The Question

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


I’m noticing a pattern lately. Almost all of the questions are about (a) science fiction; (b) alcohol; or (c) baseball, and that is in descending frequency.  And actually, I’m OK with that.

Q: Dylan- Plugged or unplugged? Himself or cover versions?

All have their merits, of course. “Bringing it all Back Home” is a happy medium, no?  As for covers: Hendrix’s version of “Watchtower” may be the greatest cover ever, and certainly stands superior to Dylan’s own, but for every good Dylan cover, there are a bunch of terrible ones. For example, did you know that Sheryl Crow has a warrant for her arrest in at least 15 states for what she did Dylan’s “Mississippi?”  It’s true! Or else it should be!

Q: Can the Nats have a winning season? BTW, this team is about to go .500 if they win tonight.

They did win and they are at .500.  I am just not all that optimistic about a winning season (note: this questioner later predicted the playoffs for Washington too, which I can’t see happening).  What is so different about this team now apart from some good luck and hot streaks and this team a month ago when they were stringing together losses like they were sausages?  In other words, I’ll keep an open mind about Washington, but you have to convince me why they’re legit.

Q:  Cake or death?

Well, cake, obviously. Unless it’s death-by-delicious-pie.

Q:  When is the last time baseball has seen a reliever as dominant as Jonny Venters, or have we, ever?

A 0.57 ERA and 24 hits allowed in 42 appearances is awesome — and I love Venters as much as the next guy, probably more so — but let’s wait until he can keep this up all season before we go putting him in the pantheon.  Dennis Eckersley, Eric Gagne and a good many others put up fantastic stuff over whole seasons. Multiple seasons, actually.  But yes, it is possible that we’re seeing something historic here.

Q: If you were on a desert island for the rest of your life and could eat only one food item every meal, what would it be?

Probably really good pizza or a nice rare steak. Or Pez. Cherry flavored Pez. No question about it.

Q: Going solely off estimates of their IQ, which Republican Presidential candidate do you suppose is the stupidest?

I think I’ll tread carefully here. Because, really, stupidity is not what I fear most in a potential leader, no matter what party they belong to. It’s their disregard for individual liberties and their tendency to go after enemies both real and imagined as if that were the point of their power.  Find someone with a track record for both stupidity and vindictiveness and that, my friends, is the scariest thing imaginable.

Q: Who would crush more wings…Boog Powell or Fernando Valenzuela?

I’m sorry, the answer is David Wells.

Q: Which version of the Enterprise is your favorite? Please explain your reasons in the original Klingon.

As far as the actual ship, the NCC 1701 E, because the Sovereign-class is pretty spiffy.  As far as the drama and action which took place on the ship, I’m going with the NCC 1701 D, because I am now and always will be a Next Generation nerd. My apologies to Captain Kirk.

Q:  Will the Twins rebound to make the playoffs?

Man, if they do I will have a lot of backtracking to do.

Q: More surprising .500 team on June 22: Pirates or Nationals?

Pirates, by far. My above answer notwithstanding, I figured that if everything broke just so, that the Nats could be respectable. I didn’t really think that of the Pirates last spring.

Q: How important is the bench coach to the execution and input of a mangers’ strategy?

Depends what strategy you speak of. For the how-to-find-a-great-pub-in-an-unfamiliar-city strategy, he is essential. For the baseball stuff? Eh, I’m a bit dubious.

Q: Why didn’t anyone make a big deal out of the fact that Star Trek:DS9 and Battlestar Galactica were the same series?

I didn’t have an answer for this, but another Tweeter did: “Because they were already tired from saying the same thing about DS9 and Babylon 5.”

Q: Which is your favorite Central Ohio Applebee’s?

They’re all so wonderful I’d hate to insult the others by choosing one ahead of them.

Q: Who wins the AL Central? On what date does MLB take control of the Dodgers? Jose Reyes, over/under: $120 mm this off season?

White Sox (I really don’t know, but I gotta stick with my original choice for now); July 1st, but a lawsuit happens; and over, though I don’t think it will end up being a great deal for the team.

Q: Zoe, Inara, Kaylee, or River?

Zoe and Inara intimidate me, for very different reasons. River annoys me, though I’d want to keep her around in case we were attacked. I gotta admit, I have a thing for Kaylee. Plus, since I am awful with tools, she would be really useful to have around in case my spaceship broke down.

Q: What’s your favorite baseball player name of all-time? Mine’s Cecilio Guante. Hon. mention: Salome’ Barojas & Sixto Lezcano.

All good choices, but you gotta wake up pretty early in the morning to beat Johnny Dickshot.

Q: Ha ha early punk fan. Nice. Misfits , V. Femmes, Ramones, etc.?


Q: Tuck or No Tuck?

God, I hope you’re talking about “Robin Hood.”

Q: If you were to build a perfect baseball player, which four active players DNA would you require? Because you’re an evil genius.

Hmm. Some combination of Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Matt Kemp and Albert Pujols. I’d make him into a power hitting center fielder who takes the mound every fifth day.  I figured I’d get me the first 25-game winner who also was a member of the 50/50 club.

Q: Have you ever heard of a fan strike like vs. Dodgers? That worked? 

All of the ones organized by talk radio or whatever have failed. This Dodgers thing is less a boycott than a function of exhaustion and despair, the likes of which would be hard to duplicate. Frank McCourt truly is one-of-a-kind.

Q: Who is @OldHossRadbourn? The truth must out!

Mike Lupica. Sorry Hoss. I could keep the secret no longer.

Q: Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada? 

Oh, Sierra Nevada. By leaps and bounds. And then a few more bounds and an extra leap tacked on at the end.

Q: Were you uncomfortable while at Fourth Street Live since you weren’t wearing an Affliction or Tapout shirt?

This refers to the little entertainment district in Louisville I happened upon last weekend. And yeah, I gotta admit, it’s not my usual scene. To give you a sense of the place, note that there are — in the middle of the closed-off street — beer stands.  Overheard while walking up to the beer stand: “they have both kinds of beer.”  This referred to the fact that they sold Bud and Bud Light.  Really, it was a half step removed from base savagery.

Q: Biggest irrational inflated ego: Pete Rose circa 1989, Barry Bonds circa 2001 or Frank McCourt circa 2011.

McCourt. I mean, at least Rose and Bonds had accomplished some stuff, which made their egos somewhat understandable.

Q: More exciting: Rickey Henderson or Barry Bonds?

Oh, Rickey.  I mean, early in his career Bonds had potential for actual excitement, but the secret that even the Bonds fanboys won’t admit to is that watching him at his productive height in the early 2000s was a fairly boring experience. Greatness? Absolutely. But really boring, truth be told.

Q: What is more likely: DiceK comes back with the GyroBall; Bartolo Colon has screws pop out of arm; or BobbyCox replaces Jack McKeon in Flordia?

Ben Greive makes a comeback and wins the stolen base title.

Thanks for the questions, folks!  Let’s do it again next week.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason


Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.