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

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Q: Worse retread for the Braves — Frenchy or Melky?

This was just one of a half dozen questions asking me — or rather, baiting me — into speculating about whether that mystery right-handed bat the Braves are reportedly close to acquiring is Jeff Francoeur, and exactly how I’d feel about that.  Well, here’s how I’d feel about that.

Q: So, forget “pistols at dawn”… Hamilton vs Burr, steel cage match… Who wins this time?

Burr again. Because when Hamilton is about to win via his feared “Hamiltonian Hammer” submission move, Burr receives illicit outside assistance from Harmon Blennerhassett, tipping the match in his favor.  Pfun Pfact: the junior high school I went to was named after that guy. Seriously, a guy who bankrolled a plot to commit treason against the United States government, assisted by the guy who shot and killed a Founding Father, is the namesake of a junior high school!  I played football. We were called the Bobcats. We should have been the Traitors.

Q: Is ketchup an acceptable condiment for scrambled eggs?

Lots of people do it. Of course, lots of people used to treat illness by putting leeches on their body, but that didn’t mean it was the right thing to do.

Q: What is the most boring robot in the history of film and television?

Did something happen in robot news last night? Because this was one of two TV-robot questions I was asked, the other being whether I preferred Robby the Robot or the robot from “Lost in Space.”  Whatever the case, I think the most boring robot ever was Twiki from the “Buck Rogers” show. Any time not devoted to Erin Gray or Markie Post on that show was wasted time.

Q: What do you think of the inverted scrolling in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion?

I’m led to believe by Mac disciples that this is something I should care about.  Then again, I long stopped keeping track of things Mac disciples cared a lot about.  Apple makes some cool products, but collectively, Mac fanboys are the boys who cried “awesome!”

Q: Is Vance Worley the best pitcher ever? Or just the best pitcher right now?

I never cease to be amazed — and pleasantly amused — at how excited Phillies fans can get over Phillies players.  Worley may not be the best example of this — he has a lot of promise — but last year they all fell in love with Mike Sweeney because he smiled kind of nice once.  If they called up a prospect and he managed to get off the jetway at the airport without tripping and falling, they’d crow about him as the greatest thing since sliced bread.  It’s sweet, actually.

Q: What player should the Pirates focus most on acquiring?

Ralph Kiner.

Q: What are your thoughts on Norway?

A scourge which must be eradicated if free men ever wish to flourish.

Q: When will the Tigers ever be truly good?

When they eliminate the second half of the baseball seasons.

Q: Can the Twins win a game against the Yankees in the postseason? Also, why did I go to law school?

No, and because your law school basically lied to you when it told you about the number of its graduates who were employed within six months of graduation, masking the fact that in this day and age young J.D.s are accepting temp jobs and working at restaurants and stuff because the legal profession is finally starting to realize that it’s not the army and that it can’t and shouldn’t accept thousands of new recruits every year as if the industry were in some perpetual expansion.  But the law schools can’t tell you that because then they wouldn’t be able to extract $100,000 or more from you.  Enjoy the bar exam next week, however!

Q: How deep were you in the early’90s David Justice hype?

Not too deep. I appreciated his talents but didn’t think he was some sort of inner-circle great or anything.  I looked around and saw guys like Bonds playing and knew that there was a whole other level which Justice was not likely to ever achieve.

Q: Where would Ryan Dempster pitch in the 2003 Cubs rotation?

Well, Shawn Estes got 28 starts on that team while sporting a 5.73 ERA, so I suppose Dempster could slide in nicely at the five-spot.

Q: Jim Caple is rating every stadium in his column. What are your favorite stadiums in baseball?

AT&T Park is my favorite. Convenient since San Francisco is my favorite U.S. city.  I also loved Dodger Stadium when I went there. Progressive Field is fantastic, as is Camden Yards.

Q: Why does Angelina Jolie feed crickets to her children

Because beautiful women can get away with absolutely anything they want. They’re probably a lot better for her kids than chicken nuggets, though, so let’s not hate.

Q: “Storage Wars” or “Storage Hunters?”

See, this is why I don’t watch TV anymore.

Q: What is the worst TV show you love to watch? 

Like I said, I really don’t watch much TV. I watch ballgames and I watch entire series of decent things on Netflix Instant while I workout, but apart from “Breaking Bad” I don’t watch any currently-produced shows. This is not a snobby, anti-TV point I’m making here, mind you. I used to veg out all the time and probably still would if the deluge of reality TV and other garbage hadn’t turned me off TV and onto other things to do with my evenings a few years ago.  I realize now that there are some good shows being made, but I just don’t have it in me to get in the habit.

