The Question

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

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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!

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.