The Question

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

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My video setup downstairs has been borked all week thanks to a basement flood. I think we’re all fixed now, but there are some little problems with it, so HBT Daily continues to be on hiatus.

But never fear! Even though I started the Twitter questions thing for the HBT Daily segments, I have way more fun with them in written form, so we continue to go with Charles Victor Szasz on the right hand side and your questions down below.  Ready …. Break!

Q: How did you feel about the “Lets Go Pirates” girl? … Are you training Mookie to be the next Pirates Girl?

That was from two different questioners. For those who don’t know, this is her.  I’ll just say that there’s nothing wrong with a little exuberance among the young.  But just a little, please. I do like that she was doing that in hostile territory, however. Lotta moxie in that girl.  As for Mookie, so far her exuberance at baseball games has been limited to taunting Shelley Duncan and eating hot dogs. Not that either of those are bad things.

Q: Is there a class in law school more boring than professional responsibility? Boy I hope not…

I loved professional responsibility. Probably helped that my professor was a retired navy JAG who liked to drop F-bombs all the time.  Taxation was way worse.  My tax prof. actually thought the tax law was dynamic and spent his days in sorrow that no one agreed with his assessment.

Q: If you come to Kansas City for the All-Star Game, how likely is a fan to be able to exchange a beer for a handshake?

Hell, I’ll give you a handshake for free. But if you want to buy me a beer I’m not gonna break my arm trying to stop you.  And please, let us not overstate the magnitude of my celebrity.  Since I began this gig I have been approached in public exactly twice with “are you Craig Calcaterra?” Once was at a White Sox spring training game back in March, which made me feel kind of cool.  The other time was in my local supermarket, with the approacher being the mother of one of the kids in my son’s kindergarten class who only knew me through the celebrity of my son, such as it is.

Q: Who would you rather have a drink with, Satan or Francoeur?

Just to be clear: I don’t hate Francoeur and don’t think he’s evil. I loathe the Francoeur industrial complex that surrounds him wherever he goes, facts be damned, but I don’t think he’s evil.  That said, you have to figure that Satan tells WAY better stories after having a nip or two than Jeffy does, and you figure that he knows all the best bars. So Satan it is.

Q: I’ve never seen someone call for more bunts than Fredi Gonzalez. Truly the King of Bunts.

This was not a question. But it was a statement of truth.

Q: Wife and I are planning a trip to Pittsburgh and Cleveland the last weekend of the season. Chances we see two pennant races? 

I think the chances that you see two are almost zero and the chances you see one is pretty dim.  I said it before, but I think Pittsburgh is going to fade.  I suspect Cleveland will too, but the AL Central is possessed of a far more profound mediocrity than the NL Central, so they may still have a puncher’s chance.

Q: If you were Mayday Malone (and for the love of all things bourbon, not a recovering alcoholic), Diane or Rebecca?

Good question. Maybe a great one.  On the one hand, the 1980s version of Kirstie Alley was pretty smokin’ hot.  On the other hand, the Diane Chambers character was pretty much crazy, and part of me suspects that it would be good-crazy in the bedroom.  I fear if I say anymore I’m going to enter Bill Simmons territory, though, so let’s just leave it there.

Q:  What are your thoughts on Continental Drift?

It’s a liberal conspiracy.

Q: What are the chances The Giants sign Beltran to a longer term deal?

Probably better than anyone else’s.  They have money and can give him a position to play and are historically not afraid of giving deals to older players.  Word on the street was that Boras wanted Beltran traded to San Francisco for precisely that reason.

Q: Bourbon and baseball on television have helped me through microfracture surgery.

Again, this wasn’t a question, but a tweet sent in my direction by a reader.  The way I see it, if Tommy John gets a surgery named after him after it helped him with his health, life and career, I should get the bourbon and baseball treatment named after me.

Q: Do you have a favorite American League team?

The 1984 Tigers?  Nah, I don’t. My Tigers love is purely historical. The post-1987 versions of the team mean nothing to me.  There are some AL teams I like more than others for no real good reason, but nothing approaching a favorite status.

Q: It’s ok that we all absolutely despise the Yankees, right?

Absolutely. And I’m sure that they and their fans don’t care a lick if we do.

Q: Would your rather be a beer snob or a bourbon snob?

Snobs of any variety — throw in wine too — are awful, but I see no reason why one can’t enjoy all of the divine spirits God has seen fit to give us.  But really, if you go on about how awesome your Olde ObscuraBrau IPA is and how it has ruined you from ever drinking a run-of-the-mill lager, I’m probably going to get annoyed at you fairly quickly.

