Which MLB player would make the best 25-man roster of clones?

Hey TedQuarters readers! I’m alive. And I’m trying out this reblogging function now that it’s an option to me. Here’s something I wrote about which cloned baseball player would make for the best 25-man roster — a topic occasionally discussed here in the past. Also, I ate a bunch of awesome sandwiches recently and I hope to write one up soon. Sorry it’s been so long, and if I continue failing miserably in my plan to post here more often, have a happy New Year.

For The Win

A recent Reddit thread posed an interesting topic for debate. If you could clone one active MLB player to make an entire team comprised of only that guy, which guy would be best?

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume whatever cloning mechanism we have access to churns out identical copies of the player as currently constituted (but ignoring late-season injuries). The “teams” have spring training to learn all the new positions, but since we’re cloning them as they are now and not as babies, strong-armed position players don’t benefit from years of training to pitch — just a couple of months.

Also, just for kicks, we’re going to assume the manager’s a clone, too. Each team plays its home games in the cloned player’s home park, where the sold-out crowd is also comprised entirely of cloned versions of that player. So when Team Mike Trout takes the field…

View original post 1,171 more words

Hello, hello

I’ve been updating this site way too infrequently, I know, and hardly sticking to my promise to maintain it in some fashion after leaving SNY.tv for USA Today. But I’ve been busy, and too many hours at the computer make my back act up.

563338_10151521142310135_943651872_nAbout that: I’m again riding my bike for MS research. If you are for some reason still checking TedQuarters, you can help by donating to the cause here.

About that: I’m happy to report that the disease hasn’t progressed much in the years since I wrote this and this and this. My back hurts and I can’t fully feel the pinkie and ring fingers on my left hand. I’ve grown so used to it at this point that I don’t know if I’d even call it pain most of the time. It’s just what it is.

But since I’m used to it — and since I’m gunning for donations here — here’s an anecdote I’m not sure I’ve ever shared publicly before:

It took roughly a million doctor’s visits and tests to diagnose the MS, in part because my case was a bit complicated even by the strange standards of neurological health issues. I kept having to go get MRIs at a place near Columbus Circle, and when you’ve got back problems (and some mild claustrophobia), MRIs suck. I’m not a big drinker, but I used to sometimes buy whiskey at a nearby liquor store so I could take a couple slugs before going in the tube.

It was right after the final MRI I got — the one that diagnosed the disease — when something went awry. Before I could put my all my clothes back on in the dressing room, I entirely lost control of my left arm. It wasn’t the first time it happened, but it was by far the most severe of the incidents. It became spasmodic. I could vaguely control it at the shoulder but nowhere else.

I couldn’t even button my pants, so I had to pull my belt on tight just to walk out of the place with my pants on. And I was so concerned about what the hell was happening to me that I didn’t think to tell the people at the MRI place or anything. It wasn’t even overwhelmingly uncomfortable; it was just terrifying.

To that point, the worst diagnosis I had heard was that I had a strained muscle in my back. One doctor insisted I merely had bad posture. And it was really only at that moment, stumbling around under some scaffolding on 57th and Broadway, that I knew something must be seriously f#@$ed up.

It was such a strange sensation that I couldn’t think of anything else, even decisions as mundane as getting on the subway to go home. I somehow made my way to the obnoxious high-end Columbus Circle shopping mall and sat at a dirty table in the bookstore drinking bourbon out of my backpack until the feeling in my arm was restored.

This reference might not seem appropriate for the gravity of the moment (in my head, at least), but the best comparison I can think of from movies is the scene in District 9 when the guy is first becoming an alien, and the alien arm rips out from inside his and he says, “Doctor, what has happened to my arm?”

That part of that movie was completely chilling to me, because what happened to me felt exactly like some sort of alien life form was taking over my body from inside. District 9. No joke.

Turns out it wasn’t extraterrestrial forces but my own stupid immune system, which has expressed a strong distaste for my body on numerous occasions.

Whatever. I don’t really know where I was going with that, except to try to get at how scary it can be to come down with some indistinct disease that causes you to lose control of your body. So, you know, donate if you can. No pressure.

Also, on a totally unrelated note: You can check out nearly all the writing I do at USA Today here. RSS that piece.

This post might be of particular interest to TedQuarters readers.

The Volcano Taco is dead. Long live the Volcano Taco!

Someone told me the Volcano Taco no longer exists, so I hiked to my nearest Taco Bell to investigate. I’ve been trying to eat healthier of late, but I figured the two-mile walk would more than mitigate the damage done by a single taco.

volcanotacoMy nearest Taco Bell pumps classic rock music all the time, which always seems out of place in the middle of East Harlem. Tom Petty’s “Running Down the Dream” was cranking when I walked in. Speaking of which:

“Do you still make Volcano Tacos?” I asked nonchalantly, as if it were a casual curiosity and not a pointed inquiry. I try to play it cool at Taco Bell and act as if I’m not in the 99.999th percentile of human beings in terms of Taco Bell knowledge. I don’t really know why. I guess I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of the Taco Bell employees.

“We don’t,” said the woman at the register. She stepped back and pointed toward a sign advertising the new Fiery Doritos Locos Taco. “If you’re looking for something similar, I could-”

I cut her off. I’m certainly interested in knowing how the new Doritos Locos Taco tastes, but I don’t particularly want one. Healthier eating means a far smaller monthly quota for Taco Bell items, and I’ve been so underwhelmed by both the Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos that I don’t want to waste any of my very limited Taco Bell intake on more Doritos Locos Tacos.

“Nah,” I said, shaking my head. “Could you–”

“You could get a regular taco with the same sauce,” she said.

“With the Lava Sauce, yeah,” I said, accidentally exposing that I’m aware it’s called Lava Sauce, prompting a fleeting moment of embarrassment before I remembered that I’m not at all ashamed to know that.

“So a regular Crunchy Taco plus Lava Sauce,” she repeated, pounding away at the register. There are buttons for that. We’re in the clear.

A few minutes later, I ate what tasted exactly like a Volcano Taco, containing all the same ingredients. The red taco shell is no longer available, but that was just a novelty anyway, gone the way of the Black Jack Taco shell because Taco Bell’s current gimmicky shell thing is making them out of Doritos, not giving them different colors.

As to that: Whatever. They’re not my thing, but clearly they’re popular, and anything that helps keep Taco Bell flourishing is fine by me. Plus, the burgeoning relationship between Taco Bell and Frito-Lay seems like a step toward global Taco Bell dominance, winning the Restaurant Wars and all that.

Plus, at some point, Taco Bell’s going to start making taco shells out of other snack chips, which should get interesting. How about a pretzel taco? I could get down with that.

As for the Volcano Taco, it joins the pantheon of great retired Taco Bell items like the Bacon Cheeseburger Burrito. It will exist forever in our memories, a reminder of the transitional era in which Taco Bell first started toying with taco shells but before they started covering them with Dorito stuff. And the Taco Bell lifehackers among us will know that we can taste the Volcano Taco whenever we want by adding Lava Sauce to a Crunchy Taco, even if that adds an element of entropy that makes the Taco Bell significantly more likely to screw up your order than if you could just ask for a Volcano Taco.

I walked out to the boring thump of “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, a band inspired by the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” to fuse rock music with a horn section, and one that enjoyed great commercial success while making largely terrible music. Sometimes good ideas pay off even when poorly executed. Taco Bell powers forward.

More on the British Sandwich Association, which remains a real thing

The existence of the British Sandwich Association came up here back in 2011. This morning, Twitterer @Andrew_J_Carter passed along an article from The Guardian about this year’s British Sandwich Association awards. 

It’s a good read, but significantly less so if you’re hungry and your home smells like pork and the pork isn’t ready yet. Man, I really hope this pork is done soon. I’m actually salivating.


Hello, people who are still checking this site occasionally. Thanks for your faith and your patience, or, if you’re my wife, for setting TedQuarters as one of your default Firefox tabs and not bothering to change it. I appreciate it. I never meant to let it sit dormant this long, but I’ve spent the last couple of months pretty busy while learning everything I have to learn at USA Today (a work in progress), plus traveling a lot and getting over the post-Asia jetlag that lingered for weeks.

If you’re interested, the best way to find things I’ve written for USA Today is to search the site for my name. As I understand it, there should be an RSS feed for most of my stuff available soon. If you’re going to the site, check out the other sports and baseball content while you’re there. It’s good.

I got an article about the Brewers’ stolen racing sausage on the front page of the sports section a few weeks back, and I interviewed Geddy Lee of Rush about baseball. Things are off to a solid start.

After a week and a half in Florida and a week and a half in Phoenix, I should now have some more defined time away from the work computer (even despite the start of the baseball season) and I hope to post here more regularly. I can be kinda lazy, though, plus I don’t love spending more time hunched over keyboards than I need to, and my various musical instruments are right here next to the home computer begging to be noodled with.

