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!

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

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The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

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A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.