The Question

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

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Q: What would you do if you joined the BBWAA for 10 years?

Vote for Jay Bell and Bill Mueller for the Hall of Fame? Act petulantly and intellectually dishonest while appealing to authority if and when I was called out for my irrationality?  Anything I wanted to, really.

Q: Should sports reporters/analysts be able to vote on awards/honors that they also cover?

I know the New York Times and some other outlets forbid their writers from doing so on conflict of interest grounds. I don’t have that big of a problem with it, though, mostly because I’m not sure who else would do a better job of it.  If I were the BBWAA, though, I’d make it a requirement that the voters explain their reasoning in some form or another and make Hall of Fame ballots public.

Q: Are you going to try to push to get into the BBWAA next year? Clearly, need your vote to cancel out someone else’s.

Actually, yeah, I think we’re going to try to get badges this December. It wouldn’t be simply for awards voting, though. Aaron, D.J. and Drew all live in MLB cities and I think them being able to go to games with little hassle — which is the point of a BBWAA membership — would improve our product. I go to spring training now and try to catch as many games as I can from here in central Ohio, so I’d use it too. Awards and, eventually, Hall of Fame voting would be gravy. In any event, I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. If any BBWAA members are reading: hi!

Q: When did you stop taking steroids?

Right after I stopped beating my wife. Pedro Gomez knows all of this though. He can tell with his own two eyes.

Q: Who’s more useless to their team right now: Pujols or Aquaman?

Oof. Rough times for El Hombre right now.

Q: Dee Gordon vs. Starlin Castro…. who gets the better numbers?

Castro, and I don’t think it will be close. At least outside of the stolen base column. Whether Castro does it as a shortstop is another question altogether, though.

Q: Pineda is dead and Hughes sucks. Should Cashman start shopping for gorilla suits to sneak out of town?

That’s totally unfair. Because Freddy Garcia sucks too.

Q: Who is the best baseball player yet to be born?

I don’t know his name, but my gut tells me he’ll be born in a few months, in whatever city Bryce Harper spend his offseason.

Q: Who’s more disappointing to their fans: Royals, Red Sox, or Pujols?

Can’t be the Royals. I mean, yeah, there was some offseason hype, but after the past 20-some years of hell, I don’t think Royals fans are so gullible to have actually built up serious expectations. And not to be snarky here, but does Albert Pujols actually have fans?  Those in St. Louis have likely abandoned him, changing the fandom they had for him to some mix of admiration, nostalgia and longing. Angels fans, in contrast, have yet to see anything from Pujols that would actually have won them over.  So, by default, I’m going with Red Sox fans.

Q: Manny + Yoenois = ?

The most awkward dinner part ever? But Angel Prieto would be there to translate for Cespedes, and based on what I saw of him at spring training, he’s a nice, funny guy who would add a lot to a dinner party, so I figure it would be cool.

Q: Thoughts on the Yankees 94.5 O/U after the Pineda loss?

I don’t think you can pin any Yankees disappointment in the standings this year on the Pineda loss given that the guy never suited up. I’d be much more worried about Phil Hughes’ struggles. But whatever goes into it, I’m still taking the over.

Q: If you could be any animal, what would it be?

A cat, without question. Dogs have too much responsibility.

Q: What nickname would you give Jordany Valdespin? Could anything live up to just “Jordany Valdespin?”

That’s not a real person. Cut it out.

Q: Just how badly did the Twins have the Metrodome rigged to screw with the Braves in the ’91 World Series?

Oh, it was terrible. Phony crowd noise, manipulated air conditioning, all those steroids they pumped into Jack Morris, the replacement of their first baseman with a Teamster goon. The list goes on and on.

Q: I might have missed something but I know why Mookie is Mookie but don’t know Carlo’s story.

My daughter is nicknamed Mookie because it just occurred to me to call her that one day, she got annoyed by it, seeing her annoyed is one of the most hilarious things ever and so it stuck. Carlo is my son’s real name. I occasionally call him “Buddy,” but he’s pretty immune to nicknames. He’s the most Carlo person I know.