Also: I’m sort of trying to eat healthier, so I’ve been less inclined to write about food — the likeliest lifeblood of this site if I’m not writing about the Mets here. My waistline and general health have followed something of a sine-curve pattern for about 15 years now, and I felt myself surfing a particularly long crest. It is, I’m sure, partly because I ate a whole lot of fatty food in the pursuit of fatty food worth writing about here. Boo hoo, I know. The cross I bear is made of bacon. Could be worse.

But while writing about sports is an unspeakably awesome profession, I do miss writing about things that aren’t sports. And I miss interacting with the people who regularly read this site. Plus, I’m hardly going whole-hog with a diet and I’m allowing myself an occasional cheat meal, so I should still occasionally have food fodder to blog about here.

For example: The few weeks I spent at spring training provided ample opportunity to eat fast food, even as I tried not to.

On the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco: A hearty meh. The most impressive part of the experience was the Port St. Lucie Taco Bell, which was absolutely packed at 7 p.m. on a Monday night. At one point, I counted 17 people on line. There were whole families, packs of teenagers, strung-out looking Florida meth people, and old couples who knew each other’s Taco Bell order by heart. Weird, awesome scene. It was like Taco Bell was functioning as the town square. I support that.

The taco itself was just OK. I expected to like it more than the Nacho Cheese variety, but that wasn’t the case. The Cool Ranch flavor was less assertive than its cheesy cousin, so it added the dry powdery factor that plagued the original but without the benefit of much added Doritos taste. I like Cool Ranch Doritos chips way better than Nacho Cheese, but that didn’t translate to tacos. Tiny sample size, though.

I also ate a couple of fast food burgers I’d like to compare at some point soon, so check back.

Lastly: If you haven’t heard by now, consider this a public service announcement regarding the most important news of the season: Baseball started this week, and David Wright’s 2013 at-bat song is the Luniz’ “I Got 5 On It.”

It’s not merely one of his songs, either. It’s his only song. This is a tremendous development, as I’m sure you realize. I’ve long campaigned for more funky West Coast beats at baseball games.

There was some debate in the press box over what song it was, even as I insisted I knew the song well and that it was definitely the Luniz’ “I Got 5 On It.” So a reporter asked Wright to confirm after the game, and Wright said he didn’t know the name of the band but knew the song was called “I Got 5 On It.” The reporter turned to me and acknowledged I was correct, so I nodded and said, “It’s Luniz. The Luniz.”

“Old school, right?” Wright asked.

“Yeah, West Coast,” I said.

“West Coast,” he repeated, nodding.

So David Wright asked me a question about his own at-bat music, which is the exact opposite of my typical interaction with ballplayers.

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: Food stuff and randos

Man, I haven’t even thought about it yet. Actually, I haven’t even thought about the Super Bowl much at all. I’ve spent most of my days wrapping things up at the office, and most of my nights struggling with jetlag and trying to sleep. Joe Flacco favors Haribo Gold-Bears, as I do. That’s about all I’ve got, Super Bowl wise. I pretty much missed the NFL Playoffs.

I’ll probably have wings. That’s unoriginal, I know, but I haven’t had much time to plan a menu, I certainly haven’t ordered ahead, and I’m totally sweet at making wings. So I’ll get to Fairway and buy up some wings (assuming they’re not already sold out) and Buffalo those suckers up. Maybe I’ll talk my wife into making guacamole, and probably she’ll be excited enough for her first Super Bowl in years without any looming obligations that she’ll do it. So I’ll have wings and guacamole, like everyone else. And then I’ll fall asleep in my easy chair before halftime, because this jetlag.

Yes! We ate incredibly well in Southeast Asia. A lot of that meant stuff we already knew about — pad prik king, pho, banh mi and the like. But some popular regional foods were new to us, especially khao soi in Northern Thailand and cao lau in Hoi An, Vietnam. They’re both noodle dishes, and, interestingly, they both include both boiled and fried noodles. But the similarities end there: The khao soi noodles are swimming in a yellow curry broth with vegetables, the cao lau are served with fresh pork, lime and an array of fresh herbs. They’re both amazing, and I’ve used Menupages.com‘s find-a-food search to figure out where I’m going to try both in New York.

I’m not sure it counts as cultural, but the most eye-opening thing was definitely the difference in traffic patterns and roads. I think Americans — at least this one — tend to take our infrastructure for granted, but it’s pretty amazing the way so much of the contiguous part of this country is linked by our interstate system, and how you can drive in a reasonably direct path from anyplace to anyplace mostly via huge, well-paved two- and three-lane highways. In Ho Chi Minh City, a bustling, modern metropolis of over nine million people, we needed to take all sorts of odd sidestreets and alleys to get from the airport to our hotel — and our hotel was close to the center of town. I don’t know if it was something the driver was doing to skirt traffic or what, but it was enough to make a lifelong New Yorker appreciate the Van Wyck. And the traffic inside Ho Chi Minh City is unlike any I’ve seen anywhere: thousands upon thousands of mopeds and seemingly far, far fewer traffic lights per intersection than we’re accustomed to, creating an oddly ordered chaos expertly and somewhat patiently negotiated by the locals but appearing completely overwhelming to tourists. Check out some of the videos on YouTube. It’s mesmerizing.

And all that’s to say nothing of the grueling songthaew trips we took in Southern Laos, which were amazing and confusing enough to make for their own blog post sometime when I’m not charged with cleaning out my desk before getting out of here.

Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Baseball stuff

If you’re not on Twitter, you missed the announcement: Starting Monday, I’ll be writing about baseball for USA Today Sports. I’m very excited.

For Edgin: Why not? It’s difficult to predict which relievers will ultimately earn closer jobs and the elusive “proven closer” label, but Edgin seems to have as good a shot as any. He throws hard, he’s got pretty good control, and he strikes out lots of batters. His ERA wasn’t great in his tiny-sample first Major League stint, but his peripherals (besides his home-run rate) look strong. I’d say the biggest thing working against him is his handedness, as unless the Mets have one or two more viable lefty options for middle-inning specialty work, they’re probably going to want Edgin there.

Also, I’m not ready to write off the idea of Bobby Parnell eventually emerging as the Mets’  closer. I know he has struggled in limited opportunities in the role, but Parnell’s been a good big-league reliever for three seasons. Now that he seems to be settled on the knuckle-curve as a second pitch, I don’t know why he couldn’t succeed in a ninth-inning job.

As for the fat sandwich: Yes. I wrote about it here, back before I reviewed sandwiches proper.

I don’t really want to troll on my way out the door here, but I’d say this seems like LOLMetsing of the highest order. Especially the caption on the bottom photo. I mean… c’mon. But then I clicked it, so the joke’s on me.

UPDATE: Actually, on second thought I’ll amend that. Clicking through the rest of the Daily News’ website after reading that story, it seems like they’re blowing out every possible angle of the A-Rod/PED/Miami thing. So that’s probably just one of them, and hey, a Mets connection. Only the caption is LOLMetsy.

That’s a tough question. My natural inclination is to pick the five worst players on the Mets so the team can stay competitive throughout the Mars project. But since that doesn’t seem like the spirit of the question, I’ll say David Wright for leadership and interstellar diplomacy, Lucas Duda for brute strength, Dillon Gee for guile, Daniel Murphy for determination, and Johan Santana for general awesomeness.


Hey, I’m still a member of the baseball media, and I’m still going to be based out of New York. If there’s one of those tasting events this year, I’m going to do everything in my power to go. Obviously.

Honestly, if they can get the draft pick protected I don’t think signing Michael Bourn is such a terrible idea for the Mets. It depends on the deal, of course, but it sure seems like Bourn’s price tag has fallen far, far below the $100 million figure he was reportedly seeking at the offseason’s outset. We keep hearing about how the Mets will have money to spend in the coming years, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to do so with a protected first-round pick again anytime soon. Plus, watching Bourn play center field is a thrill. Guy gets to everything.

Sandwich of the Week

So this site looks a bit different today. Welcome to the new and far less active TedQuarters, I suppose. There are still some kinks to work out, all of which will take me way longer to figure out on my own than they would have with the support of my men Adam Rotter and Matt Cerrone at SNY, so be patient. And because I’m now using a stock WordPress theme, I had to make some concessions in the navigation and sidebars.

Most notably: The “Embarrassing Things about Cole Hamels” section of the blog is now just a “Cole Hamels” tab on the sidebar to the left, as spelling out the full title made the text wrap to two lines and look awful. So it goes. Know that “Cole Hamels,” here, is an abbreviation for “Embarrassing Things about Cole Hamels,” always.

