Another busy week here are JoeBlogs!
Sunday: Block Party. People ask me why I love golf. Well, here’s the Michael Block story.
Monday: A Complicated Man. It’s impossible to sum up the life of Jim Brown. But we have to try.
Tuesday: The Glen Kuiper Saga. In my mind, it comes down to this: What would Buck O’Neil think?
Wednesday: Brilliant Reader Challenges! Fun new feature at JoeBlogs where I take on reader challenges.
Thursday: A Different Time, a Different Destiny. Mike Trout passed Joe DiMaggio on the all-time home run list. But it’s more complicated than that.
As always, I would love for you to join up. And with Father’s Day approaching, I am going to try something different here. If you buy an annual JoeBlogs subscription as a gift for someone (say, your father), I’ll send them a personal email welcoming them to JoeBlogs. The way it will work is, you buy the gift, then send me a note (jp at joeposnanski dot com) with a little info about the receiver (name, relationship, their favorite team, a baseball memory you share, whatever you like) and then I’ll send along a personal note to them that can serve as a card from you.
For example, someone bought a gift for her father a short while ago, and I sent him this note:
Your daughter, who bought you a year-long subscription to JoeBlogs, tells me that your favorite player is Dale Murphy. Mine too! Did you know that Dale’s favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life?” I don’t know if that’s still true, but I read it somewhere many years ago and it has always stuck with me. Dale is a wonderful guy in every way, and I think he should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Anyway, your daughter loves you very much, she says you instilled the love of baseball in her which is one of the great things a father can do. I hope JoeBlogs brings you a little bit of joy.
I realize the process is a little bulky — I’ve been talking to Substack about making gift subscriptions easier to manage — but hey, I’m willing to do it if you are.
You can buy the gift here:
And after you buy it, once again, you can email me with the information here:
WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL update
OK, I have a couple of WWLB updates for you this week. First of all, and I mentioned earlier in the week, our first review is in! It is from Kirkus and it is a starred review, and it opens like so: “The cherished sportswriter circles the bases, calling out exceptional moments in the history of the game.”
Cherished sportswriter! As Mel Allen would say, “How about that?”
The book comes out Sept. 5 and is available for preorder pretty much everywhere, but as you might know, we’ve got a super-special deal going on over at Rainy Day Books. If you order the book from Rainy Day by Father’s Day (which, as a reminder, is June 18 this year — it’s coming, people!) I’ll not only sign the book, but I will personally inscribe it any way you like. I’ve now seen some of the wilder inscription requests; you people are just a little bit cracked. I love it, of course.
The big thing here, as you might remember, is that we are trying to break the Rainy Day presale record of a guy named Michael Schur. On this week’s PosCast, Mike said that if I don’t break the record, he’s going to record himself popping champagne and toasting me like he’s a member of the 1972 Dolphins. We just can’t let that happen. I promise to record my own champagne video if we beat the record. Please help.
Hey, do you like baseball? Wow! You do! What a coincidence! Well check out this little sweepstakes that my publishing house, Penguin, is having right now!
Yep, all you have to do is go to the Website, enter your email address and zip code, and voila, you will be entered for a chance to win six super-fun baseball books! I’m particularly drawn to three of them. And it’s a great collection. My friend Ryan McGee wrote Welcome to the Circus of Baseball, about his summer working for the Asheville Tourists, and it’s just super-funny and great. My friend Tyler Kepner wrote a history of the World Series, The Grandest Stage, and you’ll love it. I just got a copy of Banana Ball, about the nutty Savannah Bananas, and all I have to say about them is my daughters both want to see a game and, alas, I’ve rarely heard them say that about baseball before.
And you’ve got autobiographies of Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and not-quite-Hall-of-Famer-but-still-awesome-player David Wright.
And sure, why not, you’ll get a copy of WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL if you win. Why wouldn’t you enter?
First pitch update
OK, yeah, I’m doing it, I’m throwing out the first pitch at the Charlotte Knights-Nashville Stars game on Sunday, June 4. It is Joe-Nanza Day — anyone who is named Joe (or any of its sister names, such as Joseph, Joey, José, JoJo, Jozef, Giuseppe, Josef, etc.) can get free admission. I mean, come on!
In that spirit, here’s the best Joe team I can come up with in the two minutes I allotted for myself:
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Joe Morgan
SS: Joe Sewell
3B: José Ramirez
LF: Joe “Ducky” Medwick
CF: Joe DiMaggio
RF: Shoeless Joe Jackson
C: Joe Mauer
DH: Albert “Joey” Belle
SP: José Fernández
In case Fernandez struggles: Iron Joe McGinnity
Closer: Joe Nathan
Manager: Joe McCarthy
Bench coach: Joe Torre
Coach who keeps everyone loose: Joe Maddon
Announcers: Joe Buck and Joe Garagiola
Flake: Joe Charboneau
Bat flipper: José Bautista
Hardest head: Jose Canseco
Supplier of fine baseball scuffing equipment: Joe Niekro
RBI Man: Joe Carter
Youngest player in baseball history: Joe Nuxhall
Guy who might have hit longest home run ever: Joey Meyer
Legend: Joe Shlabotnik
General manager: Theo Epstein. No, he’s not a Joe. He’s still my general manager.
Anyway, if you happen to be in or around Charlotte, come on out to the Knights Game on June 4 and see me potentially make a fool of myself. On Thursday, I threw the ball around a bit with my pal Jonathan; it was the first time I’d played catch in, well, it has to be at least 10 years, maybe more. There were three takeaways.
My glove was so old that when I removed it after playing catch, my hand was entirely black. I mean, coal miner black. Might be time to get a new glove.
I thought my arm would be aching today — when I played in Royals Fantasy Camp a couple of decades ago, my arm was KILLING me after my first couple of catches — but for some reason, my arm is fine. I do realize it would be a funnier story if I couldn’t lift my arm today, but — maybe because I play a lot of tennis or something — I’m not feeling any pain. I suppose it’s coming.
I would say I threw OK for the most part, but maybe one of every 25 or 30 balls I uncorked a 50 Cent throw, Add nerves and such, and this could be really, really bad.
Hey, if you feel like it, I’d love if you’d share this post with your friends!
OK, so I suspect JoeBlogs readers know that we are staunchly anti-service time manipulation, meaning that we simply cannot stand that teams will keep their top prospects down in the minor leagues extra time to delay when they become arbitration-eligible and, eventually, free agents.
In 2013, for example, the Astros offered George Springer a seven-year, $23 million deal before he’d ever played a game in the big leagues. He turned it down flat, as he obviously should have*, and the Astros repaid him by sending him to the minor leagues for the first 14 games to push back his free agency by one full year.
*Springer, by betting on himself, ended up making about $73 million over the next seven years.
Point is, we’re totally against the practice. Boo, roster manipulation!
That said: We’re kind of in a bind on this Elly De La Cruz situation. He’s probably the best prospect in baseball right now — he’s a 6-foot-5 shortstop with enormous power, blazing speed and a bazooka arm. He’s doing miracle things for the Louisville Bats on a nightly basis — like this (which looks a lot like this but is actually different) — and in all, he’s slugging .608 and he’s got nine steals in 29 games and there’s no explanation for why the Reds — who are about as boring as a baseball team can be and play in a division that is absolutely wide open — have not called him up except they want to delay when he becomes a free agent.
Intellectually, yes, we’re very much against the practice!
But here’s the thing: Louisville comes to play the Charlotte Knights for six games between June 20 and June 25. And, uh, you know, I’d kind of like to go the ballpark those nights and watch Elly play before he gets to the big leagues. I’d even like to do sort of an Elly Watch for JoeBlogs. Is it bad that I’m rooting for the Reds to do the wrong thing and keep him in the minor league for just another month?
“So,” Brandon McCarthy asks, “service time controlling is OK if the player’s coming to your area?”
“Correct,” I say.
“Perfectly crazy take,” he replies. “I love it.”
