The Question

You Asked Me Questions on Twitter. So I Shall Answer Them.

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Q: Was this a challenging year for you with Phillies fans not such an easy target? How will you adjust your future trolling?

Trolling is like Jiu-Jitsu: you use your opponents’ own momentum against them, cause them to overplay their native tendencies into foolishness. Phillies’ fans’ tendency is to declare their team some unbeatable force and, if they fail to go 162-0, something is wrong.  When they’re winning it’s easy to get them to bite. When they’re losing no one can be harder on them than themselves and anything I add is just piling on and that’s no fun.  One three-game win streak, though, and they’re back to declaring their invincibility, so they never disappoint.

I will say, trolling Nats fans this year has been something of a revelation and, indeed, has saved my trolling season. They’re way different than Philly fans. They are pretty close to humorless and, even better, they view criticism of their team’s front office as heresy.  Trolling them may not be as satisfying as it is to troll Philly fans — their reactions aren’t nearly as colorful — but it’s probably easier.

Q: Who does Bud Selig look more like: a car salesman or a creepy uncle who looks at you a bit funny & holds his hugs too long?

Eh, I don’t see either of those. I see him as more of a late 18th century New England schoolteacher who, late one night, encounters an evil spirit on horseback.

Q: Who is a bigger poo to you, Ozzie or Bobby V?

Ozzie is no poo. He’s the anti-poo.  He’s at least helping make the train wreck that is the end of the Marlins season fun. Bobby V. is just kind of adding to the despair in Boston.

Q: Who is your NL comeback player of the year? Ryan Ludwick? Bronson Arroyo? Somebody less deserving?

Ludwick is definitely a good candidate. I really had no idea how good a season he was having. Is there a top team people (myself included) pay less attention to than the Reds?

Q: Are you stocked up on Kleenex for next Friday night or is that on this weekend’s to-do list?

MOM, KNOCK FIRST! — er, sorry. That question came from our own Drew Silva. He’s taunting me over next week’s likely Braves-Cardinals play-in game.  But it’s OK. I will shed no tears if the Braves lose. I will merely take out my frustrations on my coworkers, forcing them to do all manner of menial tasks out of spite.  Aaron, D.J. and Matthew are exempted, of course.

Q: Can we ever dang Dusty Baker to heck again?

Nowhere in the rule book does it say that you can’t rip someone simply because they’ve had a health scare.  If he fails to use Aroldis Chapman in a tie game on the road during the playoffs or something, you are totally within your rights to dang him to heck.

Q: Do you consider yourself a Rob Neyer disciple?

Gosh, that’s a strong word. And, yes, I realize that by saying “gosh” I am channeling Rob there.  Seriously, though, I owe my career to Rob because he was the first person of any stature at all to promote my work when he linked it and said nice words about it back in 2007 when I was nothing but a Blogspot blog and about two dozen readers.

And there is no doubt that I wouldn’t have started writing about baseball regularly if I wasn’t inspired by his work at ESPN.  It’s weird now given how blogs work and everything, but back in the late 90s, no one was writing new content every damn day except Rob, and that really opened a lot of people’s eyes about how the web was different and held all manner of possibilities for baseball writing and analysis.

All of that said, Rob and I are pretty different kinds of writers.  I don’t fancy myself an analyst of any kind and I don’t have anything approaching his historical understanding of the game. He thinks and considers topics and I tend to fire before I aim.

Q: If you could do it over again, would you want to study at a journalism school?

Never. I have respect for journalists and what they do, but I have zero interest in conventional reporting.  I form opinions and make arguments for the most part and my experience in the law and just having lived life and watched a lot of baseball has trained me for that way more than anything J-school can teach me. Last I checked J-school does not teach anyone about baseball and does not teach anyone how to form opinions about things. Indeed, most of them explicitly tell their students on the first day that “no one cares what you think.”  That’s the exact opposite of what opinion writing is about.

