Great Moments in Hyperbole: Ken Burns

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This link goes to a video interview of documentarianite Ken Burns, talking about leadership. Coaches and managers, specifically.

The video is fairly interesting in a big-think sort of way, but I’m having a hard time getting on board with his comparison of Joe Torre during his time with the Yankees and Abraham Lincoln. To be fair, he’s not comparing greatness or anything. Rather, he’s saying that each of them met difficult situations with a certain good humor and/or stoicism depending on what was required at the time.

Why does this break down for me? Because less than a minute before the says that, he notes how everyone in today’s culture — especially baseball — is concerned with money and structures their lives around it in important ways.

I’m not meaning to questions Torre’s bonafides or integrity here, but ask yourself: was Torre’s ability to be, as Burns puts it, “the epitome of sanity,” in New York merely a function of who he is, or did the fact that being the Yankees manager is a glamorous and lucrative gig have anything to do with the kind of garbage he put up with? Maybe it doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot, but it seems like you had better be a bit more certain about such things before playing the Lincoln-card.

Anyway, that’s not even the most egregious thing Burns said in the clip. That came when he called Torre a “mediocre player.”  I don’t know that I’d vote for him, but on his playing merits alone, he was a borderline Hall of Famer in my view. And in the view of some other smart people who have thought hard about the matter.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.