The Question

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


I spent a lot of yesterday on Twitter talking about gay marriage. Short version: I’m pro-gay marriage. Exceedingly so, as I believe it a basic civil right to which I have yet to see any legitimate argument in opposition that comports with the civic culture and history of the United States. I got grouchy at Obama for being late to the party, but basically, I set off a whole big Twitter conversation in which I made clear my support of gay marriage.

So, obviously, when I asked for Twitter questions I got a million of them about gay marriage. And because the usual call for Twitter questions brings about two dozen Batman-related questions — and because I obsessed so much on Cole Hamels and Bryce Harper this week — I got a nice mashup of those.  Here’s but a sampling:

  • When will marriage equality come to Gotham?
  • If Batman got gay married, who would it be with? You can’t say Robin.
  • Does Batman getting gay married undermine the sanctity of Hamels throwing at Harper to uphold the rules of the game?
  • If Batman was gay could he hit four home runs in one game?
  • If Jeter and Arod got married, who would be Batman, relegating the other to the sidecar?

There were many, many more.  To save time, I will note that Batman is probably straight — too much Catwoman and Poison Ivy interaction there — but (a) he was interested in Katie Holmes in “Batman Begins,” and being associated with her romantically is somewhat complicated in that department; and (b) his relationship with the Joker long is long past the “Jeez, will you two make out already for crying out loud?” territory.  Seriously, you can cut the tension with a knife there.

Either way, Batman would likely support gay marriage because he is, above all else, a reasonable person, at least if you ignore the fact that he’s sort of psychotic. As for who he’d marry if he weren’t straight?  Northstar, obviously.  Anyway:

Q: Bigger threat to the institution of marriage: gay marriage or pitchers hitting?

Basically, everything in the world is a bigger threat to marriage than gay marriage. Think about it: is there any other pursuit or institution on the planet that is actually threatened by people eagerly wanting to be a part of it?  Interest and new adherents usually strengthens an institution, it doesn’t weaken it. The only exception I can think of are pathetic hipster hangounts, and who the hell wants to be like that?

Q: Any way Harper gets sent back down? What about before the Werth injury?

Never. He’s here to stay. Even before the Werth injury I would say so.  He may slump, but I suspect the Nats have decided that his character is such that he’ll learn better from the challenge of the bigs than being bored in the bushes. And, yeah, he’ll be a gate draw, I imagine.

Q: Seriously, How good are the Rangers?

Pretty fantastic. They have a +65 run differential right now, which trails only the Cardinals. Texas has been so good for the past couple of years that people are almost overlooking them.

Q: What’s the most classless, gutless chicken [bleep] act you’ve seen in your years in baseball?

In my baseball-watching lifetime: the owners illegally colluding against the players in free agency in the 1980s. They cost players millions and playing time and, for reasons that are still a mystery to me, no one holds that against them as far as legacy goes.  The poor character that led Bud Selig to help orchestrate that is way more than the poor character that is cited in keeping PED-associated players out of the Hall of Fame, yet Selig will get a standing ovation when he is one day inducted.

Q: Which underwhelming star has a better shot at 30 HR: Pujols or Adrian Gonzalez?

Well, considering that even in a really good season for him last year Gonzalez didn’t hit 30, I’ll say Pujols. When AG heats up expect more doubles off the wall. I think Pujols has a better shot to smack 30.

Q: Now that Brandon Inge has hit a walk-off grand slam for his new team how do you think he’ll do against his former teammates?

Not sure, but for chaos purposes I’m hoping he hits for the cycle in each game of the series. It would drive Tigers fans absolutely bonkers. Really, I can’t recall a fan base being so torn up and schizophrenic over a player than Tigers fans over Inge.

Q: What occurs first: active MLB player out of the closet or Chief Wahoo logo dropped by Cleveland management?

Hmm. Depends what “dropped” means. I doubt Cleveland will ever officially announce or eradicate Wahoo from their iconography.  I think we’re in a slow process of seeing his presence minimized, however. I predict we’ll have an out-of-the-closet major leaguer within, oh, 15 years or so.  As some commenters noted the last time this topic came up, it won’t be some surprise announcement. It will be a high school phenom with a can’t-miss baseball pedigree who is openly gay at age 17 or something because high school kids these days have way fewer hangups about this stuff than people may age do.  It’ll be a story around draft time and then, every year when he reaches the next level someone will write a rehash column about him. By the time he makes the bigs it will be old news.

Q: There is much talk of late about “small sample sizes”. How many ABs constitute a reasonable sample size, in your view?

