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

20 Comments

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.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

Getty Images
1 Comment

It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.