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?

Derek Jeter: no longer the media’s darling

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There was a time, not too long ago, where the baseball press practically gave Derek Jeter awards for providing them no information whatsoever. As a player, he turned not answering questions into an art form. To the point where, eventually, the press just stopped asking him substantive questions almost entirely.

Unlike a lot of players who shut out the media, Jeter did it rather politely, so he did not get that passive aggressive treatment — or, occasionally, the aggressive-aggressive treatment — the press often gives uncommunicative players. To the contrary. He was positively lauded for his lack of communication. Lionized, even.

Take this column from Jeff Peralman at CNN.com from 2014, under the headline “Derek Jeter: Baseball’s Humble Hero”:

Throughout the first 18 seasons of his career, Jeter has often been labeled “dull” by the media. His answers to questions are unimaginative and full of cliché baseball nothingness blather. In hindsight, however, such lameness is almost to be admired. We live in an era where too many athletes feel as if they need to draw attention to themselves — for confidence, for commercials. If you’re not tweeting trash talk, you’re texting trash talk. Or making bold promises. Or demanding money or respect . . . he’s a guy who merely wanted to be a guy.

How about this from the New York Times around the time of his retirement:

Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability — or, if you must, dignified comportment — has extended especially to the spoken word . . . he has played his best defense in front of his locker: catching every controversial question thrown to him and tossing it aside as if it were a scuffed ball unsuitable for play.

In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term — he is the only Yankees shortstop a generation of fans has known — inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him — and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even. His batting average and fielding percentage aside, this kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the New York meat grinder two decades ago and came out the other end looking as sharp as Joe DiMaggio’s suit.

This opinion of Jeter was pervasive throughout his career, but especially pronounced at its end of it. Jeter was deified by the press for saying nothing to the press. Praised for making the media’s job harder by the media itself. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Times, however, have changed.

Some minor grumbling about Jeter’s non-answers to media questions began soon after he took over as Marlins co-owner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column about it all back in October, saying Jeter’s “Crash Davis Rules of Media Relations don’t apply anymore.” Not too many people echoed that at the time, probably because it came in the wake of a pretty boring introductory press conference and the stakes were pretty low. I did wonder at the time, though, if the media was waiting to turn on Jeter once he actually started making moves in his new role.

I think we can now say the answer to that is yes.

In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, a lot of baseball writers had a lot of questions for Derek Jeter. Jeter, however, decided that he didn’t even need to show up here at the Winter Meetings to answer them, despite the fact that he lives just a couple of hours away.

On Monday morning Buster Olney of ESPN made conspicuous note of it:

Later in the day Jeter deigned to talk to the media via a conference call. As usual, he said mostly nothing, but unlike 1997, 2007 or 2014 (a) he got testy about it; and (b) the press made a note of it:

They likewise noted when he passed the buck to someone below him on the org chart:

Last night I think a dam broke, and I don’t think Jeter will ever be able to sweet non-talk his way out criticism again. It all happened at a football game:

To sum up:

  • Jeter is now bad for not talking to the press;
  • Jeter is not lauded for his composure anymore; and
  • Jeter is being called out as a poor leader who does not face the music.

What a difference a few years and a change of role makes.

All of which, one would think, would make me at least a little happy. I mean, I’ll totally own up to rolling my eyes at the kid glove treatment Jeter got back when he played. About how his attributes, however great, were elevated even above their actual greatness and how his faults were, perversely, spun into attributes. You’d expect that, in light of that, I’d be sorta pleased that the tables have turned.

I’m not happy, though. Indeed, I have something approaching sympathy for Captian Jeets.

Why? Because, while I’d like to see him face the press, defend his moves as owner and explain his vision to Marlins fans everywhere, I know that he cannot. I know that he has no good answers to any of the questions he might be asked because the real answer to all of them is “hey, we need to make money for the ownership group and everything flows from that” and that’s not an answer he’s prepared to give.

Have some sympathy for Derek Jeter. He’s really in a tough, tough spot. Even if he put himself into it.