Depends how badly I really want to make some point. If it’s REALLY badly, a reasonable sample size is exactly how many at bats the player has had the day I write the post about it.  Likewise, if a player’s performance does not fit in with my thinking, the reasonable number of at bats is exactly the number he gets when the performance finally conforms with my opinions.  They taught me that at baseball writer school, by the way.

Q: Andrew McCutchen scored from second on a groundball to short. Could Batman do that?

Yes. Routinely. Because even if the catcher has the ball 30 steps before Batman reaches home plate, you know there is no chance the catcher survives the collision without multiple fractures and the ball coming loose.

Q: How often do you thumbs up/down comments on HBT?

Never. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever used that function here. It’s a fun thing for you guys, but I ignore it.

Q: How many books have you read that substantially changed the way you live?

Hmm, probably a lot without me realizing it, but only a couple in terms of me consciously being aware of them directly affecting my thinking. One is “Mother Night” by Vonnegut, which provided me with my personal slogan:  “We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”  I truly live by the idea that there is not a “real” you or me underneath it all. We are what we do. We are how we treat others. If you act like a jerk but believe, in your heart, you’re a good person, you’re still a jerk.

Another: “How we know what isn’t so” by Thomas Gilovich. Skepticism of received and conventional wisdom is extremely important. So much of the idiocy that goes on in our world is based on people believing things that are demonstrably false. That book covers only a limited territory — statistical and psychological experiments and the like — but the idea behind it is an extremely powerful one. Question absolutely everything. Don’t be a dick about it, but question absolutely everything.

Q: If you could write a book on any topic (excluding baseball and Mr. B-man) what do you think you’d choose?

I have about five started-but-unfinished novels. At this point I’d settle for anything with a plot I could actually resolve.  If I publish anything non-baseball-related in the near future it would probably be a memoir. Because (a) I’m really frickin’ self-centered so I can finish that; and (b) apparently anyone can get a memoir published these days no matter how boring a person they are.

Q: Will Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, and Carlos Lee be traded?

Hard to see a market for Carlos Lee given that contract and his poor production. I could see him simply being released. Not sure the Astros will want to trade Wandy, because he’s still a solid-to-excellent starter and someone has to pitch. Brett Myers is doing well in his little closer showcase and it seems someone always falls for that.

Q: Just attended a wedding in Dayton, OH. How much fun did I just have?

Depends how long ago it was. If it was during Dayton Flyers basketball season and you partied like a native in the campus neighborhood referred to as “the ghetto,” you probably had a lot of fun even if the blackouts prevent you from remembering it.  Gosh, I hope the ghetto is still the same as it was 15 years ago. It would be a shame if they cleaned it up, even if it was absolutely appalling by every reasonable measure of sanitation and humanity.

Q: FMK: Wonder Woman, Bat girl, Catwoman

I reject “FMK” questions on principle because I think the K part is misogynistic, but I would likely marry Bat Girl and spend some brief quality time with Catwoman if given the opportunity.  Julie Newmar version if you have to ask.

Q: What is the fastest land animal on earth?

Billy Hamilton.

Q: Personal question, when do you sleep? Always see your tweets at 4am.

I usually go to bed by midnight and usually wake up by 5:45 AM. At least on days I have my kids here. Non-kid mornings I usually sleep until around 6:30 or 7, depending on how insistent the cat is that I get out of bed.  If “And That Happens” appears before, say, 6AM eastern, it’s because I finished it the night before and set it to go live at a certain time.  As far as tweets go: ones that come from my personal account, as opposed to the HBT account, are always live. I don’t set those in advance. HBT Twitter tweets are a bot and they go up when posts go live.

Q: Apparently, according to @Dave_Gershman 75% GMs have anonymous Twitter accounts. What do you think are their handles?

Not sure, but I’m gonna guess that Brian Sabean is really DadBoner.

Q: What happened to Shyam Das?

He was disappeared by Ryan Braun’s lawyers in order to close the loop on things. Those guys are NOT to be messed with.

Q: Who is the next Atlanta Braves disappointment that Dayton Moore will acquire for the Royals?

Freddie Gonzalez

Q: Is Braun doing enough to sway any doubters?

People who think Ryan Braun — or any other player — is a ‘roider believe it with a religious fervor, immune to reason, facts or evidence and they always will.  He could have his bloodstream monitored for two years in real time via nanoradio technology, have it come out clean and people will still call him a cheater. That is the mentality the steroids hysteria has created.

Q: Actual thoughts on the Tigers. Your love for @norunsupport aside.

