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!

The stats show the Pirates as an outlier in throwing “headhunter” pitches

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 5: Reliever Arquimedes Caminero #37 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 5, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Last week at ESPN Sweetspot’s Inside the Zona, Ryan Morrison looked into the data and found that the Pirates stand out among the rest when it comes to throwing “headhunter” pitches. Those are defined as fastballs 3.2 feet or higher and 1.2 feet towards the batter from the center of the plate.

The research was prompted because Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero last Tuesday in the seventh inning. The next inning, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the jaw with a pitch and was instantly ejected.

Morrison illustrated the data in a nice chart, which you should check out. The Pirates have thrown 93 of those pitches, which is way more than any other team. The next closest team is the Reds at 68 pitches. The major league average is approximately 48 pitches.

The Pirates have had an organizational philosophy of pitching inside since at least 2013, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer quoted manager Clint Hurdle as saying, “We’re not trying to hurt people, just staying in with conviction.”

Morrison goes on to suggest that the Diamondbacks should have forfeited last Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Pirates in protest, out of concern for their players’ safety. As it happened, the D-Backs lost both games anyway, suffering a series sweep. The two clubs don’t meet again this season.

D-Backs manager Chip Hale said after last Tuesday’s game that Caminero “shouldn’t be at this level”. Caminero responded to those comments today, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I’m actually glad you asked me about that,” Caminero said. “The only thing I’ve got to say about (Hale) is that he is a perfect manager. And he was a perfect player, too. That’s it. I know what I did wasn’t good, but it happens in baseball. I wasn’t trying to hit anyone.”

I realize I’m late on pointing out Morrison’s terrific article and the whole debacle between the two teams, but I felt it was worth highlighting.

Jose Bautista: “I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Also included in a recent report on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated — along with his belief that Rougned Odor was the only bad guy in the May 15 debacle — was the slugger’s desire to remain a Blue Jay. Per Verducci, Bautista said, “I love the city. I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto.

Bautista, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in February 2011. Back in November, the Jays exercised their 2016 club option for $14 million. Bautista isn’t willing to discuss contract details during the season, so the two sides will have to wait until at least October to come to an agreement.

Entering Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, Bautista is hitting .237/.371/.489 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and 40 walks, the latter of which leads the American League.

Jose Reyes to begin a rehab assignment on Wednesday

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 18:  Jose Reyes #7 of the Colorado Rockies advances to second base on a wild throw from Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Coors Field on August 18, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Rockies shortstop will join Triple-A Albuquerque to begin a rehab assignment, manager Walt Weiss said on Tuesday, per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Reyes was suspended through May 31 for an offseason domestic violence incident, effectively a 51-game suspension.

During the offseason, Reyes allegedly grabbed his wife by the neck and shoved her into a sliding glass door in the midst of an argument. Reyes pled not gulity and the charges against him were eventually dropped because his wife was uncooperative with authorities. It is not uncommon for an abuser’s significant other to be uncooperative with authorities due to the fear of further retaliation if the abuser suffers any consequences, such as losing his job.

Reyes has spent the last two weeks getting into baseball shape at the Rockies’ spring training complex in Arizona and he’ll likely need another couple of weeks in the minors. Rookie shortstop Trevor Story has cooled off significantly since a blistering hot start to the season, but has still played well enough to warrant the Rockies not forcing him to concede his starting role to Reyes.

The Rockies acquired Reyes from the Blue Jays on July 28 last year along with Miguel Castro and two minor leaguers in exchange for Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins.

Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt just pitched, and he reached 96 MPH

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 26:  Catcher Christian Bethancourt #12 of the San Diego Padres poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Peoria Sports Complex on February 26, 2016 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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The Mariners’ offense ran roughshod over Padres starter James Shields on Tuesday afternoon, knocking him out after 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander surrendered 10 runs.

It didn’t get much better for the Padres from there. The Mariners would score twice more in the fourth and four times in the fifth to take a commanding 16-0 lead. The Padres clawed back for a trio of runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh, but the lead was essentially insurmountable.

Unsurprisingly, the Padres opted to use a position player to soak up at least one inning, so catcher Christian Bethancourt took the mound to begin the eighth. Bethancourt had trouble finding the strike zone, but he was consistently hitting the mid-90’s with his fastball, which was impressive. He sandwiched a pair of fly outs with a walk, but then he lost all semblance of control. He walked Norichika Aoki, then hit Seth Smith with a 59 MPH knuckleball. Yes, you read that right: a knuckleball.

Manager Andy Green relieved Bethancourt with infielder Alexi Amarista, and Bethancourt moved to second base. Amarista got Shawn O’Malley to ground out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Though Bethancourt’s results weren’t the greatest, it was still fun to watch him pitch.