The Question

You asked me questions on Twitter, so I shall answer them

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Some of your questions will show up on HBT Daily later today. Here are the rejects. But don’t take that personally. I actually like the rejects better.

Q: Who was better- Mantle, Mays or Snider?

You know, just because that guy wrote that terrible song linking all three of them 30 years ago doesn’t mean we have to include merely great players with the immortals. So, sorry Duke.

As for the other two: I think one of the great what-ifs in all of baseball history is what would have happened if Mantle hadn’t sustained injuries early in his career and repeated bouts of the brown bottle flu later in his career.  Because at his peak he was in the conversation as the best ever. He had speed, power, and all manner of mad skill.

But if ifs and butts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a happy Christmas, and Mantle didn’t stay healthy or take care of himself. Willie Mays did, however, and as a result I think he only has Babe Ruth as a comparison as the greatest baseball player of all time. The complete package. No weaknesses. If God Himself were to come down to Earth right now and create the perfect baseball player, that player would most closely resemble Willie Mays.

Q:  Every morning, I eat an apple on my drive to work and I feel guilty for tossing the core out my window. Should I feel bad?

Only if it’s one of them new-fangled apples with a non-biodegradable core. Or if you hit someone.

Q: Would you rather watch a pitching meltdown of bloop hits or a pitcher’s duel where both pitchers throw 89 MPH fastballs?

I saw Jamie Moyer square off against Tom Glavine enough times over the years to where that’s not a hypothetical question. Give me the pitcher’s duel every time.

Q: Of the Mets Wilpon called out, which would you want to build a team around, assuming you’d want to do such a thing?

Well, I wouldn’t want to, but of the three, Jose Reyes probably has the most gas in the tank of any of them.

Q: If you could pick one guy to see play, who would it be?

Ruth. We have something like an hour of total footage of the guy and half of that is him horsing around.  I’d like to see him over the course of a three game series. See what pitches get him out (because he did get out sometimes). See what he feasted on.  I’d even like to see his defense.

Q: If we dump Derek Jeter into the Sarlacc’s mouth, do you think it has to digest his intangibles before or after his corpse?

He would never be consumed. He would escape, not unlike Boba Fett escaped: by virtue of his iron will and his Mandalorian armor. And the assistance of fellow bounty hunter Dengar.

Q: Who is January Jones’ baby daddy?

I don’t know, but I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t Kevin Bacon.  Man, I love Kevin Bacon.

Q: What team had the best names? My take: ’71 A’s. Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, Mudcat Grant, Rollie Fingers, Blue Moon Odom.

I don’t think I can argue with that. Anyone?

Q: In honor of Memorial Day, favorite war movie?

Either “Dr. Strangelove,” “Duck Soup” or “Apocalypse Now.”  You’ll not be surprised that I tend to favor anti-war films.

Q: Does it ever cross your mind, when a player is doing super well that he may be injecting something?

Only when I’m suffering from spells in which I am under the delusion that I am working for the New York Daily News.

Q: If Mariano Rivera tried to strike out Curtis Granderson, would the world implode before a resolution was found?

Look, Granderson is having a nice year and all, but Mariano Rivera picks bits of guys like Granderson out of his stool.

Q: Red pill or blue pill?

Do I get to get with late 90s-era Carrie-Anne Moss?  This is critical in my assessment.

Q: Why does AJ Burnett look like a serial killer right before he pies walkoff Yankees?

I don’t know, but the fact that he has never been able to explain all of the evidence linking him to the Zodiac Murders is unsettling at best.

Q: How many ballplayers agree with Kant’s categorical imperative?

The existence of The Unwritten Rules negates Kant’s categorical imperative by their very definition in that they foreclose the notion of one ultimate commandment of reason.

Q: So they’re more so into consequentialism?

No, not quite, for the Unwritten Rules don’t conform to the tenets of consequentialism. Take the “don’t steal a base when leading big” rule. Consequences: minimal. Moral transgression: considered huge. It’s quite the conundrum.

Q: True. What would then be the best fit for baseball’s ethical system?

My best guess is Rawls’ original position. Ballplayers can’t know what the future holds for them: will they be lucky enough to play for a winner or resigned to the second division? Will they be the best player on their team or will they be stuck in a platoon role?  Given these unknowns — this veil of ignorance if you will — they have no choice but to, as the saying goes, play the game the right way and ask that others do the same, hoping that the results of such a distributive justice scheme creates fairness and equality.