Q: Does anyone ask for your autograph now that you’re on TV all the time? Also, can I get your autograph?

No. And yes, but why you’d want it I have no idea.

Q: Why can’t I get my double-double Gangnam Style?

I’ll have to ask my brother who works at In-N-Out if he can make this happen. It will likely be the most ridiculous burger ever.

Q: Thoughts on DC retconning Clark/Lois and putting Superman with Wonder Woman?

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Lois and Clark are doomed. It’s a relationship of total inequality and deception. Ultimately, the person you’re with has to understand what you do all day, and while Lois could be enamored with her man for saving the planet from destruction, Wonder Woman actually understands because she’s been there.

Q: Got any Halloween costume ideas? Worst-case scenario, people reading the blog see this and suggest better ones.

Here are a few.

Q: Tony Stark/Iron man > Bruce Wayne/ Batman

This one didn’t come with a question mark, so I’m assuming it was more of an assertion.  Look, you’re never going to get me to admit that any super hero is better than Batman. And the fact is that I never read Iron Man. My real introduction to him beyond just casually knowing his deal was the Robert Downey Jr. movies.  That said:  I love that portrayal and think he knocks it out of the park. Just all kinds of freaking fun.  And let’s be honest: this is pretty freaking spot-on.

Q: Overall thoughts on 1 game Wild Card. Good for attention to race/drawing in more fans? Bad to boil down 162 games to 1?

Yes and yes. I know why Bud did it and I appreciate the excitement it causes, but it’s anathema to what baseball is all about. One game never matters in baseball but now everything depends on it. It’s like an Iron Man triathlon end with a game of paper, scissors, rock.

Q: Why are volcanoes?!

I know, right?!

Q: Have you read La Russa’s new book yet? Or you waiting for the book on tape?

I’m waiting for the movie. Though I am wondering how they’ll rig the special effects to make him play every position in all of the World Series he won.

Q: Any dating advice for the single fellas?

I was out of the dating pool for many, many years before my divorce, but as many of you know, I am now in a relationship with a smart and pretty young lady.  As a gentleman, I am loathe to give away all of my secrets of courtship, but I can offer the following advice:

  • Balls and church socials are the best places to meet the fairer sex, for there you are allowed to mingle without the condemnation of community elders;
  • That said, even if a gentleman is formerly introduced to a lady at a ball, this does not entitle him to speak to her at any other time or place. Such a thing would be highly improper. If there is a woman with which you wish to grow acquainted, you should make inquiries and find a mutual friend who would then introduce them outside the confines of a festive event;
  • Be aware of the signs! Fans, parasols and gloves convey the message of whether a lady is interested, or not.
  • Once a gentleman is formally introduced to a lady, he may escort her home. This is done by offering her his card. She will then consider her various offers of an escort and give her own card to the gentleman of her choice. Be warned! This is when fisticuffs or challenges to duels may be made.
  • If a gentleman is visiting a lady at her home, it is extremely rude to stay late. He may never call on her without prior permission and when they say goodnight, she is not allowed beyond the parlour door. The gentleman shall be shown out by a servant.
  • Gifts are important!  May I suggest locks of hair, poems and oil portraits?
  • Marriage is always a possibility. Remember: if the bride passes by a chimney sweep on the way to the church, it is good luck to be kissed by him!
  • After the marriage: be sure to subjugate your bride and insulate her from any corrupting influences such as alcohol, voting or the presence of other human beings besides your half dozen children (and the three that were still-born and/or died young due to consumption).

Hope that helps!

Twins pitcher barfs before almost every appearance

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18:  Ryan O'Rourke #61 of the Minnesota Twins reacts after loading up the bases in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on August 18, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Twins righty Ryan O'Rourke has pitched in 54 big league games. He has barfed before almost every one of them.

No, really:

Through his first 54 big-league outings over the last past two years, O’Rourke estimates he emptied the contents of his stomach close to every time.

