The Question

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

18 Comments

And remember, these are real questions from real Twitter followers. Because really, if I was gonna make ’em up they’d probably all be about Batman or something.

Q: What kind of peanut butter do cats prefer?

Squirrel Peanut Butter. It’s hard to find and cats are really annoying like that.

Q: Where do you put the odds on Liriano having a quality start the next time out? Being remotely effective?

Really, really low. In addition to the fact that — no-hitter aside — he has looked awful this year, the fact that he had never before thrown a complete game and that he threw 123 pitches and admitted after the game that he was gassed makes me believe that, absent a skipped start, he’s gonna have nothing next time around.  Speaking of that no-hitter:

Q: Liriano’s no-no,using DIPS theory to pick it apart: good or bad? Do we lose something by not taking a no no at face value?

If you really want to analyze it, sure, you should use whatever is at your disposal to do so. But for my own purposes I’m content to simply say “nice job, man.”  He did something most guys never do. I don’t feel obligated to tear it down.  In ten years if someone brings up Liriano — or Edwin Jackson or even Jose Jimenez — I’m gonna say “dude threw a no-hitter once.”

Q: The Indians: even if they aren’t this good, is any team in that division 8 games better?

Hard to see one. If the Indians play .500 ball the rest of the way, they’re an 86-87 win team. That could easily take this division.  Not saying the Indians definitely will take it.  They could tank.  Just saying that it’s hard to feature either the Tigers, Sox or Twins putting their foot on the gas like they’d have to.

Q: Chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! in Philly after Bin Laden killed: undignified, or appropriately cathartic?

Appropriately cathartic. If it had resulted in a lot of staged stuff going forward — which it doesn’t appear to be doing — it would have been cheapened, however. See, “God Bless America” circa 2001.

Q: If baseball didn’t exist, is there another sport you’d be watching?

I still watch a lot of college football, so that would be there.  There was a time — mid-80s through the late-90s — when I watched a ton of NBA basketball.  I got away from that mostly because I couldn’t devote myself to multiple sports and family and work and everything and just lost touch.  I could see myself being into the NBA again, even with all of its flaws. I’d be a casual fan, though, not some freak like I am with baseball. I just like the game.

Q: Which franchise is more troubled financially the Mets or Dodgers?

Depends on the time frame. The Dodgers have more immediate trouble, of course, in that they can’t even make payroll and are about to be taken over.  That may prove to be a taking-the-bandage-off-quickly thing, however, because once Frank McCourt is kicked aside some L.A. billionaire is going to move in and exploit the sheer market power of the Dodgers, which they have in spades.  The problems in New York are less acute and more chronic. They aren’t in the kind of crush the Dodgers are in, but they will likely have this lawsuit hanging over their heads for a while, making life uncertain for them.

Q: Does not being able to get one in Ohio make the In-N-Out burger taste better?

I think that’s true of everything. If they opened In-N-Outs everywhere, they’d be jam-packed for a while and then — while they’d still be tasty and popular — the luster and hype that has grown around the brand would wear off.  We saw this in the 1970s back when Coors beer wasn’t available east of the Mississippi. Heck, the seeming desirability of that beer to easterners served as the McGuffin in a really popular movie. I’m not equating the taste of Double-Double Animal Style burgers to the taste of Coors, but the model would hold: once everyone could get it whenever they wanted, it would cease to be special.

Q: Who’s your favorite obscure Braves reliever from the ’90s or ’00s, and why?

A guy no one — and I mean no one — remembers pitched for the Braves: Dan Petry.  Yep, the Tigers mainstay of the 1980s pitched in relief for the Braves from late June until mid-August 1991 following a trade with Detroit. He was terrible, and after 13 more games with the Red Sox that season he retired. I loved Peaches when I was a kid in Michigan, and seeing him in a Braves uniform in their most magical season was very cool for me.

Q: What is the greatest baseball name of all time?

This didn’t make the cut for video because there was no way I could answer it without saying names that would have, at the very least, caused Tiffany to get angry with me or, at the worst, get me sued, fired or both.  If we steered away from that stuff, however, I’d say former Reds pitcher Ted Power.  It’s a very Ron Swanson “Pyramid of Greatness” kind of name.  And he had a great mustache for a while too.