Also: The Sandwich Hall of Fame list is currently a sub-category in the sandwich tab, but it’s too long for the format and you can’t access most of the sandwich reviews from many browsers. Soon, perhaps later this afternoon, I’ll create a new Sandwich Hall of Fame archive page with links to all the Hall of Fame sandwich reviews. So fear not.

Because of the theme switch, the site again uses WordPress comments instead of Disqus, meaning that two full years’ worth of awesome, hilarious, insightful comments are sort of lost to the ether. And it makes every post on this site from 2011-2012 look pretty lonely, so if you stumble upon one you like and want to leave some love, please do.

And thanks so much for all the flattering and supportive comments left on the going-away post from earlier this month. It feels incredible to know that my efforts on this site for the last several years were apparently so thoroughly appreciated. I love you, too.

The sandwich: Banh mi thit nuong, Banh Mi Cart 37, 37 Nguyen Trai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The construction: Grilled pork meatballs, pickled vegetables, cucumbers, cilantro, chili paste and some sort of brownish sauce on a baguette.

Important background information: I spent six days in Vietnam and tried seven different banh mi. This was the best, and it wasn’t all that close. Most of the sandwiches came from street carts or slightly glorified street carts, and in Ho Chi Minh City — where I ate the large majority of my banh mi on vacation — most of the street carts sell banh mi filled with various cold cuts, familiar and otherwise. They were all delicious, but once I tried this style, all I wanted were more like this. In fact, about an hour after I had my first, I went back for a second.

Also: Throughout our vacation, my wife and I struggled to convince locals to serve us spicy food. Many European and Australian tourists (and perhaps Americans, too, but we didn’t meet nearly so many), it seems, want no part of typically spicy Thai, Lao or Vietnamese cuisine — something we witnessed to a hilarious extent in a cooking class with some British couples who were put off by the spiciness of ginger and garlic.

So before I carry on, a plea to the Australian dude we met on a boat in Thailand and others like him: Give spicy food a chance, please. You told us you were miffed at all the restrictions they had at the place where they let you in a cage with a tiger. I promise no pepper used in common cooking anywhere presents nearly so much danger, and that developing a taste for more spice will ultimately broaden your culinary horizons and enrich your eating life. I’m not here to tell you what to do; I’m just sayin’s all.

Also, if it catches on, it’ll mean a lot less work on my end in Asia attempting to locate every vendor’s peppers or hot sauces, pointing at them, smiling, nodding vigorously and giving thumbs up. Luckily for us, the woman at the banh mi cart at 37 Nguyen Trai held up a spoonful of chili paste as she constructed the sandwich and shot us a quizzical look, so we were able to point at it, smile, nod vigorously and give thumbs up.

What it looks like:

How it tastes: Awesome. Just… awesome. Everything I could imagine wanting in a banh mi.

The banh mi cart at 37 Nguyen Trai grills tiny pork patties — think seasoned ground-pork sliders — over charcoal on a small barbecue, and there’s enough turnover that every sandwich comes with pork patties hot from the grill. They’re tender and porky, juicy but not greasy, with just a hint of black pepper flavor.

We read somewhere that much of Vietnamese cuisine is fueled by contrasting textures and flavors, a concept that should sound familiar to any loyal readers of these sandwich reviews.

This banh mi seemed the perfect embodiment of that idea: The warm pork and toasty baguette (they threw the baguette on the grill right before they put together the sandwich, a very appreciated touch) complemented the coolness of the vegetables. The intense spiciness of the chili paste matched up with the sweetness of the brown sauce. The sharpness of the cilantro complemented the acidity of the pickled vegetables.

It was crunchy and soft, spicy and sweet, hot and cold, comforting and adventurous, everything. Just an explosion of flavors and textures and general greatness. Damn. I have to go back.

What it’s worth: Oh, that’s the other thing. It cost 14,000 Dong, or about 67 cents. Plus the cost of airfare, of course, unless you’re already in Ho Chi Minh City.

How it rates: 97 out of 100. Inner circle Hall of Famer.

My Taco Bell expertise finally legitimized

Yesterday, the Internet heralded the coming of the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco as if it’s a newly verified thing even though this site and many others have been all over that news for nearly half a year. Longtime friend of the program Gina Pace at the New York Daily News took time off from her diligent work on the Tom Brady moat beat to report and clarify the Taco Bell news, citing the research of one well-coiffed “sports writer and Taco Bell aficionado.”