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?

MLB-MLBPA announce the postponement of the Puerto Rico series due to Zika concerns

Ricardo Arduengo -- Associated Press
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This, as we have noted previously, was inevitable. But Major League Baseball and the MLBPA just issued a joint press release announcing the postponement of the late May series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins in Puerto Rico. The reason: fears of Zika in light of the outbreak on the island. The series has been moved to Marlins Park in Miami.

From the release:

The Players Association requested that Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. relocate the games after numerous players expressed concerns about contracting and potentially transmitting the Zika virus to their partners.  Players and staff of both Clubs received full briefings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) science staff regarding the risks associated with the Zika virus, and the recommended precautions for travelers including those with partners who are pregnant or attempting to conceive.  After discussing the issue with all involved parties, and consulting with federal and Puerto Rican government officials at the highest levels, Commissioner Manfred decided that the players who objected to the trip because of their specific family situations should not be forced to travel to Puerto Rico.  Because too many regulars on both Clubs fell into that category, Commissioner Manfred had no choice but to relocate the games.

The release goes on to say that, in lieu of the games, MLB will stage several youth baseball and community events in Puerto Rico later this month, which will be attended by Commissioner Manfred and several former MLB players. Both MLB and the Players Association also will make contributions to the CDC Foundation to assist the efforts to eradicate Zika in Puerto Rico.

Ultimately, far too many players voiced concerns about playing in Puerto Rico. Expect officials from Puerto Rico to blast the decision as hysteria and alarmism, as they did in anticipation of it in recent days. Also, expect there to be more discussion about Zika in the future, as it’s already something that is entering Florida and will likely be a bigger problem on the U.S. mainland in the future than it is now.

 

What’s on Tap: Previewing Friday’s Action

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws during the first inning of the baseball game against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field, Sunday, May 1, 2016 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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One game started already. Nats and Cubs in Chicago. As I write this, the Cubs are up 4-2 and Max Scherzer has given up three home runs. Woops.

The rest of the action is ahead of us, however, and the future holds any number of possibilities. Like a Kenta Maeda vs. Marcus Stroman matchup in Toronto. And Vince Velasquez and the Phillies trying to cool off a red hot Marlins team in Miami. Way out west in San Diego Noah Syndergaard goes against the Padres. This has been quite a year for pitchers putting up their best line of their lives against the Padres, so look for Syndergaard to strike out, like 30 Padres. Which, yes, I realize that’s impossible, but I have faith in both Thor and the Friars to do the impossible if they really put their minds to it.

Anyway, here are the games. Most of you are off work tomorrow so stay up late, have fun and watch baseball. And maybe do it even if you gotta work.

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ New York Yankees (Michael Pineda), 7:05 PM EDT, Yankee Stadium

Oakland Athletics (Rich Hill) @ Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez), 7:05 PM EDT, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Los Angeles Dodgers (Kenta Maeda) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman), 7:07 PM EDT, Rogers Centre

Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) @ Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar), 7:10 PM EDT, Progressive Field

Milwaukee Brewers (Tyler Cravy) @ Cincinnati Reds (Tim Adleman), 7:10 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez) @ Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen), 7:10 PM EDT, Marlins Park

Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels) @ Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann), 7:10 PM EDT, Comerica Park

Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke) @ Atlanta Braves (Aaron Blair), 7:35 PM EDT , Turner Field

Minnesota Twins (Ricky Nolasco) @ Chicago White Sox (Mat Latos), 8:10 PM EDT, U.S. Cellular Field

Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker) @ Houston Astros (Doug Fister), 8:10 PM EDT, Minute Maid Park

Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez), 8:15 PM EDT, Busch Stadium

Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) @ Los Angeles Angels (Cory Rasmus), 10:05 PM EDT, Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner), 10:15 PM EDT, AT&T Park

New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard) @ San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz), 10:40 PM EDT , Petco Park

CC Sabathia goes on the disabled list with a strained groin

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game in Baltimore, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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CC Sabathia pitched wonderfully Wednesday night, tossing seven shutout innings in what was easily his best start in ages. But since we live in a world in which we simply cannot have nice things, that sweet has to come with some sour: the Yankees just announced that they have placed Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin.

The Yankees have replaced Sabathia on the roster with their old friend Phil Coke, whose contract they just purchased from Scranton.

The Yankees have had bad luck with all of their starters not named Masahiro Tanaka so far this year. Losing one of them just as he put together his best start of the season is just a killer.

Tim Lincecum’s showcase is a lot bigger a deal than it seemed before

Tim Lincecum
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When a pitcher doesn’t sign anywhere before or during spring training people sometimes wring their hands a bit, but it’s usually the case that they’ll be OK if they are patient. Once the season starts guys start going down with injuries left and right or show that they’re ineffective. In such cases, a free agent pitcher’s value goes way up. He’s a relatively low cost option for a team which, a month ago, seemed set but is now suddenly desperate.

Tim Lincecum may benefit from that dynamic.

As we noted earlier today, the Angels’ rotation is a hot mess now that Garrett Richards is out for the year and Andrew Heaney‘s absence may be just as extended. The back end of the Giants’ rotation is likewise a mess. Lincecum was never seriously on San Francisco’s radar this past winter, but given how Matt Cain and Jake Peavy are going, those crazy kids may get back together. The Dodgers could use a pitcher and their competition with the Giants may make this whole situation a lot more profitable for Lincecum than it might have otherwise been.

Of course, Lincecum still has to show that he can pitch and that he’s healthy. That’s why he’s having the showcase, that goes down here very shorty — 2:30 eastern time — and you can watch it streaming live at CSNBayArea.com.