Stick to baseball, 4/15/17.

I updated my ranking of the top 50 prospects in the minors this week; there’s minimal reranking in there, just status notes on players, with guys moving up to replace those already in the majors. (Jesse Winker was promoted after the piece ran.) I wrote a long draft blog post on Hunter Greene, Brian McKay, and other draft prospects I’ve seen so far. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

  • The one great longread I saw this week was from Backchannel on what’s happened to Google Books, the tech giant’s stated effort to scan every book, ever, to make them all searchable. I’ve used this feature quite a few times, including during the research for Smart Baseball, where I could search for certain terms or keywords in books I couldn’t get my hands on.
  • California passed a tougher law on childhood vaccinations, and, lo and behold, inoculation rates went up about 3 percentage points.
  • The handful of loonies who opposed the law largely claimed “parental choice” as a reason why they should be allowed to deny their children a safe, effective treatment that can prevent debilitating and sometimes fatal diseases. It’s a terrible argument, because those “choices” affect everyone, not just your children. (Also, that choice isn’t for you – it’s for your child, who can’t choose for him/herself, and depends on you to take care of his/her medical needs.)
  • If you’ve seen a vaccine denier point to measles outbreaks in China as evidence the MMR vaccine doesn’t work, well, the outbreaks occurred among unvaccinated groups. Facts may not carry the day with deniers, but it is on the rational among us to make sure the truth is still out there for people who might be on the fence.
  • A Utah judge praised a convicted sexual abuser during sentencing, with at least one of the victims present. This kind of behavior will only discourage victims from coming forward in the future. Utah judges may be removed from the bench via a judicial conduct commission censure or a 2/3 vote of the legislature, so if you live in that state, get on the phone.
  • I think my new least favorite food buzzword is “clean.” Panera, which is a decent chain choice if you want something vegetarian while traveling, claims its food is 100% “clean,” which means absolutely nothing unless previously they were rolling their bread dough out on the floor. It’s also a buzzword for people who eat weird, ultra-restricted diets that probably don’t provide enough nutrition because so-called “clean eaters” often skip dairy or wheat, foods that are often demonized without scientific basis. I’ll keep eatin’ dirty, thanks.
  • Dr. David Dao, the passenger beaten and dragged off a United flight last week, has filed court papers in preparation for a lawsuit and compared his treatment to what he experienced while fighting in the Vietnam War. Tim Wu of the New Yorker wrote about why he stopped flying United after it merged with Continental. Deadspin’s Albert Burneko discussed the absurdity of backing the corporation in such cases.
  • An American doctor has been charged with mutilating the genitalia of two girls under the age of 10, a barbaric practice common in eastern African countries and in Indonesia known as female genital mutilation.
  • New Mexico has banned “lunch shaming,” the cruel practice of embarrassing children whose parents have unpaid school meal debts.
  • I listened to the entire seven episodes of the podcast S-Town, and I’m not sure if I think the time was well spent. Did I really get anything out of it? Was John B. McLemore, who was most likely a manic depressive on top of the later medical issues revealed in the final episode, someone worthy of a seven-hour biography? The Atlantic also asks about the ethics of revealing so much of his life after his death, and the details of other characters in the play. The Guardian went to Woodstock, Alabama, to interview the locals about their sudden bit of fame, and most didn’t seem to mind the portrayals.
  • I was apparently behind the times, as I was unfamiliar with the Twitter replies-to-retweets ratio until this past week.
  • Paul Krugman wrote that publicity stunts aren’t policy and then Trump ordered (or simply handwaved along) the dropping of the ‘mother of all bombs’ on Afghanistan. It’s working, though: Compare media coverage of the Russian connection, or of GOP rollbacks of Obama policies, to coverage of the Syria and Afghanistan bombings and now our taunting of North Korea. (For what it’s worth, the North Korean government has always been the one that worried me, because it’s essentially sociopathy in government form, and they’re well-funded enough to do mass damage to someone, South Korea or Japan or us. But I would prefer to see a long-term policy solution to the issue, not threatening to Pyongyang to wag the dog.)
  • There can be no beatings and imprisoning of gays in Chechnya because there are no gays in Chechnya, say Chechnyan authorities. This Guardian report says otherwise.
  • I enjoyed this interview with Dana Cree, pastry chef for Chicago’s Publican restaurant group and author of the new cookbook Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop. Within the Q&A she discusses which ingredients serve as stabilizers to minimize the size of ice crystals in ice cream, providing a smoother texture. I personally do not like the eggless ice cream known as Philadelphia-style, which is just dairy, sugar, and flavors, for that very reason. I prefer frozen custard, sometimes called New York ice cream, which includes egg yolks – often a lot – and less butterfat, because the yolks contain lecithin, which emulsifies the fat and the water in the base and thus prevents large crystals from forming. Lecithin can break down at subzero temperatures, however, so vegetable gums may be better if you’re going super-cold, if you can’t eat eggs, or if you don’t want that slight eggnog note in a delicate flavor like vanilla bean.
  • The first part of this NPR Fresh Air interview with author David Owen, about the Colorado River, is interesting and particularly relevant to me, because one of the main reasons I did not want to remain a long-term resident of Arizona was that the state has no strategy for dealing with the coming water crisis in the region. The Colorado River is overtaxed, badly, and Arizona’s idea of coping is storing a few years of water in underground reserves. He has a new book out on the topic, Where the Water Goes, and discusses some of it in the Q&A. Then he talks about golfing with Donald Trump and I moved on with my life.


  1. One thing I’ve always wondered with the agreements we “sign” with corporations with all the legalese is how much of the agreement is legally enforceable and how much of it is in there to prevent/scare people from filing lawsuits? These agreements were written by corporate lawyers to protect the corporation. I’m not having my lawyer draft up a similar agreement that lists my protections and having the corporation sign it, so it seems to be a lopsided agreement. As long as I pay for the good or service on time, use the good or service in it’s intended use, the corporation should uphold it’s side of the agreement and provide that good or service to me if they are reasonably able to do so. And maybe this is one reason United will want to settle early with Dr. Dao. Do they want a legal challenge to their customer agreement?

  2. Keith, you really should head down to Baltimore to try ice cream at The Charmery. There’s even a Pauline Gee’s pizza outpost across the street

  3. Frozen custard – New York???. Wisconsin. Milwaukee. Gilles at 68th and Bluemound. Short drive from Miller Park. Kopps, too, in the suburbs. Hashtag, unpaid testimonial.

  4. I agree with you on S Town. I was really into it in Ep 3 and 4, I thought we were going to get a great legal or corruption drama. Especially when the host went into how he found that Woodstock revealed itself as S Town. Then it turned deeply personal to John and seemingly brushed aside all the buildup of the estate and the town. By the end I wondered to myself what was the point of it all. John definitely seemed like an eccentric character, but having an event podcast to cover him really stretched it.

    • In the sense that everyone is a universe unto themselves, I found S-Town worthy as a character study about a multifaceted and difficult man. It might have gone on a bit too long, but if you’re hungry for podcast content that can be a feature rather than a bug.

  5. As Rachel Ray once said… “if you eat mushrooms, you’re gonna eat some dirt!”. I’ll take the dirty food, please.

  6. Keith, just wanted to say thanks for this section. I love it almost as much as the music and games.

  7. Teresa M Bucoff

    Was ultimately disappointed in S-Town…similar reasons as you expressed, just seemed pointless by the end. I think I’m done with the Serial franchise…its 2 seasons and now this have left me in a frustrated state.

  8. Chad Zimmerman

    As one of the few persons not on Facebook and who are unable to articulate well in 140 characters I am using this venue for my personal need. I would have emailed but for reasons that are very understandable that is not available to the general public.

    I need to commend you, Mr. Law, for being such a strong advocate for vaccinations. Your ability to maintain any professionalism in the wake of such misguided and misinformed rhetoric is commendable. Your ability to be evidence informed in positions lends increased expertise to your posts.

    I have devoted my career to child welfare and child safety in Canada. There are enough challenges facing vulnerable children such as poverty, exposure to domestic violence, and neglect that overt and purposeful medical neglect and what I would claim is physical maltreatment should not be tolerated.

    A most sincere thank you for challenging those who misrepresent “science” and for being courageous enough to publically challenge and bring attention to yourself in a way that is unlikely to have any positive effect on your sports journalism career.

  9. I finished S Town and thought “that was a pretty good listen, but so what? What the hell was the point?0 it was well done but entirely lacked direction, an actual story, and any sort of point other than “holy shit can you believe there are people like this in America?!?”