I will tell you my all-time guiltiest pleasure, though: in the summer of 1994 there was some short-lived nighttime soap called “Hotel Malibu.” It maybe had 6 episodes or so on ABC.  I watched all six and got mad when it wasn’t picked up. I realized at the time it was awful, but I didn’t care. Probably helped that I had just broken my collar bone when I discovered it and couldn’t do much except for stare at the TV all day. And that was when I lived in a campus apartment and didn’t have cable, so there were only four channels.

Q:  If the Reds trade for Shields, do they trade Yonder Alonso to get him?

The Rays certainly ask for him, right?

Q: What do you think is the top-to-bottom best looking movie cast of all-time?

Great question.  Gut answer with no thinking: the Clooney version of “Ocean’s 11.”  I mean, Julia Roberts is probably the ugliest one in that bunch. And yes, I am aware Elliott Gould has a major role.

Q: Which is better at getting you emotionally involved in the characters, Star Wars, Firefly/Serenity, or (the new) Battlestar Galactica?

I’d say Firefly. Really, the only interesting character in Star Wars was Han Solo, and I’ve gotten more value in imagining what kind of adventures he could have gotten into than anything George Lucas actually did with him (credit Harrison Ford for everything Han Solo was).  Battlestar may make me care more later, but for as much as I like the show overall so far (I’m 10 episodes in), I’m having a hard time getting into any of the characters besides Gaius, and I think that his schtick is going to wear thin soon.  That leaves Firefly.  It only had a few episodes — and when you really scrutinize those episodes, you realize that they all could have come from 1960s or 1970s dramas — but I really did love the characters.

Q: Best show you saw at The 9:30 Club?

That’s the D.C. rock club I mentioned in a post the other day. My days of going there were between 1996 and 1998, so it was a while back.  I didn’t go to a ton of shows there, but I enjoyed seeing Frank Black there during his “Cult of Ray” tour.  I saw Beck there too and had a blast. Most fun I ever had at that place though was for Kula Shaker.  I would have bet you a million bucks after that show that they would have been bigger here than they ever got. Then again, I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of anything when it comes to music, now or 15 years ago. The worst act, by far, I’ve ever seen was at 9:30 also: Rasputina. Oh dear god, that was awful.

Q: Any update yet on who might be some of the player on the list of players to be named later involved in the K Rod deal?

Benjamin Franklin, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

Q: Who’s hotter: Troi, Uhura, Dax, or Pedroia?

Star Trek women are never properly described as “hot,” I don’t believe. Some of them are very nice to look at, but it is pretty clear that most of their lines were written by men who didn’t understand anything about women.  Which was fine, because neither did the audience.

Q: What under the radar player that might get moved by the deadline?

Albert Pujols. Crap, really, I don’t know.  I also suspect that if I said a name it would pop up on some rumors site. Not that my word means so much, but because the threshold for what constitutes a rumor has gotten so low these days.

Q: Hideki Matsui just smacked his 500th home run. Is he the most successful Asian MLB player thus far?

Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got somethin to say, but nothin comes out when they move their lips; just a bunch of gibberish, and motherf***ers act like they forgot about Ichiro.

Q: Did Nats made a mistake firing Riggleman?

They did not fire Riggleman. He quit.

Q: How does one get so much snark in them? Genes? Experience? What’s the secret?

You grow up in a house where wisecracks are more common than hugs. Which, in my experience, was way more fun.

Q: Are the the three Hall of Fame inductees — Blyleven, Alomar, and Gillick — on the same footing? Or should we say one deserved in more than others?

Deserves got nothing to do with it. Once you’re past the voting threshold, they’re all Hall of Famers. That said, Alomar would have a way better basis for complaining if he was on the outside looking in.

Q: There was a Brad Clontz reference in HBT this week. Do you have an all-time favorite non-descript reliever?

Wait, I didn’t write the Brad Clontz thing. And frankly I’m shocked that one of the other HBT guys would reach for Clontz. Shocked in a good way. Brad friggin’ Clontz!

Q: Why in the world would the Phillies trade Dom Brown for three months of Beltran as other writers have suggested?

I can’t see why. Tells you more about the writers than it does about any potential trade.

Q: First team to get a new stadium: A’s or Dodgers?

The A’s, but I have no idea where it will be.

Q: How do you feel mortgaging your children’s future relationships for their obsession of Star Wars now?

