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


I used to do this Twitter questions feature to generate content for those HBT Daily videos. We stopped doing those so I stopped doing the questions. Lately some of you have asked me to revive it again because it was a fun feature. Heck, the non-baseball questions and random leftovers I’d dump into a post here were usually better than the video questions.

So, why the heck not? I can’t say I’ll do this regularly, but I’m bored. Let’s get interactive:

Q: If your cats were baseball players who would they be and why? Current players only, of course (‏@marcs797):

For those unaware, I have three cats. Calicos. All from the same litter. Lucy, Rosie and Scully (named after the fictional special agent, not the venerable broadcaster). I got them a year ago after George, the Official Cat of HardballTalk, shuffled off to Cat Valhalla at the age of 17. My fiancee owns a cat too, Fran, whom my fiancee says is the best cat and I have to agree lest she gets mad at me, and she’ll be mine soon too. I do not live in a place that can really handle four cats, but that’s sort of beside the point. I’m a crazy cat lady. I’m under no illusion that I’m not.

Anyway, Lucy is big but surprisingly athletic and generally amiable, so she’d be Bartolo Colon. Rosie is the leader of the three and probably the sharpest, but she’s really uptight and does NOT like it when you don’t follow her somewhat irrational rules, so she’s Adam Wainwright or Madison Bumgarner. Scully is a runt, she’s the most intellectually challenged and, while very friendly, she, um, sorta stinks a lot. I will not slander any current ballplayer with that description, but I bet EVERY team has one of those guys.

Q: If you had a racehorse, what would you name it? (@Gwozdzilla)

Unwritten Rules

Q: What do your kids think about your job? (@jaydestro)

I recently asked them if they remembered when I used to leave the house and go to an office. I stopped doing that in November 2009, when they were 5 and 4. They only have vague memories of that at best, and maybe not even real ones. They just know I did that and sort of convinced themselves they remember. As for this job: they’re no more impressed with it than the kid down the block is whose dad works at a bank. They think I just stare at my laptop all day and fight with people on Twitter. Which is shockingly accurate. They’re not really sports fans of any kind, even if they watch a game with me sometimes. The cobbler’s kids have no shoes. The baseball writer’s kids don’t give a rip about baseball.

Q: Why are you the way you are? (@earlmanwich)

Every kid I knew got an NES when they came out. I stuck with my Commodore 64. That was the point of divergence. It colored everything.

Q: What baseball team will surprise us (good or bad) after the all star break? (@Wecknerd)

To the extent they can, as an entity, surprise anyone, I’d say the Cardinals. Based on a lot of hoity-toity team metrics they’re probably better than their record suggests. Also: they almost always annoyingly pick up some dude with a fork sticking out of his back who goes on a .320/.360/.500 tear for two months before literally falling apart and retiring. They won’t catch the Cubs, but they’ll play better, much to the annoyance of everyone not in St. Louis.

Q: How many times can you say “potato” in 30 seconds? (@Phillies113)

I just did it, using a stopwatch and striking a key on the keyboard each time I said it, then counting the keystrokes after the time was up. I got 68. I’m guessing if it was judged, though, they’d eliminate a few “potatoes” for slurring. It’s harder to enunciate that word after 15-20 times than you’d think.

Q: Have you ever put marshmallows in gravy? (@DSzymborski)

That sounds like some sex euphemism from a 1940s detective novel. Like “getting my ashes hauled” or something.

Q: When’s the last time MLB reversed one of its earlier stupid rules changes? i.e., ASG/WS home field; expanded replay; the DH? (@mr_philbs)

As far as major context-altering things, I can’t remember any. Baseball doesn’t like to admit it made mistakes with that stuff, even when they have (All-Star Game stuff mostly). There have been some instances involving rules changes, emphasis and enforcement. I still remember that year they said they were gonna crack down on balks. It was 1988, and they changed the wording of the rule about how a pitcher has to come to a stop at his belt to “complete, discernible stop” or something like that. And they told the umps to watch it closely. Man, that was a crap-fest. They did it because Whitey Herzog moaned about Bert Blyleven not stopping at his belt during the 1987 World Series and it resulted in an explosion of balks the following year. Single season balk records were set in May. The following offseason they changed the wording of the balk rule back to the way it was before. If there were any since then, I don’t remember them.

Q: Go Barves? (@MrMattAwesome)

It’s all in the tone. If you mean it as “Go, Barves. Really, just go” then I’m on board. Given what they’ve been up to lately, however, I can’t muster any enthusiasm for the franchise.

Q: If Rush were a baseball player, who would they be? (@steaker)

Per this morning’s post: Don Kelly. Everyone loves them and they’ve hung around forever despite being pretty terrible. The only difference is that Don Kelly fans don’t constantly hound non-Don Kelly fans about how they don’t simply ADORE and APPRECIATE Don Kelly and his obvious virtuosity and technical skill. There aren’t any Don Kelly fans who think that those who dislike Don Kelly are objectively wrong for not thinking Don Kelly is the best.

Q: Kevin Durant to Golden State? Good or bad for the environment? (@Geeman1026)

Global warming was already bad enough, but all of the hot air spewing from columnists who think Durant owes it to, like, society to stay in Oklahoma even if he doesn’t want to is gonna basically destroy all life on Earth as we know it.

Q: Current favorite whiskey? Besides Evan Williams, of course (which I should thank you for turning me on to) (@sawilcox28)

Back when I used to do this feature I’d get a lot of bourbon questions and I answered them with a lot of talk about higher-end bourbon. I still like that stuff, but I’ve changed my bourbon habits pretty radically since then. I’ve come to appreciate a lot of lower shelf things more and, frankly, to appreciate that a HUGE number of higher priced bottles are all about packaging and marketing, not about the juice in the glass. Simply put: given the small number of variables bourbon can have to, by definition, still be bourbon, you simply don’t get the same stratification across price points with it that you do with scotch, wine or beer.

To that end, as Mr. Wilcox notes, I have made Evan Williams black label my everyday pour because it’s cheap and is of decent enough quality for solo sipping. I buy big jugs of it and put it in a decanter to feel fancy. I always have a bottle or two of something nicer around too, of course, and maybe a different mash bill cheapo than Evan Williams. At the moment I have Old Fitzgerald as my cheap wheated (sweet, smooth) bourbon, Old Grandad Bonded for something with a greater kick and some spice and a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel to be fancy with for guests.

Q: Were you disappointed to learn that Petrov’s Defense isn’t really a justifiable opening for Black in upper-level play (@euqubud)

I think they should play the game the right way. It’s a bunch of horses**t. Me and Leyland were just talking about this yesterday.

Q: Other than Bonilla who has the longest and/or most expensive deferred contract in the MLB? (@AboveAverageA)

I don’t know if it’s the biggest or the longest, but Manny Ramirez signed a 16-year, $32 million deferred money deal from the Red Sox which, like Bonilla’s, kicked in on July 1, 2011. It costs them $1.968 million a year and goes through 2026 when Ramirez is 54. Why the Sox don’t get crap tossed on them like the Mets do for Bonilla is a mystery to me.

The best one, though, is Bruce Sutter. The Atlanta Braves signed Sutter before the 1985 season. He was a bust. But get this deal: payments totaling $44 million over 36 years. He got $750,000 salary for each season between 1985 and 1990 and then $1.12 million a year for the remaining 30 years of the contract. In addition, he gets $9.1 million in so-called “principal” at the end. Bruce Sutter has not pitched for nearly 30 years at this point and he’s still being paid. At least I think so. The Braves and him may have settled it out by now, but that was the deal he signed back during the Reagan administration.

Q: Favorite meme? Crying MJ, Tea Lizard, or Smockin? (@TheManKev)

I will never not laugh at a well-executed Crying MJ. It’s like people with cilantro: either you love it more than anything or you’re genetically wired to not like the taste.

Q: Should I buy home with Gahanna taxes and Westerville schools even though it’s technically in Columbus? (@RustyisBack)

Gotta take a local question, right? For those who don’t know, those are Columbus suburbs which abut my fair burb, New Albany, Ohio. Columbus did this aggressive annexation thing over the past few decades in which the city extends into a lot of suburban commercial districts, giving the city the tax revenue but which Columbus also extends its water and sewer service to the burbs, relieving them of that obligation. The school situation is sort of messed up: there are a lot of areas which are technically in Columbus city limits but which are covered by the suburban school district. Theoretically, Columbus was supposed to get the kids from newly-built homes in these burbs, while the existing homes were sent to the suburban schools. It was a grand anti-white flight gambit which got the name “Win-Win.” It’s not been a good deal for Columbus schools, that I can tell you, and the burbs always seem to be renegotiating it in ways that help them. Overall the city is better off than cities that didn’t try to aggressively annex and deal with those issues, but it’s not super either.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that you can, as my questioner notes, live in one property tax district yet send your kids to school in another. I’m a moron who lives in New Albany proper and sends his kids to New Albany schools, so I’m taxed like crazy. If I lived two subdivisons (Rush reference!) over, I’d pay much lower Columbus taxes, yet could still send my kids to the same school. Between that and the increasingly untenable cat situation, I spend a lot of time on

For Rusty: If you’re paying Gahanna taxes, send ’em to Gahanna schools. They’re better. If you want to send ’em to Westerville schools, go buy a place off of Schrock Road over there. Nice old 1970s housing stock, well-maintained, but much lower taxes.

Q: Have you ever been to Albany, NY or Georgia and if so, how do they compare to New Albany, Ohio? (‏@SchnitzAndGrins)

Never been to those, but in New Albany, Ohio we all have personal concierge service and a third tap on our sink which brings forth the finest champagne. Or so the plebes in Gahanna and Westerville think. So no, I don’t think they compare.

Q: Favorite sandwich/food? (@Afaucheux70)

Sandwich: Either salami, corned beef, or pastrami on rye. Depends on the mood. Must be kosher. I’m not Jewish, but I grew up eating that stuff from jewish delis and I have my friggin’ standards. I eat way, way less of that now that I’m an old man who has to watch his waistline and stuff more carefully. It’s more of a rare treat. Food in general: pizza or steaks, depending on my mood.

Q: Any non-negotiable, no-way-I’m-eating-that-I-don’t-care-how-good-it’s-supposed-to-be, food? (@dougchapinjr)

Beets. I don’t care if they’re golden or red or whatever. I can’t stand them. And it’s not an “I don’t prefer them” thing. I literally can’t chew or swallow them without gagging. I’ve tried. I don’t care for, say cauliflower or cooked cabbage, but I can fake it and stomach those things out of politeness. I literally cannot consume beats.

Q: Which 80s pro wrestler would make the best baseball manager? (@JakeMHS)

Arn Arnderson. He was in a different league than the other Four Horseman when it came to brains, temperament and tactics. Flair would’ve been a disaster. Like those Hall of Famers who get mad that his players can’t play as well as he did. Tully Blanchard would be a Wally Backman type. Just couldn’t see it. Ole Anderson would probably burn out. Lex Lugar was a dim bulb. Arn would take the same dedication he had with respect to working on the arm of an opponent and apply it to the little things managers have to pay attention to. He’d be fantastic.

Q: Why is happiness so elusive? (‏@CLEFOAINTACRIME)

We keep moving the goalposts on it. We’re happy when we’re kids because all we want is love and some fun. We’re unhappy when we’re old because we still want those things, but we define them far more complicatedly, plus we want respect from people we shouldn’t care about, success we can’t necessarily define and, of course, a lot of money. Oh, and we want to be right about everything, always, and no one is right about everything so we’re constantly upset when people don’t tell us we’re right. Being a grownup is harder and we can’t easily pare things down to where they were when we were little kids, but if we try our best to define happiness by (a) love, broadly and open-mindedly defined; and (b) some fun, we’re far more likely to be happy more often.

Do you sleep with a gun under your pillow, James? (@Taylor__Jackson)

I can’t place the Pierce Brosnan Bonds in proper context. The Daniel Craig ones ruined them for me. I know some people like their Bonds cheesy, but each generation of Bond movies makes the last one look super cheesy.

Q: How should modern fans rationalize loving sports but rooting for their manifestations as pretty rotten corporations? (‏@bbeennyyJ)

Enjoy the games but be skeptical of any product or idea the teams and leagues are selling beyond the actual games. Certainly don’t buy into their pitches and arguments when it comes to what they say they need to survive or thrive. At the very least, read sports writers who question these jackasses constantly and don’t trade their integrity or their skepticism for access. I know a few of them if you’d like recommendations.

Q: Which MLB player would most benefit from owning a cat or cats (@ColHapablap)

Kevin Kiermaier. I can’t prove this, but I bet he wouldn’t have injured himself if he had a few cats. They relax you. They also jump around a lot and provide a great example of good form. I’m not saying that the dive that fractured Kiermaier’s hand would’ve been non-injurious if he had cats to help him improve his gracefulness and chill, but I’m not not saying it either.

Q: Which current baseball player would you most want to cat-sit for you on your next vacation? (@Jameson_ATX)

Juan Uribe. There’s a good chance he’d leave behind some cigars or a bottle of something good. He seems like a guy who enjoys the hell out of life and doesn’t overcomplicate things. People like that do well with cats. Also: he’s in Cleveland. Not too far a drive for him.

Q: Been watching “Better Call Saul.” What was the (failed) anti-advertising argument offered in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona? (@mbranom)

If you’re not watching “Better Call Saul,” man you should be. It’s the best. Especially if you’re a lawyer. There has never been a more realistic depiction of the private practice of law than that show. It’s always dramatized, and this show never does that. It shows exactly what it’s like and gets the vibe perfectly. It’s been seven years since I practiced and I still get weird anxiety watching the law firm scenes on “Better Call Saul.”

Anyway, Bates v. State Bar of Arizona is the case that made it legal for lawyers to advertise. It was ruled that lawyers have the same commercial speech rights under the First Amendment as anyone else. The State Bar of Arizona tried to argue that it had a compelling reason to ban advertising, tied up in the “dignity” and the “professionalism” of the practice of law which State Bars have always appealed to, thinking they’re better than anyone else trying to make a buck. They’re not. At least the ambulance chasers who post up big billboards are honest about their ethics. The guys in corporate departments of big “dignified’ law firms are not so forthcoming.

Q: Would you eat mac and cheese out of a clean, unused, unscented trash bag? Like if you didn’t have a bowl you just had that (@deer_chair)

I can’t imagine it’d be any worse than eating out of those cardboard bowls at Chipotle or the paper which wraps the burgers at In-N-Out. To be honest, depending on what kind of mac and cheese it is, that may be the weak, dirty link in this whole transaction.

Q: What advice would you give people looking to make a career change like you did? (@HoffUW)

There isn’t any good advice, really, as me turning my hobby blogging into a full time writing job had an awful lot to do with luck and the gratuitous overtures of the folks at NBC who didn’t know who I was but who took Aaron Gleeman and Matthew Pouliot’s word for it that I was a pretty OK blogger. They say luck is the residue of good planning and, yes, I put myself in a position to where my chance of getting a break was a bit better than it might have been, but there are people who are better and smarter than me who never got that break. Never confuse a writer’s platform or employer for one’s quality or value as a writer.

As for the actual leap, should one get the opportunity: try to think larger scale, rather than smaller scale. At the time I did this I took a pay cut. It was one I could afford at the time, thankfully, but it was one which, if I dwelled too much on it, I might’ve gotten afraid and not quit the legal gig, thinking I’d be killing myself financially over the next. 5-10 years at least. Instead, I thought about the next 40-50 years and what I’d be happy I had done and was willing to take that haircut in the name of some happiness and fulfillment. Final note: don’t hang around your old colleagues too much. It gets a bit depressing when you’re reminded of how much money you walked away from sometimes. But that passes.

Q: Who would win in a physical fight in their respective primes: Secretariat or Barry Bonds? (@lk_1933)

Bonds. I would’ve answered this one differently a few years ago, but then I met Allison, my fiancee. She rides horses. English-style stuff. Hunters/Jumpers/Eventing, etc. I don’t ride, but I’ve hung around the barn enough to where I’ve learned some things about horses and how they behave. Unlike your dog or cat, they’re descended from prey animals, so they’re basically scared of everything. And you can push them the hell around, sometimes pretty easily. Hell, I’ve seen 65 year-old women who weigh 100 pounds soaking wet shove a thoroughbred out of the way with one hand while wagging the finger on the other. The horse sulks for ten minutes after that. It’s a gas. Now, there are rules you have to follow and sometimes a horse will try to bulldoze you. Allison’s horse, Beetlejuice, gets a bit jerky like that sometimes, but she kicks his ass back into line without much effort and she’s not some bodybuilder. Even a wuss like me is learning how to handle him. Barry Bonds, ‘roided up and cranky circa 2002 would have no trouble with Secretariat.

Q: Who’s your favorite child? (@ColinDMcLain)

Carlo, if you’re going to use an alias to try to see if I love Anna better, at least use one with a different first initial. And as you know, I love you equally. To the extent you two please me and/or piss me off, you do so in profoundly different ways and I wouldn’t change a thing about you.

Q: Is @MrBrianKenny ahead of the curve? (@Astros_gal)

We’ll have to buy his book to find out.

