The Question

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


Time for the weekly Twitterbag. Which, when I put out the call for questions last night, I did so thusly:

Twitter questions for HBT. This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it. Go!

So, predictably, among my first few “questions” were “One tweet only, Vasily,” and “You might wanna think about cutting the kid some slack.”  God, I love my readers.  Anyway:

Q: Favorite Alec Baldwin role? Fred Thompson role? Sam Neil role?

Baldwin: I have to cop to never watching “30 Rock.” I gather everyone loves that role he plays on that show, but sorry, I’ve missed out. But I don’t think anyone will fault me for going with Blake, the guy who gave the “steak knives” speech in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” What’s my name? F*** YOU, that’s my name!

Fred Thompson: He basically plays the same gruff, no-nonsense authority figure with a heart of gold in everything, right? So you have to go with Admiral Painter from Red October. Although he certainly played an interesting role as minority counsel during the Watergate hearings. His least convincing role was as as presidential candidate.

Sam Neil: Anyone ever see “Until the End of the World?”  Not sure that that’s my favorite Neil role — his part itself isn’t central or that interesting and the movie itself is uneven and flawed — but there’s something dreamy and ethereal about both the movie and Neil’s narration that has turned that flick into one of my weird favorites of all time. Oh, and for very personal reasons, the soundtrack may be one of the most important albums I own.


One thing I love/hate about the Yankees is how one random thing that happens in one random game can take on such significance. So much that 24 hours after it occurred — and after another game has interceded — people are still animated about it. I love it because it shows the passion. I hate it because, to me, one of the best things about baseball is that whole “there’s another game tomorrow so nothing that happens today should matter after we turn the TV off” vibe. Oh well. New York.

Q: Wont you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?

Asks a guy who just took the bar exam and is about ready to embark on a legal career. Hey, why don’t you buy me a Mercedez-Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.

Q: Can lawyers be happy?

Sure. If they have the disposition that makes that kind of work fulfilling for them. Of course it also makes them sociopaths, so there are tradeoffs. And no, not all happy lawyers are sociopaths. Many of them drink and have extramarital affairs to dull the pain of their daily existence, each of which do bring fleeting happiness of a sad sort. A very small percentage of lawyers are both happy and well-adjusted. And they are hated and ridiculed by society — and are criminally underpaid — because they do things like defend people’s constitutional rights, help the poor and try to make the world a better place.

Q: If the HBT cast were a pro-wrestling stable, what would your name be?

West Texas Rednecks. Yeah, I know that none of us are from Texas, but if the real West Texas Rednecks could pass off the Minnesota-born Curt Hennig as a Texan, we can do the same for Gleeman.

Q: Who wins in a fight; Martha Quinn or Tabitha Soren?

We all win. At least if that fight is videotaped.

Q: Will anyone ever understand the waivers process OUTSIDE of Twitter?

It is rather vexing and confounding, isn’t it?  And really, the details are not that important. Just try to remember that a player being placed on waivers is unimportant, a player being claimed on waivers is slightly more important and that, really, nothing matters unless or until a trade or a failure to revoke waivers happens.  Everything before that is an exercise in us vamping while we wait for something more interesting to happen in a season where there are no good playoff races.

Q: Can Justin Verlanders tears cure cancer? What are your thoughts on rugby?

(1) possibly; and (2) I’m surprised more people who play rugby don’t lose an ear or something.

Q: Hurricane or Earthquake?

If you’re asking what I fear more, it’s an earthquake. You can see hurricanes-a-comin’ and do your best to evacuate or prepare. Thankfully I live in a hurricane and earthquake free zone. We get tornadoes here in the glorious Midwest, and I know they terrify some people and for good reason, but I’m pretty cool with them because I’ve dealt with ’em all my life. I suppose people who live in hurricane and earthquake zones could say much the same thing.

Q: How much beer would Adam Dunn have to drink to get his blood alcohol content higher than his batting average?

Dunn is listed — generously I think, but let’s let him have it — at 285. His batting average as of this morning was .167.  According to this calculator, in order to get his BAC to .167, he’d have to drink fourteen beers — and maybe a sip or two of a fifteenth — in the space of two hours in order to get his BAC that high.  Which seems like an awful lot, actually. Who programmed that calculator? Zelda Fitzgerald?

Q: What is the true identity of the mysterious “Fat Boy” that Ric Flair was always taunting?

For those unaware, “and that goes for you too, Fat Boy” was a common aside used by The Nature Boy during interviews. In a lot of the ways it was a place holder just like “woo!”  When he’d do it, he’d look off to the side and point at someone, presumably some anonymous fan he was mocking in the crowd. You can see examples of it in this video compilation. Although the best part of that video is how, near the beginning, he threatens Ted Turner that he was gonna nail Jane Fonda and there isn’t a hell of a lot Turner can do about it.  Which pretty much tells you all you need to know about why I love Ric Flair.

Q: Where do YOU think C.J. Wilson and Prince Fielder end up next year?

Wilson goes to the Yankees, where I just have a feeling he’ll flop, even if he doesn’t turn into A.J. Part Deux. I think Fielder goes to the Cubs. But then again I thought the Cubs would win the Central, so what in the hell do I know?

Q: Does HBT still work after the Steve Jobs resignation?

Dude, I write this blog on my Commodore 64. In between posts I’m playing “Summer Games” by the Epyx corporation. No man can beat me at Platform Diving. Who in the heck is Steve Jobs?

Q: Does Terrance Mann die at any point during Field of Dreams?

Totally. When he enters the cornfield he is quickly and efficiently butchered by the satanic cult that has set up the whole “if you build it he will come” fraud. It was their design to lure people in there, covering for it with some uplifting father/son/baseball hokum. And you all fell for it. Suckers.

Q: When one gets spit out in Manhattan on a Sunday and is looking for a nice lunch one can’t get in Ohio, one goes?

I tweeted that exact question last Saturday night before I went to New York. The answer: one goes to The Grey Dog Cafe just south of Union Square and gets an awesomely big plate of eggs, sausage, potatoes, French toast and one of the better cups of coffee I’ve had in some time. Yeah, it wasn’t lunch, and yes, I’m guessing I could get or make something like that in Ohio, but on that particular morning in New York, it was bliss.

Q: I’m a Phillies fan I loved the 76ers season more than the Phils season so far due to expectations. Should I give up baseball?

No, but you had better give up hanging around other Phillies fans. Based on the comments in yesterday’s thread, the idea that your fandom can change with your expectations of your team is basically heresy to them.  In other news, when Philly starts losing one day, I can’t wait for these people to continue to obsess over every detail and take every loss as hard as they do now. Because that’s totally sustainable.

Q:  Tony Gwynn missed one All-Star game from 1984-99 (’88). Strawberry, Coleman, Dawson, McGee, Palmeiro, Van Slyke made it. WTF?

Well, he was hitting .246 as late as July 1st, so it wasn’t as though 1988 was a banner Tony Gwynn year.  He managed to turn it around — he went on a tear starting July 2nd and had his average over .300 by July 20th — and ended up leading the league in hitting again, though with a modest-for-him .313 average. By thew way, people forget that beginning in 1988 Gwynn had a stretch in which he hit under .320 in four of five years. In 1993 he shot up above .350 again and continued to hit like a freakin’ machine for the rest of his career. Lost in all of the homer talk is how Gwynn’s numbers spiked just as the steroid guys’ numbers did. Yet people blow off the idea that the ball could have been changed around 1993 or 94 and that it may have had a more dramatic impact than anyone acknowledges. Nope, it’s all juice, juice, juice.

Q: Despite saying he didn’t love the Virgin Mary, why would Private Joker sing Happy Birthday to Jesus later on?

I don’t love the Virgin Mary either, but if Sgt. Hartman was in my face about it for several weeks I’d probably be speaking Latin and leading Mass before too long.

Q: This burning sensation means it’s working, right?

The more it hurts the more it works.

Q: Why didn’t anyone ever write down these Unwritten Rules?

Because this would happen.

Q: I know it’s early for this jazz but Bautista is MVP, yeah?

He is in my book. I try not to read too much into the word “valuable” as a means of making it all about what a guy does for a winning team vs. a losing team or all of that. I think of it as “the best player in the league this year.” Bautista has been the best player in the AL this year by far.

Q: Who would you select for the Braves postseason rotation?

Hudson, Jurrjens, Beachy and a healthy Tommy Hanson. But I don’t suppose I’ll get that, so I’ll have to hold my breath during the Derek Lowe starts.

Q: What are your feelings on Namor?

I am a well-known Aquaman hater. I will admit, though, that I am largely unfamiliar with Namor, the Sub-Mariner.  Someone tell me: is he just as lame as old orange tights?

Q: What is the general feel around Columbus about Ohio State this year? Is everyone ready for them to struggle?

I think so. People I talk to either want them to go 10-2 or something, showing that Luke Fickell knows what he’s doing, or else go in the tank so that the school doesn’t mess around with him for two or three years and instead goes after a top-flight coach. Because it’s Ohio State and because everyone is kind of nuts here, the absolute worst cases scenario is a 7-5 season in which they beat Michigan. It would be underachieving yet it would probably make them give Fickell a contract.

Q: Do you think the National League West is still up for grab-WHY DO YOU HATE THE PHILLIES?

And there’s a microcosm of the HBT comments these past few months. I swear I won’t root against the Phillies unless they play the Braves in the NLCS, but man, I sorta want to see what kind of chaos is unleashed if they lost to the Dbacks or someone in the first round. There’s not enough popcorn in the world to satisfy that comments thread.

Q:  If you were starting a team with one pitcher and one position player from the same team, what pair would you choose?

Tough one. Maybe Verlander and Cabrera?

Q: What was the first movie you saw that your parents didn’t want you to see?

I’m sure there were countless movies on HBO that I watched that they wouldn’t have liked, but the first time I went to the movie theater and saw something other than what I told them I was going to see was “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” which was rated R. Funny thing was, I don’t think there was anything particular scandalous in there. The R-rating, if I recall, was likely for language. Well, there was one scene with Richard Dreyfuss gettin’ it on with his maid — and that could have scarred me for life — but that was it, really. The movie I told them I was going to see and which they approved: “Invasion USA,” which I think was some ultra-violent Chick Norris war porn thing.  Nope, no problem letting the 12-year-old see that. But can’t let them watch Nick Nolte smoke a jay and drop a couple of F-bombs. That would be SCANDALOUS.

Q: Which player in baseball would be best served by having a moth invade his ear, Matt Holliday style?

Nick Essasky, circa 1990. I always wondered what would have happened had he not gotten the old vertigo.

Q: Am I the only person in America who hates the dead-CF, over-the-P-head broadcast camera?

No, apparently a lot of people hate it because a bunch of teams have abandoned it.  I love it, personally. Wish every broadcast used it. It’s just crazy satisfying.

Q: When can we have a tag team match between you and a partner of your choice vs two Phillies fans on PPV? Who’s your partner?

The agents and lawyers are still trying to make it happen, so we’ll see. My partner is Flair, of course. And I don’t even care that he’s, like, 70, and that all of his signature moves (the chop, that weird corner flip thing, his figure four leg lock) are all quite silly and ineffective-looking even when one suspends one’s disbelief for pro wrestling purposes.  He’s got style and that’s all we really need.

Q: Thoughts on law school grads suing schools for false advertising regarding job prospects?

Law schools do do this, of course, with the brochures saying “90% of grads have jobs within six months of graduation” or some such. They don’t mention that the jobs are delivering pizzas or making soy lattes or whatever.  Law schools have become rackets, basically, pumping thousands of grads into a workforce that has no place for them like it used to.  Still, if you’re looking at law school as some job-guarantee and aren’t looking at the by now very easy to find real numbers about how tough a go it is to become a lawyer and how bad your prospects are, it’s kind of your fault.  A good rule in life is never take the word of someone who is desperately trying to get you to give them $100,000.

On the third hand, I do like the fact that these law schools are being attacked by their own creations. There’s a “Blade Runner” element to all of this. I think of each new law grad who sues their law school as Roy Batty breaking into Tyrell’s apartment. We reap what we sow, ya know?

That’s all I got, folks. Let’s do it again next Wednesday night.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.