The Question

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


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.

Billy Williams, Bill Murray and . . . Fall Out Boy!

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 08:  Former players Ferguson Jenkins (L) and Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs throw out ceremonial first pitches before the Opening Day game against the Milwaukee Brewers during the Opening Day game at Wrigley Field on April 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Major League Baseball has announced the on-field ceremonial stuff for tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series. There are a couple of good things here! And one bit of evidence that, at some point when he was still commissioner, Bud Selig sold his mortal soul to a pop punk band and now the league can’t do a thing about it.

The ceremonial first pitch choice is fantastic: it’s Billy Williams, the Hall of Famer and six-time All-Star who starred for the Cubs from 1959 through 1974. Glad to see Williams here. I know he’s beloved in Chicago, but he has always seemed to be one of the more overlooked Hall of Famers of the 1960s-70s. I’m guessing not being in the World Series all that time has a lot to do with that, so it’s all the more appropriate that he’s getting the spotlight tonight. Here’s hoping Fox makes a big deal out of it and replays it after the game starts.

“Take me out to the ballgame” will be sung by the guy who, I assume, holds the title of Cubs First Fan, Bill Murray. It’ll be wacky, I’m sure.

The National Anthem will be sung by Chicago native Patrick Stump. Who, many of you may know, is the lead singer for Fall Out Boy. This continues Major League Baseball’s strangely strong association with Fall Out Boy over the years. They, or some subset of them, seem to perform at every MLB jewel event. They have featured in MLB’s Opening Day musical montages. They played at the All-Star Game this summer. Twice. And, of course, they are the creative minds behind “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” (a/k/a “light ’em MUPMUPMUPMUP“) which Major League Baseball and Fox used as incessant playoff bumper music several years ago. I don’t ask for much in life, but one thing I do want is someone to love me as much as Major League Baseball loves Fall Out Boy. We all do, really.

Wayne Messmer, the former public address announcer for the Cubs and a regular performer of the National Anthem at Wrigley Field will sing “God Bless America.”

Between that and Bill Murray, I think we’ve found out the Cubs strategy for dealing with Andrew Miller: icing him if he tries to straddle the 6th and 7th innings.

Imagining a daytime World Series game at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27:  A overall shot of the scoreboard showing the postponement of the game in Baltimore because of riots before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 27, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Night baseball first came to the World Series in 1971, when the Pirates played the Orioles in Game 4. The last World Series game played under natural light came in 1984, when the Tigers played the Padres in Detroit in Game 5 of that year’s Fall Classic. The last World Series game played during daytime hours was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, but that came in Minneapolis, in the Metrodome, so it was still played under artificial light. All games since then have been played in the evening hours.

Ever since, there have been periodic calls for the World Series to include day games. These appeals are often grounded in tradition and nostalgia for bright sunshine making way for long shadows. For memories of sneaking transistor radios into classrooms. For the symbolism of the sun setting on both the day at hand and the baseball season as a whole.

It’s an appealing idea. Baseball in the daytime is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And while day baseball may be occasionally miserable for fans and players in the heat of August, October afternoons are often the loveliest weather there is. There is nothing better than fall sunshine. A baseball game in that fall sunshine seems like the closest one can get to heaven on Earth.

Unfortunately, it’s a wholly unrealistic idea in this day and age. Far fewer people would actually get to watch the World Series if it were played during the day. We complain about late games lasting into the wee hours, preventing kids from watching, but how many kids are going to be able to watch a World Series game when they’re in school? Or at after school extracurricular activities? And how many people can ditch work to watch a baseball game? Some say to put one of the day games on the weekend, but that clashes with other activities and, of course, with football, which is going to win the battle for the remote in more households than baseball would.

Yes, the networks and Major League Baseball are in it for the money and the TV ratings, but the fact is that the money and the ratings are a function of more people watching baseball games in the evening, kids and grownups alike. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. More people watching baseball is better for the people and for baseball, full stop, aesthetics and commercial motivations notwithstanding. For this reason the World Series will almost certainly be played at night for the foreseeable future. And it should be.

Still . . . it’s Wrigley Field, the last bastion of day-only baseball for decades. A place where, even if they now play most games at night, still features more day baseball than anyplace else. And it’s a sunny Friday afternoon on which the temperatures will creep into the 60s. I know it would never happen and certainly won’t happen today, but the idea of an afternoon World Series game in Wrigley Field makes even a hard-headed, bottom-line-appreciating anti-nostalgist like me sorta wish today was a day game. If I close my eyes I can imagine it. I can feel the warm breeze and smell the fall afternoon air. I’m sure many of you can too.

And even if you can’t, can we agree that maybe today should be a day game simply for public health purposes? I mean, get a load of this:

These people will have been drinking for at least 11 hours come game time. Many of them for much longer. You’re probably looking at some dead men walking, here. For the sake of their livers and personal safety, this game should start at 1pm, dang it. If even that is early enough to save them.