Answering your Twitter Questions

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Q: What did you think of Hideki Matsui’s postseason performance? Would you like to have a player like Matsui on your team?

I love the oldies.

Q: Went to watch the M’s at Yankees stadium last night and tonight. National Anthem pre-recorded both nights, is this a thing?

I wish it were more of one. How many times can one stand some wannabe pop or country artist warbling their way through the Anthem like it’s a ballad instead of a march? Because it’s a march, dammit, and if I’m named next Commissioner, my first act will be signing an order mandating that teams only play pre-recorded versions of the anthem, preferably by a band whose conductor knows it’s a damn march. Or they can play Jose Feliciano’s version. Either way.

Q: How has your fandom changed since you became a professional blogger?

I guess it’s broadened. I still root for my Braves, but I’m way more aware of what other teams are doing now and, for professional reasons, try to watch games of other teams more often than I used to. This has allowed me to appreciate other teams too. I think it’s safe to say that there’s more promiscuity in my fandom now. While I always come home to my true love, I fan around depending on my mood and I don’t care who knows it.

Q: Did you ever root for a player because they were Italian?

Pfun Pfact: while my name is Italian, I am not. By blood I am 50% Irish, 25% English and 25% Romanian Jew. The Calcaterra name came when my grandmother remarried and the guy, Mr. Calcaterra, adopted my father. But for that I’d be Craig McIntyre. Which woulda been kinda boring.

Q: Why does tofu taste so bad?

Because you’re not eating it right. I wouldn’t go crazy with it, but if you go to the right places — like this fantastic place I went during spring training — you can have fabulous tofu.

Q: Is there any other pitching matchup you’d rather see than Verlander-Darvish, which is happening Thursday?

It’s a good one, but I would’ve liked to see some Koufax-Marichal action back in the day.

Q: What in the world do you have on Ruben Amaro that made him decide to sign Carlos Zambrano? I assume it was your suggestion.

I have secret pictures of him he doesn’t want the world to see. They depict him having a plan.

Q: Everyone on Mad Men is a complete dick, why am I still watching this show?

Not gonna argue with that. They are mostly dicks. Non-dicks are Joan, Trudy Campbell and … well, I’m sort of blanking. Bert Cooper is OK. Roger used to be a bigger dick but now he’s played so much for laughs that he’s lost that dickish mojo he used to have.

But who cares? I feel like Prestige Sunday Television of the past few years has made us expect too much of TV shows. Everything now has to be The Best Thing Ever or carry with it some Extremely Important Narrative Thrust in order for it to be worth everyone’s time. Which is a nice byproduct of so much good TV, but it’s kind of exhausting. “Mad Men” is basically a period soap opera. So is “Downton Abbey” for that matter. It’s OK if they don’t blow our minds with drama, pathos and craziness like “The Wire” or “Breaking Bad” or whatever. It’s TV. Let it be TV.

Q: If I could choose only one of a love of comic books or baseball for my sons which should I choose?

Well, I’d suggest you let them discover their own loves, but if we go with your premise, choose baseball. It’s more reliably entertaining and at least has the potential to be a social experience.

Q: How many games does a guy have to watch of his favorite team in a season to actually be a fan?

These days not as many as one used to. You can follow your team online, reading box scores and the local paper’s notes column and keep up just fine. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with missing a lot of games. Baseball teams are more than just the games. There’s a whole ecosystem about them which provides enjoyment and value.

Q: Which is less legit: calling Ortiz a PED user, or calling Aquaman a superhero?

I think more eyebrows would be raised if you went up to Aquaman and accused him of heroism.

Q: Is Manny Machado already the best 3rd basemen in baseball?
Q: Manny Machado, 20 YO all star?

Lots of Manny Machado questions this week. And yes, he’s got serious game. I refuse to peg him as the best 3rd baseman in baseball though, if for no other reason than I feel like there’s going to be a movement resisting his ultimate switch to his natural shortstop and I don’t want to fuel that stupid fire at all.

