The Question

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

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Q: Not a question, I just wanted to thank you for running the best Phillies blog on the web. Kudos!

Not sure if that’s a compliment or not. But I get it.

Q: A Wonder Woman movie seems inevitable. I would bet they would pick Angelina Jolie. Your preference?

No way it’s Jolie. Hollywood is all about creating multi-film franchises right now and that means a commitment of years. Jolie is (a) too big a star to commit to that; and (b) is, by Hollywood’s farkakte standards anyway, too old to be the lead in that kind of franchise for the next six or seven years.  If it’s me I go with Allison Brie. And I’m not just saying that because I’m madly in love with her.  OK, maybe I am.

Q: Would Adam Dunn strike out in tee ball?

No tee ball coach worth a damn would give him a chance to try at the moment.

Q: What would you do if you were the catcher and Aquaman clapped after homering?

I’d check my SCUBA gear to make sure I still had enough oxygen to get through the rest of the game. I mean, this game is happening on the ocean floor, right? The only place where Aquaman is worth a tinker’s damn?

Q:  For one day: Oscar Gamble’s hair (w/ required comically small looking ball cap) or a sleeveless uniform with Big Klu’s guns?  Or other?

For me?  I’d go with Gamble’s hair.  There are all kinds of big-armed dudes in baseball nowadays. If you bring the natural like Gamble did, people would take notice. Just ask Coco Crisp. He did it for, like, two days earlier this year and everyone went crazy.

Q: If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, do they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does?

I’m sick of these conventional marriages. One woman and one man was good enough for your grandmother, but who wants to marry your grandmother? Nobody, not even your grandfather.

Q: If you were in the Evil League of Evil, what would you call yourself? What would your catch phrase be?

Dr. something or other. Not quite sure. But I’d definitely be a doctor. My catchphrase would be the “Oww!” from the beginning of Cameo’s “Word Up!”

Q: What would you do to drive traffic if you couldn’t rely on Phillies fans’ defensive nerdrage?

“Your mom” jokes? Although Phillies fans would probably take less offense at me insulting their moms than Ryan Howard. They have a very, very special relationship with Ryan Howard.

Q: Give RA Dickey a quality nickname.

Think I have to defer to Mets fans here. I’m stuck on “RaRichie” or something like it, and that’s just horrible. Any ideas?

Q: Who’s your favorite Kardashian?

Does that family have a Fredo?  If so, I’m goin’ with Fredo Kardashian.

Q: I know you’re more of a bourbon whisky man, but haven’t you considered coconut rum?

I have given it consideration. It’s in the conversation.

Q:  I know you are a scotch man but what is the best beer you have ever had?

Two demerits for calling me a scotch man when I am a bourbon man, but I do love scotch too, so I’ll let it slide.  Beers are situational for me. Perhaps the most heavenly beer I buy on more than the rare, one-off occasion is Chimay, a trappist ale. But I’d never drink it after mowing the lawn, when a simple lager like a Yuengling is a-OK. Likewise, I have a hard time with really hoppy IPAs when it’s hot out, but adore them in the fall and winter.  My best beer experiences have come drinking Guinness, but it had little to do with the beer itself, though I like it.  I’m kind of all over the map with this, so I guess I don’t really have an answer for it. I’m just not a tremendous beer snob. Give me anything besides a giant mass market American MegaBrau and I’ll be happy. And if that’s all you have available, I’ll man up, drink it and won’t complain because nothing gets older quicker than hearing someone complain about their beer.

Q: Do you think Philly fans know that over the last 100 games the Brewers have a better record than the Phillies?

So many haters out there. You. Me. The results of the last 100 games. Everyone hates the Phillies. This is why their fans are so understandably outraged all the time.

Q: Are you ignoring us? Why don’t you return our calls? Was it something we said?

You know what you did.

Q: Real simple. @JohnCena or @CMPunk?

If the question is “which of these two guys aren’t fit to hold Ric Flair’s curiously-worn-below-the-knees-kneepads, the answer is “both.”