That said: I am mindful of Robert Nozick’s critique of all of this as being maximally risk-averse and therefore problematic given the underlying anarchy inherent in humanity.

Thanks for the questions, all!  And the ability to let me use my undergraduate studies!  Yes, I did major in “Star Wars!”

Let’s do it again next week.

Chapman has trouble remembering convo with Cubs management about off-field behavior

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CHICAGO — Star closer Aroldis Chapman joined the Cubs on Tuesday, arriving to a mixed reaction in Chicago and saying he couldn’t remember what management told him about off-field expectations and behavior.

After Chapman’s awkward introductory news conference, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insisted Chapman understands what the Cubs expect of him after an offseason domestic violence incident.

When the Cubs announced the trade with the New York Yankees on Monday, the team released a statement from Chairman Tom Ricketts saying they were aware of his 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.

Ricketts said he and Epstein talked by phone with Chapman before the deal was completed and “shared with him the high expectations we set for our players,” adding that Chapman was “comfortable” with them.

But when asked repeatedly about that phone conversation before Tuesday’s game against the crosstown White Sox, Chapman said through an interpreter that he couldn’t recall details because he was taking a nap at the time the call came in.

The question was asked several more times. A Cubs spokesman once asked the question himself to the interpreter, coach Henry Blanco.

“It’s been a long day,” Chapman said. “Trying to remember.”

Asked again several minutes later during the group interview if he could now remember what Ricketts said, Chapman shook his head.

“I still don’t remember,” he said in Spanish.

Epstein called it a misunderstanding and that Chapman was “pretty nervous” as he faced seven cameras and more than two dozen reporters.

“I was on the call, Tom was on the call, Aroldis was on the call and Barry Praver, his agent, was on the call. It happened and it was real,” Epstein said before the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the White Sox.

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots in the garage of a Florida home in October. The woman later changed her story and no charges were filed.

“You learn from the mistakes that you make,” Chapman said.

The case caused the Los Angeles Dodgers to back out of an offseason trade for Chapman. Cincinnati eventually traded him to the Yankees, and after his suspension, the 28-year-old Cuban converted 20 of 21 save chances for New York.

The Cubs have long boasted of stocking their roster with high-character players, helping earn the “lovable losers” label they’ve carried for decades since their last World Series title in 1908.

But the Cubs (59-40) have retooled their roster under Epstein and have the best record in the major leagues despite Tuesday’s loss in which Chapman didn’t pitch. Chapman, who threw a 105 mph fastball last week, fills perhaps the team’s largest hole as he replaces Hector Rondon as closer.

The Cubs sent four players to the Yankees, including shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, to get one of the game’s top relievers. Epstein said they wouldn’t have made the deal if not for the phone call he and Ricketts had with Chapman.

“Tom laid out the exact same standards that he lays out to everyone in spring training,” Epstein said. “He said, extremely clearly, `Look, Aroldis, I tell all the players this in spring training and it’s important you hear it and I need to hear from you on this. We expect our players to behave. We hold our players to a very high standard for their behavior off the field. And we need to know you can meet that standard.’

“Aroldis said `I understand. Absolutely, I can.'”

The Cubs activated Chapman before Tuesday’s game and designated left-hander Clayton Richard for assignment.

Reaction to Chapman’s acquisition in Chicago has been tepid. While there were supportive fans on talk radio, the Chicago Tribune carried a front-page column Tuesday criticizing the move. The back of the Chicago Sun-Times tabloid read “Spin City” over a picture of Epstein.

Chapman said he expected a “good reaction” from Cubs fans. He was also asked during the 20-minute meeting with reporters in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field if we would consider working with organizations looking to prevent domestic violence. Chapman said no.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon defended Chapman.

“He did do a suspension, he has talked about it, he’s shown remorse,” Maddon said. “Everybody else has the right to judge him as a good or bad person. That’s your right.

I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he could be a very significant member and he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you I will embrace him.”

Report: Padres working on trading Andrew Cashner

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Starter Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Padres are working to trade starter Andrew Cashner. He notes that a deal may be consummated before he takes the hill for Tuesday’s start in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The Marlins, Orioles, and Rangers have had reported interest in Cashner.

Cashner is 4-7 with a 4.79 ERA and a 61/27 K/BB ratio in 73 1/3 innings. He missed over three weeks between June 11 and July 2 due to a strained neck.

The right-hander is earning $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season.