The Question

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

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I’d say there were approximately 50 questions on the theme of “why do the Braves suck?”  Please forgive me for not answering them all.

Q: Why do the Braves suck?

Because we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.

Q: If the Braves do indeed kill you, what song do you want to get played at your funeral?

Like there can be any debate about that (link goes to video).

Q: “Moneyball” is getting 92% on RottenTomatoes. How excited are you that this is actually going to be a good movie??

I’m rather surprised. Based on some stuff I heard a while back I had totally expected this to receive a general “meh” from the critics, who would recommend it only for the baseball obsessives. I just worry that it will make a ton of money and get Oscar nominations now. Because if it does, you know someone will want to try to go to that well again, and the most obvious target is Jonah Keri’s “The Extra 2%” book about the Rays. I’m fairly certain Jonah would become insufferable if that happened.

Q: Which fan base is more troublesome? (read: worse) Phillies fans or OSU Buckeyes fans?

I can’t be objective here because I’m an OSU alum and fan, but I’m told — and secretly suspect — that we’re like Yankees fans. Nothing short of the best is good enough and even the best is achieved, we bitch and complain. I don’t think there’s a Phillies-fan angle here. There is a profound lack of insecurity on the part of most Buckeyes fans. It’s actually highly annoying.  We’re pretty good at bad behavior, though.

Q:  wut is your faverite slidshow and why?

That was from someone making fun of Bleacher Report. Look, I have my issues with Bleacher Report, but they’re at least trying to get better, so I’ll give them that.  And really, there is so much we wouldn’t know about the hot wives and girlfriends of sports figures and “underboob” if it weren’t for the God’s work they’ve been doing there for so many years.

Q: A world without DHs, a better world?

I’m pretty sure that there would be no crime, poverty or human suffering if the DH were abolished. I can’t be sure, though, so perhaps we should test it.

Q: Question 1: WHY GOD WHY?

Maybe it’s just society?

Q: Follow-up Question: *choke* *sob* *sniff*

I know. I know. Let it all out … just let it all out …

Q: 1991 World Series who do you hate more? Kent Hrbek or Lonnie Smith?

I can’t hate Lonnie Smith. He was a man who was being true to himself. Lonnie Smith always was a flaky screwup. He gave Braves fans hope — or at least something fun to watch — in those dark, dark years in the late 80s. I wanted him not to screw up as much as anyone and I actually felt bad for him when it happened, even though it did enrage me. Hrbek can go jump in a friggin’ lake.

Q: What are your feelings on carpaccio?

I can’t talk about it now. The feelings are … too raw.

Q:  Kershaw, Halladay, or Lee?

I hope this isn’t one of those FMK questions. Assuming it’s about the Cy Young, I dunno, Kershaw?  There is no way to argue that a vote for any of them is wrong in any serious way.

Q: Do you think of 2Pac whenever someone says “Hit ’em up” like what just happened to me reading your tweet?

Of course I do, because I’m a white dude in his late 30s, and thus my hip hop frame of reference is necessarily 15-20 years out of date. That’s just how we do.

Q: American Idol or X-Factor?

What are those, brands of athletic shoes? Gatorade flavors? I’m afraid you’ve lost me.

Q:  I have a perfect baseball/Galactica combined question but I dont know how far into the show you are.

I just got to the episode where they captured Baltar and gave him the drugs/tortured him for interrogation purposes.

Q:  Ah, ok. I’ll have to hold off on this one. Hows this: On a scale of 1-10, how badass was jumping Galactica onto New Cap?

That was pretty damn amazing. I give it an 11. One thing I have to say about the special effects on Galactica: they manage to give weight, for lack of a better term, to the ships and the battles that stuff on Star Trek or Star Wars never really had. When one of the battlestars opens up with its big guns, it feels like there is some serious firepower coming to bear, not unlike on a real navy ship.  When Galactica jumped into the atmosphere on New Caprica, it felt like, damn, the whole thing might come apart, making the attack/rescue plan all the more dramatic. Maybe the physics are just as bad on that show as they are in most other sci-fi shows, but it’s just way, way more satisfying than the stuff you usually see.

Q: Did you watch the old Battlestar Galactica in the 70’s? I thought John Colicos was a great Baltar. Old series was better. This is epic, no?

I vaguely remember watching it when I was a kid. Enough to where I remembered that the ships were called vipers, there were characters named Starbuck and Apollo and that the Cylons had little red lights for eyes, but I have no memory of the show as an actual dramatic thing.  When I’m done with the recent series, I may go back and watch the old one just to see what it was like.

Q: Here’s a question: how can something like Troy Davis happen in a first-world democracy in the 21st century?

I really wish I knew. I’m anti-death penalty on principle, so feel free to assign a healthy amount of bias to me on the matter, but I’m not quite sure how — even if you can’t bring yourself to question the actual conviction — the sketchy nature of the evidence against Davis doesn’t give you pause when it comes to actually executing the man. Which is, you know, irreversible.  I’m also struck by the fact that it’s often the same people who believe that the government can do nothing right when it comes to the economy, regulation, diplomacy, immigration and everything else under the sun but then believe that government is suddenly infallible when it comes to taking a person’s life.

Q: How can I make an airline connection, but my luggage can’t?

The damn FAA and all their rules, I’m sure. Stupid government shouldn’t be allowed to oversee something as important as business travel.

Q: What’s the proper reaction to my roommate when he brings home single-ply toilet paper?

Dude, look in the mirror. Don’t trust your roommate to handle stuff as critical as your toilet paper, OK? If, however, he simply ignored a direct request for 2-ply, feel free to stab him in an area that will only wound, not kill.

Q: If you had an entire day to do things with Jose Canseco, what would you do? Give us your itinerary.

7AM: Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s; 9AM: some time in the batting cage; 11AM-2PM: tanning; 2PM-5PM: Trying to cash checks on Ozzie Canseco’s account; 5PM-8PM:  writing a chapter for the next tell-all book, but this one will be 100% fabricated because, really, who’s gonna sue Jose Canseco?; 8PM-Midnight: writing tweets about how our ex-girlfriend is a horrible monster/how we can’t live without her.

Q: What should a woman baseball fan say to her boyfriend/husband who doesn’t love baseball to get him to see Moneyball?

You should break up with/divorce any man you’re devoting your life to who doesn’t love baseball. Really, just cut your losses here. As a woman who loves baseball, you are what we with the Y chromosomes call “a catch.”

Q: Was there anything you enjoyed about practicing law?

The women.  Oh, wait, that’s not true.  Actually, yes, I got a lot of satisfaction out of certain aspects of the law. I liked working on a brief, as long as it was my brief instead of some committee job. It’s a lot like blogging, actually. Come up with an argument, find some links/citations that bolster your case, try to state your position as clearly and persuasively as possible. There’s a great feeling you get when you write something like that.  I also liked the oral arguments. Kind of thrilling and scary at the same time, but in a good way. At least if my case wasn’t complete dog poop.  Thing is, however, that in the kinds of places I worked (large firms) you don’t get tons of chances to do that stuff. The money comes in from working on big complex cases where you’re engaged in discovery for months or years and where the sexy stuff is handled by gray hairs or, even if you get to do it, you’re micromanaged.  If I had to do it all over again I’d probably try to build a small practice where I could be in court all the time and have more autonomy. The money would suck, but if I learned one thing while at law firms, it’s that money doesn’t make up for day-to-day misery.

Q: Would the Phillies have won (at least) 110 games if Chase Utley were healthy all year?

Easily. And they would have won 140 if people weren’t so unfair to Ryan Howard.

Q: If the Phillies sweep their way through the entire playoffs, will you consider shutting down HBT for the off-season?

Nah, gotta keep the day job. But I may turn off the comments.

Q: You have to choose one to live and one to die: Jar-Jar Binks or Aquaman?

God, and I thought “Sophie’s Choice” presented some tough questions.

Q: ‘Craig Kimbrel’ is an anagram for ‘Karmic Rib Leg’. I feel you need to know this.

This is important. This means something.

Q: What are you thoughts on Thomas Hobbes and his contributions to contract philosophy?

Given the way people complain about how solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short life is even when it’s just a matter of the power going out for a couple of hours, no, I have no problems whatsoever going along with the idea of people wanting to leave the state of nature in exchange for a bit of governing.

Q: Do you like hockey? If not, would you pick: The Marlins (Panthers), the Yankees (Red Wings), or the Rays (Sharks)?

Interesting analogies. Other hockey fans: do those hold up?  They seem to, based on my limited knowledge of the current state of the NHL.  To answer the question: I enjoy going to a hockey game, which I do here in Columbus once or twice a year. I have just never been motivated to really get into the sport at all, though.  Which is weird because I come from a family with a lot of hockey love in it, what them all being from Michigan and half of them being Canadian. They’re all Wings fans, and my brother has kept that up.  If I were to suddenly get into hockey I’d probably just start rooting for the Blue Jackets because, hey, they’re local and it might be fun to get in on things when they suck. Which they have done for their entire decade+ of existence, but that’s neither here nor there.

Q: Thoughts on the Twilight kid wearing an “ironic” Roberto Clemente jersey in the trailer for that piece of sh** movie?

From what people tell me, he and that film crew pretty much annoyed everyone in the city of Pittsburgh while filming there last year. So I guess it’s nice that he’s holding form. And it’s a pretty major statement when your role as the handsome werewolf in those “Twilight” movies isn’t being referred to as the worst thing you’ve ever done.

Q: X-wing or tie fighter? Which one would you rather have?

X-wing. I’d like to have an astro-mech droid keep me company on those long flights.

Q: If George Lucas released an updated version of the 1975 World Series, what would he change?

There would be a herd of Banthas wandering behind Carlton Fisk as he waved that home run fair over the Green Monster. And the Green Monster would have extra tentacles and stuff.

Q: What will be the total game time of a potential Sox/Yanks ALCS?

Hahahahahah!  Like the Red Sox are gonna make it to the ALCS. You guys slay me.

Q: Why does Theo Epstein let bad things happen to good people?

Poor planning.

Q: What, besides the Cardinals having been in 1st place, can we credit to Ryan Theriot for his time as a starting SS?

Look, all I know is that when he was the starting shortstop R.E.M. was still a band, the Braves had a big lead in the wild card and a possibly innocent man in Georgia had not been put to death. It is what it is.

Q:  Feelings on R.E.M breaking up? Fellow baseballer Keith Law got snarky on them earlier today.

I think Law’s comment was about how they hadn’t been relevant for 20 years. He overstates it a bit — New Adventures in Hi-Fi was a fantastic album — but he’s not too far off.  Rock bands have a life span, and R.E.M.’s had been up for a while. That said, they were an outrageously important band to me in the 1980s. Everyone loves to listen to the silly one-hit wonders of that decade, but if you were looking for anything of real substance or importance or seriousness in that decade, it was slim pickings. The Replacements, obviously. U2 to some extent, though they were way too self-conscious and occasionally overblown to scratch that itch.  Hip hop if you knew where to look.  And, of course, the IRS-years of R.E.M.

And unlike just about every other important band ever, R.E.M. had a second act. I know there are purists who deride their Green/Out of Time/Automatic for the People/Monster years, but they’re just being jackasses. Though serving entirely different purposes than the IRS stuff, those albums were fantastic for a dozen different reasons. It’s rare that I go a week without listening to Automatic for the People. It’s beautiful and haunting and came along at a point in my life where it will always be important to me. Monster gets slammed a lot, but it’s great fun.

Things went sideways after New Adventures, and I’ll admit that I tuned out almost completely. It happens. And it’s better for a band to break up than to come some oldies jukebox, touring just for the sake of it, or some outfit that keeps going back to the same old well, over and over, hoping that it will somehow have water in it again after it has long since dried up. [cough] U2 and RHCP [cough].

Thanks for all the questions, folks. I think this is the record for “most questions I was unable to get to” for this feature. Which is kind of troubling to me because I always want to try to answer as many as I can. But it’s also pretty cool that you guys seem to have as much fun with this as I do.

Let’s meet again here next Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

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)
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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: