The Question

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


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.

ALDS, Game 2: Rangers vs. Blue Jays lineups

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Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Toronto:

CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mitch Moreland
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
2B Rougned Odor
C Chris Gimenez
3B Hanser Alberto

SP Cole Hamels

Adrian Beltre is out of the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with what appeared to be a significant back injury, leaving Hanser Alberto to fill in at third base. With a right-hander on the mound Mike Napoli goes to the bench and Mitch Moreland starts at first base, and manager Jeff Banister also switched up the batting order a bit without Beltre in the No. 3 spot. Robinson Chirinos homered in Game 1, but he takes a seat in Game 2 so that Chris Gimenez can catch Cole Hamels.

LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Chris Colabello
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar

SP Marcus Stroman

Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista are both in the starting lineup after leaving Game 1 with injuries, which is particularly good news in Donaldson’s case because he suffered a potentially serious head injury sliding into second base. Toronto’s only change from Game 1 is subbing Chris Colabello for Justin Smoak at first base with a left-hander on the mound. There’s right-handed power all over the place, so Hamels’ changeup may be the key to the entire game.

Royals will bring back Yordano Ventura to start Game 4

Yordano Ventura
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Thursday night’s rain delay cut Yordano Ventura‘s start short after just two innings, as the Royals opted to turn to reliever Chris Young instead of bringing the 24-year-old right-hander back out to the mound following the delay.

One benefit to that is what manager Ned Yost has decided to do now, which is use Ventura to start Game 4 on Monday. Had he thrown, say, 102 pitches instead of 42 pitches Ventura likely would have started Game 5, forcing the Royals to go four starters deep in their ALDS rotation.

Ventura struggled before the delay Monday, allowing three runs in two innings. However, he finished the regular season by going 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 68 innings over his final 11 starts, which was enough to convince Yost he was the right pitcher to start Game 1 rather than trade deadline pickup Johnny Cueto.

Playoff Reset: Four games in one day!

Cole Hamels

Oh baby.

There’s baseball from noon to midnight today, with a pair of Game 2s in the American League and a pair of Game 1s in the National League.

Tons of great starting pitchers–including the best in the world and a trio of big-name trade deadline acquisitions–and we’ll find out if a home team can actually win a game after starting the playoffs 0-4.

The Game: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Time: 12:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Cole Hamels vs. Marcus Stroman
The Upshot: Stroman coming back from what was deemed a season-ending knee injury in spring training to start Game 2 of the ALDS is a helluva story and the Blue Jays need him to come up big after David Price failed to do his part in Game 1. Yovani Gallardo somehow wriggled out of trouble against Toronto’s scary lineup, but as a left-hander Hamels has an even tougher assignment versus the never-ending right-handed power. Assuming it’s all in the lineup, of course. There are big health question marks for both sides, as Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista all exited Game 1 with injuries and their respective statuses could swing the balance of power in the series.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 3:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
The Channel: FOX Sports 1
The Starters: Scott Kazmir vs. Johnny Cueto
The Upshot: Two headline-grabbing trade deadline pickups with a lot to prove, as Kazmir and Cueto both struggled for their new teams. Cueto was bumped back to Game 2 after being acquired to front the Royals’ rotation and there was some speculation that Kazmir might not even have a spot in the ALDS rotation. Kansas City losing Game 1 last night and Houston having Dallas Keuchel waiting in the wings for Game 3 puts a ton of pressure on Cueto’s shoulders. Generally one of the toughest pitchers to homer against, he allowed 10 homers in 13 starts for the Royals and the Astros’ power-packed lineup will put him to the test all afternoon. Can the defending AL champs get off the mat quickly or will they head to Houston in need of a win to keep the season alive?

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jon Lester vs. John Lackey
The Upshot: Former Red Sox teammates Lester and Lackey square off in Game 1 of the first ever playoff series between two of the biggest rivals in baseball, with the Cubs fresh off their Wild Card game triumph over the Pirates and the Cardinals coming off an MLB-high 100 wins. Yadier Molina‘s ability to play through a thumb injury will be key for the Cardinals and it’ll also be interesting to see how much faith manager Mike Matheny has in Adam Wainwright to get late-inning outs as a reliever after returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon.

The Game: New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Time: 9:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw
The Upshot: Quite a way to finish an entire day of baseball, as the Mets go looking for their first playoff win since 2006 and Kershaw tries to cement his legacy as an all-time great by dominating in the playoffs like he does in the regular season. And don’t overlook deGrom, because last year’s Rookie of the Year winner has a 2.61 ERA and 349 strikeouts in 331 innings since debuting last May. Among all starters with at least 300 innings during the past two seasons Kershaw ranks first in ERA and deGrom ranks fourth, with Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke in the 2-3 slots. This is a speculator pitching matchup.