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

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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.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.