The Question

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

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After a week off of the old Twitter questions, let’s see what ya got for me:

Q: Grosser habit: nail chewing or spitting?

Spitting, by far. Nail chewing ain’t great, but it suggests inner turmoil for which I have some bit of empathy. Spitting just means you’re freaking rude and gross.

Q: Can you think of an crafty righties?

I can’t think of anyone being called that, but right-handers have to be crafty, right?  Guys with no velocity who get dudes out for reasons that are neither clear nor replicable by other, similarly talented righties? Freddy Garcia has to be a crafty righty, no?

Q: Will there be a new CBA by the World Series?

I can’t imagine that, if for no other reason than Selig and company don’t like news to interfere with the playoffs and the playoffs start in a little over a month. In reality, though, they’re just not there yet. If I had to guess, I’d say that they’ll have it sewn up by Christmas, though. Maybe even at the Winter Meetings in early December, so they can all have a big “ha-ha-ha, look at our labor harmony, other leagues” party.

Q: What have you been doing the past week?

This week? Working. Last week: I took the kids up to Traverse City, Michigan to play on beaches in front of crystal-clear waters and wonder why in the hell, when I can live anywhere on the planet with the job I have, I choose to live in suburban Columbus, Ohio.

Q: Please summarize the bourbon experience of your vacation?

Kind of lacking, actually. For reasons that are complicated but which involved the most inconsiderately-timed death from cancer imaginable (the nerve of some people), I ended up taking the vacation with just the kids and I, with the wife staying back home. Contrary to the persona I cultivate on the interwebs, I don’t typically sit and drink brown liquor by myself in quantity. Well, at least if I’m not watching a ballgame.  So while I did take a bottle of Johnny Drum with me to the vacation condo, I only had a tiny nip each night after the kids went to bed. And then I went to bed, usually by 10:30 or so.  Can’t stop Dad. You can only hope to contain him.

Q: Vin Scully excluded, who is your favorite TV and radio announcers?

I like Uecker on the radio. Krukow and Kuiper are great on TV, but I don’t watch enough Giants games to really get a full dose of them. Same goes for Scully for that matter. Len Kasper, doing Cubs games, is a guy I like a whole hell of a lot too, and I’m not just saying that because he’s an HBT reader. He should be doing national games for FOX or ESPN or whoever gets the rights to broadcast ballgames the next time they’re up for bid.

Q: How do you live with yourself?

With healthy amounts of self-loathing and self-medication.

Q: Best music video ever… Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, or something else?

Sledgehammer may be the worst thing that happened to music videos ever.  Perhaps the single-biggest “distract-the-viewer-from-the-actual-song” video in history. I really wish I was able to listen to Sledgehammer without the video dominating my consciousness, because I’m genuinely curious to hear if Gabriel’s intention — to take off on some sort of Memphis soul thing — was as misguided in practice as it seems in theory. All I can do now when I listen to that song now is think of animated fruit.

Oh, best video ever: “Bastards of Young” by the Replacements. And if you disagree, well, you’re wrong.

Q: Now that draft picks are signed and all, who makes a WS first: Pirates, Rockies, Nats or D-Backs?

You’re asking the guy who thought the Cubs would win the Central this year and who, as late as August 2010, thought that the Giants were doomed? Eh, screw it: the Dbacks.

Q: I just filed my first SEC report – what’s the proper way to celebrate…head in the oven or toe to the shotgun?

Look, the Southeastern Conference is depressing, I realize that. All of those people with nothing else in their life except college football, using their achievement in that one area to compensate for so many other faults. But it’s no reason to think about taking your life, son.  Or did you mean securities law?  If the latter, I’d suggest a quick acting poison. You can never trust gas or bullets.

Q: If you could design an unlikely triple play, what form would it take?

I’d like to see a lazy fly ball to left turn into a triple play when two baserunners simultaneously believe that there were two outs in an inning when, in fact, there were none.

Q: What do you feel did the Articles of Confederation in?

Has to be the way it hamstrung foreign policy. Specifically the Jay-Gardoqui Treaty which onerous ratification requirements ultimately scuttled.  I mean, how much better off would we have been if we gave up rights to use the Mississippi River to the Spaniards for 30 years? Leagues better, I say. Leagues.

Q: While most people think Ryan Howard is overpaid, doesn’t the fact that they can afford it and that it raised price for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder justify it?

Pop quiz, hot shot: the store is going to raise the price of a can of soda to eight dollars. You can still swing that, I’m sure. And to make you feel better, your neighbors have to pay the same eight dollars for their juice, beer and coffee. That make it OK?

Q: Are you considering changing your name to Calcarerra?

