The Question

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


It was a long offseason, my friends. A light winter in these parts but a harsh one all the same. The usual offseason non-stories seemed even less-satisfying than normal. On a personal level, I spent many long, dark hours searching for meaning and happiness in a world that seemed uncompromising, unforgiving and indifferent to humanity.

So what better to fix all of that than to ask questions about Aquaman and stuff?  The Twitter questions are back.  And the world is somewhat warmer because of it:

Q: Why has it been so long since you answered any damn questions? Afraid?

Maybe. But remember: Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. So I’m back, yo.

Q: What is your favorite show on NPR?

That one aimed at the white professional people who live in big cities and like to talk about the latest books they’ve read. I’m blanking on the name.

Q: Ryan Howard contract: lol, or LOL?

More of a ROTFLMAO

Q: Finish this sentence….”Bobby V’s time in Boston will be ____________________”


Q: Would Aquaman be able to bat over the Mendoza line? Would his pitching line look worse than Bronson Arroyo’s?

I have to make a confession about Aquaman.  After years of bashing Aquaman mercilessly, The Common Man — writer of The Platoon Advantage, Baseball Prospectus contributor and frequent HBT commenter — mailed me the first four issues of the new series.  I read them. And I’ll admit it: it’s pretty good stuff.  Now, to be clear, the writer, Geoff Johns, had to spend a great deal of time in those first few issues making a very clear point about how Aquaman is no longer lame like everyone thinks he is. There’s even a blogger character that tries to interview him about that kind of thing.  If he wasn’t pretty clearly lame in past incarnations, Johns wouldn’t have had to do this.

But superheros are frequently reinvented. Batman had a lame period too. Maybe not as long as Aquaman’s, but it was pretty lame. And he got reinvented in an astoundingly successful manner, so there is hope for Aquaman.

Not that I’m not going to continue to bash him. It’s funny and I’m old and I just don’t care. So: Aquaman — the version of him I like to think of — would hit like Brandon Inge. Except he’d be less useful defensively at every position unless there was a lot of rain and the drainage system malfunctioned.  I’m guessing he could pick it at third better than anyone as long as there was a giant mud puddle just to the right of the bag.

Q: Is Son Of The Collector not the best band name ever?

It’s pretty good. Can’t be considered the best until we sort through all the Milwaukee bands named after Ryan Braun’s pee, however.

Q: How quick will the 10 team playoff end when the Yankees get knocked out every year ?

I’m guessing this helps the Yankees. I’m more interested in hearing what Blue Jays and Orioles fans complain about now that they have another chance to make the playoffs even if Boston and New York do too.

Q: Candidates for this year’s Vogelsong? Also Avengers or JLA?

I think Jamie Moyer coming in and getting people out at age 49 and a year off for Tommy John surgery — in Coors Field no less — would blow Vogelsong’s little Cinderella story out of the water. And, merits of the comics aside, I’ve always been a DC guy for some reason. Just like how I prefer the National Legaue even though I know that it’s not as good as the American League, objectively speaking.

Q: Why do we drive on a “Parkway” and park on a “Driveway”?

Because if we didn’t, bad comics like Gallagher wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

Q:  What on-the-cusp team wins the one-off and wreaks havoc on the playoffs with the expanded system? Jays? Nats? Other?

When Stephen Strasburg and the 85-win Nats win the one-game playoff against the defending World Series champ Cardinals, there will likely be a lot of people moaning.

Q: Rank the TOS Star Trek movies in order, with a letter grade if possible.

1. Wrath of Khan (A); 2. Undiscovered Country (A-); 3. Voyage Home (B+); 4. Search for Spock (B-); 5. The Motion Picture (C-); 6, The Final Frontier (D-).  That last one may deserve an F, but I reserve an F for something that I would just never, ever watch ever, and I can at least watch The Final Frontier for unintentional laughs and mockability, even if it is horrible.

