Cup of Coffee: September 29, 2022
Aaron Judge hits 61, the Dodgers win 107, a lotta Manfred Man games, Sister Jean's nasty cheese, war crimes, the weather, business dystopia, Bob Dylan, and Van Hagar
Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!
Aaron Judge finally tied Roger Maris with 61 homers last night. That was cool! Less cool was Roger Maris Jr. wading in afterwards to crap all over things, but it was probably inevitable that he’d do so. Also inevitable: the Dodgers winning a crap-ton of games. They set another franchise record for wins last night and I talk about what that means in the grand scheme of things. Also: the Mets retake first place, a top pitching talent returns after a long layoff, and a TON of games were decided by the Manfred Man last night. God, I hate that.
Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Ian may have an impact on the NL East race, people really need to stop whining about the pitches Aaron Judge is and is not given to hit, if you want to see what it looks like when a 103 year-old nun strikes out a hack-tastic hitter, today is your lucky day, and since it’s a day that ends in a Y I am plugging a podcast appearance.
In Other Stuff I talk about war crimes, the weather, business dystopia, Bob Dylan’s All-Star audiobook cast, and ask if anyone really wants to see a Van Hagar reunion. The answer to that is, obviously, no, but the idea did give me an excuse to spend a long time listening to early Van Halen yesterday and that’s never a bad choice.
Let’s get at ‘er, shall we? Women and children first.
And That Happened
Here are the scores, here are the highlights:
Yankees 8, Blue Jays 3: Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris' American League record of 61 home runs in a season with a tie-breaking, two-run drive in the seventh. He did it on a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count.
The ball — the subject of so much speculation and ethical debate — was not caught by a fan, as it landed in the Blue Jays bullpen where Toronto pitchers guarded it until it could be retrieved by Yankees personnel. A Jays fan named — and I am not making this up — Frankie Lasagna almost caught it, though. I feel like, by law, someone named Frankie Lasagna should be a Yankees fan, but it’s a strange world sometimes.
After the homer Judge's mother and Roger Maris Jr., who has been following the Yankees around for this moment, hugged. After the game Maris Jr. said, “As soon as he hit it I was like ‘OK, that's gone,' then it was just a matter of enjoying him run the bases and giving his mom a big old hug and just enjoying the moment.” Then, a little later, Maris Jr. kind of ruined the moment by saying that Judge “should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ” if he goes on to hit a 62nd home run:
“That’s really who he is if he hits 62. I think that’s what needs to happen. I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something. I think it means a lot — not just for me — it means a lot for a lot of people that he’s clean, he’s a Yankee, he plays the game the right way, and I think gives people a chance to look at somebody who should be revered for hitting 62 home runs and not just as a guy who did it in the American League.”
Jesus Christ, that is a load of tiresome bullshit, made all the more tiresome and bullshitty by the implication that anyone besides Yankees fans think it’s somehow important for a Yankee to hold a record than the member of any other team. The only saving grace here is that we will almost certainly not have to hear anything else from Roger Maris Jr. on this topic again.
Congratulations Aaron Judge.
Dodgers 1, Padres 0: In 2019 the Dodgers set a franchise wins record with 106. In 2020 they could not do that again because of the shortened season but they did set the franchise record for the best winning percentage at .717, which works out to 116 wins over a full season. In 2021 they tied the franchise wins record with 106 once again. Now with this win, number 107, they have set a new franchise wins record and that record will only increase it in their final handful of games.
It’s crazy to say in this day and age that any sports accomplishment is under-appreciated, especially with a team from a huge city like L.A., but I honestly do not think that we appreciate what the Dodgers have done these past several years as much as we should. That’s probably because we have a sports culture that is so championship and playoffs-centric. I get why we laud that culture — it’s America and all America cares about is who wins in the end — but I contend that winning a massive number of games over a six-month, 162-game season is a far greater accomplishment than winning 11 games in October, and no one will ever make me change my mind about that.
