Monday, June 21, 2021

June 10, 2021  BALTIMORE (AP) — New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso accused Major League Baseball of manipulating the baseballs to harm the earning potential for star-free agents and players eligible for arbitration. Alonso’s comments came Wednesday before New York’s game at Baltimore. He was responding to a question about the crackdown on sticky substances used by pitchers.

“I think that the biggest concern is that Major League Baseball manipulates the baseballs year in and year out depending on the free agency class — or guys being in an advanced part of their arbitration,” Alonso said. “So I do think that’s a big issue — the ball being different every single year. ... Maybe if the league didn’t change the baseball, pitchers wouldn’t need to use as much sticky stuff.”

When asked a follow-up question about this, Alonso remained firm. His implication was that the balls are friendlier to hitters in a year when a number of top pitchers are about to hit free agency — and vice versa.

“That’s a fact,” he said. “Guys have talked about it, but I mean, in 2019, there was a huge class of free-agent pitchers, and then that’s, quote-unquote, the juiced balls. Then 2020, it was a strange year with the COVID season, but now that we’re back to playing like a regular season with a ton of shortstops or position players that are going to be paid a lot of money, high-caliber players, I mean yeah, it’s not a coincidence.”

The league did not comment on Alonso’s charge.

MLB informed teams in February that it planned to slightly deaden the baseballs for the 2021 season following a years-long surge in home runs. In 2019, 3.6% of plate appearances ended in a homer, a number that has dropped to 3.1% this year.

Alonso hit 53 home runs as a rookie in that 2019 season and 16 in 57 games last year. He homered in the first inning Wednesday, his 10th of the season.

After the 2019 season, Gerrit Cole landed a $324 million, nine-year deal with the New York Yankees, still a record contract for a pitcher in terms of its total value.

As far as the original question was concerned, Alonso did not seem terribly concerned with what opposing pitchers might be putting on the ball.

“Whatever they want to use to help control the ball, let them use it, because for me, I go in the box every single day, and I see guys throwing harder and harder every day, and I don’t want 99 slipping out of someone’s hand,” Alonso said.

Alonso said hitters have plenty of options to help their grip.

“On our on-deck bag, we have a pine tar rag, a pine tar stick, like a special sticky spray, rosin — I mean, you name it, we have it,” he said. “I wouldn’t care if they had that behind the mound to help hold onto the ball.”

Cole found himself immersed in the controversy last week when Minnesota Twins' third baseman Josh Donaldson casually brought the pitcher’s name up in an interview session, correlating a drop in Cole’s spin rate with an anticipated crackdown on the sticky stuff by MLB.

Cole sidestepped the accusation on Tuesday, and Donaldson elaborated on the matter Wednesday to clarify that he’s concerned about many more opponents in the game than just Cole.

“With Gerrit Cole, he was the first guy to pitch since the suspensions happened and he’s the first guy that you could see spin rates going down,” Donaldson said. “There’s been 12 or more guys already whose spin rates have magically dropped in the last week, so it’s not just Gerrit Cole.”

Donaldson said he believes the usage of grip aids has “got out of control” in the last few seasons.

“If you were to give $100 fake counterfeit money to an experienced bank teller, right away within five seconds you’re going to know that that’s not real money,” Donaldson said. “Just think about how many pitches I’ve seen in my career, think about Nelson Cruz, a lot of these guys who have seen a lot of pitches. We know when stuff’s up.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Wednesday he’s anticipating an “aggressive” crackdown at the major league level soon.

“It’s gonna be a little bit different,” he said.

Astros manager Dusty Baker noted Wednesday that pitchers have been using foreign substances “since the beginning of time.” While Baker says he will adhere to whatever mandates come from the league, he’s concerned about issues that could arise from stricter enforcement.

“Everybody’s talking about the speed of the game,” he said. “This is gonna slow the game down even more. So I don’t know what we can do. I don’t know how enforceable it is. And the umpires have enough to worry about doing just calling balls and strikes and outs and safe.”

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Entertainment

June 15, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — Oprah Winfrey and Hearst Magazines are teaming up for interviews that pair young Black journalists with elders who include civil rights activists, celebrities and others sharing some lessons learned in life. The project, “Lift Every Voice,” will be featured on Winfrey’s OprahDaily.com website and in magazines like ELLE, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, Runner’s World and Winfrey’s own O Quarterly. Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle, Andre De Shields and the activist Claudette Colvin are among the people featured. While some material from earlier Hearst television stories is used, the interviewers are drawn primarily from the ranks of historic Black colleges and universities, with most of the portraits taken by Black photographers just starting in the field. In one example, 94-year-old community activist Opal Lee, from Fort Worth, Texas, talks to Mariah Campbell, a journalism student at Texas Southern University, about efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Winfrey said she was inspired by her own memories of knowing poet Maya Angelou when Winfrey was young, and how Angelou stressed the importance of sharing stories from the time she grew up.