Q: In the wake of the Mike/Giancarlo Stanton news, how Many MLB players do you think are secretly Italian?

I don’t know. And we won’t know until there’s a safe, reliable test for gesticulation and emoting in normal, day-to-day conversation. Until then, everyone is suspect, and that’s the real tragedy.

Q: If the only way to see The Dark Knight Rises, ever, was to pay $100, would you? What would your limit be?

I’m not gonna lie — and I’m not proud of myself — but I probably would pay the $100 if there was no other chance to see it, including on DVD or whatever.  I’m so in the bag for Batman it’s not even funny, but you knew that already.

Q: A genie grants you three chances to get in the best shape of someone else’s life (with no work). Whom do you choose?

I would like to be in The Best Shape of George Clooney’s Life.  Not that he was ever so perfect physically — indeed, note that he doesn’t do a lot of shirt-off stuff in his movies — but because shape is not just about how a dude looks with his shirt off.  Who wouldn’t want one-tenth of his mojo?

Q: With all of your tv spots these days, how long is it until you’re on Celebrity Apprentice Dancing with the Stars or Maury?

True Fact: Both the studios for Maury and the studios for the NBC Sports Network are in Stamford, Connecticut.  Just sayin’.

Q: What do you think the Twins chances to contend are?

Somewhere south of “snowflake’s chance in Hell” and somewhere north of “New York Mets.”

Q: If you had to bet your life on one team finishing 3rd in its division in 2012, who would you pick?

Hmm. Good question. harder this year than in most years.  How about the Kansas City Royals?  I think the White Sox crater, the Twins still stink, and the Tigers still cruise. That leaves Cleveland and Kansas City to battle for second place. Gun to my head right now, I say Cleveland edges out the Royals. But note: I’m almost always wrong about this kind of crap.

Q: Which field has the most blades of grass?

Coors Field. This is just a simple fact. Prove me wrong.

Q: Cards fan, I don’t think they’ll fall off a cliff. Beltran is good. Berkman is good. Division is not ace. Am i nuts?

Nope. I think the Cards will be in it all year and I may even pick them to win the division.

Q: What would you have renamed the Houston franchise, if they had gone through with that process?

The Houston Humid Depressing Sprawling Hellscapes. Because I think a team should reflect the nature and character of the city in which it plays.

Q: Would you like to create a shot for shot remake of the “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys music video?

Hard to top the execution on that.  I’d rather remake Greg Khin’s “Jeopardy” video. Though I’m guessing that rising commodity prices have made the cost of tin foil prohibitively expensive.

Q: What did you think of the end of the new BSG?

Readers from last year will recall that I spent the last part of the summer/early fall watching “Battlestar Galactica” while on the treadmill.  I love, love, loved it. Frakking brilliant series.  The ending? I can’t say it was terribly disappointing. I have some nitpicks, of course, like what the hell was the deal with Starbuck and stuff.  But let’s not make perfect the enemy of the good here.  After seeing finales for so many good shows just utterly fail — can we all talk about how crappy “Lost” was near the end despite the feel-good final scene? — I think BSG did a pretty darn fine job of it.

Q: When taking a deuce, do you drop trousers to your knees or ankles? I’m a knees guy, but I feel I’m the minorty.

I’m a blogger. I don’t wear pants.

Q: Why wear pants, ever?

See what I mean?

Q: To be or not to be?

That is the question, ain’t it? In other news, Hamlet was so emo that I’m surprised he died of the poisoned blade before he died of mono or something.

Q: Isn’t it ironic, dontcha think?

Literally, it is.

Q: Say you’re a Nats fan – riding the wave of excitement for all it’s worth, or steeling yourself for disappointment? 

Ride the wave, man. They’re gonna be pretty good this year.  And starting in a couple of years, they’re gonna be in the playoffs a lot.

Q: What comes first – radical realignment or expansion?

