Rick Reilly

Of course you want to hate-read Rick Reilly’s creepy open letter to Derek Jeter’s unborn children


There was an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” where Mac tried to give Chase Utley a fan letter he wrote. It read like so:

Dear Chase,

I feel like I can call you chase because you and me are so alike. I’d like to meet you one day, it would be great to have a catch. I know I can’t throw as fast as you but I think you’d be impressed with my speed. I love your hair, you run fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I know you have no been getting my letters because I know you would write back if you did. I hope you write back this time, and we can become good friends. I am sure our relationship would be a real homerun!

Of course, “It’s Always Sunny” is a comedy show and the the main joke here was that this letter, from a grown man, was hilariously juvenile and maudlin and spoke of a man-crush from a man-child that was wholly uncomfortable.

Rick Reilly is not a man-child character in a comedy show, but he too wrote a letter to a baseball crush. This one purporting to be a letter to Derek Jeter’s future children, in which he told them just how amazing and wonderful and classy their dad was. It starts like so:

To Derek Jeter’s kids (whenever you come along):

You were born too late to know your father the way we did, so I want to take just a minute to let you know what he meant to us.

First of all, if Derek Jeter ever does have children and Rick Reilly tries to tell them about their dad, I would hope and expect the Jeter children’s security team would beat him within an inch of his life.

Second of all, the “know your father the way we did” thing is pretty insane given that there is likely no superstar baseball player in history that “we” know less about than Derek Jeter. Indeed, for all of his accomplishments and exploits, maintaining his privacy to the extent he has in this media-saturated, tell-all day and age may be the most amazing. Maybe some reporter knows a thing or two about Jeter that hasn’t come out yet due to some sourcing issues or an agreement to hold it off the record, but I know for DAMN sure that Rick Reilly doesn’t have any inside scoop on the guy. Let alone scoop that his kids wouldn’t know ten times better than he did.

But really, that sort of captures Reilly and Reilly-style journalism in a nutshell, doesn’t it? The conceit of the Boomer-era columnist that he and he alone knows about the athletes he covers and that we must go to him to get some sort of special insight. Reilly may have a sweet perch from which to write, but for all his years of writing, he has neither cracked the Jeter code nor told us anything uniquely insightful about Jeter’s public persona and especially not his playing ability. He premises this whole thing on his status as a reporter yet reports nothing.

He does manage to creep Jeter’s future hypothetical kids out, though. I mean, would you want to hear this about your dad from some stranger?

Your father was everything men wanted to be. The guy with the $15 million Trump Tower penthouse. The dude dating Miss Universe. The man with all of the talent and none of the jerk. He was everything women wanted, too. The elegant athlete who loved books, paid for everything, and had a limo waiting for them when it was time to go.

“Thanks, you strange old man. I always wanted to know about my dad’s sex life as a bachelor. All kids want to hear that about their dads, really.”

I can’t imagine how this weird, self-parody of an open letter came to be. I can’t imagine what ESPN’s editors who, I presume, are under strict instructions to simply rubber stamp everything Reilly writes and put it on the web, think about this sort of thing. I can’t imagine what reporters who have applied to ESPN and been denied or worked for ESPN and have been let go think about this clearly insane person pulling down seven figures to write this kind of thing.

The Red Sox get their ace! Boston signs David Price to a 7-year, $217 million deal

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Multiple reports circulated in the past week that the Red Sox would need to unload the money truck in order to sign David Price. Well, the truck just got unloaded: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract.

This is, by far, the largest free agent contract the Red Sox have ever given a pitcher. It beats Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210 million deal signed last offseason as the largest ever free agent pitcher contract. Clayton Kershaw‘s contract extension with the Dodgers was for $215 million.

Price went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA pitching in the AL East while with the Tampa Bay Rays. After being traded to the Tigers just before the 2014 trade deadline he went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. He returned to the AL East with the Blue Jays this year, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. He also pitched in the playoffs for the Jays starting three times in four overall appearances

Major League Baseball’s annual drug testing report has been released

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MLB and the MLBPA just released the annual public report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator. It’s the annual report, mandated by the JDA, which says how many positive drug tests there were, what the drugs were, etc.

