The Question

You asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.

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The video version is coming later — you’ll want to watch it because I drop some Mormon theology on you, brotha — but for now, here are the ones that didn’t make the video cut:

Q: Bruins or Canucks?

Charlestown Chiefs. I’m pretty big into the Federal League.

Q: On the hipster scale, how much more hip do you feel now than in your old glasses?

I could give you an actual number on that scale, but it’s an obscure number that you’ve probably never heard of.

Q: What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?

In 2001, my wife and I traveled to Italy. While there, we had the freshest pesto imaginable at a cafe in Portofino, dined in no less then three fantastic restaurants in Tuscany and ate a home cooked meal made by my wife’s sister and her husband in their little Veneto village featuring polenta that God Almighty would praise as divine. But in the immortal words of the sadly mortal Humphrey Bogart, a hot dog at the ball park is better than steak at the Ritz.

Q: Bigger popularity contest: “most overrated player” or “All Star Game”?

Hard to say. We’ll see which one Derek Jeter has a better showing in before we decide.

Q: Has Bobby Cox been thrown out of anywhere lately? I miss him.

I’ve heard rumors that things got rowdy at the Stone Mountain Old Country Buffet last week. Fairly even odds that Cox used the magic words on the guy restocking the hot scalloped apples.

Q: Does anyone besides MLB Network Countdown think Jack Buck’s call of Kirk Gibson’s 1988 HR was better than Vin Scully’s?

I’ve actually heard a fair amount of reasonable disagreement about this. I preferred Scully’s simply because I was watching it on TV and that’s the call I heard in real time. But in replays, Buck’s is pretty solid too.  Scully, due to the ability to be silent for a bit and let the crowd react, had more time to compose his in his mind. Buck’s was more spontaneous and captured the excitement a bit more.  I like ’em both.

Q: Al Alburquerque. Discuss.

We’ve covered this before. With that name, his future lies in either professional gambling, organized crime or unpainted furniture sales.

Q: Should reached on error count towards OBP?

No.

Q: If you were to drop wOBA or FIP in a typical post, what percentage of your readers would know what you were saying?

More than you think because the readers around here are smart. That is, if I didn’t mangle the reference to wOBA or FIP in such a way as to totally confuse everyone. I’m a fellow traveler of the statheads, but really, I’m a statistical dilettante and anything specific I say in that area should be triple checked before you rely on it and then probably best ignored.

Q: If you had to pick one of the Braves’ post-Andruw center fielders, which one would you choose?

Depends what I’m picking them for. If I need someone to draw gunfire while I escape in the other direction any of them would do and I likely wouldn’t miss them. If I needed them to play actual baseball games I’d probably take Gregor Blanco because at least he knows how to take a friggin’ walk now and again.

Q: Paper or plastic?

The former for airplanes, the latter for Ono Bands.

Q: How much are you supposed to tip the guys who walk the food to your car when you order curbside?

Um, we’re supposed to tip those guys?

Q: Do you fear the possibility of Brian Wilson’s beard becoming so dark that light cannot escape its surface?

I fear no such thing, for I am Doctor Hans Reinhardt, commander of the USS Cygnus.

Q: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

African or European?

Q: My car broke down again today. Do they have stem cell treatments like Bartolo’s for Nissans?

Yes, but there is probably some automotive reporter who doesn’t understand how such treatments work and thus casts aspersions on them.

Q: You were watching Oceans Eleven too last night, weren’t you?

No. But in December 2003 and January 2004, there was a great convergence of forces in my life: (a) a newborn daughter; and (b) a free trial of HBO. The daughter did not sleep. Ever. And in those two months HBO did not stop showing “Ocean’s Eleven,” ever. Mookie and I went on a streak of something like 15 nights when she cried, I held her and we both watched “Ocean’s Eleven” while we tried to give my wife a couple hours of sleep. Of course, sometimes I cried too, but that was either due to sleep deprivation-induced delirium or the fact that the scene where the gang all gathers and watches the Bellagio fountains is somewhat touching compared to the previous two hours of cooler-than-thou ersatz Rat Pack irony.

OK, I forgot what we were talking about.  Oh well. We’ll pick up the thread next week.  Thanks for the questions everyone.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]