Q: Any chance MLB ever fixes asinine TV blackout rules? Why can’t MLB enforce a “use or lose it” rule for local TV rights?

Because that would defeat MLB’s apparent desire to keep as many people from consuming its product as possible. But seriously: there has never been one satisfactory explanation as to why the blackout rules have to be the way they are. Because they don’t have to be that way and baseball is stupid and stubborn for not changing them.

Q: Does Jerry Dipoto survive the season?

[Looks in crystal ball] No. He is killed in a SCUBA diving accident in August. Tragic, really.  He is not fired, however.

Q: Is Ironman as an outfielder cheating?
Q: What position would Batman be in baseball?
Q: Which superhero would be the best baseball player? Non-Super Man type. Also can we just regulate Aqua Man to the Marlins?

I get these every time I ask for questions. They have already been answered:

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Q: Will you ever again wear the Tigers cap @norunsupport’s dad gave you?

If you follow me on Twitter you know that my girlfriend’s father, a tremendous Tigers fan, sent me a Tigers cap yesterday after seeing me wear Braves and Dodgers caps over the weekend while he visited, apparently thinking he’ll convert me. Joke’s on him, though: I wear caps for almost any team. At present I own Braves, Tigers, Dodgers, Giants and Indians [block C] caps. If I win the Powerball on Saturday my first purchase — and I’m not lying — will likely be an order of every New Era team cap. I’d probably wear every one except Chief Wahoo. I do the same thing with shirts too. I suppose this ties in with the promiscuity point above, but baseball is too cool to tie yourself to one team’s merch. Oh, and if you’re looking for gift ideas, I wear a size 7 3/4.

Q: Are former MLB reliever Ray King and Abdullah the Butcher the same person?

You be the judge:

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No. But, like Abudllah, Ray King probably did keep a fork in his uniform pants. He just used it for its intended purpose, not to gouge his head for bloody effect.

Q: What age is ideal for reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man? I’m 21 and finishing it tonight.

I’ll classify this as a Humble Brag. Or maybe it’s just a brag. As for the book, I’m a relatively well-read man pushing 40 with an English minor and I’ve never read it. Didn’t read Ulysses either. I decided at some point, probably while trying to get through some Faulkner, that I like to read for pleasure, not because I want to say I accomplished something.

Q: Did events in MN this week invalidate the sanctity of batting avg, and thus reduce Mauer’s value to the Twins?

I don’t know, but I do know this much: there are a lot of Twins fans who can now take their man-crushes on various players to a whole new level if they want to, and I’m happy for that.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have one book what kind of bourbon would you be drinking?

The book would either be The Great Gatsby — which is pleasurable to read, even if it’s taught in school — or a Lew Archer novel and the bourbon would probably be Garrison Brothers. It may not be from Kentucky, but that stuff is ON POINT.

Q: If Clark & Lois procreate do you want an all super child? If not, what human qualities are desired?

Wait, I thought he was with Wonder Woman now? They split up? That kid would definitely be super. If he’s back with Lois I hope he has some vices and some humility for cryin’ out loud. Superman is alright, but he’s boring. And that’s the case no matter how much pathos modern writers try to give him. You’ve heard of white people problems? Superman takes that to a whole new level. “Oh, the burden of being nearly omnipotent and immortal. Woe!” Get tied, Supes.

Q: Matt Harvey: Great pitcher or greatest pitcher? Debating to reserve rooms in cooperstown in 20 years.

I love Harvey, but I do feel like we’re at the point where people need to acknowledge that he still doesn’t have the Mets track record that Jason Isringhausen had in 1995.

Q: I’m about to graduate law school. Do you feel sorry for me yet?
Q: Current corporate attorney. Kill myself with a bat or a cleat?

These come in bunches too. I do feel kinda sorry for the first guy because some law school admissions person probably tricked him into thinking it was 1999 and well-paying law jobs are handed out like candy. The second guy has some sympathy because being a transactional attorney is just the worst, but dude, at least you have a job.

Q: Do we need a World Series to get blown before umps have actual accountability and or replay expanded?

