The Question

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

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It’s Thursday, so it’s Twitter mailbag day. These are the ones that did not make the cut for today’s edition of HBT Daily (stay tuned for those) The reason a lot of them didn’t make that cut: they were way, way, way too geeky for Tiffany to get through without incredible amounts of self-loathing, because she did got get into this business to talk about Star Trek and stuff with a bald guy in his basement. Anyway:

Q: What is this “NHL” and why is my twitter feed full of it?

Good question. I’ve been trying to figure that out for a few weeks now.

Q: Why does Boston have to win? AGAIN?

Because there is no God.

Q: How old do you think Livan Hernandez actually is?

He’s supposedly 36. Maybe he’s 36 in Euros, but in good old American years, no way.

Q: At this rate, does Edwin Rodriguez make it through the season?

The idea that the Marlins will continue to lose at this rate is shocking, but no, I would not be at all surprised to see him gone before the season is out. I think Loria wants a clean slate heading into the new ballpark.

Q: Will I be able to watch the Moneyball movie without rolling my eyes the whole time?

I can’t say I was enthralled by the trailer. My guess: people who are total baseball freaks like us will feel like our intelligence is being insulted, people who are not won’t find the kind of personal story that they made out of “The Blind Side,” which was the last Michael Lewis sports book adaptation.

Q: Should slump-busters be considered “performance enhancers”?

Note: that question came courtesy of the inimitable Old Hoss Radbourn. Well, I suppose that, since it is an account pretending to be Old Hoss Radbourn that the real deal is totally imitable. But the fake one is inimitable, that I can tell you.

As for the question: First, I’d like to see the testing regimen if they are.  More broadly, as was the case with steroids, I think the real injustice in this sort of performance enhancer is when those who would not otherwise partake feel forced to. So, if there are poor, poor players hooking up with slump busters against their will, then yes, it is a scourge upon the game.

Q: If Hegel’s dialectic holds true, what will result from Mauer (thesis) joining the Twins (antithesis) this weekend?

I object to the premise of the question, because most of the time the antithesis in any dialectic is selected to suit the user’s subjective purpose. Plus, I faked my way through Hegel back in college because he was the absolute worst writer of all of the major philosophers. At least if you’re the sort of person who does not enjoy 18-part sentences with 22 dependent clauses in each. I read just enough so I could understand Marx, who is way more fun. At least now that the “killing and enslaving millions while falsely invoking his theories” part of history is almost over.

Q:  Is addition through subtraction a part of sabremetrics?

I would have said no, but ever since I heard about “OPSBI’s” this morning my brain has been melting and I don’t know what to think.

Q:  If the Braves grounds crew were screwing with players hurting them should they go after Jose Reyes or Dan Uggla?

The fact that they didn’t stake a hungry tiger next to where Uggla sets up on defense is proof positive that their primary motive was not to give the Braves a competitive advantage.

Q: When the Astros move to the AL, 1 or 2 yrs before Berkman is their DH?

I don’t think there is anything more inevitable in the entire galaxy than this happening.

And speaking of the galaxy, let’s do some sci-fi, OK?

Q: Compare major league managers to Star Trek characters. 

I’ll let someone else make a list because that’s what comments sections are made for, but I know for certain that Tony La Russa is Captain Edward Jellico, who briefly took over the Enterprise when Picard was on a secret mission on Cardassia. Stern, difficult, and insists on his unorthodox manner to such a degree that he alienates even the most useful members of his crew (Riker, who is roughly equivalent to Scott Rolen for these purposes). But in the end? Effective, and we just have to reconcile that.

Q: Well, how many lights are there?

There are … four … lights [stalks off naked, eschewing assistance from the guards]

Q: Why did [character redacted] have to die?

That question was about the movie “Serenity,” and I redacted the character in the interest of not spoiling anything. But for those who know who I’m talking about: no, I can’t think of any dramatic reason for that character’s death and it was one of my problems with the movie.

Q: What’s a more devestating loss: Anderson to the A’s or Spock to Kirk?

If only Anderson could be recovered as easily as Spock was after his death.

Q: Did you cry at the end of “The Inner Light?”

No. [maybe].

Q:  Most accurate film involving law/lawyers? Most inaccurate? 