Mets 5, Marlins 4; Nationals 3, Atlanta 2: With the Mets win and Atlanta’s loss New York is back in front in the National League East. Eduardo Escobar was the hero for the Mets, homering and driving in all five of the team’s runs, including the game-winning single in the 10th inning. For the Nationals, CJ Abrams drove in the winning run with a walkoff single, his third hit of the night. This is a pretty good pennant race the Mets and Atlanta have going here but lordy I could do without not just one but both key matchups being decided by the dumbass Manfred Man rules.
Pirates 4, Reds 3: The Reds rallied late in regulation with Kyle Farmer hitting a two-run homer in the ninth and Jake Fraley homering just a few pitches later to tie the score 3-3. But then Kevin Newman singled in the Manfred man for the walkoff win for Pittsburgh.
Guardians 2, Rays 1: Tyler Glasnow got his first start in over a year since undergoing Tommy John surgery. He allowed one run on two hits while striking out three over three innings. He threw 50 pitches and reached the high 90s several times. That’s certainly encouraging. Unfortunately for the Rays, a pinch-hit single from Amed Rosario in the tenth scored the Manfred Man. The Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, and the Guardians all won via the Manfred Man scoring last night. I wonder what the record is for Manfred Man wins in a single night? Wait, I don’t wanna know. It’s too depressing.
Tigers 2, Royals 1: Miguel Cabrera hit his 507th home run and in so doing passed Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time RBI list. No word if Mike Yastrzemski came out later with some baloney comment about how his grandpa was really the 14th greatest RBI guy because he played the game the right way or whatever the hell.
Red Sox 3, Orioles 1: Rich Hill tossed six shutout innings, Alex Verdugo homered and drove in two, and Abraham Almonte also went deep. The Orioles lost for the fourth time in five games and fell 4.5 games back of Seattle for the third AL Wild Card.
Twins 8, White Sox 4: Matt Wallner drove in three and Gio Urshela and Jake Cave each had three hits. That’s eight straight losses for Chicago. Someone memory-hole that Ken Rosenthal open letter to Tony La Russa about how much better Miguel Cairo was doing at the helm. Honestly, it feels like the White Sox need a total house-cleaning because this team has basically just given up.
Cubs 4, Phillies 2: Christopher Morel hit a three-run homer in the fifth to send Philly to its fourth consecutive loss. Chicago, out of it way longer than their crosstown rivals have been, won for the seventh time in eight games. You don’t have to give up just because you’ve been eliminated, folks. People still pay to come see a good game.
Brewers 5, Cardinals 1: Brandon Woodruff struck out 10 over six scoreless innings. The victory, combined with the Phillies' loss, moved the Brewers to within a half-game of Philadelphia for the third and final NL Wild Card spot with seven games left to play.
Diamondbacks 5, Astros 2: While the Dbacks did score what proved to be the winning run via the Manfred Man at least they scored a couple more after that — via Christian Walker’s two-run single — for good measure. The Astros could’ve clinched the top seed in the AL playoffs with a win or a Yankees loss but that magic number remains at one.
Angels 4, Athletics 1: Mike Trout and Taylor Ward homered and Michael Lorenzen and four relievers held the A’s to one run on five hits and struck ‘em out 11 times. Man the A’s offense is terrible this year.
Mariners 3, Rangers 1: George Kirby allowed one run over six while Eugenio Suarez had three hits and an RBI. The Mariners are a half-game behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card and two back of Toronto for the top Wild Card.
Giants 6, Rockies 3: Joc Pederson had a two-run triple and Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Crawford and Ford Proctor also drove in runs. The Giants have won eight of nine.
The Daily Briefing
Mets-Atlanta series is up in the air
The New York Mets and the Atlanta Baseball Club are neck-and-neck in the race for the National League East title and they have a big, big series slated for this weekend at White Flight Park down in the Atlanta sub urbs. The problem: Now Tropical Storm Ian — at least whatever is left of it come this weekend — is supposed to soak Georgia.
Because of the likelihood of heavy weekend rains Major League Baseball is at least attempting to make some contingency plans for the series. Options include shifting Friday's game to a day game and banging Saturday’s contest and making Sunday a split doubleheader (the clubs are supposed to be ESPN’s Sunday evening game). Another possibility could’ve seen them moving a game or even two to today, which is an off-day for both clubs, but Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted yesterday that Atlanta did not want to do that. The clubs could also play a game on October 6, which is the off-day after the season is over if the division is still up for grabs, but whoever loses that would have to start a Wild Card series the next damn day and the lack of a day off for the pitching staff would put them at a disadvantage. Guessing neither the Mets nor Atlanta want that.
