The Question

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

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I asked questions last night, you answered them. Let’s go:

Q: Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

Great. One of my kids has a Twitter account now.  Really, when you’re six, that joke never, ever, ever gets old.

Q: Why does Tony LaRussa not age?

His home is built over a Lazarus Pit.  True story.

Q: Why do we, and MLB, care so much about gambling and other vices, but not so much about drunk driving?

For the same reason we care about consenting adults sending text messages to other consenting adults yet don’t seem to care about them failing to support their children.  It’s easy to yell ah-ha! at something some moralizing busybodies have been moralizing about forever, but it’s much harder to look at behaviors that are truly, yet less-salaciously destructive because it brings up all manner of difficult questions about personal responsibility and the messages sent by society regarding what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior.

Q: How far in are you on “Battlestar Glactica,” and are you a Starbuck or Boomer man?

I just finished the second episode of Season 2 (“Valley of Darkness”).  It’s definitely getting into a groove for me.  And Starbuck. No question. It’s not even close. I wish I was one tenth as cool as she is.

Q: Have you ever seen a better whiskies list than this

That’s from The Happy Gnome in St. Paul, Minnesota. And it’s a really, really impressive list.  I saw better bourbon selections in Kentucky, obviously, but I can’t recall ever seeing a whiskey list as comprehensive as that one is overall anywhere. Road. Trip.

Q: Tony La Russa, Phillies fans, Arod…you gotta shoot one, marry one, and hump one….ready? Go.

I’m not answering because I always found the shoot/marry/screw thing to be kind of offensive. More for the kill part than anything else.  Just my own sensibilities, nothing personal to the questioner. But I did want to throw this out there as evidence that HBT readers have a fairly good lock on my preoccupations these days.

Q:  What are your thoughts on ”The More You Ignore Me the Closer I get?” A sincere love song, stalker anthem, or something in between?

For those unfamiliar. I’ve always thought of it as a musical equivalent to “Lolita.”  A horrifying premise expressed in the most beautiful way possible.  But yeah, this is a stalker song, right? Has to be.

Q: I’m pretty sure Pearl Jam is the greatest band ever. Your thoughts?

Pearl Jam broke big right when I was starting college so, theoretically, I should be on this train too. But I’m not. I like ’em fine enough. Own a couple of albums. Don’t listen to them that often. They’re just a band to me.  As far as greatest band ever, it’s hard to beat the Stones’ peak of Beggars Banquet through Exile. The Pixies top Pearl Jam by every reasonable measure as far as I’m concerned. The Beatles go without saying, though there are days where I appreciate them more than I enjoy them if that makes any sense.  The Kinks are criminally underrated. Zeppelin is somewhat overrated, but more in the Derek Jeter sense in that they’re obviously Hall of Famers, yet people still overstate their value.  This conversation could go on forever, really.

Q: Who made out better in the Ubaldo trade?

I’ll let you know in 2015.

Q:  If you could only choose one pitcher to start a game vs. the aliens to save mankind, which Justin Verlander would u choose?

My stock answer on the game vs. the aliens thing has been Roy Halladay for a couple of years now. But yeah, I think I may have to change it to Verlander for this year.  God help those aliens if they try to lay a bunt down on him.

Q:  How many questions do you get for this each week? And how many do you read and just shake your head at?

I don’t count, but I think I answer something close to 75% of them.  If I don’t answer them it’s usually because some other question already touched on that area, not because they’re just straight stupid. Though, yeah, some are just straight stupid.  But I still enjoy reading them privately even if I don’t answer them here, so don’t pull your punches people.

Q: Your least favorite team of all time (any sport)…. ’91 Twins?

Nah. In fact, no baseball team ranks high on that kind of list. I get mad briefly at teams like the ’91 Twins or ’97 Marlins when they beat the Braves in frustrating or unjust fashion, but that doesn’t last. I’m way more mad at Lonnie Smith, Kent Hrbek and Eric Gregg individually than I am at any team.  Baseball teams are full of mostly likable guys.

But if we get away from baseball I can probably name a few. I won’t dwell on it too much because negativity isn’t good for the soul, but let’s just say that just about every University of Michigan football team between 1991 and, oh, 2000 is on my list. And, now that I think about it, several of the Ohio State teams of that period are on the same list for very different though complementary reasons.

Q: Yes, I’ve been working on questions all day… What else am I gonna do at work on a Wednesday?

This is why we’re heading toward a double-dip recession, people.

Q:  If you could match two announcers from different teams for a game who would it be?

Either Vin Scully with the color guy who works with Bob Uecker or Uecker with the color guy who works with Scully.  And yes, I am quite aware that neither of those two work with color guys.

Q: Why do you hate the Phillies?

Because I don’t want their fans to be happy.

Q: Who was a more valuable commodity to Ted Turner in the late 80s/early 90s. Dale Murphy or Ric Flair?

I think both of them had way more value in the early-to-mid 80s, but point taken. Flair, by the way.  People continued to watch Braves games even after Murphy fell off a cliff.  I question whether anyone would have watched NWA/WCW wrestling during Flair’s heyday if he weren’t there. I mean, I loved “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, you loved “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, we all loved “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant. But I don’t think he and Dusty Rhodes and whoever the hell else they had out there would have been worth watching if they didn’t have to contend with a certain limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun. Wooo!

Q: My baby cried when I turned on the Indians/Red Sox game. Think it’s cuz he hates the DH?

Babies are good judges of character.

Q: I just umpired a lawyer’s co-ed softball league. Wow. No question. Just wow.

Story time!  Back in 1999 my firm played on a rec softball league. One day we had a game and invited my new secretary — her first day! — to come play with us.  She did.  When we got to the game she was really nervous. When the guys from the other team kept coming up to her and saying “hey, Angie, how are ya!” and “hey Angie, you work with these guys now? How about that!” she got even more nervous.  She never played with us again.  Flash forward a year later and, as a result of all manner of complicated things, we find out that Angie had spent time in prison for fraud and a bunch of other stuff. She had just been released from the halfway house a couple of weeks before that softball game.  The other team: prison guards from the Ohio Reformatory for Women, all of whom knew Angie quite well, and all of whom she feared might blow her cover (her resume was full of lies, of course).  In other news, the background checks for new hires were stepped up considerably after that.

Q: Why do the Rockies have the annoying dinosaur as a mascot?

Because it makes no sense to sell plush mountain ranges in the team gift shop.

Q: Baseball players – long pants or high socks? Or should they bring back the stirrups?

I like high socks and stirrups, but it’s been so long since that was regular as opposed to gimmicky and nostalgic that I should probably let it go.  I really hate it when the fasten the pants below the shoes, Barry Bonds-style, though. God I hate that.

Q: Do you think it’s the right move to start Strasburg in September?

Eh, I can’t decide. My first impulse was to think that they should just let him rehab in low key settings until next spring, but I’m no medical or pitching expert and that’s just all gut feeling.  If he’s ready to pitch, hell, let him pitch. Better his arm fall apart now than next March.

Q: How painful is it to watch the Phillies dominate like this while watching your Braves fade?

Not painful at all.  I’d rather things were different, but getting all emotionally bound up in the exploits of professional athletes is the short road to a miserable existence.  Keep your anger or glee from a sporting event with you for the rest of the day. Maybe let it carry over into the next day or two if it’s really profound.  But people, let it freakin’ go before too long. Love sports, but don’t let them control you. That’s just sick.

Q: What is the funniest joke you have ever heard?

I can’t repeat it, but here’s a video about it. I can’t repeat the second funniest joke I’ve ever heard either, but I can give you the punchline: “Rectum? Damn near killed ’em!”

Q: Does hairspray really take out inkstains from clothes?

Why on Earth would I keep hairspray around?

Q: Are there justifiable reasons for MLB to not tell us about umpire discipline?

I can’t think of any. Baseball has yet to offer a good one.  If they have one, I’d really love to hear it.

Q: Why is Rob Neyer obsessed with post offices?

I shouldn’t share this because Rob told it to me in confidence, but I’ll do it anyway: Rob’s parents were killed by a post office in Crime Alley when he was a little boy. Right as they left “The Mark of Zorro” late show.  He’s the hero the baseball blogosphere deserves, but he’s not the one it needs right now.

Q: In a bar fight, which current MLB manager do you want to have your back?

Jack McKeon. I just got a feeling about him. Besides, I think he had hand-to-hand combat training before being deployed in the Spanish American War, so he probably has the skills.

Q: You inspired me to get The Dickson Baseball Dictionary. What’s your favorite word or phrase you’ve come across?

Too many to count, but I’m kind of liking “knuckle duster,” meaning a pitch in on the hands. I’m sure La Russa loves it too.

That’s all we got time for today. On vacation next week, but come back in two weeks for more Twitter Question Time.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.