The Question

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

31 Comments

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.

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
1 Comment

Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
4 Comments

The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
2 Comments

Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
1 Comment

The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.