The Question

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

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Q: Craig, what’s your favorite baseball site to read?

Until Manny Ramirez launches his own blog, that would be HardballTalk. Non biased answer: Baseball-Reference.com, though that’s less “read” than used. But I get more enjoyment using it than I get out of reading almost anything else.

Q: Does anyone in the AL West have a legitimate shot at winning the division besides the Rangers?

No. But if you can persuade me otherwise my ears and mind are open.

Q: More awkward: Ortiz playing first base, Randy Johnson batting, or seeing Picard in his sequin pajamas?

Johnson batting, by a long shot. Ortiz has some vestigial first base skills. Picard looks good in anything.

Q: Bigger letdown: Fukudome in Chi, Dice-K in Bos, or Borg plans for world domination?

The Borg. They can annihilate all of Starfleet, but “putting them to sleep” defeats them? This is the biggest design flaw since those engineers put fighter ship-sized trenches leading to the main reactor on the Death Star.

Q: Cliff Lee is to baseball what Rick Flair is to professional wrestling. Discuss. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

This is so false I can’t even begin to explain it. So I’ll let this man do it:

Tell Cliff Lee to call us back when he has 600 suits, a Cadillac, a Rolls-Royce and the biggest house on the big side of town, Jack! Wooo!

Q: Where did all the cowboys go?

Right here, buckaroo.

Q: Have you ever tried to name months after players? I’ve been calling this month “Swisher Sweet Month of June.”

It all breaks down in Rocktober, doesn’t it?

Q: Heavier first baseman: Ortiz, Cecil Fielder, Prince Fielder, or Richie Sexson?

Boog Powell

Q: Best song about lawyers: Lawyers, Guns and Money or Lawyers in Love?

Warren Zevon > Jackson Browne, 100% of the time.

Q: Very curious…what are your top 3 (relatively serious) reasons baseball beats football?

Obviously most of this is just personal taste, but the basis for my tastes have more to do with tone and mood than anything else.  My current job notwithstanding, I consider sports to be a pastime and a leisure activity, not some Deadly Serious Pursuit. Football basically requires that people ramp-up from their normal routine. To get psyched. To place importance on this one game — because there are so few — and to cast it all in stark and desperate terms. Baseball is the opposite. No one game really matters. It’s a comedown thing at the end of the day as opposed to that ramp-up. You can have a casual conversation while watching the game, sip a beer and unwind. It’s all about temperament.

Q: Greater threat to sabermetrics: Grantland or our schools’ inability to teach math anymore?

Actually, the answer is Jose Reyes.

Q: Strangest movie: “Blue Velvet,” “Nashville,” “Fight Club” or “To Live and Die in LA”?

I’m sorry, the answer is “Freaks.”

Q: Do we belong to the light? The thunder? The sound of the words we’ve both fallen under? 

This is what happens when, while asking for Twitter questions, you say “hit me with your best shot.”  But I’ll admit it: if I ever hear the song “We Belong” on the radio, I listen to it until the end. I’m not made of stone, here.

Q: You have 99 problems, but a ________ aint one.

Morning commute.

Q: What happened when you fought the law?

I won.

Q:  If you could have dinner with four famous people, but then four of you would have to eat the fifth for dessert, who would you choose?

I’m going to assume we can go with people living or dead, so: Socrates, Kurt Vonnegut, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker. We probably eat Socrates at the end. I get the sense he’d be fine with that.

Q: If you had a rap career, what would your rap name be? What if you were a country singer? A stripper?

2Bald, Buck Abilene and Chester Drawers.

Q: How could Captain Malcolm Reynolds perform as a baseball manager?

He’d be like Billy Martin. He’d get results, but he’d breed so much dissension in the meantime that he would always wear out his welcome quickly.

Q: If you could give some law students studying for the bar one bit of awesome, life-changing advice, what would it be?

Don’t be evil. Really. You think it will be easy to keep your moral gravity in place — and you’ll believe that by adhering to legal ethics and following the orders of clients and superiors that you’re doing so — but those are very different things. Do a self-assessment once a year to make sure that you haven’t become something you despise.

Q: Did you read all of the Harry Potter books? See all the movies? Dress up as Hermione when no one is around?

I have read none of the Harry Potter books and I have seen none of the movies. As for that last question, I don’t have to answer that and you can’t make me.

Q: Next time you do a Dodgers chapter 11 roundup, can you explain why it’s in Delaware rather than California?

I’ll do it here. The reason is that it’s in Delaware is because the Los Angeles Dodgers are registered as a corporation in the State of Delaware (all U.S. corporations register in a specific state).  The reason for Delaware: it’s a well-known corporate haven. Over 50% of U.S. publicly-traded corporations and 60% of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated there. Why? Lots of reasons. Initially because they adopted a bunch of corporate-friendly laws in the late 19th century with the sole intent of drawing business away from places like New York and Philadelphia. Since then it’s been a matter of inertia: with so many corporations there, the corporate law has developed to a far more sophisticated degree in Delaware than anywhere else, with a separate court charged with handling corporate disputes and far more certainty with respect to outcomes for corporations than they would face in other states.

Q: Match the manager with a drink: Makers Mark, Macallan, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels:  Jim Leyland, Art Howe, Ned Yost, Davey Johnson.

I got the impression that both Yost and Howe drank milk or — when they were feeling sinister — root beer.  I’d say that Leyland is Jack Daniels guy. Davey goes for the scotch.

Q: Is Morrisey better solo or with The Smiths? 

If you’re talking about musical quality: The Smiths. If you’re talking about as a persona who is absolutely ridiculous and therefore great fun to mock even if we still admire on some level, it’s solo Morrisey.

Q: General bat and ball question: Which is more impressive, Nolan Ryan’s 5714 Ks or Muralitharan’s 600 career test wickets?

I was gonna leave this one for the video, but I didn’t have the heart to make Tiffany try to pronounce “Muralitharan.”  I’m going to go with the test wickets record, however, because it’s much harder to do something impressive while playing a ridiculous sport like cricket than a thing of fundamental beauty and truth like baseball.

Q: What do you think of Grantland so far.

Hit and miss. For all of the hype — and Bill Simmons has a way of attracting hype, be it intentionally or through no fault of his own — it’s a magazine. And like every magazine, there are good articles and bad ones. There are good editorial decisions and bad ones.  And of course, like every magazine in the history of magazines, it will take time for it to hit its stride.  I find most of the early general criticism to be imbued with no small amount of Bill Simmons bashing. Which, while great fun and often warranted, says more about the critic than it does about Grantland as a product.

That’s all I got, kiddos. Watch for HBT Daily later, where I actually answer some baseball questions. And let’s do it again next week.

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.