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.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.