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

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Q: What is the time limit for service of answer in New York if process is served by personal delivery?

Now would be a great time for me to wish everyone who is taking the bar exam next week good luck.  You’re all a bunch of suckers who will endure all manner of hell during those three days and then, for the next several decades, will marvel at just how silly it was to be stressed about the bar compared to all of the misery you’re currently enduring, but good luck anyway.

Q: Quickly find me new music to listen to. something I probably haven’t heard of. Get to work.

I can’t help you. I’m struggling myself.  Because I realized I was listening to the same old stuff all the time, I recently went and got a handful of songs that I have heard randomly and liked in the past year or two in order to inject myself with some sort of currency. I skew a bit mellow in my old age, so the songs do too.  Mumford and Sons. The National. Some selected My Morning Jacket. Decembrists. Fleet Foxes. That sort of thing. In most cases it was “that one song you heard” by that band.  Spare me your music critic stuff about needing to go deeper into the album cuts because I’m not attempting to become hip by any stretch of the imagination. And above all else, I subscribe to Neil Young’s famous words: “I’ve never seen anyone walking down the street humming an album.”

That said, you need new things from time to time. If you have any recommendations along that somewhat mellow line for specific songs I might like or that this questioner should check out, please, let us know in the comments. And remember: don’t mock me. I’m an old man.

Q: A pitcher’s Home Run Derby: can you make it happen? I know you want to see Yovani Gallardo vs. Carlos Zambrano.

I fear this question is baiting me into another DH argument. So fine: I would LOVE to see the pitcher’s Home Run Derby. Think how excited I’d be when one actually went over the fence! And the strategy!

Q: Better start to a series, Firefly or BSG?

I have to say, I was gripped by the Battlestar Galactica miniseries pretty damn hard. Firefly was great from the outset too, but that was a show that grew on me more than it actually smacked me over the head.  I could see myself getting worn out with BSG over time, though.  I’m only 7 episodes in. I can’t imagine staying in gloomyland like this for 70 more.

Q: Can the Nationals finish above .500?

Anyone can. At least until they lose their 81st game.  I wouldn’t bet on the Nationals doing it.

Q: Is wearing women’s underwear part of your turn-on?

If the woman is doing it, sure.

Q: Ever try to hunt a human?

You mean … the most dangerous game?

Q: Since the Twins/Braves rematch in the World Series is all but inevitable now, who wins with home field advantage flipped from 91?

Objection. Assumes facts about the Twins that are not in evidence (i.e. that they’re any good).  If they do make it, however, my answer hinges on whether they activate Kent Hrbek, the corpse of Kirby Puckett and the ump who called Ron Gant out at first base.

Q:  If Twitter, Facebook, and the Internet as we now know it were around for Ripken’s streak, would he have made it to 2,632?

I’d argue that it would be easier. Since most of the new outlets don’t have clubhouse access, and since there are fewer newspapers around, there are fewer reporters sticking their tape recorders in players’ faces after games.  The key would be for Cal himself to keep off the Internet. If he could: no problem. If he can’t: forget it. Because if he doesn’t start obsessing over all of us blogger boys saying stuff about him, he’ll just get caught in a Wikipedia hole or waste all of his time making Rage Comics or something like that.

Q: Coasters: must have right?

We’re not savages here, are we?  That Brazilian rosewood wasn’t cheap.

Q: Is Brian Wilson really Joaquin Phoenix?

Not unless he had a more talented pitching older brother die in front of the Viper Room 18 years ago. But seriously, yeah, I think there’s a decent amount of Wilson’s schtick that is a put-on. He’s more committed to it than Phoenix was and doesn’t seem to have some overt short term con that he’s pulling, but it takes serious work to be that “quirky” all the damn time, and I get the sense that Wilson works at it.

Q: With the NHL/NBA in lockout, will more fans come to the Best Winter Sport (also known as the NHL)?

Wait, what happened to all of those people who pretended to care about curling last year?  Was that just a goof?  Man, I hope not. Everyone seemed to care so much about that.

Q:  Does Dr James Andrews have to pay Tommy John royalties for every surgery?

No, but I wish that Tommy John would start giving cranky interviews agitating for such a thing. Probably doesn’t matter, though. It’s gonna be renamed Rich Harden or Ben Sheets surgery at some point I would assume.

Q: Who’s head would you be most likely to Photoshop onto a picture of a naked woman?

I’ll have you know that a woman who I am pretty sure works in graphic design or computers or something like that asked me this question. Do with that what you will.

Q: What famous blogger/sports writer on the internet would you most like to join you on HBT?

