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.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: