"IT'S GOT TO BE THE HAIR"

Ken Hoffman pitches 10 questions to Astros star Jake Marisnick

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Jake Marisnick's mother knew.

Back when the Houston Astros centerfielder and resident sex symbol was playing Little League baseball, Jennifer Marisnick told Tristar Productions senior vice-president Bobby Mintz: "One day, my son is going to be signing autographs at one of your shows."

"It's true," Mintz says. "In the early 2000s, Jennifer Marisnick worked for Reynolds Sports Management, who represents Jake today. She brought Jake to our show in Phoenix. He was about 10 years old. When she told me that Jake would sign autographs with us, I told that I hoped she was right. At least his agent would know where to find us!"

Tristar, based in Houston, is an industry leader in sports memorabilia, trading cards, and autograph shows. And true to mom's word, Marisnick will be scribbling his name on bats and balls for fans at Tristar's 33rd Annual Collectors Show, June 7-9 at NRG Arena.

Other sports celebrities scheduled to appear at the event include: DeAndre Hopkins, John Manziel, Amari Cooper, Robert Griffin III, Mean Joe Greene, and Marisnick's Astros buddies — Yuri Gurriel, Ryan Pressly, and Will Harris. Visit the site for a complete list of celebrities, schedules, autograph prices and ticket information.

I caught Marisnick on the phone in the middle of the Astros taking two out of three from the Red Sox last weekend in Boston. My plan: "10 Questions, just give me the first thought that pops in your head. Let's hurry, you've got a game …"

CultureMap: You're hitting over .300, that's 70 points higher than your career average. You're hitting with power. And still you bat ninth in the lineup? Do the players realize how crazy good, historically good, the Astros are this year?

Jake Marisnick: You look around, up and down the lineup and the bench, and you see a bunch of guys who like to work and want to get better. I don't think we're worried about the numbers as much as we're concerned about improving. I have the chance to pick the brains of some of the best hitters in baseball, so I'm going to take advantage of that.

CM: Astros color analyst Geoff Blum came up with a nickname for you, Jake from Rake Farm. Are you okay with it? Ever have any other nicknames?

JM: Yeah, I think it's pretty funny. I had the nickname Big Fudge back when I was in Double A ball with guys like Christian Yelich. I got the nickname because I was on the disabled list, and they said I was eating everything in sight."

CM: You're going to be at the Tristar show signing autographs. I have a few autographed baseballs in my sock drawer and I have no idea who signed them. The handwriting is so horrible. Are you a good autographer? Do you ever ask other players for their autographs?

JM: Signing baseballs is a little hard sometimes. We get in a routine when we're signing a lot of baseballs, and I get a little quick with them. But I sign them the best I can and put my number [6] next to my name. I do send some balls over to the other clubhouse if it's a player that I like to watch play. But I can make out their autographs so I know who they are.

CM: You're having your best year hitting — by far. The other night the announcers said you worked on some things over the winter and made some changes. What did you do?

JM: Nothing too drastic. The biggest thing was just getting my body synced up. I think I was a little disconnected last year. When you get everything working together you have a little more time to make decisions, and I'm feeling good up there.

CM: You and George Springer both injured your hands sliding head-first into a base. Now some players wear those silly oven mitts. Wouldn't it be smarter to just slide feet-first? One base can't be worth a season-ending injury, like what happened to you in 2017.

Continue reading on CultureMap for Marisnick's thoughts on sliding head-first, and being the team sex symbol.

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

- William Shakespeare

You might wonder why there is a puppy picture on a story about the Astros scandal. This little beauty is my Dalmatian, Dynamo. Why is she here? To distract you. To dazzle you. Who doesn't love a puppy picture? Who cares if it has anything to do with the story? She made you look.

And the point is...

Sadly, that is the role of the media these days. Please listen to my rant. Please click on my story. Who cares if the headline isn't accurate? None of that matters. Look at me! I need likes and retweets!