This after my name was mangled on a Philly radio show the other day. On which I wasn’t appearing, or else they would have had a producer get it right beforehand, which they always do.  Doesn’t bother me at all. I have a pain in the butt last name, and I’m happy that it was simply being mentioned, even if it was mispronounced. Especially because it was mentioned in annoyance by people who think Ryan Howard is the best hitter in baseball.

Q: Say something bad about Jim Thome.

He’s a horrible break dancer.

Q: Should there be instant replay of instant replay?

I thought about it for a minute after that Billy Butler home run call last night, but I’m ultimately against it because I’m pretty sure that’s how SkyNet became self-aware.

Q: Hey Norm! If you were a hotdog… and you were starving… would you eat yourself?

I know I would. I’d smother myself in brown mustard and relish. I’d be so delicious.

Q: Why is it that you don’t want Philadelphia fans to be happy?

I actually don’t mind if they are. I hope they are, even. But someone did seriously accuse me of not wanting Philly fans to be happy recently. People actually think that I have real ire towards Philly fans, when it’s something like 95% amusement, 5% mild irritation.

Q: Has HBT changed formats, become a Phillies’ chat-room, and I just didn’t get the memo?

They certainly have taken over, haven’t they?  But that’s fine. The regulars who comment here are all reasonable people who I’ve come to like quite a bit and I’m glad they’re here.  I troll the crap out of Philly fans, but they’re passionate and I’m happy that they show up every day.  I will be curious, however, to see if they continue to do so in a few years when the Phillies are struggling to reach .500.

Q: How many teams have you been accused of hating during your illustrious writing career?

Not as many as Keith Law — who has been accused of hating every team ever — but many more than I actually hate. In fact, I hate zero teams.

Q: Godfather I vs Godfather II?

Kind of not fair. Two radically different movies that I like for different reasons. The first is obviously so classic with so many comfortably familiar things that it’s like a well broken-in piece of clothing you never want to part with. Part II is probably a better film from a 1970s film snob point of view (a point of view I will admit I am a total pushover for), and would be more akin to a sharp suit that you look absolutely fabulous in.  I refuse to choose. I want my nice suit and my worn out hoodie, and you’ll never get me to offer a preference.

Q: Do you miss our endless Craig Calcaterra’s wife jokes?

For those unaware, my wife became a moderately-sized meme on Baseball Think Factory, hell, almost nine or ten years ago I guess. That was fun. At least until she became aware of it.

Q: How much longer does Jose “hot hand” Constanza start over Heyward?

Probably until having him in the lineup every day has costs the Braves their tenth or eleventh loss at his regressing-to-the-mean hands.

Q: Is Ron Washington on the powder again for suggesting Young as MVP or does he have a case?

Wait, he’s really doing that?  If so, I have to believe that it’s to stroke Young’s ego, not because he believes it. In other news, can you think of an alleged “team player” who has had more ego issues and problems about his role than Michael Young?

Q: Do you miss being a practicing lawyer?

No, I do not. And if I ever get even a bit of an itch to be in that world again, I go have a beer with some of my former coworkers and I am reminded once again why I started my old blog in the first place.

Q: Hi Craig… world wants to know… coke or pepsi? Personally I will take a Dr. Pepper please.

I love me some Dr. Pepper, but I happen to be a Coke man. Diet Coke or Coke Zero, actually, though occasionally I’ll drink the hard stuff. I just don’t care much for Pepsi, especially Diet Pepsi, which has a sweetness that is a bit too cloying for me.  In all honestly, however, I realize that it’s all basically battery acid that is killing me from the inside. I am giving serious consideration to trying to kick it.  And yes, I just took a swig of Diet Coke as I was typing this.

Q: Who wins best-of-seven: 2011 Astros vs 2003 Tigers?

Whoever is scheduling programming opposite that series. The rest of us lose.

Q: You mentioned “rage comics” in a recent post. What’s your favorite?

Man, they’re reader-generated so there are hundreds and hundreds of them a day, so I’m sort of blanking on a particular favorite. I tend to like any of them that end in either this face or this face, however.

Q: Did you know that the little things at the ends of shoelaces are called aglets, and that their purpose is sinister?

I knew they were aglets, because I used to watch the Snigglets segments on the old “Not Necessarily the News” show on HBO back in the day. Rich Hall, yo.  I did not know they were evil, however. If they are, that may mean that flip flops have one redeeming quality.

Q: You’re on a desert island with your kids and one classic 80s cartoon – what do you take? Favorite episode ending lessons?

G.I. Joe. No question. And the best episode ending lesson was easily “Pork Chop Sandwiches.” (NSFW language).

That’s all I got this time, kiddies. We’ll do another Twitterbag next week. Which sounds dirty, but it isn’t.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.