June 15, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Philharmonic will resume subscription performances in September following a historic 18-month gap caused by the coronavirus pandemic, presenting a shortened schedule of 78 concerts in a season shifted from Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall while the orchestra’s home is remodeled. The Philharmonic said Tuesday its season will open Sept. 17 with music director Jaap van Zweden conducting the orchestra and pianist Daniil Trifonov in Anna Clyne’s “Within Her Arms,” Copland’s “Quiet City,” George Walker’s “Antifonys for Chamber Orchestra” and Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 4. That concert, the orchestra’s first regular event since March 10, 2020, will be the first of 50 at Lincoln Center’s 1,086-seat Alice Tully Hall, a venue more typically used for chamber music and recitals. There will be 28 concerts in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 1,233-seat Rose Theater, located at Columbus Circle, less than half a mile from Geffen Hall, plus four concerts at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra’s home from 1891 to 1962.

June 15, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — Rita Moreno emigrated with her mother from Puerto Rico at age five. By six, she was dancing at Greenwich Village nightclubs. By 16, she was working full time. By 20, she was in “Singin’ in the Rain.” In the documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It,” Norman Lear says: “I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met in the business who lived the American dream more than Rita Moreno.” In the decades that followed, Moreno won a Tony, a Grammy, an Emmy and an Oscar, for “West Side Story.” (Her entire acceptance speech: “I can’t believe it.” ) With seemingly infinite spiritedness, she has epitomized the best of show business while also being a victim to its cruelties. That has made Moreno, who co-stars in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming “West Side Story remake, a heroic figure to Latinos, and to others. “I have never given up,” she said in a recent interview by Zoom from her home in Berkeley, California.

June 15, 2021 NEW YORK (AP) — The tragedies of Brian Wilson’s life is a rock ‘n’ roll story well told. The postscript — that he’s a survivor nearing age 80 who appears to be supported personally and professionally in a way he never really had before — is less familiar. Despite some uncomfortable moments in “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road,” that important update is the point of the documentary that premieres Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. The film’s heart is a series of drives around Southern California, where Wilson and Rolling Stone magazine editor Jason Fine talk, listen to music and occasionally stop at restaurants. There’s a comfort level between the two; Fine is a journalist who has become a friend. Wilson, the creative force behind the Beach Boys, has dealt with an abusive, hard-driving father, the mental illness Schizoaffective disorder where he’d hear voices berating and belittling him, and band members often resistant to where he was going musically. Add in years of drug abuse, a quack psychologist who effectively held him, prisoner, for a decade and the younger brothers who died early, and it’s a lot to endure.

Business News

June 16, 2021 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday installed an energetic critic of Big Tech as a top federal regulator at a time when the industry is under intense pressure from Congress, regulators and state attorneys general. The selection of legal scholar Lina Khan to head the Federal Trade Commission is seen as signaling a tough stance toward tech giants Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. Khan was sworn in as FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her as one of five members of the commission on a 69-28 vote. Khan has been a professor at Columbia University Law School and burst onto the antitrust scene with her massive scholarly work in 2017 as a Yale law student, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” She helped lay the foundation for a new way of looking at antitrust law beyond the impact of big-company market dominance on consumer prices. As counsel to a House Judiciary antitrust panel in 2019 and 2020, she played a key role in a sweeping bipartisan investigation of the market power of the tech giants.

June 15, 2021  BRUSSELS (AP) — The deal the United States and the European Union reached Tuesday to end their long-running rift over subsidies to Boeing and Airbus will suspend billions in punitive tariffs. It will ease trans-Atlantic tensions. And it will let the two sides focus on a common economic threat: China. But the breakthrough still leaves some trade friction between the U.S. and the EU unresolved. Most prominently, President Biden kept in place import taxes that President Donald Trump imposed on European steel and aluminum, a move that infuriated some of America’s closet allies three years ago. For now, Tuesday’s truce in the Boeing-Airbus dispute goes a long way toward repairing a huge commercial relationship — $933 billion in two-way trade last year despite the pandemic — that came under enormous strain during the Trump years. Among other things, the former president angrily charged the Europeans with using unfair trade practices to sell more products to the United States than they bought and of shirking their responsibility to pay for their own national defense.

June 15, 2021 -A day after her interview for a part-time job at Target last year, Dana Anthony got an email informing her she didn’t make the cut. Anthony didn’t know why — a situation common to most job seekers at one point or another. But she also had no sense at all of how the interview had gone, because her interviewer was a computer. More job-seekers, including some professionals, may soon have to accept impersonal online interviews where they never talk to another human being, or know if behind-the-scenes artificial-intelligence systems are influencing hiring decisions. Demand for online hiring services, which interview job applicants remotely via laptop or phone, mushroomed during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains high amid a perceived worker shortage as the economy opens back up. These systems claim to save employers money, sidestep hidden biases that can influence human recruiters and expand the range of potential candidates. Many now also use AI to assess candidate skills by analyzing what they say.

Fashion News

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