It’s not clear when a decision on that will happen but, given that Atlanta doesn’t want to play today, they could wait until tonight to decide.
Make it stop
I understand that people want to see milestones reached and records broken, and I get that that’s especially true for fans of a team for whom the milestone/record-chasing player plays. But for the love of God, I wish people would stop being babies about teams not pitching to Aaron Judge. Maybe it’s academic now that Judge has hit number 61, but right up until the moment he hit it last night people all over my timeline were salty about the location of each pitch delivered to Judge.
Then there are people like the governor of freakin’ Connecticut, who was so upset about it — or was pretending to be so upset about it in an effort to grandstand — that he made a video proposing some farkakte rule change that would make teams throw meatballs to Judge:
He’s complaining here about the Jays game on Tuesday. The same Jays who, at the moment, are still fighting to get home field advantage in the Wild Card round and thus are, you know, trying to win baseball games. No, that didn’t work out on Tuesday, but it sure as hell does not counsel giving Judge the old Accolade Hardball “fat pitch” just because some Yankees fans would like to see it.
Maybe now that Judge has tied Maris we’ll stop hearing this kind of noise? A man can hope.
Sister Jean’s nasty cheese
You may recall Sister Jean of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chicago. In addition to whatever other duties she as to order, she is the chaplain for the Loyola University Ramblers men's basketball team. She rose to fame in that regard during the Ramblers' Final Four run in the 2018 NCAA Tournament and has since become a celebrity of sorts in Chicago.
On Tuesday night Sister Jean, who is now 103 years-old, threw out the first pitch at the Cubs-Phillies game. Given her age, of course, she came out to right in front of home plate in her wheelchair and underhanded it to Cubs mascot, Clark the Cub. You can probably imagine what that looked like.
Better than imagining that, though, is seeing the actual first pitch with Javy Báez superimposed in the batter’s box courtesy of Pitching Ninja Rob Friedman:
I will grant that that’s some impressive video editing but, honestly, Báez would totally offer at that ball if he were standing there in real life. You know damn well he would.
Me, on The Infinite Inning
I recently joined Steve Goldman on his podcast, The Infinite Inning. We talked about the MVP race, the value of managers, the pitch clock and a bunch of other stuff. The Infinite Inning is the smartest damn baseball podcast out there. Well, most of the time anyway. It’s less so when I’m on it, but Steve humors me and we have fun all the same.
Meanwhile, in Florida
My dad worked for the National Weather Service for a million years. At some point during his career someone got him a desktop knickknack thing as a joke gift, which he still has. It consists of a rock tied to a piece of string, suspended from a stick, which is attached to a base. On the base it says “Weather Rock.” Beneath the rock it says:
If rock is dry: sunny;
If rock is hot: sunny and hot
If rock is wet: rainy;
If rock is white: snowy
If rock is invisible: foggy
And so on and so on. The joke, duh, is that real meteorologists have somewhat more sophisticated ways to figure out what the weather is and it’d be totally preposterous for them to rely on something as basic as throwing some object outside and seeing what happens to it in order to figure out what the weather is.
I mention that because someone, really, really needs to get Jim Cantore a weather rock before he gets killed using himself as one:
It’s been 19 years since my dad retired, but I’m gonna call him this morning and ask him if he knows of any better ways to determine the strength of a hurricane than just waltzing out into one and getting smacked by flying debris.
“I’ve already become a murderer”
The New York Times has a chilling and at times horrifying story about the war in Ukraine. It consists of transcripts and audio of intercepted cell phone calls from Russian troops bogged down outside Kyiv to friends and family back home. Such calls were prohibited but the soldiers, suffering from a complete and total loss of morale and the dawning realization that they were fighting an unjust, losing war, made them anyway. The calls were intercepted by Ukrainian law enforcement which, presumably, leaked them to the Times.
