The Question

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


Q: If the White Sox win the AL Central, should we appoint Ozzie Ambassador to UN?

I like your thinking, but really, I’d hate to have him take a job with less responsibility and real world impact than he has now. I think the stress brings out his essential Ozzieness.

Q:  Luke or Han? That one Twilight guy or that other Twilight guy? Rice or quinoa? Ceasar or Brutus?

In order: Han because he doesn’t whine, Eric from “True Blood” would eat both of those pretty “Twilight” boys for lunch, I actually like Orzo a lot and I’m surprised you don’t see it more and, personally, I like the Soothsayer, even though she didn’t give any spoiler alerts before saying that Ceasar was going to be killed. Damn Shakespeare.

Q: Why is there a surge in “Aramis Ramirez should be an all-star” thinking all the sudden? Do 10 good days make an All-Star?

As Gleeman noted the other day, there are All-Star cases made for just about every player who avoided major injuries and major slumps in the first half. I think it’s just irresistible for people to say and write “well, what about Player X?!”  It’s just one of the many ways in which the All-Star proceedings have become bloated and uninteresting.

Q: What is the best hot dog you have ever had?

The taste of a hot dog is 100% context-driven. I ate a hot dog or two on this night in 2006, and it was easily the best I ever had.

Q: If you had to vote for a Republican in 2012, who? Mashed potatoes: smooth or chunky? Eggs: scrambled, hard boiled, other?

I haven’t looked at them too closely, but given that this Huntsman fellow has seemed to make all of the right enemies, he likely has something to recommend him. Chunky, as long as it’s intentional. I’m kind of an egg agnostic inasmuch as I don’t really have a preferred style. Cook them well and I’ll eat ’em however.  It is hard to beat a good messy scramble-up, however, as long as you put enough good fatty crap in it.

Q: Do you think Dayton Moore is capable of signing the right free agents to compliment his minor league talent? I don’t.

Depends on what level of free agent talent we’re talking about. I’m going to shock everyone by saying this, but the little cheap parts he has added like Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera have been pretty useful in the sense that (a) they’re not blocking anyone critical; (b) they’re not expensive; and (c) they represent an upgrade over whatever he had lying around. I’d worry way more if ownership told him to take a good chunk of change and to go out and get a big veteran bat around whom the young kids could develop, because I wouldn’t put it past him to sign the 2012 or 2013 equivalent of Carlos Lee.

Q:  If you had to live in a 10×10 cell with one celebrity, who would it be? If you could punch anyone in the head, who?

The cell is an interesting question. I’m going to assume that this will be a traditional jail setting and not some sort of fantasy love nest, so I’ll avoid saying the obviously piggy male kind of thing [cough] Carla Gugino [cough].  I’ll go with one of those obnoxious street magic guys like David Blaine or Criss Angel or whoever, because they probably have sufficient skills to aid in an escape attempt.  Coincidentally, they are also the people I would most like to punch in the head, so it’s pretty darn convenient.

Q: Better performance in Princess Bride, Billy Crystal or Carol Kane?

Kane. This may not be an objective answer, however, because I’ve pretty much hated Billy Crystal in everything he’s done since “Running Scared.” He’s actually pretty good in “Princess Bride.”  Of course no one beats the guy who played Vizzini. It’s inconceivable that anyone is better than him.

Q: Would you Tippecanoe AND Tyler too, or just Tyler?

Tyler too, but I would have to be really drunk.

Q: What would the effect of a mineshaft gap be on the Dodgers ownership situation?

It would probably be worse than a Doomsday gap. Frankly, I’d be worried about the status of our precious bodily fluids.  Then again, I’m what you might call a water man, Jack – that’s what I am. And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there’s nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie.

Q:  I just started the lonely life of working from home… Any advice from someone else paid to sit in their pajamas?

Don’t sit in your pajamas. Indeed, after the novelty of it all wears off following the first week, be sure to treat it like a job. Have a dedicated work space. Wake up on a schedule. Take showers. Eat only at meal times. Keep the TV off unless it’s essential to your job. Make a point, at least once a day, to talk to an adult human being.  If you don’t do that stuff, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the second part of this comic will happen to you.

Q: What is the hypotenuse of a squirrel?

It’s the square root of the sum of the squares of the lengths of the chipmunk and the raccoon. Possibly the ferret. And I do hope I got that right. I haven’t taken woodland mammalian geometry for, gosh, going on 24 years now.

Q: What’s the longest you’ve gone between showers in your adult life? What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten? Done?

If you count the week after high school graduation — when I was still 17 — as my adult life, that would be it. Myrtle Beach was an ugly place in early June 1991 and I was quite ugly that week myself.  Grossest thing I’ve ever eaten: My late father in law was a big fan of random nasty bits, organ meats and the like, and he gave me tripe once. Can’t say I’m a fan. Grossest thing I’ve ever done?  Look, I open myself up to a lot of personal questions in this feature, but at some point even I gotta draw the line. I’ll say this much though: when you have two kids in the space of 19 months and wade through all of those early years of diapers and everything else, there isn’t much that really rates on the gross scale.

Q: Do you approve of @peanutfreemom ‘s tweets?

For those unfamiliar, go check out that Twitter feed. It’s easily the driest, most deft trolling Twitter account I’ve seen in a while. And that’s the key if you’re going to troll people on Twitter: the long game. A little goes a long way.

Q:  Is Joe Biden next year’s Lance Berkman?

I wouldn’t put it past Tony La Russa to put him at third base and have him put up a line of .270/.360/.490.  Stuff always seems to work out well for friggin’ La Russa.

Q: So, what’s the deal with Gleeman?

It’s a Minnesota thing. You wouldn’t understand.

Q: Really? Obama?? Come on.

What, you were willing to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat or cancer diagnosis away from The Button?  You’re braver than I thought.

Q: Did President Obama answer your question re: Jeter batting 9th?

No. Nor did he answer my question about whether, when he’s alone in the Oval Office, he looks in the mirror and says “Now KNEEL before Zod!”  My anti-Palin sentiments notwithstanding, I don’t feel like my needs are being addressed by this administration.

Q: If Q let you relive a few days of your life a la “Tapestry”, what would you change?

Let’s just say that I have come to realize that, when I was in high school, my general obliviousness about most things caused me to miss a lot of signals from various girls that, if I hadn’t missed them, would have made my high school years more interesting. But I’d still pick that fight with those Nausicaans, because getting stabbed through the heart was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Q: In a fight of a pirate versus a knight, which would win?

Depends. Jedi Knight or Round Table Knight?

Q: The Smiths or R.E.M. if you had to choose?

Oof.  Probably R.E.M. because if I was faced with a choice like that it probably means that my life has been placed into some weird kind of hell in which greater powers are toying with my very existence, and in that case, I’d really want to listen to “Automatic for the People,” which is my go-to “I need to both brood, but I also need to find some sliver of hope in all of this despair” album. But really, I would hope that I wouldn’t have to make that choice.

Q: Do you support tax incentives for distilleries to produce bourbon?

No, because I really don’t like it when government regulates the alcohol industry. I do, however, support changes to the tax code that allow me to deduct my own bourbon purchases on my taxes.  Wait: now that I think about it, I probably have a decent case that they’re a legitimate business expense for my odd line of work, so maybe I’ll just take the deduction next year anyway and see how it goes.

Q: My wife and I are expecting our 1st baby next month. What should I spend the next 4 weeks doing? All baby prep is complete.

Sleeping in, reading books uninterrupted and, if she’s up to it, going out to restaurants. Those things will be gone for, like, the next three years at least.

Q: What differentiates Knowledge from Random Knowledge.

The opportunity to apply the former in a practical way from time to time. Knowledge: how to change a tire. Random Knowledge: that, in the first season of “The Brady Bunch,” the producers made Mike Lookinland dye his hair black so he’d look more like Greg and Peter’s brother, but let it go back to its natural reddish color in later seasons.

Q: Chicken Pot Pie or Meatcake?

Don’t try to trick me into choosing cake over pie. It won’t work.

Q: After 134+ seasons, the Braves are now 6 games over .500 … does it feel good to be over the hump?

Totally. Going in, I figured we’d be better than a .500 team, and I’m glad to see that finally borne out.

Q: Which do you think makes a team a better bet to make the playoffs: a 7 game lead in May, or a 1 game lead in July?

I’m sure there’s an actual answer to this based on the historical record, but I sure as hell feel better about 7-game May leads than I do about 1-game July leads. Probably irrational.

