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.

Phillies to induct Bobby Abreu to Wall of Fame

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The Phillies announced on Wednesday that former outfielder Bobby Abreu will be inducted into the team’s Wall of Fame this summer. The ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 3 as part of the club’s alumni weekend festivities.

Abreu, 45, went to the Phillies in a November 18, 1997 trade with the then-Devil Rays that sent shortstop Kevin Stocker to Tampa. Abreu somehow only made two All-Star teams while in Philly. Overall, he hit .303/.416/.513 with 195 homers, 814 RBI, 891 runs scored, and 254 stolen bases in 1,353 games with the Phillies. Abreu ranks sixth all-time among Phillies in career Wins Above Replacement (47.2), fourth in on-base percentage (.416), seventh in slugging percentage (.513), second in OPS (.928), 10th in runs scored (891), fourth in doubles (348), second in walks (947), and seventh in stolen bases.

Perhaps Abreu’s most noteworthy accomplishment as a Phillie was winning the 2005 Home Run Derby at Comerica Park in Detroit. Abreu hit 24 home runs in the first round and finished with 41 total, both records at the time. That is his most noteworthy accomplishment as, through no fault of his own, the Phillies never made playoffs during his tenure from 1998-06.

Abreu’s tenure came to an end on July 30, 2006, when the club packaged him with pitcher Cory Lidle and sent them to the Yankees in exchange for Matt Smith, Carlos Monasterios, C.J. Henry, and Jesús Sánchez. Obviously, not a trade that worked out well for the Phillies. Abreu played through his age-40 season, spending time with the Angels, Dodgers, and Mets along with the Yankees. He retired with 60 career WAR, per baseball Reference, as well as a .291/.395/.475 batting line, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBI, 1,453 runs scored, and 400 stolen bases.

Phillies fans have always criminally underrated Abreu. He was viewed as lazy and uncaring, in part due to racism and in part due to a perceived aversion to outfield walls. Abreu’s induction into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame is a long time coming, but it will also likely spur a lot of debate on sports talk radio in the months leading up to it.