That’s who you picked to impersonate?
Pop quiz: What is the proper value of an autograph from Omar Olivares? If you answered, “Who the hell is Omar Olivares?” then congratulations, you’re correct.
Olivares pitched 12 years in the majors (1990–2001) for eight different teams, compiling a career ERA of 4.67. He was worth 13.2 WAR, or just over one win per season. He is the definition of a “guy”—someone who was around for a while but you haven’t thought about in 15 years and who the majority of baseball fans didn’t even know existed.
And yet, Olivares is the baseball player a Missouri man apparently chose to impersonate to scam people with fake autographs.
Police in the St. Louis suburb of Manchester, Mo., announced Wednesday that they arrested a man who had been posing as Olivares and using his identity to sell fake memorabilia. (Olivares spent five years in St. Louis with the Cardinals, the only team for which he played more than two seasons.)
“Investigation revealed that this subject had stolen Mr. Olivares’ identity and was using this ruse to sell ‘autographed’ baseballs and other memorabilia to unsuspecting fans,” the cops wrote on Facebook. “He also used this scam to trick victims into ‘loaning’ him money that was never paid back.”
Details on the scam are scant because the suspect has yet to be formally charged. (He faces charges of identity theft, stealing and forgery.) I for one can’t wait for the details to emerge. How much was he charging for autographs of such an obscure player? How did he convince people he was the real deal? Did the guy look anything like Olivares, or was he like It’s Always Sunny’s Donovan McNabb impersonator?
The real Olivares stayed in Pennsylvania after playing his final MLB season with the Pirates in 2001. Back in St. Louis, police are still looking for more victims.
Who would have thought when the Mets fired Carlos Beltrán over his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal that it wouldn’t be the biggest baseball story of the day?
But then a Twitter account claiming to belong to Beltrán’s niece fired off a pair of tweets even more explosive. The tweets claimed that José Altuve and Alex Bregman wore some kind of devices under their jerseys that buzzed, allowing signals to be transmitted silently and without the use of a trash can—and that they were used in the 2019 season. (Altuve issued an unequivocal denial.)
The Beltrán family denied to ESPN’s Marly Rivera that the account belong to any relative. But there was enough reason to believe the person behind the account has at least some connection to Beltrán that fans ran wild with the accusations. The account tweeted days before Beltrán was hired that he would be the new manager of the Mets and the day before he was ousted by the Mets that he would be “stepping down” (this is the phrasing that was used in initial reports about Beltrán’s fate earlier Thursday, presumably from Beltrán’s camp).
The anonymous Twitter account isn’t the only one talking about buzzers, either. Reds pitcher and noted Astros hater Trevor Bauer and Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien, who has been all over the sign-stealing story, say they’ve also heard about buzzers.
Once you begin to entertain the possibility of vibrating devices on players’ skin, everything from the Astros’ season seems suspicious, like this video of Altuve telling his teammates not to tear his jersey off.
Or this screencap of a Josh Reddick interview.
Or this bump on Altuve’s shoulder, that even got Padres outfielder Tommy Pham put on his tinfoil hat.
Is Altuve just being modest? Is Reddick just wearing a bandaid? Maybe! But now baseball fans have something to keep them occupied through the rest of the winter.
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