Q: I’m getting married in 3 days… How do I get her to grill me a steak?

Do what I do: intentionally mess up basically everything you do, which will cause her to step in and say “here, let me do it …” Note: this may only work if you marry a borderline obsessive-compulsive Type-A woman like I did.

Q: Is Google+ exciting because of what it is, or because the people who ruined Twitter (& Facebook before it) arent there yet?

There’s certainly an element of that. Although I’m torn. I’m finding myself not posting anything on Google+ because, hey, a few hundred will see it on Facebook or a few thousand will see it on Twitter, while only a couple of dozen will see it on Google+.  I think this probably says more about me than it does about Google+, however. And it probably doesn’t say anything good about me. But hey, no Farmville or Mafia Wars.

Q: Isn’t it time for expansion? What cities and names of teams?

I doubt it would happen. I’d like to see Matewan, West Virginia get one, though, so I can root for my old fantasy team, The Matewan Massacre. It’s a real thing too!

Q: How would the cosmos have changed if Malcolm Reynolds was captain of the Enterprise?

Given how much diplomatic work the captain of the Enterprise has to do, and given how poorly Mal would do at those things, I presume that the Federation would have been destroyed by a unified Klingon-Romulan-Ferengi- Dominion force fairly soon after he took command.

Q: I have a deficit of bourbon & my wife says “we have plenty of good vodka.” How do I convince her to break budget?

Actually, you probably need to get a divorce at this point. I’m not sure I see any future at all with this woman. Sorry.

Thanks all! Let’s do it again next week!

Playoff Reset: The Cards and Dodgers have their backs against the wall

Clayton Kershaw
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Historically speaking, the Cardinals and Dodgers are the class of the National League. A couple of organizations which have won a ton, have had a lot of classy alpha-types running their respective shows over the years, no shortage of glory, no shortage of history and enough evocative and grand footage in the can to make Ken Burns sepia with envy.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Mets, while they’ve won some and have some wonderful history too, are far better known for their failures. For dubious achievements and fan bases which have, collectively, spent far more time smacking their own foreheads than high-fiving the guy in the seat next to them. Nevertheless, by the time we go to bed tonight it’s quite possible that the classy organizations with the long resumes of winning baseball will have been eliminated by the sad sacks and that we’re going to be treated to a Mets-Cubs NLCS.

In short: today’s NLDS contests are “the big game” sequences in any late-70s-mid-90s “slobs vs. snobs” comedy movie. Camp Mohawk vs. Camp Northstar. Lane Meyer vs. Roy Stalin skiing the K-12. Thornton Wilder vs. Chas in the diving meet. Once these things are over don’t be surprised to see someone on the Mets or Cubs kissing some girl way out of their league and to be asking yourself, “wait, why are there cheerleaders at a diving meet?”

Of course baseball isn’t as scripted as all of that and William Zabka is, according to IMDb, in pre-production on some Civil War project, so he can’t make it. I have no idea what that’s about. I can only assume he’s playing some stuck-up Confederate General who will lose the big battle to Curtis Armstrong’s Union general in the big battle, after which we cut to credits over some tossed-off Dave Edmunds song he wrote for the soundtrack just for the money.

Which is to say: we have to watch these games to see what happens:

The Game: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
The Time: 4:37 p.m. ET
The Place: Wrigley Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: John Lackey vs. Jason Hammel
The Upshot: Wow, those were a lot of dingers given up by Michael Wacha and his friends last night, huh? The god news is that they’re running Lackey out there this afternoon and Lackey has owned the Cubs of late, going 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts against them, including his gem in Game 1 on Friday night. The bad news: even a half dozen recent starts aren’t great predictively speaking, and Lackey is on short rest. TBS will show highlights of Lackey pitching on short rest in the 2002 World Series today, but think about what you were doing in 2002 and whether you’d be just as good at it today as then. Hammel has the ball for the Cubs. He has not fared well against the Cardinals this season (5.37 ERA) but the same small sample stuff applies.

Injuries could be a key consideration here, as Addison Russell may be on the shelf for the Cubs following his hamstring tweak in last night’s game. Likewise Yadier Molina left early, apparently having aggravated his thumb injury. Otherwise: wear a helmet if you’re in the Bleachers at Wrigley this afternoon. Balls may be flying out your way.

