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.

Oakland A’s officials taking a tour of a possible waterfront ballpark site

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  A Maersk Line container ship sits docked in a berth  at the Port of Oakland on February 19, 2015 in Oakland, California. International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) longshoremen at the Port of Oakland took the day shift off today to attend a union meeting amidst ongoing contract negotiations between dockworkers and terminal operators at west coast ports. The port closure, the seventh one this month, has left 12 container ships stuck at the dock with no workers to load and unload them. The ILWU members at 29 West Coast ports have been without a contract for 9 months. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The Oakland Athletics’ ballpark saga has gone on for years now, with false starts in Fremont and San Jose, lawsuits and seemingly interminable talks with the City of Oakland over a new place on the current Coliseum site. That’s all complicated, of course, by the presence of the Raiders, on whose address — be it Oakland, Las Vegas or someplace else — the A’s future is still largely contingent.

The city has tried to get the A’s interested in a waterfront site for several years now. There are a lot of problems with that due mostly to zoning and regulatory matters, as well as proximity to transit and other practical concerns. The artist’s renderings are often pretty, but it takes more than artist’s renderings to make a good ballpark plan.

But no one is giving up on that and, it seems, even the A’s are willing to at least listen to such proposals now:

Oakland A’s co-owner John Fisher is expected to join officials Thursday for a hush-hush tour of the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, a cargo-loading area near Jack London Square that Mayor Libby Schaaf tirelessly promotes as “a fantastic site for a ballpark.”

Guess it ain’t so “hush-hush” anymore. As with all Oakland ballpark stories, however, feel free to continue snoozing until someone gives us a real reason to wake up.

Note: The above photo is from the Port of Oakland. I have no idea what the proximity of the working part of the city’s port is to where they’d build a ballpark, but I used this picture because I love the story about how George Lucas spotted those things from an airplane as he was leaving Oakland or San Francisco or whatever and used them as inspiration for the AT-AT Imperial Walkers in “Empire Strikes Back.” Which may be a totally aprocyphal story, but one I love so much that I told it to my kids when we flew in to Oakland back in June and will choose to believe despite whatever evidence you provide.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.