There aren’t many accurate ones, which is why watching legal movies when you’re a lawyer is difficult (and why baseball geeks watching Moneyball will be difficult). But I ain’t lying when I say that “My Cousin Vinnie” gets more right than the vast majority of courtroom movies.  The most inaccurate: there are a ton of possibilities, but “Primal Fear” was godawful from a legal perspective.

Q:  If bourbon was never invented would you choose suicide or euthanasia?

My darling, don’t be silly. I’d choose scotch.

Q: Better miracle worker: Dave Duncan or Geordi LaForge?

Duncan, because he doesn’t have Data bailing his butt out all the time. LaForge: biggest glory hound in history. Yeah, I said it.

Q: Matt Smith, David Tennant or Christopher Ecclesto?

I’ll admit it: I’ve never ever watched Dr. Who in any of its incarnations. Just never came up. I’m a geek, but more of a narrow one than a renaissance geek.

Q: Are Fox Mulder and Dana Scully perfect together or completely wrong for each other?

Completely wrong. Or, at least that’s what I thought the last time I considered the matter, which happened to be, oh, 1996 or so, when I was under the strong conviction that Dana Scully should have married me.

Q:  Who’d be the best MLB’er? Data, Worf or Geordi?

Data, but all the MSM writers would disparage him because of his analytic approach to the game. They’d love Worf because of his passion.

Q: Which is worse: Fox cancels Firefly after 14 episodes or has Joe Buck and Tim McCarver doing the World Series?

See above answer about there being no God.

Thanks for the questions, folks. There were a ton more of the sci-fi ones I didn’t get to, but at some point I have to stop or I’m not going to be able to be productive for the rest of the day. Which, ain’t a bad thing, but you know how it is.

Great Moments in Not Understanding The Rules

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Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.

On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?

This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:

Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.

I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.

A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.

This is the second time in two years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.

I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.

Hall of Fame voters are making news, not exercising democratic rights

Cooperstown
Associated Press
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Last month the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to make all Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with next year’s vote for the 2018 induction class. In the past 24 hours or so, as this year’s Hall of Fame voting period comes to a close, a lot of folks have been talking about that. Most notably in Jayson Stark’s piece over at ESPN regarding next year’s brave new public world.

Stark is pro-transparency on the ballots, as are the vast majority of BBWAA members who voted on the public ballot measure (it passed 80-9). Not everyone Stark quotes in his article is on board with it, though:

“I’ve already seen a lot of people change their votes from one year to the next,” said one of the strongest dissenters to this decision, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “People have changed their votes based on public opinion.”

Two other sources in the story, Scott Miller of Bleacher Report and a voter who asked to remain anonymous equated their Hall of Fame vote with democracy and invoked the sanctity of the secret ballot. “The No. 1 reason I was against this rule is that in this country, it’s a democracy, and everyone has a vote on different things. And I hate to see a blanket rule that forces everyone to go in one direction,” Miller said. Here’s what the anonymous guy said:

“To me, a secret ballot is a fundamental of democracy. You should be able to vote your conscience without having to explain your vote. But once it’s public, you’re open to public pressure. And that’s not what we want in a democracy. We’re not elected representatives. We’re chosen to be part of a voting group.”

This is ridiculous of course. Voting for the Hall of Fame is not exercising democratic rights. It is making news and making history. Hall of Fame voters are making decisions which will fundamentally alter baseball history and which matter greatly to a large number of baseball fans. They are not advancing their own or society’s interests at the ballot box the way citizens do on election day. Despite the fact that the form of their action here is, technically speaking, a ballot, they are making news in the same way a GM makes a news with a trade, the commissioner makes news with a rule change or a team makes news by winning a World Series.

Would any of these voters — who are credentialed members of the media, by the way, and like to style themselves as truth-seeking members of the Fourth Estate — accept silence from the people who make the news on the beat they cover? Would they be content if the newsmakers whose acts they chronicle demanded anonymity the way they themselves do now? Of course they wouldn’t. And if they got the same silent treatment they’d prefer to give, they’d write one of those petulant little columns they love about players who “duck the press” after a game.

Suck it up, journalists. Act the way you expect the newsmakers you cover to act and own your decisions. Don’t pretend for a moment that you’re not the subject of, and not the reporter of, the story when Hall of Fame season comes around.