Rick Reilly

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.

Joe Panik says he’s “100 percent” recovered from back injury

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik follows through on a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg in the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Denver. The Giants won 10-8. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”

Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”

“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”

Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.

After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.

Baseball America names Corey Seager as baseball’s top prospect

Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager follows through a single that scored Austin Barnes, in front of Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.

This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.

Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.

You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.

Jenrry Mejia: “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”

New York Mets' Jenrry Mejia reacts after getting the last out against the Milwaukee Brewers during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 25, 2014, in Milwaukee. The Mets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
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Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was permanently suspended on Friday after testing positive for a third time for a performance-enhancing drug. The right-hander is maintaining his innocence, as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes in quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. Mejia said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”

Mejia has the opportunity to petition commissioner Rob Manfred in one year for reinstatement to Major League Baseball. However, he must sit out at least two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean Mejia would be 28 years old.

Over parts of five seasons, Mejia has a career 3.68 ERA with 162 strikeouts and 76 walks over 183 1/3 innings. He was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and a top-100 overall prospect heading into the 2010 and ’11 seasons.

Bryce Harper on potential $400 million contract: “Don’t sell me short.”

Bryce Harper
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.

When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.

During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.