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!

Darvish wins 1st start since 2014 as Rangers top Pirates 5-2

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Yu Darvish struck out seven in five strong innings in his first start in the majors in almost 22 months, and the Texas Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Saturday night.

The Japanese right-hander allowed three singles with a walk in his return from last year’s Tommy John surgery, ending Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak.

Adrian Beltre had a two-run homer in the first inning off Juan Nicasio (3-3) to become the fourth third baseman with at least 1,500 RBIs, finishing with 1,501.

Mitch Moreland snapped a 1-for-27 skid with a solo home run in the fourth.

Four Texas relievers allowed four hits and a run with four strikeouts in four innings.

The “Yuuu” calls from a sellout crowd started early for Darvish, who last pitched in the big leagues on Aug. 9, 2014. He missed the rest of that season with right elbow inflammation, and ended up needing ligament reconstruction surgery after his only spring training appearance last year.

Darvish (1-0) had a 0.90 ERA in five rehab starts this month, culminating with an 87-pitch outing. He threw 81 against the Pirates, hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the first inning and displaying his usual array of breaking pitches, some as slow as 70 mph.

John Jaso had a leadoff single on Darvish’s second pitch before Andrew McCutchen struck out. The Pirates didn’t get another hit until Francisco Cervelli‘s sinking liner in front of rookie right fielder Nomar Mazara in the fifth.

No. 9 hitter Cole Figueroa ended Darvish’s shutout bid by pulling a hanging slider into right-center field for a single that scored Cervelli from second. Darvish then struck out Jaso for the second time to finish his outing.

Beltre’s homer just cleared the wall in center field after Prince Fielder‘s RBI groundout to score leadoff hitter Jurickson Profar, who had two hits filling in for suspended second baseman Rougned Odor. It was the second game of Odor’s seven-game ban.

SHORT HOPS

Joey Gallo, who had just one at-bat in his five-day stint, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room on the roster for Darvish. … Pirates lefty reliever Tony Watson came off the paternity list and pitched a perfect eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle planned to give 2B Josh Harrison the night off after he came out of the series opener early. He’s been battling an illness that kept him out of the lineup Thursday as well.

Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos is expected to start a rehab assignment Tuesday with Double-A Frisco. He’s been out since April 10 with a broken right forearm and could be activated as soon as he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 9.

UP NEXT

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-3, 4.30) has won his last four starts against the Rangers and is 5-1 with a save and a 2.89 ERA in nine career games against them, most of those with Minnesota. His last appearance against Texas was Sept. 10, 2013.

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 3.13) makes his team-high 11th start and has gone 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA in his past six starts. He threw six shutout innings in a 4-1 win over the Angels in his last start

Utley answers with slam, solo HR as Dodgers rout Mets 9-1

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NEW YORK (AP) After the New York Mets missed, Chase Utley connected twice.

Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing New York 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch – which certainly appeared to be his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year’s playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers’ bench to keep teammates calm – and later responded by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you. I think it’s fun,” said Utley, who has 19 RBIs this season, nine in the first two games of this series. “It kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit, makes you kind of dig down deeper.”

Asked if he thought Syndergaard delivered a purpose pitch, Utley said: “Possibly, but I understand it.”

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets’ 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Howie Kendrick and Corey Seager also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that hit him on the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings. The right-hander yielded two hits, both singles in the first, and stopped his three-game losing streak.

“Pretty impressive. You wouldn’t see too many other pitches staying in the game at that point,” Utley said.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets – and their fans – were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night; Utley played all four games without incident May 9-12 when the teams split a series in Los Angeles.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion told a pool reporter. “We can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”

Hallion said no warnings were issued before the series.

“We take each game individually,” he said when asked if last year’s playoff series played a role in the ejection. “We have to make a snap decision. We can’t think about, OK, well this guy did this or he did that in Game 6 of whatever. We don’t have enough time to think that way. We make a decision on what happens in the game.”

Collins said he had never before seen a pitcher get ejected without a warning.

“My argument was, nobody got hit,” Collins said. “There was a time when, in this game, where you had a shot and nothing happened, the ball went to the backstop. So that was kind of my argument.”

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

“It was just a pitch that got away from me. That’s all I got,” Syndergaard said. “I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better.”

Collins acknowledged he’s a little concerned Syndergaard might get suspended.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett’s first pitch of the sixth for a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, making it 6-0 with his 38th homer against the Mets.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

“We came together as a group,” Utley said. “We battled, and it was a good win.”

WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts vs. the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May – including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Mets’ Syndergaard ejected after throwing behind Utley

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NEW YORK — In a scene that has seemed inevitable since October, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been ejected for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since his late takeout slide in last year’s playoffs broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

New York was incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules on slides at bases this season. But the Mets had not attempted to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman’s back by a considerable margin.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting irate Mets manager Terry Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected.

Indians’ Brantley unsure of return from shoulder injury

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CLEVELAND — Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has no timetable for his return from the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the second time this season.

Brantley spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 14. He began the season on the DL following surgery for a torn right labrum in November. Brantley hit .231 with seven RBIs in 11 games before being shut down again.

“I wasn’t bouncing back quick enough to keep playing back-to-back games, which is very important,” he said. “I want to be healthy each and every day and I have to play at a high level. This is the major leagues. You have to be at the best of your ability and the highest health-wise you can be.”

Brantley, who received an anti-inflammatory shot in the shoulder two weeks ago, doesn’t think he returned from the surgery too soon.

“I was ready,” he said. “We talked about it. We had a great process laid out. Everything went smoothly. It was just a bump in the road.”

Brantley has been hitting off a tee but isn’t sure when he will begin taking swings in the batting cage. He is playing catch since he throws left-handed but wants to be cautious about resuming a hitting program.

“Surgery is nothing to play with,” he said. “You have to be smart and understand your body.”

Brantley visited Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed the surgery, in Wilmington, Delaware after he returned to the DL. An MRI showed no changes in the shoulder.

“He said everything checks out good, just make sure to take your time and we’ll see what happens from there,” Brantley said.

Brantley finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2014 when he hit .327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. He batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs last season.