Cup of Coffee: June 27, 2024

All-Star coaches and umps, the Jerk Store, Today in Baseball History, more canned poop, reaping and sowing, crazy pills, and A.I. Michaels

Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!

Let’s get to it, shall we?

And That Happened 

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 6, Rangers 5: Jackson Chourio hit an inside the park homer . . .

. . . which, if I were the God of Official Scoring, I’d call an error due to Derek Hill’s poor and ill-advised dive on what should have been just a bloop single, but that’s not how things work and I suppose I just have to get cool with that (note: I’ll never get cool with that). That homer tied the game up at five in the fifth and it remained as such through regulation. With two out in the bottom of the tenth the Manfred Man, Willy Adames, took third on a wild pitch and then came home on Andruw Monasterio’s walkoff single. That gave Milwaukee a three-game sweep and their fourth win in a row overall.

Padres 8, Nationals 5: Kyle Higashioka homered twice, one a grand slam, the other a two-run shot. Man-of-the-Week Jurickson Profar had an RBI single and Dylan Cease pitched a one-hitter over seven shutout innings. The Nationals scored five runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batter in the ninth but the rally fell short and the Padres completed the sweep of this weirdly contentious series. On the bright side for Washington: they appear to be able to move the dial on their “Days Since We Acted All Horseshit During a Game” sign to “1.”

Mariners 5, Rays 2: George Kirby gave up just one over six innings, Cal Raleigh hit a three-run homer in the sixth, and J.P. Crawford singled in two in the seventh as the M’s avoid the sweep. But just barely avoided it given how shaky the ninth inning was. There Seattle closer Andrés Muñoz loaded the bases with no outs via two walks and a hit by pitch before being yanked and having Trent Thornton bail him out. Nothing specific to Muñoz here, but I don’t really feel like we’re in The Golden Age of Closers these days.

Phillies 6, Tigers 2: Brandon Marsh went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and a two-run single. Phillies starter Spencer Turnbull, returning to the rotation for the first time in a minute and facing his old mates from Detroit, had to leave after three innings with right shoulder soreness so, bummer day for him, but six relievers came in afterward and ably handled the opposition. Philly takes two of three.

Pirates 6, Reds 1: Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer, Rowdy Tellez also homered, Jason Delay drove in a pair, and that was enough for Luis L. Ortiz, who threw six innings of one-run ball without walking anyone and that’s a good way to be successful. Pittsburgh takes two of three from the Reds, just like they did last week.

Atlanta 6, Cardinals 2; Cardinals 4, Atlanta 1: In the makeup game from Tuesday’s rainout Jarred Kelenic, who has taken quite well to the leadoff spot since Ronald Acuña Jr. went down, had three hits including a homer. Reynaldo López continued his lovely season, allowing two runs and four hits in five innings after which four relievers no-hit the Cards the rest of the way. Kelenic had three more hits in the nightcap, but Matthew Liberatore pitched six shutout innings in a spot start and Alec Burleson hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the third to earn the Redbirds the split.

Astros 7, Rockies 1: Astros starter Spencer Arrighetti was fantastic, striking out ten Rockies over seven shutout innings in which he only gave up three hits and didn’t walk a soul. All of Houston’s runs came on singles or grounders or sac flies or mundane things like that. The win was the Astros’ seventh straight and puts them at .500 for the first time this season. They have won 15 of 22 games in the month of June and, thanks to some Mariners stumbling, they’re only 4.5 back in the West, which is closer than they’ve been in a month. Someday the Astros’ run of success will end. But contrary to how things looked in May, it may not be this year.

Royals 5, Marlins 1: Brady Singer worked into the eighth, allowing just one run, but thanks to Valente Bellozo and the Miami bullpen shutting down the home team’s bats, he stood to be the loser when he left the game. The Royals rallied for five runs with two outs in the eighth, however, with Sal Perez’s RBI double putting them ahead. Nick Loftin added an RBI single and Freddy Fermín drove in two more insurance runs. Kansas City takes two of three. They face first place Cleveland this weekend.

Angels 5, Athletics 2: Zach Neto — who still sounds like a kid cartoon character’s favorite superhero to me — hit a three-run double in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie. That came after Mickey Moniak was plunked with the bases loaded and before Matt Thaiss doubled Neto home. Big inning is what I’m saying. It ended up not mattering but the A’s lost a run when Kyle McCann was the trailing runner on a Max Schuemann RBI double. The first runner, Armando Alvarez, scored, and then McCann came rumbling home. He stumbled and missed the plate, though, and then Alvarez steadied him and directed him to go back and touch the plate. Which he did, but he was called out because runners are not allowed to touch other runners while still running the bases, which McCann technical was. Not the sort of play you see every day.