I’d guess they happen at the same time, but not for a looong time.  And not until the territory system breaks down somehow, because if there is to be expansion — or even relocation — it’s going to have to happen in cities that already have teams. Because that’s where the population growth is.  Our nation’s growth is about big cities getting bigger, not old small cities suddenly getting big like it was post-WWII America or something.

Q: Why does some innocent urine collector in Milwaukee request future questions be forwarded to a NY lawyer? & who’s paying?

I would read nothing into this at all. The lawyer was probably furnished by his employer or the league who, naturally, has connections and existing relationships with New York lawyers.  For as far out there in defending the arbitrator’s decision as I have been, even I am not willing to get into conspiracy theories about the collection process in the Braun case.

Q: After Jose Reyes, which NL East shortstop will have the best all-around season in 2012?

Jimmy Rollins. Because he’s probably still the best all-around shortstop in the NL East after Reyes.

Q: To what degree have you controlled the course your life has taken? That is all.

I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.

Q: Biggest disappointment you’ve ever seen? Baseball related or not.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  We all mock now and act like the prequels were doomed from the start, but if one thinks back to 1998-99 and just how highly anticipated the Star Wars prequels were — and thinks about how George Lucas could have done almost anything he wanted with the story — one can only weep.

Q: 5 people from history to eat dinner with, with caveat that you must consider how they would get along.

Jeffrey Dahmer, someone from the Donner Party and The Fat Boys.  Sorry … too soon?

Q: Who has the better year – Ellsbury or Granderson?

Umm … Granderson. I have no idea why. I just like him better.

Q: Most underrated player in baseball history?

There’s a whole lot of them.  Indeed, I will be part of a project writing a whole book about them soon. I’m going to be writing about Alan Trammell, but he certainly doesn’t qualify as the most underrated because a lot of people know he was awesome.  If I had to guess right now I’d say either Bobby Grich or Darrell Evans, but there are a ton of dudes like that.

Q: How much do you think your background as a lawyer has influenced your thoughts on the Braun scenario?

An outrageous amount.  It’s all about due process for me.  Practicing law for 11 years really brought home how vitally important procedures are to ensure the integrity of a system. You don’t always get the results you want, but if you follow the rules, you can be assured of the best possible outcomes in the aggregate.

Q: Who is Snooki’s baby-daddy?

Ryan Braun.  It’s all been a big cover up.

Q: Does an aversion to the Padres’ camouflage jerseys make Jim Caple a Taliban sympathizer? He says no.

Just what a terrorist would say to throw you off his trail!  Actually, though, it just means that he has good taste. Those things, however well-intentioned, are fugly.

Q: I was told to follow you for a spring training “I’m in the best shape of my life” quote count. Whatcha got?

Pursuant to our scientific system, we have found 40 players and one manager who have declared themselves to be in the best shape of their lives. A full roster!

Bryan LaHair – CHC
Mat Gamel – MIL
Joe Saunders – ARI
Danny Valencia – MIN
Chris Davis – BAL
Brandon McCarthy – OAK
Anthony Swarzak – MIN
Billy Butler – KC
Mike Moustakas – KC
Russell Martin – NYY
Jason Grilli – PIT
Jed Lowrie – HOU
Logan Schafer – MIL
Lance Lynn – STL
Phil Hughes – NYY
Bill Hall – NYY
Yadier Molina – STL
Evan Longoria – TB
Brett Cecil – TOR
Freddie Freeman – ATL
Brian Wilson – SFO
Jason Heyward – ATL
Casey McGehee – PIT
Chris Tillman – BAL
Franklin Gutierrez – SEA
Miguel Olivo – SEA
Miguel Cabrera – DET
Justin Smoak – SEA
Dexter Fowler – COL
Jaime Garcia – STL
Miguel Tejada – FA
Aubrey Huff – SFO
Vicente Padilla – BOS
Carlos Zambrano – MIA
Yonder Alonso – SD
Mark Teixeira – NYY
Dmitri Young – FA
Yoenis Cespedes – OAK
Matt Diaz – ATL
Shin-Soo Choo – CLE
Mike Scioscia – LAA

Not bad.