Q: Is it time to get rid of the saves stat?

Well, we’ll never get rid of it. But it is certainly long past the time when we should be ignoring it.

Q: What was your favorite level on Sonic 2?

My roommates from my sophomore year in college got this and played it incessantly. I chose to drink beer, carouse with women and get excellent grades.  Strangely enough, my post-college life has been pretty awesome.

Q: What do you think of Rob Neyer’s point that there’s no replay definitively showing Meals blew the call?

We’re all entitled to our opinion.  I happen to disagree with Rob’s definition of “definitively” here.

Q: Which happens first: expanded replay, or the Athletics moving to San Jose?

Given that they’re both in a Bud Selig-created committee right now, I expect that the Sun will go supernova before either of those things happen.

Q: This is being given away next Friday. Where will you display yours?

Next to that picture I have of the questioner with a big X through his face, on the table by my copy of “Catcher in the Rye” and love letters to Jodie Foster.

Q: Why Willie Bloomquist?

Because Yuniesky Betancourt already has a job in Milwaukee?

Q: Instead of instant replay, how about do-overs?

As long as we don’t call them Mulligans.

Q: Bacon. Greatest man made invention ever: Fact, or Scientific Fact?

I love bacon as much as the next guy, but I think people routinely overstate its awesomeness.  If you measured by VORBM (Value Over Replacement Breakfast Meat) you’ll find that it’s nowhere nearly as far ahead of sausage as, say, pie is over cake in VOBD (Value Over Baked Dessert).  It’s great, but it has some serious competition.

Q: Where do you think B.J. Upton will end up?

Long term: dead, as will we all.  Oh, grim mortality. Why dost thou insist upon thyself so forcefully!

Q: Thoughts on the new Aquaman?

This questioner happens to co-author a blog with the joker who asked me about the Hrbek-Gant bobblehead.  Sorry readers, but going forward you shall no longer be presented with links to stories written by The Platoon Advantage as a result of their insolence.

As for Aquaman: I think it’s funny that the whole excerpt of that comic is designed to combat the ridicule of Aquaman prevalent in the general discourse.  Batman may be rebooted from time to time, but no one has ever had to apologize for Batman.

Q: Favorite WKRP episode? I mean, can you beat the Turkey Drop?

WKRP — perhaps the best show ever — is most commonly praised for the Turkey Drop episode, but I think that, like bacon, people overdo it.  There were other fantasitc episodes besides the Turkey Drop.  How about the one where Johnny and Venus drank with the state trooper in the booth in order to show the effects of alcohol? And of course, the Scum of the Earth episode was most righteous. And yes, I know that people under 35 or 40 have no idea what I’m talking about.

Q: What is the best way to eat Cincinnati chili? 3-way, coneys, or Skyline dip?

I’ve been in Ohio for nearly 20 years and I have to say that I still don’t really understand or appreciate Cincinnati-style chili, be it Skyline, Gold Star or the stuff people make at home.  I don’t begrudge the people who like it, but chili should be chunkier and sassier than that. It’s very much like my take on Chicago-style pizza.  It’s a fine product for what it is, but it’s not what I’m looking for when I’m wanting pizza.  Same with the Cincy chili.

Q: How do magnets work?

Miracles. Magic everywhere in this bitch.  Are you a believer in miracles? Do you have time for the miracles?

Q: If you could go back in time and have Jerry Meals screw up one call, what would it be?

I’d have him take Jim Leyritz’s homer in the 1996 World Series off the board. Maybe he calls it foul. Maybe he says that Leyrtiz had called time first.  Maybe it’s a pine tar thing. But if that hadn’t happened, I’d probably be a better man for it right now.

Q: Do idiot Braves fans hate Jason Heyward as much as idiot Phils fans hate Domonic Brown?

I know a number of idiot Braves fans, but their m.o. is completely opposite that of idiot Phillies fans. Rather than irrational hate, they’re pretty big on irrational love.  I mean, I love Heyward too, but the guy certainly has some sort of problems going on right now.  Maybe you just play him and hope it works itself out, but don’t sit there and tell me that something isn’t amiss with the dude, ya know?

Q: On a scale of 1-10 how excited are you for the Dark Knight Rises?

My excitement meter for all things Batman-related goes to 11.  It’s one more excited, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be all excited at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your Batman excitement. Where can you go from there? Where? Nowhere. What I do is, if I need that extra push over the cliff, you know what I do? Put it up to eleven.

That’s all we got this week.  Be on the Twitter next Wednesday evening for the next round of questions.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
Getty Images
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.