Q: What is your favorite all time Steve McKenna’d moment you can share?

This refers to the Zane Lamprey show “Three Sheets” — since revived and renamed “Drinking Made Easy” — that most recently appeared on HD Net. I discovered it while I was in New York last weekend and found it fascinating that someone actually made a show out of the idea that every single college kid has ever had: a travel documentary show in which the principals basically sample beers, wines and whiskeys all over the country while being carted around in a big bus.

Steve McKenna is the host’s friend, who would show up in gags and stuff.  I assume this question refers to a funny alcohol-related story.  I’m a mature man now who imbibes responsibly, so there aren’t a ton of stories like that in my life anymore.  But I will say this much: in the fall of 1991 I got in a serious argument with a grocery store clerk that involved (a) the 2AM cutoff for beer sales in Ohio; (b) the fact that it was the night daylight savings ended and clocks were set back; and (c) semantics.  I did not win the argument. Nor should I have. And God bless the woman working the register at the Olentangy River Road Kroger that late Saturday night/early Sunday morning because she totally didn’t need to put up with my nonsense.

Q: Do you believe in Nate McLouth?

Look, anyone can just print up a center fielder. I think we should examine the issue more closely and not take the Braves’ word for it.

Q: When are you coming down to cover a Braves game?

When someone can conclusively prove the existence of Nate McLouth to me.

Q: Why is bourbon your drink of choice? 

It’s complicated. It has to do with growing older, my increased appreciation of complexity and challenges, my belief in moderation in all things and the currency exchange rate a few years ago that made scotch seem like less of a good value.

Q: Is there a height requirement for players?

Yes. All players must have height.  For more information on this matter, ask Freddie Patek.

Thanks for the questions, all.  We’ll do it again next week.

Video: Pete Rose appears in TV commercial for sports betting app

Former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose poses while taping a segment for Miami Television News on the campus of Miami University, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
Leave a comment

When Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement was denied in December, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wrote that the all-time hit king had done nothing to change his habits from when he violated Rule 21, baseball’s anti-gambling rule. In a stunning lack of self-awareness, Rose informed Manfred during their meeting that he continues to bet on baseball where it is legal. Now that his banishment from MLB has been upheld, Rose has apparently decided to double down on his reputation.

In a commercial that will air locally in Las Vegas during the Super Bowl, Rose helps promote the William Hill sports betting app. Former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman is also featured. As you’ll see below, Rose’s ban for betting on baseball is used as the punchline.

It’s a clever spot. Rose is free to make a living, so if he wants to own his reputation at this point, that’s cool. No judgment here. While Manfred’s ruling seemingly left the door open for the Hall of Fame to make their own determination about his status, Rose might feel that he has nothing left to lose.

Rose has often used not being in the Hall of Fame as a form of self-promotion. We posted the commercial here, so it accomplished exactly what it was supposed to accomplish for all involved. But Rose also can’t act shocked why he continues to stand outside the gates. We’re all in on the joke, whether he wants to admit it or not.

(Thanks to Mark Townsend of Big League Stew for the link)

UPDATE: Jesse Chavez wins arbitration hearing against Blue Jays

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jesse Chavez works against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Chavez won his arbitration case and will make a $4 million salary in 2016.

10:47 a.m. ET: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays and right-hander Jesse Chavez had an arbitration hearing on Friday, with a decision expected today.

Chavez, who was acquired from the Athletics this offseason, requested $4 million and was offered $3.6 million by the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. Toronto is known as a “file-and-trial” team, so they bring these cases to a hearing unless a multi-year deal can be reached. The three-person panel of arbitrators will choose one salary or the other.

Chavez, 32, posted a 4.18 ERA and 136/48 K/BB ratio in 157 innings across 26 starts and four relief appearances last season. He’s expected to compete for the fifth spot in Toronto’s rotation this spring.

Diamondbacks mulling over moving Yasmany Tomas to left field

Arizona Diamondbacks' Yasmany Tomas (24) blows a gum bubble during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
2 Comments

After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.

“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”

When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.

Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
5 Comments

The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.