The Astros cheating scandal is the latest story to be overblown, overanalyzed and overexposed. Why? Page views. Ratings. A failing media.

Exploring every angle

None of that is meant to excuse the team. Let's be honest; the Astros cheated. They will be punished, and they should. Draft picks, fines, suspensions. All are possible, and whatever they get is probably warranted.

And that is where the story should end. But that is not what the world is about anymore. It has to be endlessly debated. Pictures of a laptop on a table become the Zapruder film. There HAS to be a conspiracy. Every detail has to be debated. Which side you come down on depends on your biases.

Stupid takes

Some have even said the Astros should be stripped of their World Series title. This isn't college. It's a dumb, look at me take. It will never happen. This is not Avengers: Endgame where you can enter the quantum realm and change the past. It is real life, where events can't be changed. Did the cheating help them win? Who knows? You still have to hit the ball, even if you know what is coming. And it did not make a difference for the Astros pitchers. And harkening back to the steroid era, how do you know the other teams did not do it too and just did not get caught?

The big argument about PEDs was "oh, look at the big numbers the hitters put up." But how do you know the pitchers weren't doing it, too? The same goes here.

Truth is, you don't know. Which is why results can't and shouldn't be changed. Period. To suggest it is just dumb.

More stupid takes

On the Astros fan side, the defenses are just as silly. "They did nothing wrong. Where is your proof? Why aren't there other players coming forward?"

As an aside, let's not leave out the great misleading phrases. "Due diligence." (In other words, we know this is a bad idea, but we want to sound like we know what we are doing). "Witch hunt." (Yes, I am guilty, but this is how I deflect it).

As another aside, if you find an actual witch on your hunt, let me know. I always wanted to meet one.

They cheated. Period. And they will be punished. But the point is not that at all. It's to find every possible angle to get people to read and react. To care more about something than we should, when there are far more important things we should be riled up about. But you are being told to care, so you will keep clicking. It's the new normal, where reporters make themselves the stories and insert themselves into it. And that's why they turn stories like this into major issues. For their own benefit.

Nothing new

This is just the latest media distraction. The Patriots deflated balls saga was the most overplayed, overanalyzed scandal in sports history. Why was it so important? Because hot takes, web sites and analysts told us so. Many hinted at even bigger conspiracies. Why? Because we are a society dazzled by puppies.

Just this past weekend, the entire Colin Kaepernick story was over reported from all sides. The NFL was just doing a PR move. He just wants to be a martyr.

The NFL's waiver was broken down word by word.

Over a guy who hasn't played in three years.

The reason? He gets page views and clicks. And ratings. We keep getting told how important every aspect of the story is to our lives. In truth, it's just another distraction, a false narrative created to keep us dazzled and up in arms. Do we really care about these things? And if we do, what the hell is wrong with us?

Just like the Astros scandal. Is it a bad look? Of course. Are they guilty? Sure looks like it. But punish them and let's move on. We get it. They banged trashed cans. But punishment is never enough. People have to post pictures that might be something. Videos that might be something. Emails that might be something. Add it all up and it doesn't make things any worse. It just creates talking points. And people wonder why so many people consider the media - and social media, as the lines are completely blurred - "fake news."

In the end...

It's not fake news. It's misguided attempts to to keep us coming back for more. And too many of us fall into the trap. We are too distracted by everyone telling us these things are so important that we keep clicking. It takes on a life of its own, and then any theory is possible. Any conspiracy is possible. So we keep reading and digging and we are immersed in it. Look at this! Click on me! In a few weeks the Astros will be the most evil organization that ever lived and should be disbanded. And some of you will believe it and buy in, because that's how distractions work. And once we are distracted? We can believe anything.

Hence the picture of Dynamo. To distract you. By the way, did you notice one of her spots looks like Mickey Mouse? Let the Disney conspiracy begin. We shall start our own tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.

And we all know what that signifies.

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