The notable numbers, which cover the period starting when the 2014 World Series ended until the 2015 World Series ended:

  • Total number of tests administered: 8,158. 6,536 of them were urine tests, 1,622 of them were blood tests for HGH;
  • 10 tests resulted in positives which led to discipline: 7 for PEDs, 2 for stimulants, one for DHEA;
  • The previous year there were 7,929 total tests with 12 which resulted in discipline;
  • There were the same number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted this year as last: 113. All but two were for attention deficit disorder. One was for gynecomastia, which is the swelling of the breast tissue in men due to a hormone imbalance, one was for a stress fracture in someone’s elbow.

A use exemption line item which had appeared on the list for the previous several years — hypogonadism — was not there, so congratulations to the anonymous player who was either cured or who retired.

As we always note, the number of players who got exemptions for ADD drugs is a bit higher than the occurrence of ADD in the population at large and, once you eliminate kids from ADHD occurrences, it’s likely considerably higher. But that’s none of my business.

Kendrys Morales wins the Edgar Martinez DH of the Year Award

Kansas City Royals' Kendrys Morales watches his solo home run during the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Only seven hitters in the American League got enough plate appearances while primarily serving time as DH to qualify for the batting title in 2015. And of those some of them — most notably Edwin Encarnacion — played a fair bit of defense, meaning that there weren’t too many guys who could really be called true DHs in the game. Still they give out an award for being the best DH, you only need 100 plate appearances as a DH to be eligible and Kendrys Morales just won it:

Morales received 50 of the 88 first-place votes cast to garner the honor for the first time in his nine-year career . . . Boston’s David Ortiz, a seven-time winner of the ODH Award, finished second with 34 second-place votes after batting .267 (132-for-495) with 35 doubles, 32 homers and 99 RBI in 134 games as DH for the Red Sox this past season . . . Kendrys batted .295 (156-for-529) with 39 doubles, 21 home runs, 104 RBI and 78 runs scored in 141 games as DH for the Royals.

Defense — which for this award has to be thought of as a demerit, right? — couldn’t have separated these two as they both slummed it at first base for nine games. Overall I’d rather have had Ortiz, who walked more, hit for greater power and, batting average notwithstanding, got on base at almost exactly the same clip as Morales did. Similar arguments could be made for A-Rod and Prince Fielder, but no one asks me about such things. They do ask club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments, however, who vote on the award.

It’s an award that has been around a while — this was the 42nd year for it — but it’s just been known as the Edgar Martinez Award since 2004. It would’ve been really weird if it had been called that in 1978. Martinez was just 15 then.

Twins sign Korean slugger Byung-ho Park to four-year contract

Byung-ho Park
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With a week remaining in their exclusive negotiating window to sign Byung-ho Park the Twins have agreed to a deal with the Korean slugger. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that it’s a four-year, $12 million contract, on top of which the Twins will pay Park’s old team a $12.85 million posting fee for those negotiating rights.

Four years and a total commitment of $24.85 million is certainly a sizable investment, but it’s significantly less than most projections had the Twins spending to get Park under contract.

Last offseason the Pirates bid $5 million to negotiate with Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang and then signed him to a four-year, $11 million deal. His success in MLB raised the level of interest in Park, who posted similarly spectacular numbers in Korean, but in the end the price tag wasn’t significantly higher. Based on reports from Korea, it sounds like the Twins low-balled him in negotiations and Park basically just accepted it because he wants to play in MLB.

Three weeks ago I wrote a lengthy breakdown of how Park could fit into the Twins’ plans when they secured the high bid, but the short version is that he’ll slot into the lineup as the starting designated hitter and look to prove that his exceptional production in Korean can carry over to MLB. Park hit .343 with 53 homers, 146 RBIs, and a 1.150 OPS in 140 games for Nexen this past season and has topped a 1.000 OPS in each of the past three years.