Two things: (1) @norunsupport is my girlfriend, and she is a Tigers blogger at Bless You Boys; and (2) that question did not come from her. That said: she has threatened to dump me based on my answer to the Brandon Inge answer I gave above, yet I’m still rooting for him to go crazy against the Tigers. Yes, it would suck to get dumped, but that’d be a great “why did you get dumped?” story, wouldn’t it?

Q: Personal Question: When do you bit the bullet and buy her a pretty sparkly thing?

Same person asked me that. My answer: I already bought her a pretty sparkly thing once. Jeez, I have to do it again?

Q: Personal Question: who is the better cook you or@norunsupport

Third question from the same person. Answer: Not even close. The first time I visited her she made me blondies and the first time she visited me she made me breakfast tacos. It’s easy to love someone for their beauty or their mind, but finding someone who can feed you is something special indeed.

Q: If Hamels is gonna claim he’s old school, shouldn’t he show up hung over, go on coke binges and wolf down greenies also?

Yep. And exclude minorities from the game whenever possible.

Q: Could a random collection of bums off the street outpitch the Phillies bullpen?

Hmm. I’d have to know which street. I could go either way on this.

That’s all folks. Next week: ask me about stuff other than gay marriage. I think we got that covered.

Playoff Reset: The AL Wild Card Game

Wild Card

Each day throughout the playoffs we’re going to be doing what we’ll call a reset. Not always a preview, not always a recap, but a generalized summary of where we stand at the moment and what we have to look forward tonight.

Today, of course, is Day One of the playoffs so we can really only look ahead, so let’s look ahead to what’s on tap in tonight’s one and only game.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, American League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern. Or thereabouts.
The Place: Yankee Stadium, New York
The Channel: ESPN
The Starters: Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahrio Tanaka

The Upshot:

  • Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ ace and may very well win the Cy Young Award, but he’s (a) pitching on three-days’ rest; and (b) not in Minute Maid Park, where he is clearly superior compared to how he does on the road. At the same time, (a) the Yankees haven’t figured him out this year, going scoreless against him in 16 innings and striking out 21 times, including a poor performance against him in the Bronx a month or so ago; and (b) lefty sinkerballer types are basically the platonic ideal of a pitcher you want to throw against the Yankees to drive them crazy. While, historically, pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs fare poorly — in the past 20 years they are 18-37 — sinkerballers and extreme groundball pitchers fare much better than most. It ain’t a perfect setup for him, but you gotta like Keuchel here.
  • Meanwhile, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has made one career start vs. the Astros: this year, back on June 27. He got beat up, allowing six runs in five innings, receiving no decision. Those disclaimers about past performance not being indicative of future results you see in financial services commercials should apply to this and all other past matchup stats you see in the postseason, however. One random start here or there — or two in Keuchel’s case — doesn’t tell us a ton. This is baseball and tomorrow is always another day. At least if you don’t lose the Wild Card Game. More of a concern for Tanaka: rust. He has pitched only once since tweaking his hamstring against the Mets on September 18 and it wasn’t a good outing. At least he’s rested?
  • Both teams are dependent on the longball but both teams have struggled at times on offense down the stretch, with the Yankees’ bats being particular quiet in the season’s last month or so. Someone needs to wake up A-Rod. And Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Brian McCann for that matter too. Of course, all of that firepower may not matter. The playoffs often see offenses go quiet and pitching come to the fore. Both teams have decent bullpens — the Yankees’ far, far more than decent — and given Tanaka’s rust and Keuchel’s short rest, this one is very likely to come down to multiple innings of hard-throwing relief. That favors the Yankees if they can keep it close.
  • Both teams are basically stumbling into the postseason, with the Yankees having lost six of their last seven games. They’re also under .500 since the end of July. The Astros swooned themselves in the second half, going 11-16 in September before rebounding in the season’s last week. Good thing momentum generally isn’t a thing in the playoffs — remember those 2000 Yankees losing 15 of 18 before the playoffs started and then won the World Series! — because neither team here has much of it.

This is the Astros’ first playoff game in a decade. While the Yankees haven’t been in the postseason since 2012, there is a lo tof playoff experience here, making this an interesting study in contrasts from a storyline perspective. At least if you’re into storylines. Personally I’m not. I’m more into baseball games and in this baseball game, I think Keuchel is a tough draw for the Yankees, even on short rest, and that for New York to advance they’re gonna have to be a team they haven’t been for weeks and maybe months: one that lays off junk down low and hits the ball hard.


Mike Scioscia will return as Angels manager in 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Manager Mike Scioscia #14 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the dugout during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.

Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.

Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of, Scioscia isn’t concerned.

“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”

Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.

After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.