Carl Pavano was the target of an extortion plot

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When you think of celebrity extortion plots you tend to think of super famous people with sterling reputations they’d do anything to protect. Someone tried to extort Bill Cosby once, for example. That’s pretty major because he’s an icon.  You tend not to think of extortion plots aimed at guys like Carl Pavano. But they happen:

The family of major league pitcher Carl Pavano told police that a former Southington High School classmate was trying to extort money and a luxury SUV from Pavano by threatening to reveal personal information about him.

Not just any luxury SUV. According to the story, the suspect left a message to Pavano’s family saying “the only way your brother is getting out of this… is with a heart-felt apology and a navy Range Rover with tan leather.”  So apparently he’s a highly specific extortionist. If it was a Mercedes ML63 with black leather we’d all now know about Pavano aided that Prussian spy during wartime or whatever it was.

OK, I’m being cute with that. There is a suggestion in the article of what the basis of the extortion threat was, with the suspect saying it was about “an emotional and physical relationship” he and Pavano had in high school.  Pavano’s family denies that, however.

I would add that extortion plots are more about threats and greed than they are about revealing actual truths and that as such you can’t necessarily assume that the threat in question is based in truth. All it has to be — to be successful anyway, which this one was apparently not — is potentially damaging, and lies can do that too.

Derek Jeter and Giancarlo Stanton have different stories about his trade

Associated Press
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Giancarlo Stanton was introduced by the New York Yankees moments ago, donning the pinstripes for the first time and meeting a mass of media. The takeaway from the presser — apart from how happy he seems to be about joining the Yankees — is how poorly the Miami Marlins handled his departure.

Earlier in the day Derek Jeter — who, despite being in charge of the Marlins baseball operations department is not here for the Winter Meetings — had a telephone press conference in which he seemed to bristle at the bad press he’s received since the Stanton trade was announced and tried to tell his side of the story of the deal. Here’s his side of the story:

During his press conference just now Stanton was asked if Jeter persuaded him to stay. He paused for several seconds when he was asked that. Then he answered:

We had a meeting, yes. We spoke about the direction of the team. I wanted us to go forward and have — and advance with the pitching staff. I thought our lineup was legit and we needed help with our pitchers, and we needed to add rather than subtract. The way they wanted to go was to subtract, so I let that be known that I didn’t want to be part of another rebuild, another losing season, and that’s almost a guaranteed losing season taking away what I thought was a great lineup. So, yes, I didn’t want to be a part of the rebuild.

It was quite clear from both his words and his demeanor that Stanton gave the Marlins a reasonable set of circumstances that would make him want to stay. It was likewise clear that the Marlins did nothing to persuade him to stay.

They also bungled the trade.

Stanton has taken a lot of heat for rejecting deals to the Giants and the Cardinals. Stanton said, though, that he and his agent presented the Marlins with a list of teams to whom he’d accept a trade beforehand and the Giants and Cardinals were not on the list. Stanton:

Now, I gave my list of teams prior to, and they went to San Francisco and Cardinals and struck deals with them. So I was open to listen to them, but those were not my teams.

The Marlins nonetheless struck those deals and presented them to Stanton. Stanton said that he had a lot of respect for those organizations so he took meetings with them but that they were never on his list and they just weren’t deals that were going to work out.

News of those deals, it’s worth remembering, came out primarily from a reporter based in south Florida, suggesting that they were leaked by the Marlins. So not only was the club pursuing deals they should have known Stanton was going to reject, they made his act of rejecting them an awkward, public act which made Stanton into the bad guy in some quarters. Once those deals feel apart, of course, the Yankees quickly swooped in and got him for a good second baseman who will soon be traded and some magic beans.

Stanton came off really well in his presser. He answered every questions thrown at him. He praised the Cardinals and the Giants and explained his decision to join the Yankees without delving into the sorts of cliches often used when talking about the Yankees, focusing less on their history and brand and more on their good young players and their current state of competitiveness. He also said, when asked whether he’ll play right field given that Aaron Judge is there, that he doesn’t care where he played as long as he can help the team win. It was a master class in how to introduce yourself to the New York media.

Contrast that with what’s coming out of Miami. And ask yourself if we should maybe rethink what we talk about when we talk about Yankees, current and former, and the idea of “class.”

More from the Stanton press conference: