Recent articles & radio.

First up, chef Dan Barber’s incredible talk on how he fell in love with a fish, one that’s really about sustainable aquaculture and his hopes for the future of food. I’m also fascinated by this post on waffle-fried chicken and waffles, although the chicken in that photo doesn’t appear breaded.

Next, my radio hits from this week: Thursday on the Herd, Wednesday with Ryen Russillo, and Wednesday with Mike and Mike. I also appear a few times in the Fantasy Focus draft preview video, with a half-dozen or so taped segments on the top 2010 prospect at each position.

I’ve been blogging daily from Arizona, and my most recent pieces are on:

I just fired in a blog post covering several Padre prospects, including Adys Portillo, plus brief notes on a few Cleveland and White Sox pitchers.

Matt Wieters Facts: The T-shirt.

I’m sure a few of you have seen the Matt Wieters tribute site, Matt Wieters Facts, which includes a quote they pulled from one of my chats: “Sliced bread is actually the best thing since Matt Wieters.” The guys at MWF threw that quote on a T-shirt with a graphic of sliced bread (of course), and they’ve agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the shirt to the GlobalGiving project to help disabled children in Kenya.

That was some pretty good bread, though.

The Phantom Grammy.

Today’s mental_floss quiz: Can you name the fifteen departments run by the Secretaries in the US Cabinet?

Anyway, this is kind of stupid but I’m going to mention it anyway because it annoys me. The University of New Mexico has a reliever named Cole White with a big arm and poor command, and he’ll be drafted somewhere in the top 5-6 rounds. When that happens, you will hear something, somewhere, about how he was nominated for a Grammy, because that’s what it says on his bio page on UNM’s athletics site.

It is also false. Cole White was never nominated for a Grammy, which is easy to prove since Grammy nominations are announced publicly every year. I contacted UNM’s media relations department in late April, asking them to clarify, and was told: “As we dug deeper into it, he ended up in the top 100 for Best Rock Song.”

So I called NARAS and asked them if they issue any sort of top 100 rankings for award categories, and was told no. As it turns out, Cole White wrote a song that his former band recorded, and their record label submitted it to NARAS so that it could be considered for the ballot, but it was not nominated or otherwise recognized for anything other than the fact that it was released commercially and met the general requirements for nomination. His song was one of 15,000 entries on the overall ballot from which the nominees are eventually chosen.

I notified UNM’s media relations department that this was all incorrect on April 29th, and did receive a reply, but they haven’t corrected it on the site, which means the inaccuracy will be repeated once White is drafted and/or signed. I was hoping UNM would just fix it and the story would go away, but a month is probably sufficient grace period for them to fix the error, and it annoys me tremendously that they haven’t. wasn’t interested in the story – and I agree with them, as it really is small potatoes – but I feel like a mistake like that, however innocent, should be corrected.

Keith Law, for rent.

I’ve mentioned many times that my daughter is a big fan of PBS Kids programming, both on WGBH, our local PBS affiliate, and on the cable channel Sprout, which airs kids’ shows 24 hours a day. (That doesn’t make me a fan – I can’t stand Caillou, and I think Angelina is a mean little drama queen.) A reader who works at WGBH noticed this and asked if I’d be willing to donate some time to help the station raise money, and the result is this entry in their current auction: Scout with ESPN’s Keith Law. The winner gets to tag along with me to a minor-league game (or a Cape game, if that’s more convenient) at some point this summer. Proceeds, of course, go to WGBH.

Back on the baseball front, I’ve got a draft gossip piece up on the site, and I’m assuming most of you saw my first top 100 ranking for this year’s draft, which was posted just in time for #3 James Paxton to show up for his last start missing 2-4 mph on his fastball. Good times.

This high school coach should be fired. (Hat tip: BBTF.)

Apparently, dish hero Alton Brown will be appearing this weekend at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to talk sustainable seafood. If you go, I want a report.

Jack Kerouac was kind of into sim baseball. Go figure. (HT: BBTF and Shysterball.)

No radio/TV for me this weekend due to a very important birthday party today.

Bullet-point Wednesday.