I don’t worry about the girl. Women who like sci-fi stuff are some of the coolest women you’ll ever meet, and they tend to do pretty well socially.  I’ll admit, though, I fear for the boy’s future. I was able to keep my geekdom closeted for much of my adolescence, but I fear Carlo is going to let his nerd flag fly and will thus be living with his mother and me until he’s 40.

Q: With August and September fast approaching, how excited are you for the upcoming malty goodness of fall beers? 

It will be nice. I have a hard time drinking really malty hoppy things when it’s a million degrees out.

Q:  What fielder would you like to see make a pitching cameo in a blow out or extra innings game?

Furcal. I haven’t watched him for a while, but I assume his arm still rocks.

Q: How underrated is Futurama? What’s your favorite cartoon and charter?

I fear it’s on the “so often referred to as underrated that it’s starting to get overrated” track, though it’s not there yet.  I assume you mean animated cartoon. If not, it’s Steve Dallas from “Bloom County.”  If it’s animated, I’ll go with old school Simpsons (through 1999 or so) and Lionel Hutz.  And it’s just a coincidence that they’re both lawyers.

Q: What World Series moment best captures the feeling of your days as a lawyer?

When Clemens threw the broken bat barrel at Piazza.  I spent about 11 years with that same “what in the hell is happening?” look on my face that Piazza had at that moment.

That’s all for this week, folks. Talk to you next Wednesday night!

Astros exemplify the player-unfriendly bent of analytics

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Even as recently as a decade ago, Sabermetrics was a niche interest among baseball fans. As various concepts began to gain acceptance in the mainstream, players slowly began to accept them as well. Players like Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke were hailed as examples of a new breed of player — one who marries his athleticism with the utilization of analytics. This year, much was made of certain players’ data-driven adjustments, including Daniel Murphy and J.D. Martinez. Both had great seasons as a result of focusing more on hitting more fly balls instead of ground balls and line drives.

Statistics can clearly benefit players. They can also be used against them, and not just by opposing players. The Astros, who are in the World Series for the first time since 2005, are a great example of this. The Astros spent a few years rebuilding after a complete overhaul of the front office, which included bringing in analytically-fluent Jeff Luhnow as GM after the 2011 season. That overhaul instilled so much confidence that, in 2014, Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter predicted that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. He’s only four Astros wins away from being proven correct.

The Astros’ front office, though, took advantage of its players at various times throughout the process. Their success is owed, in part, to exploiting its players. On Twitter, user @chicken__puppet chained a few tweets together exemplifying this:

At its core, analytics is about optimization: getting the most bang for your buck. If you read Moneyball, you know this. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) quickly became synonymous with the field and $/WAR was a natural next step. Sabermetrics defaulted to ownership’s perspective, so highly-paid players who performed poorly were scorned. Cheap players who performed well were lauded.

It is no mere coincidence that once most front offices installed analytics departments, teams stopped handing out so many outrageous contracts to free agent first baseman/DH types. Instead, teams focused on signing their young players to long-term contract extensions to buy out their arbitration years ahead of time, ostensibly saving ownership and the team boatloads of money. Teams began to pay close attention to service time as well. Service time determines when a player becomes eligible for arbitration and free agency, so teams that are able to finagle their players’ service time can potentially delay that player’s free agency by a year. The Cubs tried to do this with third baseman Kris Bryant in 2015, as Craig wrote about.

There is a very real ethical component to covering and being a fan of Major League Baseball, despite the common plea to separate sports from politics. The Astros and Cubs aren’t the only ones exploiting their players; the Angels, for example, made some odd personnel choices earlier this season that happened to allow them to avoid paying some players incentive bonuses. Every front office, in one way or another, games the system because the system is set up to benefit ownership first and players second. And if the likes of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa can be taken advantage of so freely and openly, what hope does anyone else have?

Fans have been conditioned to group players and owners together as one group of rich people. In reality, the player earning $30 million has more in common with the office worker making $35,000 a year than with team owners. When fans hear about Correa making $507,500 instead of $550,000, or about free agent who wants a nine-figure contract, they wonder why he had the nerve to ask for so much money in the first place. We praise players, like Cliff Lee, who “leave money on the table.” Both the player and that fan, by virtue of existing and participating in this system, are locked in an eternal battle with those who cut their paychecks. Regardless of salary differences, the player deserves to benefit from the fruits of his labor as much as the office worker. Part of being a baseball fan should also include rooting for the players’ financial success and not just the owners’.

Praising the Astros for being smart and savvy will only create more incentive for other front offices to mimic these unethical behaviors. The whole theme of the World Series shouldn’t be about smart, analytically-inclined teams reaching the summit; it should in part be about teams getting ahead with a multitude of exploitative practices against their players.