Luke Leia

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

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The more basebally ones will be saved for tomorrow’s HBT Daily. Here are the ones that don’t lend themselves as well to video:

Q: Better BlueJays manager? John Gibbons #1 or John Gibbons #2?

Which one was played by Dick York? I liked that one better.

Q: Why do you hate kittens?

This is inspired by the fact that I got my new cat declawed earlier this week. Yes, I know people have very strong feelings about this. One person on Twitter the other day basically said that I can’t judge people who get DUIs because I got my cat declawed. I guess it makes sense to him, but if that’s the moral equivalence at play here you can have it.  Anyway: I’ve had cats my entire life, often multiple cats at once. All rescued from shelters and things. And the fact is that I would not be willing to rescue cats like I have if every time I did so it meant half my stuff got destroyed. My vet did not have reservations about this. My cat, three days later, is her usual rambunctious self, exhibiting no ill effects. She doesn’t go outside so defense is not an issue. If this makes me a monster, well, rowr.

Q: Thoughts on “Death of a Family.”

Because a high percentage of my Twitter questions are about Batman, I presume this means the Batman-Joker comic series from last year, “Death of the Family.” Answer: I haven’t read it. I mean to. I love Batman, but like most things in life, technology and comics, I tend to be a late-adopter. I’ll be one of those old jerks who find the handsome bound edition later and then talk about it like it’s brand new.

Q: How much longer can the Braves stick with Uggla. Do we have no choice based on his contract?

It’s not like they have alternatives. At this point you just gotta hope he has his occasional hot streaks at times when the team needs them the most. He isn’t going anywhere.

Q: Game show you’d most like to be on, game show you’d be best at?

I’d most like to be on “Match Game” back in the Richard Dawson/Charles Nelson Reilly era, because everyone on there was loaded and looked like they were having the time of their freaking lives. Or possibly paired up with Markie Post on “Pyramid” because she was a stone-cold assassin on that show and, well, I was in love with her for most of the 1980s. And 90s. And some days still today. I’d probably be best at “Jeopardy,” however.

Q: If you could create a baseball player using body parts of different active players, who do you choose? Can’t go all-Trout.

Arm of Rick Ankiel, legs of Billy Hamilton, eye of Joey Votto, upper body strength of Giancarlo Stanton, swag of Harper and at some point Andrelton Simmons has to enter the equation.

Q: Who finishes with the worst record: Marlins, Astros, or Aquaman?

Marlins: 56-106, Astros: 60-102, Aquaman: 0-162, because he has zero useful on-land skills.

Q: Why won’t you come clean about Benghazi?

Because I’m busy trying to mount multiple false-flag operations, as one does.

Q: Did Stevie nicks die?

Q: And what’s with the Stevie Nicks nonsense?

Last year there was a headline about “The Cocaine Queen” dying. My kneejerk joke on Twitter was “RIP Stevie Nicks.” Which I thought was kinda clever in an “I’m old and I remember the 70s” kind of way. Apparently there are a lot of young women — painfully young — who are a bit more into Stevie Nicks than anyone should be into another person, and none of them have a sense of humor. A few thought I was breaking news and when they figured it out, these would-be witchy women decided that I was the worst person in the world. Please don’t tell any of them about my cat. I may get death threats.

Q: Ever get into cricket? It’s like baseball’s weird older cousin.

So cricket has to register with the sheriff’s department wherever it lives too? Or … did I just reveal too much?

Q: “Gattitude” is some top notch trolling of Nats fans. What’s the greatest troll in baseball history?

Basically every player quoted after a victory over a crappy team who talks about how “you gotta be careful with these guys, they have a lot of players who can hurt you, so no lead ever feels safe.” Either that or the entire existence of the Chicago Cubs.

Q: Should teams with aging, overweight veterans revive pullover jerseys/beltless pants to look more softball league?

Only if they can rock at sexy as The Bull did.

Q: In his podcast last month, Joe Sheehan compared recent Bill James to recent Gary Busey. Fair or foul, or just funny?

I didn’t hear it, but I’m gonna assume that it was in the “someone who was taken seriously once back when they were at the top of their game and now is, well, a bit on the eccentric side.” Can’t say that I read enough modern Bill James to say. But I think it’s also fair to say that anyone who ever does anything at the highest level has an inevitable fallow/unfortunate period. Lou Reed and Metallica: two of the best ever. Lou Reed + Metallica: maybe the worst thing ever recorded. But they got nothin’ to prove to anyone, so haters can hate all they want.

Q: Who wins in a snarkoff: you or Keith Law?

Law. One of the best pure snarkers in the game. I’m more of a utility snarker.

Q: There’s a new video game called Injustice with DC heroes. In it, Aquaman is considered the best character. Thoughts?

Is the object of the game to have all of the innocent citizens killed by super villains? If so, I could see why Aquaman would be the best character. Otherwise I’m confused.

Q: Favorite c-list actor? I have to go with Clint Howard who obviously only gets work on his brothers films.

I think we all have to admit that Nicolas Cage is now a C-list actor at best. But I have an irrational love for Nicholas Cage. Yes I know he has made scores of nearly-unwatchable movies, but I don’t care. He’s usually interesting. Not good, mind you, but interesting. One of the things I’m most looking forward to this summer is seeing if he gets a flashback or, better yet, voice-from-beyond-the-grave cameo in “Kick-Ass 2.” It’s not listed on his IMDb page, but I’m still holding out hope.

Q: You’re a Braves fan, right? Can you take Jeff Francoeur back now, please?

Sorry. We said “no backsies” when he left town. I figure the likelihood of him ending his career in Atlanta is dangerously high, however.

Q: What’s the standard of proof in replay review?

I would like it to be “arbitrary and capricious,” mostly so I could hear Jerry Remy say “arbitrary and capricious.”

Q: Geddy Lee and his baseball fandom?

Good for him! Whenever I slag on Rush, people remind me that Lee is a huge baseball fan who follows the Jays closely and donated a lot of memorabilia to the Negro Leagues Museum and all of that. And that’s wonderful But it doesn’t change the fact that he sang this once:

I lie awake, staring out at the bleakness of Megadon. City and sky become one, merging
Into a single plane, a vast sea of unbroken grey. The Twin Moons, just two pale orbs as
They trace their way across the steely sky. I used to think I had a pretty good life here,
Just plugging into my machine for the day, then watching Templevision or reading a Temple
Paper in the evening.

Rock and roll is about getting girls and having fun and stuff, first and foremost. You can obviously stray pretty far from that if you want, or else I wouldn’t have a love for guys like Dylan and Neil Young. But even guys like that know that you gotta get back to basics often in order to not lose your way.  I feel like once you’ve strayed to Megadon, you’ve strayed too far.

Q: As a fellow central Ohioan I’d love your take on the urban legend about Fred Ricart and his wife’s curling iron.

I choose to believe it in its entirety, even if Snopes said it’s an old, made up tale.

Q: How’s the diet going? Saw the grilled zucchini, that’s a good place to be.

For those unaware, back in February I went on a pretty restricted low/no-carb diet after getting a cholesterol count that could only be described as “assy.” It was kind of hard at first as lower serotonin levels brought on by less sugar/carbs can lead to temporary depression, but that seems to be under control. I’ve mostly gotten past cravings and will power issues and now veggies, fruits, lean meats and as few carbohydrates as possible are just part of the routine. I’ve lost 18 pounds with zero exercise since mid-February and weigh less than I did in high school, so that’s something. I should probably get back on the treadmill, though, as I’m way behind on TV watching.

Q: Have you ever replaced your regular coffee with Folgers crystals?

No, because I’m not clinically insane. My mother tried to give me Folgers crystals once. Once.

Q: Jarvis or Alfred?

Everyone knows who Alfred is. His “Iron Man” counterpart is Jarvis (replaced in the movies with J.A.R.V.I.S.). Lot of discussion the past two days on whether Batman or Iron Man is better. You know where my sympathies lie. And really, there would be no contest if the two of them had to fight. All of Iron Man’s power comes from a single little machine in his chest that, oh, by the way, is also keeping him from DYING. I’m guessing Batman has created and used so many EMP devices in his life that he’s lost count. One pulse from one of those + a couple minutes to chuckle + a few kicks to head and Iron Man is as dead as vaudeville. Except Bats is too cool to let him die, so he’d have Alfred improvise some quickie battlefield medical fix to keep that shrapnel from entering Tony Stark’s heart in such a way that his Iron Man suit couldn’t simultaneously be re-powered.  Which probably means Alfred is better, naturally.

Q: Is Ricketts “threat” that the Cubs may leave Wrigley the most empty threat ever?

Nah. That would be Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Darth Vader that if he was struck down he’d become more powerful than Vader could ever imagine. Sure, he went all immortal on him, but what did he really do? He told Luke to run, which Luke probably would have anyway. He told him to turn off his targeting computer which, sure, worked out fine, but was highly irresponsible. Told him to go to Dagobah, yes, I’ll grant that was a big one and Luke wouldn’t have otherwise. But Luke did all the hard work. And let’s be honest: Luke could have died on Hoth and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. He helped no one in “Empire” and actually put people at risk.

I suppose Han doesn’t get freed from Jaba without Luke and the second Death Star doesn’t get destroyed without Han on the ground on Endor, but that just leads to another problem: why all the cloak and dagger crap to free Han from Jabba? I know it’s a scrappy band of Rebels and all, but they have an army and a fleet and crap. Why could they not have just dispatched a platoon of soldiers to Jabba’s palace, marched right in and taken Han by force? Those pig guards wouldn’t last ten seconds.  That always bugged me.

Not as much as the fact that he never told Luke to, you know, not make out with HIS OWN SISTER. That woulda been kinda helpful, all-powerful Obi-Wan. Sheesh.

Anyway. That’s all I got this week.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.