The Question

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


It’s that time again. Your almost 100% non-baseball questions.  But that’s OK. We need to do this to get all of the Star Wars talk out of our system lest we drive our wives and girlfriends crazy.  Assuming anyone who is obsessed with Star Wars has a wife or a girlfriend.  I should probably think on that.

And a programming note: the HBT Daily version of this will run tomorrow instead of today. We felt like talking about the Red Sox/Rays today instead. At some point we do have to pretend that this is a baseball blog after all.

OK, I came here to chew bubblegum and answer reader questions. And I’m all out of bubblegum.  Ready … Go!

Q:  Who ate all your bubblegum?

This guy.

Q: What is the meaning of life?

Personally speaking I don’t think life has a meaning. Vonnegut, as he so often did, got this one right when he said “we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

Q: Star Wars Blu-Ray with all sorts of added material … yea or nay?

Nay. I was going to wait to get that, but my kids really wanted to start watching the Star Wars movies last spring so I broke down and bought them individually. I got the versions that have both the updates that Lucas felt like inserting in the 90s and 2000s, but which also have the original theatrical editions too.  After hearing that Lucas is even doing more to mess with these things — he likes to fart around too — I decided that I can do without whatever benefits Blu-Ray provides in order to avoid this nonsense.  Really, Vadar screams “Nooooo!” as the Emperor is zapping Luke in “Jedi?”  If you felt so strongly about it, Darth, why did you wait so damn long before picking him up and tossing his ass down that shaft?

Q: What sports do you enjoy besides baseball? What are your thoughts on biathlon?

I watch college football, but I don’t obsess on it. That’s really it. I pretend to care about the NBA for the first two weeks of every season and then I remember why I stopped actually caring back in the mid-90s.  As for biathlon, I love any chance to mix guns with winter sports.  If you can add liquor to it, we’d have the most perfect pastime.  And for the record: I was the freakin’ biathlon MASTER on EPYX’s Winter Games for the C64.  Down-up-fire!

Q:  If you were good enough to be in the majors, what position would you play?

I’d probably be a starter. I kind of like the idea of sitting around and being a wise-ass four out of every five games and then, on the fifth day, being the center of attention.

Q: You think the Tigers rotation beyond Verlander can do anything in the playoffs?

Have you seen Doug Fister lately?  And Max Scherzer, for all of his ups and downs, is always capable of some random 14-strikeout game or something. So yes, I think there could be some goodness happening for Detroit.

Q: In a matchup of Morris Day & Jerome vs. “The Kid”, Wendy, & Lisa, what kind of contest would be ideal to determine winner?

Scowl-off?  Ruffled collar competition? A battle of ridiculousness?  I loved that movie when it came out. But brother, it leads the list of things from the 80s that don’t hold up.  Well, the music does, but “Alf” has more relevance for modern society than “Purple Rain” does.

Q: Will the Phillies offense be a reason why they won’t go all way?

I think the offense can rise to the occasion.  There’s too much talent there.  No, if the Phillies fail to win the World Series I think that the real reason will be because of gods-offending hubris on the part of their fans.  Really, Phillies fans, the pressure is all on you.  If they fail to win it, it’s totally your fault.  And if you doubt this, I honestly saw a Philly fan tweet the other day that the just-released 2012 schedule is perfect because it gives Philly a day off between a series in Atlanta and series in Washington. “Perfect day for the Presidential visit,” the guy wrote.  Really, it’s gonna be that which upsets the balance of the cosmos and gives us the 2011 champion Diamondbacks.

Q: Your thoughts/feelings on fantasy sports?

I’ve dabbled but I have no use for them. At all.  Enjoy it if you like it — I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with fantasy — but nothing I enjoy about baseball is achieved via playing fantasy baseball. Mostly because it makes me care about stuff I would never care about otherwise.

Q: Michael Lewis vs. Keith Law. Who do you put your money on in a fight?

I’d bet on Lewis, but only to make Tabatha Soren happy. Then I’d hope Law thrashed Lewis, causing Tabatha to come running to my arms for comfort.  No, I don’t have a life. Or a dog in their little fight.

Q: Keith Law is not the intended audience for “Moneyball” any more than you are for Ally McBeal or other legal shows. Is perspective in order?

I’m not sure why people got so upset about Law’s review of Moneyball — most notably Michael Lewis himself — but I think Law was reviewing it as an entertainment and found it lacking. Nothing more. The fact that he has a great deal of insight to the subject matter is useful for him, and it was useful for us to hear where he feels the filmmakers got it wrong, but I don’t think he disliked the movie because of that. The broader point is an interesting one: should an expert grade a movie that deals with his or her area of expertise harder because the details are off?

I’ll admit it makes things difficult.  There are many legal-themed movies that are almost unwatchable for me because they get the courtroom stuff wrong, let the lawyers speechify, etc. “Primal Fear” was the worst I’ve ever seen in this regard. The best may surprise you: “My Cousin Vinny.” Not perfect, but it’s way closer to legally accurate than a lot of movies you’ll see. The senior litigation partner at my old firm actually had a 30-minute edit of it made for use in seminars to young lawyers and stuff.

Q: Are you John Clayton’s long-lost twin? Do you change places sometimes like Sarah Michelle Gellar does in her new show?

Well, he has nearly 20 years on me and I’m far, far more handsome, but I get it. And I can’t run away from that comparison. When the idea of NBC putting me on TV first came up I asked them if they were really prepared to put a pasty bald guy on camera and the answer given by several different people on various occasions was “ESPN puts John Clayton on TV and that works.”  It’s like he’s the gold standard for anti-telegenic sportscasters. Well, I can beat him at that game! I just know I can!

Q: Rumor has it the europeans are going to take all the MLB jobs. What are you going to do to defend the border from the invaders?

Show them the kind of beer that is sold in most ballparks in the U.S. They’ll go fleeing back to Belgium or wherever in no time.

Q: Canadian or blended? I’m a bourbon man myself but when the budget gets tight I have to decide between 7 or the Velvet Reserve.

I really, really dislike Canadian whiskey. If I can’t afford a good bourbon or a scotch, I’d prefer a cheap bourbon or scotch before I’d go Canadian.

Q: Would you rather they never make an Aquaman movie or have them make one and it be a Punisher/ Daredevil-esque calamity?

I want Chris Nolan to get attached to an Aquman movie. I want him to sign on the best actor in the business and for him to have a free hand from the studio to do whatever he wants in order to satisfy his creative vision. I want the world to be behind his Aquaman project so thoroughly that it’s assured to be a blockbuster the moment it is released. And then I want Nolan to halt production on the second day of filming and release a statement in which he admits that turning Aquaman into something interesting and compelling is beyond even his creative capabilities and perhaps beyond the capabilities of Mankind itself.

Q: If a car travels the speed of light, and you turn the headlights on, what happens?

25-year-old Stephen Wright jokes come out of the radio.

Q: Going to Jamaica on Saturday. That’s all. Just saying, you know, hooray me.


Q: I’m adopting a second cat this weekend. Why would I do this?

Because you can’t have high stakes cat races with only one cat.  For those unfamiliar, you place both cats in the tub, close the shower door and when they’re good and agitated you yell “and they’re off!” and fling the door open.  Or so I’m told.

Q: The original Daisy Duke or the more recent Daisy Duke?

I met Catherine Bach at an auto show in Saginaw, Michigan in 1980. Sat on her lap and had my picture taken. As such, I am not really able to provide an objective answer to this question.

Q: When Sorkin directs Hardballtalk: The Movie who do you want to play you? Gleeman? Who plays your archnemisis Aquaman?

Gregory Peck, though he may not be available. Really, anyone but Piven.  Piven can play Aquaman, though. Seems appropriate. I’ll let Gleeman pick his own guy.

Q: Nancy preference, Reagan or Pelosi? And can and/or should you call your son this when he whines? Is it wrong?

False choice. This is the only Nancy for me.  As for your son, I always prefer “Alice.”  This Alice.

Q: Who is the ugliest player in MLB right now? Cory Hart or Jorge Cantu?

I’ll throw this one out for voting. Adam LaRoche has to be in the conversation. He has to be considered.

Q: If the season would still end by late October, would you favor best-of-9 for the LCS and World Series?

I’d love it because the longer the series the better test of true baseball strength.  I think it would be disastrous in just about every other respect, however. Ratings. People complaining about it for whatever reason. I just don’t need that kind of stress in my life in October.

Q: Are you familiar with the Star Wars EU?

I am aware that there is such a thing as the Expanded Universe, but I have never gotten into it, read the books or anything. I get a sense that a great deal of the content is inspired by people trying to apologize and explain away George Lucas’ dumbass mistakes, so I suppose the EU is doing a good thing.

Q: What did Michael Kay’s mom give him when he was sick?

Chicken Parm.

Q: Why do your kids insist on watching the Star Wars prequels

If you follow me on Twitter you know that a couple of times a week I’m good to make angry tweets about the Star Wars prequels. That, as this questioner knows, is because my kids love them and watch them all the damn time.  They like the original trilogy more, they say — Jedi is my son’s favorite of the six movies — but they simply don’t have the hatred for the prequels like people my age do. Which is understandable. Don’t get me wrong: George Lucas screwed the pooch royally when he made those things, but in a lot of ways he was doomed no matter what he did.  It’s really hard to cater to nearly 20-year expectations of people who thought of something as a defacto religion rather than as mere popcorn movies.  That said, why Lucas didn’t just start with Anakin as a young man and build some decent movies off that rather than make “The Phantom Menace” is beyond me.

Q: How does Leia remember her mother when she died in childbirth?

I think I heard someone explain this away as some force vision or something. Leia getting an emotional impression of her real mother.  Whatever. It’s just one of the many, many things that Lucas screwed up in the original movies by virtue of what he decided to do with the prequels. People can do their best to explain it away, but their creativity in doing so doesn’t make up for Lucas’ lack of creativity in creating the problem in the first place.

Q: Did George Lucas overmanage his CGI-pen TLR style by replacing the effective puppet Yoda with his CGI counterpart?

Arguably, though I think CGI Yoda was generally OK. Silly at times, but it wasn’t nearly the kind of offense against Star Wars nature as so many other CGI excesses.  Watch the prequels sometime (if you must) and you realize that a good 50% of the movies — and 80-90% of the action scenes — are simply effects for effects sake and do nothing to drive any narrative or make any sort of dramatic sense. And they’re overly confusing and silly, taking away any action/adventure thrills they may have given.

But perhaps the most clear evidence of the CGI-excess in those movies was a scene late in “Revenge of the Sith” when Senator Organa  is on that white ship that Leia was on at the beginning of the first Star Wars movie. That scene was actually shot on a real set instead of a blue screen. It looks totally different from everything else in the three prequels. The actors seem to have weight and depth and the lighting actually looks like real life instead of some fake computer world. It’s a jarring experience after all that crap. Wish they would have done that more.

Q: Braves- Do they make the playoffs and if so, how deep do they go?

Yes. And they’re out in the first round. Sorry, but I’m really pessimistic right now.

Q: Please comment on the allegations raised in this court document re: Star Wars.

I can’t argue with any of that. I will add that, had Obi-Wan actually put Vader out of his misery with a single thrust of his lightsaber when he was limbless and burning alive, millions who died would have otherwise survived over the next 20 years or so.  So yeah, great going Obi-Wan.

Q: How did Obi-Wan age so much in the 18-20 years it took Luke to grow up? He went from 35 to 70 in half the time.

Stress over his many lies and deceits as explained above. Not to mention the guilt over the fact that a rebellion was forming, even young farmers on Tatooine knew about it, yet Obi-Wan — an experienced general and one of the only two Jedi left in the galaxy — was sitting on the sidelines, not helping  a bit until he was all but dragged into it.  Really Obi-Wan and Yoda. Where were you?

Q: When the 2nd DeathStar was destroyed it was UnderConstruction. Innocent teamsters union workers on board we assume. Discuss.

That discussion was already had in Clerks, and I have nothing new to add. Well, except for this recent story about how poorly conceived the whole Death Star project really was.

Q: What is it with lawyers and baseball, anyway? I mean, aside from getting used to all the losing and failure.

It’s the rules. There are no two documents more alike than the Official Rules of Baseball and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Q: How come there were dozens of different ships in the prequels but only a handful in the original trilogy?

I’ll actually give Lucas credit here. A Republic was more apt to foster free enterprise and creativity. An Empire — really, a totalitarian state — would have fostered a move toward uniformity, utilitarianism and drabness.  The Empire at the beginning of “A New Hope” had basically done to spaceships what the Soviets had done to architecture and automobiles by the 1970s.

Q: Why do fans get bent out of shape re: players expressing truth/feelings? (aka the Fielder/K-Rod kerfuffle here in Milwaukee)

It’s the same with politicians. We let lies pass without much notice as long as they sound benign. Once a person actually speaks an uncomfortable truth, however, it is suddenly a “gaffe.” Our public discourse is basically degenerate.

Q: How did Anakin build a standard protocol droid? Can slaves afford plans and parts? And why would he build a translator?

I’m assuming there was a kit.

Q: Tauntauns cannot survive at night on Hoth, doesn’t that make for something of an inconvenience for a native spieces?

OK, so maybe the original trilogy wasn’t perfect either.  I think I’ll blame Han for this, though.  He took that thing out, probably malnourished, and rode it way too hard.  Wild tauntauns probably seek shelter at nightfall.

Q: Do radio mouths dumb down baseball talk to the detriment of society? I find it hard to discuss things with those who listen.

Yes. The secret of sports radio is that they’re selling outrage and drama, not actual talk about sports.  It could just as easily be arguments about Star Wars. As if such a thing could interest sports fans.

Q: I couldn’t think of a question. Will you post this anyway?

God, I hate George Lucas. Don’t you too?

Q: Re: the dialogue before Vader-Obi-Wan I. How could that be any worse? “If you aren’t with me, then you are my enemy?”…

There are many examples in the prequels of Lucas using his then-current preoccupations and frustrations with the Bush administration and the mood of post-9/11 America. They really stick out, actually.  Another came when Padme said something like “so this is how liberty dies; to the sound of cheers.”  I shared many of Lucas’ concerns at the time and still do, but he never should have imported that stuff into what should have been escapist entertainment. Or if he was determined to, he should have been a little less on-the-nose with references that clearly marked these movies as products of Bush’s first term.

Q: I need help. What is the best bbq is San Antonio? You can reach the masses. Maybe even some nice texas beer to wash it down

I can’t give you a BBQ in San Antonio. Never been there. Anyone?  I like Shiner Bock.

Q: What comes first: A’s in the playoffs, A’s new ballpark, A’s move out of the Bay Area?

A’s new ballpark. I think they figure out the San Jose thing. It’s only money.

OK, I’ve gone on way too long again.  Let’s do it again next week, shall we?

Miami Police Department considers Yasiel Puig case closed

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig waits to bat during batting practice prior to a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We have more details about Yasiel Puig‘s reported “brawl” at a bar in Miami. And while it’s a regrettable situation, it appears to be less serious than previously believed.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Major Delrish Moss of the Miami Police Department confirmed that Puig was involved in a fight with a bouncer. However, Moss described it more as a “scuffle” than a “brawl.” The Dodgers outfielder suffered injuries to his face, including a swollen left eye, while the bouncer was left with a “busted lip” among other minor facial injuries.

While the bouncer alleged that he was sucker-punched by Puig, Moss said that neither were interested in pressing charges. As a result, the Miami Police Department considers the case closed.

TMZ reported that the fight with the bouncer took place after Puig got into a physical altercation with his sister. However, Moss said that “no shoving was alleged” and that “to the best of our knowledge, the only physical altercation was between the bouncer and Puig.”

Major League Baseball is still expected to investigate the incident under their new domestic violence policy.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.