they're entitled to an opinion. I'm over it, though.”
When asked if he did anything wrong, Kiermaier replied: "No."
If there is a plausible or even reasonably intelligible run of words anywhere in those ramblings I can’t find them. Indeed, that whole quote has serious Principal Skinner saying “I was only in there to get directions on how to get away from there” energy. If he gave that kind of an answer to a reasonably competent police detective as a person-of-interest he’d immediately become a suspect and if he gave it to a jury as a defendant he’d immediately become a convict. It and its shift from “I didn’t do nothin’” to a somewhat aggressive “it’s not my problem it’s their problem” tack is simply not anything someone would be on if they were even being remotely truthful.
Again: I must stress how little I care about this whole episode on the actual merits of it. I think the note card thing itself is the smallest sort of beer and I don’t offer any of this as means of indicting Keirmaier’s actions or inactions or throwing shade on him or the Rays for what went down on the field. It’s a dumb, small, very-much-should-be-over kind of thing that I can barely begin to care about for its own sake.
But my God, I am fasciated with how bad Kiermaier is at lying! It’s like a train wreck in slow motion. If you had Tim Robinson from “I Think You Should Leave” deliver that quote Kiermaier gave while wearing the hot dog suit or doing the “Coffin Flop” commercial, the sketches would still work. That’s precisely the vibe he’s giving off here.
Dear Lord, I hope he never stops.
Patrick Corbin: Washington’s Blake Treinen
The other day I highlighted Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen’s anti-vaxx and election conspiracy nonsense from his Instagram account. Nationals starter Patrick Corbin has entered the chat:
This kind of dangerous nonsense is bad no matter who it’s coming from but, jeez, at least Treinen helps his team. Corbin’s being a jackass while leading the league in losses, earned runs, and homers allowed. We’re deeply into win-20-in-The-Show/fungus/shower shoes/colorful//etc. territory.
Fired Nationals coaches sue over vaccine requirement
Sticking with the Nationals, two former minor league coaches from their system have filed religious discrimination complaints after they say they were fired for refusing to get COVID vaccines. From the Miami Herald:
Larry Pardo, of Miami, and Brad Holman, of Wichita, Kansas, filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, alleging the baseball franchise violated “their rights to free expression and observation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
EEOC complaints are required before an employee files a federal lawsuit so, yes, they are makin’ a federal case out of this. In related news, no major religion that I am aware of outside of maybe Christian Science forbids vaccinations against COVID or any other diseases for that matter. Even when there are religious exemptions for various things, the laws normally require the convictions to be “sincerely held.” Given that the anti-vax sentiment which has arisen since the pandemic began is essentially driven by idiotic conservative politics and isn’t coming from any reputable pulpits, I don’t think any of this will pass the sincerity test.
In short: screw these guys. If anything, they should be happy they got fired as it gives them more time to watch Newsmax or whatever rather than running pitcher fielding practice on some back field in a Florida training complex.
Great Moments in Baseball Literacy
Pop quiz, hot shot: what team does Miguel Cabrera play for?
This scan is taken from the Tulsa World, but was apparently sent out like this to lots of papers from the Associated Press.
And people say I need an editor.
The Congressional Baseball Game
Five Thirty Eight’s Nathaniel Rakich has made the annual Congressional Baseball Game his beat over the past few years. Yesterday he reported on the rosters and stuff.
The Democrats have beaten the Republicans for the past four years. Rakich, however, notes that Marjorie Taylor Greene is on the Republican team, so I can only assume that Republicans have a better chance now inasmuch as, even if it ends 10-1 in favor of the Democrats, they’ll have someone who will loudly claim the game was stolen and contend that, actually, the Democrats’ runs were all fraudulent. If anyone disagrees, she’ll claim it’s just like the Holocaust.
Republicans: “Transgressive little fucks”
Democrats in the House passed a bill the other day to fund the U.S. government through December 3 and raise the debt ceiling until the end of 2022. It requires both houses of Congress, of course, to raise the debt ceiling lest the government default on its obligations, which would create financial chaos throughout the entire U.S. economy and which would have considerable repercussions throughout the entire world.
Republicans in the Senate, however, have vowed to block efforts to raise the debt ceiling. Partially because of selfish political concerns — they like to campaign on the fraudulent notion that not raising the debt ceiling is akin to fiscal responsibility, when it is actual extreme irresponsibility — but also because they simply do not believe in the concept of governing and view all chaos to be good for them politically.
Despite this, the story of the debt ceiling is never cast in those very clear terms. It is never described as Republicans holding the very operations of government and the entire economy hostage for nihilistic political purposes. Rather, it is cast as a “challenge” or a “dilemma” for Democrats.
Josh Marshall of Talking Point Memo has been talking about this dynamic on Twitter for a couple of days. About how Republicans acting like arsonists when it comes to the institutions and workings of government is just assumed by the media to be the default and that there’s no use calling them out for it because, well, that’s how it is. In doing so he hit upon a perfect analogy yesterday morning, drawn from a story of his youth.
The entire thread is here, and you should read it, but the upshot is that when Marshall was in the eighth grade he and a friend had the responsibility for a science lab. Marshall, who was acting out a lot then due the recent loss of his mother, would routinely let out all of the animals from the science lab — rabbits, gerbils, mice, the iguanas, etc. — and let them run loose. His friend, worried about catching hell for it before the teacher showed up, would always frantically run around to collect the animals.
Here’s Marshall, his tweets quoted for the sake of space, explaining the nature of that dynamic:
Now you're probably thinking, "Jesus, Josh, why were you such a transgressive little fuck?" And you'd be right to say that . . . . [but] I never flinched partly because I simply didn't give a fuck. But far more it was because I knew Craig and I knew he was an inveterate rule follower . . . I knew he would break. Because he was responsible. As the clock ticked down and the iguana was running around back and forth with the mice and the gerbils and even the rabbit were zooming this way and that, it was too much for him. His responsibility was my license. His rule following allowed me to be a transgressive little fuck.
And that's been the story of debt limit hostage taking for the last decade. Democrats care about the functioning of the government . . . Republicans know this. They don't care. Critically, because they're transgressive little fucks who've been lighting fires throughout the house of state for years everyone takes this for granted about Republicans . . . Because Republicans are transgressive little fucks and being a transgressive little fuck gives you a paradoxical and vast power.
A few years ago I wrote about how, on a fundamental level, the battle between Democrats and Republicans is not, as so many claim it to be, a battle between competing philosophies about how to govern the country. Rather, at least since Reagan took power, it has been a battle between one party which actually believes in the idea of governing a society and another which essentially rejects that concept and considers government to be the enemy.
Once you understand that dynamic, you begin to see just how bonkers our political discourse is and how dangerous the people in charge of the Republican Party are to the country. Dangerous because, like Josh Marshall in the eighth grade, they’re transgressive little fucks who simply do not care what happens to anyone but themselves. And they’ve rigged things in aa way that they, themselves, are quite well protected from the consequences of their actions.
An epic Epik hack
Of course it’s not all Skittles and beer for those on the right. A great many of them, I suspect, are sweating bullets since the report earlier this week that hackers breached a major web platform that hosted online operations of far-right groups like the Proud Boys, QAnon, Parler, 8Chan, Gab, the neo-Nazi blog the Daily Stormer, and other hate operations.
The hack revealed upwards of 15 million names, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses of users of the sites which utilize the Epik platform, which caters primarily to far right groups. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the vast majority of that information was not encrypted. Things like names and passwords are just out there, in plain text, for anyone to see. Anonymous, the group which perpetrated the hack, described it as “a decade's worth of data from the company.”
The implications, as set forth in the Washington Post:
Extremism researchers and political opponents have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far-right, helping them to decode who has been doing what with whom over several years . . . The files include years of website purchase records, internal company emails and customer account credentials revealing who administers some of the biggest far-right websites.
The best part of that Washington Post story, though, was learning that the guy in charge of Epik is named Rob Monster. Really: the dude who owns the company which hosts all of the Nazis and Proud Boys and hate groups you can imagine is literally named “Monster.”
Anyway, there are a hell of a lot of people who try to keep their hate hidden who won’t be getting many good nights’ sleep in the coming days and weeks.
The liquor supply chain is borked
Not good: the nation’s liquor supply is in peril!
A fair warning for your next trip to the liquor store: Several states across the U.S. are still experiencing booze shortages related to COVID-19, and it's unclear when supply will be able to meet demand.
It’s not unlike the messed up supply chains for any number of other items. A shortage of glass bottles due to pandemic-related factory disruptions. A shortage of truck drivers due to the ongoing labor mishegas. The fact that the chaos of the last year or so has caused us all to drink more than we used to.
This is bad, but we can get through it, folks. Mostly by not going crazy, resorting to hoarding or things of that nature.
To that end, I offer my services: if each of you would send me one (1) bottle of fine bourbon or scotch, I will hold it in safe keeping and help everyone ration it appropriately. All you need to do is email me or send me a letter or something when you want a drink, and I’ll hook you up. In the meantime, your supplies will be safe with me.
Have a great day, everyone.
And hey, if you’re just visiting today . . . [gestures at the green signs]