In them the soldiers rail against their commanders and against Vladimir Putin for lying to them and sending them, ill-equipped and ill-informed, into a slaughter. Some admit to war crimes ranging from things like looting all the way up to the outright murder of Ukrainian civilians. They talk about their hopeless, unachievable mission. Some of the soldiers talk of deserting. All of it paints an unmistakable picture of a failed war which has turned into an utter fiasco that, if there was any justice in the world, would result in Russian leaders, up to and including Putin himself, on trial in The Hague.
It won’t of course. Justice is hard to come by these days, especially when those who commit the crimes are rich and powerful. But the evidence against the perpetrators has long since become undeniable.
Columbus Business Dystopia
Columbus, like a lot of cities, has a local business news publication. It’s the daily read for local executives and lawyers and folks like that. The subscriptions are crazy expensive because employers usually pay for it. Indeed, I can’t imagine an individual person paying the hundreds of dollars a year for the thing. Ours is called “Columbus Business First.” I’m sure your city, if it is of a certain size, has a similar publication.
I had a digital subscription to “Columbus Business First” like 14 years ago, paid for by my law firm. Because the Internet is what it is, I still get emails teasing that day’s stories every morning. I tried for a time to unsubscribe and mark it as spam but it just kept coming back. I stopped trying to stop it, however, once I realized that, if you click on a story, you have about five seconds before the paywall kicks in and that can be enough for you to figure out the name of the restaurant that is opening or closing which was teased in the email. I honestly only care about the restaurant items.
I still scan the “Business First” headlines, of course. Mostly because they provide a nice glimpse of business and political dystopia each morning, and where would I be without that? Here, for example, was a recent rundown:
“Your employees are shiftless, your friend from the club is raking in the dough on the backs of others’ misery, and your affluent neighbors are keeping out the poors.” Exactly the kind of thing the sorts of people who read “Business First” every day wanna hear, I suspect.
Bob Dylan’s new book
Several months ago I mentioned that Bob Dylan is coming out with a book in November. It’s called The Philosophy of Modern Song, and it’s described by his publisher as containing “over sixty essays focusing on songs by other artists, spanning from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello, and in between ranging from Hank Williams to Nina Simone.” The book “analyzes the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal.”
All of that sounds like a lot, content wise. It’s going to be a lot presentation wise too, as Eric Alper tweeted yesterday that the audiobook edition will, in addition to being voiced by Dylan himself, be voiced by Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Oscar Isaac, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Sissy Spacek, Alfre Woodard, Jeffrey Wright and Renee Zellweger.
If you’ve listened to our Dylan podcast you know that, on occasion, Bob will half ass things from time to time. This, however, he has not half assed, that’s for sure.
Sammy Hagar told Rolling Stone that Irving Azoff — who has managed Van Halen since the early 2000s — has reached out to gauge his interest in a deal that would put him, Alex Van Halen, and Michael Anthony together for a possible Las Vegas residency. Hagar said, “I would definitely love to play with Alex and Mike with a great guitar player that doesn’t try to just mimic Eddie perfectly.”
He prefers Joe Satriani but also name-checks Steve Vai as possibilities. Which, given that David Lee Roth chose Steve Vai as his guitarist for his solo work — work which, on at least one album sounded more like Van Halen than Van Halen sounded at that point — wouldn’t be the dumbest thing in the world. Relatively speaking anyway, because I don’t know who is clamoring for a Sammy Hagar-led Van Halen reunion without Eddie Van Halen available due to his current status as deceased.
Irving Azoff, of course, is most famous for managing the Eagles, whom he put out on the road after Glenn Frey died, so I guess he’s used to this sort of zombie act. At least with the Eagles there are multiple other key creative members of the band still active and interested. With all due respect to Alex Van Halen, sending out a band called “Van Halen” without Eddie would be like assembling a “Jimi Hendrix Experience” reunion starring Mitch Mitchell and a couple of dudes.
I realize that nothing ever dies in popular culture anymore, even when someone dies. But man, I do wish that someone, at some point, would let the past stay in the past. Especially given how cool the past was when it was the present.
Have a great day, everyone.