The Question

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

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Another round of Twitter questions, some of which I held back for the next edition of HBT Extra. These, however, did not make the video cut. Which is cool, because as we all know, the non-video ones are usually more fun. Anyway:

Q: So…what would you say, ya do here?

Well look, I already told you! I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don’t have to! I have people skills!

Q: Who’s your favorite?

I assume this was a question about The Women of “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero,” so I’ll go with the Baroness because, wowza. I liked her way more than Scarlet or Lady Jaye. In other news, according to G.I. Joe canon, Lady Jaye is a Bryn Mawr graduate who did graduate work in Trinity College in Dublin, before going on to intelligence school. Yet she’s only a staff sergeant. Scarlett, meanwhile, graduated college summa cum laude and went to law school and she’s only a master sergeant. What’s up with that? Women can’t be officers in G.I. Joe? What a crock.

Q: Why is there no love for Batgirl? Who wouldn’t want a hot chick that could bar brawl with you?

Ask me after I answer this next question …

Q: Tigers and Braves in playoffs, not playing each other, but at the same time. Do you give up the good TV to me? Think about it.

That question came from my girlfriend, who is a Tigers blogger. When she finds out that I’d make her watch Detroit up in the back room on the old TV that’s hooked up to the kids’ Wii, I may very well find out what it’s like to have a hot chick bar brawling with me. Been nice knowin’ you guys.

Q: Commissioner of the day: you are allowed to pardon one for entry to HoF, Shoeless Joe Jackson or Pete Rose? And why.

Jackson. Because even if they dug up his dry, dead bones, propped them up on stage and had famous ventriloquist Jeff Dunham shove his hand up his backside and speak for him, his induction speech would be more dignified than Rose’s.

Q: When will the Chicago Cubs win the World Series?

2018. Prove me wrong.

Q: How do you really feel about football bloggers writing about baseball? It was tough to tell from your post today.

In case you missed it. But I found something even better than football writers taking on baseball. Football fans coming into baseball blog threads and accusing people who like baseball of being “butthurt,” which is a word that they apparently hand out like free candy at football fan school. What we’re supposed to be “butthurt” over I’m not sure, though based on context I assume it’s baseball’s relative unpopularity compared to football. Which is an interesting insight given that these comments always come in response to arguments that football’s greater popularity is actually a drawback rather than a benefit or is, at the very least, irrelevant. But maybe I’m wrong to think that’s interesting. Perhaps my butthurtedness is just blinding me.

Q: What question would you most like asked?

Something that would give me an excuse to troll Phillies fans, preferably about Ryan Howard.

Q: Ryan Howard hasn’t struck out once this season, or made a single error at 1B. Still think his $125M extension was a mistake?

Wow, someone did the trolling for me in the question! You guys are awesome!

Q: What troubled MLB franchise would Dennis Rodman save?

The New York Yankees. They’ve been around forever. They haven’t really changed. They have no excitement about them at all. This, I’m told by football partisans, is a horrible thing, so clearly they need Rodman to drag them into the late 20th century.

Q: Why do Baby Boomers hate me and my fellow millenials?

That’s totally unfair. We Gen-Xers hate you and your fellow millenials too. It’s a jealousy thing, though. You guys text way faster than we can.

Q: Do you like candy?

It’s dandy, but …

Q: Do you have to work at being a D-bag, or does it come natural?

Come now, if I was really a D-bag I’d note that your use of the word “natural” is improper and that you should have gone with an adverb there. But I won’t do that, because I’m not a D-bag.

Q: Why does Dusty Baker hate me? And Aroldis Chapman? And Devin Mesoraco? And Chris Heisey?

You know what you did.

Q: Should Dusty Baker Insert himself in the cleanup spot in the Reds batting order?

Only if he can’t find Kal Daniels’ number.

Q: Should Cadet Kirk really have been awarded a commendation for original thinking?

Referring to this, of course. And you’re right, maybe he should have been punished for cheating. But given that he slept his way through an entire female cadet class and was never disciplined for harassment or moral turpitude, we all know that they were never gonna do anything to him. If he had killed another cadet while trying to execute a Kolvoord Starburst like Wesley Crusher did, Kirk probably would have gotten a commendation too.

Q: Best pizza in Columbus?

Pizza in Columbus is pretty dire. There is a local type of pizza — not good enough to make it a neat regional thing, but prevalent enough to squeeze out actually good pizza — that I’ll call “Columbus Style Pizza” as a shorthand. Columbus Style Pizza is a thin crust thing, pushed mostly by local chain Donato’s. It’s always cut in little squares, not proper slices. It can be done well by some local places (think crispier crust) but it’s often found on soft stale cracker crust and doesn’t hold up to anything approaching a decent topping load.

Worst of all, it doesn’t scratch the itch for good, triangle-cut pie. I mean, I realize this is Columbus and we’re not going to get New York quality here, but it’s almost impossible to find decent, traditional pizza that doesn’t come from a chain. Even Sbarro’s is an improvement compared to what we normally get.

If I must get something besides my local Columbus Style (which at least my kids like), I’ll go to a place down on Ohio State’s campus called Flying Pizza, which is at least in the neighborhood of New York style pizza. Though I’m guessing New Yorkers wouldn’t have the highest opinion of it.

Q: How are you celebrating Chipper’s 40th birthday next Tuesday?

Not getting pizza, that’s for damn sure.

Q: Odds the Cardinals repeat?

Q: Why can’t baseball be more like the NFL?

I guess we’re just stuck in the past, man. We can’t get beyond our 126 square-inch prison!

Q: Tim & Eric: Great Job or Greatest Job?

Great job! (it’s an awesome show)

Q: Why was the DH created and why only AL?

Social experiment created by the auto industry to see if Americans would accept a big, bloated, slow-moving product with superficial performance advantages that, in reality, no one really needed in the first place. This led directly to the SUV explosion in the 1990s.  The NL was used as a control group.

Q: Why was Kris Medlen pitching 2 innings in a 8-2 game? Is Fredi saving Livan’s arm?

Fredi knows that none of us have a memory and that later in the season when Medlen is gassed he can say “hey, I had to use him in close games early” and no one will call him on it.

Q: What do you think is the difference between this year’s J-Hey compared to last year?

Injuries, really. I know that’s often used as an excuse, but he was hurt more than most people realized. Wrist troubles kill a guy who depends on whiplike bat speed like him.

Q: Ratio of serious questions to sarcastic?

Better this week than usual, but that’s not saying much.

Q: What would be your at bat music?

This little ditty.  I’d make Mike Hargrove look like a rank amateur.

Q: You have to demolish one of these stadiums -Fenway or Wrigley? And why?

Fenway. I like it when people say things like “that’s a wicked pissah!” They’re so cute.

Q: Henry Rollins Era, or First Four Years. Your answer to this is of the utmost importance.

I have this feeling based on the questioner and the way it was put that the correct answer should be First Four Years. But I ain’t gonna lie: I wasn’t that damn cool back in the day and I had never heard of Black Flag prior to Henry Rollins being in it. Likewise, I was never so into Black Flag that I felt it necessary to go back and find the older, pre-Hank stuff. I owned “Damaged” on cassette and loved it and I’m not gonna pretend I didn’t, even if Rollins became something of a clown later on.

Q: On a scale of 1-10 how worried are you about Tim Lincecum?

4:20.

Q: Favorite Muppet?

That mad bomber guy. Mostly out of pity. Thanks to a bunch of idiot terrorists he was marginalized for years. I was really happy to see that he made it back for that new Muppet movie.

Q: Would you rather have Liberty Media spring for outfield lighting banks at Turner or on fielders that can catch popups?

The lights. Because  given how much Dan Uggla cost them already, I can’t imagine the price for a second baseman who can actually field his position. It’s likely prohibitive. And since going over budget gives Liberty Media the vapors — and since there is no room in the budget for anti-vapors medication, at least not this quarter — we simply can’t have that.

Q: Why is Fredi still manager of the Braves? 

No room in the budget for cardboard boxes designated for desk-clearing purposes. And Staples is really wanting too much for the paper on which the pink slips are printed. If there’s a sale sometime this summer, however, Fredi had best watch out.

Q: Over/under 1.5 seasons for Bobby V as Sox manager.

Under. Just a feeling.

Q: Why eat pie when ice cream exists?

Because of à la mode? Because you can either subject yourself to false choices or you must die a fiery and awful death?

Q: If you had one recurring event in your life that would activate something like the Marlins HR feature, what would it be?

When I write a tweet that is exactly 140 characters the first time I write it, with no awkward abbreviations and whatnot. That’s a solid, solid feeling in need of overly-demonstrative celebration.

Q: My brother, @TimsNeighbor , was accepted to Emory Law School today. Bourbon of choice for celebration? Can’t say Makers.

Congrats, TimsNeighbor. Who was literally a tool once upon a time and now will be a lawyer. Oh well, we can’t all progress in life. Bourbon: treat yourself to some Ranger Creek. It’s not from Kentucky, but it’s good bourbon. And very different than Makers if that’s not your thing.

Q: Is Aaron Gleeman more Aquaman or more Robin? Or am I completely off the mark?

He’s Steve Arlo to my Daryl Zero. Except I don’t do as much meth and would never have been able to call that bluff about the Corrodium 3 deduction.

Q: Who would you choose to start a game 7 of the WS that was active anytime between 1976-1982 and why?

Hmm. Tough one. Gonna go with Phil Niekro. Not because he’s necessarily the most effective. Rather, because Game 7’s make me nervous, and at least with Niekro we’d know early if the knuckleball was working. If it wasn’t I could turn off the game early and save myself the heartache.

Q: Beatles or Stones?

See the above question about false choices.  When I feel like a badass I listen to Beggar’s Banquet-Exile Stones, and there may be nothing better in the world.  When I want beauty and wonderfulness in my life I listen to any number of Beatles records.  We can all get along, people. We can all get along.

Thanks, all.  More next week.

Chris Sale called “a competitor” for stuff that gets most guys called “head cases”

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox reacts during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Chris Sale has had an eventful week.

