The Question

People asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.

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I sort of liked the reader questions on Twitter thing last week, so we did it again on HBT Daily a little while ago. And, like last week, we had way more questions than could fit on a three-minute video. Here are some of the many we left out:

Q: Are McLouths flowing locks of hair the key to the Braves season?

No. The key is the number of two-strike squeeze plays called by Fredi Gonzalez when the pitcher has already demonstrated that he can’t get a bunt down. I’ll let you decide if that has an inverse or direct relationship to Braves wins.

Q: Chuck Tanner? Thoughts?

I talked about Chuck Tanner when he died back in February. Short version: He was a nice decent man. He was also a great example that different kinds of teams call for different kinds of managers. An extreme “players’ manager,” he was awesome when he had a mature team with respected leadership like Willie Stargell and the “We are Family” Pirates. He was less awesome when he had a team that needed a firmer hand like the mid-to-late 80s Braves and the cocaine-addled post-Stargell Pirates.  All of that said, he got along with Dick Allen, and no one freaking got along with Dick Allen, so Tanner may have been some sort of saint or savant.

Q: If you could know for sure on one guy (re: steroid use), who would you pick?

I won’t name a specific name I’m curious about because that might suggest that I suspect him to begin with and that is a business I don’t feel comfortable getting into. Broadly speaking, though, I’d be really curious to know who used and who didn’t in the pre-Canseco era. Because Jose Canseco didn’t invent steroids and there is considerable evidence that they were being used in baseball at least in the 1970s and maybe earlier. I don’t approve of steroids, but I am not at all willing to say that baseball had “The Steroid Era,” that it neatly coincided with Jose Canseco’s emergence and the release of the Mitchell Report and pretend that there’s nothing else to know about it. Doing so is unfair to those who are being treated like monsters because of use in the 1990s-2000s and it lets earlier PED users off the hook when they shouldn’t be.

Q: Is Joe Maddon right or crazy for preferring Sam Fuld to Carl Crawford?

Did he said that? If so, I missed it. (UPDATE: he said it).  And if so, he’s neither right nor crazy. He’s just practical. Sam Fuld is in his clubhouse every day. Carl Crawford is not.  But yeah, liking Fuld as a player more than Crawford is pure bonkerousness.

Q: Do you see the inexplicable (and largely undefined) MLB TV blackout rules being revised any time soon? Affects Hawaii, too.

Not really, if for no other reason than MLB has not shown that it cares about this one iota. When baseball wakes up and realizes that it stands to make a bunch more money with MLB.tv and Extra Innings subscriptions than it does from cable customers who are theoretically but never actually able to watch, say, Twins games in Iowa because the team-affiliated networks don’t serve that area, they’ll change it.

Q:  Favorite Trek (TOS) movie? Any favorite lines?

KHAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

Q: What would you use first– Just for Men or Rogaine, and do the commercials play into that decision?

As a bald man this is a purely theoretical question. But let me just say that I think people who lose their hair or go gray naturally look and seem like happier and more content people than those who fight nature via chemicals, wigs and greasy kid stuff.

Q: Drinking age: 18 or 21?

I’m rather swayed by the idea that people old enough to be sent to fight a war or to be tried as an adult should be allowed to have a beer. At the same time, I will grant that our society is kind of messed up in that a lot more effort seems to be put into preparing a person to fight in a war and/or commit crimes than it does to teach them to handle alcohol and other adult matters responsibly, so who knows what would happen if we lowered the drinking age back down to 18 again.  As a 37 year-old man, I find that I care about this issue far less than I did, oh, 16-19 years ago.

Q: Under what circumstances would you send your 6’4″ Hawaiian first baseman up to home plate to bunt w/ one out?

I think the man that can answer that preceded the man who likes those two-strike squeeze plays as the Braves’ third base coach back in the day. Perhaps there is something in the water down in Atlanta that caused all of the Bobby Cox proteges to do silly things like this.

Q: Why did they stop making Jello Pudding Pops? Those things were delicious!

I think it was decided in the same meeting where it was decided to rename Ding Dongs as “King Dons.” Thankfully the good people at Hostess eventually came to their senses. Your move, Jell-O.

Q: How many FULL Marlins games do you watch in a given season, other than when they play the Braves?

This was probably prompted by my swipe at the Marlins’ broadcasting crew a couple of weeks ago. The answer: not many. I’d guess I watched five Marlins games other than Marlins-Braves last season (when I’m usually listening to Braves announcers anyway). So far this year I’ve seen the majority of two.  So yes, I’ll grant that my criticism of Hutton and Waltz isn’t based on a ton of data. That said, people who do watch tons of Marlins games have told me that it wasn’t off base, either.

Q: Top 3 bourbons?

Blanton’s, Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark.  I am limited, however, to the bigger brands that I can buy here in Columbus. I’m going to remedy this in June when the wife and I take a pilgrimage to Kentucky for a little weekend getaway/bourbon expedition.  I’m hoping to discover stuff I’ve never heard of and love like there’s no tomorrow.

Q: Is your wife a hottie? 

And that’s all the time we have for today. Let’s do this again next week, shall we?

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.