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.

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
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NEW YORK (AP) Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely: