Yakkin' About Baseball: Angel Hernandez's Daring Medicare Fraud Scheme

In which we welcome our robot overlords, wonder when the Arizona Diamondbacks will secede, and so on.
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David Raposa: If the following statement makes me sound like some unkempt hairy-palmed Playboy subscriber, so be it. But let me be perfectly clear: I only watch Mets games for the broadcasters. Also because Matt Harvey and David Wright are pretty good at baseball. But mostly for the broadcasters.

David Roth: I... am running out of reasons why I watch Mets games. They’re pretty much all neurochemical at this point. But I get this, because Gary Cohen and Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez do class up the joint in a way not even Terminal Stage Marlon Byrd can undo. In the same way that old Playboys usually had a piece or two of good reported journalism in them to go with all the Airbrushed Lady In Heels And Bow Tie (For Some Reason) Standing On A Ladder In An Old Timey Library erotica.

David Raposa: I’ll need a couple bouts of head trauma before I can fit the stocky defensive wanderlust of Lucas Duda into this metaphor. I should also clarify that my fondness for Gary, Keith and Ron is amplified by the daily faceplants executed by the NESN broadcast team. Have you seen a Red Sox game recently?

David Roth: Not recently. Can Jerry Remy pronounce “Buchholz” yet?

David Raposa: As he would say, “(Daniel) Naver say naver.” First, there’s play-by-play guy Don Orsillo, whose insight into the team and the game goes exactly as far as whatever’s in the media guide. Then there’s Remy, who was once one of the best color guys in the game, but has slowly metamorphosized into The Remdog, an avuncular multi-media empire magnate who seems more interested in talking about anything except what’s happening on the field. There’s the sideline reporter, forced to either shill for various Sox-affiliated activities or talk about the players’ favorite foods and music.

David Roth: That sounds terrible. It’s like, how long can anyone really listen to Mike Napoli explain why detractors are missing the point on the new record by The Knife?

David Raposa: And then there are the digressions. I’m pretty sure those two dingleberries are still taking at least a half-inning every game to laugh about some running joke involving stolen mustard that started back in early April.

David Roth: As a general rule, I'm okay with a digressive announcer, provided that announcer is an interesting person. Which most are not. Rick Sutcliffe going off topic is not going to be interesting, because it's just going to be stuff about getting cut off at Buffalo Wild Wings and how unfair that is, how the bartender was “probably just jealous.”

David Raposa: I misread that as "Rick Sutcliffe getting cut at a BWW," which I could see happening, given how upset he’d probably get once he realizes the commercials are fake and BWW bartenders don’t have consoles that control every sporting event next to the Hefeweizen tap.


David Raposa: So dig this starting lineup the Yankees trotted out a few days ago. Please note who’s hitting second-to-last: Gardner 8, Cano 4, Wells 7, Overbay 3, Suzuki 9, Nix 6, Nelson 5, Phelps 1, Romine 2.

David Roth: That's a lot of utility-grade slurry for a first-place team. Also it didn't occur to me that anyone not wearing transition spectacles, a Republican bowl cut and a sour look on his face would even think to do the pitcher-hits-eighth thing.

David Raposa: Well, we are talking about Joe Girardi, so I’m sure he’s got that third bit covered. But even as Saber-friendly as I pretend to be, I still wince and flinch when I seen an “optimized” batting order. Don’t mind the scare quotes, but I'm pretty sure Lyle Overbay doesn't qualify as "one of the three best hitters (high SLG)," even in that mess.

David Roth: I didn't know that batting your pitcher eighth was an "optimized" approach. I just assumed it was a La Russan way to smugly remind the world that he has more ideas than anyone else. His memoirs are going to read like a version of Freakonomics, but with many pitching changes and a lengthy and exclamation point-filled Joe McEwing foreword.

David Raposa: I wouldn’t put it past The Silver Mullet to make with the lineup lulz, but Tom Tango suggests otherwise: "As for why it’s better to bat pitcher eighth: it's because it's more beneficial to set up the top of the order than to give the pitcher fewer times to bat. But again, we're talking about a two-run gain over the course of 162 games." And Tango goes on to (rightly) suggest that keeping players (and possibly even the beat writers) happy is more important than that 0.012 runs per game. I can only imagine the field day the press would have with a less renowned manager trying to execute that maneuver.

David Roth: So this kind of wraps around and becomes trolling again: abstraction for the hell of it. Good for Tom Tango recognizing the human element on that one. You can weigh the psychological costs along the objective ones and make a choice. It's not bad or a cop out or whatever. The stat conversation is always enervating -- more scowls and muffled burps and pauses and shake-offs than a month of Steve Trachsel starts -- but never more so than when it’s basically just a caricature-off between the Jock Traditionalists and Basement Dweebs.

David Raposa: Yeah, though this "statistical approach" is still "new" enough that when someone fails attempting something (like the non-closer bullpen, or the unorthodox lineup), it's an indictment of the "approach" as a whole. And it's as much about the coverage as the actual thing being covered, either because writers can make hay framing things as "stats vs. scouts," or writers actually believe in one side at the expense of the other.

David Raposa: It also doesn't help when the highest-profile examples of, for example, using a four-man rotation are the Colorado Rockies enforcing a pointlessly restrictive pitch limit with their colostomy bag of a starting staff. I’m pretty sure the folks that are pro-four-man didn’t picture Jeff Francis as the ace of said rotation.

David Roth: Also, who is that Stats vs. Scouts thing for? Beyond being codger-ish bullshit, it's also just like the least interesting thing to talk about in terms of baseball. Of all the things, why turn this into some hacky culture war? Just make fun of Dusty Baker or something, it's easier and much more fun.

David Raposa: Ehh, busting Dusty’s stones is so two weeks ago. Bagging on umpires is the new style. Did you see Bo Porter convincing Fieldin Culbreth that the rule concerning a pitcher having to face at least one batter before being removed is optional?

David Roth: I feel like we’re getting some sort of umpiring goofery every six or so innings, now. I have a hard time keeping it all straight. Since I started typing this, I’m sure that Angel Hernandez has committed very serious Medicare fraud during a game or something.

David Raposa:: So much to choose from. It’s like an all-you-can-eat salad bar full of guttural yelps and masculine semaphore and malformed egos.

David Roth: I will admit that while I'm worried about Robot Umpires -- because Skynet, and because I would honestly rather make dumb jokes about baseball than work in cadmium mines administered by sadistic robot versions of Bill Welke -- I think it might be nice to know what you're going to get from game to game.

David Raposa: Given Bud Selig’s still the captain of the ship, I’m pretty sure the robot umps would be less Schwarzenegger-y and more like ED 209, complete with the inability to successfully navigate stairs and the colicky baby protocol.

David Roth: It would get very Robocop 2. Some real mean, defective Tom Noonan-brained MFs. I'm not sure the one faulty Robocop prototype that shot everyone in the boardroom but Miguel Ferrer would really be SIGNIFICANTLY worse than Angel Hernandez.

David Raposa: Pretty sure an Angel Hernandez model would lay waste to the OCP board room without hitting a single person. Ronny Cox would give him such a moon.

David Roth: /Searching for appropriate Kurtwood Smith joke /No results found

David Raposa: Surely there’s some other 80s sci-fi classic we can look to for help with this umpire situation? Maybe employ some sort of Running Man scheme to select who makes the playoff crews?

David Roth: As far as I know, that's currently the way they do it. RIP Cowboy Joe West, murdered by Yaphet Kotto on an inexpensive set.

David Raposa: I’m sure Joe’s family was consoled with their complementary copy of the Running Man board game.

David Roth: To change gears: I sense Nick Hundley, adorable dog notwithstanding, may be kind of a jerk? If you define "jerk" as "someone who says of a co-worker 'an unproven guy who had a few good months on steroids.'"

David Raposa: You say “dick”, I say “valued teammate.” He's the guy you want in your foxhole, possibly because the enemy will target him first.

David Roth: "I’m calling in an air strike on the guy throwing the shocker with one hand and flipping off Yasmani Grandal with the other."

David Raposa: "But he's one of ours, Sarge."

David Roth: "Listen, kid. War is hell. Sometimes you have to treat yourself."

David Roth: I love the San Diego Union-Tribune holding him up as a hero in that article, too. We’ve waited so long for straight talk from our replacement-level backstops.

David Raposa: I'd like to think Hundley's just voicing the frustration of all "clean" players losing their jobs to dudes on the joy juice.

David Roth: Also a chance that Hundley is voicing the frustration of guys who had a 31 OPS+ in 225 plate appearances last year. There were very few of those, though. I guess the only question, now, is how long it takes for Kirk Gibson to demand the Diamondbacks trade for Hundley. He already has the Caucasian Grievance thing going, which is one of the only scouting metrics that matters in Arizona. That and “can drive ATV, y/n.”

David Raposa: I'm getting the feeling you're not too fond of Captain Fistpump and his managerial reign.

David Roth: Different cultures is all. By the end of this year, I fully expect Gibson to make pitching changes with an AR-15 slung across his back, as a MESSAGE TO TYRANTS. Also relievers will enter the game in Humvees driven by Steven Seagal.

David Raposa: I'm sure there are team regulations requiring at least two Pissing Calvin stickers on every player's car.

David Roth: They should change the team’s logo to Calvin Pissing On A Cartoon Of Paul Krugman. Also when other teams wear their Los Mets jerseys, the Diamondbacks ones just say #BENGHAZI

David Roth: Also last year's Padres are really something to look into. Grandal was worth 3.2 wins more than Hundley -- that's 2.7 WAR -- in roughly the same number of plate appearances. ALSO Jeff Suppan and Kip Wells pitched for the Padres LAST YEAR.

David Raposa: News to me. Being a real baseball fan, I only know players that are on the Red Sox or Yankees or being accused of using PEDs.

David Roth: I appreciated Dan Shaughnessy making time to accuse David Ortiz of being on drugs. I know Shaughnessey is otherwise busy being a defective mop.

David Raposa: You’d think a news publication -- even a dying one -- would employ more editorial oversight when dealing with cranky squint-addled dolts like Danny Boy, not less. I don’t care if this is an “opinion piece;” there’s no smell test that this could ever pass.

David Roth: I wonder what it's worth to them. Or what it'd take for some editor to be like, "Dan, I’m not running this. Also you look like a toilet brush that got dipped in grenadine and pancake makeup. Don't be this way."

David Raposa: One of these days, we'll have a Yak where we don't spend a couple hundred characters bemoaning the continued employment of some flatulent gin blossom. I'm pretty sure the Astros will be World Series champions 10 times over before that happens.

David Roth: We should all take our vitamins.

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