Q: I know you’re a huge Dylan fan – were you a fan of The Band? Did Levon Helm’s death hit you hard?

I like the Band, but I’m not some super fan. I own Big Pink and the self-titled album and like them. I think their contributions to “Before the Flood” and their backup to Dylan in other instances are fantastic, and I have always loved “The Last Waltz.”  But it has never gone beyond admiration and enjoyment. I feel like them the way I feel about a lot of good bands. I did learn a bit about Levon Helm in recent years and I think he sounded like a neat guy. But no, I can’t say his death hit me hard. I just don’t have those kinds of feelings or connections with celebrities, musicians, athletes, actors, etc. I can’t think of one such death, Dylan’s included, that I could honestly say would “hit me hard.” I’m just not wired that way.

Q: Would an exorcism free the Giancarlo demon from Mike Stanton’s body?

The Power of Ozzie Compels You!

Q: The Marlins home run sculpture has to be a last ditch attempt of Aquaman to become relevant? right?? He’s so desperate!

I know, right?  And really, what’s better?  This or this?  Case closed.

Q: Can Batman hit a curveball?

Normally I would say yes, but man, the guy stands in the batter’s box facing the catcher, so maybe baseball is not his thing.

Q: What has turned Jair Jurrjens from an All-Star last summer into a triple A pitcher this spring?

It’s like when the Coyote runs off the cliff and stands their suspended in mid air until he looks down and then — and only then — does he fall. Jurrjens has been suspended in mid-air for a while. You just can’t maintain the kind of success he had with the low strikeout rates he had forever. Throw in a couple of nagging injuries that have sapped him of a couple of ticks off his fastball, and he’s sorta doomed.

Q: Has the first few weeks of the season changed your opinion on any of your predicted division winners?

Nah. The Phillies’ — and the Nats’ — start has me pretty concerned, but I still have this feeling that they’ll turn it around. Otherwise I still feel pretty confident about my picks: Phillies, Cards, Dbacks, Yankees, Tigers, Rangers.

Q: Where’s my “can Jeter hit .400” post? Also, seeing Mets and Yanks in the same week. I think I prefer CitiField.

I joked about writing that post, mostly to preempt someone at NBC from actually asking me to do one. Thinking I could say “guys, really, I mocked that idea last week!”  Someone’s gonna do it, though. You know they are.  As for the fields: dirty secret: I have always enjoyed half-empty parks more than full house, much the same way I prefer half-empty airplanes. People suck, and fewer of them jostling against me is a good thing. So while I’ve never been to either of those parks, I have this feeling I’d enjoy myself at Citi better, even if it’s not as aesthetically as cool as Yankee Stadium.

Q: Legit Q: how long until Derek Lowe throws a shutout for Cleveland? Seems only a matter of time til karma shows her ugly head.

C’mon, Karma may be a bitch, but she’s a gorgeous one in her own way. And I will say, the worst part of Jair Jurrjens being demoted is that I missed the 2011-version of Lowe, and Jurrjens did a lot to remind me of him. Wait, that’s not true. I didn’t miss that at all.

As for Lowe’s shutouts: he faces Albert Pujols this weekend, so there’s at least one easy out. Amirite, guys?

Q: Why does it make sense to grade a trade by anything but the end result? Anything is else sounds like rationalization.

Madness? This is the Internet! If we can’t offer premature kneejerk judgment, what’s the point?

Q: As an outside observer, do you see anything but injuries stopping the Rangers this year?

Nope. I’d say the same thing as an insider observer. Except that observation would be accompanied by lots of flowery prose about how dreamy Michael Young is.

Q: If you were a hot dog, would you eat yourself?

Without question. And I’d wash myself down with a nice summer shandy.

Q: Also, Minor or Beachy for the next 5 years?

Gosh, hard to say. Maybe Beachy, but it’s for some random, not-very-objective reasons.