The Game: Los Angels Dodgers vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Clayton Kershaw vs. Steven Matz
The Upshot: The Clayton Kershaw Legacy Game. It’s not fair to Kershaw that, after eight years of completely dominating Major League Baseball people will deem him worthy or unworthy of, well, whatever, based on his 10th postseason start, but they will. If he falters today on short rest, with no reliable bullpen to bail him out, people will call him some sort of choke artist. If he dominates he’ll be considered redeemed, though he’s never been a guy in need of redemption. I don’t care much for that game, but it’s inevitable it will be played so let’s just silently roll our eyes and go with it. The Mets may have a bigger question mark on the mound in Steven Matz, who hasn’t pitched in a couple of weeks thanks to a tweak in his back in the last week of the season.

This should feel like a totally different game. The Utley drama has to subside now, especially given that he’s unlikely to get the start against a tough lefty. And that tough lefty is, with all due respect, no Brett Anderson. You can bet against Clayton Kershaw and win, but it’s not the sort of thing I’d make a habit of.

In any event, the Cubs and Mets should play this on a loop in the Clubhouse before today’s games. Because . . . it just doesn’t matter!

Yoenis Cespedes and his bat flip say good morning

Yoenis Cespedes

It was a late night last night. Especially for old farts like me. I turned on my TV at 12:30 yesterday afternoon and there was baseball on it for just about 12 hours straight. Not too shabby unless you happen to root for the Astros, Rangers, Cardinals or Dodgers. Oh well, today is another day. Or tomorrow if today is a travel day.

In the meantime, we have Yoenis Cespedes to keep us happy, alert and occupied. Again, unless you’re a Dodgers fan. Of course, if you are a Dodgers fan you got absolutely no right to be upset at a bat flip following a homer. And if I catch you complaining, you’re getting a time out.

The Mets break out the whuppin’ sticks, rout the Dodgers 13-7

Cespedes d'Arnaud

So often in life the anticipation of something outpaces its reality. For Mets fans tonight, it was the exact opposite. They had a grand old time. The Mets broke out the lumber and overwhelmed the Dodgers 13-4 to take a 2-1 lead in NLDS.

So much of that anticipation was about revenge, really. Hitting Chase Utley if he was in the lineup, perhaps, or at the very least sending some sort of retaliatory message the Dodgers’ way in response to Utley breaking Ruben Tejada‘s leg on Saturday. But with Utley out of the lineup — and the notion that base runners matter a whole heck of a lot in a playoff game — Matt Harvey just set out to pitch, not plunk. And Mets hitters set out to beat the living heck out of Brett Anderson and a couple Dodgers relievers. Living well is the best revenge, and for a major league team, winning baseball games is living well.

It didn’t start out so well for Harvey, as Yasmani Grandal singled in two runs in the top of the second with a third run scoring on a Curtis Granderson error on the same play. It was 3-0 Dodgers early and Mets’ fans sphincters’ clenched. But only momentarily.

The Mets came right back in the bottom of the second with four runs with a Travis d'Arnaud single and a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double from Curtis Granderson. In the next inning d’Arnaud hit a two-run shot. In the fourth Daniel Murphy singled in a run and Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run bomb to left to make it 10-3. The Dodgers got one back in the top of the seventh but New York scored three more of their own in the bottom half. It was never a ballgame after the third inning.

Brett Anderson was the author of the damage through three, Alex Wood gave up the four runs in the fourth and hung on in the fifth in what became mop-up duty. Harvey was done after five and took the win. He wasn’t necessarily sharp, but he did strike out seven and was good enough. Some late damage from the Dodgers, including a three-run homer in the ninth from Howie Kendrick, was too little, too late. Granderson and d’Arnaud did the damage for New York, driving in five and three runs, respectively.

Once the competitive portion of this game was over, the Mets’ crowd turned to more important matters. Chanting things like “We want Utley!” Don Mattingly didn’t give him to ’em, probably because there was no downside to smacking him after the game got out of hand. But no upside either. Because of that stuff about living well, remember?

Now it’s on Clayton Kershaw to save the Dodgers from elimination [looks at watch] tonight, technically. If he doesn’t, his detractors will write another page in their Big Book of Clayton Kershaw Playoff Failures. If he does, we get a Game 5 back in Los Angeles.

Maybe Chase Utley gets into one of those.