  • I’ve got an actual news story up on on the NCAA’s most recent beatdown in the Andy Oliver case. One lawyer to whom I spoke about yesterday’s ruling said that “No good lawyer would allow his client to send out that memo if it was subject to the February ruling that Judge Tone issued. It’s reckless and arrogant and risks even more ire from the considerable amount the court has already shown the NCAA.”
  • I’m assuming most of you have already seen my ranking of the top 100 prospects in this draft. It’s going to change between now and June 9th; I’m already thinking 11-13 should be Wheeler, Purke, Green. Anyway, 39 players currently have reports, and I’m hoping to get that to 50 by Sunday.
  • Klawbaiters, your fines are now due. Our first project is on, which I mentioned in the review of White Man’s Burden. The project’s goal is to help 250 disabled Kenyan children attend school. You can send your fines here; I kicked it off with a $50 donation, which should cover the times I’ve been successfully baited by you.
  • I did finish that book of Chekhov’s short stories, and I have to say, I was underwhelmed. He’s considered one of the greatest short story writers ever, if not the greatest, but I don’t understand why – the writing was good, but the stories weren’t compelling, and most of them were fundamentally the same – stories of poor Russians struggling in the post-serfdom era under the de facto caste system and their own idiocy. If one of you lit hounds can set me straight on this, I’d appreciate it.
  • Current book is Edna Ferber’s So Big, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1925. It was already on my shelf when I mailed out some Mother’s Day cards my daughter had painted and had to go buy 83-cent stamps … and as it turns out, the 83-cent stamp in use today features Edna Ferber. I figured that was a sign that I should read it next.

Media & links.

I’ll be on XM Radio channel 144 with Bill Pidto and Bruce Murray on Tuesday at 9:25 am EDT, and will appear via phone on First Take at either 10:50 am or 11:25 am EDT, time TBD. I’ll also be on with longtime friend Jeff Erickson’s Fantasy Focus Internet radio show, although we won’t do straight fantasy content. If you remember Jeff’s radio show on XM, this is the same show, but he moved it online after the Sirius-XM merger.

My most recent post on my main blog now has BP video of Buster Posey. There’s also video up of Tim Wheeler and Drew Storen in my most recent draft blog entry. I should have more draft notes and videos later this week.

Jason Whitlock had some strong (and dead-on) words about Selena Roberts and accuracy. Shysterball had similar words last week. I’ve pointed this out previously, but Roberts has gone after A-Rod at odd times before, like writing her 2007 World Series post mortem about him, even though he hadn’t played in that or the previous series. Squawking Baseball takes aim at Roberts’ implication that A-Rod couldn’t have tripled his bench-press ability without the use of PEDs.

Is Twitter the CB radio of Web 2.0? (HT to Shysterball.) I kind of hope not, now that I crossed the 1000-followers mark.

JoePo is obsessed with cycles. I couldn’t agree less; I think cycles are boring – statistical oddities that hold no interest for me. One reason is that a player who goes 1b-2b-3b-hr has hit for the cycle and goes on that list that some guy keeps that gets trotted out the next time some Joey Bagodonuts goes 1b-2b-3b-hr, but some other player who goes 2b-2b-hr-hr had a better day and doesn’t make any list, unless there’s some other guy keeping some other list that he really doesn’t get to trot out that often because no one gives a crap about guys who went 2b-2b-hr-hr.

This clip cracks me up: auto-tuning the news. (HT to mental_floss from their post earlier this week auto-tuning.) I’m not sure which I like best – the facial expressions on the guy “talking” to Katie Couric, the angry gorilla, or the ever-present tambourine.

Joba’s Joba.

Is there a better litmus test for baseball smarts right now than one’s opinion on the ideal role for Joba Chamberlain? I do love the new meme, though, that 14 big league starts constitute conclusive evidence of … something.

By the way, SI does have a great piece on Jeremy Tyler, a high school basketball star who’s going to go play in Europe for two years instead of enriching some undeserving US university for a season. The NBA’s age limit is an atrocity, anti-player and anti-capitalist, and anyone giving the finger to David Stern on this issue gets my applause.

Friday nonsense.

And we have our first malcontent in response to my decision to stop accepting Facebook friend requests from total strangers. Kevin R.’s response to my message asking him to follow the fan page instead:

omg, that is so pretentious…have a lovely day…

After which he promptly blocked me from even responding to him.

