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.

2017 World Series Preview: How the Astros and Dodgers match up

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The Dodgers are seeking their first World Series championship in 29 years. The Astros are seeking their first in the franchise’s 56-season history. Clayton Kershaw is making his first appearance on baseball’s biggest stage. Justin Verlander is making his third, but looking for his first ring. The Astros two aces are facing the Dodgers’ deep lineup. The Dodgers power throwing bullpen will face off against the Astros powerful lineup. For the first time in 47 years each team in the World Series won 100 games in the regular season.

Stars taking on stars. Power facing power. History, of one kind or another, somewhere between five and nine days from being made. It’s the Fall Classic, and it gets underway tonight. Here’s how it all breaks down:

 

THE ROTATIONS

It’s a bit of a shame that the rotations didn’t line up in order to give us a Verlander-Kershaw battle in Game 1, as it’s not every day you see two pitchers who each won an MVP Award face off. We’re still going to get some great matchups of staters here, however, as Kershaw — who still has something to prove as a big-game pitcher, his pennant-clinching Game 5 NLCS victory notwithstanding — meets 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel in tonight’s Game 1. Game 2 gives us Rich Hill, who has remade himself into one of baseball’s best in the latter stages of his career, against Verlander, who many though his best days were behind him. That was before his trade to Houston and his 9-0 run for the Astros that culminated in a couple of the most dominant postseason starts in recent memory.

The back end of the rotations, featuring Yu Darvish and Alex Wood for L.A. and Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers for Houston, are pretty evenly matched. At their best the Dodgers back two are probably better, but they have each been touched at times late in the season while both Morton and McCullers found a new gear in the ALCS. Whether driving at that gear has them low on gas at the moment is an open question. ADVANTAGE DODGERS.

 

THE LINEUPS

The Dodgers’ lineup has been top heavy in the postseason, but the top has been really, really heavy, so it’s been just fine. Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig have been nearly impossible to pitch to. Fill-in shortstop Charlie Culberson was a revelation in Corey Seager‘s injury absence, but Seager’s back is better and he will be back for the World Series. The bottom half of the lineup has not come through too often — Kiké Hernandez’s big NLCS Game 5 notwithstanding — with left field (Andre Ethier/Hernandez/Curtis Granderson) second base (Logan Forsythe/Chase Utley) and catcher (Austin Barnes, who has pushed Yasmani Grandal to the bench) struggling. The Dodgers can win it all if the top half of the lineup continues doing what it’s doing, but given how slumps can hit at any time, Dave Roberts would like to see a new postseason star emerge.

The Astros bats need no introduction, but they could use a bit more consistency in the postseason. Houston led the majors in runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, were second in homers and struck out less than any team in baseball. The Yankees kept them quiet in the first five games of the ALCS but they roared back to life in Games 6 and 7. The attack will be keyed, as always, by possible AL MVP Jose Altuve, leadoff power source George Springer and shortstop Carlos Correa. As Houston showed all season, however, almost everyone in this lineup is dangerous.  ADVANTAGE ASTROS.

 

THE BULLPENS

This is probably the biggest separator between the clubs, with the Dodgers sporting a big advantage. Unlike in postseasons past, Dave Roberts has not had to use Clayton Kershaw or his other starters as relievers. This is due in part to the Dodgers taking care of their business quickly, sweeping the Dbacks in the NLDS and beating the Cubs in five in the NLCS. It’s mostly, though, due to the uncharacteristic depth and power of L.A’s relief corps. They didn’t allow a run against the Cubs in 17 innings of work in the NLCS.

Kenley Jansen needs no introduction. He continues to be one of the best if not the best closer in the game. Roberts will not hesitate to use him for multiple innings if need be. Has retired 24 of the 28 batters he has faced in the playoffs. He’s yet to be challenged. Hard throwing Brandon Morrow looks like an ace closer this postseason. Kenta Maeda has been a revelation as a setup man who can go multiple innings if need be. Tony Cingrani, Tony Watson and Josh Fields have not been used heavily, but each provides Roberts with an embarrassment of matchup possibilities.

Houston has talent in their pen, but it’s been somewhat shaky in the postseason. Chris Devenski, Will Harris and Joe Musgrove were all gotten to by Yankees hitters in the ALCS. Ken Giles has been OK, but not dominant, and A.J. Hinch has leaned a bit heavier than usual on him at times. More tellingly, Hinch has leaned on starters in relief, using Justin Verlander in that role in the ALDS against the Red Sox and using McCullers for four innings of relief in Game 7 of the ALCS. Hinch’s best hope is that he gets a lot of innings from Keuchel and Verlander in Games 1 and 2 and then has everyone in the pen well-rested for he middle games of the Series. If not, he’s going to be doing a lot of shuffling and, yes, we may see a lot of short rest work from starters in relief roles. ADVANTAGE DODGERS.

 

THE MANAGERS

Dave Roberts is the reigning NL Manager of the Year and both he and A.J. Hinch has a good shot of winning the award this year. Neither man has been second guessed very often in this postseason, as Roberts has not had to gamble at all and Hinch’s gambles have largely paid off. Unlike in some years, there are few dramatic storylines and little philosophical tension at play here. Both of these guys played the game, both work well with analytically-minded front offices yet both have shown that they have a free hand to use their instincts to make changes on the fly and manage the game on the field rather than simply carry out a game plan. If either of these two guys make themselves into a big story in this series it’ll be pretty surprising. EVEN.

 

THE BENCHES

The Dodgers lineup is a bit more fluid than Houston’s, with Roberts subbing in different guys at left field and second base in various postseason games. As such, if they’re not starting they may be a bit more game-ready than your usual benchwarmer. Houston tends to roll with the same lineup most nights, but Hinch has some flexibility at catcher where Evan Gattis and Brian McCann are both options and at DH in the home games, where either of them or Carlos Beltran can see action. ADVANTAGE DODGERS.

 

X-FACTOR

We don’t put much stock in intangibles, history or dramatic storylines when it comes to the World Series. We’ll leave that to the producers at Fox. Buy we will throw one wild card into the mix: home field advantage.

It’s not often the most important thing going in baseball, but it’s been an usually big boost in the 2017 postseason. Home teams are 23-8 (.742) this October, which is the best mark since the playoffs expanded to include Wild Card teams. So far the Astros are 6-0 in Houston and the Dodgers are 4-0 in Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers, likewise, had the best home record in all of baseball in the regular season. L.A. hasn’t yet had to bring a playoff series back home after it began, but the chance to host four home games in a best of seven may loom a bit larger this year than most. Oh, and keep an eye on guys’ stamina levels in Games 1 and 2. It’s gonna be close to 100 degrees at Dodger Stadium at game time for each of those tiltsADVANTAGE DODGERS.

 

PREDICTION

This is the matchup many of us were hoping for as early as late July. The Dodgers swooned in late August and early September, but the fact that they still won 104 games tells you just how dominant a club they were in 2017. While the Indians had the AL’s best record thanks to their late season winning streak, the Astros were, in our view, the best team in the American League all season long. This is the first matchup of 100-win teams in the Fall Classic in 47 years. It is, quite simply, the best on-paper World Series matchup we’ve had in many, many years. It’s sad someone has to lose this thing, but that’s how it goes.

Los Angeles hasn’t had to come back to Dodger Stadium to finish off a series yet. We don’t think they’ll be that lucky this time around, but we do think that their bullpen gives them a clear advantage and will work to neutralize those dangerous Astros bats in the final 3-4 innings of every game. That’s enough daylight for us to say that, in our view it’ll be . . .

DODGERS IN SIX