The Question

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

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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.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.