“I don’t do it in the public’s eye,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “I go in the bathroom, or sometimes it’s just on the back of the mound. But, yeah, it happens.”

I wonder if I’ve barfed 54 times in my entire life. I doubt I have. Then again, I’m not doing anything in front of tens of thousands of people with potentially millions of dollars at stake.

Yet he who is without sin hurl the first, um. Well, never mind.

The new intentional walk rule isn’t a big deal but it’s still dumb

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 06:  Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets calls for an intentional walk as Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Let us preface this by stipulating that the new rule in which pitchers will no longer have to throw four balls to issue an intentional walk is not a big deal, objectively speaking. Teams don’t issue many IBBs to begin with. A couple a week, maybe? Fewer? Moreover, the times when a pitcher tosses one to the backstop or a batter reaches out and smacks a would-be intentional ball may be a lot of fun, but they’re extraordinarily rare. You can go years without seeing it happen.

So, yes, the intentional walk rule announced yesterday is of negligible consequence. We’ll get used to it quickly and it will have little if any impact on actual baseball. It won’t do what it’s supposed to do — speeding up games — but it won’t harm anything that is important either.

But let us also stipulate that the new rule is dumb.

It’s dumb because it’s a solution in search of a problem. Pace of play is a concern, but to listen to Rob Manfred and his surrogates in the media tell it, it’s The Most Pressing Issue of Our Time. Actually, it’s not. No one is abandoning baseball because of 5-15 minutes here or there and no one who may be interested in it is ceasing their exploration of the game because of it. And even if they were, IBBs are rare and they’re not time-consuming to begin with, so it’s not something that will make a big difference. It’s change for change’s sake and so Rob Manfred can get some good press for looking like a Man of Action.

It’s also dumb because it’s taking something away, however small it is. One of my NBC coworkers explained it well this morning:

I agree. Shamelessness is a pretty big problem these days, so let’s not eliminate shame when it is truly due.

Picture it: it’s a steamy Tuesday evening in late July. The teams are both way below .500 and are probably selling off half of their lineup next week. There are, charitably, 8,000 people in the stands. The game is already dragging because of ineptitude and an understandable lack of urgency on the part of players who did not imagine nights like this when they were working their way to the bigs.

Just then, one of the managers — an inexperienced young man who refuses to deviate from baseball orthodoxy because, gosh, he might get a hard question from a sleepy middle aged reporter after the game — holds up four fingers for the IBB. The night may be dreary, but dammit, he’s going to La Russa the living hell out of this game.

That man should be booed. Boo this man. The drunks and college kids who paid, like, $11 to a season ticket holder on StubHub to get into this godforsaken game have earned the right to take their frustrations out on Hunter McRetiredBackupCatcher for being a wuss and calling for the IBB. It may be the only good thing that happens to them that night, and now Rob Manfred would take that away from them. FOR SHAME.

And don’t forget about us saps at home, watching this garbage fire of a game because it beats reading. We’re now going to have to listen to this exchange, as we have listened to it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since the 2017 season began:

Play-by-Play Guy: “Ah, here we go. They’re calling for the intentional walk. Now, in case you missed it, this is the way we’re doing it now. The new rule is that the manager — yep, right there, he’s doing it — can hold up four fingers to the home plate umpire and — there it goes — he points to first base and the batter takes his base.”

Color Commentator, Who played from 1975-87, often wearing a mustache: “Don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. There was always a chance the pitcher throws a wild pitch. It happened to us against the Mariners in 1979 [Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice: it didn’t] and it has taken away something special from the game. I suppose some number-cruncher with a spreadsheet decided that this will help speed up the game, but you know what that’s worth.

No matter what good or bad the rule brings, this exchange, which will occur from April through September, will be absolutely brutal. Then, in October, we get to hear Joe Buck describe it as if we never heard it before because Fox likes to pretend that the season begins in October.

Folks, it’s not worth it. And that — as opposed to any actual pro/con of the new rule — is why it is dumb. Now get off my lawn.