The Question

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

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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.?

Yes?

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.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.

The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.

There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”

Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:

And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

Cincinnati Reds v Arizona Diamondbacks
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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.