On Saturday he was scratched from his start and subsequently suspended for five games for cutting up the 1976 throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear, making them unusable. That cost the team over $12,000 and cost the Sox their best pitcher hours before game time.

On Monday Sale gave an interview to Scott Merkin in which he apologized to fans and teammates and explained his rationale for the uniform shredding. Even if his act was over the top, there was a core of understandable motivation at least: Sale said he voiced his displeasure with the untucked jersey months ago and asked to not pitch on a night they’d have to wear them because he believed it would mess with his mechanics and/or mental state. The Sox didn’t heed his request and Sale took issue, as many probably would, with what he felt was the business of throwback jerseys taking precedence over on-the-field stuff.

Of course, there are still some pretty big problems here. Mostly having to do with the facts that (a) the Sox have people on staff who could’ve optimize his jersey any way he needed it to be optimized if he had asked; (b) ballplayers have been wearing throwbacks for a long time now and, even if they don’t like them, they tend to endure them; and (c) he’s a ballplayer who needs to suck things up sometimes like every single ballplayer ever has done. There are a ton of things ballplayers are expected to do which are insisted upon by the business folks. It’s part of the gig.

A little more seriously than that is the fact that Sale pretty publicly threw his manager, Robin Ventura, under the bus :

“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”

An undercurrent to all of this is Sale being fairly obvious in voicing his desire to be traded.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about Sale’s week. It’s sourced largely by Sale’s friend Adam Eaton who defends Sale as a passionate competitor who just wants to win and how all of this stuff of the past week was about his desire to do so. The headline of the story buys in to all of that:

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 10.32.02 AM

We heard much the same along these lines when Sale blasted Sox brass following the Drake LaRoche stuff during spring training, going on an expletive-filled rant in a meeting behind closed doors but then bringing the same noise, albeit cleaned up, in front of reporters after it all became public.

Chris Sale is who he is, of course, and I’m not going to too harshly judge who he is. He’s an amazing pitcher and, as most athletes will tell you, the mental part of the game is almost as important or, maybe, even more important than the physical part. Asking Sale to be who he isn’t would probably be counterproductive in the long term.

But I am fascinated with the way in which someone who has behaved like Sale has behaved is described. He’s a “competitor” whose objectively disruptive and literally destructive behavior is explained away as merely a function of his desire to win. His friends on the team, like Eaton, are sought out for damage control and spin and his detractors, which there are likely some, aren’t quoted, even anonymously. He has publicly called out his manager as not wanting to win as much as he wants to please his bosses and he has likewise called out his manager’s bosses and has welcomed a trade, yet we aren’t seeing stories about how that’s a bad thing for the Sox’ clubhouse.

I don’t much care for that sort of stuff, actually, as I suspect most clubhouse controversy stories are somewhat overblown and overly dramatized. But those stories have been go-to tropes of sports writers for decades, and I am trying to imagine this sort of story about players who aren’t Chris Sale. Players who don’t have as friendly a relationship with the media as he has or who don’t have clubhouse allies who do. I feel like, most of the time, a story about a guy who who has done the odd things Sale has done both this week and last March would play a hell of a lot differently.

How does this all play of it’s Yordano Ventura? Or Yasiel Puig? Or Jose Fernandez? How does this play if it took place in the NBA and it was Kevin Durant who shredded up a bunch of short-shorts on 80s throwback night? How does it play if it’s Cam Newton?

I bet it plays differently.

Mike Scioscia and the Angels played yesterday’s game under protest

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 27: Matt Shoemaker #52 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws to first as he tries to get the out on Raul Mondesi's #27 of the Kansas City Royals bunt in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. Shoemaker's throwing error lead to Mondesi advancing to third and Alex Gordon and Paulo Orlando scoring.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals beat the Angels last night, but Mike Scioscia is hoping Joe Torre and the Commissioner’s Office gives him a do-over.

The Angels played the game in protest following what they believe to be a rules misinterpretation following a base running incident in the seventh inning. That’s when Raul Mondesi reached on a bunt single which scored two runs following a throwing error from Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker, whose attempt to put out Modesi sailed into right field. Watch the play:

Mike Scioscia came out claiming interference, arguing that Mondesi was not running within the baseline. The play was reviewed for over six minutes but the call — everyone’s safe and two runs scored — was upheld. After that Scioscia indicated tht he was playing under protest.

The thing about protests, though, is that they cannot be based on judgment calls. Rather, they have to be based on misapplication of rules by the umpires. Running outside of the baseline is a judgment call, though, right? So how can Scioscia protest it? Here’s his explanation:

“It’s not a judgement call. I would not have protested if I was not 100 percent correct on this. This is a misinterpretation of a rule. It was very clear. Phil Cuzzi, the home plate umpire, had Mondesi running inside the line in jeopardy the whole way, and stated that it’s okay because he was stepping back toward the bag, which is wrong.”

For his part, Royals manager Ned Yost believed it was a judgment call. For everyone’s part, protests are almost never upheld in baseball and, despite Scioscia’s comments, baseline calls are generally considered judgement calls.

If Scioscia is right, the game will be replayed, resuming with one out in the seventh inning and the runners where they started. But don’t hold your breath.