Speaking of Facebook, Slate’s Big Money site has an op ed on why Facebook’s current model won’t work. It’s interesting – I’ve said before that I don’t know how Facebook thinks it’s going to make money off of me – but I don’t know that I was convinced of anything. I guess it’s better than this travesty, an article that trashes MBA educations, written by a guy who hasn’t actually been to business school but appears to know all about what’s taught there. (For the record, I’ve said before I’m not sure that business school is a good financial decision for most people, and it certainly wasn’t for me given the career change I made after attending.)

This weekend doesn’t just mark Opening Day in MLB, but in baseball leagues all over the world. Japan’s NPB started up last night; Korea and Germany start tonight; and France and Sweden (yes, Sweden) start along with MLB on Sunday. The Dutch Honkbal Hoofdklasse starts next Saturday.

A simple recipe for lemon squares. Not quite my cup of tea – where’s the chocolate, dude? – but the picture is appealing.

Links over at the Four-Letter: Yesterday’s chat, my Wednesday hit on The Herd (around 6:20), my Thursday hit on First Take (and no, that’s not my photo), and our MLB preview package, with two sentences from me on each team covering one rookie hitter and one rookie pitcher who could make an impact in 2009.

Breakout players, media, Jay Cutler.

My annual breakouts piece is a photo gallery this year with shorter text from me. And yes, I still love Rickie Weeks, even though he’s not on there.

I’ll be on First Take via phone at 10:20 am on Thursday, and KTAR at 9:24 am Arizona Time. I’ll be on Baltimore 105.7 FM tonight at 9:30 pm.

Yes, there will be a Phoenix food post soon. It’s mostly done, but I’ve got some more preview stuff to hand in to first.

There will be a Klawchat on Thursday at 1 pm.

So can someone explain this Cutler thing to me? I keep hearing how the Broncos have to trade him. Isn’t he under contract? So he wants a trade. I want a million dollars, a night with Ashley Judd, and a pony. If I’m Josh McDaniel, I’m staring at two options:

1. Keep Cutler and make it clear to players and agents that I am in charge.
2. Trade Cutler for 80 cents on the dollar* and show everyone that the lunatics are running the asylum.

*This is my assumption, as someone who doesn’t really know football, because Denver would be seen as somehow unable to keep Cutler, and because I doubt you ever really get full value when trading a top-ten quarterback.

Erik Kuselias was subbing for SVP on the Tirico/VP show today and kept saying how Cutler has “leverage” – but does he? He’s an employee of the Broncos. If they decide to bench him for four games to teach him a lesson, as long as they’re paying him and abiding by the letter of the contract, they are within their rights to do so. I’ve heard no mention of a contractual obligation on the part of the Broncos to avoid hurting Cutler’s feelings, nor does he have a no-trade clause or a no-discussing-a-trade clause or a no-even-thinking-about-a-trade-even-while-you’re-on-the-throne clause. If Cutler doesn’t show up for a required camp or workout, you fine him. You may be able to suspend him without pay, which would be true in MLB. But just like I don’t give in to my daughter when she throws a tantrum, a GM shouldn’t give in to a player (or agent) when he throws one.

Am I wrong?

The Soul of Baseball.

If you’re here, you’ve probably already read Joe Posnanski’s The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America (still just $5.99 hardcover at, so I’m not going to belabor the point – it’s a great, great read, much more than a simple baseball book, but more of a biography of a human being.

JoePo followed Buck O’Neil around the country for a year as O’Neil stumped for the Negro Leagues Museum and more generally worked to preserve the memory of the Negro Leagues as real baseball, rather than the minstrel show of the Hollywood depictions of those Leagues. Along the way, the two men ran into a handful of other former Negro Leaguers and gave us a window into their memories, some told by the players themselves with others retold through Joe’s voice. Some are hilarious, some touching, some downright sad.

O’Neil’s personality – his soul, really – dominates the book, which at times seems to border on magical realism with the incredible effect that O’Neil has on other people, most of whom are complete strangers, and his perceptions of others even based on a look or a few sentences. At the book’s close, my overwhelming thought was, “Wow, I wish I had met him.”

It’s hard to compare it to Lords of the Realm, which I’ve always called my top baseball book, but I’d say I enjoyed The Soul of Baseball more – it’s a serious book but has substantial entertainment value, particularly from the stories about other characters like Satchel Paige, but also from the glimpses into the (then) current lives of Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, and the questionable Johnny Washington.

Next up: Lonesome Dove.