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.

The Yankees release former prospect Slade Heathcott

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Slade Heathcott #71 of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait on February 27, 2016 at George M Steinbrenner Stadium  in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Yankees announced last night that they have given an unconditional release to outfielder Slade Heathcott. They needed room on the 40-man roster and he was seen as expendable. There is no indication that they’re going to try to re-sign him or anything. He’s just gone.

Heathcott was the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft and at one time was considered the second best prospect in the Yankees’ system. Injuries and decreased production as he climbed the minor league ladder took the shine off this particular apple, however. He had a nice little cup of coffee with New York last season, but he’s hitting a mere .230/.271/.310 at Triple-A this year in his second go-around.

Heathcott can play center field and has good tools, but he’s going to have to use them working for another organization.

Pete Rose says no one ever told him not to gamble on baseball anymore

Former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose poses while taping a segment for Miami Television News on the campus of Miami University, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Associated Press
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Pete Rose will soon be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame and have his number retired and all of that jazz. To mark the occasion, Cincinnati Magazine interviewed the Hit King. And, for, like, the 4.256th straight time, Rose shows that he’s in complete denial about why he was banned in 1989 and why he was not reinstated last year when Rob Manfred agreed to review his case:

In this time of limbo after the ban, did you worry about your legacy? I normally don’t ever worry about anything that I’m not in control of. I wasn’t in control of anything in that situation. I went through a period when I got suspended where I didn’t even go to the ballpark. It’s not because I didn’t want to. There were so many restrictions on me, I just didn’t want to put people through that. It didn’t feel good to me.

Sure he wasn’t in control of anything. He was a tiny boat, cast out onto the waves, left to drift in a sea of uncertainty and powerlessness.

But it gets better. Rose was asked about how he changed his life after his ban:

But you still bet on baseball, albeit legally. It seems like the commissioner’s office has taken issue with that fact. Have you considered not betting on baseball anymore? That’s a good point. You remember reading about Bart Giamatti telling me to reconfigure my life? OK, no one has ever told me—including Manfred, including Selig—what does that mean? I guess my point is, just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. I’m in control. Just tell me. If I want to bet on Monday Night Football, and that’s the way I enjoy my life, why is everybody so worried about that? I’m 75 years old, I have to be able to have some form of entertainment. I’m not betting out of my means. It’s not illegal. If you don’t want me to bet on baseball or anything else, just tell me.

If they told you that— I’d do it. Absolutely. But no one has ever explained “reconfigure your life.” I have taken responsibility for it. I have apologized for it. I have shown I’m sorry. But there again, no matter how many times you say you’re sorry, not everybody’s going to hear you. All I can do is imagine what they meant when they said reconfigure my life. And evidently, no one’s willing to tell me what that means.

So it was all a big misunderstanding. A man who was in his late 40s was banned for gambling on baseball and was told to straighten up yet he had no idea, for 26 years, that maybe it’d be a good idea for him to not gamble on baseball anymore in order to get back into the good graces of the folks who banned him. Damn, why did they pose such impossible riddles to him! If only he had a clue as to what sort of behavior would have improved his chances!

But really, guys: Rose is ready to stop betting on baseball. All you have to do is tell him. If he had known before now, well, we’d be having a TOTALLY different conversation, I’m sure.

Jose Fernandez plunked the Rays mascot

Raymond
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Nuke: “What are you doin’ out here? I’m cruisin’, man.”

Crash: “I want you to throw the next one at the mascot.”

Nuke: “Why? I’m finally throwin’ it where I wanna throw it.”

Crash: “Just throw it at the bull. Trust me.”

The Tampa Bay Rays’ mascot is not a bull — it’s this weird blue thing named Raymond — but apparently Crash Davis got to Marlins starter Jose Fernandez before yesterday’s Marlins-Rays game. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Fernandez, a Tampa native, plunked the Rays’ mascot, Raymond, while warming up in the bullpen before the game. Why?

“He was all over my business,” Fernandez said. “I’m trying to concentrate. It was a little change-up that came out of my hand. Just part of the game, man. This is a game, and I love to have fun.”

Raymond needs to learn to play the game the right way if he doesn’t want no-nonsense old schoolers like Fernandez putting him in his place. Reminds of how Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale used to bury one in Mr. Met’s ear on the regular. Guys like them don’t take no guff.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

MIAMI, FL - MAY 21: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the first inning of the game against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on May 21, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Marlins 9, Rays 1: Jose Fernandez struck out 12 in seven innings. After the game he said “it’s time for me to learn how to manage myself on the mound and learn how to pitch.” Wow, he’s doing all of this in ignorance? Just imagine how many dudes he’d strike out if he learned to pitch. It’s like Barry Allen in season 1 of “The Flash” when he still didn’t even know what he was doing but was still pretty impressive. I mean, look at Fernandez in the picture above. He even sorta looks like The Flash.

Astros 4, Orioles 2: George Springer hit two solo homers, but the real story was, once again, just how strikeout-tastic the Astros pitching staff was. Astros pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts on the night. That goes with their 18 strikeouts on Wednesday night and their 19 strikeouts on Tuesday to set a new major league record for strikeouts in a three-game series with 52. The New 52, as it were.

Pirates 8, Diamondbacks 3: Gerrit Cole hit a three-run homer but the Pirates blew the lead he gave them. Luckily Josh Harrison, who didn’t start because he was sick, came off the bench to hit  two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to give them back the lead for good. They’d add some insurance later. Always gotta be careful not to add too much insurance, though, as it may inspire Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray to bump you off. Or maybe Kathleen Turner and William Hurt.

Blue Jays 3, Yankees 1: J.A. Happ allowed one run over seven innings and notched his sixth win. He outdueled CC Sabathia who turned in his best outing of the season (7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 7K) but simply didn’t get the run support. Sabathia allowed one earned run in 20 innings in the month of May.

Nationals 2, Cardinals 1: Homers from Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa backed Joe Ross, who is quite quietly having a sweet season at the back end of the Nats’ rotation, boasting a 2.52 ERA in nine starts. OK, he’s probably not boasting. He seems like a fine young man who lets his actions speak rather than his words. That’s what my source tell me, anyway. My source is Joe Ross’ mom. I’m worried that she may be biased, however, so I’m using a second source: his grandma. I’m gonna get to the bottom of this Joe Ross character controversy, that I can promise you.

Rockies 8, Red Sox 2: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s hitting streak ends at 29. And with that, Joe DiMaggio cracks open the bottle of champagne he saves for the end of every hitting streak of 25 games or more. Mercury Morris taught him that trick and you can never go wrong with doing something Mercury Morris thinks is cool. Trevor Story hit his 13th homer.Carlos Gonzalez and Dustin Garneau went deep too. Clay Buchholz‘s ERA is now 6.35.

Brewers 6, Braves 2Ryan Braun and Jonathan Villar each homered as the Brewers swept the Braves. They have three wins in Turner Field in three games this year. Atlanta has two wins in Turner Field in 22 games this year.

White Sox vs. Royals — POSTPONED: I don’t care if it rains

(Let’s all go to the bar)
I don’t care if there’s a hurricane
(Let’s all go to the bar)
And I don’t care if I’m the one to blame
(Let’s all go to the bar)