Murray Chass. But he’d have to admit he was a blogger before I’d start cutting him checks. And yeah, we’d tape that part.

Q: The best part of being an O’s fan is beer, right?

No. It’s the exciting Jeremy Guthrie trade speculation, now going on its second glorious year.

Q: More pasty guys in cargo shorts as a percentage of overall population: SABR convention or Comic Con?

Probably SABR. Everyone there wears cargo shorts. At Comic Con you have a non-trivial number of people dressed up like Green Lantern and stuff.

Q: Have you ever told someone you were their turbo lover?

Not in so many words. But my fantasy team is called “Love machines in harmony.”

Q: You’re doing a great job Craig. I like beer. Again you’re doing a great job. Do you think you’re doing a great job Craig?

I gotta tell ya, that Justin Timberlake thing was easily my favorite part of the All-Star Game. And Mrs. Calcaterra liked it too. I told her that Timberlake and Tim Lincecum were in the same building and that I was getting paid to watch them. She had to go take a cold shower.

Q: Gun to your head: Orioles finish with 81 wins, or Pirates win playoff series?

Sorry. I can’t concentrate with this gun to my head.

Q: In 2021 they’ll make a movie re: Ted Williams being unfrozen & leading the Cubs to their 1st title since ’08.Who plays Ted?

Hmm. That’s ten years from now. Williams was 83 when he died, so assuming unfrozen Williams would still be an apparent age-83 then, we need an actor who is now in his early 70s, so in 2021 he’ll be the right age.  I have narrowed my choices down to Jon Voight, Christopher Lloyd, Elliott Gould and Tommy Chong.

Q:  If the US decided to close up shop, where would you move? 

Everyone says Canada because they fear change, but I’ll go with Italy. I have a sister-in-law there who could help me out with stuff. I hear there is decent food there too.

Q:  Imagine you are that Websters dude or something, and they asked you to invent a word for belly-button lint. What would it be?

Uggla.

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be? If you could give your spouse one, what would it be? What about your kids?

Me: mind-control. Wife: whatever it was Mrs. Incredible had. Kids: Something sort of like Daredevil, in which a handicap — in his case loss of sight — was overcompensated for by all manner of other super abilities.  I don’t know what abilities the kids should have, but whatever they are, they should be to compensate for their inability to speak.

Q: What’s your favorite all-time SNL sketch?

Maybe it’s sacrilege to go to this era, but I loved that old synchronized swimming sketch with Martin Short. “Hey, YOU! I know you! I know you!”

Q: Do you expect the Spanish Inquisition?

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Q: Do you ‘get’ Springsteen?

This was inspired by some acrimonious Twitter exchanges among some people I know following Clarence Clemons’ death. Big outpouring of emotion by some countered by a few who, not disrespectfully in my view, just matter-of-factly, said that they didn’t “get” the whole Springsteen thing.  It was rather interesting to watch it all play out. Especially in my little Twitter circles, because there are a disproportionate number of Bruce Springsteen fans (and In-N-Out Burger fans) among baseball writers.

Anyway, my take: I enjoy almost all of Springsteen’s music and own multiple albums. But I don’t get the cult. And object to that term all you want, it is a cult in practice even if it’s a larger cult than the one that goes for “Rocky Horror Picture Show” or whatever. There is a ritual and an obsessiveness to it. Anything that inspires people to go to dozens, scores or even hundreds of the same shows and then argue that, no, there are little nuances to every one, is basically a cult.

What I don’t get: such a huge amount of Springsteen’s material is anguishing. Very difficult. About people with no hope and no escape. About life taking its toll on you no matter how far and how fast you run.  Yeah, there are moments of catharsis, but damn, The Boss makes you pay for those before you get them.

Which makes for wonderful art. And wonderful music. There’s a beauty to it all that is undeniable. But man, it’s difficult stuff, and I’m not sure how people can both take it all to heart and revel in it over and over again.

Or maybe married guys like me shouldn’t listen to “Tunnel of Love” all the time.

Let’s do it again next week.

It is not Tony Clark’s job to compromise. His job is to advocate for the players.

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Ken Rosenthal published a column today that I cannot describe as anything other than bizarre.

The news nugget in the column: the league and the union met on Monday to talk about certain proposed rules changes which, by now, are pretty familiar to you: a pitch clock, a further reduction of mound visits and, at least in spring training and in the All-Star Game, putting a man on second base to begin the 10th inning in tie games. You know, pace of play stuff that has been much discussed in this space and elsewhere.

The idea here is that the league wants the players to agree to implement these things. If the players do not, the league — after a one year waiting period which we’ve already gone through — can unilaterally implement them. Rob Manfred, for a lot of reasons, doesn’t want to do that, so he’s continuing to seek the players’ agreement. The players have never been big fans of in-game changes, so they resist. That all makes sense as far as it goes. It’s nothing new.

The bizarre part: Rosenthal spends most of the column arguing that the players need to set aside their own desires and compromise with the league “for the good of the sport.” (the headline actually uses that phrase). He argues that they should set aside the dissatisfaction they have over all manner of financial issues in the game right now and address the owners’ priorities. He says Tony Clark needs to lead them in this compromise:

For the good of the sport – a sport he loves as much as anyone – Clark needs to serve as a calming force, build a consensus for positive change and demonstrate greater leadership than before. Clark is aware league officials portray him as someone who says “no” to everything when he is responsive at all. This is his chance – an important chance, with far greater battles ahead – to prove that perception wrong.

This is crazy. For a number of reasons.

  • It’s crazy because presumes that it’s Tony Clark’s job to act a an intermediary between the owners and players and to prod the players to compromise when that is precisely the opposite of his job. He is their advocate. It is his job to fight for them, not to play the good cop for Rob Manfred;
  • It’s crazy because if there can be anything said about Clark’s style before now, being too tough a negotiator is not one of them. Sure, he may offer a quick “no” on small things like rules changes, but he has said “yes” to more major owner ideas in his six years at the helm of the union than his three predecessors did in the previous 45 years combined. I mean, we have a soft salary cap and specific rules aimed at depressing free agent salaries now. Clark actually said yes to those things. Marvin Miller is still spinning in his grave;
  • It’s crazy because there is no call whatsoever for the owners to make any compromises with respect to players’ current concerns over the slow free agent market and players’ suspicions of collusion. Indeed, there’s a paragraph in there that says, in short, “if players have a beef about that stuff they should file a grievance or else shut up about it.” I mean, it’s Rosenthal and he’s a very nice and polite man so, no, he does not put it that bluntly, but that’s the takeaway;
  • It’s crazy because the advice it proposes to Clark — any matters that the owners bring up should be handled piecemeal and that players should not ask for anything* that addresses their own priorities when the owners seek concessions from players on their priorities — is exactly the opposite of how organized labor works. Indeed, handling workplace matters in piecemeal fashion whenever management brings stuff up is exactly the situation that existed before the MLBPA had any power at all. It’s exactly how management would draw things up if they had it to do over again. 

Clark is not an intermediary between the owners and the players. He is an advocate for them. He is, quite literally and by specific design, on their side and it is his job to fight for what they want and for what is in their best interests. It is not his job to “compromise.” What’s more, the owners cannot expect the players — many of whom are hopping mad at how the past two offseasons have gone — to pretend none of that is happening and approach the owners with totally open minds and agree to do thing they don’t really want to do “for the good of the game.”

Should the players have negotiated a better deal on money stuff two years ago? Absolutely. But then again maybe the owners should’ve asked for these rules changes they want now back then too. That Rosenthal expects one party’s concerns to be “case closed” and the other party’s concerns to be perpetually subject to renegotiation makes no sense to me at all. In reality, everything is negotiable, always. Rules touching on every aspect of the game, on-field and off-field, have been renegotiated or altered in between CBA bargaining sessions over the years. If one side wants to re-open the CBA they can’t expect the other side not to do it too.

Rob Manfred and the owners have every right to come to the players and ask for stuff. They cannot, however, expect the players to pretend everything else is hunky dory and assume a “compromise” stance “for the good of the game.” And let’s be honest, if the “for the good of the game” standard is what triggers renegotiation of things, I’d argue that it’s high time to renegotiate the financial parts of the CBA, because the current state of affairs is doing the game no favors.

Whatever the case, Rosenthal’s column reads like a message passed from owners to the players with little regard for the realities of the current relationship between them. As one of my Twitter followers observed a little while ago, it reads like one of those political columns in which a member of one political party writes about how the other party “really needs to nominate someone who can reach across the aisle and compromise.” Maybe that’s what the writer would love to see, but it’s unrealistic in the extreme and flies in the face of what’s best for the other party. Same too here with the owners and the players.

I’m not sure where this column came from, honestly. It reads like a leaked strategy memo from the owners.

*UPDATE: To be fair, Rosenthal does say that the players should “work around the edges of the CBA” and propose “non-economic measures” that could possibly address teams’ seeming lack of a desire to compete and sign players. For my part I feel like that’s an artificial distinction — asking for the moon if you really just want a rock is not the worst way to get something in a negotiation — but it’s not as if Rosenthal is proposing a complete unilateral disarming of the players’ negotiating position.