Stick to baseball, 9/2/17.

For Insiders this week, I wrote four pieces. I broke down the Astros’ trade for Justin Verlander and the Angels’ trade for Justin Upton. I put up scouting notes on prospects from the Yankees, Phillies, Jays, and Rangers. And I looked at five potential prospect callups for September. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

At Vulture this week, I looked at five major Game of Thrones-themed boardgames, not just reskinned games but several original titles like the excellent GoT Card Game. For Paste, I reviewed the Tour de France-themed boardgame La Flamme Rouge, which is light and good for family play. And here on the dish I reviewed the strong app version of the two-player game Jaipur, a steal at $5.

I’m trying something new this week, and if you find it useful I’d appreciate your feedback. I get a lot of press releases on boardgames from publishers, so I’m including the best of those at the end of this run of links along with boardgame-related news items. These will include Kickstarter announcements that look interesting to me, and if I’ve seen a game at all I’ll indicate it in the blurb.

This is your regular reminder that my book Smart Baseball is available everywhere now in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook formats. Also, please sign up for my free email newsletter, as my subscriber count is down one after I removed that one guy who complained about the most recent edition and called me a “tool.”

And now, the links…


  1. Is there a link for the “place the blame” comment in the Trevor Noah part?

  2. Is one of Bret Stephens’ tips for aspiring writers to engage in a long-standing campaign of climate change denial and still somehow get hired at the NYT due to some sort of grotesque version of a fairness doctrine?

    • Yeah, I’m not a fan of his work either, but I thought this piece was good.

  3. “you may even be entitled to share them in your classroom”

    Discussions of “karma” have no place in a classroom, no more or less than do discussions of “intelligent design.”

    • I was speaking more generally about personal opinions, rather than the specific comments here.

      And I suppose discussions of karma are fair game in comparative religion classes, no?

    • In my view, and in the view of the great majority of my colleagues, personal opinions have no place in a classroom. That’s an abuse of the “bully pulpit” a professor has been given, to stand and opine before a captive audience that has no choice but to sit and listen.

      This is distinct, of course, from interpretation and analysis. If I stand in front of my class, and build an evidence-based argument that–say–Donald Trump will not be successful long-term, then that is within the province of a history or poli sci or comm or maybe a sociology class. But “Texas got what they deserved, karmaically” cannot be proven or disproven with evidence, so has no place in the classroom, in my view.

      And yes, I’ve taught comparative religions, and so have indeed discussed karma in that context. And intelligent design, for that matter.

    • I don’t know where you teach, CB, but the idea that professors keep their opinions out of the classroom is completely the opposite of my experience in higher education, though I wish it weren’t. Undergrad, grad school, and multiple short stints at foreign universities, and I have had maybe three professors from humanities/social science courses (primarily what I’ve taken) who I honestly couldn’t tell you what their political beliefs were within two classes. In undergrad these were extremely liberal professors, in grad school almost all were conservative, but they almost all made clear their beliefs in their lectures. What separated the good professors from the bad was whether or not they did so in a way that demeaned viewpoints that were counter to theirs, or presented them fairly and/or allowed students to express them without fear of seeing their grades drop.

  4. I read this every week. Adding the board games is totally fine. This is your list of links you think is interesting, and those who aren’t interested can just not click those links.

  5. You mentioned about Philip K Dick and “The Man in the High Castle” – I found it to be one of the more plodding, incoherent books I’ve ever read. It made me not want to watch the Amazon series. (I will, eventually, as I forget the book)

    • The show, while not incoherent, does plod. Some of these Amazon and Netflix series are guilty of loose pacing — the lack of time constraints seems to lead to plot dithering. It’s as though they hook you with an interesting premise and/or cast, then keep you just interested enough to not change the channel.

    • To use a metric I believe Dave Jacoby invented, the High Castle tv series had a very high T-SOP for me, Time Spent On Phone. I kept hitting Next Episode, and I wanted to know what would happen, but it just kept fading into the background for me.

  6. You say the idea of nationalizing monopolistic companies is bad, but offer no reasoning. The traditional solution of breaking them up doesn’t make as much sense because they achieve their value in part by being ubiquitous. Yet it’s clear we need to determine how to deal with them because of the next link you posted (and a thousand other reasons). What’s your alternative solution?

    • Nationalizing private industry has failed everywhere it’s been tried in the world. I thought the reasoning was obvious.

      Google dropping funding of a private think tank may be distasteful, but it requires no government action. They are completely within their rights to do so.

      I remember calls for the government to break up Microsoft because of its monopoly on desktop software. The market ended up changing faster than governments could act. There are places in our technology infrastructure where governments should be more involved as regulators – treating broadband providers as utilities, for example – but nationalizing private companies is the stuff of second- and third-world autocracies.

    • The Google article is just one example, but basically those companies exert a previously unfathomable amount of power over areas of life that are becoming more and more essential. So there’s a compelling case for state involvement, though obviously the degree to which is up for debate. And given that nationalization has been successful in some instances (NHS, BBC, etc..), I think it has to be seriously considered.

      How do you feel about the Norwegian model? I think it’s an interesting middle road between regulation and full state ownership.

    • The BBC is not an example of successful nationalization. Three-fourth of its revenue comes from the “television license” – that is, the tax any British household must pay simply for owning a television (which is highly regressive). The BBC is a perfect example of why *not* to nationalize.

  7. Thanks for the links Keith. Returning the favor, the Atlantic just curated a list of great journalism; lots of amazing longreads to dive into over there.

  8. I am a fan of the board game links and hope they stay in the future. I appreciate your opinions and help consolidating all the information available.

    Thank you.

  9. Minor typo: “Jay Caspian King” should be “Jay Caspian Kang”

  10. Google is also manipulating its Internet searches to restrict public awareness of and access to socialist, anti-war and left-wing websites. In other words, it is engaging in censorship on a massive scale.

    • That’s not a reliable source at all – the site was materially affected by the change it’s criticizing – it doesn’t appear that Google is doing anything wrong here, and this isn’t “censorship” on any scale at all.