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.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.