Tuesday Special – Q&A With 500 Level Fan

Over the past few weeks I have been asked several questions by different people, either through email (fivehundredlevelfan@gmail.com) or via twitter (@500LevelFan).

Instead of answering them all individually I thought I’d save them up and unleash the inaugural 500 Level Fan reader mailbag. Most of these questions are about baseball in general, which is a nice change from talking strictly Blue Jays.

So read on!

@TheCraiger asks a variety of questions such as:

Q – If you could change any rule currently enforced in the MLB, what one would you change and why?

A – Interesting. While it’s not really a rule affecting gameplay (more of a stat rule), I hate the save. The pitcher who records the last out of a game that is within three runs earns a save, and those who do it regularly earn multi-million dollar contracts. I hate it. I think it’s stupid that pitchers who pitch

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the ninth inning are thought of differently than those who consistently get hitters out in the 7th or 8th. The closer is an artificial position that far too often handcuffs managers into utilizing their bullpen in one way and one way only. Get rid of it.

Q – Would you do anything to the current format of the all-star game (i.e. the home field advantage for the world series)?

A – I would get rid of the world series aspect. It’s been said by many writers smarter and better than I, but why should an at-bat in July between a Pittsburgh Pirate and a Kansas City Royal determine who gets home field in the World Series? Doesn’t make sense. I think the All-Star game has been permanently scarred by the advent of interleague play and free agency. It used to be a highly competitive game between players who had loyalty to their leagues. Now the AL and NL play each other each regular season, and players jump leagues all the time. It’s lost its lustre and should be treated for what it is – a glorified exhibition game.

Q – Who is the most over rated player in the MLB?

A – As much as I’m tempted to annoy the asker and say A-Rod, I won’t. But really, how can the answer not be Derek Jeter? He still is paid like an elite shortstop. He still bats at the top of the Yankee lineup. He still is the most recognized name in baseball. And he sucks. He has been amazing his entire career, but the end has come apparently. After a career worst season last year, he has fallen even harder to begin 2011 (.241 AVG, .571 OPS). I also hate Nick Swisher, but that is neither here nor there.

Q – Who is the most underrated player in the MLB?

A – I’m taking the biased approach here, and will say Yunel Escobar of the Jays. He plays great defense, he can hit, and he’s off to a great start. Whatever happened in Atlanta last year is clearly behind him, and clearly was an off-field issue. His reputation took a huge hit, to the point where he was considered a bad teammate and a lazy player, which in turn dropped his stock to the point of being underrated. Honourable mention to Jose Bautista who is still looked upon as a fluke despite a .953 OPS and .443 OBP so far in 2011.

From @JSMART1982 comes a few thought provokers:

Q – What was the deal with the 11 AM game yesterday?

A – Patriot’s Day in Boston. They do it every year. But because the game starts before noon, the results do not count for the visiting team. So the 9-1 loss will not count in the standings for the Blue Jays. You have to be a terrible team to schedule early games, so that will hopefully teach the Red Sox a lesson. (That is a joke, sadly.)

Q – At what point does a rebuilding team become just a bad team?

A – I would say a rebuilding team becomes a bad team if no measurable improvements can be seen at the end of three years into the general manager’s regime. Rebuilding can’t be done over night. The first year is usually spent cleaning up the last guy’s mess, and the second year is spent implementing your own philosophy. The third year should start showing at least moderate results. If not, the team is bad. This means that the Blue Jays should start to show signs of serious improvement by the end of 2012 to fit my definition, as I 100% expect them to.

@TOSocialEvents asks:

Q – Who do you think is the greatest Blue Jays broadcaster of all time?

A – I am biased towards TV here, or else I would have said Tom and Jerry in a heartbeat. But to me, the glory days were in the mid 90’s, and the combo of Dan Shulman on play-by-play and Buck Martinez on colour. That was the best there was in my opinion. Having a Canadian team with a former Jay gave two very diverse yet very relevant viewpoints on each and every game. Plus Shulman has the best voice in the business. Shulman is now, of course, the play-by-play man on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, and Buck is Toronto’s play-by-play man. I’ve always thought Buck is a much better colour commentator. Honourable mention to Jim Hughson when he called the games in the early ’90’s, but he’s found his calling in the NHL.

Finally, some more light-hearted questions from long-time reader @altrendy:

Q – When will the Jays win the World Series next?

A – 2013. Book it.

Q – Will Charl Schwartzel win another major?

A – Yes. Any man who helps me win $200 in a Masters pool has much more in store for them in the future. In fact, he will win two more majors. At least.

Q – What tastes better, a vodka martini or a gin martini?

A – Tough one. I like them both. I think a gin martini has more flavour, but I prefer a vodka martini. Dirty. With extra olives.

There you have it. Thanks to the those who asked questions. Feel free to ask more, about anything, at anytime. Use the email address, or contact me on twitter.

‘Til next time…

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