No, baseball is cool with World Series being blown with bad calls. They even celebrate it with video on their website:

It could happen again and baseball wouldn’t bat an eye. They’re cute that way.

Q: Favorite New Albanian brew?

Sadly we have no craft breweries in New Albany, Ohio yet. But I’m going to check this one out this weekend in Lancaster. I’ll give you a report.

Q: Best/favorite ballpark food?

I’ve become partial to the offerings at the Machine Room Grille in Great American Ballpark. They have some kickass mac and cheese and have speciality hot dogs too. Prices are reasonable for an in-park restaurant. And it’s democratic: get there when the doors open and you can eat there. It’s not all reserved for people who have the annoying habit of planning far ahead.

Q: What are your 5 favorite albums ever? (limit one per artist).

Gosh. This is gonna be hard. This could change every time you ask me. But off the top of my head: “Blood on the Tracks” by Dylan; “Revolver” Beatles; “Doolitte” Pixies; “Exile on Main St.” Stones; and the soundtrack to the movie “Until the End of the World” for a lot of personal reasons that aren’t worth going into now. Apologies to Neil Young, Tribe Called Quest, and about a gabillion others.

Q: Best divorce in historical record?

Prompted, I presume, by my tweeting yesterday about a new Twitter follower of mine which seems to exist only to tweet out depressing divorce statistics. Really made my day. Especially the one about how people who have friends who are divorced are more likely to get divorced themselves. That cost me a bunch of friends, dudes.

Anyway, there aren’t many good divorces. Mine sucked. If you had one it sucked. Every divorce pretty much sucks. That’s true even if you’re better off for being divorced. The process is awful. And no matter what the circumstances it necessarily means the death of what was once great hope and optimism.

That said: Tiger Woods’ ex came out pretty damn good, didn’t she? I mean, the money alone was fantastic, but the best part is that she doesn’t have to be married to a sleazeoid like Tiger Woods anymore, and that’s just a total positive.

Q: You can attend any baseball game in history … which?

Probably the Sid Bream/Francisco Cabrera game in the 1992 NLCS. Watching it on TV was great, but I would have loved to go crazy wild when that happened.

Q: Was Barry Bonds blackballed by MLB?

I don’t know. All I know is that he hit .276/.480/.565 with 28 homers in 2007, offered to play for the league minimum in 2008 and had no takers. I suppose there is an explanation for that. But I know what the easiest one is.

Q: Worst MLB trade of all time?

Babe Ruth for cash? Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson? Underrated and rarely mentioned: Mark McGwire for Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein.

Q: Which team has surprised you the most this season?

I have to say the Yankees. I know it’s weird to talk about them as underdogs or surprises, but I don’t think anyone expected them to play this well in the early going. Best case scenario was that they’d keep their heads above water until the stars came off the DL. They’ve done more than that.

Q: Would Bryce Harper’s The Wall get ANY coverage if it happened to say, Ben Revere?

Nope. Not ever. And I’m really wanting to know at what point we acknowledge that, for all the talk of Harper playing hard and with reckless disregard, that slam into the wall wouldn’t have happened if he had a better set of instincts and knew where he was on the field.

Q: Who are your World Series picks?

It’s silly to make them now. I picked Detroit and Washington at the outset of the season. No reason to come off that yet.

Q: How many nine year olds could you beat up at once. Like in a wrestling ring. 50? 100?

I have a nine year-old daughter and a son who is almost eight. Nine year olds are way tougher and bigger than you think. I can fend off my two kids fairly easily when we have to throw down, but it’d take only a couple more for them to be able to overpower me or, at the very least, tire me out until they had their chance to strike. I’m thinking 5-7 nine-years olds, if they try to work together, could easily take down a nearly 40 year-old man in my state of conditioning.

Q: Is Pat Corbin a legitimate candidate for NL Cy Young?

Eh, not really feeling it yet. Would like to see him strike out more guys. But sure, he’s been good. And every couple of years a “wins” guy beats out a guy with better peripherals. He could be that guy.