There were a bunch more questions, but this was all I had time for this morning.  Tune in next week for more of this silly kind of thing.

The Days of Chief Wahoo are numbered

Fox Entertainment

One of the more common responses to what I’ve posted about Chief Wahoo lately is “it’s just a cartoon character! Nobody cares!”

Well, looking at that guy in the photo above and many others dressed like him at Progressive Field the past two days is evidence that it is not just a cartoon character. A certain swath of Indians fans think that, because of their team’s name and mascot, it’s totally acceptable to show up in public looking like this. Wahoo as an official trademark of a Major League Baseball club gives people license to dress up in redface — or in this case, red and blackface — with headdresses on, turning a real people and a real culture into a degrading caricature. It’s not just a cartoon character by a long shot. To many it’s a get-out-being-called-a-racist-free card.

As for “nobody cares,” well, yes, someone does. Go read this from Sterling HolyWhiteMountain over at ESPN, talking about both Chief Wahoo as a symbol and America’s treatment and conception of Native Americans as a whole. It’s moving stuff that puts lie to the idea that “nobody cares.” It likewise puts lie to the false choice so many Chief Wahoo defenders reference in which they argue that people should care more about actual injustices visited upon Native Americans and not mascots. One can and should care about those injustices. And one can do that while simultaneously finding Chief Wahoo to be an odious symbol that serves to dehumanize people. Once people are dehumanized, it’s far easier to treat them as something less-than-human, of course.

But it’s not just Native Americans or anti-Wahoo folks like me who care. While I have been critical of Major League Baseball for not taking its own stand against Wahoo publicly, it seems pretty clear at this point that the league is weary of Wahoo and is looking to pressure the Indians to eliminate it. Last night, at the Hank Aaron Award ceremony, Manfred spoke more expansively about Wahoo than he did the day before. Manfred is a lawyer and he does not choose his words carelessly. Read this and parse it carefully:

“I know that that particular logo is offensive to some people, and all of us at Major League Baseball understand why. Logos are, however, primarily a local matter. The local club makes decisions about its logos. Fans get attached to logos. They become part of a team’s history. So it’s not easy as coming to the conclusion and realizing that the logo is offensive to some segment.

“I’ve talked to Mr. [Indians owner and CEO Paul] Dolan about this issue. We’ve agreed away from the World Series at an appropriate time we will have a conversation about this. I want to understand fully what his view is, and we’ll go from there. At this point in this context, I’m just not prepared to say more.”

Yes, he’s still trying to be diplomatic, but note how he (a) acknowledges that Wahoo is offensive to some people; (b) that “all of us at Major League Baseball understand why” and (c) does not validate the views of those who do not find it offensive. He acknowledges that they feel that way due to history, but he does not say, as I inferred from his previous comments the day before, that both sides have merit. Indeed, he says he’d like to hear Paul Dolan’s side, suggesting that while he’ll listen to argument, he doesn’t buy the argument as it has yet to be put.

I still wish that MLB would come out hard and strong against Wahoo publicly, but the more I listen to Manfred on this and read between the lines, the more I suspect that Major League Baseball is finally fed up with Wahoo and that it wants to do something to get rid of it. That it’s not just the hobby horse of pinko liberals like me. I believe Manfred realizes that, in 2016, Chief Wahoo is an embarrassment to an organization like Major League Baseball. Maybe, because of p.r. and political considerations, he doesn’t want to stand on a soapbox about it at the World Series, but I believe he wants to put an end to it all the same.

You can call me names for being against Wahoo all you want. But you can’t say it’s a non-issue. You can’t say that it’s just a cartoon character and you can’t say that nobody cares. To do that is an exercise in denial. I have come to believe that Major League Baseball cares and that it’s going to push hard to make the 2016 World Series the last time it is embarrassed by anachronistic racism on its biggest stage ever again.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.