Q: Craig, what’s it like to kiss a girl? Seems gross. –Aaron

That was just cold, man.

Q: Coke or Pepsi?

Coke, but I really need to get off soda.

Q: Who is the best bad guy: Klingons, Cylons or Cigarette-Smoking Man?

The guy who asked me that has a Kingon Twitter avatar, so I get the sense this is a trap.  Klingons are out, though.  I just don’t buy them as a species. No one who has the sort of anger/honor code that they do could successfully apply the scientific method required in order to develop Warp Drive and cloaking technology. The first time someone’s calculations were questioned there would be some fight to the death and no one would get anywhere.

The Cylons are intriguing, but I have to withhold ultimate judgment until I’m done with the whole BSG series. I’m, like, 32 episodes in. They’re great so far, but I worry.  For example: am I crazy, or does it seem like it’s way too easy to sneak around the Cylons? Like when they’re on Caprica or someplace, people hide in pretty close proximity, escape at the last minute, etc. without being detected.  These are the most sophisticated machines ever invented and they don’t have better-than-human hearing or sensors of any kind? Please.

CSM in his prime — before he became a halfway sympathetic character in later seasons — was pretty tight. Just menacing. I liked him best in episodes when he didn’t do anything other than stand in the shadows and smoke.  Also: pair him up with Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” from the X-Files album that came out circa 1996 and we’re in seriously awesome land.

Q: Doobie Brothers before, during or after Michael McDonald?

Ehhh. Look, Michael McDonald’s cool quasi-soul/boat rock is much of what was wrong with music in the late 70s, so I can’t endorse it. But at the same time, pre-McDonald Doobies was pretty weak sauce compared to other southern-tinged boogie rock of the early part of the decade. I guess I’ll put it this way: McDonald-Doobies were more successful at accomplishing the artistic vision they desired (such as it was) than the pre-McDonald Doobies were at doing what they set out to do. Does that make sense? Is it just what a fool believes?

Q: If one had to be ruled unconstitutional, should it be guacamole or salsa con queso?

Salsa con queso. I could live without it.  If guacamole were outlawed, part of me would die a little bit.

Q: Any chance the National Baseball Hall of Fame extends its voting base beyond the BBWAA in this century?

Barring a giant scandal, no way. Maybe we can cook up a scandal, though. Baseball writers are mostly poor and bribeable.

Q: Aquaman should be mentioned among the most useless comic book heroes.

He’s being considered. He’s in the conversation.

Q: Playoff predictions?

Why not? NL: Phillies over the Dbacks, Braves over the Brewers, Phillies over the Braves. AL: Tigers over the Red Sox (MONSTER UPSET!), Yankees over the Rangers, Yankees over the Tigers. Word Series: Phillies over the Yankees. And then my winter is completely ruined by gloating Phillies fans making fun of me, all while they conveniently forget that I picked them to win it all back in March.

Q: Your thoughts on the Premiership transfer window closing and the corresponding moves?

This is the second question asking me about that stuff. The first person asked me specifically about Arsenal’s moves. Answer: No idea because the only time I watch any soccer is if it’s on in a bar I’m at or if it’s being played by first graders and involves my son. But maybe I’ll do the fashionable thing for national Internet sports writers and pretend to get really interested in EPL for a while. I’ll pick a team and everything and act like I care and stuff before giving it up after a few weeks. Sound good?

Q: Since everyone and their grandma has weighed in on this: Is Ndamukong Suh a dirty player?

What’s a “Ndamukong Suh?”

Q: Man, Phillies fans are jerks. Your thoughts on the matter?

Wait, I’m being baited about my baiting habits. I must bow to you, for you are better than I am at this!  You, truly, are a Master Baiter!

Q: How good is Alex Avila really? Is this year for real?

Man, I have no idea. All I know is that I feel really, really dumb for having said that he’d be a defense-only option for Detroit this year and that he represented one of the holes in the lineup that Leyland had to figure out how to account for. I figured that 2010 — when he had more playing time — would be far more predictive of what he’d do as opposed to his smaller sample size from 2009, but lo and behold, he’s got a .910 OPS. Just a fantastic season for the guy.

Q: Is it socially acceptable to a) trim one’s nails or b) floss one’s teeth in an office (cubicle) environment?

It is closer to being socially acceptable to have such a person torn apart by wild dogs than it is to allow that person to continue to do those things at their desk.

Q: Hurricane Irene flooded the most powerful city in the world. Is this a temporary game-changer for Aquaman?

I guess if there were evil people or some sort of sea monsters in the flood zone, sure. But to be honest, I’d rather go with the National Guard and first responders here.  While we’re on the subject, though, did you know that Aquaman wasn’t even the most useful water-borne Super Friend?  There was an episode — and I’m not making this up — where something called “The Water Monster” attacked. Do you know who stopped him? The Wonder Twins. Zan — who had the ability to turn himself into any kind of water thing — turned into a duplicate copy of the Water Monster and kicked its ass.  Where was Aquaman? Nowhere, that’s where.  True story.

Q: Who would you rather listen to for the rest of your life. Elvis Costello or Elvis Presley? Dead Kennedys or Dead Milkmen?

Costello and Milkmen. Not because they’re better in any absolute sense — indeed, they may be inferior in both cases from a pure quality perspective — but because they’re more varied in style from album to album and thus would be more bearable over time.  There’s only so much “Burnin’ Love” and “California Uber Alles” a man can stand.

Q: Ok, why in hell do Red Sox and Yankee games take so freakin’ long anyway?

Conspiracy between ESPN and the people who run the advertising boards behind home plate. You can look it up.

Q: What’s your ideal alignment strategy if you have to put 15 teams in both the AL and NL?

I’d probably move Arizona to the AL West and put the Astros in the NL West. Although I guess that would mean that all Texas baseball fans — not just Rangers fans — would be inconvenienced by an inordinate number of out-of-time zone games over the course of the season. But given that annoying Texans is not something that would keep me awake at night, I’d get over it.

Q: If MLB decided that a Yankees-Red Sox game would be decided by a single at bat, would it still take six hours?

Nonsense. Unless of course it involved a Yankee player hitting a home run, after which someone on the Red Sox would probably get mad causing an extended argument.

Q: Was it Fredi Gonzalez’s idea to make the additions to the upcoming Star Wars Blu-Ray release?

I’m just hearing about these now. I know they’re changing stuff in the prequels, but those suck and no one cares.  The fact that they’re messing — again — with the original trilogy is just the latest desecration, but I suppose we have no choice but to deal with it. No, I’m not buying the Blu-Ray release because screw George Lucas, but someone who does please tell me if he makes Lando bunt at some point. Then we’ll know that Fredi was involved.

Q: How do you measure the value of Chipper Jones’ “I know I’m better than you, and I’m friggin’ 40” smirk?

I can’t get any measuring tools close enough to him due to the aura of awesomeness that surrounds him.

Q: I still can’t get over the fact that Sparky Anderson was just 41 years old in 1975. Your thoughts on Sparky and aging?

I have his 1970 baseball card in which he’s younger than I am now. Still looks older. Being bald often makes people overestimate my age, but bald has nothing on a premature gray guy. I thought Sparky was 70 when the Tigers hired him.

Q: Ryan Howard struck out twice tonight. Are you surprised that one of them was not in his AB against Aroldis Chapman?

No. Because Ryan Howard is the best hitter in all of baseball and if you suggest otherwise I shall drown you out with my rage.  As for those other two strikeouts: they didn’t happen. The box score is just a jealous hater.

Q: Should I tell my boss to shove it like I want? Or is that not the sort of question you’ll answer?

Depends. Is this D.J. Short or Drew Silva asking?  If so, I might have to give different advice. If not: go Johnny Paycheck on his butt.

Q: Slower to the plate: Josh Beckett, or Bartolo Colon going for salad?

I like it when someone slams both a Yankees and a Red Sox player in the same question.

Q: If you were trapped inside a dive bar, would you play Golden Tee or Big Buck Hunter?

Really? Son, I’d drink beer and talk up the ladies. Unless they had that old game “Gyruss,” of which I was THE FREAKIN’ MASTER back in the mid-80s. I think they were only distributed in roller rinks and bowling alleys, though, so it may be hard to find in a dive bar.

Q: Have you considered banning Phillies Chat in one post per day?

What, and screw up the business model? I actually have an experiment I’m going to run. One day I’m going to put up a straight-up post about a horrible natural disaster in which many people perish. And then I’m going to count how many comments it takes for the thread to be hijacked into a Phillies discussion.

Q: Can you mention me in the MVP race?

Consider yourself considered. You’re in the conversation.

That’s all I got, folks. Thanks again for all of the questions. If I didn’t get to yours, well, ask better questions.

Alex Rodriguez lands on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez follows through on a single to right off a pitch from Texas Rangers' Shawn Tolleson in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. The Yankees lost 3-2. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez strained his right hamstring running out a ground ball in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s loss to the Orioles. The club announced it has placed him on the 15-day disabled list and recalled pitcher James Pazos from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rodriguez lands on DL hitting .194/.275/.444 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 80 plate appearances.

Dustin Ackley replaced Rodriguez in Tuesday’s game, but the Yankees will likely cycle a handful of players in and out of the DH spot while Rodriguez heals.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
AP Photo/Tom Lynn
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We were treated to a handful of games this afternoon but we still have eight night games left. Let’s talk about the Phillies.

I wrote this preview of the Phillies just before the season started, predicting them to win only 65 games, which would mark only a marginal improvement over their 63-win season last year. In my defense, I wasn’t alone, as almost every expert as well as the projections had them finishing under 70 wins. And yet, here they are 27 games into the season with 16 wins. That’s on pace for a 96-win season. What the heck.

Aaron Nola pitched seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in a 1-0 victory on Tuesday, marking the Phillies’ sixth shutout of the year, the best mark in the majors. Even as the Phillies prepared to draft him, Nola was described as “major league ready” but no one expected him to be quite this dominant. In his first 19 major league starts, Nola has a 3.37 ERA with a 112/26 K/BB ratio over 117 2/3 innings. This year, not only has Nola been extremely stingy with the walks, but he’s been missing bats at an elite level. He’s only 22 years old.

Nola is joined in the rotation by Vincent Velasquez, the pitcher who highlighted the return from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade. The right-hander made headlines in April with a 16-strikeout performance against the Padres and currently stands with a 1.44 ERA with a 39/10 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings. Unlike Nola, Velasquez was billed as a future ace or a dominant eighth- or ninth-inning guy.

Then there’s Jerad Eickhoff, who came over in the Cole Hamels trade last year. Though he has a ho-hum 4.15 ERA, Eickhoff is occasionally dominant as evidenced by his 32/5 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings. He has a pretty curve. Look at it. Eickhoff probably won’t be an ace, but he wasn’t considered to be a future mainstay in the rotation when the Hamels trade went through. All he’s done so far is exceed expectations. Nola-Velasquez-Eickhoff makes for an outstanding start to a long-term starting rotation.

The offensive tools aren’t quite where the pitching is yet for the Phillies, as third baseman Maikel Franco has wavered between looking like Mike Schmidt and looking completely lost at the plate. He has only five hits (zero home runs) in his last 37 plate appearances. Shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford isn’t there yet, nor is outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and outfielder Cornelius Randolph. There’s certainly a lot of hope on the horizon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Phillies fan, but wearing rose-colored glasses isn’t a crime of which I’ve been often accused over the years. It has been one headache after another being a Phillies fan between 2012-15. The front office under former GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was stubborn and out of touch. Now, under new president Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak, the team has a goal and is seeing it through. No, the Phillies won’t win 96 games this year — they probably won’t even win 80 — but they’re certainly further along than a lot of us gave them credit for being.

