Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Tuesday Lunch Links

The playoffs start today. But not for Houston [evil laugh]. The Astros are getting massages and hopefully Michael Brantley is fully immersed in a cryogenic chamber and whatnot. 

*Somehow the biggest story of the day - yesterday - was Six Flags' General Manager Chris Young decrying the mean twetes of one Brian McTaggart and his "reporting" on how the Rangers celebrated clinching their first playoff berth since 2016. Here's McTaggart's original tweet, and here's a transcription in the event that it gets deleted (though, if it hasn't been deleted yet, I doubt it will be):

The Rangers partied last night while the Astros had a champagne toast and quickly turned their attention to Sunday and one more win. Houston's "been-there-done-that" mentality paid off, it seems.

Who knew that it would soil the bedsheets of so many. Let's take a look at some of the Rangers' official account tweets from September 30, when they clinched a playoff spot. It took 45 seconds to find those. If you look super-closely you'll see that the Rangers are not partying. They are doing simple accounting. They are most definitely balancing their checkbooks. 100% they are all about their business.

Then the Rangers went and got shutout on Sunday while the Astros beat Arizona 8-1 to win the division, thanks to going 9-4 against Six Flags in the 2023 regular season. This was the source of much consternation to GM Chris Young, who on 105.3 The Fan was asked about it and responded:

I find it ridiculous that that's even a subject honestly. This is the most professional responsible group of players that I've ever been around. We had a very subdued, champagne popping, but beyond that, there was no partying there was nothing outlandish [the punctuation in here is an absolute MESS] These guys had earned the right to pop those champagne bottles and that was the extent of our celebration. It had no impact whatsoever on Sunday's game. And really it's pretty poor journalism to even suggest that honestly, I'm very disappointed in the lack of professionalism of the Houston journalists for putting that out there. It's classless and it's not appropriate and it's completely fabricated. It's wrong. 

Sideline reporter Emily Jones apparently deleted her account because of the Astros fans that had been "sicced" on her. That sucks. But here's the thing: Chris Young absolutely had the ability to not even make this A Thing...less than 24 hours before the Rangers' first playoff game in seven years. I say things that get me in trouble all the time, and even I have the damn sense to know that it would have been far more beneficial to be all, "You know what, I'm not even paying attention to that. We have a series in front of us that's important, and that's where our focus is." 

Doing that makes this whole "story" a non-issue. If you clicked any of those tweets, it's reasonable to assume, "Oh those dudes turned up." And you know what else? That would have been perfectly acceptable! Turn up! You made the playoffs! You went from 68-94 in 2022 to coming within a game of winning the division! That's incredible! Good job, buddies! Sure, the division slipped out of reach at the last possible minute, but that's baseball. It happens. Chris Young 100% did not have to make this a story on the eve of the AL Wild Card round. But he did. 

Of course this entire episode devolved into a relitigating of the Astros' Trash Can Scandal. Which we all love. Ultimately, no one entity is at fault here. I don't think McTaggart's tweet was out of line. He was covering the Astros, not the Rangers, but looking at the Rangers' TL you saw bottles getting popped like Russians in a Brooklyn night club (right before John Wick kills them all) right before they get shutout to fumble away the division. 

I understand that Chris Young wants to dispel the narrative that the Rangers were too hungover to score two runs against an already-eliminated team. He's not stupid, mans went to Princeton. Did he know that he was going to stoke this "rivalry" even more? Maybe. Did it get taken out of proportion? Probably. But your team spent 160 days in 1st Place, lost the division on the last day, and you make this kind of statement on a day when there's literally nothing else happening in baseball? To think that it wouldn't have any kind of ripple effect is short-sighted at best. Let me be someone's PR person. I'll keep you out of trouble.


*Why repeating as World Series Champions is so tough, according to the players that have done it, and who have tried.

*What we learned from the Astros' do-or-die road trip and how it might carry over into the playoffs.

*Yordan Alvarez was MLB's AL Player of the Month for September, matching the one he won for June.

*As the Wild Card rounds kick off today, here are the FanGraphs' simulations:

Tampa 56.7 - 43.3 Six Flags

Toronto 55.6 - 44.4 Minnesota

Milwaukee 50.7 - 49.3 Arizona

Philadelphia 59.6 - 40.4 Miami

Minnesota hasn't won a playoff game since 2004 ALDS G1. That's an L18 streak ever since. 

*Every postseason team's Achilles Heel.

*ESPN: Ranking the 40 players to make the biggest mark in October. Yordan Alvarez is the highest-ranking Astro, at #8. Altuve is #9, Verlander #13, Framber #16, Tucker #20. 

*Who Astros fans should be rooting for in the Toronto/Minnesota series.

*The mother of the Rangers' Nathaniel Lowe and the Rays' Josh Lowe is battling brain cancer. Best wishes, thoughts, prayers, vibes to her and to her family.

*Kim Ng is the first female GM in any of the four major sports to lead a team to the postseason. How she did it.

*Baseball's biggest spenders couldn't buy a ticket to October.

*Former Astros Great Phil Nevin won't return to manage the Angels in 2024, much to his (probable) delight.

*It's about to get chilly, y'all.

*Speed: A 1990s Blockbuster that holds up.

*A Visual Selection:

*Another Visual Selection:

*A Musical Selection: