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.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.

Brewers GM: Acquiring Jacob Nottingham doesn’t change Jonathan Lucroy’s status

Jonathan Lucroy
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.

The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.

Joe Panik says he’s “100 percent” recovered from back injury

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik follows through on a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg in the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Denver. The Giants won 10-8. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”

Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”

“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”

Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.

After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.

Baseball America names Corey Seager as baseball’s top prospect

Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager follows through a single that scored Austin Barnes, in front of Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.

This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.

Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.

You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.