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.

What in the heck is Derek Jeter doing with the Marlins?

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Last night we linked the Miami Herald story about the Marlins firing special assistants Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jack McKeon. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

The firings themselves are eyebrow-raising inasmuch as “special assistants” like that are rarely key front office personnel. Former players, Hall of Famers and former managers like those guys are really ambassadors for the team and, particularly in the case of Jeff Conine, who is known as “Mr. Marlin,” why would new ownership want to kick its ambassadors to the curb? It’s not like you can just hire a bunch of new franchise legends for he role. Who ya gonna call? Dan Uggla?

Sure, I can see an argument for changing their responsibilities. If they actually had say in baseball operations, I can see new ownership wanting to relieve them of those duties. It’s also possible that Jeff Loria paid them too much money for guys who are only team ambassadors. So, sure, if the job is too cushy by the standards of the gig, I could see Jeter cutting their pay or their duties to make it conform to what other clubs do with their former stars. Maybe that makes them want to quit. If so, that’s OK I suppose.

Beyond that, however, it’s hard to see why you would NOT want guys like Conine, Dawson, Perez and McKeon to represent your club in the community and in the service of impressing prospective season ticket holders. The franchise’s first star player, a Hall of Famer who ended his career with the club, another Hall of Famer who is from Cuba (which is kind of a big deal in a place like Miami) and the manager who brought the club its last World Series championship are exactly who you want to represent your team. Especially when nearly everything else about your team has, for so very long, alienated the very public you want supporting it.

But let’s say, for the moment, that there was a good reason to fire those guys. Let’s say they’re all flaming jackwagons who have secretly poisoned the franchise from within. Let’s say that, despite his grandfatherly charm, Jack McKeon is a ruthless Machiavellian. Let’s say that Conine, Dawson and Perez beat up copy boys in the stairwells and microwave leftover fish in the break room every day. Even if that’s the case, how does this happen?

And here’s the twist: Jeter asked Marlins president David Samson to fire those four Marlins luminaries for him, because Jeter didn’t want to do it.

Even more strange, Jeter made the request after telling Samson what he already knew: that Samson would not be returning as team president.

It seems that Samson did carry out the firings. Unless some handsome severance package was being held hostage over it, I’m not sure how Samson doesn’t tell Jeter, “Hey Captain RE2PECT, know what? Up yours, you do it yourself.” Of course, one can only project one’s own sensibility on a guy like David Samson so much, so let’s cut him a bit of slack here. We don’t know how the conversation went. Maybe Samson was happy to tell those guys to hit the bricks.

But really, how doesn’t Jeter man-up and handle this himself? It’s not because he’s not yet officially the owner, because if he has the power to fire Samson, he has the power to fire Conine and his friends. Maybe there is more to this than the Herald story lets on, but as it stands now, it comes off as cowardice on Jeter’s part. It’s a really bad look.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays in the baseball establishment over the next couple of days. Everyone — particularly the press — loves Derek Jeter an credits him with a class, smoothness and media savvy matched by few others. This, though, was either (a) a failure of class and an act of disrespect to baseball luminaries; or (b) a complete bungling of public relations, serving to make what was, in reality, a reasonable move appear classless. It has to be one or the other.

Derek Jeter has been a teflon star for more than two decades, but two of the few things the media loves more than Derek Jeter are (a) old Baseball Men like McKeon, Dawson, Perez and Conine; and (b) “classiness.” It’ll be interesting to see if, for the first time in his professional life, the media gets its knives out for Derek Jeter for seeming content to dispense with both.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.