Q: What’s your favorite baseball stadium, ever of all time of any size any league? (@sportsmediafam)

Tiger Stadium in Detroit. I went to my first 30-40 games there and it’s there where I learned to love baseball. Well, there and on the radio. Beyond my personal nostalgia for it, I loved that it was completely closed in. Unlike today’s parks, the outside world did not matter, did not intrude. While the game was going on you could suspend disbelief that the real world existed and all that was happening was Milt Wilcox facing off against Larry Gura or something.

Q: How badly do you want this shirt?

Holy crap. This puts me in mind of a tweet a friend of mine wrote yesterday, which is 100% true:

Q: For a while I confused you with Lorenzo Carcaterra, the writer. Question: Best place to eat in Columbus? (@TJ_Shouse)

We would’ve also accepted golfer Mark Calcavecchia. My restaurant favorites in Columbus change a lot, but my consistent go-to is Barcelona. Spanish place, obviously. Tapas, paella, etc. It’s also a gorgeous restaurant. Allison and I are getting married there, on their patio. For real.

Q: Based on your personality, if you were an animal, what color/pattern would your fur/skin/feathers/scales be? (@whipstache)

I hope by now it’d be obvious that I’d be a cat. I think I’d be a gray tiger cat, like old George (RIP). My calicos are pretty, but they’re friggin’ morons.

Q: 🤔 If you build it, will they come? 😉 (@bradrobinson8)

Yes. And they’ll recite painfully bad dialogue and provide scenes which attempt to portray great emotional gravitas but which are wholly unearned, goosed along with manipulative nods to the viewer, making him or her fill in their own blanks, rather than doing the heavy lifting of story and character development. Maybe you’ll like it because you have unresolved issues with your dad, but go watch the movie again and note that we never know why Kevin Costner and his dad have issues. They’re just assumed. They’re too busy trying to be poetic to actual create real characters.

Q: What is your favorite pop tart? (@@azelt90_)

Frosted strawberry. The classics never go out of style.

Q: How could Ramius not know it was the GD cook? This guy took out the lead boat in each new class? (@byjustinthomas)

I think his only weakness is that he underestimated people he considered to be his inferiors. He didn’t think much of Jack Ryan until Ryan proved himself. It didn’t occur to him that his propaganda officer might be a problem (I doubt he intended to murder him beforehand; he had no choice). The doctor was a problem he solved, but it took him a little work. He had great respect for the main part of his crew and the men he trained (like Tupolev) because they were, in his mind, a version of himself and thus formidable, but he pretty constantly underestimated those out of his direct chain of command or area of expertise. He’s lucky he still pulled it off. But his faults in this regard did prevent a certain first officer from ever getting to see Montana.

Q: Pineapple on pizza. Sweet addition or unholy abomination or somewhere in between? (@McVanderhuge)

The only pizza toppings allowed on traditional pizza place pizzas are pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and black olives. I’ll allow peppers of various kinds if I’m in the mood, but don’t push it. If you start going all ham and pineapple on me like some basic Michigan/Ohio person (my GOD do Michigan and Ohio people love their ham and pineapple) I really have no use for you. All bets are off on wood fired/fancy/neapolitan places. Go crazy if your pizza is just for you.

Q: Diane or Rebecca? (@DrAwesomeTweets)

Rebecca. I never saw what Sam saw in Diane. Rebecca Howe may have had her issues, but she was more honest about them than Diane was. There was going to be a breakdown with Diane eventually. You get the feeling that Rebecca would’ve turned out to be a great life partner eventually. Plus: I had a thing for 1980s Kirstie Alley, so sue me.

Q: Why has Tris Speaker completely vanished from the popular discussion of baseball’s all-time players? (@LukeEpplin)

Because no one made a movie out of his life, he didn’t hold a big significant record (he’s the current all-time doubles leader and that’s cool, but no one knows that off the top of their head) and because we didn’t name an award after him. Crazy overlooked, though. He’s 9th all time in bWar, ahead of Honus Wagner, Stan Musial and Ted Williams, among others.

Why do you hate my team? (@kjasalter)

If you root for 29 teams, you know what your team did. If you root for the Royals, it’s because watching you guys flip out when you encounter someone who doesn’t like what you like is pretty hilarious. You’re like Rush fans, but you’re less polite about it.

That’s all, folks. Sorry if I didn’t get to your question, but there were a lot of them. Let’s do this again sometime soon, though, and make up for that.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.