Q: Thoughts on Iron Man 3?

Haven’t seen it yet. I have a backlog at the moment. Need to see that, Gatsby (I know it will suck, cut me some slack) and Star Trek opens today. Hopefully I’ll have seen all three by this time next week.

Q: Will BJ Upton have an OPS over .700 by the end of the year?

Yes [he desperately hopes but bets no money on whatsoever]

Q: Who collides with things with more grace: Bryce Harper or George of the Jungle?

Someone with video editing skills needs to put our bro’s head on George here:

Q: Home runs kill rallies, discuss.

If I’m ever in charge of a network that does baseball games and a broadcaster says this I will fire him so fast he wouldn’t know what hit him.

Q: Favorite old school wrestling territory, please.

Georgia + Mid Atlantic as they morphed into WCW in the early-to-mid 80s is the be-all, end-all and I will accept no argument to the contrary. And it’s not just because Evan Gattis used to wrestle there:

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That’s all I got, folks. I’ll answer a few more of the baseball-related questions on HBT Daily tomorrow.

Nick Markakis: ‘I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?’

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Earlier today, the Braves inked veteran outfielder Nick Markakis to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a club option for the 2020 season worth $6 million with a $2 million buyout. Though Markakis is 35 years old, he’s coming off of a terrific season in which he played in all 162 games and hit .297/.366/.440 with 14 home runs and 93 RBI in 705 trips to the plate. Markakis had just completed a four-year, $44 million contract, so he took a substantial pay cut.

Per David O’Brien of The Athletic, Markakis asked his kids where they wanted him to play and they said Atlanta. O’Brien also asked Markakis about the pay cut. The outfielder said, “I’m not mad at all. I play a kids’ game and get paid a lot of money. How can I be disappointed with that?”

This seemingly innocuous comment by Markakis is actually damaging for his peers and for the union. Baseball as a game is indeed a “kids’ game,” but Major League Baseball is a billion-dollar business that has been setting revenue records year over year. The players have seen a smaller and smaller percentage of the money MLB makes since the beginning of the 2000’s. Furthermore, Markakis only gets paid “a lot of money” relative to, say, a first-year teacher or a clerk at a convenience store. Relative to the value of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, and relative to the value of Major League Baseball itself, Markakis’s salary is a drop in the ocean.

That Markakis is happy to take a pay cut is totally fine, but it’s harmful for him to publicly justify that because it creates the expectation that his peers should feel the same way and creates leverage for ownership. His comments mirror those who sympathize first and foremost with billionaire team owners. They are common arguments used to justify paying players less, giving them a smaller and smaller cut of the pie. Because Markakis not only took a pay cut but defended it, front office members of the Braves as well as the 29 other teams can point to him and guilt or shame other players for asking for more money.

“Look at Nick, he’s a team player,” I envision a GM saying to younger Braves player who is seeking a contract extension, or a free agent looking to finally find a home before spring training. “Nick’s stats are as good as yours, so why should you make more money than him?”

Contrast Markakis’s approach with Yasmani Grandal‘s. Grandal reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million contract offer from the Mets early in the offseason and settled for a one-year, $18.25 million contract with the Brewers. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Grandal said on MLB Network, “I felt like part of my responsibility as a player was to respect the guys that went through this process before I did. Guys like Brian McCann, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina, These are guys who established markets and pay levels for upper-tier catchers like me. I felt like I was doing a disservice if I were to take some of the deals that were being thrown around. I wanted to keep the line moving especially for some of the younger guys that are coming up … to let them know, if you’re worthy, then you should get paid what you’re worth. That’s where I was coming from.”

Grandal’s comments are exactly what a member of a union should be saying, unapologetically. The MLBPA needs to get all of its members on the same page when it comes to discussing contracts or labor situations in general publicly. What Markakis said seems selfless and innocent — and I have no doubt he is being genuine without malice — but it could reduce the bargaining power players have across the table from ownership, which means less money. They are already being bamboozled, at least until the next collective bargaining agreement. They don’t need to be bamboozled any more.