The Phillies play game three of a four-game set in St. Louis tonight at 8:15 PM EDT. Lefty Adam Morgan will oppose the Cardinals’ Mike Leake.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 6:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 7:05 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez), 7:07 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Alex Wood) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly), 7:10 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon), 8:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes) @ Houston Astros (Mike Fiers), 8:10 PM EDT

The Marlins are suing a season ticket holder

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins
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A couple of years back the Marlins threatened to sue a season ticket holder who didn’t want to pay because the view they had wasn’t what they expected and the Marlins wouldn’t accommodate their request to move. That apparently got worked out without litigation. A new dispute, however, is now a matter for the courts.

The Marlins filed a lawsuit a little over a year ago against a season ticket holder named Mickey Axelbrand. The suit is just heating up now because the Marlins didn’t move to serve the defendant with the suit until recently. The suit is a straightforward breach of contract case in which the Marlins say that Axelbrand paid for two season tickets on a two-year contract, covering 2011-12, and that Axelbrand didn’t pay for the second year. The Marlins claim that he owes the team $24K+ plus other damages. Seems straightforward, no? You don’t pay, you get sued, right?

Well, there are two sides to every story. I spoke with Axelbrand’s lawyer, Daniel Rose of Delray Beach, Florida, this afternoon. He says Axelbrand has been a Marlins fan since the advent of the team and was as season ticket from the team’s first season in 1993 until the dispute arose. He says that the reason Axelbrand withheld payment was because “most of the exclusive amenities were taken away,” from the ticket holder. Specifically, he said that the Marlins ceased operation of the complementary food service for this exclusive seating area in the 6th inning and that exclusive parking areas and an entrance area for people at this expensive season ticket level were made open to the general public. While that sounds like a first world problem to a lot of us, clubs like the Marlins market these super high-priced tickets to people like Axelbrand on the basis of such exclusivity and people like Axelbrand come to expect it. Not unreasonably.

The suit is in its early stages now and discovery is just getting going. Only then will the merits of the competing claims be determined. For now we just have a claim and a defense and the facts will fall where they may. For what it’s worth, Rose believes he can get financial discovery from the Marlins, opening at least part of their books. I’m a bit rusty by now, but for what it’s worth I’m not sure I see how it gets that far. At the very least, however, Jeff Loria will probably have to spend some time and money fending off discovery requests that go beyond the ticket office.

I think the larger takeaway here is that this appears to have been a dispute between a customer and a business that festered for at least three years and one presumes that there were complaints made to the team and a lot of back and forth before everyone lawyered up. One wonders how a baseball team couldn’t resolve this short of litigation if, as Axelbrand and his attorney claim, it was a dispute over amenities and the like. There are probably a million ways for a club to make this right with a fan that don’t require legal fees. I can’t ever recall a team suing a season ticket holder (update: Oh, yeah, that’s the ticket!) I suppose it happens, but if there’s one thing most teams do better than anything it’s accommodate season ticket holders with the sort of customer service niceties which are in the dang wheelhouse of professional sports teams catering to rich folks. Lunch with Giancarlo Stanton anyone?

As a matter of law it’s for the courts to decide. But I can’t help but wonder how this wasn’t decided as a matter of customer service a long time ago.

The Rangers trade Chris Gimenez to the Indians

Texas Rangers' Chris Gimenez, left, and Rougned Odor celebrate Gimenez scoring during the fourteenth inning of Game 2 in baseball's American League Division Series, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, in Toronto. Texas won 6-4. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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The Cleveland Indians just announced that they’ve acquired catcher Chris Gimenez from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.

Gimenez knows his way to Progressive Field. Indeed, this will be his third stint with the Indians organization. He was their 19th round pick in the 2004 draft, made his big league debut with the club in 2009 and stayed through the 2010 season. He came back in 2014 for eight games, now he’s back again. He has yet to play in 2016 due to a ankle issue. He as doing minor league rehab before being DFA’d by the Rangers yesterday.

Come back to Cleveland, Chris. You always will have a home in Cleveland.