Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about the experience of podcasting about baseball in 2020, what purpose they think the Hall of Fame serves, and whether they would consider giving up their Hall of Fame ballots, then ring in the new year by extending an old tradition and conducting the eighth annual Effectively Wild Minor League Free Agent Draft, in which they select 10 minor league free agents each and compete to see whose roster will accumulate the most MLB playing time in 2021.
Audio intro: First Aid Kit, "New Year’s Eve"
Audio outro: Death Cab for Cutie, "The New Year"
Link to Craig Calcaterra on the Hall of Fame
Link to Jeff Passan on Hall of Fame voting
Link to list of minor league free agents
Link to Justin Hollander interview episode
Link to last year’s draft results
Link to this year’s draftees
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Ben Lindbergh, Meg Rowley, and FanGraphs Hall of Fame expert Jay Jaffe (the author of The Cooperstown Casebook) discuss Jay’s experience as a first-time Hall of Fame voter, the case of Curt Schilling, weighing on-field contributions and off-field transgressions, the players on Jay’s ballot, the candidacies of Billy Wagner, Gary Sheffield, Omar Vizquel, and others, adjusting the baseline for Hall of Fame starting pitchers, Jay’s predictions for this year’s voting results, a preview of the upcoming Cooperstown classes, the record number of Hall of Fame players who died in 2020, how to better honor baseball greats while they’re still alive, the Hall of Fame ramifications of reclassifying the Negro Leagues as major leagues, and more.
Audio intro: Guided By Voices, "High Five Hall of Famers"
Audio outro: The Felice Brothers, "Cooperstown"
Link to Jay’s ballot post
Link to The Cooperstown Casebook
Link to Jay on this ballot’s big questions
Link to the HoF Ballot Tracker
Link to Jay on Schilling
Link to Craig Calcaterra on Schilling
Link to Zach Hayes on Schilling
Link to Jay on Vizquel
Link to The Athletic report on Vizquel
Link to Sam on Pettitte
Link to Jeff Snider on Hall of Famer deaths
Link to Jay on Allen
Link to story on overlooked Negro Leaguers
Link to story on reclassification and Cooperstown
Ben Lindbergh, Meg Rowley, and FanGraphs lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen convene to discuss the latest epic Padres transaction spree (in which San Diego traded for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish and signed Ha-seong Kim 김하성), touching on A.J. Preller’s penchant for frenetic activity, the Padres’ rebuilt rotation and crowded infield, the prospect packages going to the Rays and the Cubs, the state of the stacked Rays and Padres farm systems, why the Rays traded Snell, what dealing Darvish signifies for the Cubs, salary dumps vs. cost-cutting competitive trades, whether the Padres can catch the Dodgers, and much more.
Audio intro: Bring it On (Original Broadway Cast Recording), "It’s All Happening"
Audio outro: The Posies, "All in a Day’s Work"
Link to Ben Clemens on the Snell trade
Link to Brendan Gawlowski on the Kim signing
Link to Eric on the Rays’ system
Link to Eric on the Cubs’ return for Darvish
Link to Craig Edwards on the Darvish trade
Link to Ben on Preller’s trades
Link to Ben on the formerly nondescript Padres
Link to FanGraphs farm system rankings
Ben Lindbergh talks to Jacky Bing-Sheng Lee, translator of the traditional Chinese edition of Ben’s book The MVP Machine, Hyunsung Kim, translator of the Korean edition of The MVP Machine, and Brendan O’Connor, assistant professor and linguistic anthropologist at the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, about the challenges of translating a baseball book from English into other languages, how Jacky and Hyunsung got jobs in baseball and became translators, the ascendance of the CPBL and the KBO on the international stage, linguistic “borrowing” in baseball, the cultural conversations surrounding baseball bilingualism, the greatness of Korean baseball drama Stove League, and much more.
Audio intro: Field Music, "Share the Words"
Audio outro: Joel Plaskett, "So Many Words"
Link to Jacky’s post in the Facebook group
Link to Jacky’s baseball blog
Link to Hyunsung’s list of American baseball books available in Korean
Link to Chinese edition of The MVP Machine
Link to Brendan’s ASU faculty page
Link to Brendan’s Sapiens article
Link to Part 1 of Sung Min Kim’s KBO series
Link to Part 2 of Sung Min Kim’s KBO series
Link to stream Stove League
Link to paperback English edition of The MVP Machine
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about why MLB reportedly isn’t interested in short-term expansion and an observation about Tyler Glasnow, Martin Shkreli, and Cillian Murphy, then review the accuracy of last year’s annual ESPN MLB insiders survey, predict and assess the responses to the just-released, latest edition of the survey, answer a listener email about the cutoff for “young” players, and share a Stat Blast about Byron Buxton and the lowest on-base percentages by league-average hitters (plus an addendum on the longest baseball player Wikipedia pages).
Audio intro: Oasis, "Stay Young"
Audio outro: The Just Joans, "No Longer Young Enough"
Link to Stark’s story about Dombrowski
Link to story about NBA expansion
Link to Sam on the Crasnicks in 2012
Link to Sam on the Crasnicks in 2014
Link to last year’s Rogers MLB insiders survey
Link to this year’s Rogers MLB insiders survey
Link to Ben on young hitters and aging curves
Link to lowest OBP list
Link to lowest OBP+ list
Link to longest baseball player Wikipedia pages
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about ballpark renaming, follow up on their discussion about managers getting fired for their actions in a single game, discuss how the history of baseball’s sabermetric movement predicts the trajectory and ramifications of analytics use in football and other sports, and reflect on the significance of the Phillies hiring Sam Fuld as their new general manager, what the return of ex-player high-ranking execs may portend for front-office diversity, and Fuld’s lengthy Wikipedia page, then (51:15) talk to Driveline Baseball hitting intern and college baseball player Luisa Gauci about her multi-continent baseball odyssey from Australia to the U.S., her quest to bring data-driven development to women’s baseball, rewriting the scouting scale, why she’s determined to keep playing baseball, her work at Driveline, hitting technology vs. pitching technology, and more.
Audio intro: Mattiel, "Just a Name"
Audio interstitial: Of Montreal, "It’s Different for Girls"
Audio outro: Neuseiland, "Write it Down (Radio Sonic)"
Link to article about the Coliseum’s new name
Link to 2003 Grady Little article
Link to Ben on revisiting the Grady Little game
Link to EW episode about sabermetrics breaking baseball
Link to EW football vs. baseball analysis interview
Link to football Multisport Sabermetrics Exchange episode
Link to The Athletic on the new Phillies front office
Link to story on the GM demographics shift
Link to Breslow interview
Link to Jalen Rose analytics comments
Link to Jackie Bradley Jr. tweet
Link to article about front-office hiring
Link to Fuld’s Wikipedia page
Link to Lookout Landing article
Link to Luisa’s scouting scale presentation
Link to Baseball For All website
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley follow up briefly on their recent Scott Boras banter, then answer listener emails about what a manager has to do to get fired because of a single game, possible scenarios in which Mookie Betts enters the Hall of Fame representing the Red Sox instead of the Dodgers, whether nature excursions could be beneficial to teams, what baseball would be like with weight classes for players, which party or parties to root for in conflicts between MLB and the minor leagues, how many players they could recognize from their mechanics if they saw them only as stick figures, and more, plus a Stat Blast about the most itinerant journeymen.
Audio intro: Super Furry Animals, "Happiness is a Worn Pun"
Audio outro: Jamestown Revival, "Journeyman"
Link to Lucien Favre story
Link to Jay’s post on Betts
Link to Cueto graphic
Link to study on the southpaw advantage
Link to Francona’s comments about Cleveland
Link to journeyman Stat Blast data
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley discuss the news that MLB is belatedly designating the 1920-1948 Negro Leagues as major leagues (with a word from 1948 Negro Leaguer Ron Teasley), touching on the various reactions to MLB’s announcement, the positives and negatives of MLB’s approach to this process, the upcoming, complex integration of Negro Leagues stats with other major league stats, how the new classification could affect perceptions of the Negro Leagues and Negro Leaguers, and more. Then they banter about reports of a possible delayed start to the 2021 season and a deluge of Scott Boras analogies and jokes before wrapping up with a few final thoughts on the Negro Leagues news and a reflection on how their understanding of MLB’s role in the larger baseball landscape has evolved in 2020.
Audio intro: The Beach Boys, "It’s About Time"
Audio outro: The Lemonheads, "It’s About Time"
Link to Ben’s report on the new Negro Leagues designation
Link to Ben’s previous report on reclassifying the Negro Leagues
Link to MLB’s press release
Link to the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database
Link to Ron Teasley’s Seamheads page
Link to Clinton Yates on the Negro Leagues news
Link to Randy Wilkins on the Negro Leagues news
Link to Andrea Williams on the Negro Leagues news
Link to Joe Posnanski on the Negro Leagues news
Link to story about integration’s effects on the Negro Leagues
Link to story about Hall of Fame voting on Negro Leagues players
Link to story about Negro Leaguers and the Hall of Fame
Link to Larry Lester EW interview episode
Link to The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues
Link to report about postponing Opening Day
Link to the MLBPA’s response
Link to Boras comments
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about secret baseball-playing robots and non-secret baseball-rooting robots, how coverage of NFL scoring changes compares to coverage of MLB scoring changes, and Meg’s research about changes in access to minor league games, follow up on the Mets signing James McCann, the Phillies hiring Dave Dombrowski, and the significance of those moves for the Mets, the Phillies, and the free-agent market, and discuss the Cleveland baseball team’s intention to change its name (eventually). Then (1:00:26) they welcome oldest living former big leaguer Eddie Robinson back to the show to discuss his 100th birthday, his new podcast, weathering the pandemic, serving in World War II, his memories of Larry Doby, Whitey Ford, Joe Morgan, Dick Allen, Ned Garver, and Charley Pride, and—with an assist from his wife Bette—the secret to 65 years of marriage.
Audio intro: Charley Pride, "A Whole Lotta Things to Sing About"
Audio interstitial: Florence + The Machine, "100 Years"
Audio outro: Simon & Garfunkel, "Mrs. Robinson"
Link to rooting robots video
Link to NFL scoring info
Link to Craig Edwards on McCann
Link to LeMahieu rumor
Link to Rob Arthur on the slow offseason
Link to Matt Gelb on Dombrowski
Link to Evan Drellich on minor league owners
Link to Meg and Ben Clemens on the minor leagues
Link to New York Times report about Cleveland
Link to Paul Dolan interview
Link to Jeff Passan on Cleveland’s name change
Link to Joe Posnanski on the old name’s origins
Link to Eddie’s podcast
Link to first EW interview episode with Eddie
Link to EW sign-stealing episode with Eddie
Link to EW interview episode with Garver
Link to SI on Charley Pride and baseball
Link to Eddie and Bette at the 1955 World Series
Link to video of Eddie and Bobby Brown
Link to MLB.com on Eddie’s 100th birthday
Link to BP on Eddie’s 100th birthday
Link to Craig Wright on Eddie’s 100th birthday
Link to Pages from Baseball’s Past
Link to Eddie’s autobiography
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about and the Phillies’ surprise hiring of Dave Dombrowski as their president of baseball operations, then (15:04) bring on Baseball America executive editor J.J. Cooper to talk about the ongoing overhaul of the minor leagues, the history of the relationship between the majors and minors, why MLB sought to consolidate its control over amateur ball and the minor leagues, the impact of the pandemic, the pending improvements in conditions for minor leaguers, the virtues of amateur ball versus affiliated ball, minor league owners as sympathetic figures, how the 120 affiliated teams were determined, efficiency vs. access to the sport, and whether baseball will be better or worse off in the long run.
Audio intro: Whitney, "Dave’s Song"
Audio interstitial: The Strokes, "Under Control"
Audio outro: The Orange Peels, "Take Me Over"
Link to Jayson Stark on the Phillies hiring Dombrowski
Link to a compendium of J.J.’s coverage
Link to J.J. on the 120 teams announcement
Link to Evan Drellich on the 120 teams announcement
Link to J.J. on how the 120 teams were chosen
Link to J.J. on what’s next for excluded teams
Link to J.J. on expanded player limits
Link to J.J. on the Staten Island Yankees lawsuit
Link to J.J. on the new amateur leagues
Link to J.J. on the origins of short-season ball
Link to J.J. on minor league player expenses
Link to J.J. on minor league facility upgrades
Link to Baseball America podcast
Link to preorder the Baseball America 2021 Prospect Handbook