How (really bad) rumors get started


How (really bad) rumors get started

The recent surfacing of the baseball offseason's dumbest rumor -- the Giants interested in Jack Cust -- prompts me to clue those of you not in the media business as to how many of these rumors get started. Consider it a public-service announcement.Let's take the Cust rumor as an example, since it's comically front and center. If you know even the tiniest little thing about the Giants and Cust, you know how ridiculous this notion really is. Cust simply doesn't fit. He's a liability on defense at best, which is why he's a designated hitter. The Giants play in the National League. Rumor squashed.But this kind of rumor gets out there all the time, given legs by a national baseball writer for a fairly well-respected website, and this is likely how:Phone rings. National writer picks up.Agent: "Hey, it's me. Remember when I helped you break that story last June?"National writer: "Yeah. My boss loved it. What's up?"Agent: "I need you to return the favor."National writer: "Sure. What's up?"Agent: "My guy's not getting a ton of interest out there. In fact, I've got one, maybe two teams in on him, tops. I need to create some buzz. Make people think he's in higher demand."National writer: "OK. Who have you talked to?"Agent: "Well, I called the Giants, Phillies and Yankees, but they're not into my guy at all."National writer: "But you talked to them, right?"Agent: "Well, yeah. But only for about 10 seconds. They laughed and asked about one of my other guys."National writer: "But you did talk to them, right?"Agent: "Technically, yeah."National writer: "Perfect. I'll write a little something saying the Giants, Phillies and Yankees recently spoke with the guy's agent. It's not untrue."Agent: "No, it's not. It's perfect. All I need is a couple more teams' names out there attached to my guy. Now the teams who do like him might think they need to bump up their offer. Thanks."National writer: "No problem. But now you have to let me break the news when your guy really signs."Agent: "No problem. You'll be the first to know."Pretty shaky, right? Totally. But that kind of crap happens all the time. So the next time you see something like the Giants are interested in Cust, think of what you just learned and move on with your day.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs


Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”