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.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.