homer simpson donuts

“Free” donuts cost Astros fan $237 (and the “donut” versus “doughnut” debate rages on)

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Throughout each day Craig and I “claim” stories to write about. For instance, I’ll instant message him and say, “I’ll take the David Purcey trade” and then he’ll say something like, “OK, sucker.”

However, sometimes there’s no claiming necessary. If there’s a story involving bourbon he gets it and if there’s a story about donuts I get it.

So here’s this beauty from the Houston Chronicle

Bob Choate, a 56-year-old Astros fan, won a “year’s supply of donuts” while attending fan appreciation day at Minute Maid Park last October. In my case that would likely involve approximately 25,000 donuts, putting Shipley’s Do-Nuts in Houston out of business, but per the rules of the contest he instead received 315 coupons for a donut-and-coffee combination worth around $3 apiece.

As if insulting a person’s ability to eat significantly more than 315 donuts in one calendar year wasn’t bad enough, Choate had to declare the prize value on his taxes and that ended up costing him $237. And he hasn’t used even 10 of the coupons yet. Despicable.

Anyway, there’s a somewhat happy ending to the story, which is that the owner of Shipley’s Do-Nuts reimbursed the $237, Choate also agreed to make a matching donation of $237 to charity, and the Astros gave him a signed Jeff Bagwell baseball and four tickets for his troubles.

Add it all up and the guy has essentially spent $237 on an autographed baseball, four Astros tickets, eight donuts, and eight cups of coffee, which seems like kind of a ripoff for a “prize” unless you’re one of those weirdos who enjoys donating to charity and being a good person.

On a related note: By reading the Houston Chronicle article about this whole situation and Deadspin’s amusing parsing of the story, I just realized that a large percentage of the country spells them “doughnuts” rather than “donuts.” As you can tell by the preceding paragraphs I refuse to be one of those people (I’m a food rebel, as established previously), but the idea that the alternate spelling went unnoticed by me, one of the world’s foremost donut/doughnut consumers, for the past 28 years is mind blowing.

Former MLB player Andy Marte also killed in car accident

GOODYEAR , AZ - MARCH 06:  Andy Marte #15 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 6, 2009 in Goodyear, Arizona. The Brewers defeated the Indians 17-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Compounding the tragic news of Yordano Ventura‘s passing is a report that fellow Dominican and former MLB infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning. The report was confirmed by Marte’s agency, J.M.G. Baseball, as well as Marte’s former MLB clubs. No further details have been released so far.

Marte, 33, appeared for the Braves, Indians and Diamondbacks from 2005 through 2014. He was ranked in the top 10 MLB prospects by MLB.com in 2005 and held a career .218/.276/.358 batting line, 21 home runs and a .634 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization after the 2014 season, slashing .312 with 42 home runs in 206 games.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marte’s family and teammates during this terrible time.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.