Orioles 4, Guardians 2: Gunnar Henderson’s fifth inning homer tied it up at two, Cedric Mullins’ 7th inning homer broke that tie, and Ryan O’Hearn added an insurance homer in the eighth. Grayson Rodriguez allowed two over seven to get the win as the O’s avoid the sweep and snap a five-game losing streak.

Mets 12, Yankees 2: Francisco Alvarez went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI, Tyrone Taylor added a three-run drive, and Harrison Bader homered and hit an RBI double as Mets batters battered Yankee pitching for a second straight night. It’s a sweep if you count two-game series as something sweepable. It’s also the Mets 15th win in 19 games, and it puts them back at .500 for the first time in a month and a half.

Dodgers 4, White Sox 0: Gavin Stone pitched a big boy shutout, going the distance while allowing just four hits and striking out seven. It wasn’t a Maddux — he needed 103 pitches — but it was pretty impressive all the same. Stone has been impressive overall, as he’s 8-1 with a 2.03 ERA in his last 11 starts. Speaking of impressive, Shohei Ohtani hit a leadoff homer for the second night in a row and extended his RBI streak to ten games. Freddie Freeman hit a two-run double as the Dodgers complete the sweep.

Twins 8, Diamondbacks 3: Jose Miranda had two doubles, one of which was a three-run job in the second inning. Willi Castro hit a two-run homer. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit an RBI triple. The Twins built up a 6-0 lead by the fourth and weren’t really challenged thereafter.

Giants 4, Cubs 3: Michael Conforto and David Villar hit back-to-back home runs in the second and Luis Matos hit a tie-breaking solo shot in the fifth to send the Cubs to their fourth loss in a row. The Giants go for the sweep this afternoon.

Blue Jays 0 vs. Red Sox 0 — SUSPENDED (to be resumed August 26):

🎵 I am standing up at the water's edge
In my dream
I cannot make a single sound
As you scream
It can't be that cold
The ground is still warm to touch
Hey, we touch
This place is so quiet, sensing that storm

Red rain is coming down
Red rain
Red rain is pouring down
Pouring down all over me 🎵

The Daily Briefing

Your All-Star coaches and umps

They’ve announced the umpires and the coaching staffs for the All-Star Game. I guess this is mostly for you sickos who care and/or plan to gamble on it:


  • Crew Chief: James Hoye

  • First Base: Bruce Dreckman

  • Second Base: John Tumpane

  • Third Base: Nic Lentz

  • Left Field: Ben May

  • Right Field: Nestor Ceja

NL Coaching Staff

  • Manager: Torey Lovullo

  • Coaches: David Bell, Cincinnati Reds manager and Lovullo’s Arizona coaching staff

  • Trainers: Ryan DiPanfilo, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tony Leo, Pittsburgh Pirates, Brendan Verner, Miami Marlins

AL Coaching Staff

  • Manager: Bruce Bochy

  • Coaches: Mark Kotsay, Oakland Athletics and Bochy’s Texas coaching staff

  • Trainers: Matt Lucero, Texas Rangers, Brian Ebel, Baltimore Orioles, Ryan Stoneberg, Kansas City Royals

I’m sitting here wondering how one goes about picking trainers for the All-Star Game. Is there a rotation? Like, it just happened to be Ryan Stoneberg’s turn this year? Or is there some serious inside juice re: who is a good trainer and who is shit, with everyone knowing who the real All-Stars are?

The Jerk Store Called . . .

Texas A&M lost the College World Series to Tennessee on Monday night. After the game, Aggies manager Jim Schlossnagle was asked about rumors that he might be leaving the team to take over the open coaching position at the University of Texas. Schlossnagle was incensed at the question and berated the reporter. His response to the question, from reporter Richard Zane:

"I think it's pretty selfish of you to ask me that question, to be honest with you. I left my family to be the coach at Texas A&M. I took the job at Texas A&M to never take another job again, and that hasn't changed in my mind. That's unfair, to talk about something like that. I understand you gotta ask the question, but I gave up a big part of my life to come take this job, and I've poured every ounce of my soul in this job. And I've given this job every single ounce I could possibly give it. So write that."

When the press conference ended Schlossnagle made a point to seek out Zane and continued to berate him, "emphatically telling Zane to never speak to him again."

Then, less than 24 hours later, Schlossnagle took the Texas job. And then he began blocking reporters who called him out on it on social media.

He offered an apology of sorts yesterday. It still wasn’t great as he said in the apology that he as stinging from losing the game on Monday, that “all I could think about was our players,” and that he “didn’t want to talk about [himself]” but as you can see above, his answer was ALL about himself. In reality he simply got caught being two-faced and didn’t like it, but I suppose a meh apology is better than no apology.

I can’t say I’ve always been 100% pleasant to every person with whom I’ve interacted in my life, but I just don’t understand people who treat others like crap, especially in a public setting like that. I could not imagine sending by son to go play for Schlossnagle knowing that he’s that kind of jackass.

Today in Baseball History

It was sort of a slow baseball news day yesterday so I figured I’d drop one of these. So, on June 27 in baseball history . . .

  • 1917 — Catcher Hank Gowdy of the NL Boston club became the first major league player to enlist to fight in World War I. And it wasn’t some ambassador gig. He saw harsh trench warfare. Later, when he was a 53 year old coach, he re-enlisted and served as a captain in World War II. He is believed to be the only ballplayer to have served in both World Wars. Also: he was a Columbus kid. North High School up in Clintonville. What a guy!

  • 1939 — The Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston NL club played a 23-inning, 2-2 tie. It would be another 80+ years before they’d invent the Kennesaw Mountain Landis Man to head off such events.

  • 1973 — David Clyde, who was just 18 years old, made his debut with the Texas Rangers, pitching five innings, striking out eight and allowing one hit. The plan had been to showcase the newly-drafted Clyde in one or two starts before sending him down to the minors for proper development, but Rangers owner Bob Short ordered Clyde to be kept on the roster because he was a draw for the then-poorly-drawing Rangers. Clyde would struggle through 47 games as a Ranger before blowing out his shoulder. Three years later he resurfaced with Cleveland but was damaged goods by that point and never threw a big league pitch past the age of 24. He remains the textbook case against rushing young talent.

  • 1986 — Robby Thompson of the Giants set a major league record when he was caught stealing four times in the Giants’ 7-6, 12-inning victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Bo Diaz threw out Thompson in the fourth, sixth, ninth and 11th innings. I can only assume manager Roger Craig was asleep through the entire game because any conscious manager would’ve benched Thompson before it got that far.

  • 1993 — Anthony Young of the New York Mets set a major league record by losing his 24th straight decision. I hope that, when asked, Young told people that it takes a pretty damn good pitcher to lose that many decisions, because it’s 100% true. Young, sadly, passed away from a brain tumor in 2017.

  • 1999 — In the last game ever played in the Kingdome, Ken Griffey Jr. hit a homer and robbed Juan Gonzalez of a three-run shot with an over-the-fence catch as the Mariners beat the Rangers. In addition to being the last game in the Kingdome, it was one of the last great games of Ken Griffey Jr. v.1.0, as he’d be traded to the Reds the following February and become a very different player for most of the rest of his career.

  • 2003 — The Red Sox set a major league record by scoring 10 runs before the first out was recorded. The first inning took 50 minutes and Boston hitters saw 91 pitches. The Red Sox would win the game 25-8. The losers: the Florida Marlins, who would go on to win that year’s World Series, so I suppose it was all OK.

  • 2010 — Jamie Moyer surrendered his 506th home run, which is an all-time record. Like Young, Moyer can be content in knowing that you gotta be damn good to give up that many homers. Being old helps too, of course, but you don’t get to be old in this game if you’re not good.

  • 2016 — Kris Bryant became the first major leaguer to hit three homers and hit two doubles in the same game in a Cubs victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Sadly, Bryant was lost at sea in a shipwreck during the 2019-2020 offseason and no one has heard from him since. A real shame, that.

Other Stuff

Canned poop is apparently our thing now

From the Ohio Pringles can guy to Adam Duvall’s fly outs, we here at Cup of Coffee have been cornering the market on canned poop news lately. But you don’t have a trend until you have three of something, so let’s drop this here too, courtesy of a subscriber who gave me the heads up yesterday:

In 1961, one Italian artist named Piero Manzoni decided to fill tin cans with his excrement and call them art. You read that right. Human poop literally turned into art because a particular person canned it. Manzoni even named his production run “Artist’s Shit.” . . . The label for each can reads, in English, French, and German, “Artist’s Shit, contents 30 gr net freshly preserved, produced and tinned in May 1961.” Each can has an imprint of a number from 1 to 90.

Manzoni apparently did it because his father owned a cannery and didn’t like the career Manzoni chose for himself, telling him, “Your work is shit.” So I suppose he showed his old man. Now the cans that are still in existence sell for six figures, so if anyone is looking to buy Adam Duvall or that weirdo Ohio lawyer something for their birthday, well, there you go.

Great Moments in Reaping and Sowing 

In a meeting with House Republicans on Thursday, former President Donald Trump called Milwaukee — the host of the 2024 Republican National Convention — a “horrible” city and said it is overrun by crime.