Q: True or False: Kevin Conroy is the best TV/Movie portrayal of Batman.

Absolutely true. He was great as the voice in the “Animated Series.” Plus, he totally called b.s. on Christian Bale’s bad, bad choice of making Batman sound like he gargled razor blades. I love Bale’s Bruce Wayne, and he certainly looks good kicking butt in the movies. But his Batman voice is rather annoying.

Q: More likely: Boston finishes third in East, or Pujols slugs under .500 for first time in career?

I think Boston finishing third. I am not punting on Pujols yet. I may mock a little, but I’m not punting.

Q: Would you put Rose in the Hall?

Yup. The Hall should be about baseball greatness and baseball greatness only, and Pete Rose was baseball great.  I’d keep his ass banned, though, and not let him anywhere near current baseball operations of any team.  He can be a fan ambassador or whatever if he wants. I’m sure the Reds would hire him in a millisecond for such a role.

Q: Craig, I’m relocating from the east coast to Ohio this summer. Any words of advice?

Bring your own pizza. Get used to leaving for someplace a few short minutes before you have to be there because we have no traffic. Learn to like bratwurst. Brush up on your college football knowledge because, boy howdy, does everyone frickin’ love to talk about it here and if you can’t you’ll be treated like an alien.

Q: What’s a bigger drawback in a co-host: lack of knowledge of BABIP or Batman?

I don’t know that Tiffany doesn’t know about BABIP. I’m pretty sure she has no Batman-fu, however, which is why I tend not to use those questions for the video portion of Twitter questions.

And speaking of which: if you didn’t see your question here, stay tuned, as sometime tomorrow morning the HBT Extra version of Twitter questions will be up.

Darvish wins 1st start since 2014 as Rangers top Pirates 5-2

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Yu Darvish struck out seven in five strong innings in his first start in the majors in almost 22 months, and the Texas Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Saturday night.

The Japanese right-hander allowed three singles with a walk in his return from last year’s Tommy John surgery, ending Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak.

Adrian Beltre had a two-run homer in the first inning off Juan Nicasio (3-3) to become the fourth third baseman with at least 1,500 RBIs, finishing with 1,501.

Mitch Moreland snapped a 1-for-27 skid with a solo home run in the fourth.

Four Texas relievers allowed four hits and a run with four strikeouts in four innings.

The “Yuuu” calls from a sellout crowd started early for Darvish, who last pitched in the big leagues on Aug. 9, 2014. He missed the rest of that season with right elbow inflammation, and ended up needing ligament reconstruction surgery after his only spring training appearance last year.

Darvish (1-0) had a 0.90 ERA in five rehab starts this month, culminating with an 87-pitch outing. He threw 81 against the Pirates, hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the first inning and displaying his usual array of breaking pitches, some as slow as 70 mph.

John Jaso had a leadoff single on Darvish’s second pitch before Andrew McCutchen struck out. The Pirates didn’t get another hit until Francisco Cervelli‘s sinking liner in front of rookie right fielder Nomar Mazara in the fifth.

No. 9 hitter Cole Figueroa ended Darvish’s shutout bid by pulling a hanging slider into right-center field for a single that scored Cervelli from second. Darvish then struck out Jaso for the second time to finish his outing.

Beltre’s homer just cleared the wall in center field after Prince Fielder‘s RBI groundout to score leadoff hitter Jurickson Profar, who had two hits filling in for suspended second baseman Rougned Odor. It was the second game of Odor’s seven-game ban.

SHORT HOPS

Joey Gallo, who had just one at-bat in his five-day stint, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room on the roster for Darvish. … Pirates lefty reliever Tony Watson came off the paternity list and pitched a perfect eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle planned to give 2B Josh Harrison the night off after he came out of the series opener early. He’s been battling an illness that kept him out of the lineup Thursday as well.

Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos is expected to start a rehab assignment Tuesday with Double-A Frisco. He’s been out since April 10 with a broken right forearm and could be activated as soon as he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 9.

