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ESPN confuses Hank Aaron, Sam Jethroe last night

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ESPN had Hank Aaron in the booth last night during the Mets-Braves game. That’s cool. Hank Aaron is a legend, so any time you can talk to him you should do it.

It’s also cool that, on the day before Jackie Robinson Day they talked some about Jackie and his impact with Aaron, who himself played in the Negro Leagues for a spell before joining the Braves.

There was a bit of confusion on ESPN’s part, however, during this portion of the discussion. Note the photo they ran during the segment:

Not great! I didn’t watch the game, but someone on Twitter said that Aaron was asked about the photo and sounded confused when he was asked but refrained from saying “guys, that’s not me” or something that would’ve been hilarious and amazing. You don’t spend as many years as an executive as Aaron has without learning diplomacy I suppose.

I mean, being charitable — and assuming, out of politeness, that this was not one of those “they all look alike” situations — I can maybe begin to understand how this could happen. “Quick, get a photo of Aaron and Jackie!” the producer yelled at the third assistant editor, who was already overworked. Indeed, if you do a Google image search for “Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron” the first thing that comes up is a version of this photo on someone’s Pinterest page that is misidentified as Robinson and Aaron. You’re rushed and you just click a few clicks and — bammo — everyone not watching “Game of Thrones” is subjected to this photo and caption.

One would hope, though, that a massive sports media company employs people on its marquee baseball broadcast who (a) don’t simply do quick Google image searches in order to get graphics for the broadcast; (b) actually know what Hank Aaron looks like; and (c) at least know off the top of their heads that Aaron debuted in the bigs two years after the Braves left Boston for Milwaukee which causes them a moment’s pause before running this pic.

We don’t get everything we hope for, of course.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.