The Question

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

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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.

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.