The A’s return “home"
The A’s, who have lost eight in a row, start a six-game homestand tonight: Three with the Astros, three with the Braves. This could get very ugly. The last homestand was seven games, and they drew 35,031 fans. That’s the total for the seven games. Since they left, I guess, the A’s management seem to have reached a tentative agreement to play in Las Vegas, so I suspect things will only get worse.
I found this quote particularly compelling from the Vegas side:
“I am excited that we have finally received the A’s proposal, and we are currently reviewing it,” Nevada state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said.
Wait, STEVE YEAGER is the Nevada state Assembly speaker?
Eh, it’s not the same Steve Yeager, who played 15 years in the big leagues, once posed semi-nude in Playgirl Magazine and played a coach in “Major League.” BORING!
That reminds me that there used to be a city councilperson in Augusta, Ga. named Willie Mays, and once — and I might be remembering the details wrong — he was one of the more outspoken people against a sports proposal of some kind, and in the newspaper, I called him the “Say No Kid.” In one of my prouder moments, he went to the next city council meeting and said something like, “the papers are calling me the ‘Say No Kid,’ and I wear that badge proudly!”
But whatever joy I got out of that was quickly erased when an early brilliant reader sent me a letter (ah, the days of letters) which said: “I cannot believe that you went THAT FAR but didn’t call Willie Mays the “Say NAY Kid.”
That brilliant reader was right, and I have never fully lived down the missed opportunity.
Bottoms Up: The Reverse Power Rankings
Athletics (10-42): The A’s could have the top spot locked up by July 4th.
Royals (15-36): Salvy is adding to his HOF creds, and that’s what matters.
Reds (21-29): Hey, fellas, just keep Elly down a little bit longer!
White Sox (21-31): Have won seven of 10, playing Royals and Guardians helps.
Rockies (22-29): Elias Diaz is hitting .340! Now for the bad news … the rest.
Nationals (21-29): It’s a struggle to find anything even worth saying.
Guardians (21-28): Wow, wow, wow, is this lineup bad. Like all-time bad.
Padres (23-27): And this star-studded lineup is 14th in the NL in runs scored.
Cubs (22-27): Their run differential suggests they’re better than the record.
Cardinals (23-29): Seems like they’re back on course; Nolan Gorman!
Tigers (23-25): They’re terrible and still might win this putrid division.
Phillies (23-27): Not scoring runs. Not pitching. Bad combination.
Marlins (25-26): They’ve been outscored by 50 runs but still hanging around.
Blue Jays (26-25): Have lost 9 of 11, a typical Toronto early-season swoon.
Giants (25-25): I love that they’re hanging around because of Cobb and Webb.
Mariners (26-24): And we ask again: When does Julio Rodríguez turn it on?
Red Sox (26-24): As Masataka Yoshida goes, so go the Boston Red Sox.
Mets (26-25): When Pete Alonso homers every night, the team looks better.
Twins (26-24): Can a hitter be streakier than Byron Buxton?
Pirates (25-24): In Mitch Keller, we trust! Leads the league in WHIP.
Angels (28-23): Mike Trout hasn’t stolen a base yet; are those speed days over?
Diamondbacks (29-21): Geraldo Perdomo might be figuring things out.
Brewers (27-23): They have to figure out a way to score more runs.
Yankees (30-22): They still have problems, but Aaron Judge hides many.
Astros (28-21): José Abreu is still homerless. It’s really weird.
Orioles (33-17): Swept Toronto, took two from Yanks, it’s all happening.
Rangers (31-18): No deGrom, no problem. They lead the league in runs!
Dodgers (31-20): Remember when they looked vulnerable? Nah, me either.
Braves (31-19): Pitching injuries? Fine, then Bryce Elder will win the Cy.
Rays (37-15): Have come a little bit back to earth, but still the game’s best.
With regard to Team Joe, I would submit Smoky Joe Williams as SP over Jose Fernandez, Joe Cronin over Sewell at SS.
Regarding the rankings, perhaps you should be a little patient before making definitive statements about teams when they've played about 50 games of a 162 game season. Give it a little more "as of now."