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.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.