Milwaukee is preparing for a busy week with the RNC coming to town, but with just weeks to go before the convention begins, some are raising concerns about a lackluster level of events being booked during the convention, raising questions about whether the convention will deliver on promises of economic impact.  

Gary Witt, president and CEO of the Pabst Theater Group, told The Recombobulation Area that the majority of the group’s venues will have no events booked for the RNC . . . Witt characterized the RNC planning as “underwhelming” and a “failure.”

Gee, I wonder why Republicans aren’t swarming to the city. Damndest thing.

Not that may matter all too much when we see things like this . . .

Poll shows swing state voters trust Trump on Democracy more than Biden

In six swing states that Biden narrowly won in 2020, a little more than half of voters classified as likely to decide the presidential election say threats to democracy are extremely important to their vote for president, according to a poll by The Washington Post and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

Yet, more of them trust Trump to handle those threats than Biden.

I can understand a person not supporting Biden’s position on just about any given issue. He’s not perfect — far from it on some matters — and people’s policy preferences are varied. It’s a way messier country full of way messier people than most of us appreciate most of the time.

But I cannot even fathom how anyone who thinks “threats to democracy are extremely important to their vote” can say that Trump — the man who instigated an insurrection in order to retain power despite losing an election and the man who has explicitly said his top priority if he takes office again is to mount a campaign of retribution against his enemies — is better on that issue. It’s completely Froot Loops. To believe it requires one to OD on crazy pills. For starters.

The most simple response here is to dismiss the polling as flawed given how much it departs from observable reality and basic coherence. But then I remember that this country looked Donald Trump dead in the face eight years ago and said “yeah, he should be president,” and even more people voted for him in 2020, so nothing will surprise me.

While I still think Biden will win in November — I honestly do think that rationally, not based on just hope — I, unlike at any other time in my life, can see a situation in which I decide to simply give up on having faith in the American Experiment. I can see our country doing things that makes me cease to want to parse it or criticize it but, rather, makes me just want to shake my head and say, “OK, fine,” and then to simply pack in caring about the future of our country. I’ll live like Michael Caine on that compound of his in “Children of Men” and ride out the rest of my days remembering better times.

No one asked for this

Vanity Fair reports that NBC plans to use an AI version of Al Michaels’ voice to narrate its daily Olympic recaps on Peacock during the Paris games. And Michaels is totally cool with it:

Michaels was “very skeptical” of the proposal—until he heard the AI for himself. “Frankly, it was astonishing. It was amazing,” he told me in a phone interview last weekend. “And it was a little bit frightening.” Michaels was left in awe of the nuance—the way it captured his intonations and verbal subtleties. “It was not only close, it was almost 2% off perfect,” he said. “I’m thinking, Whoa.”

There’s a lot of talk in the article — some from the guy who hired me to work at NBC 15 years ago, Rick Cordella — about why this is all good and how it was done and everything. But it’s notable that “viewer demand” is not mentioned even once, probably because no one was asking for this.

Maybe not many people care, but a customizable AI version of Al Michaels reading back highlights is certainly not anything a single Olympic viewer ever considered or desired before yesterday and they probably do not desire it now. Even if people did want a comforting and familiar, albeit fake voice giving them recaps they’d probably prefer an AI Bob Costas or an AI Jim McKay given their longer and deeper association with Olympic coverage. Or, for that matter, why not just pay the still very-much-alive Michaels to do it rather than burn through irresponsible amounts of energy for what is, essentially, a gimmick?

As for Michaels: he goes on to talk about how, when NBC presented him with this, he was skeptical but that he went and farted around with ChatGPT, having it create modern versions of “Father Knows Best” scripts — really! — and he was super impressed with that, so hey, why not? But that whole section of the article reads is actually kind of sad when you read between the lines. It sounds like (a) NBC gave Michaels a big check to let them do this while he sits by his pool; and (b) Michaels, ever the company man, is trying to sell it in the Vanity Fair piece despite his reservations. And many of Michael’s comments make it clear that he is aware that this sort of use case for AI is going to eliminate all kinds of jobs down the road. It all comes off as if he’s trying to convince himself that it’s OK somehow, even if he knows it’s problematic.

As for NBC, I suspect that this is far less about reaching viewers during the 2024 Olympics — I’d bet my mortgage that hardly anyone uses the tool for recaps — and far more about trying to be seen as the vanguard of job-eliminating AI technology in the sports space. The pioneer for getting rid of anchors and announcers and whatever other jobs they can eliminate. For as much as I think it sucks — and man, it sucks — there’s value in being on that cutting edge. There are executives at ESPN and other places who will be watching this closely and will follow suit if NBC pulls it off.

What a world we’re building for ourselves these days.

Have a great day everyone.


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