UP NEXT

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-3, 4.30) has won his last four starts against the Rangers and is 5-1 with a save and a 2.89 ERA in nine career games against them, most of those with Minnesota. His last appearance against Texas was Sept. 10, 2013.

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 3.13) makes his team-high 11th start and has gone 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA in his past six starts. He threw six shutout innings in a 4-1 win over the Angels in his last start

Utley answers with slam, solo HR as Dodgers rout Mets 9-1

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NEW YORK (AP) After the New York Mets missed, Chase Utley connected twice.

Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing New York 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch – which certainly appeared to be his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year’s playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers’ bench to keep teammates calm – and later responded by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you. I think it’s fun,” said Utley, who has 19 RBIs this season, nine in the first two games of this series. “It kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit, makes you kind of dig down deeper.”

Asked if he thought Syndergaard delivered a purpose pitch, Utley said: “Possibly, but I understand it.”

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets’ 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Howie Kendrick and Corey Seager also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that hit him on the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings. The right-hander yielded two hits, both singles in the first, and stopped his three-game losing streak.

“Pretty impressive. You wouldn’t see too many other pitches staying in the game at that point,” Utley said.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets – and their fans – were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night; Utley played all four games without incident May 9-12 when the teams split a series in Los Angeles.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion told a pool reporter. “We can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”

Hallion said no warnings were issued before the series.

“We take each game individually,” he said when asked if last year’s playoff series played a role in the ejection. “We have to make a snap decision. We can’t think about, OK, well this guy did this or he did that in Game 6 of whatever. We don’t have enough time to think that way. We make a decision on what happens in the game.”

Collins said he had never before seen a pitcher get ejected without a warning.

“My argument was, nobody got hit,” Collins said. “There was a time when, in this game, where you had a shot and nothing happened, the ball went to the backstop. So that was kind of my argument.”

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

“It was just a pitch that got away from me. That’s all I got,” Syndergaard said. “I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better.”

Collins acknowledged he’s a little concerned Syndergaard might get suspended.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett’s first pitch of the sixth for a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, making it 6-0 with his 38th homer against the Mets.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

“We came together as a group,” Utley said. “We battled, and it was a good win.”

WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts vs. the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May – including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Mets’ Syndergaard ejected after throwing behind Utley

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NEW YORK — In a scene that has seemed inevitable since October, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been ejected for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since his late takeout slide in last year’s playoffs broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

New York was incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules on slides at bases this season. But the Mets had not attempted to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman’s back by a considerable margin.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting irate Mets manager Terry Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected.

Indians’ Brantley unsure of return from shoulder injury

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CLEVELAND — Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has no timetable for his return from the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the second time this season.

Brantley spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 14. He began the season on the DL following surgery for a torn right labrum in November. Brantley hit .231 with seven RBIs in 11 games before being shut down again.

“I wasn’t bouncing back quick enough to keep playing back-to-back games, which is very important,” he said. “I want to be healthy each and every day and I have to play at a high level. This is the major leagues. You have to be at the best of your ability and the highest health-wise you can be.”

Brantley, who received an anti-inflammatory shot in the shoulder two weeks ago, doesn’t think he returned from the surgery too soon.

“I was ready,” he said. “We talked about it. We had a great process laid out. Everything went smoothly. It was just a bump in the road.”

Brantley has been hitting off a tee but isn’t sure when he will begin taking swings in the batting cage. He is playing catch since he throws left-handed but wants to be cautious about resuming a hitting program.

“Surgery is nothing to play with,” he said. “You have to be smart and understand your body.”

Brantley visited Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed the surgery, in Wilmington, Delaware after he returned to the DL. An MRI showed no changes in the shoulder.

“He said everything checks out good, just make sure to take your time and we’ll see what happens from there,” Brantley said.

Brantley finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2014 when he hit .327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. He batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs last season.