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.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.